What Is Hypnosis
What is hypnosis, is it real, how does it work?
Well, We Know It Is Real
What exactly is hypnosis? While definitions can vary, the American Psychological Association describes hypnosis as a cooperative interaction in which the participant responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist. While hypnosis has become well-known thanks to popular acts where people are prompted to performs unusual or ridiculous actions, the technique has also been clinically proven to provide medical and therapeutic benefits, most notably in the reduction of pain and anxiety.
But We Don’t Really Understand It
People have been pondering and arguing over hypnosis for more than 200 years, but science has yet to fully explain how it actually happens. We see what a person does under hypnosis, but it isn't clear why he or she does it. This puzzle is really a small piece in a much bigger puzzle: how the human mind works. It's unlikely that scientists will arrive at a definitive explanation of the mind in the foreseeable future, so it's a good bet hypnosis will remain something of a mystery as well.
Though We Sort Of Know
But psychiatrists do understand the general characteristics of hypnosis, and they have some model of how it works. It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It's not really like sleep, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of “losing yourself” in a book or movie. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the stimuli around you. You focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought.
And We All Do It Frequently.
We go into the hypnotic state frequently, when driving a familiar route, watching a movie, daydreaming and doing mundane repetitive tasks.
Does It Work?
As entertainment it is a hoot. And the effects are real. As a therapy is has been shown to be effective for several things (effective but not always the best option), such as:
- Chronic pain
- Fears and phobias
- High blood pressure
- Panic attacks
- Thumb sucking
- Sleep problems
- Sexual problems