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Hypnosis as a tool | What is it for?

Hypnosis as a tool - what is it for?

Hypnosis, as a state, is therefore a modified or altered state of consciousness, based on concentration, absorption and imagination. Using hypnosis as a tool, the goal is to modify the subjectivity or change the point of view. 

In other words, hypnosis can increase one's ability to reconsider, reaffirm or change learned learning and conditioning, or to access understandings not conditioned by the learning and routines of ordinary states. 

For example, the same event may affect two subjects differently depending on their cultural, social or intellectual conditioning. It could be that an event considered as harmless for one person, is slightly more traumatic for another.

What can we deduce from the event itself? Not much, in reality, because it is the subjectivity and the mental constructions of the two subjects that intervene in their relationship to this event. 

 

Hypnosis is used for that - to become aware first of our conditioning, our subjectivity, our "own universe"; then to change our point of view in order to reshape, reshape, even reinforce our perceived reality, reconsider our learning, reaffirm our capacities, and align them with our conscious desires.

What about hypnotherapy, or therapeutic counseling?

Today, hypnosis is a recognized discipline, practiced as much in hospitals, in educational training, in high-level sports or in the professional world. 

Whatever our mental state or subjectivity, hypnosis can be a powerful tool to achieve our goals. Whether you are a high level sports person looking to improve your performance, a person with professional responsibilities listening to your teams, or an individual looking to change an automatic way of functioning. 

As soon as our automatic modes, our habitual or instinctive functioning are no longer in agreement with our environment, they can become uncomfortable or unsuitable for our conscious desires. 

However, it is sometimes difficult to change deeply rooted conditioning simply by drawing our attention to it. This is when we hear the usual phrases: "I know I need to change, but I can't", "something is blocking me", or "I don't know why I'm acting this way".

Hypnosis then becomes a tool to explore other ways of thinking, to change the subjectivity, the point of view, or to consider differently these blockages, questionings and uncertainties by drawing on our internal resources. 

What are the applications of hypnosis?

Since hypnotic states address our subjectivity, there are as many fields of application of hypnosis as there are subjectivities and human complexities.

 

That said, here is a non-exhaustive list of potential themes. 

Therapy and Growth

  • Addictions (tobacco, alcohol, other)

  • Concentration

  • Procrastination

  • Doubts

  • Blockages

  • Relationship Problems

Managing
Behavior

  • Phobias - Fears

  • Stress

  • Self esteem

  • Trust

  • Sadness, Guilt

  • Grief

  • Anxiety(ies)

Managing 
Emotions

  • Professional transition

  • Break-up

  • Separation

  • Grief

  • Moving

  • Exams

Life
Events

Sport and Performance

HypnoSport >
  • Pressure management

  • Competition preparation

  • Motivation, balance and confidence

  • Goal setting

Managing Performance

  • Mental strategy review

  • Overcoming blockages

  • Recovery

  • Injury management

Improving 
Mindset

Business and Workshops

For Business >
  • Professional positioning

  • Values alignment

  • Project management

  • Interpersonal skills

Individual & Team Performance

  • Alignment of personal & team standards 

  • Empathy and projections 

  • Communication and active listening

Group
Workshops

Hypnosis | A step further to understand it

Qualitative description of altered states of consciousness

As explained, hypnosis, as a state, is one or more modified or altered states of consciousness, based on concentration, absorption and imagination. Using hypnosis as a tool, the goal is to modify the subjectivity or change the point of view.

In practice, and like many areas of science where observation was first empirical, experienced before being theorized, altered states of consciousness have been part of the daily life of many practices and cultures that have experienced, documented, and narrated altered states of consciousness.

Today, although neurosciences are informing us more and more about the specifics of our brain, it is still difficult to really visualize or perceive scientifically "what defines a state of hypnosis". The analogy with empirical sciences, such as particle physics, is quite direct, considering that on the one hand, direct observation is impossible for the human eye, but above all that the "imagined" or "deduced" theory has often preceded observation by several decades. 

However, a framework for describing states of hypnosis, as taught at the Academy of Research and Knowledge in Ericksonian Hypnosis, allows us to perceive the different altered states of consciousness from a descriptive point of view.

zones.png

Highly altered states of consciousness

  • The subject leaves his or her known subjective construction, symbolic understandings, not conditioned by ordinary learning

  • Triggers may be natural or not, but more powerful than those of zone 2.

"Non-ordinary" altered states of consciousness

  • Different ways of thinking, without total loss of reference points or identity, with a change in perception and access to unconscious resources.

  • These include flow, creative inspiration, concentration, meditation and focus.

  • The triggers can be natural or not: intense emotion, a particular event, taking substances

States of consciousness considered as "ordinary"

  • Daily mode of functioning, with slight modifications of the state of consciousness due to endogenous or exogenous stimuli, e.g. mood, event, stress, anger, joy

  • Behaviors may be slightly altered with each slight change in consciousness (Volubility, impulsivity, sensitivity, reaction)

In practical terms, hypnosis as a tool is used to shift states of consciousness from their "original" position, for a particular purpose. This can be exploratory, therapeutic or playful. 

Again, many practices describe "attention" or "dream" states in similar ways, including the shamanic practices of the Yaqui tribes (cited by Carlos Castañeda) which describe "assemblage points" and "shifting assemblage points". Other more modern practices speak of a state of flow, of the "hot hand" in the NBA, of a state of grace or of a flash of genius, all of which allow access to a more complete range of capacities of perception and action.

Linking Hypnosis and the Brain, according to the latest research

The explanations below are directly inspired by the popularization of the work of Dr. David Spiegel, psychiatrist and professor at Stanford University in California. More information in the sources below.

ECN.png
Executive Control Network

The executive control network is active when you are doing something that involves focused attention and working memory - like mental arithmetic.


During hypnosis, this network is further connected to a part of the brain called the insula in the salience network. It is involved in monitoring the body and emotions. This may be why in hypnosis you have an increased awareness of your body's sensations.

SN.png
Salience
Network

This network detects and integrates information from your body and your emotions. It is activated when you are stressed or anxious, and when you are working on a task.
 

During hypnosis, the salience network is less active. When you are hypnotized, you are more focused and less distracted by anxious or intrusive thoughts.

DMN.png
Default Mode
Network

The default mode network is involved in mental imagery, self-reflection and processing your stream of consciousness. This network is most active when you are at rest or ruminating.


During hypnosis, there is less activity and less connectivity with the executive control network. During hypnosis, there is less rumination and wandering of the mind and your mind may feel less "cluttered.

Brain activity during hypnosis

Three brain networks are particularly important during hypnosis:

  1. The Salience Network (SN), which is responsible for monitoring the information the brain receives and deciding on its importance.

  2. The Executive Control Network (ECN), which manages more complex cognitive abilities like problem solving, reasoning, and working memory.

  3. The Default Mode Network (DMN), which is most active when our brain is not focused on the present moment (for example, when we are daydreaming)

The SN is the "boss" of attention. It helps the brain choose which network is most important at any given time. In general, during hypnosis, the NS reduces its activity because the brain decreases the constant monitoring of self-awareness and sensory information, allowing it to focus more intensely on one thing only: hypnotic suggestions.

ECN activity also changes depending on the type of change one is trying to facilitate through hypnosis. A more hypnotizable brain exhibits greater connectivity between the SN and ECN, allowing the SN to more easily affect ECN activity.

Moreover, under hypnosis, the ECN and the DMN are less functionally connected. A brain under hypnosis focuses more on the suggestions given here and now.

Sources:

  1. Jiang, H., White, MP, Greicius, MD, Waelde, LC & Spiegel, D. Brain Activity and Functional Connectivity Associated with Hypnosis. Cereb. Cortex 27, 4083–4093 (2017).

  2. Hoeft, F. et al. Functional Brain Basis of Hypnotizability. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 69, 1064–1072 (2012).

  3. Faerman, A. & Spiegel, D. Shared cognitive mechanisms of hypnotizability with executive functioning and information salience. Science. Rep. 11, 5704 (2021).

  4. Faerman, A, On the Brain's Activity during Hypnosis, Reveri website

  5. Academy of Research and Knowledge in Ericksonian Hypnosis, Practitioner training in Ericksonian Hypnosis

  6. Carlos Castaneda, The Art of Dreaming, 1993

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