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  • Writer's pictureDr. Uma Devi

Hypnosis for Holistic Health

A human lifetime, taking an average span of 70 years, starting from birth, takes one through different phases of growth, development, ups and downs of mental (emotional) and physical swings, until death intervenes.

The last century was one of fast growth and inventions which made life more comfortable through innovative developments in science and technology, progress in medicine which brought better methods of diagnosis and treatment of diseases, faster communication facilities, and higher living standards.

But this fast development, while leading to material benefits raising the standard of living and physical comforts to levels unknown before, has also led to several problems which were not encountered or not considered serious earlier.

The high-profile jobs with huge pay packets have made life a continuous rat race, depleting the physical and mental energy of a person and increasing stress that leads to many physical and emotional problems.

Moreover, the human mind is being conditioned in such a way that in the name of modernity we are getting addicted to certain lifestyles, dietary habits and recreational activities that further increase the stress and related diseases.

In the modern time of rapid industrialization and global changes in lifestyle, mental stress is contributing significantly to health problems like cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, cancers, hypertension, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders.

Even though the medical science has advanced several fold and new drugs are being discovered every day, and scientists trying hard to link every disease to a gene, an effective remedy for many diseases like some cancers, certain infections, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are still far away.

Modern medical approach to ailments is to treat the symptoms, viewing each problem as a disease of the body or of the mind. Even though the treatment may succeed in alleviating the symptoms and apparently restore normal condition, many a time it does not ensure the complete health of the person.

This is because the treatment methods and medication are generalized in terms of a disease symptom or a behavioral pattern, often ignoring the individual’s emotional, psychological and spiritual perception/ attitudes, which play a prominent role i n t h e treatment response.

Th e re – fore, even though the patient is cured of the disease, the illness persists. A holistic health approach has to take into consideration the body-mind relationship, as every disease has a physical and emotional component. In many cases the physical disease may be a bodily reaction to some mental/ emotional problem and treating the body alone will not ensure complete removal of the disease. Moreover, many medicines produce undesirable side effects, severely compromising the quality of life.

Therefore, people have started looking for alternative ways to treat chronic/recurring diseases. Music, yoga, breathing exercises, etc., are being explored to improve health and treat some diseases. A holistic approach is hypnotherapy, which makes use of the body-mind relationship for healing.

What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a method of treatment which uses hypnosis for facilitating the therapeutic effect of suggestions.

Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness or awareness, characterized by focused attention, acute sensory perception, increased concentration, physical relaxation and hyper-suggestibility.

Our subconscious mind has a record of all our past experiences, not accessible in the conscious state. The subconscious mind is accessed under hypnosis and the desired changes are brought about through suggestion given in that state.

The advantage of hypnotherapy is that, as the mind body axis is activated, the cure involves both emotional and physical states and no medication is used. Since the problem is tackled at its root, once the healing takes place, the effect is lasting.

This method is found very useful in treating many physical and physiological symptoms like pain, rashes, asthma, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and psychological and psychiatric problems like depression, insomnia, phobias and fears, and also to stop harmful habits like alcoholism, drug addiction and smoking.


The earliest known use of hypnosis for healing is by the Shamans or tribal Medicine Men, even though the term ‘hypnosis’ was not known then. Present day hypnotherapy can be traced back to Dr Franz Anton Mesmer, an 18th century Austrian physician. He believed that many objects contained a ‘cosmic fluid’ with healing powers, which could be transferred to human body to cure diseases.

Initially he used magnets for the healing, but later considered his own body as the source of this healing force, which he called ‘animal magnetism’.

Though there was no evidence to support his theory, he treated thousands of patients using this method, which came to be known as ‘mesmerism’.

It was James Braid, a British Surgeon, who coined the word ‘hypnosis’ (from the word Greek ‘hypnos’ meaning ‘sleep’) in 1843 to describe a sleep-like state exhibited by many of his patients. Several schools in the West developed hypnosis for treatment and the method gained popularity.

Sigmund Freud, the well-known Psychiatrist also used hypnosis in his early days of practice, but later discarded it for psychotherapy. With the fast development of psychiatry in the first half of the 20th century, hypnotherapy suffered a decline in popularity.

However, a revival occurred in the 1950’s, mainly due to the efforts of two American doctors, Dr. Milton Erickson and Dr. John Kappas, who contributed significantly to shape the present-day hypnotherapy. The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, established by John Kappas in 1969, was the first authentic school of hypnotherapy in the USA.

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