Skip Navigation Links  



Sponsored by Lewis Dark, C.Ht.
 

NEW PHONE NUMBER: (312) 339-3144

This site is presented as a public service by Lewis Dark C.Ht.

If, for purposes of self-help, self-improvement, or medical or psychological therapy, you are looking for a self-hypnosis teacher, hypnotist, hypnotherapist, or health care professional who uses hypnosis, please click on "Links" above.

If you are a hypnotist looking for websites on which to promote yourself, again, click on "Links."

The Lewis Dark Hypnosis Show has closed down. In Northern Illinois we recommend the Dave Granell Comedy Hypnosis Show. Please click on the Stage Hypnosis link above. Lewis Dark C.Ht. is available for general information about hypnotism, self-hypnosis lessons, or private recreational hypnosis sessions. We do not accept therapeutic or self-help clients but will happily refer them to qualified practitioners.

Lewis Dark C.H. offers several educational products for working hypnotists wishing to enhance their skills. For these, please click on "Training aids."

Disclaimer: Find Your Hypnotist.com exists only as an informational resource. Inclusion in this site does not necessarily constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any kind. When looking for the services of a hypnotist please exercise the same care and concern you would when seeking any kind of professional assistance, by means of referrals, comparisons, and preliminary interviews.

A GENERAL EXPLANATION OF HYPNOSIS

DEFINITIONS USES OF HYPNOSIS, TYPES OF HYPNOTIST

DEFINITIONS

The Trance State

Hypnosis is a natural, if unusual, state of mind, or altered state of consciousness, or trance state which allows people to have access to normally unavailable abilities of the unconscious mind. It is characterized by temporary focus on a single idea to the exclusion of all others, so that inner mental processes become more real than any outer physical reality. It differs from meditation in that a person in a hypnotic trance seeks to carry out physical activities or to achieve mental or psychological goals. A meditator wishes to become still; a person becomes hypnotized in order to do things or make positive life changes.

Hypnosis is induced or learned through interpersonal communication with a hypnosis teacher or facilitator, i.e. a hypnotist, or through personal self-suggestion. Inducing hypnosis by oneself is known as self-hypnosis or autohypnosis.

Hypnosis is a cooperative venture in which the person seeking to go into a trance agrees to become hypnotized, or seeks the results of the hypnosis (psychotherapy, life improvement, or entertainment).

Because hypnosis seeks to evoke normally unconscious or less than volitional abilities and experiences, it can appear as if one person is “magically” influencing another. In actuality, one person is teaching another.

It is fairly certain that nobody can be hypnotized into committing a crime, or doing themselves harm, or otherwise violating their own personal principles. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. People are not hypnotically susceptible, they are hypnotically talented. The ability to enter a trance state at will is a positive attribute.

Despite popular fears, no one can get "stuck" in the hypnotic state, no more than anyone can get stuck asleep or daydreaming. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis are states that are entered voluntarily and can be left at will.

Because people differ, and their unconscious needs differ, the experience of hypnosis can also differ widely from person to person. Some people can achieve profound hypnosis almost instantly, most people require five to thirty minutes of initial induction, a few others require hours of instruction and practice. Subjective experiences also differ.

The first good news is that most people can achieve many positive experiences and life changes with minimal hypnotic depth. The second good news is that hypnosis and self-hypnosis skills, once learned, can always be recalled, and usually improved upon. Learning hypnosis is like riding a bicycle, but easier. The third good news is that the hypnotic state feels good.

Incidentally, hypnotism is the study of the science of hypnosis. Hypnosis is the word for the actual state of mind.

Unconscious Abilities

All human abilities that are commonly elicited through hypnosis occur naturally in daily life under different circumstances. Children easily hallucinate imaginary companions. Anyone watching a movie or television program where the hero is in great danger will speed their heartbeat rates and raise their blood pressure. Anesthesia -- the process of not feeling -- occurs naturally all the time: if you are sitting and reading this text you do not think to feel some parts of your body (for example, your left knee or your right rear molar) -- until something calls your attention to those body parts. (In hypnosis, a person can not feel his or her right rear molar well enough to have oral surgery.) The process of forgetting and remembering is usually random but it is a valuable survival skill to either put things out of your mind when you don’t need them, or remember things when you do.

Research scientists have shown that people in trance states can deliberately raise or lower their blood pressure, change their blood sugar levels, raise or lower their rates of heartbeat, respiration, or even their white blood cell count. People in hypnosis can selectively change or lose their reflexes, perform seemingly strenuous activities with relative ease, remain in difficult poses comfortably for long periods of time, and even deliberately hallucinate to the extent that their brainwave patterns are identical to those of a conscious person observing a real example of the hallucinated object or sounds. Hypnotized people have recovered lost memories, forgotten their names (or other things) on demand (and gotten them back), and shown ability to actually relive their past experiences.

The most common effect of hypnosis (though not at all necessary to a good trance) is physical relaxation. The most important effect is mental relaxation, which allows for focus, concentration, and the access of unconscious abilities.

Unlike the effects of many drugs, the effects of hypnosis can be both instilled or removed with relative speed and ease, with no side effects. Also unlike drugs, positive personal changes made with hypnosis can be maintained without repeated hypnosis, sometimes after just a few hours’ hypnotic work. The positive effects can last a lifetime.

Human history abounds with examples of deliberate attempts to alter one’s consciousness. Aside from reliance on drugs -- alcohol, caffeine, coca, cannabis, and in the modern era opium, morphine, cocaine, amphetamines, and other pharmaceuticals -- the history of naturally induced trance states seems to be as old as human nature. Fishing is a meditative state. Waiting for prey while hunting is a relaxed yet active state. Deliberate meditation as a method of self-improvement and stress relief is recorded as an exercise at least as far back as 500 B.C.E. The validity of religious trance states -- either stuporous as in meditation, or active and frenzied as in the religious ceremonies of certain Pacific Ocean and African tribes -- has been tested by explorers and anthropologists for three hundred years. Yogis in the Hindu tradition, meditators in the Buddhist tradition, and martial artists throughout Asia have shown remarkable abilities that they credit to mental focus and concentration.

It has been said with some justification that it is not hypnosis that is special, it is the human mind that is special. Hypnosis is just one useful tool among many, but it is a flexible, readily available, and highly useful tool.

USES OF HYPNOSIS; TYPES OF HYPNOTIST

Medicine and Dentistry

The earliest use of hypnosis in western civilization was within the practice of medicine. Starting in the late 1700s and through the mid 19th Century, physicians began to utilize the ability of entranced patients to not feel pain to perform safe and comfortable surgeries, ranging from removal of ingrown toenails to major amputations. Though the discovery and development of ether, chloroform, and other chemical anesthesia has eclipsed the use of hypnosis in most surgery, it is still a very effective form of pain relief for people who are allergic to chemical anesthetics, and a helpful adjunct to surgeons and dentists who wish to lessen a patient’s dependence on medications. Hypnotized patients have even been able to control certain bodily functions, such as lessening bleeding or speeding up healing, as an aid to medical intervention.

Hypnosis is particularly useful as an analgesic during childbirth. Unlike most medications, hypnosis allows a birthing mother to not feel pain while remaining sensitive to other physical sensations.

This same ability to have selective analgesia or anesthesia is of great value to patients suffering from terminal cancer, who wish to reduce their dependence on drugs that reduce pain but cause stupor. Several notable case histories have shown that hypnosis can allow terminally ill patients to live out their last days with lessened suffering and full waking consciousness.

Oddly, the human mind has the ability to relieve some diseases that manifest themselves physically. There are proven case studies of warts being cured using hypnosis, and at least one case of elephantiasis, a rare dermatological condition, being cured with hypnotic suggestion as the sole treatment.

Psychiatric and Psychological Hypnosis

Probably the best-known uses of hypnosis today are in the fields of psychiatry and psychotherapy. This interest arose in the late 19th Century when physicians had to treat patients suffering from painful or crippling physical maladies that had no obvious physical causes. (These are now known as psychosomatic illnesses.) Doctors were able to cure these patients with hypnosis. Behavioral conditions that interfered with the living of a normal happy life, such as neuroses, anxieties, phobias, obsessions and compulsions, and reflexive problems such as stuttering, all became curable using therapies involving hypnosis.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental disorders. A psychologist usually holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is licensed by the state to perform psychotherapy and/or research within his or her specialty. The definitions of psychotherapist differ from community to community but the title requires certain educational and licensing achievements, usually a Master’s degree in psychology or clinical social work. All of these categories of therapist can utilize hypnosis.

Hypnosis has been shown to lessen the time spent in psychoanalysis, by speeding the patient’s ability to recall traumatic experiences. A hypnotized person’s ability to alter reflexes at will has been invaluable to the rapid treatment of anxieties and phobias. Psychotherapy enhanced with hypnosis has had great effect relieving neuroses, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and depression. Similarly an entire range of stress-related illnesses have been relieved by using hypnosis to teach patients to relax.

Research

Psychology is the science of the study of the human mind. An adjunct to psychological hypnosis for the treatment of problems is the use of psychological hypnosis to explore human mental and physical abilities. (See the “unconscious abilities” section above.) A hypnotized person may have great insight into his or own mental processes, and this insight is of great use to researchers. These findings have been turned around for use in psychotherapy, habit control, hypnosis for self-improvement, and other practical uses, as well as to add the greater body of knowledge of human psychology.

Forensic Hypnosis

Another offshoot of scientific hypnosis is forensic hypnosis, the use of altered states of consciousness to enhance the memories of witnesses in legal cases. The most famous success in this area is the Chowchilla, CA school bus kidnapping case (1976), in which a witness under hypnosis recalled the license plate number of the criminals’ getaway car, leading to their capture and the rescue of the victims. The New York City Police Department even established a “Hypno-squad,” a unit of detectives trained in hypnotizing witnesses and enhancing their memories.

Forensic hypnosis has also suffered a number of spectacular failures, in which false memories of crimes were elicited from witnesses or victims. The fault seems to lie with undertrained hypnotist-interviewers. This field remains potentially valuable but requires more study and the establishment of comprehensive standards for hypnotic interrogators.

Consulting Hypnotists

The most common hypnotist in America today is a person who has had professional training from one or more national certifying organizations in hypnotism, and opens an office practice to help people with problems that do not arise to the level of medical or psychiatric symptoms. The title that this person holds varies according to the laws of each state or country, as well as the rules of the certifying organization accrediting each individual hypnotist. (Licensing requirements also vary greatly between communities.) Such a person might be called a Consulting Hypnotist, a Certified Hypnotist, a Hypnotherapist, a Hypnocounselor, or Hypnosis Technician. The first two titles are the most common, abbreviated “C.Ht.”, and that abbreviation will be used here to stand for this entire class of practitioners.

A C.Ht. most commonly offers help in three fields: Habit control, personal improvement, and stress relief. Clients who wish to quit smoking make up the majority of most C.Ht. practices, followed by people who wish to change their eating patterns in order to lose weight. Among other “habit control” cases a C.Ht. assists are people who wish to lessen their dependence on alcohol or other drugs.

People who wish to improve their memories, their speaking ability, their academic study habits, or their performance at work or in sports frequently obtain improvement from the C.Ht. (The boxers Ken Norton and Muhammad Ali, the golfers Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods, and the Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton all worked with their own personal hypnotists.) Performers who wish to overcome stage fright and improve their concentration frequently consult hypnotists, and it has been said that “method” acting is itself a form of self-hypnosis.

Clients who wish to experience less stress and worry in their work or home lives will utilize C.Ht.s to learn to relax, mentally and physically. Hypnotic training is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most available means of easing stress without the use of medications.

Though frequently derided by medical professionals as “lay hypnotists,” the C.Ht. can, and does, offer real assistance to the ordinary person with ordinary problems, quickly, at a fraction of the cost associated with a medical doctor or psychotherapist. In addition, many of these “civilians” actually work with medical or psychiatric referrals, providing hypnotic expertise as an adjunct to medical or psychiatric treatment. It says much about the flexibility of hypnosis itself that a well-meaning professional with a few hundred hours of training can relieve many people’s problems with relative ease. It is estimated that half a million people a year in the United States use the services of C.Ht.s.

To scan directories of available hypnotists of all kinds, please click on the “links” button above.

Stage Hypnosis for Entertainment

Arguably both the most controversial and least important field of hypnosis is the exhibition of trance states for the entertainment of an audience. A stage hypnotist is an entertainer who hypnotizes volunteers and then has them demonstrate hypnotic phenomena in a (usually) comic way for an audience. Medical authorities have frequently condemned stage hypnotism as a trivialization of an important therapeutic tool; stage hypnotists insist that their shows publicize the positive powers of hypnosis in a manner that the public will accept. As one hypnotherapist stated at a professional conference: “I don’t personally approve of stage hypnotists, but every time one comes through town, my phone rings off the hook.” In addition, a number of stage hypnotists actually hold office practices in therapeutic hypnosis as well.

Modern stage hypnotists no longer rely on the humiliating routines that were standard practice of the 19th Century. Nobody today is made to cluck like a chicken or bark like a dog as the old stereotypes suggest. The current ethics of stage hypnotism highlight the volunteers’ natural talents, role-playing ability, and concentration of mental powers to amuse, amaze, and educate audiences.

The singer Johnny Mathis and the impressionist Frank Gorshin were both “discovered” while performing routines for stage hypnotists. The late stage hypnotist Pat Collins would interrupt her show at mid-point to give a speech “propagandizing for hypnotherapy.” Many a person who has never heard of hypnosis in a high school psychology class has learned from stage hypnotists that hypnosis is both good for you and fun.

Please click on the “Stage Hypnosis” link to learn more.

Self-Hypnosis

It is perfectly possible, even common, to become hypnotized without an actual hypnotist, and since all hypnotic abilities reside in the subject rather than the hypnotist, it is a truism that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. As in most learning situations, it is easiest to learn self-hypnosis from classes with a live hypnotist, but there are numerous resources available as books, audio or video recordings, computer programs, and even interactive Internet sites.

Self-hypnosis relies on two learned skills: concentration or trance, and self-suggestion. The trance state allows self-suggestions to take hold on a subconscious level, to therefore become easily effective. By “suggestion” we mean instructions given in a way that activates unconscious cooperation. Suggestions can be verbal (“Direct suggestion” is a fancy term for “commands.”), pictorial, symbolic, or even tactile. It is hoped that daily practice of self-hypnosis, along with mastery of self-suggestion, can give every person who uses this resource more control over his or her own life.

Please click on the Links button to access self-hypnosis teachers. Lewis Dark, C.Ht., the sponsor of this site, offers individual or group classes in self-hypnosis, and can be reached via the “Stage Hypnosis” link.

Hypnosis for Fun

A volunteer at a stage hypnosis show might temporarily believe he or she is an interplanetary interpreter of the Martian language, an opera diva, a vacationer on an exotic beach, or owner of a tame pet polar bear. These demonstrated abilities point out another aspect of hypnotism: it is widely known that hypnosis is an excellent tool for solving your problems or improving your daily ordinary life. It is less well known that hypnosis and self-hypnosis can be tools to decrease boredom and have fun as well.

A good stage hypnosis show is fun not just for the audience, but for the volunteers. An experienced self-hypnotist can use the trance state to take breaks from reality whenever reality is either stressful or a bore. You can send your mind out for a quick hallucinated vacation while standing in line at the grocer’s. You can literally tune out your noisy neighbor while listening to your favorite music, or you can hallucinate your favorite music when your portable stereo depletes its batteries. You can relive your favorite experiences as vividly as if you were still there, or vividly experience an event you are planning to have. The possibilities are endless, the resources are plentiful, and we hope this site will allow you to find your hypnotist, and expand your mind.

Back to top
 


Entire site copyright © 2007 Lewis Dark