Many with a gambling addiction would do almost anything to be rid of it. People have tried all kinds of things to free themselves from addiction – from chemical therapies to acupuncture. The success of any therapy, however, depends greatly on the circumstances and mindset of the individual in question. It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that a therapy which potentially promises to change that mindset is popular with recovering gambling addicts. Hypnotherapy has made bold claims to be able to ‘switch off’ addictive behaviors within the brain itself. How accurate are these claims? And could hypnotherapy work for you?
What Is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotic techniques have been in use since the 1700s (when they were known as ‘mesmerism’). And, since the 1700s, they’ve been viewed with an equal mixture of awe and mistrust by the public. The psychological community now believes that there is a good deal of scientific validity to the claims of hypnotists, but scientists remain unsure of how, precisely, hypnotism works. When someone is hypnotised, the hypnotherapist essentially encourages them to go into a state of trance. A hypnotic trance does not render your brain a ‘blank slate’, open to be written on by the hypnotherapist. Hypnosis, contrary to popular belief, is not brainwashing. Rather, a hypnotic trance allows for a state of deep, relaxed concentration (similar to meditation), within which the patient is more able to access the deeper areas of their psyche, and implant or introduce changes therein. All hypnosis, ultimately, is done by the patient to themselves – the hypotherapist simply helps them into the trance state, and suggests ways by which they can alter their own psyches and behaviors. Whether it ‘works’ or not depends largely upon the patient themselves.
Does It Work?
Scientists believe that all of us are susceptible to some degree to hypnosis. The ‘Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale’ posits that only around 5% of us are completely ‘immune’ to hypnosis, and this tends to be because around 5% of us have difficulty concentrating to the extent required by hypnosis. The idea that ‘strong-willed’ people are impossible to hypnotise is a myth – it is all a matter of concentration. One thing that does make a difference is the wish of the patient themselves. If you do not wish to be hypnotised, then you won’t be – simple as that. The more you wish it, and the more able you are concentrate, the more likely it is that hypnotism will be successful with you. People have successfully used hypnotherapy for treating a variety of problems, from chronic pain (which has a strong psychological component), to anger management issues. This would appear to suggest that, if entered into with the right kind of attitude, hypnotherapy really could help gambling addicts seeking a way out of their compulsive lives.
Hypnotherapy And Addiction
In the case of addictions, hypnotherapists tend to work on the problem at a deep, psychological level. Taking the patient into the substratum of their minds, they attempt to alter cravings right at the root. They may do this by hypnotically suggesting that the craved-for behavior is translated into something more appropriate. Thus, a gambling addict under hypnotherapy may find their gambling cravings replaced with an urge to go for a walk, or a run, or indulge in a hobby. This does not necessarily mean that the gambling issue is eradicated entirely – but it does make cravings much easier to resist, as they can be quelled via the replacement activity. Some hypnotherapists may also attempt to work on deep-seated psychological issues which could be contributing to the addiction. Gambling addicts are more likely than many other people to suffer from co-morbid mental health issues, often brought on by experiences in childhood. A hypnotic trance provides a ‘safe space’ in which the psyche can bring these problems out into the open, face them, and address them conclusively. Of course, this is by no means an exact science, and a lot depends on the proclivities, will, and belief of the patient themselves. However, if entered into in the right spirit, administered by a reputable hypnotherapist, and undertaken with a good degree of relaxed concentration, most scientists agree that hypnotherapy really can make a tangible difference in the field of addiction recovery.
Article by Helen Lilley