Charmed: the science of hypnosis
Look me in the eye: the fantastic story of the mysterious healing power and the new science of hypnosis.
It’s amazing how difficult to do it the first time. For many months I conduct research on the history of hypnosis, intending to write a book about the power of suggestion. But any study of hypnosis will be incomplete if you don’t try it yourself. This is what led me to the doorstep of my friend — photographer Meghan Dhaliwal (Meghan Dhaliwal). A few days before this at a party I told her about his plans to learn hypnosis. Megan responded immediately: «Oh, I want to be hypnotized! You to hypnotize me?»
One researcher of hypnosis told me about the script (it can be called instructions) which I had to read to hypnotize Megan. But I’ve never seen someone subjected to hypnosis, and certainly he was not engaged.
I’ve seen hypnosis on TV. I know that some people can tell other people to fall into a trance, just by looking at them or talking to them. Sometimes they use a pocket watch. In the movie «the Italian job» the magician on the stage hypnotizing the person in the audience to Rob his Bank. In the film «the Manchurian candidate» programmed to kill the President. The hypnotists sometimes appear spinning spirals in her eyes. Particularly successful in this case the snake from the cartoon. But if you mess up, as happened in the movie «Office space», a person can permanently change or harm him.
Little did I know that simultaneously underestimate and overestimate the power of hypnosis, which has long been associated with madness, wonders and mysteries of the occult. It turns out, hypnosis is not the most important for mind control or for contacts with the dead, but he still has a powerful force, helping to cure some diseases, relieve depression, and to overcome the pain. This can hardly be called magic, and yet, hypnosis is one of the greatest and unknown phenomena of our century.
Someone says that the first hypnotists appeared 4 thousand years ago, and their appearance is associated with the tomb of the Egyptian priest Imhotep; others point to ancient Greece. Today the original source of the methods of suggestion are considered Gypsies, who could bring hypnosis out of India to Europe about a thousand years ago.
Hypnosis in its modern incarnation was doing a German priest and exorcist of demons of the XVIII century, Johann Gassner (Gassner Johann), who believed that he had the power to convey God’s words in your own voice. Talking with patients a calm and commanding tone, he delivered them from all sorts of demons, whom we today might call epileptic seizures or muscle spasms. They say that he once ordered the patient to slow down the pulse in one hand and at the same time to participate in another.
The work of Gassner noticed a German physician and healer Franz Mesmer (Franz Mesmer), is making the assumption that magnetism controls the tides (it is not), the movement of the planets (also incorrect), and even human health (actually not). He wore a bright silk coat with silk lining to retain magnetic power, and often took an iron rod, swinging it over their heads like a magic wand, and also treated patients with the aid of small magnets.
When Mesmer saw Gassner, he lit up. The priest conveys the words of God, it transmits magnetic fluids, who are imbued with the universe. (These fluids Mesmer attributed to the metal cross of Gassner, not his voice.)
Soon after he took up Mesmer hypnosis. In Paris he had a cabin, where he spent hours «hypnotized» people until they are healed, or until they started having seizures with frothing at the mouth. Among his customers there were many women, and later, scientists explained the power of his suggestion give female. But most of all, women in Europe of the XVIII century, it was just boring.
The most famous patient of Mesmer was Marie Antoinette. Her husband Louis XVI at first welcomed Mesmer in Paris; but he soon became suspicious, and to evaluate the methods of the hypnotist, he created the Commission, composed of eminent scientists, which included the father of modern chemistry Antoine Lavoisier and one of the American founding fathers Benjamin Franklin. The result of their work was a fascinating treatise, which the authors made fun of magnets, Mesmer, and predicted an era of experiments with placebo. But they also sent a secret report to the king, saying that he has subjected the power of hypnosis the person can easily engage in a sexual relationship.
Soon after this, Mesmer was thoroughly discredited. His fame has faded, the popularity waned, however, the methods of suggestion have not gone away. A monk from Goa, Abbe Faria, who tried to overthrow two governments and spent several years in prison on the French island of the Chateau d’lf, learned hypnosis from one of the disciples of Mesmer in the early nineteenth century. However, Faria claimed that magnetism to a lesser extent linked with hypnosis and more with the consciousness of the person hypnotized.
In the 1840’s, the Scottish surgeon James Asdal (James Esdaile) accidentally found out about hypnosis and later claimed to have carried out 300 operations, using it as anesthesia (chemical anesthesia had not yet been invented). He specialized in painful operations, including those associated with the appearance of fluid in the scrotum, but also used hypnosis during amputations.
Perhaps the greatest hypnotist of the nineteenth century was Jean-Martin Charcot (Jean-Martin Charcot), who is often called the founder of the science of neurology. For it was particularly important two elements. The first is hysteria. Today we believe that it is the as manic and senseless fear. But at the time it was a comprehensive term, which is called disease, unclassifiable, say, disease of the psyche, which has had a direct impact on the human body. Charcot noticed that some paralyzed people in the state of hypnosis can be made to move, and those who are able to move around, you can hypnotize so that they will feel a palsy. These cases made him reflect on whether hypnotibility (hypnotic susceptibility) is an integral part of the disease itself.
And Charcot was interested in the question of hypnotism and crime. People from the era of Queen Victoria was much troubled by the fact that they can Rob, rape or kill people under the influence of hypnosis. The alarm was so strong that in the emerging science of psychology was formed two factions. The first thought that such crimes are possible, and the second — no. Charcot was adamant that it is impossible to hypnotize a person against his will and force him to do what he wants. According to his logic, hypnosis makes people suggestible, but not a psychopath.
However, the society and the press disagreed with him. Known one case where a man killed his mistress and then tried to commit suicide, blaming it all on hypnosis. But most likely, this guy was just unstable. Another man drew attention to the fact that in a hypnotic state robbed a Bank. However, the newspaper did not mention that without hypnosis he was doing the same, having committed many robberies.
Almost throughout the nineteenth century hypnosis has flourished along with its associated region «psychical research» that studied the supernatural. The sessions of spiritualism, ghosts, and extrasensory perception — all of these were very important questions for psychologists, and their primary tool was hypnosis. At the same time, stage hypnosis has spread throughout Europe and in the US, where magicians and fraudsters include in their performances the mind control. Best among them was a charismatic Scottish magician Walford Bodie (Walford Bodie). He spoke with a very ridiculous and bizarre statements and created something even more strange, say, forced unsuspecting victims (often they were working on it people) walk like a chicken. Bodie was a notorious scoundrel who inspired Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini, but in hypnosis there was little he could understand it.
In the end, the RAID in pseudo-science and fear of mind control has done its job, and research of hypnosis was the point. It ended in September 1894 during a hypnosis session in Hungary, during which the doctor (stereotypical Rasputin beard and piercing eyes) have inspired Ella Salamon (Salamon Ella) that she needs to mentally travel to a distant city. However, with the young aristocrat had a seizure, and she inexplicably died. It is not clear what happened, but it was the last drop that overflowed the Cup. Hypnosis was dangerous and was banned.
The story of Dracula is a classic example of how hypnosis fell into disfavor. In the book about him which was published in 1897, the characters use hypnotism to track down this vampire. But by that time, as the actor Bela Lugosi (Bela Lugosi) donned his famous Cape to star in a movie about Dracula, he turned into a bloodsucker who used hypnosis. This tradition continues to this day in such TV series as «True blood» and «vampire Diaries». Most of the XX century law in Britain banned the show hypnosis on TV because of fear of what the audience can enter into a trance against their will.
Megan met me at the threshold with his friend, photographer Dominic Bracco (Bracco Dominic). I’ve known Dominic for many years and worked with him around the world. I couldn’t help but notice that it feels a little awkward. To blame him it was impossible, because hypnosis is a strange and mysterious. Type: hi, good to see you, get my girlfriend into the bedroom and put her in a trance. I understood what it was like Louis XVI, upon learning that his wife communicates with Mesmera.
I brought the manual to introduction into the hypnotic state. It was a normal text intended for patients in the dental clinic who are afraid to sit in a chair to the dentist. Theoretically, after hypnosis the person who usually stolbeneet at the sight of a drill, happily and quietly sitting in the chair while he cleaned the channels. I had previously skimmed through it and removed from it, everything associated with dentistry.
Megan sat on the bed, closed my eyes, and I began to read. I began with the description of a staircase of 20 steps, where it should slowly go down: first step, second, third… breath, you relax with each passing step. Fourth, fifth… you feel how relaxing penetrates deeper and deeper. Sixth, seventh step… well… I guess you’ve noticed the powerful calming feeling of relaxation that spreads through your body, penetrating into the shoulders, arms… somewhere on the fifteenth rung of Meghan looked as if she fell into a trance. And then for a moment at the eighteenth step had the feeling that she went to a deeper level of relaxation, as if hanging on a precipice.
I brought it to the bottom of the steps, and then got down to the real suggestion. I was reading and suddenly noticed something unusual in the manner of presentation. This was not the aggressive hypnosis, which we see in the movie («You fall asleep» or «I’ll snap my fingers and you turn into a duck»). This is largely was a passive-aggressive hypnosis with phrases like «would you be so kind to notice…» and «perhaps you are ready to feel the heaviness and tiredness».
There is good reason to believe that hypnosis was. Real hypnosis is not the mind control spoken of Mesmer, or that shown in Hollywood movies. This interaction between the hypnotist and the patient. If a patient wants to resist the hypnosis, the entire session is disrupted. You cannot hypnotize a person against his will, cannot be forced to do something against his moral beliefs. Therefore, experienced hypnotists know that the suggestion is not an order. Hence, passive tone.
In my suggestion there was no guile. I just wanted to give Megan a sense of relaxation whenever Dominic or I touched her right shoulder. As a dentist, trying to calm the frightened patient. After the session, I again held Megan on the steps of her consciousness and asked me to open my eyes. She smiled.
«It was cool. Thank you.»
Am I really hypnotized her? «Well, not exactly,’ she said. — I listened and tried to relax.» Apparently, trying to cheer me up, Megan said: «I had a headache, and now all the pain is gone».
For many people hypnosis is just that. Nice meditation in a relaxed state, something like yoga when you can go and concentrate on my breathing. A similar feeling arises when you look at the tap from which water drips — looking, while everything else around disappears.
But for other people in hypnosis is much more. Some patients in a state of hypnosis don’t feel pain when they cut the surgeon. This dichotomy between miraculous healing and an exercise in relaxation for centuries put scientists in a deadlock. For one you can have extraordinary impact, but on the other — zero.
That’s what bothered Sigmund Freud, who started out as enthusiastic hypnotist, however, dreamed of creating a more universal theory of psychotherapy. Ugly first child psychology, which was used by the nut jobs and charlatans, gave place to a new idea of Freud, the basis of which is the talking cure. It is considered a more effective tool for details mental ailments.
But there has always been rebels who experimented with hypnosis. In 1951 British physician albert Mason (Albert A Mason) used hypnosis in the treatment of 16-year-old boy suffering from a rare disease called «congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma». In the British Medical Journal described her symptoms: «a thick blackish stratum corneum of the epidermis» that covers almost all of the body. Look ill with this horrible disease was disgusting, the body exudes a strong smell, and the stratum corneum caused almost constant pain. Whenever surgeons transplanted skin from a healthy part of the body on the patient, this healthy skin also soon covered with dark horn plaques. So Mason tried to treat the boy hypnosis. He started with the left hand, suggesting to the patient that she needs to be cleansed of the painful growths. Less than a week and the skin on his hand peeled off, and under it was clean healthy skin. Then Mason was cured right arm, legs and then whole body. Feet went from 50 to 70% of the scabs from the back 90%, and with the hands the stratum corneum has gone almost completely.
And there were psychologists, HILGARD Ernest (Ernest Hilgard) and Emily Orne (Orne Emily), who created, respectively, Stanford and Harvard scale to measure the hypnosis ability of the person. These scales of measurements over time have not changed. Unfortunately, which lasted for many years of additional research has not revealed anything that significantly correlated with the hypnotibility. There is a strong link with gullibility, mental development, gender, race, age, or with some traits. Scientists generally can’t agree on what hypnosis is: some kind of altered state of brain or just a form of attention.
Up to a point this is all just a theory. To understand hypnosis, we need to experience it for yourself. To this end, I met with the scientist-medic from Seattle by David Patterson (David Patterson), who passionately believes in the analgesic power of hypnosis. «The main reason I know that hypnosis is a patient, is that doctors don’t use them,» he says, folding his hands in the shape of a cross, as if fending off vampires. He’s not kidding, because he regularly meet patients who consider hypnosis something diabolical.
Frustrating when people are afraid of your scientific work or despise it. Patterson said that from time to time he wants to give up. But then comes something that blows up his brain and being sucked back in. Take as an example a lecture on hypnosis and pain control in burns, which he read in the 1990-ies at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Doctors treated it with skepticism. When Patterson offered a demonstration, he was advised to try on the young man who was burned over half of the body, and which, according to the scientist, «was angry at the world».
It is almost impossible to describe the excruciating pain one experiences with severe burns covering most of his body. According to doctors, it is the worst pain any person can experience. In this case, whenever the nurse tried to remove the bandage to wash the young man’s wounds, he screamed and writhed in pain, despite the fact that he was given powerful painkillers. This patient is contemptuously said Patterson, that it is impossible to hypnotize. After some time he agreed to try, but it was the impression that he is doing everything contrary to what he was saying. Patterson told the patient that he was excited. And suddenly the young man right as the team did the opposite and relaxed. After a few minutes he easily fell into a deep and tranquil hypnotic state, and the nurses removed the bandage and cleaned the ulcer with a sponge.
In 1996, Patterson met a patient who was in intensive care with a rusty axe in the neck. The doctors saved his life, but in the process of treatment this man got sick with meningitis and had to regularly do a spinal tap which is very painful. By that time, Patterson worked as a hypnotist at the hospital of the University of Washington. He was extremely overworked, but immediately undertook a new case.
Researchers believe that hypnotibility is a talent. «He was yelling and screaming, recalled Patterson. I had literally five minutes. So I said, «When sister take you by the shoulder to turn, you will enter a state of trance»». In most cases, when the fast instruction is immediately followed by the suggestion, nothing happens. But Patterson was lucky. The patient was extremely hypnotizability. Later, when the nurse touched him on the shoulder, this screaming in pain the man suddenly calmed down, relaxed and became pliable. «They turned him, and he just passively lay there and felt nothing,» said Patterson.
This is a big problem for researchers of hypnosis. On the one hand, there are not very talented hypnotists, and with another — not very talented patients. So scientists like Patterson’s estimate hypnotibility — like talent. If hypnosis is a partnership, the success depends on the skills of both participants.
During a casual conversation, Patterson stumbles, mumbles and is very easily distracted, like most scientists. But starting a session, it instantly transformed. His voice becomes quiet, it’s confident and smooth. With me it started with checking my reaction. He told me to raise my hand like she tied the balloon, and then a weight. He then began a half-hour monologue with numerous duplicates. He talked about many things: about the pain in my hand, my images floating in space, about the feeling of freedom and tranquility, the need to turn off my inquisitive mind from a relaxed mind. It seemed that his logic is not going anywhere, but he walked forward, the thoughts revolved themselves around and randomly repeated. It was hard for me to watch them, and I soon began to relax. But to enter into a hypnotic trance it was hard for me. I imagined that I was flying in outer space with no stars, but there is a yellow-red nebula, slowly passing me. The feeling was pleasant, but from time to time, I began to ask myself whether it was possible to hypnotize me. The spell dissipated, and I had to start all over again.
I guess I’m not very susceptible to hypnotic. Patterson then said that at the Stanford scale of hypnosis ability, I scored about three points (from 12). It caused me disappointment. A few months ago, I would be proud of it — like the inability to hypnotize me gives me some kind of supernatural power. But now that I understand the powerful force of hypnosis, it seems to fail.
Basically hypnosis is a form of storytelling, the same primitive, as a conversation between two cavemen sitting around the campfire. But I was too much attached to the script. So a few months later I was back at the door Megan, this time determined to hypnotize her. This time, the entry will be exactly the same, but I prisposobili it to what it should be.A few weeks prior to this Megan was an adverse reaction to a tetanus shot, which she got shot in the back, neck and shoulders. The doctor said that nothing can be done, it is necessary to wait and endure until the pain disappears. I like the guy might have a great opportunity to come to her rescue. Like the first time, I said to Megan imagined the stairs and slowly went down on her. I held her from the twentieth stairs to first reading the script. But then I tried private therapy. I said that she imagined the muscles of his back, raspy, completely covered in cobwebs. I was asked to present them vividly, and then within minutes tried to study them.
Talking with Megan, I realized how difficult it is to maintain the rhythm and at the same time to draw the patient a vivid picture without preparation. I spoke the hypnotic voice softly, smoothly, but not too much. I tried to use vivid and evocative words held in her mind and allow her to imagine how the pain disappears. To oppose the burning sensation in her back, I tried to use the visual images of something cold. I told her to imagine the web that melts in the sun like ice, revealing healthy muscles, able to contract without any pain. I described how smoothly and reliably they work, reminding a well-oiled machine. And then I took her up the stairs.
As before, the moment of awakening, there has been some awkwardness. I was wondering how Patterson was able in such a delicate time to switch with a hypnotic voice on a normal conversation. Megan smiled. I asked whether it was possible for me to hypnotize.
«Yes, completely. Something she said, and then corrected himself, no, not really.» And the pain is gone? She shrugged and answered, «got a little better.» I sighed and decided that it was my little victory.
More than 200 years, scientists interested in the mechanism of hypnosis, and recent research has shed finally some light on this issue. Regularly collaborating with Patterson, mark Jensen (Mark Jensen) works with electrical signals (or waves) on the outside of the brain. If we imagine the brain as a football stadium, where each cell of the brain — the individual fan, the EEG of such a collective wave of fans, which in turn stand up and lift up your hands (but using this analogy, it should be borne in mind that the real brain is about 1.2 million football stadiums, where fans simultaneously monitor thousands of different games).
Special attention Jensen pays two types of waves — alpha waves and theta waves, which cover large areas of the brain during hypnosis. They are very slow, from four to 12 waves per second (faster waves arise, for example, when we are frightened or worried), and are associated with sleep, meditation and deep relaxation. The brain is large, and there are many. Today one part of our brain can slow down and relax, and the other to work hard.
© RIA Novosti, Mikhail Yurchenko | go to photo Bank, researcher, Institute of pedagogical psychology of the USSR Academy of Sciences Yulia Nekrasova conducts classes for the cure of stuttering by using hypnosis
Figuring out which parts of the brain are most frequently involved in hypnosis, it is a costly lesson that takes a lot of time. But that’s not stopping a psychiatrist and hypnotist David Spiegel (David Spiegel), working at Stanford University. Spiegel was brought up doctor who in the Second world war, learned hypnosis to overcome the pain and anxiety, and he, too, his whole life was devoted to this case.
«It’s like a hereditary disease in my family — «» he says. — Conversations at the dinner table was very interesting.»
He was seriously engaged in this work in his youth when he met with the patient adolescence, which for many years had every few months to go to the hospital and treated for asthma. One hypnosis session was enough to bring the situation under control, and very soon the girl stopped to go to the hospital. But soon after the nurse wrote on Spiegel’s complaint, stating that he hypnotizes patients instead of curing them prescribed strong steroids. This case has shown him that hypnosis carries the positive potential, and great danger: it can ease suffering, but at the same time to damage the reputation.
«There is a persistent notion that hypnosis either does nothing, or extremely dangerous,’ said Spiegel. — People think that during hypnosis they will lose control, although in reality they gain such control. We must teach people how to better manage your mind and your body.»
Spiegel realized that people are afraid because of their ignorance. So today he was in his work tries to understand the mechanisms of hypnosis, as we try to understand any other processes in the brain. In this year he published the results of a study which examined the MRI scans of the brain 57 easily hypnotized people and discovered three significant changes in the brain’s response to hypnosis. First, the anterior cingulate cortex, which is in two to three inches over the eyebrow and is involved in the formation of feelings of anxiety, had significantly calmed down. The same thing happened with the structure responsible for self-contemplation and self-evaluation. And finally, the part of the prefrontal cortex, where we think of the tasks more connected to somatic area, interacting with the body.
In other words, the brain, the subjects became less aware of themselves, less interested in the consequences, and reveal a lot of bodily functions, which we don’t think or can’t think. «It is a state of exceptional concentration and immersion in the thoughts, as if we look through the lens of the camera. What we see, we see very clearly and in detail, but lose the context, said Spiegel. — We make beyond consciousness the things that usually are inside him.» At the same time we get access to things that are usually beyond our control.
The results are very similar to the findings from another study held in 2008. It was attended by people who are sensitive to electricity, when in the hands of them gets a cell phone. This condition is very difficult to treat because it is often short-lived, and it is also unclear where it exists — in the brain or in the body. However, the consequences of the so-called electroacoustically can be harmful, and many doctors out of desperation just raise up your hands and say, «It’s all in their head».
But what if certain psychosomatic illnesses — this is a form of self-hypnosis? What if they somehow capture your own bodily centre? A psychologist from Cardiff University Peter Halligan (Halligan Peter) for many years engaged in this direction. Inspired by the studies of Charcot century and a half ago, he began to study such things as suggested hypnosis paralysis. He found that the brain is paralyzed by the hypnosis of a person is not quite like the brain of someone who pretends to be paralyzed. This is very similar to situations when people are paralyzed without any apparent reason.
Unlike Spiegel, Sam Halligan hypnotic sessions is not undertaking, and these issues he became involved almost against his will.
«I came into the field of neuropsychology because I didn’t want to discuss such things as hypnosis, which seemed to me not very convincing and reliable,» he said.
But soon, Halligan realized that hypnosis is a real treasure trove for practitioners and academics alike. In particular, he is interested in the imitation of a real disease using hypnosis to make them easier to study. He was able to simulate the state of «visual neglect» when a stroke it seems that half his world had disappeared, and the status of prosopagnosia when people can’t recognize faces. Curiously, it is not necessary to explain this condition to people to show all their many symptoms. As if a part of them somehow already knows about him.
A team of scientists from Sydney’s Macquarie University also succeeded in this business, learning to mimic the Cotard’s syndrome (where the patient thinks he is dead) and Capgras syndrome (when the patient believes that his spouse was replaced by a DoppelgangeR). In some cases, people are hypnotized by their actions and brain activity wholly similar to the present patient, and then the specialists appear all the opportunities to study and understanding of these diseases.It becomes an invaluable tool for understanding mental illness and brain damage — just as a rat can imitate human cancer, and through laboratory experience it is possible to simulate chemical reactions in outer space. Based on this Halligan came to the conclusion that our unconscious has a much greater impact on our consciousness than we previously thought.
«Everything that we experience consciously, is a product of the unconscious», he said.
Jensen and Spiegel so far gone, but in their view, neuroscience proves why hypnosis should play an important role in today’s medicine. Thanks to one only pain as a result of hypnosis it is possible to save billions of dollars in lost income, and to save people from the terrible effects of addictions. Contrary to the opinion of Freud, hypnosis is not addictive, but many modern treatments give rise to dependence.
«We have a lot of evidence that hypnosis is an effective pain reliever. Nevertheless, we continue to teach millions of people to opiates,» said they.
The more I began to understand hypnosis, the less I understand why he is studying so few people. Spiegel said he had observed some growth of interest among colleagues, however, psychology is still nothing more than fun, and respect hypnosis does not use.
I can’t say that I have it completely figured out what I really saw him after all this. So I again came to Megan. This time, instead of immediately deal with the suggestion, we sat down and a few minutes of conversation. It was disturbed by a strong sense of anxiety arising from her from time to time, and we discussed it.
I was looking at hypnosis as some kind of goal, but approached it as a process. Less of magic and tricks, and more exercises to get into shape.
So when we started, I did not read the script and make changes to it. I worked in a free format. I asked Megan to imagine that she climbs the stairs, and then begins flying in the night sky, as it did with me, Patterson. She flew over the cities and over one her favorite farm in Denmark and then left in a dark, starless space. When Megan was floating in a peaceful silence, I asked her to imagine the anxiety and excitement flow from her body and form a bright-colored bubbles, which are then easily fly into the distance. Then I brought her back to the stairs and walked to the bottom.
Megan opened her eyes. If I was able to hypnotize her?
Well, sort of. «I felt like I was underwater, but could breathe,» she said, adding that the bubbles freaked her out.
Megan said a similar feeling she experienced for the first time at the eighteenth step, but this time she managed to control your anxiety. The greatest satisfaction I got was the fact that she after experienced the deepest sense of relaxation — just when I was getting her into the real world. I said to myself: we need to experiment with underwater images, but without bubbles.
Don’t know if I helped Megan. But saying goodbye, we agreed to try again next week. In the end, to hone the skills necessary to both of us.