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What would you like to know about hypnosis?

What It Is and How It Works - An Introduction

Hypnosis, and its uses in the practice of hypnotherapy, is rapidly emerging as a highly effective science in solving people's problems. It can be highly beneficial in many cases as a valuable adjunct in psychotherapy and psychiatry as well as a therapy in itself.

Yet few therapeutic procedures are less understood, or more plagued by misconceptions and misunderstandings. Before considering what hypnosis is, perhaps it would be appropriate to establish what it is not!

Myths, Misconceptions, and Fears About Hypnosis

Most hypnotherapists, on interviewing a new client/patient, will ask what the patient to define what hypnosis means to them. Replies range from sleep, to unconsciousness, to surrender of mental powers and control, to magic, to voodoo. All are in error.

Myth of the Weak Mind

There exists a pervasive belief that only the weak-minded or gullible can be hypnotized. In reality, quite the opposite is true. There is absolutely no surrender of mind or control. A person who does not want to be hypnotized cannot be hypnotized. People of above average intelligence, who are capable of concentrating, and those who have active, vivid imaginations make the best hypnotic subjects.

Fear of Revealing Secrets

Some people have genuine concerns that during hypnosis they will reveal some secret that they wish to keep private. Many think that if they are hypnotized that they have no choice but to obey the commands given to them. In actuality, while in trance, one has greater awareness than when fully awake, and retains the power of selectivity. All secrets are secure.

Fear of Humiliation

Nobody wants to look like a fool. Unfortunately, the general public's concept of hypnosis is often based on what is seen during a stage hypnosis show. Realize that the people who come up on stage for these kinds of shows do so with complete knowledge of what is to come. Volunteer subjects expect to participate in an entertaining show, and they know the audience expects to be entertained.

However, remember, the power of selectivity remains during the hypnotic state. Therefore nobody can be induced to hurt themselves or commit a crime. If, for any reason, a subject finds a suggestion objectionable, he will either refuse to participate, or he will spontaneously and completely come out of hypnosis.

Fear of Loss of Control

Many times on stage, in film, or on television shows, the subject seems to follow directions mindlessly. Again, while in trance, the subject is fully aware and in control. Any idea or suggestion that goes against a person's ethics or morals in full consciousness will be rejected and, possibly might cause the subject to come out of hypnosis. Hypnosis only helps accomplish the client's goals. The subject is always the one in control.

Fear of Not "Waking Up"

Hypnosis and sleep are not the same. In most cases, the subject is fully aware of all communication and is able to respond on request either verbally or by signal. There are only superficial similarities between hypnosis and sleep, but the fact is HYPNOSIS IS NOT SLEEP. A person just does not "get stuck" in a hypnotic state. What might happen, though, is that the client may enjoy the relaxed state so much that they do not want to come back to full waking consciousness immediately. If, for some reason the subject chooses not to come out of hypnosis when instructed to do so, they will, in every case, do one of two things: 1) they will come out on their own in a very short time, or 2) they will fall into a natural sleep and wake up naturally. These two responses would also take place if the hypnotherapist leaves for some reason.


What Hypnosis Is

Actually, hypnosis is better described than defined. It is often considered an altered state of consciousness featuring "selective perception," a process in which the subject (who is in control) chooses to see only what is relevant to his task, blocking out everything else. Hypnosis involves guided concentration. The guidance, however, may be provided by a qualified practitioner or, in the case of self-hypnosis, by the individual subject. Self-hypnosis, which can be taught by a properly certified hypnotherapist and learned by virtually any client, can provide the recipient with a lifetime of benefits.


How Does Hypnosis Work?

The subconscious mind receives and retains, neither accepting nor rejecting, all the messages from our backgrounds, whether genetic, social, religious or experiential, plus all the conflicts (big or small) that enter our lives daily.When, for whatever reason, the conscious mind (which deals with everyday living, logic, reason, etc.) becomes overloaded, the subconscious prepares us for what is considered appropriate action (usually fight of flight). However, the subconscious mind does not analyze, as does the conscious mind, but accepts all messages in the literal sense.

In essence, hypnosis is a means of communication between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Many human problems, habits, stresses, anxieties, or apparent deficiencies can be traced to interpretations by the subconscious mind, which, when understood by the conscious mind, can reduce or resolve specific problems.

The subconscious is also the seat of all memory. Traumatic events can be buried or suppressed in the subconscious. A major benefit of hypnotherapy is its ability to uncover and bring into the light of understanding the buried information or experience which may be the cause of a troublesome disorder.


What You Will Experience

Your first visit with your hypnotherapist will primarily be exploratory. You will learn about hypnosis in order to become more comfortable with it. Your hypnotherapist will discuss your interests and your desires to determine if hypnotherapy can accomplish what you want to achieve.

If you both feel that it will be worthwhile to proceed, your hypnotherapist may give you some small tests to determine your type of suggestibility, your ability to relax, your skills a visualization - procedures which help your therapist adapt to you as an individual so as to design personalized help for you which will be acceptable to your subconscious and retained and acted upon in a manner leading to full achievement of your goals.

Achieve Your Goals Using Hypnosis

Hypnosis is limitless. The only limitations exist within your own mind. If you can imagine it, it can be achieved.

The following are just a few, popular uses of hypnotherapy:

  • Stress Management
  • Weight Management
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Sales Improvement
  • Sports Performance Improvement
  • Pain Control
  • Childbirth
  • Phobias
  • Memory Improvement
  • Past-life Regression
  • Future-life Progression

Matt Gomes, MA, PhD, LMFT earned a Doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy from American Pacific University, a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from JFK University and a Masters degree in Education (Instructional Technology) from San Jose State University. Dr. Gomes is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (Lic. MFC46094) and a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (certified and registered by the National Guild of Hypnotists).

Dr. Gomes has helped many people achieve their goals using hypnosis techniques and teaches numerous hypnosis classes. If you are interested in hypnosis or would like to book an appointment, please contact Dr. Gomes at or call (925) 485-9370.

Hypnosis is a natural psychological process in which critical thinking faculties of the mind are bypassed and a type of selective thinking and perception is established. Although some individuals experience an increase in suggestibility and subjective feelings of an "[[altered state of consciousness]]", this is not true for everyone. In fact, some supposed hypnotic indicators and subjective changes can be achieved without relaxation or a lengthy induction by means of simple [[suggestion]] or waking hypnosis, a fact that increases the controversy and misunderstandings around hypnosis and the hypnotic state.

Check out the history of hypnosis here.

Theories of Hypnosis

Some [[theories]] of hypnosis attempt to describe hypnotic phenomena in terms of brain activity while others concentrate more on the phenomenological experience. In either case, a fundamental distinction is between "state" and "non-state" theories of hypnosis. State theorists believe that an [[altered state of consciousness]] is a core part of hypnosis, whereas non-state theorists believe that more mundane psychological processes such as focused attention and expectation are sufficient to explain hypnotic phenomena. The precise definition of what constitutes an altered state of consciousness is a matter of some debate. Although many people who are hypnotized describe their experience as "altered" it is difficult to use these terms in the absence of a prior definition.

The [[American Psychological Association]] remains neutral in the argument between 'state' and 'non-state' theorists. However, this controversy may be decreasing as [[Functional magnetic resonance imaging|modern brain-imaging techniques]] offer hope for an increased understanding of the nature of hypnosis, and as the value of both perspectives is increasingly recognized.

The following theories have been presented from highly regarded individuals/groups:

===Alpha- and Theta-state theories===

Through data collected by [[Electroencephalography]] (EEGs), four major brain-wave patterns—frequency of electrical impulses firing from the brain—have been identified. The Beta state (alert/working) is defined as 14–32 cycles per second (CPS), the Alpha state (relaxed/reflecting) as the 7–14 CPS, the Theta state (drowsy) as 4–7 CPS, and the Delta state (sleeping/dreaming/deep sleep) as approximately 3–5 CPS.{{Fact|date=December 2006}}

One physiological definition of hypnosis states that the brainwave level necessary to work on issues such as stopping smoking, weight management, reduction of phobias, sports improvement, etc., is the alpha state. The alpha state is commonly associated with closing one's eyes, relaxation, and daydreaming.{{Fact|date=December 2006}}

Another physiological definition states that the theta state is required for therapeutic change. The theta state is associated with hypnosis for [[surgery]], hypnoanesthesia and hypnoanalgesia, which occur more readily in the theta and delta states. It should be noted that hypnoanalgesia of the skin is a common test for somnambulism. Arm and body [[catalepsy]] are one of a few tests done to determine readiness for these surgical applications. {{Fact|date=December 2006}}

However, it is important to reflect upon the fact that both arm and body [[catalepsy]] can be induced in normal non-hypnotized subjects. Indeed, arm catalepsy is a standard stage-hypnotist's test of susceptibility. Moreover, normal, non-hypnotized subjects can be found in any of these states of cortical arousal without also displaying any of the behavior, traits or the enhanced suggestibility associated with being hypnotized. Reading, watching movies, and meditating may be also forms of hypnosis.{{fact}}

===Social constructionism / Role-playing theory===

This theory suggests that individuals are playing a role and allowing the hypnotist to create a reality for them. This relationship depends on how much [[rapport]] has been established between the hypnotist and the subject (see [[Hawthorne effect]], [[Pygmalion effect]], and the [[Placebo effect]]).

Generally, during the hypnotic process people become more receptive to suggestion, causing changes in the way they feel, think, and behave. Some psychologists such as [[Robert Baker]] claim that what we call hypnosis is actually a form of learned social behavior, a complex hybrid of social compliance, relaxation, and suggestibility that can account for many esoteric behavioral manifestations.
Psychologists, such as [[Theodore Sarbin|Sarbin]] and [[Nichols P. Spanos|Spanos]]) have suggested that strong social expectations are played out by subjects, who believe they are in a state of hypnosis, behaving in a way that they imagine a hypnotized person would behave.

[[Nicholas Spanos]] states "hypnotic procedures influence behavior indirectly by altering subjects' motivations, expectations and interpretations"<ref name="Spano & Chaves, 1989">{{cite book | author=Spanos, Nicholas P. and John F. Chaves | title=Hypnosis: the Cognitive-behavioral Perspective | location=Buffalo, N.Y. | publisher=Prometheus Books | year=1989 }}</ref> and hypothesized that the behaviors associated with hypnosis are acted out knowingly by the person. He alleged that there are two reasons that cause people to misconstrue their state of consciousness as hypnosis. One of the reasons being that people believe that their behavior is caused by an external source instead of the self. The second is related to the way hypnotic rituals are performed. The hypnotist says certain things which are first interpreted as voluntary and then later on in the procedure as involuntary. An example being "relax the muscles in your legs" and then later "your legs feel limp and heavy".

Spanos' findings were not to prove that the hypnotic state did not exist at all but to prove that the behaviors exhibited by those individuals are due to "highly motivated" individuals.<ref>Hock R. R. (2005). ''Forty studies that changed psychology: explorations into history of psychological research''. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.</ref>

Much experimental work has demonstrated that the experiences of hypnotized subjects can be dramatically shaped by expectations and social nuances. ''This view is often misunderstood: it does not discount the claim that hypnotized individuals are truly experiencing suggested effects, just that the mechanism by which this has taken place has in part been socially constructed and is not necessarily reliant on the idea of an [[altered state of consciousness]].''

===Neuropsychological theory of hypnosis===

Neuropsychological theories of hypnosis attempt to explain hypnotic phenomenon in terms of alterations in brain activity. Gruzelier, based on large amounts of EEG research, proposed that hypnosis is characterized by a shift in brain activity from anterior (front) to posterior (back).

===Hypnosis as a conditioned process leading to sleep===

Ivan Pavlov believed that hypnosis was a "partial sleep". He observed that the various degrees of hypnosis did not significantly differ physiologically from the waking state and hypnosis depended on insignificant changes of environmental stimuli. Pavlov also suggested that lower brain stem mechanisms were involved in hypnotic conditioning.<ref>Pavlov, I. P.: ''Experimental Psychology''. New York, Philosophical Library, 1957.</ref>

Some modern well-known hypnotherapists subscribe to this theory, since in hypnosis, the subject typically appears to be asleep because of eye closure that is typically part of the induction procedure. However, there is quite a bit of literature on blood pressure, reflexes, physiochemical and EEG studies which indicates that hypnosis more closely resembles complete wakefulness.{{Fact|date=December 2006}}

===Hyper–suggestibility theory===

Currently a more popular theory, it states the subject focuses attention by responding to the suggestion of the hypnotist. As attention is focused and magnified, the hypnotist's words are gradually accepted without the subject carrying any conscious censorship of what is being said. This is not unlike the athlete listening to the last pieces of advice from a coach minutes before an important sport event: Concentration filters out anything that is unimportant and magnifies what is said about what really matters for the subject.<ref>Kroger, 1977, p. 31</ref>

It would be a complete misinterpretation to conclude from this that only gullible or weak-minded people are suggestible. Hypnotized subjects will go along the suggestions of the hypnotist as long as this does not violate their beliefs and will wake up otherwise.

===Informational theory===

This theory applies the concept of the brain-as-computer model. In electronic systems, a system adjusts its feedback networks to increase the signal-to-noise ratio for optimum functioning, called a "steady state". Increasing the receptability of a receptor enables messages to be more clearly received from a transmitter primarily by trying to reduce the interference (noise) as much as possible. Thus, the object of the hypnotist is to use techniques to reduce the interference and increase the receptability of specific messages (suggestions). <ref>Kroger, 1977, p. 31</ref>

=== Systems theory ===

This theory may be regarded as an extension of [[James Braid (physician)]]'s original conceptualization of hypnosis<ref name="Braid, 1843">{{cite book | author=Braid J | title=Neurypnology or The rationale of nervous sleep considered in relation with animal magnetism.
| location=Buffalo, N.Y. |publisher=John Churchill| year=1843 }}</ref> as involving a process of greatly enhancing or depressing the activity of the nervous system. It takes as established the necessary organisation of the nervous system into interacting subsystems. On that basis it develops a picture of hypnotic phenomna as involving not only increasing or decreasing of the activity of particular subsystems, but on their interaction. As a result it brings into centre stage the phenomenon of feed-back loops, familiar in systems theory, and thereby throws light on a mechanism for creating the more extreme of hypnotic phenomena. The theory is available in paper<ref name="Morgan, 1993">{{cite book | author=Morgan J.D. | title=The Principles of Hypnotherapy| publisher=Eildon Press | year=1993 }}</ref> or online [].

==Research on hypnosis==

There is a long tradition (over a century) of hypnosis research which has allowed scientists to test key ideas in the debate. Much research has been conducted into the nature and effects of hypnosis and suggestion, and hypnosis continues to be a popular (if somewhat peripheral) tool in contemporary psychological research. A number of different strands of hypnosis research are apparent: that which examines the "state" of hypnosis itself, that which examines the effects and properties of suggestions in and out of hypnosis, and that which uses hypnotic suggestion as a tool to research other areas of psychological functioning.

Hypnosis has been shown to be an effective tool for pain relief, and when combined adjunctively with other therapeutic techniques it has been demonstrated to be a powerful tool (it is effective for weight loss, IBS, anxiety conditions and many more). {{Fact|date=December 2006}}

Recently, there are reports that efforts to reduce obesity with hypnosis (when used in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, and a low-fat diet) may be effective.<ref></ref>

===Clinical Studies===

In 1996 National Institutes of Health technology assessment panel judged hypnosis to be an effective intervention for alleviating pain from cancer and other chronic conditions. A large amount of clinical studies also indicate that hypnosis can reduce the acute pain experienced by patients undergoing burn-wound debridement, enduring bone marrow aspirations and childbirth. An analysis published in a recent issue of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, for example, found that hypnotic suggestions relieved the pain of 75 percent of 933 subjects participating in 27 different experiments.<ref> Scientific American: July 2001</ref>

===Brain Imaging===

With the recent advent of new brain imaging techniques (chiefly [[MRI]] scans, with [[EEG]] and [[PET]] contributing to a lesser extent) there has been a resurgence of interest in the relationship between hypnosis and brain function. Any human experience is reflected in some way in the brain – seeing colors or motion is underscored by activity in the visual cortex, feeling fear is mediated by activity in the amygdala – and so hypnosis and suggestion are expected to have observable effects upon brain function. An important issue for researchers conducting brain imaging is to separate the effects of hypnosis and suggestion — knowing that a suggestion given during hypnosis affects brain area X does not just tell us about hypnosis, it tells us about the effects of the suggestion too. To account for this, experiments need to include a non-hypnotic-response-to-suggestion condition —only this way can the specific effects of hypnosis be examined.

A number of brain-imaging studies have been conducted on hypnotized subjects. A selection of these studies are explained and summarized below:

One controlled scientific experiment postulates that hypnosis may alter our perception of conscious experience in a way not possible when people are not "hypnotized", at least in "highly hypnotizable" people. In this experiment, color perception was changed by hypnosis in "highly hypnotizable" people as determined by [[positron emission tomography]] (PET) scans (Kosslyn et al., 2000). (This research does not compare the effects of hypnosis on less hypnotizable people and could therefore show little causal effect due to the lack of a control group.)

Another research example, employing event-related [[Functional magnetic resonance imaging|fMRI]] and [[Electroencephalography|EEG]] coherence measures, compared certain specific neural activity "...during [[Stroop effect|Stroop task]] performance between participants of low and high hypnotic susceptibility, at baseline and after hypnotic induction". According to its authors, "the fMRI data revealed that conflict-related [[Anterior cingulate cortex|ACC]] activity interacted with hypnosis and hypnotic susceptibility, in that highly susceptible participants displayed increased conflict-related neural activity in the hypnosis condition compared to baseline, as well as with respect to subjects with low susceptibility." (Egner et al., 2005).

Skeptics dispute the significance of such findings, claiming that such changes cannot be shown to be particular to the hypnotized state, and that any other action such as daydreaming is also likely to alter brain activity in some manner. However, recent studies have shown that hypnotized subjects suggested to experience auditory hallucinations demonstrated via PET scans, regional blood flow in the same areas of the brain as real hearing, whereas in subjects merely engaged in vividly imagining hearing noises, this did not occur. <ref> Scientific American: July 2001</ref> The subject is still a matter of current research and scientific debate.

Hypnosis methodologies and effects

===General methods===

The act of inducing a hypnotic state is referred to as an induction procedure. There is no current consensus on what the requirements are for an induction procedure to be effective; while some practitioners use simple calming verbal techniques, others use complex triggers, including mechanical devices.<ref>[ Michael Robinson's Self-Hypnosis Learning or Licensed Online Counseling, page 45)]</ref>

Many experienced hypnotists claim that they can hypnotize almost anyone. They also claim it is a myth that people with strong will power cannot be hypnotized, as they claim these generally make the best participants. This is based on the idea that those who are most intelligent are also the most creative and as such they will make strong associations with the structure of language used by the hypnotist and by the visual or auditory representations inside of their mind. On the other hand, there is a common claim that no one can really be hypnotized against his or her will.<ref>[[Ambroise-Auguste Liébault|Liébault]], Le sommeil provoqué (Paris, 1889)</ref> The counter-claim given by many hypnotists is that while you cannot make someone do anything against their will, you can change what it is that they wish to do.

Many religious and cultural rituals contain many similarities with techniques used for hypnotic induction and induce similar states in their participants. {{Fact|date=December 2006}}

===General effects===

====Focused attention====

This school of thought holds that hypnosis as a state is very similar to other states of extreme concentration, where a person becomes oblivious to his or her surroundings while lost in thought. Often suggested as an example is when a driver suddenly finds his or her self much further down the road without any memory of driving the intervening distance (see [[highway hypnosis]]), when a person is watching television and focuses so intently on the program that he or she ceases to be aware of the sides of the screen, or when a person is thinking about another subject while reading, then realizes that he or she has read several pages without consciously doing so, or taking in any of the content.

The act of hypnotizing, is, in effect, the act of deliberately and mechanically inducing a similar state.<ref>See, for example, general information on the ASCH website: []</ref>


[[Psychologists]] have produced controversial studies that seem to show a strong correlation between the ease of putting someone in a state of hypnosis and their level of [[suggestibility]]. Some of these studies have produced the [[Hypnotic susceptibility|Harvard scale]], [[Hypnotic susceptibility|Stanford scale]], and [[Hypnotic susceptibility|eye-roll test]]; all of which are supposed to predict how easily a person can be put in a hypnotized state.

Hypnosis has further been described as "The suspension of the critical factor" which expands on the idea of "increased suggestibility". A person who claims to be hypnotized may accept statements as true that he or she would normally reject.

For example, when told "you have forgotten your name", the subject in a normal state would react with disbelief, but hypnotized individuals have claimed that they have, indeed, forgotten their own names.

It often appears as if the hypnotized participant accepts the authority of the hypnotist over his or her own experience. When asked after the conclusion of such a session, some participants appear to be genuinely unable to recall the incident, while others say that they had known the hypnotist was wrong but at the time it had seemed easier just to go along with his instructions. ([[Richard Feynman]] describes this in his memoir ''[[Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!]]'' as his own hypnotic experience.) The mechanism of this effect is however disputed: Some hypnotists would claim that this showed the difference between a deep and a shallow hypnotic [[altered state of consciousness|trance]], while skeptics would question the validity of this conclusion, citing that such effects can be duplicated in other circumstances where an agent holds authority, such as the [[Milgram experiment]], and suggest that unreliability in results discredits a scientific theory of hypnosis.

===Clinical observations of various depths of hypnosis===

====Breuer's absent pupillary reflex sign====

An objective sign of hypnosis can be observed by a pupillary reflex test, which demonstrates a response that is opposed to the normal physiological response. When subjects are in a profound hypnotic state, they are asked to remain in hypnosis and open their eyes. The subjects' pupils are usually dilated and remain dilated or react poorly when a penlight is shone into them—the normal non-hypnotic response is a contraction of the pupil.

The esoteric publication ''Hypnotism'', by Danish hypnotist Carl Sextus, is an early reference work that notes the absent pupillary reflex sign. More specifically, it states that after subjects have been asked to open their eyes during a deep trance, light shone into the eyes does not cause pupil contraction. The hypnotist may use suggestion to keep the subject in hypnosis, but the hypnotist must avoid suggestions relating to eyes, visual focus, light, and the pupils' dilation or contraction. <ref>"Physically Focused Hypnotherapy (-A Practical Guide for Professionals to Treating Physical Conditions in Everyday Practice)" ISBN 0-9711185-0-7 </ref>

Hypnosis applications


[[Hypnotherapy]] is a term to describe the use of hypnosis in a therapeutic context. Many hypnotherapists refer to their practice as "clinical work". Hypnotherapy can either be used as an addition to the work of licensed physicians or psychologists, or it can be used in a stand-alone environment where the hypnotherapist in question usually owns his or her own business. The majority of certified hypnotherapists (C.Hts in the US, Diploma. Hyp in the UK) today earn a large portion of their money through the cessation of smoking (often in a single session) and the aid of weight loss (body sculpting). Some of the so called 'incurable' diseases have shown to be treatable with the mind-body (such as cancer, diabetes, and arthritis).{{Fact|date=December 2006}} Some of the treatments practiced by hypnotherapists, in particular so-called [[past life regression|regression]], have been viewed with skepticism. {{Fact|date=December 2006}}

The [[American Medical Association]] and the [[American Psychological Association]] have both cautioned against the use of repressed memory therapy in dealing with cases of alleged childhood trauma, stating that "it is impossible, without other corroborative evidence, to distinguish a true memory from a false one",<ref>]</ref> and so the procedure is "fraught with problems of potential misapplication".<ref></ref> (See also [[false memory]]). This is why forensic hypnosis is not widely used in many countries' legal systems.

===Clinical hypnosis===

The [[American Society of Clinical Hypnosis]] is an organization that "promotes greater acceptance of hypnosis as a clinical tool with broad applications". Hypnosis is applied to a great range of both physical and psychological ailments, rather than being restricted to purely psychological phenomena. The society was founded by [[Milton Erickson]], a doctor who attempted to put hypnosis on a firm therapeutic backing in the [[1950s]].

Milton H. Erickson was opposed to non-board-licensed health care professionals performing therapeutic hypnotism, which has since caused difficulty for certified laymen willing to practice. In the United States, certified lay hypnotists are now said to perform "non-therapeutic issue-resolution hypnotism", rather than "hypnotherapy".<ref>[ - pdf file]</ref>

Milton Erickson's technique of hypnosis was later called the [[Ericksonian technique]].

===Medical and Dental application===

One of the major initial applications of hypnotism was the suppression of pain during medical procedures; this was supplanted (in the late 19th century) by the development of more reliable chemical anesthetics.

The use of hypnosis in dentistry has a long history. Dealing with [[hypnodontia]] – the use of hypnosis in dentistry – has attested to the increasing sophistication of hypnotic procedures to deal with the special problems of the dental patient. Besides smoothing out dental procedures by way of its generalized anti-anxiety effects, it can increase overall patient comfort, make the dental experience acceptable and bearable, decrease resistance to future intervention, and through posthypnotic suggestions, encourage more rapid recovery.

===Forensic application===

Scientific knowledge of hypnosis applied to Legal problems is called forensic hypnosis. Courts prior to 1968 consistently excluded post-hypnotic testimony on the grounds that it was unreliable and apt to influence a jury unduly.{{fact}} Now hypnosis practice is growing stronger{{fact}} and still admissible in courtroom testimonies as long as the stringent criteria and guidelines are met. American Law Institute's Model Penal Code specifies Crime done by hypnotic Suggestion & Witness evidence in court after Hypnotic suggestion are not valued. In the U.S., [[Oregon]], [[Texas]], [[Indiana]], [[Nevada]], and [[California]] states have separate hypnotic investigation acts. Nevada courts accept hypnotically refreshed statements as evidence for judgment. [[Russia]] generally uses hypnosis in criminal investigations.

Forensic hypnosis is not widely used in many legal systems due to concerns about [[false memory]]

===Entertainment/Stage application===

Professor G.F. Wagstaff, of the [[University of Liverpool]], carried out research (see Hypnosis, Compliance and Belief - ISBN-13: 978-0710800176) around the phonemenon of stage hypnotism or hypnotism for entertainment. He surmised that rather than the subject being in an 'altered state' rather they were affected significantly more by social factors and expectations.

Wagstaff's work explores how a hypnotist carefully chooses volunteers from the audience, puts them into a trance using hypnosis and then plants suggestions for them to perform. The critical factor in all stage hypnosis shows is the choice of enthusiastic and credulous individuals. Various techniques exist for discerning whether an individual is a likely candidate for a hypnosis stage act showing a higher than normal succeptibility. Often, the sheer willingness of audience members to volunteer is a sign that they will cooperate with the hypnotist's suggestions during the show, whether or not they ever really become hypnotized in the first place.

For example, the volunteers may be made to believe they are drunk, aliens speaking a strange alien language, naked or seeing others naked, 6-year-old children, ballet dancers etc. Such suggestions are designed to be temporary, lasting the duration of the show. Stage hypnosis is a unique performance in that it involves "real" people from the audience responding in a variety of ways, making no two shows the same. There has been debate over the years as to whether some degree of fraud or collusion may be involved in some stage hypnosis acts.

Regarding the phenomenon of stage hypnotism, Jon Connelly, Ph.D., a therapeutic hypnotist, writes:{{fact}}
:''How does the stage hypnotist create the illusion of "taking over" his subject's minds? It appears they are helpless to refuse whatever he directs them to do under his power and control.''
:''How is this accomplished? It begins with the hypnotist asking for volunteers from an audience already entranced enough with the idea of stage hypnosis that they chose to make attending the show their priority. Naturally, they all have expectations about what they will witness.''
:''The audience is made up of three categories of attendees. The first is prepared, and actually hoping to come up on stage to be subjects despite knowing they will be doing silly things in front of everyone else. The second category is comprised of those who want to prove they can't be hypnotized. These folks are likely to volunteer but only to prove the hypnotist wrong. Finally, the third group is simply interested in watching the show.''
:''The first thing the hypnotist does is to ask for volunteers. On the crowded stage, he "tests" their willingness to cooperate by directing them to do something and he observes their reactions. Anyone not cooperating is eliminated. Seeing others dismissed, enhances the willingness of the remaining volunteers to cooperate even more fully.''
:''The task of finding the most cooperative and dramatic volunteers is accomplished as the hypnotist asks those on stage to do even stranger things and eliminates those whose performance isn't up to par. Soon a small number of volunteers remain. These people are willing to dramatically engage in almost anything the hypnotist suggests. The audience has enjoyed the screening process on another level, believing the hypnotist has caused the subjects to become more and more entranced with hypnosis.''
:''The hypnotist tells the small group of remaining subjects to relax even more into the role of "hypnotized person" he created for them. There is little difference between a good hypnotic subject and a good actor. The context and the understanding each has of why they are doing what they are doing, is the main difference. They both voluntarily throw themselves into the role created for them since both are stage performers.''
:''The stage hypnotist is like a casting director for a movie. The casting director selects people who can vividly imagine and act on what is written in the script as if it was real. These are the same qualities that would make someone a good hypnotic subject. Both the hypnotist and the film director create the scene and encourage the subject or actor into imagining their role to the extent that it can become real to them. They are often described as "absorbed" in the role. Actors know their job is to fool the audience into experiencing the role as real also. The hypnosis subject imagines her role so vividly, it is experienced as real. On some level, both the actor and the hypnotized subject know what is happening. Neither is being "controlled."''
:''In stage hypnosis, audience members confuse what is really cooperation with control over the subject's mind. But it is an illusion.''

Sometimes a stage hypnosis begins with an ''induction'' in which the hypnotist asks the entire audience to close their eyes and listen to his words. He lulls everyone participating into a relaxed state with which he may observe who is more susceptible to be hypnotized. Often people are simply unable to relax and "go with" the hypnotist's instructions due to inability to relax and allow the mind to follow instructions without conscious thought or simply determination to not be induced.

There are many observations that can be made of those who do "go under": slumping in their seat, head lolling to the side, falling into the lap of someone next to them, eye lids flickering, and inability to wake when spoken to or prodded unless done so by the hypnotist himself. For those who are simply watching this show and seeing the person next to them become induced, it can be frightening to witness.

The people whom the hypnotist saw to be easily induced the deepest are approached individually. He will speak briefly to the person and learn their name at which time he may say a few words to them and command them to sleep. For example: "Are you tired, Jane? Would you like to sleep now? Go ahead - SLEEP." Normally this action will cause the individual to immediately appear to have fallen asleep, accompanied by the individual falling to the side. The hypnotist will then speak once more to the person and in the same manner command the person to wake. If this person seems to have been deeply hypnotized but can also wake easily seems unaware of what happened, he or she will be asked to go on the stage.

Once several people are assembled, the hypnotist will begin with inducing each of them and testing them to make sure they are perfectly under. If someone is not working well enough they may be asked to leave. Those who remain are the ones who cannot be woken, even by loud audiences and shouts. They only respond to the hypnotist. He will begin with small commands for action and move up to grand requests. For example, the subjects may first be told to act as if they were cold in a relatively warm room, and by the end of the night, they are showing the audience what their first kisses were like.


Self-hypnosis (or [[autosuggestion]]) hypnosis in which a person hypnotizes himself or herself without the assistance of another person to serve as the hypnotist — is a staple of hypnotherapy-related [[self-help]] programs. It is most often used to help the self-hypnotist stay on a [[Dieting|diet]], overcome [[cigarette|smoking]] or some other [[addiction]], or to generally boost the hypnotized person's [[self-esteem]]. It is rarely used for the more complex or [[controversy|controversial]] uses of hypnotism, which require the hypnotist to monitor the hypnotized person's reactions and responses and respond accordingly. Most people who practice self-hypnosis require a focus in order to become fully hypnotized; there are many [[computer program]]s on the market that can ostensibly help in this area, though few, if any, have been scientifically proven to aid self-hypnosis.

Some people use devices known as mind machines to help them go into self-hypnosis more readily. A mind machine consists of glasses with different colored flashing LEDs on the inside, and headphones. The LEDs stimulate the visual channel while the headphones stimulate the audio channel with similar or slightly different frequencies designed to produce a certain mental state. A common occurrence is the use of [[binaural beats]] in the audio which is said to produce hypnosis more readily.

===Mass application===

Influencing the crowds of common longings and yearnings by a demagogue is called mass hypnosis. Generally mass hypnosis is applied to religious sessions. Many forms of music and dance can be used to create religious trance. {{Fact|date=December 2006}}

===Indirect application===

In addition to direct application of hypnosis (that is, treatment of conditions by means of hypnosis), there is also indirect application, wherein hypnosis is used to facilitate another procedure. Some people seem more able to display 'enhanced functioning', such as the suppression of pain, while utilizing hypnosis.

Possible Dangers of Hypnosis


Some psychologists and other mental health professionals are concerned that practitioners of hypnosis who are unlicensed health professionals might evoke intense emotions in their clients that they are untrained to handle. These [[abreact|abreaction]]s might occur when spontaneously or purposefully recalling traumatic events or, some believe, spontaneous mental breakdowns.

====False Memory====

False memory obtained via hypnosis has figured prominently in many investigations and court cases, including cases of alleged [[sexual abuse]]. There is no scientific way to prove that any of these recollections are completely accurate.

Many individuals can and have been led by an errant hypnotist to believe in things that they later were able to show did not happen have retracted allegations of such abuse (for instance, []).

The [[American Medical Association]] and the [[American Psychological Association]] have both cautioned against the use of repressed memory therapy in dealing with cases of alleged childhood trauma, stating that "it is impossible, without other corroborative evidence, to distinguish a true memory from a false one",<ref>]</ref> and so the procedure is "fraught with problems of potential misapplication".<ref></ref> (See also [[false memory]]).

Hypnosis and the Law

===Governmental authorities and qualifications===

Governmental authorities, such as state licensing agencies, may establish minimum requirements for credentials that must be earned before one may practice hypnosis within their jurisdiction. Such credentials typically are called certificates or licenses.

In 1955, the British Medical Association, in 1958 the American Medical Association and in 1960, the American Psychological Association had approved the medical uses of hypnosis. Even though they recognized the validity of hypnosis, medical schools and universities largely ignored the subject. So the private sector became the provider of hypnosis training. This lead to a very interesting state of affairs; with so few physicians and dentists being able to train others in hypnosis, the private hypnotherapy school was born.

So there was no authentic degree or diploma in hypnosis issued in either Great Britain, USA nor in any other country in the world. There was no such thing as a qualified hypnotherapist. There were only some training courses for qualified doctors, dentists and clinical psychologists.

The World Health Organization has included hypnotherapy in procedure-based therapies of traditional medicine with an emphasis that hypnosis sits astride official and nonofficial medicine.

Since the early 1990s two UK universities, [[Sheffield University]] and [[University College London]], have sanctioned degree programs in hypnosis for medically, dentally, or psychologically qualified hands.

1998 there was great change in UK. It was the development of [[National Occupational Standards]] for hypnotherapy.UK recognized hypnotherapy as a stand-alone therapy.
There is a profession wide program of trying to secure [[National Qualifications Framework]]. for hypnotherapy. [[City & guilds]] a national awarding body have been employed to accredit training program in hypnotherapy and counseling.In 12003 [[NCFE]][[]], a UK national awarding body, started external accreditation for the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma courses supervised by the [ National Council for Hypnotherapy].They have to study the psychology and psychotherapy relevant to their subject. In their syllabus hypnotism is to psychology as surgery is to medicine. As a surgeon must be expert in medicine, a hypnotherapist must be in counseling psychology.

So there is an accredited qualification in UK, but ''the practice has not been yet regulated.''

Things are reverse in USA. The practice is regulated to certain extent. ''But there is no an accredited qualification''. There is an explicit law in 16 states of US that regulates the practice of hypnotism. They are California, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Nevada (forensic hypnosis only).
Connecticut, New York and Minnesota states have changed their status in 2006 or are undergoing change in the existing regulation.

But Hypnotherapy (hypnosis) is recognized as a legal stand-alone profession by the US Department of Labor. It is listed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (079.157.010). The US Department of Education lists "Hypnotherapy-hypnotherapist" (9CIP 2000, 51.3603) under instructional programs. The Office of Administrative Law Judges Law Library lists "Hypnotherapist" as a "legal profession."

According to the Federal Dictionary of Occupational Titles published by the United States Department of Labor under Hypnotherapist 079.157.010 it is defined as follows: "Induces hypnotic state in client to increase motivation or alter behavior patterns: Consults with client to determine nature of problem. Prepares client to enter hypnotic state by explaining how hypnosis works and what client will experience. Tests subject to determine degree of physical and emotional suggestibility. Induces hypnotic state in client, using individualized methods and techniques of hypnosis based on interpretation of test results and analysis of client's problem. May train client in self-hypnosis conditioning".
GOE: 10.02.02 STRENGTH: S GED: R4 M3 L4 SVP: 7 DLU: 7

In 2003, India also restricted the practice of hypnotherapy to Registered Medical Practitioners of recognized systems and appropriately trained professionals.

=== The Judiciary System===

Recollection of knowledge via hypnosis has been used in many cases, but its effectiveness is disputed. Proponents claim that recovered memories have aided in the solving of many crimes, often corroborating with physical evidence which would have been impossible to obtain otherwise. Skeptics suggest that such successes are a function of simple chance, pointing to cases where its use on victims of rape or attempted murder to help them jog their memory in identifying an accused has caused sentences to be doled out to the wrong person. This is because the hypnotist might make suggestions that are more likely to be remembered as "truth". (See also [[false memory]]). Most experts recommend that the practice be used at most like a [[lie detector]], to glean more information, and never as the smoking gun.

Hypnosis has proven beneficial, but not always in expected ways. During the [[Hillside Strangler]] trial, [[Kenneth Bianchi]] claimed a split personality carried out the crimes of which he was accused. Hypnosis was used extensively to argue that a second personality existed. However, due to faults in Bianchi's facade, it was proved that no other personalities existed and his insanity defense was discredited. {{Fact|date=December 2006}}

==Popular culture==

The notion of hypnotism has elicited many presentations in popular culture. Intrinsically, the notion that people are susceptible to commands outside their conscious control can be an effective way of representing the notion of the fallible narrator.

===Popular Misconceptions===

Many works of fiction, such as movies, television programs, and comic books portray hypnotism as a form of total [[mind control]], however most authorities agree that this is an exaggeration. Portrayals in these forms of media foster a number of popular misconceptions are often taken to be true by the public at large, adding to the controversy surrounding hypnosis.


Some believe that hypnosis is a form of [[mind control]] and/or [[brainwashing]] that can control a person's behavior and judgment and therefore could potentially cause them harm. These beliefs are not generally based on scientific evidence, as there is no scientific consensus on whether mind control even exists.{{Fact|date=December 2006}}

====Hypnosis is caused by the hypnotist's power====

Due to the stage hypnotist's showmanship and their perpetuated illusion of possessing mysterious abilities, hypnosis is often seen as caused by the hypnotist's power. The reality is the hypnotist has no power other than to offer suggestions which the subject or client may choose to respond to or not to respond to. <ref name="Yapko 1990">{{cite book | author=Yapko, Micheal | title=Trancework: An introduction to the practice of Clinical Hypnosis | location=NY, New York | publisher=Brunner/Mazel | year=1990 | pages=28}}</ref>

====A person can become 'stuck' in hypnosis====

The trance state is ultimately controlled by the client who may choose to terminate the hypnotic process at will. While a subject may want to enjoy the comfort of the trance state for as long as possbile, it is literally impossible to become stuck in hypnosis. <ref name="Yapko 1990">{{cite book | author=Yapko, Micheal | title=Trancework: An introduction to the practice of Clinical Hypnosis | location=NY, New York | publisher=Brunner/Mazel | year=1990 | pages=41}}</ref>

====One is unconscious and unaware in hypnosis====

While the word 'Hypnosis' is derived from the Greek word for 'sleep' and many hypnotists still use the language of 'Sleep' and 'Awake', hypnosis is not sleep. From the mental standpoint, a hypnotic subject is relaxed yet alert and always aware at some level.<ref name="Yapko 1990">{{cite book | author=Yapko, Micheal | title=Trancework: An introduction to the practice of Clinical Hypnosis | location=NY, New York | publisher=Brunner/Mazel | year=1990 | pages=42}}</ref>


Due to the popular but incorrect notion of hypnosis as [[mind control]], some people believe that the ability to experience hypnosis is related to strength and soundness of mind. However scientists note that personality traits such as gullibility or submissiveness or factors such as low intelligence are not related to hypnotizability. Research studies suggest neither intelligence, sex, nor personality traits affect responsiveness to hypnosis and that hypnotizability may in fact be hereditary or genetic in nature. <ref> Scientific American: July 2001</ref>

====Overactive Imagination====

Another misconception in popular culture is that hypnosis is often the product of vivid imaginations and that hypnotic phenomena is merely imagined in the mind. However, research indicates many imaginative people do not fare well as good hypnotic subjects. Furthermore, studies using [[PET]] scans have shown that hypnotized subjects suggested to have auditory hallucinations demonstrated regional blood flow in the same areas of the brain as real hearing, whereas subjects merely imagining hearing noise did not. <ref> Scientific American: July 2001</ref>

===Hypnosis in Popular Media===

Popular magician/mentalist, "[[The Amazing Kreskin]]",<ref></ref> is noted to dispute the validity of Hypnosis and once offered a $100,000 to anyone who can prove such a thing as a 'hypnotic trance' exists to his satisfaction.

The [[Showtime Network]] television show ''[[Bullshit!]]'', which features comedy duo [[Penn & Teller]], took a skeptical look at hypnosis in one of their episodes.

==External links==
* [ American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis]
* [ Hypnosis, from the Skeptic's dictionary], [[skepticism|skeptical]] review of the veracity of hypnosis.
* [ Scientific American Article on Hypnosis]
* [ Hypnosis, from]
* [ The National Council for Hypnotherapy] The only non-for-profit governing body in the UK
* [ The (British) National Register of Advanced Hypnotherapists]
* [ American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association]
* [[American Society of Clinical Hypnosis]], founded by [[Milton Erickson]] in 1957: "Promotes greater acceptance of hypnosis as a clinical tool with broad applications."
* [ National Guild of Hypnotists] (USA)

<div class="references-small">
<!-- No longer referenced: # {{note|APA}}&mdash; Executive Committee of the American Psychological Association Division of Psychological Hypnosis [1993, Fall]. ''Psychological Hypnosis: A Bulletin of Division 30'', 2, p. 7; citation culled from [].-->
<!-- No longer referenced: # {{note|Ditborn}}&mdash; Dittborn, J.M., and O'Connell, D.N.: ''Behavioral sleep, physiological sleep and hypnotizability''. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 15: 181, 1967)-->
<!-- No longer referenced: # {{note|Hilgard}} Hilgard, E.R., and Hilgard, J.R.: ''Hypnosis in the Relief of Pain''. Los Altos, CA, William Kaufman, 1975.-->

*''Hypnosis and Suggestion in the Treatment of Pain: A Clinical Guide'', by Joseph Barber. NY: Norton (1996).
* ''Hypnosis, Compliance and Belief'' by G. Wagstaff, (1981).
* ''The Highly Hypnotizable Person'', Michael Heap, Richard J. Brown & David A. Oakley, (2004), Routledge
* ''Open to suggestion. The uses and abuses of hypnosis''. [[Robert Temple]], 1989, ISBN 1-85030-710-4{{Please check ISBN|Calculated check digit (5) doesn't match given.}}
* They Call It Hypnosis.[[Baker, Robert]] A. (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1990).
* ''Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis'' [[William S. Kroger, M.D.]], 1977, ISBN 0-397-50377-6
* ''The Art of Hypnotherapy'' by C. Roy Hunter ISBN 0-7872-7068-7