When people think of hypnosis, they usually think of someone waving a pocket watch in front of your face and then being able to get you to believe anything they want you to. Actually, this is not what hypnosis is like at all!
Television has made hypnosis seem like just some kind of entertainment, like a magic trick. When people are really hypnotized, they don’t do whatever they are told; they have free will. They are also not in a sleep state either. They are in a state called hyperattentive.
Science has yet to explain how hypnosis actually happens even though it has been practiced for over two hundred years. Hypnosis will probably never be completely understood until science can discover how the human mind really works. However, psychiatrists do understand the characteristics of hypnosis and have come up with a model for how it works.
Hypnosis is a trancelike state that is characterized by relaxation, excessive suggestibility and heightened imagination. It is not like sleep though because the person is alert the entire time. Some people compare being hypnotized to daydreaming. You are totally conscious, but tune out most of the things going on around you.
There are many things that we do in everyday life in which we tend to tune out what’s going on around us and go into a daze. Some examples of these activities include driving, reading, watching movies and mowing the lawn. Also, when you daydream imaginary events can cause real emotions. These are all forms of self-hypnosis.
When you are hypnotized, the hypnotist gives you suggestions that you view as reality. If the hypnotist suggests that you are scared, you will actually start to feel panicky and might even start to sweat. If the hypnotist suggests that you are drinking a milkshake, you will really taste the milkshake and feel it in your mouth. However, you know the whole time that it’s imaginary. You are aware of what’s going on.
When the hypnotist puts you into this mental state, you will feel totally relaxed and carefree. People don’t worry about things that they normally do because they tune out all other thoughts. All you think about is what the hypnotist is telling you.
Also, when you are in this state, you are extremely suggestible. If the hypnotist tells you to do something, you will probably do it. You are aware of what you are doing though. A hypnotist cannot get a person to do something that they don’t want to. People do things they normally wouldn’t because worries such as embarrassment are gone.
Most people seem to think that hypnosis is a way to access the subconscious mind. When you are in a normal state, you are only aware of what’s going on in your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind takes care of everything you do automatically, like breathing and other actions that you don’t really think about. Your subconscious mind actually does most of your activities, such as opening a door. You don’t really think about opening doors. Psychiatrists think that extreme relaxation can cause the conscious mind to take a back-seat to the subconscious mind.
While your subconscious mind is in control, you feel much more impulsive, carefree, imaginative and creative. Your subconscious mind is the part of your brain that regulates things such as touch, taste, sight and emotions. This is why you can actually taste and feel a milkshake if the hypnotist tells you that you are drinking one. You can actually experience your imaginations.
In order to be hypnotized, you must want to be hypnotized and believe that you can be hypnotized. You also must be completely relaxed and comfortable. Hypnotism can take just a few minutes or even more than a half hour, depending on the person.
Hypnotism is often used for fun and entertainment, but it also has other uses. It can be a form of therapy for people with personal problems or can even be used to cure illnesses. Sometimes hypnosis is also used to help a person remember repressed memories. There have been cases of hypnosis curing illnesses or relieving pain, but this is very controversial. Many scientists don’t want to study hypnosis because they don’t think it’s real, but it should be studied because it really does help a lot of people.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Hypnosis