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Notes on Hypnotherapy

That human consciousness is a function simply of the left hemisphere is almost certainly wrong.
That the left hemisphere plays a significant role in human consciousness is almost certainly correct.

Consciousness is a barrier to the hypnotic state. If we are in a normal waking conscious state, then
we cannot be in hypnosis. We must change the mental state: we must alter it. Now this can either
be done with the help of someone else, by drugs or by oneself. All three means are possible; and they
are each a means of creating the hypnotic state. This should not be surprising. It is the state of mind
that is hypnosis and not the means by which it is achieved. We can talk of fire without confusing it
with whether the fire was brought about by lighting a match or using a lighter. So we must
constantly remember that hypnosis is a state of mind independent of how it was achieved.

Can one consciously alter the normal waking state? This is a confusing question. The hypnotic state
can be achieved only by suspending consciousness. In other words, when creating a hypnotic state
we put a halt to the process of consciousness: we halt the operator. By suspending the operation of
consciousness we allow a change in consciousness from the normal waking state to take place. This
is not a retrogressive step. It does not mean that we are going into a more primitive form of
consciousness. It simply means that we are going into

Can other form of consciousness. The point can be made in the following way. Suppose I have a
piano and play a Strauss waltz. Is that retrogressive? It is true that it is music common in the early
twentieth century, but it is in no way inferior; it is just another kind of music. Just as a Strauss waltz
is different from an Oscar Peterson jazz composition, so hypnosis is different from the normal
conscious waking state.

We have labored this point in an attempt to indicate that altered states of consciousness are
alternatives. One is no better than another or more primitive than another. Certainly many altered
states of consciousness activate the lower limbic system of the brain. But that only reflects that
consciousness is less associated with these areas of the brain. We are, in fact, no more than saying
that the brain has areas of specialization. All efficient systems have parts that are specialized. The
human nervous system is one of the most (the most?) efficient systems we know, and its efficiency
far outstrips anything man-made.

Just as conscious awareness requires constant stimuli, so does the hypnotic state. If no suggestions
are made then this will either lead to natural sleep or to awakening consciousness. Furthermore,
attempts to explore the subjective state of hypnosis are liable to deepen it still further. This is
probably because it sets up a closed loop. It could also be that as the reticular activating system
(RAS) affects the cortex to induce the hypnosis, the cortex influences the RAS by thoughts and so
reinforces the state, hence the individual goes deeper into hypnosis.

A modern view of hypnosis as an altered state of consciousness is that it is a state of focused


relaxation. The body is relaxed while the mind narrows its attention to the suggestions of the
hypnotist. It does not matter whether the hypnotist is someone else or oneself, all that matters is
that the body is in a relaxed state and the person is focusing his or her attention on the suggestions
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which are being given. When considered from this point of view, hypnotic induction is mainly getting
the person being hypnotized into a relaxed state and narrowing down their focus of attention. In
doing this the person being hypnotized is directed to introspection. Outside stimuli are restricted
and attention is directed inwards to bodily feelings and responses. This inward looking nature of the
induction process narrows the persons attention. The suggestions of relaxation further create the
relaxed body so allowing the introspection to take on a greater depth. As the focus of attention
narrows, soon the only stimuli for the individual is that presented by the hypnotist. In simple terms,
a state of hypnosis is being established.

Once the state is established, however, there is no need for the individual to remain relaxed. On the
contrary they can be quite active. What matters at this stage is that the individual is now focused
purely on the suggestions of the hypnotist.

- Self-hypnosis Chapter13