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What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis: Fact and Fiction
Is Hypnosis Dangerous?
Deepening the Hypnotic Trance
Testing the Hypnotic Trance
Rules of the Mind
The Power of Creative Imagination
How to Set Realistic Goals
You Can Learn to Relax
Glossary of Terms
Finding a Hypnotherapist Near You
Certification: Licensed Professionals
Hypnosis Training For Professionals
Hypnosis Learning Modules
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To a majority of people, the word "hypnotism" brings to mind visions of the mysterious. It conveys a suggestion of the supernatural, occultism and the mystical. Most people have a mental image of a "hypnotist" as a tall, dark sinister person with glittering and piercing eyes. Visions of the fictional Svengali or the real-life Rasputin appear in their imaginations. Almost any well-educated intelligent person, the scientist, college professor, business executive, when asked to become a hypnotic subject, shows alarm and quickly declines. They are fearful of damage to their mind or of finding themselves under the power of the hypnotist.
If asked about their knowledge of hypnosis, most would freely admit to a complete lack of knowledge of the subject. Perhaps some have seen a stage demonstration, where people from the audience were placed in a hypnotic state and caused to perform various amusing stunts. The observers leave such stage shows with a feeling of having witnessed weird phenomena, with no inclination for a closer personal experience with such a mysterious power.
In most instances the above misconceptions of hypnosis will not help you as a hypnotist induce a state of hypnosis. In fact they can severely handicap you. We are under the opinion that any "normal" person that is willing and able to follow the instructions of the hypnotist can develop the so-called state of hypnosis. This is something that the subject must do. He and only he can develop a hypnotic trance. You as the hypnotist can only guide him into the hypnotic state. You can help your subject by taking the mystery out of hypnotism. Explain to him that there is nothing mysterious about hypnotism. Most hypnotic phenomena can be explained by known physiological facts.
Usually it is difficult to get most of us to admit it, but many of our beliefs and attitudes are based on erroneous assumptions. We often feel if we see something, or experience it ourselves, we can accept it as a fact. However, when our conclusions are based upon our own experience, without knowledge of scientific methods, we can be wrong.
It is easy to demonstrate how unrealistic we are being when we attempt to rely upon our own perceptions. We will give several examples illustrating this because belief and skepticism are important factors in the success or failure in the development of the hypnotic state. An understanding of the facts and fallacies we derive from our perceptions and beliefs will help alter existing erroneous ideas. We will also explain the physiology behind some hypnotic phenomena.
We will perform a little experiment. Just above this paragraph there is a red rectangle with an "X" in the center. We will use this to demonstrate how our perceptions can change with no awareness on our part. Take a white card or white piece of paper and cover the left or right half of the rectangle. Now stare fixedly at the line formed by the contrasting areas for about 20 seconds. If part of the "X" is visible, you can fix your gaze on that. Keeping your eyes focused on the same area (i.e., part of the "X") remove the white card or paper exposing the rest of the colored area. It will appear that the half of the rectangle that was covered seems to be a brighter color than the exposed half of the rectangle.
Of course, the color has not changed at all; it is the perception of the observer that has changed. The change in perception is only a temporary change, almost immediately the two areas will appear the same. This indicates that another change in perception has occurred.
For a more dramatic demonstration of the same phenomena, do the following. On a blank sheet of white paper, draw a single, horizontal pencil line about two to three inches long. Fix your gaze on the center of the line. As you continue to stare at the line, you will notice that the line begins to appear gray and eventually disappears altogether. The whole phenomena should take approximately 30 seconds. Once you remove your gaze from the area of the paper where the line is and then look again at the area, you will see the pencil line.
To understand what is occurring in our two experiments, you need to know how nerve cells function. The sensation we call sight results from light being reflected from the object we are looking at to our eyes. The image of the object is focused on the retina of the eye the same way an image is focused on the film of a camera. The image focused on the retina of the eye activates receptor cells that start nerve impulses that eventually reach the visual center (occipital Cortex) in the brain. Here a pattern of interconnecting nerve cells (neurons) is created that represent the image focused on. This representation of what we are looking at is inside out head, however, we have learned that it belongs outside of ourselves and project it there.
The process illustrated above is called retinal fatigue. It is a principle that has been well confirmed and excepted by all men of science. It illustrates the point that what we think we see is not always truly representative of the facts. In our experiment we have evidence that out perception of color can become altered without our being aware of it. It also shows how quickly nerve cells can be fatigued and fail to function (i.e., the pencil line vanishes). In our examples, only by shifting the gaze or blinking periodically will the chemical elements be replenished and our sight maintain some degree of constancy.
When you look at an object, each of your eyes sees a slightly different view of the object you are focusing on. If you will look at a small three-dimensional object about two to three feet in front of you, you will see an object that is different than the one seen by your left and right eye. That is, what you see is slightly different than what is seen by your eyes.
If you will look at some near by object, then close your left eye, the image will slightly change. Try looking at the object with the right eye as you close the left eye, you will see a slightly different view of the object. If you alternately close your left eye as you open your right eye and visa versa, the object will appear to jump to the left as you close the left eye and jump to the right as you close the right eye and open the left. The drawing below illustrates what is occurring. Each eye sees a slightly different view of the same object. Your brain coordinates the two different views into one three dimensional image.
Seeing More Than Your Eye Sees
If you are like most people you assume that what you see is pretty close to what your eye sees. That is the neural pattern created in your brain is pretty faithful to what you are viewing. Not so, your brain adds very substantially to the report it gets from your eyes. A lot of what you see is actually "created" by the brain.
Because of the way the eyeball is constructed it is possible to demonstrate this to yourself. As shown in the illustrations above, the front of the eye acts like a camera lens, which directs light rays from each point in your field of vision onto the retina of the eye. The retina acts something like a sheet of film in a camera. But the retina has a hole in it where the optic nerve exits the eye. At this location there are no receptors that can send information to the brain about what is located in this part of your field of vision. Because of this you have a "blind spot" (one for each eye) near the center of your field of vision where you can't see. See the drawings below. The blind spot is where the optic nerve exits the eye, the red line in the smaller drawing.
Look around and see if you can find the blind spot. Perhaps you can't find it because the blind spot for one eye is at a different place in your field of vision than the blind spot for the other eye (this is true). Therefore, you don't notice it because each eye sees what the other doesn't. Try closing one eye and look around. Still can't find it? Maybe it's so small that you or your brain just ignores it. Not so, actually the blind spot is pretty BIG. You can easily find it if you will look at the drawing on the next page and follow instructions.
Close your left eye and stare at the cross mark with your right eye. While continuing to focus on the cross mark, you should be able to see the black spot to the right. DO NOT look at it; just be aware of its existence. Slowly move toward the screen as you continue to focus on the cross mark. When you reach a point approximately a foot from the screen the spot will disappear. At this point the light reflected by the spot is falling on an area of the retina where there are no sensors (where the optic nerve exits). What you see in place of the spot is a white field. This is something the brain is making up since the eye is not sending any information about that location in your field of vision. If you continue to move closer to the screen, the spot will reappear. Now lets do a similar experiment on a colored background. Repeat the procedure above using the drawing below. When the spot vanishes, the brain not only matches the background color but also completes the line across the blind spot.
"Free Will" -The ambiguous figure (left) can be used to demonstrate some interesting observations about the meaning and existence of "free will." Most people will agree that "free will" has two relative distinct properties. One is the idea that what one does is in some sense "free," that is "not determined by something else." The second is the idea that one can oneself control what one does.
Notice that the figure below can sometimes be seen as consisting of dark blue arrows pointing to the right. However, at other times it can be seen as light blue arrows pointing to the left. It is virtually never seen as pointing in both directions at the same time. Whether you see right or left pointing arrows most easily can be influenced by the construction of the figure (i.e., colors, exact shapes, etc.), experiences with other figures, personal preferences, and present mood. However, with all of these held constant, as they are as you look at the figure at this moment, the figure can still be seen in two different ways. In other words, your perception of the figure is a variable in a way that seems "not to be determined by anything else." This implies that if you were to look at the figure a second time you can control what you do. To make this observation, close your eyes and decide if you want to see the arrows pointing to the right or left. Once you have decided, open your eyes and look at the figure. Is the figure pointing in the direction you decided? Try this experiment several times. If you saw the figure pointing in the direction you had decided on, it means you have taken an action which was not determined by anything else (since the figure could be seen either way) and which you controlled (since you decided which way to see the figure).
This suggests that you have a free will (aren't you glad). If you did not immediately see the arrows pointing in the direction you had decided, it indicates that the power of free will does not extend to determining what you see. What you see at any given time is determined by actions of your brain that you cannot fully control. However, since you are able to see the arrows pointing in the direction you decided (although not immediately upon opening your eyes) you are still executing some form of "free will."
You should understand that when you look at an object (i.e., a red box) you do not really "see" the object itself. You "see" the light reflected by the object to your eye. The lens of your eye forms a picture of the object on the back (the retina) of your eye, just like a camera forms an image on a photographic film. This image starts neural impulses that go to the visual center of your brain. This results in a pattern of interconnecting neurons being formed. It is this neural pattern that represents the object you are looking at (i.e., a red box). The images we see are in our head, we project them out side of ourselves. We have learned by using our other senses that is where the real object is. When you are asleep, the same pattern of interconnected neurons can re-occur. If it should be a pattern that represents a red box, you see the red box in your dream. It seems real, because in a sense it is real. We all have dreams and except them as normal.
If a hypnotist should suggest that a subject sees a red box, and the subject does, most people think this is strange. Something mystical is occurring. The hallucinations that are produced while in a state of hypnosis are coming from the same source as dreams. A neural pattern of interconnecting nerve cells that represent the hallucination has been reestablished. Dreams and hallucinations come from the physical interconnections of millions of nerve cells in patterns that represent the images seen in dreams and hallucinations. However, when we dream or are under hypnosis, a logical critical part of our mind is not working. You have learned that you cannot walk through a brick wall, but in your dreams you can and in a state of hypnosis you can, because this logical analytical part of your brain is not active. In childhood we learn that we should not see things, unless there is some stimulus from the world out side of ourselves, that triggers the image. A few people have failed to learn this and see things that are not real; we call them crazy.
When you focus on some near by object, all objects in the distance are doubled and when you focus on a far object all near objects are doubled. Hold the index finger of each hand upright and in line before your eyes, one six inches in front of the nose, the other twelve inches beyond your nose. If you look at the closest finger, the far one is doubled. Now look at the far finger, and you will find that the near one is double. Usually these double images are not seen or are "neglected" if they are dimly perceived. This is an example of how we have learned to control our field of conscious awareness. Ordinarily we have a wide field of conscious awareness that is indefinitely and vaguely bounded. Within this field of awareness we have learned to focus our attention on what is important to us at the moment. This ability to narrow our field of conscious awareness applies to all of our senses, not only sight. In the state of hypnosis the field of attention closely approaches in size and shape the field of conscious awareness. The limitation of the field of awareness is drawn into the limitation of the field of attention.
You have learned to easily change your field of attention. For example, you might be standing on a busy city street-corner having a conversation with a friend, while at the same time be aware of an airplane overhead, a passing truck, and a band near by playing a march. You can at will choose to focus your attention on any of the currents events. On the other hand, you may be so engrossed in the conversation with your friend that you may restrict your attention to your conversation to the point that you are unaware to the airplane, truck and band.
I think the above examples will be enough to convince you that reactions can be affected and controlled to a predictable degree upon applying the proper methods for doing so. Belief can be changed to doubt. Skepticism and doubt can be replaced with belief. Belief can be increased to conviction.
Most of us have a degree of skepticism about things that are not familiar. The "unknown" often evokes some amount of doubt or apprehension. Feelings such as these can be the basis of resistance. Resistance to accept changes of existing conditions, changes to established beliefs, and to act in a manner contrary to the dictates of our perceptions; even after we recognize our perceptions are wrong.
When you work with a potential subject, a belief in the methods you will use will be a major factor. Skepticism must be brought to at least a neutral level. The way to inhibit any resistance to hypnosis will be to have your subject perform a series of experiments we will present.
If you are learning hypnosis, it would be a good idea for you to perform the experiments on yourself. If you have a helper, you might take turns performing the experiments on each other. If you have a belief and confidence in the methods you use, so will your subject.
A series of experiments will be presented in module five of this series. Each will be explained as it is presented and each will be a little more complex than the preceding one. As you practice each succeeding experiment your belief in yourself and in your ability to utilize these techniques will increase. You can use these experiments to reduce the skepticism of potential subjects. As you and/or your subject become more and more familiar with the phenomena observed, which will increasingly be related to hypnosis, apprehension of the unknown will disappear.
|The instructions presented are from the personal collections and writing library of Mr. Robert E. Cutter, who died December 13, 2001, while in the process of completing the transfer of his work to the internet. These are offered as educational instruction only. The purpose of this instruction is the effective learning and use of hypnotic techniques for vocational or avocational self-improvement. This instruction is not offered as a substitute for, nor as a supplement to, any form of therapy concerned with physical, mental, nervous or emotional illness. Robert E. Cutter served as web consultant for American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association for three years. His hypnosis education came through the training he provided at a school he owned in the 1950's in Los Angeles, California, along with his wife who preceded him in death in 1980. Robert Cutter was not a psychologist and did not practice psychotherapy, but his interest in hypnosis motivated him to provide free resources materials for others who wanted to learn to use the power of their minds to improve well being and health-related issues.|
Michael A. Robinson, R.N.- BC Psychiatry
Licensed Texas State Nursing Board Registered Nurse
Texas State Nursing Board Certified in Psychiatry
In Honor and Memory of Robert E. Cutter, B.S. 1923-d.2001
From the Writings of Robert Cutter's Self Hypnosis Center
About Feelings Network
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