When the word “hypnosis” comes to mind, most folks have images of a magician-like practitioner swinging a shiny object and causing a human subject to fall into a trance.
The truth, however, is that hypnosis is a natural state of mind that can occur under dramatically different social settings, and everyone experiences it from time to time.
For example, perhaps you have driven to work and realized upon arriving that you have almost no recall of the journey. Or maybe you sat in a class at school and day-dreamed your way through the lecture, present but not present at the same time.
In both cases, you have experienced a mild state of hypnosis. It is a form of awareness resembling sleep, but you are awake and functioning as your attention is drawn inward to a dream-like state.
Indeed, the term “hypnosis” derives from the Greek word “hypnos” meaning sleep. But unlike dreaming, oblivious to surrounding reality, being hypnotized is usually characterized by heightened levels of concentration, relaxation, suggestion and expectation.
Since hypnosis is a natural state of mind, those who have been induced into the state by a “hypnotist” may not feel any different than when relaxing in their favorite easy chair with a good book.
When put into a hypnotic state by a trained therapist using verbal repetition and mental images, subjects typically feel calm and relaxed, and they are more open to suggestions.
At a moderately deep level of hypnosis, one may feel quite mellow, perhaps weightless or else very heavy, as if sinking into the chair. Upon entering a deep state, the feeling may even be euphoric.
Hypnotherapy has proven useful as method of coping with stress and anxiety. It has also been studied for other conditions, including pain control and relief of symptoms such as hot flashes associated with menopause.
In the area of behavioral change, some success has been achieved in applying hypnosis to the treatment of insomnia, bed-wetting, smoking, obesity and various phobias, too.
Several researchers accept a social role theory of hypnosis that purports any positive results are based on subjects’ expectancy as to the role which they are supposed to play—a kind of placebo effect.
On the other hand, thoughts clearly influence individual reality. Just consider the child who pretends to be sick in order to stay home from school, and then actually becomes sick. Is the sickness role-playing or more of a self-fulfilling prophesy—the body responding to the child’s will to be ill?
Regardless of how hypnosis works, it may actually be a form of survival mechanism that evolved within humans. We know that it can be very beneficial, and recent studies on hypnosis with cancer patients are showing some excellent results.
Since you’re here …
… we’ve got a small favour to ask. More people are reading CAVEMENWORLD than ever, but few are paying for it. Advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike some othe organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our articles open to all. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. CAVEMENWORLD’s independent, investigative journalism and graphics take a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.