Forgotten events from the past can be recalled using regression hypnosis and this can have significant therapeutic value. When a hypnotherapist places a patient "under" and suggests that the patient recall something from their past - often childhood - the patient will remember this as if it were actually happening in the present. The intensity or "realness" of the memory will tend to correlate with the level of depth of the hypnosis being experienced by the patient while undergoing regression hypnosis.
Almost everyone is of course familiar with the function of memory. Most people have countless memories from their pasts throughout every day, but these memories are brief and of course memory can be and often is selective. Under hypnosis however a particular memory can be located and then held in place so as to enable a detailed recollection of every aspect of the experience as it actually happened.
Hypnosis is a means of communicating with or accessing the subconscious mind, and the subconscious has recorded every single moment of your life since - and possibly even before - birth. Through hypnotic suggestion a person who was 65 years of age could be made to vividly recall what happened at twelve noon on the day of their fifth birthday.
And not only would that 65 year old recall with clarity the actual events of that time on that day, they would also recall - and experience - the feelings and emotions which were uppermost in the mind at the time. Needless to say, for this to be possible the person would have to be under fairly deep hypnosis.
The success of hypnotic regression depends only partly on the skill and experience of the hypnotherapist. The rest depends on the patient having a relaxed, open and uncritical attitude towards the prospect of being hypnotized and regressed. If the patient is determined to be sceptical, critical etc then it's likely that not much if any progress will be made.
The patient should not embark on this with any preconceived notions of what may or may not be uncovered or rediscovered under regression hypnosis, but rather should go into it with a completely open and relaxed mind. And of course the hypnotherapist should ensure that the patient is fully aware that this is an entirely safe procedure which can be stopped at any time the patient so wishes.
There are three levels or stages of age regression hypnotherapy, Recall, Medium and Somnambulistic. At the Recall or "light" level, memory can be enhanced to a degree somewhat beyond the degree or detail of memory as it is when not under any hypnosis at all. For example, while not under hypnosis you may have a memory of being in a bar with a friend thirty years ago whereby you only consciously have the memory of being with the friend. Under the Recall level of hypnotic regression you would be able to remember not only the friend but also the bar itself, how busy it was, if there was any music and so on.
This is because through hypnosis the conscious mind, which is only really aware of the present, has been bypassed and the subconsciously held memory, with all or much of its detail, has been accessed.
In the next, Medium, level, the depth of the hypnosis is enhanced further and you become capable of recalling clearly small details of past events. You would still be aware of yourself as being in the present moment, i.e. lying on the hypnotherapist's couch or whatever, but your main focus would be on your memory's "tape" of the past event. As if, for example, you were aware of yourself as being in a stadium at some sporting event, but to all intents and purposes, "you" were fully engrossed in the action as it unfolds before your eyes, rather than just being focused on being in the stadium itself.
At the medium level of hypnosis, the feelings and emotions which accompanied the past event would be recalled quite vividly. The medium level also enables you to recall clearly the sights, sounds, smells etc of long past and previous events of your life, while still leaving you with control over which memories you may or may not wish to dwell on.
At the Somnambulistic level you are under deep regression hypnosis and would have little if any "conscious" awareness. It is at this level of hypnosis that something called "revivification" takes place, whereby a patient who has been hypnotically regressed may begin to exhibit characteristics of themselves at the early age to which they've been regressed. For example, patients who have been regressed to, say, five years old, have begun to speak as if they were actually five again, write their names down on paper in the way that they would have written it then, and so on.
Many experts are of the opinion that the medium level is actually the best and most effective level to use for regression therapy, because the memories recalled under the somnambulistic level tend to take on a dreamlike quality which, as in actual dreams, can disappear again very quickly.
The whole area of past life regression is fraught with controversy. Many psychologists and hypnotherapists dismiss it outright on the basis that there is no proof that "past lives" exist.
Most people who claim to have been successfully regressed to past life memories are firm believers in reincarnation.
However because a hypnotherapist does not believe in the existence of or reality of reincarnation and past lives, it's not necessarily the case that he or she should refuse to regress a patient or client who has asked to be taken back to a previous life.
Unlike the conscious mind, the subconscious doesn't "care" if something is real or imagined. If something becomes "real" in a person's subconscious, i.e. the subconscious has to come to accept and absorb a new belief system, then it becomes entirely "real" in that person's mind and life.
Past life regression can therefore be in at least some instances therapeutic and beneficial for a patient, whether or not the hypnotherapist personally believes in the existence of past life memories.
As with regression hypnosis itself, regression to past life memories involves accessing the subconscious mind where anything can be as real or as imaginary as you ultimately believe it to be.
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