Hypnosis May Slow Onset of Dementia


A Scientist at the University of Liverpool has found hypnosis can slow down the effects of dementia and improve quality of life for people living with the condition. Forensic psychologist Dr Simon Duff looked at how hypnosis compared to a type of group therapy in which participants were encouraged to discuss news and current affairs. They found that people living with dementia who had received hypnosis therapy showed an improvement in concentration, memory and socialisation compared to two other groups. Relaxation, motivation and daily activities also improved with hypnosis. Dr Duff said: “Over a nine-month period of weekly sessions, it became clear that the participants attending the discussion group remained the same throughout. The group who received treatment ‘as usual’ showed a small decline over the assessment period, yet those having regular hypnosis sessions showed real improvement across all the areas we looked at. “Participants who are aware of the onset of dementia may become depressed and anxious at their gradual loss of cognitive ability and so hypnosis, which is a tool for relaxation, can really help.” Further research will establish whether hypnosis maintains its effects.


July 29 2008 Liverpool Daily Post

Experts Define Hypnosis

Sigmund Freud

After studying briefly with Bernheim, Freud pioneered the use of hypnosis as a vehicle for regression and catharsis between about 1885 and 1905. However, he abandoned it in order to develop his own technique of psychoanalysis. Nevertheless in an article published late in his career Freud returned to the subject of hypnotherapy once again, suggesting that it might be necessary to somehow combine the findings of psychoanalysis with the methods of hypnotherapy in order to produce a briefer and more powerful form of treatment. This notion was subsequently developed by other psychotherapists and led to the school of hypnosis which we now call “hypnoanalysis.” Freud’s comments here are more in the manner of a brief description, rather than a definition per se, nevertheless they reveal something of his views on the nature of hypnosis.

It has long been known, though it has only been established beyond all doubt during the last few decades, that it is possible, by certain gentle means, to put people into a quite peculiar mental state very similar to sleep and on that account described as ‘hypnosis.’ […] The hypnotic state exhibits a great variety of gradations. In its lightest degree the hypnotic subject is aware only of something like a slight insensibility, while the most extreme degree, which is marked by special peculiarities, is known as ‘somnambulism’, on account of its resemblance to the natural phenomena of sleep-walking. But hypnosis is in no sense a sleep like our nocturnal sleep or like the sleep produced by drugs. Changes occur in it and mental functions are retained during it which are absent in normal sleep. [Freud, On Psychical Treatment, 1905]



All the same but different?

Hypnosis and Mindfulness


Experience of mindfulness training and practice has demonstrated through the body scan technique, otherwise known as progressive muscle relaxation in hypnotherapy, that the mind is brought into a ‘fixed state of attention’, as the body subsequently relaxes through its compassionate psychic awareness i.e. paying attention, on purpose, in a particular way, moment-by-moment, non-judgementally, to the observable events and sensations within the body, which may also include feelings and emotions. Thereafter, the body subsequently relaxes, a prerequisite for meditation, and the mind is then directed to focus upon the breath, and in the same non-judgemental way. This phenomenon of ‘fixation’ or ‘fixed attention’, in conjunction with the body scan, facilitates a quietened mind, in order for the participant of mindfulness to subsequently recognise any disturbances in conscious awareness or thinking, typically attributed to our deeper subconscious processing that unwittingly ‘affects’ the subjective body-mind organism as a whole. The whole process facilitates communicating with yourself, through attentive listening, without the continued barrage of thoughts and sensations, that as an appendage, typically pollutes our everyday, ordinary consciousness.

Hypnotherapy, on the other hand, utilises the same mental ‘fixation’ or ‘fixed state’ of attention (called trance) but primarily utilises an external object, namely that of the therapist’s voice, who then skilfully chooses a method of approach from a repertoire of techniques to empower their client. Furthermore, creative visualisation is encouraged by the therapist, through guided visualisation (visual meditation), enhancing the power of client’s imagination to reprogramme their own subconscious thinking via visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory or gustatory description or metaphors (sense representations), consequently encouraging the client to see, feel, hear, smell, and taste their preferred outcome or result, through a desired future orientation, which ‘ethically’ is in-keeping with the client’s values and goals. However, mindfulness doesn’t use future orientation, and it doesn’t use imagination, as it only deals in the here-and-now, despite being a very effective psychological intervention, although it does use relaxation and meditation (trance) to stabilise the client before observing, with acceptance, what is actually disturbing the individual’s mind and body in the present time. Similarly, hypnosis stabilises the client using the same relaxation process and trance like mental state, before embarking upon a journey of therapy when utilising the imagination to positively affect stubborn and difficult memories from the past, deal with present day obstacles and barriers, and or visualise a better, brighter, intended future, by helping the client facilitate change to their mental-emotional perspective.