Throughout the history of this country, hypnosis has been dismissedas a form of gimmickry. Contrary to this, for centuries numerous cultures haveused hypnosis as a means of mental and spiritual healing. Hypnosis is definedas an induced trance-like state in which one is highly susceptible tosuggestions, or commands. There are three commonly known methods of hypnosis.
Two of which, the authoritarian and standardized approaches, are generallyconsidered non-beneficial towards the subject. Meanwhile the utilizationapproach, primarily developed by Dr. Milton H. Erickson, is the most widely usedamongst psychologists today. The authoritarian approach focuses primarily on thepower of the hypnotist over his/her subject.
The out-dated though still used,standardized approach, is rather limited due to the fact that it considers aperson either hypnotizable or not. In contrast to the authoritarian andstandardized approaches, the utilization approach, stresses the interactionnature of the hypnotic relationship. These approaches have many dissimilaritiesand thus are utilized for different practices. The authoritarian approach emphasizes the power of the hypnotist.Order now
This approach, spawned by Mesmer and others, is still widely exploited by stagehypnotists and is consequently often the conceptualization held by the uniformedlay person. Even many trained physicians implicitly adhere to this view, whichin it’s extreme form involves some powerful and charismatic hypnotist exercisingsome strange power over a hapless and weak-willed subject. In essence, thehypnotist gets the subject to do something he or she wouldn’t ordinarily do suchas stop smoking or bark like a dog. This approach generally assumes that theunconscious is some passive vehicle into which suggestions are placed.
Thisapproach is one which is viewed as limited in value. It is also believed thatthe unconscious is mistreated or abused. Because of its authoritative manner,this approach is considered ineffective. Many people realized these limitations and subsequently developedwhat might be called the standardized approach. The standardized approachgenerally assumes that hypnotic responsiveness is determined by some inherenttrait or ability of the subject.
There is nothing inherently worn with thisapproach, especially in a research setting, where sometimes it is required. However it doesn’t work very well for allot of subjects, especially thosedisplaying abnormal behavior. The utilization approach assumes that each person is unique interms of strategies used to create his/her trance and, consequently thehypnotist’s effectiveness depends upon how well he/she is able to adapt his/herbasic strategies to those of a given subject. Thus standardized methods are notused.
The approach further assumes that unconscious processes can operate in anintelligent and creative fashion and that people have stored in theirunconscious all the resources necessary to attain this “trance”. The question thus becomes: How does the hypnotist bring the subjectunder trance? Instead of standardized techniques, he/she has to use generalprinciples to guide his/her efforts. There are three defined parts of theutilization approach: 1) accept and utilize the clients reality, 2) pace andlead the subject’s behavior and 3) interpret “resistance” as lack of pacing. The first principle-accept and utilize-was stressed again and againby Erickson and is the essential theme of Erickson and Rossi’sHypnotherapy(1979).
Briefly stated, accepting means assuming and communicating to thesubject that “what you’re doing at this point in time is exactly what I’d likeyou to be doing. It’s fine; it’s perfect. ” Utilizing means assuming andcommunicating the attitude that “what you’re doing right now is exactly thatwhich will allow you to do X. ” The process of accepting and utilizing is onecommunicating that what the subject is doing is fine and it will allow him/herto do something else (like enter a trance). Bander and Grinder (1975) discussedthese principles in the more process-oriented terms of pacing and leading thesubject’s behavior.
Pacing communications essentially feed back the subject’sexperience; they add nothing new. The major intent is too gain trust from thesubject, as well as attention. This enables the subject to be more trustful andcooperative and the hypnotist to be more understanding. Once trust has beengained the hypnotist can lead by introducing behaviors that are different from,but consistent with, the subject’s present state and slightly closer to thedesired state (e.
g. ,trance). According to the principle of Ericksonianteachings, the effective hypnotist assumes all experience is valid andutilizable and paces and leads to the desired state. The on thing the hypnotistmust remember is that everything the patient is doing, the hypnotist wants himto do. There is no resistance, the hypnotist must adapt to the subject’s stateof mind, actions and reactions.
The three approaches to hypnosis differ in many ways. There is theauthoritarian approach, which is used by stage performers and beginners. Alsothere is the standardized approach which although slightly advanced, still seemsto be prejudice towards subjects that are harder to bring into trance. Then Dr. Milton Erickson pioneered the hypnosis of the future. A form of hypnosis thatwould adapt to everyone.
Erickson’s approach was far harder on the hypnotist,because it is not learned as a pragmatic routine, it is learned as a a stylethat each hypnotist develops within himself. This is good and bad in some ways. It is good in that it calls upon the hypnotist’s creativity, which is the key todiscovering new techniques and approaches. It is bad for the hypnotist who hasvery little creativity.
The standardized approach would be better forhypnotists with little creativity, while the utilization approach would bebetter for hypnotists with a great deal of creativity. As a society we havelooked lowly upon hypnotism as a treatment, and its effects are being lost tostage performers. In my opinion hypnosis offers us a direct path to theunconscious mind; and in the unconscious mind anything is possible.Category: Science