There is much confusion about the difference between Stage Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy or Hypnosis as a therapeutic or self practice… and on another level then who it is that is really in control? Even those in the profession seem a little hazy on the difference between what a Stage Hypnotist and a Hypnotherapist does, and even behind what Hypnosis implies as compared to Hypnotherapy. And then throw in the question, Who’s in Control anyway?, and it all gets a little bit sticky. Add to this the sliding scale of the practitioners’ level of growth and development and we have an intricate array of outcomes available to us.
So from my personal perspective I’d like to clear this up a little… and, of course, this is only how I see it so what I’m about to tell you, like everything, is exactly true, unless of course it’s not. So you can decide for yourself!
Lets start with the word Hypnosis, a term initially coined by Dr James Braid in the early 1840’s. It comes from the Greek word hypnos which means “Sleep.” Braid originally understood the process of hypnosis to be about the fixation of attention to bring upon a trance like/slower brainwave state of mind that also relaxed the body into some form of sleep. This was a great discovery and used in the 1940’s in places like India, where Scotsman James Esdaile was practicing hypnosis for painless operations where ether was not available. Later, however, Braid recognized it was not sleep that the client experienced but a preoccupation with one idea or subject, to which the client was more open to suggestion through an increased degree of expectation. He did attempt to change the name to “Monoideism”… but by then the term Hypnosis, which referred to the use of “suggestion,” had stuck.
Hypnosis today is therefore a part of the broader category of Hypnotherapy and is also the tool employed by the Stage Hypnotist. Here is where the Hypnotherapist and Stage Hypnotist have something in common; Both a ‘Hypnotist’ and a ‘Hypnotherapist’ use Hypnosis. In other words, both a Hypnotist and a Hypnotherapist have the ability and skill to enable a willing participant to unlock the subconscious mind and implant suggestions towards the creation of a specific outcome. The words “willing” and “participant” here are imperative, for without consent and participation from the client/subject the suggestions are futile. The only real difference in the process is the motive behind using hypnosis in the first place.
A hypnotist and a hypnotherapist are therefore looking for different people. And in actual fact, neither hypnotist, nor hypnotherapist, look for people. People come seeking them, and for different reasons. Someone looking for a stage hypnotist is looking for entertainment. They either want to be entertained or do the entertaining. Those that are the Stage Hypnotists friend, and make for a great show, are the ones that have extroverted personalities, as few a morals and ethics as possible and are looking for license to act out in ways their personality, or society, wouldn’t normally allow. Those seeking a hypnotherapist have recognised a behaviour, feeling or thought pattern that is not serving them in a healthy manner and have become conscious enough to ask for help to change it.
I personally feel the Hypnotherapist has a more challenging job than the Stage Hypnotist in guiding a participant to the alpha/theta brain wave state required for hypnosis. As a generalization, people who find the hypnotist WANT to be hypnotized and they want the Ego boost gained from being the centre of attention. Those that find the hypnotherapist want to be HEALED. They don’t necessarily want to be hypnotized in order to find their health and wellbeing but suspect it may work as a last resort…. and on top of that they are typically lacking in self confidence. The exception are those practised in meditation and seeking the experience of evolutionary growth and development, however, within this exception other challenges arise regarding the navigational skills of the Hypnotherapist.
Those seeking the experience of stage hypnotism are more likely of extroverted tendency and have an aspiring actor persona inherent within their psyche. This paints a more self confident nature more susceptible to the hypnotic state.
In other respects however, the Stage Hypnotist has a more challenging time in keeping track of those that s/he has on stage. A more experienced Stage Hypnotist will have a dozen and more participants at one time to keep an eye on. And I could perhaps go so far as to say that these people are likely to be more ego centric, therefore less spiritually developed or evolved, and so potentially less novel and more unpredictable, while those seeking the Hypnotherapist are typically conscious of pot-holes and are seeking to remedy them.
I say the above, not with the intent to judge, but with the intent to paint a point of difference in the general characteristics that seek the Hypnotherapist and the Stage Hypnotist in my personal experience as a Hypnotherapist (bearing in mind I tend to work with deep analytical hypnosis for the purposes of spiritual growth and development).
Neither a Hypnotist nor a Hypnotherapist can make anyone do anything they do not consent to. Your sub conscious mind is not a push over and has very strict morals, ethics, beliefs and judgements. It is in fact highly discriminatory and will only direct you to do what it perceives will drive you away from danger and pain and towards safety and pleasure. (Note that this is based upon the current level of growth and development experienced by its conscious mind).
“Who’s in control?” is then a question that has been, and will continue to be, deliberated for decades, if not century’s, to come. And in the world of mesmerism, the question of who is in control also poses a consensus of misconception. When I was living in America several years ago some bank teller in some State somewhere said the reason she gave all the money to the robber was because he hypnotized her… apparently that stuck in court and hypnosis got the rap, not the robber.
I question a society that doesn’t question its own sub conscious belief system and instead can point the finger at external stimuli in order to renounce responsibility of the Self. I personally feel both the teller and the robber played great roles in illustrating the room that is available for improvement in the ways of society.
We, as individuals, groups, communities, nations, countries and the world in general create our own reality through our collective consciousness. WE are in control – no one else is out there to create Utopia for us. And we cannot attribute blame or applause for our reality upon external, “he or she made me do it” circumstances. The concept of Enlightenment or Oblivion is up to the Collectiveness for its creation.
To say that the Hypnotist/Hypnotherapist had the power and control to make them do it is blatant misunderstanding in interpretation of the mind, and, an under educated perception of humanity in general. The subject instead does not want to admit that that tendency, whatever it was, lives within their own psyche and they were looking for license to act out in a way that their judgement, or societal programming, would not normally allow them to. In this context hypnosis becomes the scapegoat due to the underutilized intellect of an imperceptive society. This society is in fact hypnotized by their belief systems which have been handed down from one misinformed generation to the next. It’s time we looked inside ourselves as a stepping stone to higher consciousness, instead of this continual pointing of the finger externally.
I find it curious too, that many reject the notion that something good came from within us. We seem to have to attribute that to some external Force/God also. Again; we create our own reality. WE are in control. We are all ONE. We create our own light and dark, our own good and bad, our own love and fear, our own positive and negative, even male and female… and it’s not until we can transcend this duality that we will know this to be true.
The Sub Conscious operates based on some basic rules, which once understood, anyone can use to pitch a better marketing scheme, run a more convincing faith sermon, reprogram dysfunctional behavioural patterns or simply suggest a child’s graze to be better because it got Mommy’s kiss and a Bandaid. As with everything in this world, it is the INTENTION behind the delivery that carries the meaning. Couple loving intention with intelligence and we find ourselves a part of the evolution of a far more clever and beautiful, peaceful, society.
So in summary, Hypnosis is the art and skill of unlocking the sub conscious mind. Hypnosis alone does not a diploma make (my apologies to those teachers out there that say it does. I see it as breach in ethics to qualify someone as a bonafied “Hypnotherapist” when they only have a long weekend of Suggestion Therapy for training under their belt. Although semi equipped in that department they may well be, they have no knowledge or ability to navigate the mind, deal with abreaction/cathartic release or any of the other cavernous pitfalls the mind can tangle its intricate web within – unless they have a degree in psychology, or previous, practical experience in dealing with the mind. I appreciate there are plenty of great and talented hypnotherapists out there with no formal training but many years of practical experience coupled with creative intelligence).
Hypnotherapy is the art and skill of using hypnosis to unlock the subconscious mind to explore the perspectives of programming that are running within, and beyond, the psyche of the individual. It involves two way communication between Hypnotherapist and client, a deep understanding of Gestalt Dialogue and Parts Therapy (to name just two process skills required), as well as some psychotherapy skills, and, to be relevant in today’s energy, a deep understanding of evolutionary and spiritual growth and development.
From the perspective of a client, I would seek a hypnotherapists who’s development was horizontally and vertically more advanced in comparison to my level of perception in the areas in which I wanted to work. This is imperative if I seek evolutional growth and development from this interaction.
To engage in therapy to feel better is easy. To evolve and grow is challenging. So when you are seeking someone with whom to use the art of hypnosis be sure within yourself what it is you are looking for.
If you want to laugh and entertain, or laugh and be entertained, seek a great Stage Hypnotist Show. Laughing therapy is certainly one of the more ‘fun’ therapies to engage in.
If you want to have someone implant suggestions for a healthier way of being – a way of being in which you are prepared to put at least some of your own effort into – then seek someone skilled in hypnosis with at least Suggestion Therapy.
If you want to grow and evolve and transcend the behavioural patterns that have you stumbling over the same old ground in repetitive cycles, then seek out a Hypnotherapist who has a training in Analytical Hypnosis, someone who has way more than just Suggestion Therapy and NLP (Nuero Linguistic Programming) in the their tool box, and preferably someone who has a more evolved perspective than where you’re currently at.
If you want to transcend a whole dimension and set up residence in the “I-Am-ness” of eternal, ever present, Cosmic Consciousness, then seek out someone with a more Integral approach. Someone who can enlighten your mind to the possibilities of what lies beyond that which you see in the mirror. This kind of Hypnotherapist will have a deeper understanding of the intricacies of Oneness, will understand you’re loneliness in finding this, can see anxiety as spiritual-crisis as opposed to a situation requiring medication, and will take a holistic approach that integrates the dynamics of mind, body, heart and soul. This kind of Hypnotherapist will help guide you through the pain to that place where you connect with the ever-present, all-knowing Self. Here there are no questions. It just IS.
The key I believe, is to look into the intricate array of possibility and select the scenario that best suits your needs from an informed, educated and intuitive perspective. In order for hypnosis to be of positive and effective value at any level, the practitioner must resonate with the client. Without that report, the session needn’t go ahead.
Evolution and growth, and the path of development and eventual Enlightenment is typically a messy process. It’s finding that space in which one can be at Peace with the process that is of utmost importance from a Global perspective. It’s up to us to create our Utopia. It’s time to get Smarter.
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