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Definition of Hypnosis

The Society of Psychological Hypnosis, Division 30 of the American Psychological Association defines hypnosis as:

“A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral
awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.”


What does it mean?

This shift in consciousness enables us to tap into many of our natural abilities and allows us to make change more quickly.  Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.


While there is agreement that certain effects of hypnosis exist, and with imaging we have shown that different parts of the brain are firing when a person is using hypnosis, there are still some differences of opinion within the research and clinical communities about how hypnosis works. Some researchers believe that hypnosis can be used by individuals to the degree they possess a hypnotic trait, much as they have traits associated with height, body size, hair color, etc. Other professionals who study and use hypnosis believe hypnotic ability can be learned and can be enhanced through practice. But research does demonstrate that hypnotic communication and suggestions effectively change aspects of the person’s physiological and neurological functions.


Professionals use clinical hypnosis to help clients bring about both psychological and physiological change in three main ways. First, they may use mental imagery or one’s imagination. The mind is capable of using imagery, even if it is only symbolic, to assist us in bringing about the changes we are working toward.


A second basic hypnotic method is to present ideas or suggestions to the patient. In a state of concentrated attention, ideas and suggestions that are compatible with what the patient wants have a more powerful impact on the mind.


Finally, hypnosis may be used for unconscious exploration, to better understand underlying motivations or identify whether past events or experiences are associated with causing a problem. The effectiveness of hypnosis appears to lie in the way in which it bypasses the critical observation and interference of the conscious mind, allowing the client's intentions for change to take effect.



Hypnosis In Psychotherapy And Behavioral Medicine

Hypnopsis may be employed in the following circumstances:

  •     Trauma (incest, rape, physical and emotional abuse, cult abuse);

  •     Anxiety and stress management;

  •     Depression;

  •     Bed-wetting (enuresis);

  •     Sports and athletic performance;

  •     Smoking cessation;

  •     Obesity and weight control;

  •     Sexual dysfunctions;

  •     Sleep disorders;

  •     Concentration difficulties, test anxiety and learning disorders


Myths About Hypnosis

People often fear that being hypnotized will make them lose control, surrender their will, and result in their being dominated, but a hypnotic state is not the same thing as gullibility or weakness. Many people base their assumptions about hypnotism on stage acts but fail to take into account that stage hypnotists screen their volunteers to select those who are cooperative, with possible exhibitionist tendencies, as well as responsive to hypnosis. Stage acts help create a myth about hypnosis which discourages people from seeking legitimate hypnotherapy.

Another myth about hypnosis is that people lose consciousness and have amnesia. A small percentage of subjects, who go into very deep levels of trance will fit this stereotype and have spontaneous amnesia. The majority of people remember everything that occurs in hypnosis. This is beneficial, because the most of what we want to accomplish in hypnosis may be done in a medium depth trance, where people tend to remember everything.

In hypnosis, the patient is not under the control of the hypnotist. Hypnosis is not something imposed on people, but something they do for themselves. A hypnotist simply serves as a facilitator to guide them.


Myths about Hypnosis

Myth 1: Hypnosis is the same as sleep. 


Not true, entering a hypnotic trance is a state of heightened concentration.  


Myth 2: You can’t lie while in hypnosis.


The truth is while hypnotized you are still in full control of your faculties. If your mind believes a lie will protect you then you will be able to lie. 


Myth 3: You have never been hypnotized. 


The truth is most people have experienced at least a mild form of hypnosis or trance state. For example, driving on the highway for long distance and feeling disassociated from your body? Like driving on auto pilot, your sub-conscious mind takes care of the technical task of driving while your conscious mind is free to roam and wander freely. 


Myth 4: Hypnosis is mind control. 


Not true. The hypnotist will work with you to create positive suggestions and help re-frame thinking patterns. However, you remain in full control at all times. If you hear a suggestion that you don’t agree with or don’t understand, your subconscious mind will automatically reject it. 


Myth 5: Hypnosis is some form of Black Magic or is Supernatural. 


Hypnotherapists are not psychics nor are they palm readers with special abilities. Hypnosis has been scientifically studied and effectively used for centuries by famous doctors & psychologists such as Dr. Sigmund Freud, Dr. Carl Jung, Dr. Milton Erickson and Dr. Franz Mesmer.   

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