by Erzana SZWERTAK, Systemician, Master in hypnosis


HYPNOSIS WHAT IT ISWe can assume that hypnosis is as old as mankind and that since man has existed he has "sought" altered states of consciousness, through dance, music, song and rituals. The particular functioning, called "trance" has been cultivated by all cultures since the dawn of time (Virot, Bernard, 2010). Hypnosis is an ancestral practice which is making its "rebirth" mainly in the field of health. The media take part in it, the reports, the entertaining programs, the articles in the newspapers, the testimonies on the web, the clinical experiences grow. There are surgical operations under hypnosis and the books on this subject are multiplying. Hypnosis fascinates, arouses curiosity and fear too. The APA (American Psychological Association) defines the hypnotic state “as a state of absorption of attention, which decreases consciousness and increases suggestibility” (Green, Barabasz, Barret, Montgomery, 2003). But hypnosis is much more than that. Let us recall that during “The hypnotic state certain psychic functions are put on hold in favor of other processes, in particular unconscious. Perceptions and apprehension of reality are modified.[...]. Experience prevails over reality and fiction becomes reality (Josse, 2007, p.42)


The first description of the hypnotic trance was found by Musès in 1972 on a stele from the time of Ramses II in Egypt. We understand that the pharaoh used hypnosis to motivate his troops before going to war. "Hypnosis designates both a modified state of consciousness, a therapeutic technique and a special relationship with the environment" (Betbèze , Ostermann , 2021, p. 14-20) In the therapeutic management of hypnosis offers the opportunity to imagine another way of existing, to transform a suffering reality using the techniques of dissociation, confusion and double bind. In the same article, J. Betbèze and G. Ostermann explain that the notion of relationship is essential and when it is in place, the person can enter into a secure relationship with themselves, with others and with the world. Hypnosis is a relational process that allows you to act, to set yourself in motion and to get out of the immobility in which the symptom locks you up. It is a dynamic state where the client and the therapist are free and in a state of active security. The state of hypnosis makes it possible to change ordinary perception, to enlarge and enrich it. It opens up new possibilities. The authors specify that the objective of today's hypnotic work is to accompany clients towards autonomy and a relationship with others, with the world.

We distinguish:
1) Medical model of hypnosis (learning new skills and behaviors) - which is used mainly for analgesia and anaesthesia, based on suggestions (direct and indirect).
Hypnotic trance creates a dissociation between sensations and affects. The sensations are connected with a pleasant experience, allowing to interpret the sensory feelings differently. 2) Therapeutic model - based on the work of Milton Erickson for whom hypnosis is always relational



According to Pierre Janet any unsuccessful action has dissociative consequences (1889). The condition of a re-association is that the action is finished in an affective sharing. If the relationship is not in place, the person will set up repetitive attempts at solution, seeking relationships that can give meaning to their actions. The symptoms emerge, the person is inhabited by anguish, sadness and fear. The tuning process is impossible and the person is unable to perceive the positive intention of the other. To try to remedy this, the person will put in place the attempted solution – the control that aggravates the dissociation. “The dissociative process is the basis of psychopathological disorders that lock the subject into a world structured by anxiety”, Betbèze, (2020, 70 – 80). In an insecure relationship, the person is invaded by chaotic emotions, they are no longer “in their body”, they are “in their head”. There is a separation between the cognitive experience and the affects. Now we know today that affects are at the center of cognitions and that there is no cognition that develops without an affective and relational experience.

We can distinguish:
1) The process of natural dissociation, which J. Betbèze calls dis-association (the ability to be there (on your sofa) and elsewhere (in concert, in the public) 2)
The pathological dissociative process "blocking dissociative" (the subject can no longer reassociate, he "no longer inhabits his body"), "the relationship is not in place and the subject is replaced by a symptom" Milton Erickson calls this process of reassociation " A resource ".
It is a relational experience where the subject feels safe, he is active and he inhabits his body. In a safe and cooperative relationship “there is no resistance”. A hypnosis session is a way to connect with your skills, resources, learning and qualities, to trust yourself, become independent and feel able to face challenges. G. Bateson analyzed the interactions in the relationship to understand human actions. Milton Erickson was experimenting with ways to induce change. The results of their work are clinical developments, brief systemic and strategic therapy and hypnosis.


In 1637, in the Discours de la Méthode, René Descartes affirms “I think therefore I am”. In 1985, in "The interpersonal world of the infant" Daniel Stern deploys the concept of "affective attunement" which is an unconscious way of synchronization between the infant and his entourage. In 2020 we read: "To be is to be in relationship and it is this learning, to be with the other to be with oneself, to become oneself to be with the other which is the center of the construction of the bond of attachment that protects us from the anxieties of the void “(Betbèze, 2020, p. 70 – 80).


Currently, we speak of hypnosis as a relational and co-creative self-hypnosis
during which the therapist and the subject are engaged and in trust. Hypnosis is a tool par excellence. It can block attempts at a solution, (the notion shared with TBSS) and guide towards creativity. The person associates and can receive his sensory feelings when the action is linked with the relationship. A secure relational experience allows re-association, passage from a dysfunctional relationship (contradiction between relationship to the other and relationship to oneself) towards a functional relationship - relational autonomy.


To reinforce the client's autonomy, it is useful to teach him the technique of self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is first experienced with a therapist, and in a therapeutic relationship that leads the patient to feel his own capacity for change, and also to know how to induce trance. (Bioy, Wood, Lhopiteau, 2010) The client learns to master simplified techniques such as focusing, abdominal breathing or levitation. He can gradually learn to recreate anchorages, a safe place that he has already experienced in the session. He can train himself to modify the sensations, to amplify the comfort etc... and how to come out of trance. Technique training will allow the client to experience the state of hypnosis in the absence of a therapist.



The creators of narrative therapy, Michael White and David Epston were influenced by 20th century philosophers, including J. Derrida, G. Deleuze, M. Foucault, P. Bourdieu... They apply philosophical concepts in the care therapies. "We are the story we tell ourselves and we use our beliefs to stifle it." Our identity is forged with what we think we "know" about ourselves (the truths) while forgetting an important part (omissions). Narrative therapy guides the patient towards “externalizing” their problems in order to construct an alternative history – as if they are redesigning their life. The patient becomes “the protagonist” of his life and activates his resources.


For Aristotle, “courage is a virtue that we can acquire by accustoming ourselves to despise danger and to stand up to it. We become courageous, and once we have become so, then we will be most capable of facing danger” (Aristotle, 1104b). Therapeutic work consists of acting on the perception-reaction system and bringing about changes in the way of thinking about oneself, of telling oneself, of abandoning attempts at dysfunctional solutions, of constructing a new way of functioning and learning the techniques of self-hypnosis to better manage emotions. The customer is the expert on his problem and his solution. The therapist is the expert in the strategy and framework that allows the client to safely change into a living relationship.