Hypnotism’s dark and mysterious  reputation parallels the occult and paranormal phenomena in some ways. Mention of hypnotism elicits fear in some people and the perception that hypnosis is a form of mind control.  On the surface it appears that a willing subject obeys the commands of the hypnotist, who often presents as a larger-than-life authority figure.  The subject is portrayed as meek and subservient who is under the complete influence of the hypnotist.  Furthermore, the hypnotist commands that his subjects do physically-defeating stunts  such as being a “human plank” where only the head and lower leg rest on supporting chairs while the hypnotist sits on the subject.  Very few of us, if any would willfully consider relinquishing such control to another human being.

A closer examination of all hypnosis shows, particularly stage shows where body and mind-defeating tricks are displayed to entertain the crowds, shows that permission is obtained from the subject in the form of a contract.  Audience members are first asked to participate in an innocuous task such as closing their eyes and imagining their favourite relaxation destination.  Those who participate have voluntarily done so, without coercion.  There may be a few more tricks that audience members are asked to do in their seats.  So far, the hypnotist has done nothing out of the ordinary than would be expected at any entertainment show that tries to connect with the audience (e.g., getting the audience to clap their hands to a beat).  The next stage of the show, audience members are “asked” to come up to the stage if they want to participate.  So far, no coercion, trickery or mind control.  What happens next on stage, is what determines who will stay.  The volunteers who on their own free will have agreed to try hypnosis, but not all of them are fit to be hypnotized in this exact situation.  So, when the hypnotist does the induction, people who are most hypnotizable will begin to show signs of trance (feeling of relaxation, heaviness in their limbs and body).  The individuals who do not experiences these facets are not necessarily unhypnotizable.  What they are actually saying, is I don’t want to be hypnotized, right here, right now, in this particular circumstance.  It is likely the fact that they are fearful of being embarrassed in front of the audience, not the fact that they can’t be hypnotized.  In fact, most people, if they really want to experience hypnosis, prefer to be hypnotized so in a quiet, private place where they feel safe.

So what distinguishes the stars of the hypnotism show from the majority of people who prefer to be hypnotized in some other setting?  Research has shown there are some traits that predispose certain individuals to  be hypnotized on stage.  Those traits include an out-going, unreserved manner, exhibitionistic tendencies, and dramatic flair (think of your class clown).  This is not to say that all the subjects who are on stage have each of these qualities.  Some people on stage may be people who fully trust the hypnotist. genuinely feel safe being hypnotized and don’t associate shame or embarrassment with being hypnotized.

What does this mean for the average person who thinks that they can’t be hypnotized?  Well, it comes down to attitude and belief.  The thought that one can’t be hypnotized suggests a negative belief towards being hypnotized.  But in fact, the ability to be hypnotized is actually not a weakness, as demonstrated by some of the powerful physical and mindful feats that have been performed in hypnosis.



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January 2, 2012 Newsletter

January 2nd, 2012

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World Hypnotism Day:  January 4, 2012

This yearly event held internationally is an effort made by professionals in the hypnosis field to set straight the myths and misconceptions of what hypnosis is and is not.  This year we are holding a free information night to lay straight the facts.  See the events entry on our blog for more details.


The New You is pleased to announce that in addition to offering hypnosis and hypnotherapy, counselling and talk-therapy sessions can be booked separately or in conjunction with your hypnosis program.  Counselling sessions are opportunities to gain insight by providing a venue to discuss issues at greater depth, set goals, and employ consciously driven ‘rational’ approaches.  Sometimes our conscious desire to change does not match our unconscious drives so there is an necessary tension that makes changing more difficult.  When this split is present, self-sabotaging is evident.  Combining a rational “conscious” and “unconscious” hypnosis component engages you fully, thus minimizing conflict.  Ultimately, change take places smoothly and with less effort.

New Year, New Tactics

Ringing in the New Year is a celebatory time and in this high spirit, people are excited with new aspirations of what they will become or change about themselves.  While this optimism will give people the impetus to set their goals insofar as to  make rudimentary plans and even get started, optimism alone is rarely enough ensure success.  Thus, it’s not surprising that at least 75% of people abandon their resolutions within a few weeks.

A possible explanation for the dismal failure rate is that few people ever take the time to consider why they failed.  Could the outcome have been attributed to

  • Lack of a specific goal (e.g., I want to lose weight versus, I want to lose 5 pounds in 4 weeks by …)
  • No game plan
  • Lack of milestones
  • Thinking too big
  • Getting too busy with life
  • Letting life stresses interfere with progress
  • Reluctance to invest in resources (books, coaching, programs, etc)
  • Making excuses
  • Engaging in procrastination
  • Family/Work crisis derailed your progress

Have you thought about what you’ve accomplished last year?  Did you meet all the goals you set at the beginning of 2011?  Did you start making progress and then “fell off the wagon” or slowly resumed your normal routines?  Were some of your goals too scary to think about or were they too lofty?

Of the two most important factors in successfully meeting your goals is to have clear specific plans and to equip yourself with resources that support your endeavors. Aside from traditional sources of support (books, family, friends), technology provides convenient tools to assist you.  You can likely find web sites, social media apps and phone apps that will help you stay focused, track your progress, provide helpful tips and make you accountable.

So this year, take a few moments to see how you might approach your resolutions slightly differently.  Best wishes on your success!  Keep us posted on your progress on our blog with your comments.

Visit us at
The New You


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Event: World Hypnotism Day (WHD)
When: Wednesday January 4, 2012 @ 7 pm
Where: The New You Office
5492 Hurst Court, Mississauga, ON L5V 2C8

Are you new to hypnosis? Have you been perplexed or fascinated by seeing movies or stage hypnotists possess complete strangers to do the strangest things? Hypnosis has an interesting history and broad application of uses from entertainment to therapeutic intervention. The use of hypnosis ranges from overcoming perpetual hiccuping to removing warts! But does hypnosis work? Is it for real? Are people faking it?

Most people think of the hypnotists someone with a lot of power who control their minds and make them do things against their will or embarrass them. Many of these misconceptions come from Hollywood and while they provide great entertainment, they also do a public disservice. That is because people who can be helped with hypnosis are afraid of hypnosis as if its “evil” and people would not even consider or ever find out the helpful ways hypnosis can alleviate common stress.

World Hypnotism Day, held every January 4 was introduced as a day to educate the general public about what hypnosis is and more accurately, what hypnosis “isn’t”. Professional hypnotists around the world reach out to their community and offer informal and casual events like this one to foster a better understanding of the timeless and natural process of hypnotism.

The official World Hypnotism Website offers free downloads of self-hypnosis streaming audio files. Make sure to visit and listen. If you are interested in meeting with our team, we will be holding a meeting for the purpose stated above. Please register for the WHD event so we can make sure we can plan for space and materials.

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We all live in a busy world that we forget to slow down and think about the toll that our fast-pace life has on us.  Physically we are exhausted and fatigued; mentally our focus and concentration has diminished; emotionally we are more easily irritated  and simply don’t have enough energy to give to people we care.

Stress particularly affects us during the winter months when the weather is cold, keeping us indoors, away from fresh air and sunlight.  Decreased amount of sunlight affects some people more than others, but the time February rolls around, we all know what it feels like to have the ‘winter blues’.

Our bodies are not meant to be assaulted by the constant pressure and stresses and eventually will cause more detrimental effects, such as anxiety, depression or some other form of physical ailment.  Little things like exercise, good nutrition can go a long way in helping beat the cumulative effects of stress.

Hypnosis is one of the best ways to combat stress.  The state of hypnosis automatically relaxes the physical body and mind.  Using suggestions, a person can feel not only restful but any other joyous or positive feeling.  Simple, quick day-time hypnosis breaks can last as short as a few minutes can rejuvenate a tired body and mind.  If you can afford taking aside 20 minutes a day, or just before bed time to listen to one of our relaxing CDs can dissolve away stress and lull you into a deep restful sleep.

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Animal Magnetism:  Birth of a new phenomenon

Mesmer was a bright German physician who studied medicine at the prestigious University of Vienna.  In 1773 he successfully treated a young lady who had suffered from a convulsive ailment by applying magnets to her body.  He hypothesized that a diseased person’s body had a ‘universal subtle magnetic fluid’ that was obstructed, through which magnets could restore natural circulation resulting in symptom alleviation.  Mesmer achieved similar results by using magnetized objects such as paper, metals, bread, silk, lather stone, glass water, wood, and dogs until he realized that he could produce similar healings by just passing his hands over a patient’s body.  Mesmer attributed this special “magnetized fluid” to reside within himself, calling it “animal magnetism”.  Mesmer disseminated his animal magnetism theory by visiting neighbouring countries, enjoying moderate success but only secured his fame after moving from Vienna to Paris, where his reputation as a guru awaited him.

The success of Mesmer’s bold therapeutic technique quickly spread, such that he no longer had time to offer individual therapy.  Mesmer began to see groups of clients (twenty or more at a time) by having them sit in a bacquet which is circular, room-size wooden tub with iron rods protruding from the walls of the tub.  Patients sat around the bacquets, grasping the rods and linking each others fingers to promote the flow of magnetized fluid.  Mesmer eventually abandoned the bacquet for just passes of his hands to equilibrate the distribution of magnetic fluid.

The patients who were mesmerized exhibited startling convulsive fits, called “crises”, laughter, cries, while others fell somnolent, resembling sleep.  The public flocked to Mesmer for help, but not without attracting interest from distinguished persons such as Charles d’Eslon (1739 – 1786), a physician to the King’s brother (Comte d’Artois), and who also became Mesmer’s first pupil.  D’Eslon went on to give instruction to over 160 doctors before falling out with Mesmer, as did many more of his students who held differing views on the novel phenomena.  In 1783, Mesmer developed a semi-secret society, the “Society of Harmony” whose membership comprised of nobility, doctors, lawyers, clergy and merchants who swore to secrecy Mesmer’s teachings and to treat patients using animal magnetism gratuitously.

Animal magnetism spread to other countries such as Switzerland, Russia and most notably Germany around 1780, with the first periodical on magnetism published in 1787.  By 1790, scientists and medical men became interested in magnetism, as noted by an Englishman who travelled there in 1803, remarking, “many very enlightened men in the universities talk of animal magnetism, nearly with the same certainty as of mineral magnetism”.

Sensational seeking in Paris and the scientific drive in Germany

Paris in 1778 was then the capital of the Enlightenment age, a period that valued reason, naturalism, and criticized traditional customs and morals.  Paris was already host to a number of controversial movements and individuals (e.g., Alexandro Cagliostro who Mesmer was acquainted with, purported a convoluted theory of occult numerology).  Prior to Mesmer’s arrival, Parisians had already heard about his success, thus when Mesmer arrived, the French aristocrats were eager to learn about this mysterious phenomena.   Many eminent members belonging to those societies lent their prestige to mesmerism, including Mozart, Lafayette, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and the Puységur brothers, who will be discussed in their important role in advancing magnetism.

Mesmer’s claim to fame is owed in part to the zeitgeist in Paris at the time, a climate that was receptive to new discoveries.  However, the idea of magnets’ influence on vital forces was not new.  More than two and a half centuries before Mesmer, Paracelsus laid the foundation on which Mesmer could have built his theory—had he known it existed.  Sources believe Mesmer did not know about Paracelcus’ work.  In any event, Paracelcus (1493-1541) postulated the existence of two magnetic forces:  a universal force that connected everything and a “vital spirit” in animate beings that could be willed to act on its own physical bodies and of others.  Paracelsus theory however would have to wait until Newton’s universal gravitational theory was discovered before intellectuals accepted that unobservable forces could act on objects.  This time was fated to Mesmer, who was very much attracted to the magnetic fluid idea.  His dissertation was based on the celestial influence of planets on the human body which he built from Newton’s principles of interplanetary forces.   Hence, Newton created the intellectual landscape for the acceptance of Mesmer’s ideas without appearing anachronistic.  To the extent that people did not think the bacquet was a bizarre contraption was due to recent physical discoveries.  The bacquet’s analog was the Leiden jar in which physicists were capable of storing accumulated electricity.

Similar to the sensationalism in Paris, Germany provided an intellectual environment that was congenial to animal magnetism.  It was the Romantic period and Germany was at the forefront of intellectual pursuits, open to new ideas, and generous with funding.  Darton reports the views on science in the 1780’s

The reading public of that era was intoxicated by the power of science, and it was bewildered by the real and imaginary forces with which scientists peopled the universe.  Because the public could not distinguish from the real and imaginary, it seized on any invisible fluid, any scientific-sounding hypothesis that promised to explain the wonders of nature. (Gauld, 1992, p. 4)

Mesmerism was new, mysterious and found a receptive audience amongst scholars dominated by ‘natuphilosphie’, which saw the universe as a living organism endowed with a soul connecting all its parts.  Mesmer’s universal fluid theory provided an alternative explanation for mysteries, as Richter of Dessau explains

it consists in nothing less than the solution of many enigmas of human existence and particular the enigmas of Christianity on the obscure and mystic parts of which a light is thrown which permits us to gaze clearly on the secrets of the mystery (Gauld, 1992, p.90).

The Decline of Animal Magnetism

The rapid spread of animal magnetism evoked a public enquiry that was commissioned by King Louis XVI consisting of nine eminent dignitaries, scientists and physicians from the Academie Royale des Sciences and Faculty de Médecine.  Benjamin Franklin spearheaded the report along with other famous contemporaries including Antoine Lavoisier (a distinguished chemist), M. De Guillotin (the discoverer of the be-heading device that bears his name and eventually took his head).  To the chagrin of Mesmer and the proponents of animal magnetism, the report was unfavorable; its deathblow verdict to magnetism was not in the denial of therapeutic effect, rather due to imagination.  The verdict read

…nothing can be more astonishing than the sight of these convulsions…but how were these effects produced? It remains to be considered whether the crises or the convulsions…can be useful in curing or improving the sick.  Without doubt the imagination of patients often has a considerable influence on the cure of the ailments.  The effect… has not been established by positive experiments; but it does not seem that no one could doubt it (Gauld, 1992, p. 31).

Within weeks, the Parisians rebuked animal magnetism, laughed and ridiculed Mesmer on the streets and in Parisian theatres.  Mesmer’s own disciples from the Society disagreed with how the Society should be run and subsequently disbanded in 1785. A new society formed, consisting of three Puységur brothers, of whom the eldest, The Marquis Chastenet de Puységur actively practiced and promoted magnetism, especially among the peasant class.  One such peasant, Victor Race sought treatment from Puységur for fever and inflammation of the lungs.  Puységur was surprised that Race did not exhibit the violent crises when magnetized.  Instead, Race fell into a somnolent trance, albeit conscious state which Puységur named, the “Perfect Crisis” later to be known as “artificial somnambulism” and deemed it superior to Mesmer’s crises.  Puységur was the first magnetizer to document his successes. Mesmer felt enraged and betrayed by the Puységurs—he never forgave them, although Mesmer published his last work and tried to incorporate artificial somnambulism into his own doctrine.

The humiliation and contempt ultimately forced Mesmer to leave Paris.  He traveled abroad for half a year to London, Italy, and Germany, before returning to live in Paris until 1793, when he was forced to flee the cataclysmic French Revolution (1789-1799).  Mesmer settled in Switzerland and for the next 40 years, continued to practice, preach and defend his magnetic fluid theory. Although he separated himself from other mesmerists, to the point where rumours circulated that he perished in the revolution, writers, philosophers, theologians felt “there is hardly one German poet who remain untouched by the influence of animal magnetism” (Ellenberger, 1965).  Mesmer was encouraged by those who survived the revolution to come back to Paris to disseminate his teachings, but he refused to teach, preferring instead to heal the poor in his town.  At the age of 81, he died peacefully on a quiet waterfront property.

The Rise and Fall of Hypnosis

The evolution of hypnosis as we know it today was not a linear array of progressive discoveries.  Rather, since its formal induction in 1777, its evolution had a periodicity that garnered respect and acclaim in one moment and in the next, casted dubiety and quackery to its name.  Had hypnosis not been demonstrably useful in some context, it would have been buried in the annals of time with other fads like phrenology.  When respectable medical men shunned its uses, hypnosis managed to be kept alive by the charlatans and fringe practitioners until it was fashionable to once again be studied by the medical, dental, psychological and psychiatric professionals.  Hypnosis originated from the concept of “Animal Magnetism”, or “Mesmerism”, an eponymous tradition of naming a phenomenon after its discoverer, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 – 1815).

The nascency of hypnosis first emerged with frenzied interest in Paris, with its most ardent supporters bringing the movement to different parts of Europe, then to Britain and finally to America.  Hypnosis had a fiery start that garnered great interest from the public to medics, the eminent class and those in the military and public office.  Sadly, what could have been a great therapeutic tool, which its originator, Mesmer wished it to be, suffered a fate that swung it status from a psychiatric panacea in one generation into shameful practice relegated to traveling charlatans and those practicing the occult.  This occurs in almost a predictable manner—one generation produces a figure parallel in stature to Mesmer, who manages to add a piece of knowledge and revive interest in hypnosis long enough to have a scandal of some kind cast the benefits into oblivion until the next revival.

After Mesmer, many more important figures discovered the therapeutic effects of hypnosis.  Future blogs will discuss the Puységur brothers, Dr. Elliotson, Dr. Charcot,  Dr. Braid and even Charles Dickens.

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Welcome to The New You’s Blog.

This is where you can learn more about hypnosis and hypnotherapy through informative articles about the latest research in hypnosis and the occasional case study.

Hypnosis is becoming a popular choice for helping people with challenges in their life. Most people associate hypnosis with stop smoking and losing weight; however, the scope of different issues that respond positively to hypnosis is rather broad. Outside of a mental illness, almost any normal life problem can be ameliorated with hypnosis. Even certain mental illnesses (e.g., phobias, depression, anxiety disorders) have responded to well to hypnotherapy.

Almost all people are fascinated by the mind and its powers. We have discovered many fascinating things about the mind and the brain through research, particularly in neuroscience. Here are a few interesting things about the brain/mind.
–the brain is plastic and can compensate for lost functions by developing function in other areas
–your brain is busier when it’s doing nothing (called the default mode) than when you are engaging in a task. The evidence comes from “noise” signals in neuroimaging.
–hypnosis has been shown to be activated in certain areas of the brain, including the emotional (limbic) system, as well as pain-reducing centers.

Despite the advances in technology, there are still many things to be discovered such as how hypnosis works in the mind. Hypnosis is a physiological state in which a person enters, either naturally via the body’s biorhythms or by hypnotic induction. What does hypnosis feel like? Being in hypnosis resembles daydreaming. A person may appear to be relaxed or asleep; however, they are, in fact awake, but usually in a dreamy state, where they can focus their attention on the hypnotist’s voice. The hypnotic state is not a ‘special’ state; everyone enters hypnosis naturally.

The difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy is the difference between state and process. Hypnosis is a temporary state that one enters while hypnotherapy is the art of giving beneficial suggestions to a person in hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is more of an art than a science. The hypnotist or practitioner utilizes many skills to deliver effective suggestions. Creativity, understanding the psychology of a client’s problem, direct suggestion, indirect suggestion, age regression, non-verbal suggestions and many more tools are employed by the effective hypnotherapist.

The field of hypnotherapy has grown since it was introduced over 200 years ago by a physician, Anton Mesmer (next blog topic). Today, particularly in the U.S., there are tens of thousands hypnotherapists practicing hypnosis. Canada has been slow in embracing the therapeutic power of hypnotherapy; however, people are catching on. In the last few years, inquiries and bookings has grown exponentially, providing evidence that people are beginning to be receptive to hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

This is an exciting time for the field of hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

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