Dr. Sosin now is offering medical hypnosis as an adjunct to other treatment modalities.
Dr. Sosin, having 50 years of experience in medical hypnosis, was trained during a 20-
week intensive course by the late Dr. Herbert Spiegel, one of the pioneers in medical
hypnosis in the world. Most people have many questions and preconceived ideas about
hypnosis. We will deal with many of those here:
1. What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness in which an individual experiences
increased focus and concentration, while at the same time being in a profound state of
calm and relaxation. Although the term hypnosis derives from the Greek word for sleep,
the hypnotized individual actually is awake. Measured brain waves demonstrate this
In fact, most people in everyday life have been in a trance-like state at some point.
Think of yourself when you are watching a very engrossing movie, reading a fascinating
book, or playing a totally immersive video game. You are automatically shutting out most
other outside stimuli. But, you know that you would become immediately aware if
someone yelled “Fire,” or your baby cried, or someone approached you and needed your
2. How is hypnosis used as a therapeutic technique?
We’re all familiar with “stage hypnosis,” used for entertainment. But we’re talking
about serious application of techniques to bring about a trance state, which amplifies a
person’s ability to focus intensively on a particular goal, involving the relief of suffering
and improving quality of life.
3. What is hypnosis used for?
Hypnosis is used to help an individual to overcome obstacles that are getting in
the way of happiness, fulfillment, and achieving a positive quality of life. Examples
- Conquering undesirable habits, like smoking or overeating
- Dealing with pain
- Overcoming Procrastination (increases ability to complete tasks)
- Decreasing anxiety
- Dealing with phobias (irrational fears)
- Improving concentration and study skills for students
- Decreasing negative response to stress
- Building self-esteem through positive affirmations
- Improving work performance
- Reinforcing will power (learning to say no)
- Overcoming insomnia
- Becoming more positive and assertive
4. Can just anyone be hypnotized?
Some people are more hypnotizable than others, but most people can achieve
some level of a hypnotic trance, which can still be useful. Those individuals who
demonstrate the ability to go into deeper trances tend to have experiences that are more
intense, with faster results. A motivated person who goes into even a light trance can
still get major benefits from the process. Experienced therapists know that there are a
few individuals for whom hypnosis might not be a good choice and might have
5. Can someone hypnotize me if | don’t want to be hypnotized? Can someone control my mind and make me do things that | don’t want to do?
Back to party hypnosis again. The person undergoing the trance has entered into
a cooperative relationship with the hypnotist and actually is allowing hypnotic events to
take place by giving tacit permission. Most of these “subjects” are highly hypnotizable
volunteers who want and expect to be placed in silly situations.
A professional relationship is a collaboration between subject and professional.
The person inducing the trance is aware of this unique relationship and would never take
advantage of it or act against the subject’s wishes or best interests. In reality, a qualified
professional soon realizes that the person going into a trance really is the one in control
by allowing the events to take place. The professional acts more as a guide to help the
trance take place.
6. Can | get out of a trance on my own?
Yes, you are in control. Experience shows that any need to end a trance and
restore full alertness is easily accomplished by the subject.
7. What happens during the first visit?
Before your session, Dr. Sosin will go over the 2-3 page autobiography that you
have been asked to bring to your first visit. You should come comfortably dressed. You
will be seated in a comfortable chair. First, you will be asked what your goals are and
how you hope hypnosis will help you to achieve them. Dr. Sosin will do a simple test to
determine how easily you can be hypnotized, and then proceed to guide you into your
first trance. Once you have experienced what a trance feels like, you will be guided into a
second trance, during which you will say three positive affirmations designed to help you
achieve success. The exact wording will be worked out with you ahead of time, to make
sure that the words and phrases used are natural for you, to achieve maximum effect.
Then a third trance is done either on your own or with some assist. By at least the fourth
trance, you should be able to enter a hypnotic trance, as well as bring yourself out, with
no assistance from Dr. Sosin. That’s the end of visit one. You will be asked to practice
self-hypnosis in the following days and return for a second visit in one to two weeks.
During your second visit, you will do more reinforcing trances, and any useful
modifications of the technique will be put in place. A third follow-up visit can be
scheduled in the next two to four weeks. Thereafter, you may return at any time that you
feel the necessity for refresher sessions. The basic idea is for you to take charge of your
hypnosis and be able to enter a trance on your own, preferably every day. Generally
speaking, return visits over the next several months tend to be reinforcing and helpful,
but they are determined based on your own individual needs. The more you do trances
as part of your daily routine, the better the outcome.
A Success Story-Hypnosis in action:
During the course that Dr. Sosin took with Dr. Spiegel, Spiegel told the story of an
accountant who had been treated for several years with conventional psychotherapeutic
techniques. During this time, the poor fellow had taken the exam to become a CPA, and
had failed it ten times. Dr. Spiegel hypnotized the patient to overcome whatever mental
blocks were preventing him from remembering the correct answers, which he knew in
practice trials. During the actual test, the accountant was able to put himself into a
trance, which allowed him to retrieve the blocked information. This time, he passed with
Personal Story: Has Dr. Sosin Ever Used Hypnosis in His Own Life?
As a matter of fact, yes. As part of his training, he was hypnotized by Dr. Spiegel.
He has long experience in using hypnosis as an adjunct to psychotherapy. During an
overseas trip with his wife, he offered hypnosis to help her sleep on the long flight. He
tried to induce a trance and she broke out laughing. That was the end of that!
But, when he and his wife were pregnant for the first time and attended their first
birthing class, which used the Lamaze method, Dr. Sosin recognized that the instructions
seemed to have borrowed many of the induction techniques used in formal hypnosis. He
suggested to his wife, Myra, that they actually practice hypnosis on their own. As Myra
says, fear is a great motivator, and she no longer laughed at the suggestion (illustrating
the fact that the subject is really the one who is in control).
Typically, birthing classes suggest imagining oneself in a physically relaxing
environment, such as at the beach with the sound of waves, the warmth of the sun, and
the fragrance of the salt air. When Dr, Sosin tried to suggest such a calm picture, Myra,
who is a very independent person, replied, “Just get me into the trance and I’ll decide
what relaxes me.”
They practiced at home every evening. Myra asked that he induce pain to simulate
a contraction, which he did by squeezing her leg or thigh while she was in the trance.
When she exited the trance, she would get angry and say he wasn’t trying hard enough
to hurt her. He replied, “This is what | was doing,” squeeze her, and she yelped in pain.
That was how she knew the trances were working.
The childbirths were easy, no anesthetic, no pain, a four hour labor for the first
child, and two hours for the second. Interestingly, Dr. Sosin never knew where she was
while in her trances. Later, she told him that she had been redecorating the houses of
everyone she knew. Whatever works!