By Shweta Madaan:
All of us have heard about hypnotism sometimes. This word is derived from the Greek word Hypnos which means sleep. Hypnotism is a means of bringing on an artificial state of sleep to the participant; actually, it is not sleep but a reduced consciousness while one is awake. It is a psychological tool used by many doctors, dentists, psychiatrists and therapists to achieve everything from anaesthesia without anaesthetics. It is a powerful mystic tool which was only used by witchdoctors and shamans in the past. One can experience a sense of being separated from their body, experience illusions or go into a mystical state if hypnotized, the hypnotized person comes under the will and command of the hypnotizer. The person gets neutralized and is suggested to believe and do whatever is asked by the hypnotizer. It can affect the mind as well as the body; any person in a hypnotic state is vulnerable.
Hypnosis is the process of hypnotizing, it does not mean someone is waving a pendulum in front of someone’s eyes and making that person believe what they are saying. All of us are in a hypnotized condition for many times daily while watching TV or reading a book. It is a time when our normal awareness is reduced and attention is directed toward a specific mental idea, problem, physical stimulus or any fantasy; it is called a state of trance. It is somewhat like detachment from reality. It is a quality of human being and it has helped in the evolution of what human beings are today, one begins to focus on a particular thing and puts all his attention towards it. Some signs of being in a state of trance are when you feel a slight pause in an immediate activity, a facial expression of distraction, a peculiar glassiness of the eyes with a dilation of the pupils, failure to focus, a slowing down of heart rate and breathing and narrowing of attention and an intentness of purpose.
Sometime back, hypnotism was widely known for treatments; the first task of every psychologist is to soothe the patient and then reassure him/her of treating. They use hypnotism as a tool because they can better analyse the mental condition of the patient’s brain. Once the psychologist finds the root of the problem, they make the patient aware about it in such a manner that they get a feeling of being cured. They can also learn to hypnotize themselves as a part of therapy to reduce chronic pain, improve sleep or alleviate the symptoms of depression or anxiety. For centuries, it has been used for pain control. (During the Civil War, army surgeons hypnotized injured soldiers before amputations. Many researches have been done to find out its effectiveness and it has been confirmed as an effective tool to reduce pain. During therapy, a patient is deliberately put into a state of illusion by a hypnotherapist. The therapist’s voice is focused and becomes part of the experience as the patient’s attention is turned inwards. The attention towards the outside world decreases and becomes less prominent. This suggests that hypnotism is a great tool but it can be harmful too.
The idea of one man being able to control the will of another person is really dangerous, especially when used by an unscrupulous man. The subject is so mysterious and so are its consequences that it is shocking to know that this art of hypnotism is used in criminal activities.
– You might have often heard of cases where a person would go up to a cashier of a department store or a teller of a bank, talk to them for a few minutes and then they would immediately hand over money. When questioned, they have no memory of what happened.
– Other examples are – a woman under hypnosis was given a real gun loaded with blanks and was told to shoot her mother and she pulled the trigger.
– In another case, a girl was told to put arsenic in a friend’s food. The substance was really a harmful powder but she was not aware of that.
– A lady was going on the road and someone asked her for some address by showing her a slip of paper. After half an hour, that lady realized that she became unconscious and her gold bangles, chains and money were missing. She could only recall that at that time she herself handed over her jewellery to the person and he gave him cash but that cash was just a bundle of plain papers and that person was now nowhere to be found.
– Some days ago, one of my neighbours told me that when he was waiting at the bus stop, a woman came to him with some silver ornaments. She was in a pitiful state and said that she wanted to sell that silver to get some cash for her daughter’s marriage. Out of kindness, my neighbour bought those ornaments and then only realized too late that he neither had those ornaments nor his watch and money.
So, it seems that a person under hypnosis can be made to do something against his or her will. There are a lot of nefarious examples of using hypnotism in crimes.
One really feels helpless in this situation. They feel devastated upon learning all of this because every person is vulnerable to fall into this trap. You cannot tell whether the people you saw walking on the roads, at your workplace or even in your own home are hypnotized or not. It is an art which was discovered for serving the society but nowadays, it is used for doing the opposite. Its misuse can only be prevented if people start taking it seriously and be serious about its effects, both positive and negative. It must be used only for socially beneficial purposes like curing dreadful diseases and in operations so that patients need not bear much pain. It must be banned everywhere else but the irony is that we cannot be sure about its use as it is not something visible. One of the simplest measures which appear helpful is strong will power. However, we cannot control it but we can prevent it to some extent by being headstrong. The people who are misusing it must listen to their conscience before doing any such activity and use it for better purposes.