Mind Over Matter
Emerging from the misty depths of mesmerism to become a respected field of study, hypnosis is one topic that can easily shift gears from fantasy to science. With one foot firmly in the realm of science fiction and another in stark reality, this is one natural phenomenon that will keep the public enthralled for years to come. I spent the afternoon with hypnotherapist extraordinaire Kavi Kilawan in an effort to understand what modern day hypnosis means, and why people are still skeptical of its supernatural side-effects. "Hypnosis is ancient." Says hypnotherapist Kavi K. "Human beings have always been dancing around fires or inside caves to enter a trance in order to change their state of mind or alter their reality. There are records of hypnosis being used by the Greeks and Romans in ancient sleep temples."
Our modern understanding of hypnosis begins with Franz Anton Mesmer, a physician from seventeenth century Venice. Using his technique of "animal magnetism", the unfortunate Mesmer created a rather notorious name for himself in an age known for its Enlightenment. Initially his theories and techniques were celebrated by the establishment of the time and even led to him giving demonstrations to the nobel elite. Mesmer's love for showmanship however quickly made him an outcast from the medical society and eventually led to him being labeled a charlatan.
With the name of Mesmer now in disrepute, a man called James Braid took up the mantle and coined the word hypnosis, named after the Greek god of sleep. At first a skeptic, Braid began his research in eye-fixation after witnessing a number of demonstrations by Charles Lafontaine. His theories and achievements in the field have since become the foundation of modern hypnotherapy without the trappings of superstition.
"Hypnosis is basically opening doors in your subconscious mind which you do not normally have access to," explains Kavi. "It bypasses the analytical mind and in this state we can change our blood pressure, our heart beat or even our blood sugar level. The immunce system gets stronger under hypnosis which can be used for the treatment skin conditions, anxiety or certain cases of heart conditions. Most importantly is that we gain access to deep memories that you may not remember consciously. This however can lead to misconceptions of hypnosis."
“...People are so eager and keen to believe in others or listen to what is wrong or right but seldom think to look within themselves for the answer...” - Kavi Kilawan, hypnotherapist.
The biggest myth about hypnosis is the concept of mind control, the hypnotherapist explains. When someone is hypnotised, they do not become a slave to the hypnotists orders. If this were the case says Kavi, we would cease to need prisons. We could simply hypnotise prisoners into become law abiding citizens. Another big myth is that of telling your deepest, darkest secrets. Unless you really feel inclined to do so, explains Kavi, it ultimately remains your choice whether or not to spill the beans.
What about regression and past life regression you ask? That of course remains the crown jewel in hypnosis, says Kavi. Regression therapy means taking someone back to a traumatic memory in an effort to overcome the prolonged anxiety caused by the experience. This branch of hypnosis undeniably remains somewhat controversial with skeptics warning against false memories. For those lives have been changed for the better, regression therapy remains a viable option.
As our afternoon came to an end, Kavi concluded our visit with a thought provoking notion. "People are so eager and keen to believe in others or listen to what is wrong or right but seldom think to look within themselves for the answer. Our job as hypnotherapists is to help people believe in who they are."