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How do you measure hypnosis?

I said yesterday I would answer the question can you measure hypnosis? By this I mean can the state of hypnosis be measured, and the simple answer is yes. This would be too simplistic an answer if I left it there and only true to a point so I’ll elaborate. Neural oscillations, normally called brain waves can nowadays be measured using an electroencephalography commonly known as an EEG. Brain waves are classed in line with their frequency. When we are most alert and fully conscious are brain waves will be somewhere between 14 to 30 Hz. These are known as Beta waves. As we relax and become calm the frequency drops to between 9 to 13 Hz and these are called Alpha waves. We drop into the Theta wave length when we relax further and enter deep relaxation, meditation or use mental imagery such as day dreaming. Theta brain waves have a frequency of between 4 to 8 Hz. This is level of brain activity is what would be measured by the EEG while in hypnosis. This frequency however is not the best frequency for hypnotic use. When you have relaxed enough for you brain wave frequency to drop down to Delta, between 1-3 Hz, you are in the optimum hypnotic state for hypnotherapy to be affective. This state is often called somnambulism by hypnotists, and this is the ultimate relaxed state. You cannot relax sufficiently enough for your brain wave activity to drop below this under hypnosis or otherwise. As you can probably imagine, if brain activity drops below 1 Hz you have died and so it is not possible for brain wave activity to fall below that 1 Hz threshold.

You probably realise that we hypnotherapists don’t generally have an EEG machine at our disposal so all the above is a bit academic. That raises the question of How do I know when you are in hypnosis? One word, observation. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Experience has taught me what to look for. By observing your facial features, body posture and reactions to my instructions, I can see how relaxed you are and know when you have reached the required level of relaxation for hypnotherapy. Now you may be asking how you will know when you are in hypnosis. The answer is you won’t, you will just feel really relaxed. Probably more relaxed than you can remember feeling in a long time, if not ever.

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