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A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary Starts with the Letter A


Aesthesiogenic – 
Sensations of a sensory nature produced by suggestion.
Abreaction -
Occurs when the energy of repressed emotion is brought to consciousness. Catharsis. An exaggerated emotional reaction.
Agnosia – 
Condition where patient is unable to correctly interpret sensory impressions.

Agoraphobia – 
Traditionally defined as the irrational fear of open spaces (from the latin for market place) but is equally often a fear of becoming caught in situation, without means of escape. Paradoxically, this causes withdrawal from that possibility by self confinement.
Alcoholism – 
Addiction to the consumption alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic.
Alexia – 
Inability to recognize the written word as words. This condition is often the result of a brain lesion but can be caused by suggestion.
Algophobia – 
Morbid dread of physical pain.
Allergy – 
A condition (allergic reaction) in which the patient becomes pathologically sensitive to a particular substance or substances.
Amnesia – 
The loss of memory, partial or total, often caused by shock or trauma. Can be due to physical causes, can be caused by suggestion. Sometimes occurs spontaneously after arousal from hypnosis.
Analgesia – 
Reduction or loss of the sensation of pain, can be achieved through hypnosis.
Anchorages -
Frames of reference which people use to make further  judgements.
Anchoring – 
The technique of associating several 'keys' with one fixed point of reference, with the idea of using those keys to later evoke that fix reference. Form of conditioning by association of ideas. Used in NLP and hypnotherapy.
Anaesthesia – 
Loss of sensation and sensitivity, usually due to chemical agent (as with surgery) but is also an important phenomenon of deep hypnosis. Hypnosis can be used as an anaesthetic and many instances of it's usage are on record.
Animal Magnetism -
A term coined by Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 – 1815), who theorized that the effects of 'hypnotism' (which was then to be called 'Mesmerism' after him and before that time known as 'Charming') were due to a fluidic magnetic medium that could be passed from person to person. 
Anorexia Nervosa -
Severe eating disorder, often due to irrational 'body image'. Patients may even hallucinate that they are over weight when close to starvation. Characterized by refusal to maintain body weight at a healthy level.
Anxiety – 
A state of disturbance characterized by fear and worry, which often leads to stress. May be rational or irrational. Responds well to Hypnotherapy.
Aphasia – 
Loss of the ability to speak, usually through non-physical causes and typically a symptom of hysteria. Can also be produced by hypnosis (without the presence of hysteria). Can also be caused by lesions of the brain (cortical).
Aphemia -
Inability to speak certain words.
Arachnaphobia -
Excessive fear of spiders.
Asthma – 
A disorder of the respiratory system which may be of allergic or emotional origin. Where there is an emotional origin the condition can be successfully treated by hypnosis, usually through regression. 
Astraphobia -
Excessive fear of thunder and lightening
Atavistic Theory – 
The theory proposed by Ainslie Meares M.D. to explain the phenomenon of hypnosis. He posited that in hypnosis the higher centres of the brain are systematically closed down and access is gain to parts of the brain which are primitive and pre-rational. Thus hypnosis could be explained as a form of regression to pre-critical functioning.
Attention – 
The ability to sustain ones awareness by focusing it on a particular thing.
Aura – 
The feelings experienced by patients before an attack of epilepsy or migraine headache which warns them of it's imminence.
Auto-Hypnosis – 
Is where an individual has learned the ability to place himself in a state of hypnosis. 
Autogenic – 
Relating to things which originate within the self.
Autonomic -
Self directed, independent.
Autonomic Nervous System -
The nervous system responsible for many of the body's functions, particularly those of the glands, the smooth muscles, respiration and circulation. It is located along the spine and cerebro-spinal system and completely efferent in function. Its is reactive and responsible for the 'Fight or Flight 'response.
Auto-Suggestion – 
Suggestions which originate from within the individual.
Aversion -
A strong dislike of something.
Aversion Therapy -
A form of de-conditioning by associating something unpleasant with a particular behaviour pattern you are trying to eradicate. Typical of behaviour therapy it is used sometimes in hypnosis, for example, to associate a foul thing (like dog excrement or vomit) to the act / taste of smoking, thus helping to de-condition and extinguish the habit.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter B

Bathophobia -
Excessive fear of deep water.
Behaviour Therapy -
A means of modifying behaviour by examining the symptoms of a particular problem, then employing various conditioning techniques to modify or remove these symptoms, ie. flooding, reciprocal inhibition, aversion therapy, systematic desensitization, massed practice etc.
Biofeedback -
The use of electronic apparatus to give specific signals to indicate changes in the body. Through using this 'feedback' of information patients can learn to affect normally autonomic processes like heart rate and blood pressure. Can be used in hypnosis to teach tense patients how to relax.
Birth Trauma -
Trauma and anxiety caused by the rigours of the birth process. A possible cause of some free floating anxiety. Re-birthing (developed by Leonard Orr) is designed to reconnect and release the patient from the effects of this trauma. In hypnosis the patient would be regressed to this birth time, with similar effects.
Blepharospasm -
A condition which causes involuntary spasm and closure of the eyelids. Can have physiological or psychological origins. If the origins of the difficulty are found to be psychological it can be treated with hypnosis and /or behaviour therapy.
Breast Growth – 
It is claimed by some clinicians that hypnosis and suggestion can be used to effect breast enlargement, though this may well turn out to be a storm in a D cup.
Braid, James – 
A British physician and surgeon (1795 – 1860), known as the father of modern hypnosis after proposing the first modern theory of the state and conducting a good deal of research. He first used the name hypnosis in 'Neurypnology' his book published in 1843. 
Bruxism – 
A habitual condition in which patients unconsciously grind their teeth, usually during sleep. This condition can become so severe that serious damage is done to teeth and jaws. Usually of emotional origin, typically due to repressed anger and feelings of resentment, this condition can be treated successfully with hypnosis.
Bulimia Nervosa -
Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by intense desire to binge which is followed by self induced vomiting. Physical damage is not as apparent as with Anorexia Nervosa but it can be equally psychologically harmful. Much ego strengthening will be required. This condition can be treated with hypnosis but a number of sessions will be required. 

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter C

Case History -
Details of the patients life circumstances in general and specific particulars of his presenting problem. Usually taken before treatment commences it can provide important pointers to the cause and cure of the problem. Never underestimate the value of a detailed case history.
Catalepsy – 
A condition observed in some forms of mental illness and also a phenomenon obtainable by hypnosis, where a patients limb or limbs becomes rigid and can be placed in any position, where it will remain. 
Catharsis – 
This word literally means 'purging' and describes the process of releasing repressed or pent-up emotional energy. This is usually affected by 'reliving', re-experiencing, acting out or talking out the memories of causal events.
Censor – 
According to psychoanalysis this is a psychological 'mechanism' which acts as a kind of filter or barrier to prevent repressed material or impulses from coming into consciousness.
Cephalagra – 
The correct term for headache. So remember, the next time you take a day off work sick, you didn't just have a headache….you had cephalagra!
Charming – 
Pre-Mesmer hypnosis, also animal hypnosis (re: snake charming etc)
Chevreul's Pendulum -
A simple method of determining or increasing a patient's suggestibility. A small pendulum is held over paper on which a cross (two intersecting lines) are drawn. Then the patient begins to swing the pendulum along one of the lines, while the hypnotist suggests that it will begin to gradually move from it's path until it is swinging along the path of the other line.
Claustrophobia – 
Morbid fear of enclosed spaces
Closure – 
The completion of a psychological process. Developed in Gestalt psychology.
Complex -
A psychological matrix of related emotional material. Term originating with Jung.
Compulsion -
Where a patient feels an irresistible urge to carry out an act, whether a thought or a pattern of behaviour, even against his will. (re:compulsive behaviour). 
Concentration -
The fixing of attention in one place or on one thing.
Conditioned Reflex – 
Is where an action is carried out in response to a trigger because the action and the trigger (stimuli) have become associated (conditioned). Term originating with Ivan P. Pavlov.
Classical Conditioning – 
The process of associating a stimulus with a response.
Conscience – 
A persons moral censor which guides that persons conduct. Cannot be overridden with hypnosis.
Contrasuggestibility -
A curious tendency in some individuals (rare) to respond to a suggestion by acting out the opposite of it's intention.
Coprolalia – 
Compulsion to speak obscenities
Coprophobia – 
Irrational excessive dread of Faeces.
Coue, Emile – 
Pioneer of auto-suggestion (1857 – 1926) and originator of the famous formula, "Day by day and in every way I am getting better and better".
Counter Suggestion – 
A suggestion given to neutralize a previous suggestion or belief.
Critical Faculty -
The ability to make a decision regarding the validity of a particular thing depends upon the exercise of the critical faculty. It is associated with the conscious mind and left hemisphere of the brain. Absence, of the critical faculty means that all 'proposals' are accepted as valid and as such is the temporary goal of hypnosis.
Dreams are a good example of the state of the mind with the critical faculty in abeyance, as the most improbable things can take place in them but they seem perfectly realistic at the time.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter D

Deepening -
Once the trance state has been induced it can then be deepened. This usually takes the form of a simple count down from 10 to 1 (along with suitably relaxing suggestions), or perhaps some form of guided imagery, such as descending a long flight of stairs. 
Defence Mechanism -
Usually associated with the 'censor' it is a psychological strategy to prevent painful, repressed or unpleasant material from coming to consciousness, where it might have to be faced and dealt with.
Dehypnotization -
Bringing the hypnotic state to an end and waking the patient. Usually arranged to happen at a particular signal, such as the count from one to five. Always remember to remove or nulify suggestions that you do not intend to remain. 
Demophobia – 
Excessive fear of crowds
Dental Hypnosis -
Typically hypnosis used to minimize the pain of dental surgery or to overcome a patients morbid fear of dentistry.
Depersonalization -
A psychological condition common to many mental illnesses but one which can also be brought about in deep hypnosis when amnesia robs the patient of his immediate personal identity. 
Depression – 
An extended feeling of hopelessness and inadequacy, lowness of mood. Clinical depression (endogenous) is difficult to treat with hypnosis and should only be undertaken with medical supervision. Reactive depression (exogenous depression due to a particular cause, such as losing employment or a loved one) can be treated with hypnosis but great care must still be taken and the patient should be advised to visit his doctor first.
Dermatosis – 
The family of skin diseases. Can have organic and allergic causes but often are due to emotional conflicts and false learnings, in which instance they can respond well to hypnotherapy.
Desensitization -
Desensitization (systematic) is a theraputic method developed in Behaviour Therapy (by Joseph Wolpe) where by the patient is gradually exposed to the source of his anxiety while at the same time engaging in anxiety inhibiting behaviour, such as deep muscle relaxation. Thereby affecting deconditioning.
Hypnosis can be combined to good effect with systematic desensitization to form the therapy of Hypno-desesitization. 
Diagnosis – 
The process of discerning the nature of an ailment.
Direct Suggestion -
An openly stated hypnotic command, direct, authoritative and without guile. It's meaning can be taken at face value. In contrast to indirect suggestion.
Dissociation – 
The seperation of one part of the mind from the other part or parts. Thought to be at the root of many mental illnesses (multiple personalities for example) but is also a phenomenon readily available in hypnosis and active imagination techniques, where it can be used theraputically. Many problems respond to the communication with and 're-integration' of split off parts.
Dominant Effect (The Law of) -
Simply states that a strong emotion will always displace a weaker one (the rule being that only one emotional state can exist in experience at any one time). Try to evoke and connect emotion to your suggestions and they will be much more effective. Also, to move a feeling or emotion out of experience evoke a stronger one. Its difficult to feel anxious when you are angry or happy.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter E

Echolalia -
Also known as echophrasia. Where the hypnotized subject automatically repeats the words of the hypnotist (even when the words make no sense or are in a foreign language) in parrot fashion.
Ego -
Freud proposed the Ego as part of the mind in direct interface with reality, balancing the urges of the Id and the demands of the Super-Ego. More commonly accepted to mean the individuals sense of self.
Egocentricity -
Acting as if the world revolves around the self and the self is the centre of the world.
Eidetic -
Refers to eidetic memory and eidetic imagery. Commonly known as photographic memory. Can be induced in deep hypnosis, to the point where (with fantasy) it becomes hallucination.
Engram -
The name given to the idea that memory is stored 'traces' or 'images' in the brain. Thus memories are stores in engrams.
Esdaile, James – 
Early pioneer of modern hypnosis (Edinburgh, Great Britain 1808 – 1859) performed major surgery using only hypnosis for anaesthetic. 
Eye Fixation – 
Simply having the subject fix their gaze on a point (to narrow and focus their attention).
Eye Closure – 
The point in hypnotic induction when the subjects can no longer keep their eyes open. At this point the hypnotist has achieved eye closure.
Eyelid Catalepsy – 
A good test of receptivity to suggestion and eyelid relaxation. The subject is told after eye closure that their eyelids are so relaxed that they cannot open them (sometimes the subject is also asked to look upwards as if at a point on their forehead). When this is shown to be the case, eyelid catalepsy has been achieved.
Enuresis -
Involuntary urination. Noctural enuresis is involuntary urination at night, commonly known as bed wetting. Can be treated with hypnosis to good effect.
Epinosic – 
The psychoanalytical term for secondary gain. 
Erethism -
Where a part of the body becomes extremely sensetive, can have organic causes or can be induced by in hypnosis.
Erotophobia – 
Irrational fear of sexual stimuli /arousal.
Expectation -
Expectation is an important factor to take into account before beginning hypnosis.
If the patient expects to be successfully hypnotized he probably will be. Also in pre-induction talks always take the time to ensure patients have realistic idea of what the hypnotic state will be like and what the likely outcome of it will be.
Extinction – 
The term given to the process of deconditioning a reflex, more commonly known as breaking a habit. The condition is said to be made extinct.
Extravert – 
A term originally coined by C.G.Jung which has passed into popular parlance to describe an outward going personality type. As opposed to Introvert.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter F

Fascination -
The process of bringing about a hypnotic state by fixing the gaze on a point (typically a small shiny object). Also animal hypnosis.
Fight or Flight -
This is not a threat to get a nervous passenger onto an aeroplane. The fight or flight response represents the two basic choices (supervised by the autonomic nervous system) that we have in response to an alarming development. These instinctive choices were once necessary to our survival in an early predatory environment but are largely obsolete in the modern civilized world. They remain as options that can rarely be taken and severe stress can result from these natural impulses being thwarted. 
Filter Theory -
The theory that the hypnotic state is a result of the mind's attention becoming more and more selective and narrow in it's focus. Whether this is fixation on an external object, the sound of the therapist's voice or fixation on the process of relaxation, the subject can eventually filter out almost everything – including the critical faculty. The mind becomes absorbed in the 'tension' of attention.
Fixation – 
In hypnosis, focusing of the attention at a singular point. In psychoanalysis, the arresting of development at a particular point.
Free Association -
Technique originating in psychoanalysis which is now commonly used in many therapies where the intention is to arrive at memories and ideas that are not available to conscious recollection. Stimulus words are given to which the patient responds with the first word that is evoked. Sometimes used in Hypno-analysis.
Fractionation -
In hypnosis, this is a method of induction (Vogt's fractionation method) where the subject is partially relaxed then roused and asked to recount the sensations experienced. Then the hypnosis/relaxation continues again, often with the therapist 'feeding back' the recounted experience and leading the patient still deeper. The patient is then roused again and his experiences sought, before the hypnosis resumes once again. The process continues until a deep trance state is obtained. 
Freud, Sigmund -
Born in Morovia (1856 – 1939), he studied and spent most of his life in Vienna.
Trained with the emminent neurologist J. M. Charcot and experimented with hypnosis. Freud established the practice of psychoanalysis and spent the rest of his life contributing to it's theory. 
Frigidity -
Lack of sexual desire in a woman. Can have organic or psychological origin. 
Functional disorders -
Thes are problems which affect the physical body but have a psychological origin.
Fusion -
In hypnotic practice this is the process of joining two or more normally disparate concepts, feelings or even memories of experience to form a new experience.
For a simple example – if a patient feels anxiety at the sight of a cat but can clearly remember the feeling of happiness at receiving a special gift then ideo-fusion can be used in hypnosis to connect the image of a cat to the feeling of pleasure at receiving a gift, by having the patient summon both image and sensation at the same time.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter G

Glove Anaesthesia – 
Can occur as a sympton of some mental illnesses (where normal sensation can normally be restored by hypnosis) but can also be induced with hypnosis. It is typically used as a method of enabling patients to ease their own painful symptoms. The patient is taught how to induce glove anaesthesia (loss of sensation in the hand) in self hypnosis and this 'anaesthesia' is then transfered to other parts of the body that require it. See also Glove Analgesia. 
Group Hypnosis – 
Referres to the effect percieved that hypnosis of people in large groups often results in greater depth of success, perhaps because the members of the group 'feedback' from each other. Mass hypnosis is a recognized phenomenon. Not normally used  in therapy, which needs to be tailored to specific individuals but is often used at religious and political gatherings to get simple ideas accepted at the group level. 
Galvanometer -
A device which measures the galvanic skin response. This response is a small change of electrical conductivity of the skin, due in part to the presence of stress. 
Used as the basis of lie detection equipment it is used by some hypno-analysts to detect areas of conflict and stress as patients recount their personal history.
Generalization -
A psychological process often uncovered by hypnosis, at the root of many phobias and neuroses. It is part of the normal learning function but can lead to error due to unchecked extrapolation. As a simple example – you are tormented as a child by a bully with red hair, which leads to the unconscious generalization that all persons with red hair are tormentors. Thus you might feel anxiety in the presence of a red haired person, even if you have not met them before. It can develop even further as the colour red itself develops into a stimulus for anxiety even though it is no longer connected to a person but to some other object. 
Glossolalia -
Where a person 'babbles' or speaks in some unknown tongue, usually while believing perfect sense is being made. Can be a symptom of religious hysteria and mental disorder but can also be made to occour by suggestion in deep hypnosis.
Gnosis – 
From the Greek word for knowledge. In hypnotherapy it referres to the uncovering of piece of information or personal experience which enables a dynamic re-evaluation, leading to rapid improvement, or cessation of presenting problems. Axial information.
Gynophobia – 
Irrational morbid fear of women

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter H

Hallucination -
A hallucination can be described as an experience of one or more senses which occurs without an external stimulation. In other words the cause of the sensory activation is internal and is common in psychosis and drug misuse. The phenomenon can be evoked in the deeper states of hypnosis and also with direct electrical stimulation of the brain. Positive hallucination describes the process of experiencing something that is not actually present. Negative hallucination describes the process of not experiencing something that is present.
Hand Clasp Test -
This test of susceptibility is common in stage hypnosis but little used in therapy. Quite simply the subject is asked to clasp his hands together by interlocking the fingers. The hypnotist might then make suggestions that the hands are sticking together, tighter and tighter. Eventually the subject is told flatly that his hands are locked together and he will not be able to separate them until the hypnotist gives that instruction. If the subject is unable to part his hands, or has some difficulty in this act, he is judged to be susceptible to hypnotic suggestion at that time.
Hematophobia -
Morbid fear of the sight of blood.
Hetero-Hypnosis -
This is simply the process of a hypnotist hypnotizing a subject or subjects, as opposed to self-hypnosis. 
Hidden Observer -
An occasional phenomenon experienced in hypnosis in which a part of the mind seems to watch the proceedings in a detached and passive way, even though the rest of the body and personallity might be engaged in carrying out some hypnotic suggestion.
Homophobia -
Excessive fear of homosexuals.
Hyperaesthesia -
Vivification of the senses. Can be achieved with hypnosis.
Hypermnesia -
Where amnesia is the partial or total inability to recall memories, hypermnesia is the opposite, an increase of the ability to remember.
Hypersuggestibility -
A phenomenon of deep hypnosis characterized by the increase of suggestibility.
Hypnogogic -
Brief hypnoidal state passed through on the way to natural sleep.

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Hypnoanalysis -
The process of examining the personal history of a patient using regression, which is facilitated by hypnosis.
Hypnogenic -
Describes something which produces the hypnotic state.
Hypnoidal -
A state characteristic of the light hypnotic state.
Hypnoplasty -
Similar to automatic writing under hypnosis but clay or plastacene is used by the patient to make images or objects.
Hypnopompic -
Brief hypnoidal state passed through on the way from natural sleep to wakefulness
Hypnosis -
The process of obtaining: A special condition of co-operation, acceptance and partial critical abeyance brought about through a combination of induction, motivation, expectation and trust. Results in a hypnotic state. 
Hypnotic -
As relating to the process of obtaining a hypnotic state.
Hypnotic Trance -
See 'Trance'.
Hypnotherapy -
The process of carrying out therapy using hypnosis.
Hypochondria -
Excessive attention to the possibility of ill health, often manifesting in the belief that it is immanent or present.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter I

Iatrogenic – 
Refers to neurotic problems caused in patients unintentially during consultation, by words (badly phrased suggestions for example) or actions.
Ideomotor Response – 
Literally a physical response to an idea. Used in hypnosis for signaling. Typically the index fingers of each hand are designated 'yes' and 'no' values and the control of these fingers is passed to the hypnotized patient's subconscious mind, which then responds to questions by moving the 'Yes' or 'No' finger.
Implosion Therapy -
Also known as flooding, a practice originating with behaviour therapy. The patient is exposed to the source of anxiety (for example) without aversive consequences, until the fear eventually subsides.
Impotence -
Sexual impotence is the inability of the male to have an erection. Where this problem has a psychological origin it can be treated successfully with hypnosis.
Indirect Suggestions -
Also known as permissive suggestion. Referres to the phrasing of suggestions in such a way as to seem to give a choice to the patient as to how he reacts. Special attention is given to the placing of stress on certain words. For example "…If in a few moments time you would find a particular sensation in some part of your body, that would be good, a pleasant sensation, perhaps a gentle warmth or a feeling of relaxed heaviness…" Here it is indirectly suggested that the patient will find an internal sensation that will be either gentle warmth or relaxed heaviness, or perhaps both. As opposed to Direct (Authoritarian) Suggestion.
Induction -
Hypnotic induction describes the process used in the transition of the subject from normal waking consciousness into the 'hypnotic state'.
Insomnia – 
Sleeplessness, usually due to psychological reasons (stress/anxiety/repressed emotion). Responds well to treatment by hypnotherapy.
Introvert -
A term originally coined by C.G.Jung which has passed into popular parlance to
describe an inwardly focused personality type. As opposed to Extrovert. 

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter J

James, William -
An American (1842 – 1910), One of the fathers of psychology. Author of  'The principles of Psychology' which helped to establish psychology as a science and influence many of the seminal thinkers of that period.
Janet, Pierre – 
French psychiatrist (1859 – 1947), Studied hypnosis with J. M. Charcot and eventually proposed the 'Theory of Dissociation', to account for many psychological problems and also the nature of hypnosis itself.
Jehovah Complex -
Megalomania. Identification with God or supreme being.
Jung, Carl Gustav -
Swiss psychiatrist (1875 -1961), collaborated with Sigmund Freud (1907 – 1912) to expand the theory of psychoanalysis. In 1912 he broke from Freud to develop his own significant branch of psychoanalysis called Analytical Psychology. 

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter K

Kent-Rosanoff List -
This is a list of words for use in free association which the authors have thoroughly tested and analysed, especially  the frequency of various responses. Thus the results of a free association session with the words on the list can be compared against previous results (taken from people in different known psychological states). Not normally used in hypnotherapy but may have some application in hypnoanalysis.
Kinaesthetic Memory – 
Physical memory, of bodily states, positions, movements and sensations. Used frequently in hypnosis, especially during induction when bodily states are evoked by suggestion.
Kleptomania – 
A kleptomaniac experiences an obsessive compulsion to steal. 
Korsakoff's Syndrome – 
Refers to the impairment of memory, usually due to alchohol abuse.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter L

Lachrymal Glands -
The small glands which are responsible for tear production. They often become active as hypnosis deepens.
Lalophobia -
The irrational fear of speaking.
Latent Time -
The time between stimulus and response. A period often extended as hypnosis deepens.
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Lethargy -
Early term coined by J. M. Charcot for the light or early stage of hypnosis.
Levitation -
Where a limb is caused to rise by suggestion. Often used in hypnotic induction and deepening. Useful where the ensuing therapy employs partial dissociation or glove anaesthesia.
Liminal -
The threshold. 
Liminal Sensitivity -
The threshold of sensation. The minimum stimulus required to cause sensation.
Hence, Subliminal – beneath the threshold of sensation.
Locus of Control -
The place where a person experiences the controlling influence in their life to emanate from. A person with an internal locus of control feels that they control their life from within themselves and are responsible for all things that happen to them. A person with an external locus of control feels that their life is governed by forces external to them over which they have no real influence.
Lucid Dream -
A dream in which the participant realizes that they are dreaming. Can be evoked by post hypnotic suggestion. 

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter M

Mania -
An energetic state of mental imbalance, characterized by high excitement.
Manic-depressive -
A mental disorder (psychosis) characterized by alternating states of high excitement followed by periods of depression. Now called bipolar depression.
Masochism -
Where pleasure is derived (usually sexual gratification) from the experience of pain or cruelty.
Mass Hypnosis -
Where a large group of people simultaneously experience a state of heightened suggestibility and become open to the experience of hypnotic phenomenon. 
Massed Practice -
A technique borrowed from behaviour therapy, where a patient is encouraged, either in or out of hypnosis, to purposefully repeat his symptom/s over and over. 
A typical use might be for a facial tick. The unconscious stimulus becomes exhausted (extinct) by the conscious repetition.
Megalomania -
Extreme self importance, self valuation. God complex.
Memory Manipulation -
Under hypnosis memories can be enhanced, removed or even changed. This facility of hypnosis is often used in therapy.
Mesmer, Franz Anton -
Born in Switzerland (1734 – 1815), became famous / notorious in Vienna and Paris by his making of cures using 'animal magnetism' ( the forerunner of today's hypnosis). Mesmer theorized that a subtle fluid permeated space and gathered in living things and this fluid (which was responsible for health) could be passed from one being to another, either directly or through the use of charged objects. He believed he used this fluid to magnetized patients and cure them. His theory was investigated by the scientific minds of the day (including Benjamin Franklin) and discredited. This caused the practice to fall from fashion. Fortunately many cures had been recorded and so investigation of his methods continued discretely in many countries. This research ultimately led to the understanding of the laws of suggestion and the acceptance of hypnosis as a natural mental state.
Mesmerism -
The type of 'hypnosis' that was practised by Mesmer and his followers. Typically theatrical and involving the use of 'hypnotic passes', where the hands are are moved along the shape of the body as if combing some invisible medium. Still practised today in eastern countries and in parts of Russia. Making something of a revival in some parts of America, mainly due to immigrants bringing these skills with them and the growing 'new age' belief in spiritual healing.
Metaphor -
From the word amphora, which is a vessel designed to carry or hold something, a  metaphor is likewise an image, phrase or story with an obvious meaning but which carries within it a secondary meaning. Metaphors are used widely in hypnotherapy to pass suggestions to the subconscious mind while bypassing or occupying critical faculties. Typically a short phrase or story that has more than one meaning and at least one of the inherent meanings carries a hypnotic suggestion. A hypnotic metaphor is like a Trojan Horse.
Migraine -
A severe headache, often accompanied by feelings of nausea. Often preceded by a warning 'aura'. Cases of recurring migraine can be treated most successfully with hypnosis. Caution must be exercised to ensure that the patient has had a thorough check up with a qualified medical practitioner first, in order to eliminate any possible organic origin.
Monoideism -
Describes a state of fixation on a single thought or topic. Encountered in hypnosis as concentration increases. Term coined by James Braid.
Mysophobia -
Excessive fear of dirt.
Mythomania -
Imaginary rationalization of acts and exaggerations on suggested themes, often encountered in deep hypnosis.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter N

Nancy School – 
Early French school of psychotherapy founded in 1866 by A. A. Liebeault (in the city of Nancy). Hypnosis played a great part in the treatment methodology and much research was conducted into this subject, particularly by H. M. Bernhiem.
Necrophobia -
Abnormal fear of death.
Negative Hallucination -
Not seeing something that is actually there. Often used in stage hypnosis.
Negativism -
A form of resistance to suggestions. Can be so strong that the opposite course of action to the one suggested is taken, (active negativism). Simply refusing to accept suggestions is termed 'passive negativism'.
Nervous Sleep -
The term coined by J.Braid to describe hypnosis.
Neurodermatitis -
Skin inflammations that have a psychogenic causation. 
Neurosis -
A functional problem of entirely psychogenic origin, often manifesting as maladaptive habit/s. Usually treatable by hypnotherapy.
Nightmare -
A dream that arouses great fear and alarm. 
Noctambulism –

Neuro linguistic Programming
Nocturnal Enuresis -
Involuntary urination at night. Bedwetting. Common in children up to 4-5 years of age and is usually grown out of. Treatable with hypnosis after this time.
Nosophobia – 
Excessive fear of disease.
Nyctophobia – 
Irrational fear of the night, or darkness.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter O

Obsession -
A persistently recurring idea, compelling and difficult to put out of mind.
Obsessive Compulsive -
In obsessive compulsive neurosis the patient feels compelled to carry out the persistently recurring idea. This can take many forms, such as excessive hand washing (sometimes the patient feeling the need to wash hands over 100 times per day) or excessive checking of door locks or clothing etc. Treatable with hypnosis.
Oneirosis -
An early term for a stage of light hypnosis, similar to hypnogogic state and characterized by visual imagery. From the Greek word oneiros, meaning dreams.
Operator -
A name occasionally given to the hypnotist.
Oedipus Complex – 
A term coined by Sigmund Freud (from a Greek Myth) to describe the complex formed in young males through a form of sexual attraction to the mother, causing jealousy of the father and resulting in a feeling of conflict and guilt. In the Greek myth Oedipus killed his father and unknowingly married his mother. 
Onomatomania -
Obsession with words, especially the sound of words. Sometimes attaching personal meanings to words apart from their usual definition.
One Trial Learning -
A single occurrence or event that has such a powerful impact on the individual that it modifies their behaviour from then onwards. For example, a person becoming violently ill through drinking too much whisky might be unable thereafter to drink whisky again.
Operant Conditioning -
A form of learning identified in Behaviourism (B. F. Skinner) in which a person's behaviour (or any animal's for that matter) is modified by positive or negative reinforcement (ie., praise or punishment).
Orgasmaphobia -
Irrational fear of orgasm. Typically that the experience would be so intense it would cause the sufferer to expire.
Overcompensation -
Conscious or unconscious behaviour designed to make amends for (or disguise) some (real or imagined) short coming. 

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter P
List of Phobia's

Painless Surgery -
It is quite possible to undergo surgery using hypnosis as the only anaesthetic.
Paradoxical Sleep -
Another name for REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Paramnesia -
Distorted memories rather than lost memories (as with amnesia).
Paranoia -
Serious mental disorder, typified by absorption in delusions. No usually amenable to treatment with hypnosis.
Pathophobia – 
Excessive fear of suffering through illness.
Pavlov, Ivan P -
Russian Physiologist, (1849 – 1936) Won a Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work on the digestion system. Became well known for his experiments into conditioning.
Peccatophobia -
Morbid fear of committing a sin.
Peripheral Nervous System -
That part of the total nervous system which connects the sensory systems of the body to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
Phobia -
An intense fear or morbid dread. Treatable with hypnosis.
Perls, Fritz -
Born in Germany. Originally a psychoanalyst, he went on to develop Gestalt Therapy.
Phonophobia -
Irrational fear of speaking aloud.
Photoma -
Optical hallucination, sparks or points of light. Sometimes reported in hypnosis.
Photophobia -
Dread of strong light, ie., sunlight.
Placebo -
A placebo is usually a medical prescription given with the idea of producing beneficial results by utilizing the patient's belief that he has been given useful medicine. The placebo does not have any medical potency of a chemical nature and relies for it's effect on suggestion. It is sometimes given as part of an experiment to determine the effectiveness of a new drug, the group given the placebo being the control. It is recognized by medical authorities that as much as 30% of the effectiveness of any particular drug is due to the placebo effect.
Post Hypnotic -
Literally, after hypnosis. Post hypnotic suggestions for example, are suggestions given by the hypnotist to the subject to be carried out later, after the hypnotic session has been terminated.
Postural Sway Test -
A simple test of hypnotic susceptibility. The subject is asked to stand erect with feet together and eyes closed. He is then asked to recall a time as a child when he swung back and forth on a swing. If the subject has good powers of imagination and concentration he will begin to swing perceptibly back an forth. 
Prestige -
Prestige is valuable to a hypnotist and is the the esteem with with a patient holds his abilities. The hypnotist should always seek to maintain a smart, professional image in order to encourage and maintain a sense of prestige. 
Psoriasis -
A form of psychodermatosis characterized by red scaly patches. Treatable with hypnosis.
Psychoanalysis -
Developed by Sigmund Freud and his followers. Based on the idea that neurotic and maladaptive behaviour is caused by emotional and instinctive energies that become repressed in the patients unconscious. Therapy takes place when these repressed elements are brought to consciousness and catharsis takes place. Usually involves an extensive case history being taken, along with dream analysis.
Psychodrama – 
A technique of working with a group devised originally by J. L. Moreno, in which members of the gathering 'act out' their problems as if in real life. 
Psychogenic -
Of psychological origin.
Psychosomatic -
Effects in the body originating in the mind.
Psychosis -
Originally coined to describe any mental illness. It now refers to a serious  mental illness which make it difficult for the patient to function normally within society. Re: psychotic.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter Q

Quantum Therapy -
You would normally expect to find the word quantum on the blackboard in a physics laboratory but it's also forming a cutting edge concept in therapy. Advanced researchers like Dr Ernest Rossi are seeking to explore the postulates of chaos theory as they relate to the 'steady state' theory of normal psychology.
For example: 

  • The observer and the observed are one.
  • Reality is observation, there is no reality without observation.
  • Everything is composed of: Space, Mass, Energy and Time.
  • Nothing is fixed, everything interpenetrates everything.
  • Reality is a belief system.

If "form is condensed emptiness" (Albert Einstein), then what is a thought?

In quantum therapy (as it relates to hypnosis) the therapist seeks to expand the mind of the patient beyond the bounds of the habitual framework (context / matrix) which has enabled the problem to exist. Also the therapist realizes that 'reality is observation' and thus the patient has been maintaining ongoing symptoms by observing them at a conscious and unconscious level. This de-labelling process occurs when the patient suddenly sees things from an alternative point of view. 
Typically this involves guided imagery and paradox to transform everything in the patients world view into energy and then expand that view point massively to de-personalize it. Momentary chaos ensues. Finally the patients view point is allowed to coalesce at a new point, with a different 'point of view'. (TC)
Quantum Psychology -
Is a fusion of eastern philosophy, western psychology and quantum physics. 
Questioning -
The method of giving suggestions via the medium of structured questions. This takes advantage of latent affirmative response, ie., "Would you like to be more confident?" elicits a conscious and/or unconscious yes, which affirms the content of the suggestion at an unconscious level. While the straight forward, "You are going to feel more confident" may be denied by the immediate experience of the patient even though the critical faculty is diminished. (TC) 

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter S

Salpetriere School -
Salpetriere school of hypnosis. A school of psychopathology operated by J. M. Charcot, who's views on hypnosis influenced Sigmund Freud. Charcot believed that hypnosis was due to a form of hysteria. 
Schizophrenia -
A serious mental disorder which affects the sufferers ability to deal with reality. Usually ascribed to dissociation, splitting of consciousness.
Script -
In hypnosis this term is usually used to describe a pre-prepared induction or deepener. 
Secondary Gain -
Every cloud has a silver lining! Nobody really wants a problem but sometimes a problem can have a small advantage attached to it and it is this advantage that is described by the term secondary gain. For example, no-one wants a painful headache but it may have the secondary gain benefit of getting some attention. 
Selective Amnesia -
Inability to recall memories about a specific thing. Often used as a demonstration of hypnotic phenomena where a subject might be told to forget a number between one and five and then asked to count the fingers on his hand!
Selective attention -
The natural ability of people to select which incoming information they will consciously receive. We perceive much more than we realize but something within us decides what is important to notice. Normally an unconscious process it can be temporarily explored consciously. The manipulation of selective attention is thought to be important to achieving a hypnotic state. 
Self Hypnosis -
Where a person enters a hypnotic state under their own guidance, without using an external hypnotist. Also called auto-hypnosis.
Signalling -
Usually called ideo-motor response signalling (IMR). Where a small bodily movement is used for communication.
Sitophobia -
Irrational fear of food.
Shyness -
A feeling of unease when receiving attention from others. Often accompanied by blushing. Usually due to conditioning and quite treatable with hypnosis.
Sleep Walking -
Also called Somnambulism, see below.
Somnambulism -
Literally sleep walking. Usually occurs in children as a modification of natural dream sleep. The subject walks in the dream state and usually has no recollection of it after awakening. In hypnosis the term refers to a deep trance state in which  subjects can open their eyes and even perform quite complex tasks without breaking the state. Amnesia and hallucination are possible.
State Dependent Memory -
Refers to memories which are dependent upon the replication of certain physiological 'contexts' before they can be recalled. For example, an event that takes place while the subject is heavily intoxicated or in a state of high emotion might be forgotten upon return to normality and can be recalled only when the non ordinary state is re-experienced. To a certain extent all memory can be said to be state dependent but fortunately for most people 'normal consciousness' is a  steady state.
Stress -
Stress occurs in any organism provoked into making a survival decision or taking a survival action (be this fight or flight). So it can be seen that stress is not an unnatural phenomenon but actually a necessity of survival in much of the animal kingdom. This survival stress is usually short lived as the needed action (fight or flight) can be taken and the bodily state allowed to return to normal. The many chemicals needed to produce the stress state in the body and brain (to maximize functionality) can disperse. Alas, due to the complex nature of the human animal and human society the 'primitive' instincts to survival action are regularly triggered, but usually without the availability of a survival response. That is, although a person often comes under the impulse to fight or flee, either action is usually inappropriate. Thus stresses build up in the body and can lead to many kinds of dysfunction if not successfully controlled or dissipated.
Subconscious -
Mental processes that are not normally conscious, separate from consciousness. The word is often interchanged loosely with unconscious.
Subliminal -
This literally means – below the threshold of sensory awareness
Suggestibility -
Defines the extent to which a person will accept a proposal to be factual. 
Suggestion -
A proposal made to a person as fact, usually just before or during the hypnotic state. The purpose of which is usually to obtain a deeper hypnotic state, increase suggestibility or obtain some therapeutic change.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter T

Tachycardia -
Rapid heart beat
Tactile induction -
The method of inducing hypnosis by gently stroking the subject's body, usually the forehead but can be almost any part of the body. Not often used in therapy these days, it has it's roots in Mesmerism and animal hypnosis (trout tickling!).
Taphophobia -
Excessive dread of being buried alive.
Thanatophobia -
Morbid fear of death
Tic -
Involuntary muscle spasm, 'twitch', often facial and of psychogenic origin.
Time Distortion -
Typical hypnotic phenomenon, usually time appearing to have passed more quickly than usual but also refers to time appearing to pass slower than usual.
Tinnitus -
A condition where the sufferer hears or appears to hear noises, typically ringing in the ears. Can be distressing and is amenable to hypnosis even though it may have physiological or psychological origins. Usually the 'selective' hearing process has to be de-tuned.
Toxophobia -
Excessive fear of being poisoned.
Trance -
A big word in hypnosis which is not too easy to define! This is exacerbated by the fact that trance is associated with a wide range of ill defined phenomena ranging from drug abuse to spirituality to occultism. Never the less 'trance' as it applies to hypnosis is held to be a natural state which occurs easily (and frequently) to a person when their attention is, on the one hand, directed inward – and away from external sensory experience and on the other hand, narrowed and focused, usually on the hypnotist's voice. The hypnotic trance seems to have much in common with the dream state but without the usual unconsciousness. The deeper the hypnotic trance state the closer this comparison becomes, especially in regards to spontaneous amnesia and loss of criticality. Trance is subjective and difficult to measure but experienced hypnotist's know to look for certain physical signs to gauge the onset and depth of the state. For example you can observe:

  • Physical stillness
  • Change of breathing
  • Pallid / waxen complextion
  • Gradual postural slumping
  • Increased body temperature
  • REM type eye movements
  • Fluttering eyelids
  • Swallowing / gulping
  • Increased lachrymation
  • Redness around the eyes

Trance induction -
The process of bringing about a 'hypnotic' state, either in oneself (self hypnosis)
or in another (hetero hypnosis).
Transference -
A word that has come to us from psychoanalysis and refers to the way that patients sometimes 'project' unconscious associations onto the therapist. For example, patients may come to project emotional attachments that they cannot feel for a parent onto the therapist. Usually only a problem when therapy it protracted.
Trauma -
Shock to the person, either physical or psychological or both. Can have effects which endure beyond the immediate healing process.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter U

Unconditioned Response -
An original or normal reflex to a stimulus, as opposed to a conditioned response which is learned behaviour. A dog will normally salivate when it sees food and so this is an unconditioned response but with training the dog can be made to salivate in response to a bell ringing, this is a conditioned response.
Unconscious Mind -
The unconscious mind is a collective term which covers all the mental processes that are operating outside of immediate consciousness awareness. This has been likened to the iceberg metaphor where consciousness is represented by the one seventh of the berg which stands above the waterline. The seven eighth's of the berg below the waterline representing the unconscious mind. Another analogy is the eating process, where eating represents the conscious processes while digestion, assimilation are unconscious. There are areas where conscious and  unconscious processes over lap. Breathing is such an example: most of the time we are unaware (unconscious) of our breathing, especially during sleep, but it is possible to consciously intercede and modify our breathing patterns. So it can be seen that we have unconscious processes that are so 'deep' that we are never consciously aware of them, while other unconscious processes are only unconscious because they are not 'in' consciousness, or temporarily forgotten.

A good example of an unconscious process, as something that continues even though we are no longer consciously aware of it, is afforded by the memory.
You will no doubt have had the experience of trying to remember a particular name or fact but found that you were unable to do so. So you continue about your normal affairs and might think, or be consciously aware, of many other things when the name or fact suddenly 'pops' into your mind (consciousness), proving that a process has taken place (unconscious search) beyond your conscious awareness (unconscious). 

It is not clear which faculty decides whether a process will be unconscious or consciously available to us but it does seem that a 'need to know' rule applies. Processes that we no longer need to know about (they are not a danger to us, or we have become so conditioned to them that the process can be carried out unconsciously) do gradually pass into the unconscious. Yet it seems that some non conscious faculty, or element is always vigilant. This is evident at a large gathering where you are struggling to make yourself heard and all you might consciously hear is a babble of background noise from the crowd, but if someone mentions your name you will suddenly become very conscious of it. Likewise a mother (until she has become conditioned otherwise) will awaken from deep sleep if her baby murmurs or moves.

Perhaps the most important fact from a psychological / hypnotheraputic point of view is that the unconscious mind is the repository of memory. Thus therapy is usually a matter of investigating or modifying or bringing into consciousness some causal dynamic (usually trauma or false learning) which has become buried in the unconscious mind. 
Psychoanalytic theory posits that there is some form of psychic filter which keeps 'unfacable' memories connected with unpleasant events away from consciousness (repressed), hence the difficulty involved in recovering them. 
It may be that there is no such 'filter' but repression is simply a continuation of the minds natural process of 'deconditioning' memories that are not often used. If you require a particular fact (memory) every day it will become conditioned to appearing in consciousness and will be readily available for recall. In other words it is valued as important. A traumatic event is unpleasant an unless repeatedly bringing it to consciousness brings benefits it will naturally be 'forgotten' or deconditioned from consciousness. 
Then there is the 'state dependent' theory, that works on the theory that memories do not exist in isolation but are a composite of external and internal states. With this theory, memories are recoverable while the individual is in, or near to, the external or internal state that they were in during the original learning experience. As an extreme example a person who was heavily intoxicated the previous night might have no memory of events that took place then, but if the individual returns to the intoxicated state them the memories can become available. Similarly dreams are easily forgotten upon awakening (because the state has changed from sleep to wakefulness) and a way to retrieve them is to return the body to the exact position it was in on awakening. From this theory it can be seen that memories might not actually be screened by a filter but may be unavailable because of the difference between the physical and mental state at the present moment and the time at which the event occurred.

Is there a simpler answer?
The unconscious could be said to be everything that we are, but are not aware of.


A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter V

Vaginismus -
Involuntary contraction of the muscles of the vagina, usually of psychogenic causation. Responds well to hypnoanalysis and hypnosis. 
Visualization -
Literally, the process of creating images with the imagination. Very useful for goal achievement and artificial experience through rehearsal.
Visual Predilection -
It became recognized in the psychological research of the 1950's that unconscious eye movements often gave evidence of categories of mental processes or neurological activities. Studies of these findings by Richard Bandler and John Grinder eventually developed to become part of the technical knowledge of Neuro – linguistic Programming (NLP). It was recognized that people generally fall into three groups of cognitive emphasis, visual – auditory – kinaesthetic. That is, some people's mental experience is largely visual, others auditory, others kinaesthetic. These different types may be recognized by observing eye cues in response to questions.

A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter W

Waking Hypnosis -
A state of rapport which allows suggestions to be effectively given to the subject, without the need for formal trance induction.


A Modern Hypnosis Dictionary:The Letter Y

Yes Set -
Refers to an technique outlined by M. Erickson where the conversation between the therapist and patient is intentionally structured in such a way that the patient must respond with the word "yes" (in other words obtaining a positive rather than a negative response). This sets a positive mood for interaction and begins the re-framing process.

It is also possible to use the momentum of the repetitive response to have someone agree to something without full consideration. Sales people often utilise this technique by asking a series of innocuous questions for which the answer can only be "yes" followed quickly a line such as "so you want to buy this then?" When the unwary will often answer "yes" without due thought.



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