I have had 2 experiences with hypnotists in my life. My first experience involved a hypnotist entertaining a crowd in a night club. The topic of discussion on stage that night is inappropriate for this article. Suffice to say that the hypnotist inspired his volunteer subject to say outrageous things. I laughed till I cried.
My second experience with a hypnotist involved a much more serious event. After consulting with our mid-wife, my wife and I consulted a hypnotherapist to prepare for the birth of our first child. We called it "hypnobirthing."
The process was very simple. For a period of about 8 weeks, my wife and I met weekly with our hypnotherapist to practice relaxation methods designed to promote self-relaxation in the face of pain during child labor. My wife took home audio tapes to listen to while in a relaxed state, or even while sleeping. And I learned memory cues to help her remember to relax and to let her know I was there to support her.
Although a long and difficult labor, my wife was able to use self-hypnosis to moderate her pain. And thanks to our lessons, we gave birth to a 10-pound, 11-ounce baby without the use of painkillers and without the intervention of a doctor. Our "hypnobirthing" worked beautifully.
Hypnotism has a long history as a therapeutic practice. As early as 1892 the British Medical Association conducted a systematic review hypnotherapy, and concluded that it could be effective in relieving pain, anxiety, and other psycho-somatic conditions. For more than a hundred years research has demonstrated that hypnotism can be an effective therapy for an array of physical and psychological conditions, and can even be used to help change behavior.
I have shared my experience with hypnotism to illustrate that hypnotism can work in a variety of ways under very different circumstances. Whether to inspire outrageous public behavior or to ease the pain of child birth, deep relaxation methods can help us focus our minds, remove unwanted behavior - such as binge eating or smoking - and replace it with healthy behavior. Hypnotherapy is widely used today to help people address a variety of conditions, including addictions, anxiety, depression, and much more.