It arrived in the guise of a French mesmerist named Charles Poyen. Monsieur Poyen’s first experienced Mesmer’s new therapy as a patient. He became a zealous promoter of what he referred to as “magnetizing” and a gifted practitioner of the art.
After immigrating to the USA, Poyen settled in Providence, Rhode Island in 1837 where he became an overnight sensation. His supporters included pillars of society such as Francis Wayland, president of Brown University as well as members of Rhode Island’s medical and academic communities.
He demonstrated remarkable healings of both physical and mental ailments in a series of lectures throughout New England as well as in Rhode Island. And, he trained new magnetizers who formed a lasting core of practitioners in the United States. In Providence alone, it was said that over 100 people were “magnetizing” by the end of 1837.
Poyen also wrote and published a small book called Progress of Animal Magnetism in New England, which explained his version of the Mesmer technique in simple language. And he even managed to start a new magazine, THE PSYCHODINAMIST or Bulletin of Animal Magnetizers in the United States, printed at Cranston and Company. He pledged that the publication would be open to “impartial discussion of all opinions from all parties viz.: doubters and unbelievers” and make the latest European developments available in the US.
A reporter’s observations give us a sense of the local acceptance Poyen enjoyed. The reporter wrote in October 23, 1837’s edition of the Providence Journal Bulletin “We do not pretend to be total converts to the cause, but will say that the exhibitions we have witnessed have not only surprised but astonished us…and if the science is a Humbug as some claim we can only say that we have witnessed experiments with some of the most scientific men in our country –who all expressed themselves as entirely satisfied that there was no deception in what they witnessed.”
Unfortunately, despite his successes, Poyen, like Mesmer before him, seemed to be a man ahead of his time.
New England of 1837 just wasn’t ready for miraculous healing, mysterious magnetic forces and claims of paranormal abilities such as telepathy and clairvoyance. His very success lead to his rapid downfall. Poyen quickly became the target of attacks by conservative clergy. Congregation members who practiced “magnetizing” were expelled from the congregation. Under pressure from the pulpits, medical societies began warning their members against being publicly identified with mesmerism.
Pressure also came from outside Rhode Island. A columnist from the New York Journal of Commerce pulled few punches when he wrote “The learned Doctors of Divinity and Medicine in Providence have been gulled beyond endurance…the women are imposters and the men merely fools.”
Under a cloud of controversy, Charles Poyen returned to France where he died in 1844.
Today, hypnosis is once again a vital, growing part of the Rhode Island health and human development scene. Professional golfers and tennis players use hypnotherapy to sharpen their skills and improve concentration. Patients use hypnosis to ease pre- operation anxiety and speed post-operative recovery. Forensic hypnosis helps solve crimes and bring criminals to justice.
Students and public speakers, people with phobias and pregnant women all benefit from the same kind of remarkable results that so wowed Providence of the 1830s. And yes, hypnosis helps thousands of people each year quit smoking and lose weight.
Take a deep breath. Relax. And get ready for a very enjoyable adventure: your journey into self-hypnosis.
The first question most people ask is “can I really be hypnotized?”
The answer is that there is no doubt about it. The ability to enter hypnotic trance is a natural human attribute. You already move in and out of various trances several times each day.
Here are two everyday examples. One is the experience of driving on a highway lost in daydreams when you suddenly realize that you have driven past your exit as if on automatic pilot. Where were you? How about lightly hypnotized? Another is television viewing. You may never have thought of it this way. But whenever you get deeply involved in a movie you enter a light hypnotic trance. If you need convincing, observe a five-year-old glued to the TV set any Saturday morning. You’ll see a slack jawed, alert-yet-relaxed, future consumer with a vacant, “hypnotized” expression. Are we adults that different when deeply engrossed in a good movie? Of course not. We also “suspend disbelief” when watching stories on video. Day-to-day problems fade away. We are, in effect, very much in a trance.
In therapeutic hypnosis, we become entranced by a story about ourselves and our capabilities. We enter a state where we can access untapped mental resources to make changes in thought, emotion or behavior that can seem amazing, even miraculous.
Interested? I thought you might be. So, let’s get down to the technique itself. Basically, you have a choice of two approaches. Let’s call them “low- tech” and “high-tech” self-hypnosis.
Both require a hypnotic script BEFORE you start. In the “low tech” approach you mentally recite the script. The only equipment is your mind. In the high-tech variation, you tape record the script in your own voice. When you listen to it you become your own hypnotist.
I find the high-tech approach preferable, especially for beginners. Unless a professional hypnotist has trained you in self-hypnosis, trying to be both hypnotist and subject can get too confusing. Most people fail when they work alone. With the high-tech approach, you cannot fail. Even if you don’t think you are “hypnotized,” you will relax and spend time reviewing your goals. That alone has benefit. Plus, you can listen to your tapes over and over again adding the power of repetition.
When should you use self-hypnosis? Just about anytime a more positive attitude could make a difference. Use it to increase confidence or concentration, improve memory, reduce stress or pump-up motivation for your exercise program. Like any skill, the more experience you have, the better you become. Eventually you may want to tackle more complex issues. But it is best to start simple. Hypnosis is generally recognized as a VERY SAFE practice. However, if you try to use it for the wrong purpose, you could aggravate existing conditions: at the least you’ll be ignoring proper medical treatment. So, please don’t try to be your own psychotherapist or physician. By the way, mixing recreational drugs and self-hypnosis is never a good idea.
You can use the script I provide in this article to get started. Or write your own. Read it into a tape recorder in a slow, confident style. Play it back and listen with the intention of experiencing hypnosis. At first you may have to “pretend” to go into trance. Soon you will feel a shift as you enter a true hypnotic state. Be patient. Sometimes benefits come quickly. But just as often they build over time.
The Self-Hypnosis Script
A hypnotic script consists of three parts. First is the induction. This is the “patter” that guides the subject (you in this case) into trance. The treatment section follows as you program the new ideas, beliefs, emotions and possibilities you wish to acquire. Express your suggestions in a simple, positive statement. “I now enjoy eating healthy foods” is far preferable to “Donuts will make me want to vomit.” Then emergence . This is a fancy term for “wake yourself up.” And, emerging from hypnosis is as easy as deciding you have had enough of a TV show and using the clicker to turn the box off.
Here is a simple script to start you off. Record it in a slow, confident voice. Then get yourself comfortable. Sit or lie down. Turn off the phone. Make sure you will be undisturbed for 20 minutes or so. Put on headphones. And listen to the sound of your voice…
Induction: Fix your eyes on a spot a little higher than eye level. And let yourself relax. As I count from 100 downwards I want and expect my body to become very relaxed and my eyes very, very heavy. Because as I count backwards I will open my eyes on even numbers like 100 and close them on odd numbers like 99. This makes my eyes very tired and soon I don’t feel like opening them anymore. This occurs by the time I get to 80 or sooner. I then fall into a very deep trance and envision lying on a beautiful beach on a perfect beach day.
(MENTALLY COUNT VERY SLOWLY REPEATING “RELAX JUST RELAX” AFTER EACH NUMBER: 100, 99, 98,97,96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 91, 90, 89, 88, 87, 86, 85, 84, 83, 82, 81, 80).
Now I close my eyes and keep them closed. I imagine I am at a beautiful beach. It is a sunny day. I am by the water lying near the surf. I continue counting backwards. When I reach 60 I imagine myself walking to the edge of the water writing DEEP ASLEEP in the sand. Then I see the surf come in and wash the words away. When they are gone, I imagine myself deeply hypnotized, my mind open to new positive ideas, behaviors and emotions. 60 I am writing DEEP ASLEEP in the moist sand. The words are gone and I am deep asleep, yet alert to the sounds of my own voice.
(MENTALLY COUNT VERY SLOWLY REPEATING “RELAX EVEN DEEPER” AFTER EACH NUMBER 79, 78, 77, 76, 75, 74, 73, 72, 71, 70, 69, 68, 67, 66, 65, 64, 63, 62, 61, 60.THEN PAUSE FOR 60 SECONDS)
Treatment (REPEAT SEVERAL TIMES) I am now open to change. I give myself the command that I am able to enter hypnosis more easily and deeply listening to this tape each time I hear it. (FOR FUTURE TAPES YOU’LL WANT TO INSERT OTHER COMMANDS HERE SUCH AS “I ENJOY HEALTHY FOODS.” OR “I NOW LOVE TO EXERCISE”).
Emergence: As I count up from 1 to 5, I awaken alert and refreshed. 1 Easily, and Slowly Returning, 2 Feeling Wonderful, 3 Alert, Refreshed, 4. Knowing I am getting better and better everyday, 5 I open my eyes and return to normal consciousness FEELING GREAT.
That’s it. No magick other than the limitless marvel known as the human mind. You might ask why spend money on a professional hypnotherapist? The short answer is that when you visit me you get the benefit of knowledge of the hypnotic state and treatment options. You also can expect a much deeper, more powerful experience resulting in faster improvement and superior results. Like more information? Then come in for a free introductory 15 minute consultation.
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