By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
In this article, I will attempt to answer your question “What is hypnosis?” in a concise way... however, hypnosis is a vast topic.
Therefore, this article is also the center of a series of other, more detailed articles that are aimed at helping you find out more about hypnosis and hypnotherapy. It includes links to interviews with master hypnotists on their work and what makes them tick.
You will find links to these articles at the very end.
But before I send you off in those other directions, allow me to give you an overview of the topic.
For over a century, scientists have been working on answering the question of what hypnosis is.
For a long time, there was a scientific debate between those who believed that hypnosis was a distinct state (‘state’), and those who did not (‘no state’). Those who argued hypnosis was not a distinct state, insisted that the reason hypnotic suggestions worked was simply because people were motivated to accept them.
Not quite so.
Just recently, this debate
has been settled, and hypnosis has been recognized as a “real
psychobiological state and process” (1). Research using brain imaging
has shown us that three distinct patterns occur in the brain during
hypnosis, resulting in functional changes.
The functional changes include changes to how memory is being encoded, to how connected mind and body are, changes in perception of pain, as well as auditory and visual stimuli. These changes are well known to researchers and have been observed by scientists for a long time.
In this article, I will attempt to answer the question as to what hypnosis is in simple terms.
The first and second time when experiencing a state of hypnosis, many
people don’t realize they were, in fact, hypnotized. This may be because
this state feels so natural and familiar.
You will have already
experienced light trance states. These may occur when you are engaged
with a monotonous task such as driving along a motorway, cleaning, or
doing repetitive factory work, or even when watching a movie that you
are highly absorbed in.
The hypnosis-like state occurs when
you stop being aware of what you are doing, and your thought turn to
other concerns, perhaps to daydreams, perhaps to fantasies or to
insights how you would like to change your life.
When your mind drifts, this is a natural thing. It is not hypnosis as such, but it gives you a first insight into the mind’s natural inbuilt mechanisms for relaxation.
This natural inclination may be a an evolutionary gift to humans that offers natural ways for our brain to recover from periods of stress and to become focused on what's next. It can be harnessed and developed into a deeper 'recovery brain state'.
Each of these methods brings about a slightly different brain state, and depending on the state, the brain will do slightly different things.
Find out all the details here about what to expect from the experience of hypnosis and self hypnosis trance. Following here is just a small summary of the most important criteria of this particular state.
But why bother bring about such a state?
Discover the power of hypnosis through 10 amazing facts about hypnosis you most likely have not heard before.
Find out the benefits of hypnosis over coaching and traditional talk psychotherapy in helping you change your life for the better and achieving your goals.
You may have heard anecdotal reports about hypnosis being nothing more than unscientific ‘mumbo-jumbo’ which might have planted this question in your mind. So, does hypnotherapy work? Find out my answer to this charged question, and it probably isn't what you would expect.
Find out the three worst mistakes any hypnotist can make so that you can avoid them and find the right hypnotist for you.
Evolution has given humans a powerful tool that enables us to be the most dominant species on the planet- yet this tool contains a critical flaw that is limiting many people and preventing them from living their dream. This may be limiting you, too...
Learn the secret language of hypnotherapy geared towards the requirements of your subconscious mind so that you can reach your goals more easily.
Find out the most common issues that hypnosis can help you with and see what you could do with hypnosis to change your life.
This article is a great starting point to understanding what to expect from hypnotherapy treatment, including what you can do to get the most from your treatment.
Hypnosis has been shrouded in mystery. There are many myths or, simply, false beliefs attached to hypnosis. You, too, have likely picked up a few of them as they are ‘around’ in public consciousness. Let me bust those myths for you so you can be free to enjoy and appreciate hypnosis for what it is.
Hypnotic trance is referred to with much mystery. Is it really that spooky? Allow me to talk you through what the experience is like.
This article covers everything you want to know about suggestion hypnosis, including what it is, what it can do for you, how it works, what techniques are used and how you can get the very best out of it. Suggestion hypnosis can help you to reach your goals and change your life.
Regression Hypnosis can help you to clear blocks relating to the past which are causing you trouble now. Find out how it works, how it compares to coaching and psychotherapy and see if it is suitable for you.
This article fills you in on how you can get the very best from regression hypnosis and is a must read if you are thinking of embarking on hypnotherapy treatment for a complex personal issue.
Some hypnotists offer specific sessions to uncover past life memories. Is this a good idea? Find out what my thinking is on how to get the best results from past life hypnosis.
Does online hypnotherapy work or is it inferior to face to face work as some people say? Find out what's involved and form your own opinion about advantages and disadvantages working online with us.
Find out about a novel psychosensory treatment we combine with hypnosis which can help you clear trauma, fears, phobias, anxiety, low self esteem and more while also supporting you in building resilience and positive emotions.
Discover how well hypnosis could work for changing your particular bad habit and how you can make it into a starting point for changing your life.
No more scripts. The new way to work with live issues. It's dynamic, fast, gentle and powerful.
Can you help yourself with hypnosis? Find out here...
You will find this question answered but in a way you probably would not expect. Find out how self hypnosis is always at work, whether you harness it as a skill or not...
The Benefits of Self Hypnosis
Find out in this article how you can benefit from self hypnosis in your life, including what issues you can use it for.
Self-Hypnosis Relaxation Techniques
A good place to start practicing self hypnosis techniques first before infusing them with images regarding your specific goals, or changes that you want to make in your life is with relaxation techniques. Find a sample relaxation script on this page that you can start using today.
Self Hypnosis for Goal Setting
Goal setting is key in working with personal goals. If you don’t get your goals just right, you are much less likely to get good results. Find out how to overcome the seven most common mistakes with goal setting when you use a self hypnosis based approach.
Self-Help Hypnosis- 7 Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Like any other form of therapy, self-help hypnosis, too has some limitations which you should be aware of before you start practicing. I also offer some practical tips and solutions to help you overcome most of these limitations.
In this article, find out the history of auto suggestions, the science behind them and how you can use them to your advantage to change your life.
In this article, find detailed instructions on how to design, administer and troubleshoot your auto suggestions successfully so that you can use them to change your life.
I hope you are now starting to feel that your question "What is hypnosis?" is being answered. In truth, hypnosis is a huge topic and each article can only cover so much ground.
Above will find the other articles in this series. You might find them helpful in broadening and deepening your understanding what to expect if you go for a hypnosis treatment.
Did you find this article useful? let me know in the comments underneath.
(1) Benedittis, 2015. Neural mechanisms of hypnosis and meditation. Journal of Physiology , Paris. 109 (2015) 152–164
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