“I shall use hypnosis to turn you into my slave!” roared Dr. Drake, as a bolt of lightening split the sinister sky behind him, to his defenseless victim who curled into a quivering ball at his fearful threat. This is a common theme in many horror movies involving hypnosis. Not only is “Dr. Drake” over-exaggerating on his statement, his declaration is simply ridiculous in the reality of hypnosis! It is essential to wipe out those common misconceptions of hypnosis encouraged by those fictional tales, and get down to the truth of hypnosis, its real power, its techniques, its role in the medical field, and its relationship with hypnotherapy.
Sadly, an average person’s knowledge of hypnosis generally turns out to be common misconceptions promoted by the Medias and fictional books. One of the most popular misconceptions of hypnosis suggested that a hypnotized person naturally falls under the control of the hypnotist, which is completely false for he can only be hypnotized if he agrees to be. In some supernatural films, a hypnotized person is even portrayed to possess supernatural power under hypnosis. Once again, it holds no truth; hypnosis does not play a role in increasing or decreasing physical strength at all. As for those who have seen an adult subject remembering the details of his childhood toy, memory is not at all more accurate under hypnosis. The same guy who may be describing his childhood toy is still completely capable of lying to his hypnotist. Although he may be “reliving” his childhood while under hypnosis, most often the patient tends to go beyond the childhood stage and into their past life making it impossible to select a specific age in their stage of youth (Franzoi184). These are the most common misleading pieces of information on the abilities of hypnosis on its patient.
Before going in depth on the true abilities of hypnosis, the origin of hypnosis must be unraveled. Going back almost 4000 years ago, hypnosis first originated in China, India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other ancient civilizations (Chaves 212). However, modern hypnosis traces more directly back to Franz Anton Mesmer, a German physician of 18th Century who “rediscovered and popularized hypnosis” (Smith 173). He believed that there was a “subtle fluid” that made up the universe including the human body. He concluded that when a person fell ill, whether emotionally or physically, it was due to the ents by rebalancing their “subtle fluid”, which became known as Mesmerism. He seemed to have cured many llnesses by simply exposing “his patients to magnetic objects and fluids to restore their bodies to a ‘magnetic balance’”. A Portuguese priest later discovered that Mesmerism was not related to magnetic chances but to suggestions. Mesmerism soon led to the word “hypnosis”, which was taken from the Greek God of Sleep – Hypno – by a Scottish surgeon James (Smith 173). Due to the mystifying power of hypnosis, it is now used widely throughout the world.