Dr. James Esdaile and Deep Hypnosis

Dr. James Esdaile and Deep Hypnosis

Esdaile was a surgeon who trained at the University of Edinburgh and who graduated with his MD in 1829.  In 1830, went to India and began his work using hypnosis to help people to experience more comfortable and effective surgeries.  

At the time, there were no reliable methods of pain relief in India, and chloroform and ether had only recently been used in the practice of medicine.  The mortality rate of patients in India undergoing surgery was very high and after Esdaile brought in hypnosis far fewer people died and many people were able to experience virtually pain-free surgeries, with minimal bleeding, and much quicker recovery times.  Read more here…

What is the Esdaile State of Hypnosis?

Esdaile took a long time to put his patients into a trance.  He understood the phenomena of light, medium, and deep/somnambulistic hypnosis, yet because of his methods of induction, people seemed to enter into even deeper states.  

His patients appeared to be almost comatose and the term “hypnotic coma” came about.  This state has also been called the plenary state or simply the Esdaile state.  The state is characterized by people being so relaxed that they do not want to move, think or speak, and it is hard to get them out of the state because it simply feels so good.  

In this state, the critical factor of the conscious mind is bypassed and suggestions are readily accepted.  Suggestions for movement are often not accepted for the reasons just stated, yet suggestions for pain relief come about easily and effectively.

Are people really comatose in the Esdaile state?

It is now understood in modern hypnotherapy that the Esdaile state is not a state of unconsciousness and that the client is actually fully aware of all that is happening.  For the external observer, it looks like someone in this state is completely non-responsive, yet when interviewed later, someone in this state says that they heard all that was being said, yet they were so relaxed that they simply did not want to respond as that was more effort than they wanted to concern themselves with.  

Because of the state of conscious mind dissociation in this state, there are times when people do not remember their experience of this state, yet that does not mean that they were comatose or catatonic.

What is the practical use of the Esdaile state in modern-day hypnotherapy?

In most hypnosis training and hypnosis sessions, the Esdaile state is unnecessary as most hypnotherapy is perfectly effective using only light to medium states of trance.  

Somnambulistic states, which border on the depth of the Esdaile state, are also seldom used as not everyone can achieve them and the phenomena of such states is not necessary for most hypnotherapy protocols.  However, these deeper states can be quite helpful when we are working in the realms of hypnosis for surgery, dental procedures, child-birthing, and even for just profound physical and mental relaxation.

Dr. James Esdaile pioneered many techniques which are used in modern hypnosis training.  Dave Elman, another major pioneer in our field, studies the writings of Esdaile and adapted many techniques to help to invoke the Esdaile state in shorter periods of time, which was much more appealing to doctors, dentists, and anesthesiologists who wanted to use this state in their private practice, but where they did not want to take three hours to get people this deep.

Learn more about Esdaile, Elman, and the history of hypnosis by exploring of hypnotherapy training programs at www.InstituteofHypnotherapy.com or give us a call at 800-551-9247.

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