Hypnosis is an extraordinary way to affect the part of the consciousness that a person in normally not aware of its existence. This part of the mind is the subconscious. The prefix “sub” means below. Things held in the subconscious mind are below the level of the awakened state of regular consciousness.
The Mayo Clinic says that using hypnosis in a therapeutic setting, such as quit smoking hypnosis, puts the person in a trance state. The trance state is not a sleeping state; it is more similar to a daydreaming state. While in a trance, a person’s focus and concentration increase. In this state, they are more susceptible to suggestions made by the hypnotherapist.
Where do thoughts come from? *
Most people are aware of their many thoughts. Thoughts seem to arise in an endless fashion, in a way like an ongoing inner conversation. Those thoughts are in the conscious part of the mind. But, where do they come from?
Some thoughts trigger in response to stimuli from the environment. People all react to what they experience through their senses. Other thoughts seem to pop up out of nowhere. These thoughts arise from the subconscious to appear in the mind as conscious thoughts.
When people are addicted to nicotine from smoking, the addiction triggers a compelling thought of “needing” a cigarette. These thoughts come from not only the physical need of the body that craves nicotine, but also from “triggers” that stimulate the subconscious to create the compelling conscious thought of needing a cigarette. Quit smoking hypnosis is helpful to reduce the power of triggers.
The Two-Part Challenge *
Stopping smoking is a two-part challenge. The first part is to deal with the withdrawal symptoms from the physical addiction to nicotine. The second part, which may be much harder for many people, is dealing with the psychological triggers for smoking.
Examples of the psychological challenge are if a person automatically lights up a cigarette when they drink a cup of coffee, have an alcoholic dirnk, or after eating. They may not be aware of why they do this. This is an unconscious behavior, produced by the subconscious mind that relates a certain activity strongly with smoking.
Hypnosis for quitting smoking attempts to deal directly with this issue. It is possible to quit smoking with hypnosis more easily than other smoking cessation methods, if these psychological triggers undergo disassociation with smoking by using quit smoking hypnosis.
Understanding How the Subconscious Works *
Even when people are not aware of it, the subconscious has tremendous influence over their behaviors and feelings. Learning what is going on with the subconscious is the key to understanding the benefits of using hypnosis to quit smoking.
The BBC reported on a study that shows how powerful the subconscious mind is and how much intelligence it has. Most scientists, who study the mind and how it works, agree that the subconscious portion of the mind does the following:
A) Causes a response based on stimulus – An example of this would be a reaction from being startled, like what most people do when seeing a spider walking across their hand.
B) Retrieves information from long-term memory – When a person tries to remember something from long ago, it can be “buried in the subconscious.” Some memories are easier to access than others are.
Try this test. 1) Name the teacher you had for third grade. 2) Now, try to remember any teacher you thought was mean, strict, silly, or funny looking. For most people, the second part is easier. This is because there are many more associations made in the subconscious for emotional reactions than for simple facts, like a person’s name.
C) Helps recognize objects - An item that is red color and round-shaped, might be a ball, an apple, or a tomato. The subconscious helps a person distinguish between similar things to determine what an object really is.
D) Carry out practiced movements – Expert piano players do not think about hitting every key. After they practice enough, the subconscious creates a body memory of the finger movements and then can repeat them.
The newest research reported by the BBC, showed that the subconscious is much more active than was previously expected. It can do math calculations and seems to remain constantly active, but still below the level of conscious awareness.
History of Hypnosis *
HistoryofHypnosis.org gives the background on the work of some of the key figures that brought hypnosis into being.
Before hypnosis was the term used for this therapy; it was “Mesmerism.” During the 1700s, Franz Mesmer created a therapy, which consisted of him moving his hands over the subject’s body outline, without actually touching the body. Mesmer thought that there was a magnetic energy that was invisible, which he used to heal his patients.
The treatments, where he was able to “Mesmerize” someone, were very effective on women, especially the rich elite. Mesmer “cured” them of things like hysteria, bouts of having nervous fits, and all types of ailments for those suffering from hypochondria (believing they were ill when they were not). Having a handsome man put his hands very close to all parts of the woman’s body, including near her private parts, was almost a form of sensual seduction.
At the request of King Louis XVI, Benjamin Franklin who was a friend of the king and well respected in the king’s court, set out to debunk the claims of Franz Mesmer as quackery.
Ben Franklin assembled a group of scientific researchers to look into the matter. The conclusion of the investigation was that Mesmerism did not work. Franklin thought that the positive results that Mesmer claimed from treating patients came more from the patient’s own beliefs and imagination, rather than any magnetic energy emanating from the hands of Mesmer.
In modern times, we know this as the “placebo effect.” The placebo effect works when the patient has a strong belief that a particular treatment will cure them. This effect is very prominent when patients have imagined illnesses without any underlying physical cause.
Other scientists were not quite so quick to dismiss Mesmerism completely. James Braid published a book in 1843, entitled “Neurypnology,” to teach others about what he called “rationale mesmerism,” which later become hypnotism.
Braid’s main goal was to determine if hypnosis really worked, in order to define its characteristics and be able to describe useful techniques that induced it. Braid noted that self-hypnosis was possible. He noticed that by focusing a patient on a specific idea and giving “waking suggestions” that there was a psychological change. This change came from the spoken suggestions he made while the subject was under hypnosis.
Hypnosis fascinated Freud. He conducted research studies during 1895 with fellow researcher Joseph Breuer and again worked the problem of hysteria in women. This research was “Studies on Hysteria.”
Freud worked with methods of free association to unlock the secrets of the subconscious mind. He noticed that hypnosis would improve the positive outcomes and that the treatment would be more quickly effective when he used hypnosis.
Freud’s work was the beginning of regression hypnotherapy. Under regression hypnotherapy the therapist guides a patient, while under hypnosis, to go back in time by using his or her imagination. This method helped unlock repressed memories from childhood that might be the source of the patient’s troubles.
In contemporary times, using regression hypnosis as an aide to stop smoking helps the hypnotherapist discover the first associations with cigarette smoking that later became the triggers for present day smoking.
Émile Coué working with the New Nancy School invented a type of self-hypnosis that worked while the patient was fully awake. This self-help technique became very popular and derivatives of this method are still in use today for self hypnosis to quit smoking.
Clark L. Hull
A book came out in 1933, entitled “Hypnosis and Suggestibility,” written by Clark L. Hull. Hull’s innovation was to uncover a direct correlation between hypnosis and its affect on conditioned reflexes. A conditioned reflex is doing something out of habit, with no real consciousness of what a person is doing or why they are doing it.
A classic example of this is the work of Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov conditioned his dogs by ringing a bell before meals. After awhile, the dogs would salivate simply from hearing the bell ring, regardless if they got any food or not.
Cigarettes smokers have conditioned responses that are the triggers, which make them want to smoke. Stop smoking hypnosis works to redirect these conditioned responses to something other than smoking and get rid of them completely.
A book came out in 1964, written by Dave Elman entitled “Findings in Hypnosis” (the title later changed to “Hypnotherapy”). It encourages the use of hypnosis in cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is useful in changing conditioned responses.
Modern Uses of Hypnosis
Research by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) show that hypnosis is a useful tool to help a person change their behavior. Hypnosis is able to improve both mental and physical states in a person.
The Hypnosis Motivation Institute (HMI) recommends that the most powerful methods of hypnosis are relaxation techniques that put a person in a very calm state. This helps hypnosis work more effectively. Then, the hypnotherapist creates powerful images in the person’s imagination that strongly reinforce the message. This combines with strong suggestions that have direct alignment with the things that the person really desires, such as to stop smoking.
The Mayo Clinic notes that besides using hypnosis to stop smoking, hypnosis is useful to treat bed-wetting, chronic obesity, hot flashes that women get from going through menopause, insomnia, panic attacks, phobias, and many self-destructive behaviors.
Does Hypnosis Work for Quitting Smoking? *
The answer to this question is “it depends.” Whether a person has a successful result in using hypnosis to quit smoking depends on their attitude and their sincere desire to stop smoking. It is important to believe it is possible to quit smoking and really want to achieve it. If a person has this mindset, hypnosis is much more effective.
For those with little desire to quit smoking, hypnosis will not work. An example of this would be if a person undergoes stop smoking hypnosis only to please another person, but really does not want to quit smoking.
Another consideration is that many people quit smoking for a short time and then later start smoking again. Most people make multiple attempts to stop smoking. Hypnosis works very well for some people, so it is worth trying, as long as there is a true motivation to stop smoking.
WebMD notes that the research on the success of stop smoking hypnosis is not conclusive. Some research found the rates of those who stop smoking using hypnosis were not substantial. Other research concluded that about 50% of those using hypnosis were able to continue to be non-smokers even after eleven months. Both the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute do not officially recognize stop smoking hypnosis as a proven method that works.
Using relaxation techniques and suggestions, such as listening to an audio recording or watching a hypnosis video are methods that do not involve a hypnotherapist. There are written scripts, which allow a person to record their own voice to enable them to talk directly to their own subconscious mind. Some find this method incredibly powerful as long as they actually have trust in themselves. Others like to use a quit smoking hypnosis app that guides them through the process.
It is possible for a person using these self-hypnosis methods to guide himself or herself to a calm, trance-like state where they are open to positive suggestions. Some people find this an effective alternative in the battle against the psychological triggers that cause a craving to smoke.
Instead of lighting up a cigarette, they take a time out, listen to a calming self-hypnosis tape, and then, when finished with the hypnosis session, immediately get up and do something where smoking is impossible, like taking a relaxing shower.
This method is a way to change a person’s conditioned responses and redirect them to healthier experiences.