What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction. Its use in therapy, typically to recover suppressed memories or to allow modification of behavior by suggestion, has been revived but is still controversial.

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What are the uses of hypnosis?

Psychologists use hypnosis to calm and soothe people who are in a state of trauma or are nervous. Medical practitioners use hypnosis as anesthesia - surgeons during surgery, dentists during tooth procedures, and doctors and midwives during childbirth. Post-surgery or post- operation, hypnosis is also used to prevent infection or unpleasant side effects.

Mental health professionals use hypnosis as part of the therapy for patients with psychological conditions. Hypnosis is used to help both patient and doctor understand health and mental conditions, the causes and possible course of action to be taken. Hypnosis is used to curb problem habits such as smoking, eating disorders, or unpleasant behavior. Hypnosis is effective in dealing with psychosomatic problems or physical illness that can be rooted from a psychological condition.

Learning ability, physical performance, and social attitudes can be improved through hypnosis, too. Hypnosis is also being used by the legal system in aiding crime investigation. Throughout history, across religious and professional boundaries, hypnosis has been used extensively and utilized in improving people's lives.

When you think about hypnotherapy, it’s probably in the

context of a swinging pocket watch and a voice intoning, “you are getting very sleepy.” But

neither watches nor sleep are part of hypnotherapy or clinical hypnosis, which is the therapeutic

use of hypnosis. During hypnotherapy, the practitioner will use words to help you relax deeply,

then offer suggestions through stories or mental images for coping with your health concerns.

Hypnosis doesn’t—as some may fear—put you under the hypnotist’s control or make you

unaware of what’s happening around you. In fact, you’re

, like being engrossed in

a great book or movie.


What does hypnosis feel like?

Hypnosis is a lot like daydreaming in terms of being conscious yet oblivious to external distractions. Hypnosis is a technique that enables you to achieve the daydream state by using relaxation techniques. During daydreaming and hypnosis your mind adjusts to the alpha frequency range which allows you to experience a state of positive thinking. The difference between hypnosis and daydreaming is that hypnosis directs your mind to specific goals to achieve maximum results.

How do you know you are hypnotized?

You start feeling a sudden rapport for a person and there are noticeable changes in your behavior. Your body might also give you indications that you have been hypnotized. You will experience changes in your breathing patterns, involuntary muscle movements and smoothness of facial expressions.

Can anyone be hypnotized?

There is often the suspicion that being hypnotized could label them as being weak-willed, naive or unintelligent. But in fact, modern research shows that the ability of being hypnotized is correlated with intelligence, concentration and focus. Hypnosis is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon, but rather a continuum. Most people can be hypnotized to some degree--the only question is how far.

A hypnotic trance is not therapeutic in and of itself, but specific suggestions and images fed to clients in a trance can profoundly alter their behavior. As they rehearse the new ways they want to think and feel, they lay the groundwork for powerful changes in their future actions. For example, in hypnosis, I often tell people who are trying to quit smoking that they will go hours without even thinking of a cigarette, that if they should light up, the cigarette will taste terrible and they'll want to put it out immediately. I'll talk them through the imagery of being a nonsmoker--some combination of finding themselves breathing easier, having more energy for exercise, enjoying subtle tastes and smells again, having fresh breath and clean-smelling closing, feeling good about their health, even saving money on cigarettes or whatever motivates that


person to quit. The deep relaxation of a hypnotic trance is also broadly beneficial as many illnesses, both psychological or physical, are aggravated by anxiety and muscle tension.

Does scientific research studies identify brain areas altered during hypnosis?

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that hypnosis works

the way it does due to changes in a few specific areas of the brain. A person who is hypnotized

can feel his eyelids getting heavy, arms limp and his body weightless.

The results of the study were published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex. The scientists

scanned and studied the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis sessions and found that

distinct sections of the brain have altered activity and connectivity when under hypnosis. Guided

hypnotic sessions are clinically used to relieve people of pain, trauma and anxiety. Study’s senior

author David Spiegel, MD, professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences

opined that since it is known which brain regions are involved, this knowledge can be used to

alter someone’s capacity to be hypnotized or the effectiveness of hypnosis for problems like pain


Hypnosis is more than just being associated with stage tricks – it is a serious science. Spiegel,

who holds the Jack, Samuel and Lulu Wilson Professorship in Medicine, said that hypnosis is the

oldest Western form of psychotherapy, and it’s a very powerful means of changing the way we

use our minds to control perception and our bodies. However, there is not much research about

how it works at a physiological level. Earlier research on it studied the effects of hypnosis on

pain, vision and other forms of perception, but not the state of hypnosis itself. Spiegel said that

through his study he wanted to find out what goes on in the brain when one is hypnotized. Not

everyone has the same ability to be hypnotized. So, the researchers first had to find out people

who could or couldn’t be hypnotized. 545 participants were screened and of them 36 people

consistently scored high on hypnosis test, and they found 21 control subjects who were just the



The brain of the 57 participants were observed using MRI. Scanning of each participant was

done under four different conditions "while resting, while recalling a memory and during two

different hypnosis sessions. Spiegel remarked that it was important to have people who aren’t

able to be hypnotized as controls to be sure that the happenings in the brains of those being

hypnotized is due to hypnosis or not. The study revealed that there were two hallmarks of the

brain under hypnosis. Each change was seen only in the highly hypnotizable group while they

were undergoing hypnosis. First, there was a decrease in activity in an area called the dorsal

anterior cingulated, part of the brain’s salience network, which signifies that the person under

hypnosis is so absorbed in something that he is not aware of anything else. Secondly, an increase

in connections between two other areas of the brain "the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the

insula was seen.

Is hypnosis a path to the subconscious mind?

When the conscious mind is asleep, it is not capable of receiving. It is only dropping the accumulated bits of information into the modern memory, passing them through the filter and then venting them through dreams. During hypnosis, the conscious mind is not unconscious. Positive bits of information can be downloaded and accepted as reality. The release and acceptance of information takes place instantly. And through hypnotic suggestion, the venting process can begin. A suggestion given in the hypnotic state is much stronger than one given in the conscious state because it moves quickly from the critical area to the modern memory.

Hypnosis creates a path that allows access to the subconscious mind, the 88% of your mind that is controlling your behavior, your motivation, your pleasure and your pain. Using the power of hypnosis, you can create changes in your behavior by changing the way you think.. You can replace pain with pleasure. You can re-write your life path.


What are some misconceptions regarding hypnosis?

    Only gullible, uneducated, or less intelligent people can be hypnotized. There is no relation between the capacity to be hypnotized and gullibility, education, or intelligence. To be hypnotized, people must be willing and active participants.

    Hypnosis is a state of unconsciousness or sleep. Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness, much like any activity in which the person's concentration is narrowly focused, such as meditation. Clients are aware of sounds, smells, and other sensory stimuli, as well as where they are.

    You cannot be forced to act against your will or contrary to your morals, or may reveal private information. Hypnosis is not a form of mind control or brainwashing. Clients are in full control throughout hypnosis and will not be receptive to suggestions that contradict their values.

    You may not "wake up" from a hypnotic trance. Everyone, without fail, comes out of a hypnotic state. If a person were to refuse to emerge, he or she would eventually fall asleep and upon waking would no longer be hypnotized.

    Hypnosis does not weaken the mind. There is no evidence to suggest that hypnosis weakens the mind or makes a person more susceptible to suggestions, advertisements, or trances.

    Hypnotherapy can cure. Hypnotherapy is not a cure. Instead, it is a technique used to facilitate a specific short-term change or outcome. It is appropriate for many self- improvement goals but is not appropriate for all conditions.

    Only a hypnotist can induce hypnosis. Hypnosis is a skill that is learned, enhanced, and developed with time and experience. Anyone can learn this skill. A client can be trained by a hypnotherapist to hypnotize him- or herself. This is called self-hypnosis and is a recognized form of hypnotherapy.

    There is only one correct way to enter a hypnotic state. Each person experiences hypnosis differently because each person's mind processes information uniquely. People experience time and physical sensations differently. Some hear and remember every word from the session, while others remember only parts of what the hypnotherapist said. Some people report having very vivid images, others have vague images. Some people experience nothing unusual at all.