Hypnosis, by definition, is a relaxed yet focused state of mind that often takes the form of role-enactment in the imagination. Hypnotism, or the act of being hypnotized, is often induced by a hypnotist. The individual being hypnotized becomes relaxed enough to be cooperative to the guidance and suggestions of the hypnotist. Hypnosis can also be self-administered. Hypnosis is heavily reliant on the power of suggestion, which can come from either a hypnotist or in the form of self-suggestion.
While hypnosis has been around since ancient times, it has become popular in the media and mainstream world because of stage acts where participants are hypnotized and prompted to act in unusual ways. Now more than ever, hypnosis is known as a way to relieve pain, quell anxiety, cure phobias and much more.
Scientifically and medically, hypnosis has been found to have many benefits. Hypnosis is used in a variety of clinical, therapeutic and self-help situations.
To enter into a state of hypnosis, individuals usually undergo a hypnotic induction technique. The most famous hypnotic induction technique is the “eye-fixation” technique in which an individual is lulled into hypnosis by staring at an object held in front of their eyes. Once in a state of hypnosis, the individual possesses a relaxed state of mind that allows he or she to be open to suggestions for changes in perception, sensation, emotion, thought and behavior.
It was once thought that hypnosis was a form of unconsciousness that resembles a sleep-like trance, but modern research suggests that individuals that enter a hypnotic state are fully awake. The hypnotic state is now thought to be a state of physical and mental relaxation where the mind is awake, yet peripheral awareness is decreased.
There are many more myths about hypnosis, such as total amnesia during hypnosis, hypnosis against one’s will, and instant effects after hypnosis. While it’s true that amnesia may happen in very rare cases during hypnosis, most people remember what happened during a hypnosis session. This ties into the next myth about actions against one’s will. While a hypnotist can make suggestions and influence an individual’s behaviors and thoughts, they cannot make anyone perform an action that is against his or her values and morals. Hypnosis also cannot make anyone instantly cured of a disease or ailment, instantly stronger or faster, or any other instant effect. Dispelling these myths has lead to a greater appreciation and reliance on hypnosis to assist in clinical, therapeutic and self-help cases.
The benefits of hypnosis are still a widely debated topic because each individual’s experience with hypnosis is different and the results are hard to measure. While some individuals report to have little to no recollection of their time in hypnosis, others are able to carry out conversations and remain fully aware throughout hypnosis.
The depth of hypnosis reached is often tied to an individual’s susceptibility, or responsiveness, to hypnosis. Anyone can be hypnotized, however the depth of hypnosis and results will vary greatly from person to person. Hypnosis can be a learned trait where a person can teach their mind and body to enter into a trance-like state. Some say that the deeper the level of hypnosis, the greater the results will be.
The feeling of hypnosis can range from mild relaxation to a more intense trance-like state that seems mentality and physiologically like complete peacefulness. The hypnotic experience is generally thought to be one of meditation and relaxation where a slowness of breathing and heart rate take place, allowing the mind and body to be completely compliant with either external suggestions or self-suggestions to make improvements in health, attitude and behavior.