Hypnotherapy History and Definition


Historically many cultures have therapeutically utilized altered mental states accompanied by healing suggestions to treat physical and psychological illnesses. In ancient Egypt, sleep temples were used for healing, and various forms of hypnotherapeutic techniques practiced in ancient India remain prevalent in certain parts of India today.

According to Harbor Psychiatry and Mental Health’s clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist, Dr. Balaji Nettimi, PsyD, the two common elements in any form of hypnotherapy include an altered mental state accompanied by suggestions.

The NHM (Nettimi Hypnosis Model) explains the process of inducing the hypnotic state. The relaxation phase proceeds after lowering conscious resistance and allows direct access to the unconscious mind. The hypnotherapist then uses suggestions to replace the unconscious unwanted tendencies, behaviors, and symptoms. Along with hypnotherapeutic suggestions, the client is taught self-hypnosis techniques to help reinforce the suggestions from the hypnotherapy sessions.

The Four Hypnotic Depth Levels and Suggestions (NHM)

  1. Pre-Catalepsy Depth Level: In this depth level there is disorganization, disorientation, confusion, glossy eyes, and dry mouth.
  2. Light-Catalepsy Depth Level: This depth level is characterized by closed and fluttery eyelids. Clients enter this depth level by closing their eyes after the completion of the induction process. Most issues such as smoking cessation and weight loss can be addressed at this depth level. The dominant (Electroencephalograph) EEG brain wave pattern in this stage is alpha, resembling brain waves produced when feeling drowsy.
  3. Catatonic-Catalepsy Depth Level: In this depth level there is catatonia, which is indicated by stiffness and stupor in various parts of the body. This depth level could be assessed by challenging the client to open his eyes that are stuck like glue, bending an unbendable stiff arm, or lifting a very heavy leg that can’t be lifted. The Catatonic-Catalepsy is the ideal depth level necessary to induce optimal change through hypnotic suggestions. The EEG recordings in this depth show alpha & theta waves, which resemble REM sleep. Dreams occur in this sleep stage and the major muscles become catatonic or paralyzed inhibiting the body from physically acting out the dream. This mechanism protects the body from accidental injury. The paralysis in REM sleep may resemble the stiffness and stupor experienced in this depth level.
  4. Amnestic and Anesthetic Depth Level: In this depth level there is amnesia and anesthesia. While some clients naturally enter this depth level, others can be trained to reach this depth level with practice and repetition. In order to optimally achieve amnesia and anesthesia, delta brain waves, similar to Stage 4 NREM (deepest sleep stage) are required. This is the ideal state for hypnotic suggestions for anesthetic purposes during surgery.

Hypnotherapy| Hypnosis Myths

Some common myths about hypnosis include the following:

  1. Not everybody can be hypnotized: Everybody can be hypnotized. Some subjects can naturally reach a deeper depth level than others.
  2. Intelligent people cannot be hypnotized: Intelligent and creative subjects who can focus, concentrate, and visualize are more susceptible to hypnosis.
  3. People can get stuck in hypnosis: It is not possible to get stuck in the hypnotic state and one can be easily awakened from the state.
  4. People will become unconscious and turn into zombies: The subject is always in control even under the hypnotic state and not zombified.
  5. People may violate moral values under hypnosis: Subjects do not violate moral values under hypnosis.
  6. People perform superhuman feats under hypnosis: Nothing can be performed in a hypnotic state that cannot be performed in the waking state.
  7. People may reveal embarrassing secrets under hypnosis:
  8. Subjects keep their secrets and even lie under hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy| Hypnosis Uses

Medical: Hypnosis is accepted by the American Medical Association as a viable treatment modality. It can be used for pain relief, painless child birthing, and controlling physiological processes (bleeding, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). It can also be used as an anesthetic in medical and dental procedures.

Psychological: Hypnosis is accepted by the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association as a viable treatment modality. It can be used in the treatment of the panic disorder, anxiety, depression, phobias, insomnia, sexual dysfunctions, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictions, and other types of psychopathologies.

Bad Habits: Hypnosis can be used to control unwanted habits such as smoking, overeating, nail-biting, etc. Self-Improvement: Hypnosis can be used to enhance motivation, study habits, public speaking, sports performance, interpersonal relationships, etc.

Professional: Hypnosis can be used to improve work performance, sales, networking, professional success, etc.

Entertainment: Stage hypnosis can be used for entertainment purposes.

To learn more about Hypnotherapy at Harbor Psychiatry and Mental Health, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Balaji Nettimi, PsyD, resident licensed psychologist and hypnotherapist at Harbor Psychiatry and Mental Health.

About Harbor Psychiatry & Mental Health

We believe outstanding healthcare is delivered when we merge the science of medicine with the compassion of our hearts. We refer to this as “head and heart together,” inspiring constant improvement and lasting success.
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