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What is Hypnosis?
 

What is Hypnosis?

In essence, hypnosis is a means of communication between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.   It is a natural state of mind  experienced as trance.  Hypnosis can be induced through the interaction of one individual speaking to another, or to an entire group as (group hypnosis); we can also learn to self-induce trance as in (self-hypnosis). 

Hypnosis, with it's myriad of applications, is rapidly emerging as a highly effective science in solving  problems.  It's a valuable adjunct to standard medical care and psychotherapy; and probably the lowest risk procedure available from the standpoint of contraindications.

Hypnosis can bring about major change in motivation, self confidence, relaxation, physical discomfort, creativity, habit control, and many other problems or difficulty in achieving goals.  Yet few procedures are less understood, or more plagued by misunderstandings.

Hypnosis is neither strange or mysterious. The truth is, you drift in and out of the hypnotic or trance state, on a daily basis. It goes unnoticed because it seems so natural and normal. And that, is exactly what hypnosis is, one of the natural states of mind that all human beings experience.

What is a Trance?

A trance is a natural state occurring whenever your attention is narrowly focused and relatively free of distractions. Your attention may be focused either internally (on self-talk, daydreaming, meditation, etc.) or externally (on a task, reading, a movie, engaged in an art form, intently listening to a speaker, etc.). Attention is narrowly focused so that other environmental stimuli are ignored for a period of time.

Common Myths or Misconceptions About Hypnosis:

To understand what hypnosis is... it is crucial to understand what it is not.  What follows is a look at some of the misconceptions about hypnosis.

A hypnotist can gain control over a client against his wishes.

Such is the myth perpetuated in through the media. Hypnosis is actually something that the client does;  the hypnotist is a teacher or facilitator who has mastered various techniques in the art of effective suggestion and the teaching self hypnosis. A hypnotist  works in concert with the client, teaching the client how to access the hypnotic trance.

Only the weak-minded can be hypnotized.
To the contrary, the best hypnotic candidates are those who have average or above average intelligence, good powers of concentration, and good imaginations and self-motivation.

In hypnosis, a person may reveal his innermost secrets.
The person being hypnotized is always aware of everything that occurs. He/she is, therefore, able to maintain control of each session. Nothing is done or revealed unless the client has the desire to do so.

Being hypnotized, is like being asleep.
Hypnosis is actually a state of increased awareness with deep mental and physical relaxation. Many people, after their first hypnotic experience, question whether they were really hypnotized because they were aware of everything that happened.

It's possible to become "lost" in hypnosis and not be able to be 'awakened'.
No one has ever remained in hypnosis unable to be aroused. Since all hypnosis really is self hypnosis, one emerges from the trance state whenever necessary. Prior to commencing induction,  a hypnotherapist should fully explain this to clients, along with the explanation of the  entire procedure, including the reassurance,  that (the client), will always maintain control.

The first session often begins with an exercise to determine the extent of suggestibility of the client, followed by a guided relaxation technique which leads into the hypnotic trance.  During the trance period, the client's goals are sought and then he is aroused from trance.

Post-hypnotic suggestions to practice self-hypnosis are usually incorporated to motivate the client to begin to use self-hypnotic techniques on his own.  He or she should be encouraged to practice using self-hypnosis with positive affirmations several times a day, and/or to begin listening to reinforcement CDs at least once each day.  As with any program of self-improvement, hypnosis must be reinforced and given time, effort and commitment.

Some People Are Too Strong-Willed To Be Hypnotized
Hypnosis is not something one person "does" to another.  We're all born with the ability to enter and utilize trance. The depth of its use, deliberate or not, varies from one person to another.  Developing the skillful use of trance can be enhanced with the guidance of an experienced hypnotist.

Because all hypnosis truly is self-hypnosis, it is the client using his or her own abilities, including concentration and imagination, to produce what we recognize as "hypnotic" effects.

Aspects of Hypnosis:

A Heightened State of Suggestibility
Actually, hypnosis is better described than defined. It's often considered an altered state of consciousness featuring "selective perception," a process in which one can choose to see only what is relevant to his task, blocking out everything else.  Hypnosis involves guided concentration.

Hypnosis Is An Altered State of Consciousness
Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness; as one's awareness differs somehow from the usual perception of reality. While  often referred to as being in a trance, for many people, being in hypnosis does not seem much different to how they feel at other times.  The most easily recognizable change is the profoundness of relaxation the client experiences.  Oftentimes,  they emerge more deeply relaxed than they've ever felt before.  This very fact has led to claims that hypnosis is nothing more than deep relaxation.  But simple research has shown  that hypnosis is  more than relaxation: e.g., after hypnosis the heart rate remains slowed down longer than after relaxation alone.

A Heightened State of Suggestibility
Another definition of hypnosis holds that it is a heightened state of suggestibility. What does this mean? That persons in hypnosis will accept suggestions more readily than if not in hypnosis? That explains nothing. People are readily suggestible without hypnosis -- the advertising industry attests to that.  People agreeing to be induced into hypnosis,  by definition, want to cooperate.  Naturally, they will accept suggestions.  In the same way one suspends his disbelief while reading a great novel. Although, if you suggested something that is disagreeable to them and they'll quickly stop cooperating -- just as they'd drop a novel which they were offended by.

Role Playing
Some theorists say that hypnosis is simply role playing. That people think or do things in hypnosis because it's expected of them and by them.  They are merely fulfilling a role. That they want to please the hypnotherapist, so there's no altered state of consciousness, there's simply a motivation to act as though hypnotized.  This theory might hold for stage performances and the like but can hardly apply to those undergoing  hypno-anesthesia for dental work or surgery. Thousands of hypnotized people have benefited from from hypnosis for surgeries performed with no additional chemical anesthetic.

Conditioning
Hypnosis has also been defined as a form of conditioning.  A person learns, through direct experience or the media, how to behave hypnotized.  Another way to see hypnosis is as something learned, asserting that a person becomes conditioned to a word stimulus such as "Relax."  Once having allowed himself to relax, the client is thereafter conditioned to repeat the experience of relaxing upon hearing the trigger-word.

Dissociation
Yet another definition of hypnosis, one that has wide support among researchers, is that hypnosis is a form of dissociation.  Meaning, that in some as yet unexplained way, the mental functioning of a person is compartmentalized and one part can be isolated from the others.  Dissociation is an everyday conscious experience which begins in childhood.  When a person is engaged in conversation with someone else he is also talking with himself and thinking ahead to his next comments.  Children blithely slip in and out of fantasy lives, temporarily adopting make-believe roles which they discard at will. This capacity to fantasize can be retained through practice and makes the dissociation characteristic of hypnosis less surprising.

Altered state, relaxation, heightened suggestibility, role-playing, conditioning or dissociation, whatever hypnosis is, it enables a person to experience thoughts and images as though they were real.

Hypnosis is like guided daydreaming: a form of relaxed concentration. 
 
 
 


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