Partner Content The Flow Center for Hypnosis

Article by Valerie Grimes

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Subconscious personal beliefs often drive our actions and for positive change to occur those beliefs must be recast. 

Many self-help books by Napoleon Hill, Brian Tracey, and Louise Hay, and motivational speakers like Tony Robbins discuss the importance of making changes at a subconscious level and they have done so for decades. The hit book from 10 years ago “The Secret” opened up the concept of the inner workings of the subconscious for all its readers. Some of this information contains methods for making behavior changes consciously, but none of those can access the part of your brain that contains the behavior faster than hypnosis.

Are you thinking of hypnosis as magic or mind control or a hoax? Hope not, but if so, you might want to read the scientific reports more specifically the research in the neural sciences (which started over 10 years ago). That research supports what I another hypnotists have known all along—the brain can make new connections that affect behavior.  The grandfather of hypnosis, Dr. James Braid knew this way back in 1891.


When it comes to hypnosis, our clients always ask how it works, or why it worked which we explain with the Theory of Mind and the Laws of Mind. And now the current published scientific research demonstrates how occurs in the brain with mirror neurons, neuroplasticity and emotional association switching.

Mirror Neurons

Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that responds equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. They were first discovered in the early 1990s, when a team of Italian researchers found individual neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys that fired both when the monkeys grabbed an object and also when the monkeys watched another primate grab the same object.

Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, MD, who first identified mirror neurons, says that the neurons could help explain how and why we "read" other people's minds and feel empathy for them. If watching an action and performing that action can activate the same parts of the brain in monkeys--down to a single neuron--then it makes sense that watching an action and performing an action could also elicit the same feelings in people.

An important point here is that the mind doesn’t distinguish whether what you are observing is happening to you or not. When we use that concept in hypnosis it is a powerful technique for eliciting new behaviors unconsciously.


For many years scientists believed that brain functions were set in early development and couldn't be changed. Recent research in neuroscience, most notably by Norman Doidge, has changed this view. We now know that brains adapt naturally after a traumatic Injury.

Some of the first discoveries of neuroplasticity came from scientists investigating how brains recover after devastating injuries. Since the brain had been mapped out, with specific functions corresponding to specific areas, scientists were confused by patients who had an area of the brain destroyed yet could still perform the functions of that area. For example, in one case, a stroke victim regained use of her right hand and the ability to speak when the right side of her brain took over the functions normally assigned to the left hemisphere.

Brain plasticity is a unique characteristic of neuronal cells. No other organ has the capability of rewiring itself to take on other functions. Hypnotic suggestions speed this process along and in a very specific way.

Switching the emotional association

Neurons that encode whether a memory is positive or negative can be reprogrammed to switch the emotional association of the experience.

Memories of experiences are encoded in the brain along with contextual and emotional information such as where the experience took place and whether it was positive or negative. This allows for the formation of memory associations that might assist in survival. Scientists have known for decades that neurons that “fire together, wire together.”

Susumu Tonegawa and colleagues have now discovered that neurons in the hippocampus region of the brain can be artificially switched to encode memories as either positive or negative regardless of the original experience. In a hypnosis session we can weaken an old negative emotional feeling around a memory.

Valerie A. Grimes is a clinical hypnotist assisting individuals in achieving an optimum level of support through positive thinking and by teaching new habits and forming new beliefs available through the process of hypnosis. Her office is located at The Flow Center in Dallas.

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