Dr. Uma Devi P.
Published : 31 Dec 2010
A human life time,
taking an average span of 70 years, starting from birth, takes one through
different phases of growth, development, ups and downs of mental (emotional) and
physical swings, until death intervenes.
The last century was
one of fast growth and inventions which made life more comfortable through
innovative developments in science and technology, progress in medicine which
brought better methods of diagnosis and treatment of diseases, faster
communication facilities, and higher living standards.
But this fast
development, while leading to material benefits raising the standard of living
and physical comforts to levels unknown before, has also led to several problems
which were not encountered or not considered serious earlier.
The high profile jobs
with huge pay packets have made life a continuous rat race, depleting the
physical and mental energy of a person and increasing stress that leads to many
physical and emotional problems.
Moreover, the human
mind is being conditioned in such a way that in the name of modernity we are
getting addicted to certain life styles, dietary habits and recreational
activities that further increase the stress and related diseases.
In the modern time of
rapid industrialization and global changes in life style, mental stress is
contributing significantly to health problems like cardiovascular diseases,
arthritis, cancers, hypertension, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, psychiatric and
Even though the
medical science has advanced several fold and new drugs are being discovered
every day, and scientists trying hard to link every disease to a gene, an
effective remedy for many diseases like some cancers, certain infections,
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are still far away.
approach to ailments is to treat the symptoms, viewing each problem as a disease
of the body or of the mind. Even though the treatment may succeed in alleviating
the symptoms and apparently restore normal condition, many a time it does not
ensure the complete health of the person.
This is because the
treatment methods and medication are generalized in terms of a disease symptom
or a behavioural pattern, often ignoring the individual’s emotional,
psychological and spiritual perception/ attitudes, which play a prominent role i
n t h e treatment response.
Th e re - fore, even
though the patient is cured of the disease, the illness persists. A holistic
health approach has to take into consideration the body-mind relationship, as
every disease has a physical and emotional component. In many cases the physical
disease may be a bodily reaction to some mental/ emotional problem and treating
the body alone will not ensure complete removal of the disease. Moreover, many
medicines produce undesirable side effects, severely compromising the quality of
Therefore, people have
started looking for alternative ways to treat chronic/recurring diseases. Music,
yoga, breathing exercises, etc., are being explored to improve health and treat
some diseases. A holistic approach is hypnotherapy, which makes use of the
body-mind relationship for healing.
What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a
method of treatment which uses hypnosis for facilitating the therapeutic effect
Hypnosis is an altered
state of consciousness or awareness, characterized by focused attention, acute
sensory perception, increased concentration, physical relaxation and
Our subconscious mind
has a record of all our past experiences, not accessible in the conscious state.
The subconscious mind is accessed under hypnosis and the desired changes are
brought about through suggestion given in that state.
The advantage of
hypnotherapy is that , as the mindbody axis is activate d , t h e cure involves
both emotional and physical states and no medication is used. Since the problem
is tackled at its root, once the healing takes place, the effect is lasting.
This method is found
very useful in treating many physical and physiological symptoms like pain,
rashes, asthma, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and psychological and
psychiatric problems like depression, insomnia, phobias and fears, and also to
stop harmful habits like alcoholism, drug addiction and smoking.
The earliest known use
of hypnosis for healing is by the Shamans or tribal Medicine Men, even though
the term ‘hypnosis’ was not known then. Present day hypnotherapy can be traced
back to Dr Franz Anton Mesmer, an 18th century Austrian physician. He believed
that many objects contained a ‘cosmic fluid’ with healing powers, which could be
transferred to human body to cure diseases.
Initially he used
magnets for the healing, but later considered his own body as the source of this
healing force, which he called ‘animal magnetism’.
Though there was no
evidence to support his theory, he treated thousands of patients using this
method, which came to be known as ‘mesmerism’.
It was James Braid, a
British Surgeon, who coined the word ‘hypnosis’ (from the word Greek ‘hypnos’
meaning ‘sleep’) in 1843 to describe a sleep-like state exhibited by many of his
patients. Several schools in the West developed hypnosis for treatment and the
method gained popularity.
Sigmund Freud, the
well-known Psychiatrist also used hypnosis in his early days of practice, but
later discarded it for psychotherapy. With the fast development of psychiatry in
the first half of the 20th century, hypnotherapy suffered a decline in
However a revival
occurred in the 1950’s, mainly due to the efforts of two American doctors, Dr.
Milton Erickson and Dr. John Kappas, who contributed significantly to shape the
present day hypnotherapy. The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, established by John
Kappas in 1969, was the first authentic school of hypnotherapy in the
(The writer is a
clinical hypnotherapist. E-mail: email@example.com)