The National Council of Psychotherapists
Magic of Hypnosis
hypnosis - some reflections on the language of our minds
Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar
our contemporary, scientific world, where magic is condemned as obscene,
happiness considered a luxury, and only dollars and pounds are taken as
punctually reflecting reality, I would like to draw your attention to Wishes. Throughout our lifetime we struggle with routines and
survive boredom, sadness, difficulties and grief only thanks to those unique,
uncommon moments that are bigger than life - the few enchanting moments. Whether
it is birth of a child, falling in love, watching the sunrise or engaging in
creation, we draw our everyday energy from these peak moments. And these
moments, immeasurable as they are, unscientific by nature, these moments are
most people, the word hypnosis carries with it shadows of witchcraft and
mind-control. It seems mysterious and magical, but also unscientific and
deceitful. For this very reason, many hypnotists, hypnotherapists and lecturers
on that subject tried their best to dismiss the mystery and magic of hypnosis as
a means of regaining scientific respect. By yielding into the scientific
paradigm, practitioners and theoreticians of the art of hypnosis hoped to bring
about a change. Since I see no need to demystify hypnosis in order to proof its
efficacy, I will try to have it both ways.
this short paper, I hope to bring you some of my understandings of the language
of our mind and show you, that while the methods used in hypnotherapy and NLP
may be systematic and methodological, the content of our Self, as the universe's
greatest creation, sometimes requires just more than that. To me hypnosis is
magical since it is concerned with opening the gates to the loveliest of
wonderlands, to the understanding of the language of our mind.
of us receives information about the world through the senses, and interprets it
in a different and individual way. Many factors influence the way we receive and
process information: our biological structure and genetic heritage, our parental
and caregivers' influence, childhood experience, nutrition, socio-economic
status, the environment, and indeed many other factors. Our behaviour and
thoughts are the result of that interpretation, but most of the motivations are
still unknown to us.
we open the refrigerator in search for something to eat, we are unaware to the
specific need we answer (is it sugar? Proteins? Sexual satisfaction?). We only
know that we are hungry.
know when we are cold or hot, but are unaware of the homeostatic systems that
maintain our body temperature.
strive for love and sympathy; we are sometimes happy, other times jealous or
emotional. We can ascribe to one theory or another of human motives and
behaviours, but can anyone sincerely claim for fully understanding the causes
for her own or his own states? I truly hope that we will never decipher the
mystery of our being.
a way, our consciousness is like the tower of Babel: hundreds of languages are
being spoken around. Thanks to the self-awareness, we are using reflection to
notice many languages, but we understand only a few - through resemblance in
processes, similar words, postures and gestures - since our consciousness is
limited in its capacities. Nevertheless, unlike Babylon, our body is usually
functioning in an amazing synchronicity. There are several somatic (or
subconscious) mechanisms, which integrate many processes and understand a number
of languages simultaneously: the binary neural language, the protein dialect of
hormones, immune system and informational substances, the emotions jargon, the
language of senses, consciousness, English, and more.
is important to understand that all these procedures are taking place in every
person. And, of course, they are all metaphors. Existence is not referable in
any language; language reduces the impact of existence. Nevertheless, there are
similar principles of functioning at the basis of these processes. Hypnosis had
created - and is still intensively learning to perfect - the Esperanto of mind-body connections; we are translating these
principles and - via language - affecting somatic systems and processes.
dialogue between the hypnotherapist and the somatic systems consists of
harnessing conscious processes and utilising them, going beyond conscious
processes and introducing information to somatic systems and internalising and
amplifying the new ideas.
I mentioned already, the consciousness is weak, limited and small-portioned
compared to our entire Self. Hypnotherapists strive to act upon these processes
to bring about change. It is usually quite difficult to affect somatic systems
(such as bad habits, fears and illnesses) because the rapport between conscious
and somatic mind is often implicit, and resistant to external influences (for
example, the critical faculty, which is responsible for many self-limiting
beliefs). It is rather difficult to stop smoking, for instance, since our
conscious decision is weaker than the habitual somatic systems.
as I see them, are the communication processes that are taken to access somatic
scenarios and encourage the client to influence these processes without
for instance, inactivates many bodily processes. It is easier to gain acceptance
and belief when the body is at ease. By applying convincing methods and creating
rapport, the hypnotist further enhances the person's readiness to accept the
attention. The Hollywoodish pendulum restricts all the limited conscious
attention to one direction, thus enabling the hypnotist to turn off the
criticising, censuring and guardian processes of consciousness. Hypnotherapy
often uses more subtle and creative devices. The principle, however, is the
By using imagination, we keep occupying our conscious processes while
attending somatic systems simultaneously. A main feature of somatic language is
its sensory basis and its affinity to imagination.
and metaphors, so often used by hypnotherapists, are therapeutic tools intended
to bring about change. Our somatic intelligence undresses the analogies'
clothing and applies the content to oneself. As remarkable as it might seem, our
somatic self is constantly looking for meaning.
new ideas can be introduced to our somatic mind in many ways. The most common
are suggestions, which are built in accordance with the somatic grammar, and
imaginations - mind pictures, sounds and feelings, and some more complicated
structures, which hypnotherapists learn and practice.
an idea to be then accepted, a necessary precondition must be fulfilled: the
client's readiness to accept it. The harmony and effectiveness of any new idea
depends on the "owner's" basic approval. Whenever we introduce a new
element into the system - it must be congruent with the structure, dynamics and
aims of the entire system.
new idea and suggestion we introduce would compete with other ideas, of which
some are more established (even in bodily terms and neural paths) and superior.
Suggestion such as "my fingernails are naturally growing, healthy and
beautiful" can encounter an old patterned one like "when I need to
relax, I bite my fingernails", which is far more powerful. What is the
solution? How can therapy ensure the long-term effect of these changes?
if conducting organ transplantation, we have checked the basic accord before
introducing it to the body (Is our suggestion congruent with the person's belief
system?). We have cleaned the body and anaesthetised the parts that might hurt
too much and introduced the new organ (induction and suggestions or other
in order to give this organ a fair chance to survive, we actively reduce the
immune response to it, until the transplanted organ is steadily established. We
use hypnotic techniques to enhance our suggestions' power and to extinguish
resistance: the methods used might be repetitions; confusion; overloading; using
various representation systems; creating associations to other ideas and many
important feature of most of the methods is the creation of positive feedback
loops. If, for example we wish to help the fingernail-biter, we may present to
him the idea that every time he abstains from biting he will feel extremely
satisfied and contented, and that after each 10 clean days, he will buy himself
a small present. The satisfactions will lead to further avoidance of biting and
so on. When combined with other suggestions, specially tailored for the person's
needs and character, we create a context in which changes can readily occur.
can be accomplished by using these methods?
Self is a powerful generator, it keeps us alive and functioning; it maintains
our health and performs millions of actions each and every second. Hypnotherapy
harnesses the mind's potential power, and as long as the language is accurate
and suits the person's needs, the border of hypnotherapy is the limit of natural
phenomena; the boundary of the mind is the limit of imagination. Hypnotherapy
can help treat psychological problems, and intervene with biological processes
and emotional states. We can also influence cognitive aspects of the mind.
is a concept in Buddhism called 'Bodhi-Chitta'
- (the thought of enlightenment). Within each and every one of us lies the face
of Buddha; divinity can be found within us all. Each of us is an incredibly
complex wonder, an unbelievably intelligent system (or self), which is
inevitable beyond comprehension. The somatic systems of a toddler are more
powerful than Einstein's cognitive mind. And we might as well use those powers!
we are only beginning to comprehend the language of our somatic processes, we
are already able to look at ourselves in a whole-new and magical way, and to
utilise our powers for our own benefits. Hypnotherapy and NLP use
somatic-language in order to utilise it. I admit that suggestions, systematic as
they might be, are not as scientifically impressive as an MRI scan, and that
guided imagination may not be as mathematically replicable as an EEG, but this
is the only way to establish a fertile, applicable and reciprocal dialogue with
our inherently mysterious self.
matter what scientists will ever say, nothing is as mysterious as a smile, and
in order to understand smiling, neither checking chemical substances nor
psychological analysis is enough. To completely and thoroughly understand it, to
be able to claim knowledge on the field of smiling - you must twitch your lips
to the sides and upwards with a genuine intention and awe - and smile. You must
understand language from within its natural habitat, and that is exactly what
I've been talking about - Magic.