Do you have a pocket watch?

Swinging watchMany people ask me, “Do  you have a pocket watch?” “Do you use one of those swinging watches?” “Are you going to pull out a pendulum?”

Before we can explain why we would use a watch lets first explain what hypnosis is and isn’t and where the watch first came from.

Many people are sceptical about hypnotherapy at first. What pops in their mind is an old guy with a swinging watch.

I recently was called magic and compared to a stage show hypnotist.

I find that usually that’s because they don’t have a good understanding of how hypnosis is used for medical and psychological treatments. Hypnosis is not some silly New Age therapy. It’s a legitimate therapeutic practice that has been used with proven success to treat medical and psychological conditions. Anyone can be treated with hypnotherapy, and in most cases hypnotherapy is a very effective form of treatment for many different conditions. Hypnotherapy has an extensive history of being used to treat illness; it’s not a novel or untested therapy.

Hypnosis is not:

  • Mind control
  • Brain-washing
  • Sleep
  • Unconsciousness

When in hypnosis a person is:

  • Aware
  • In control
  • In a natural state that they experience on a day to day basis
  • Able to come out of hypnosis when s/he wishes to

James Braid (1796-1860), a Scottish doctor, created the terms “hypnosis” and “hypnotism” from the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos. Scientists now know that hypnosis and sleep are two very different physiological states. It was also James Braid who gave us the swinging watch technique for inducing trance.

A swinging watch was commonly used in the early days of hypnosis it was to allow people to fixate on an object and direct them into a trance state.

A Trance state is when the subject has bypassed the Critical Factor.

Bypassing the critical factor means moving the mind from conscious mind into unconscious mind. All hypnosis takes place at the unconscious level.

One way of looking at it is like this is a gate keeper between the conscious and unconscious mind its job is to keep everything the same to protect you from uncertain instants because it thinks that’s the only way it can keep you safe.

The critical factor of your mind is that part which passes judgment. It distinguishes between the perceptions of hot and cold, sweet and sour, large and small, dark and light.

So how does the watch fit in?

Well, following the path of a swinging object back and forth tires the eyes. That is all there is to the watch. Looking for something at or just below eye level for an extended period of time helps to tire the eyes, causing the eyes to close and rest. Hypnotherapist who practice eye fixation could use anything, really.

Eye fixation involves concentration and focus, both ingredients of any successful hypnotic induction process. A swinging a watch is just a way of getting someone to concentrate and focus. As they watch it travel from side to side suggestions would be given to relax (“you are feeling sleepy,”) which create the type of settings required to go into hypnosis.

When the eyes are closed, visual sensory information stops flowing into the brain, facilitating relaxation and internal visualization, removing barriers on the path to hypnosis.

So why don’t we use the swinging watch now?

Well today watches come strapped to your wrist, on mobile phones and fixed to the wall. Pocket watches, pendulums are not overly popular tools for Hypnosis/ Hypnotherapy today.

Today it is more common to use a progressive relaxation and other rapid inductions which are quicker to bypass the critical factor so that the therapy can take place.

This doesn’t mean Hypnotists/ Hypnotherapist can’t still use a swinging watch or pendulum, it’s just there are now many other techniques that can be used to create a hypnotic state.




DISCLAIMER: Information on this website is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice or counselling, the practice of medicine including psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, the creation of a patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly.