How Do You Define Hypnosis?
If you ask 100 different hypnotists for their definition
of hypnosis, you will likely get 100 different answers. Because,
while most hypnotists, Hypno-therapists, psychologists who
use hypnosis, stage hypnotists as well as enthusiastic amateurs,
know that something is happening, getting them to explain
exactly what that something is, is where the problems begin.
"I can't define it, but I know it when I see / feel it" is
a likely response.
What is needed to be able to use this phenomenon known as
hypnosis, is a working definition, something that creates
some boundaries to work within and creates a target to aim
at. That target being to guide someone into the state of hypnosis.
By creating a well formed definition, anyone attempting to
hypnotize themselves or someone else, will be more likely
to recognize the hypnotic trance state when it happens. The
question that haunts all beginning hypnotists "Were they under
or weren't they?" will be able to be answered.
A very useful definition of hypnosis, one that many working
hypnotists have adopted is that "Hypnosis is a suspension
or bypass of the critical factor (the part of us that evaluates
and judges what is going on at any point in time) with an
associated narrowing of awareness and a selective focusing".
If this definition is applied to the example of being hypnotized
by someone (it also applies relative to self-hypnosis) then
the definition simply means that when the hypnotist makes
a suggestion, the subject (person being hypnotized) follows
it. They do not evaluate it to see if it fits with their model
of the world, they simply accept and follow the suggestion.
Now many people panic when this is suggested. This plays on
some people's fears about the hypnotist having control over
them. Nothing could be further from the truth. In all hypnotic
interactions, the person being hypnotized is the one in control,
not the hypnotist.
The myth of the hypnotist being able to turn people into hypnotic
zombies is just that, a myth. It does make a good story though,
and one that hypnotists are happy enough to use. If the subject
thinks that the hypnotist has some kind of mystical power,
that in itself becomes a powerful suggestion that the skilled
hypnotist can use to help the subject into the hypnotic trance
A very useful analogy that describes hypnosis and the relationship
between the hypnotist and the subject, is watching a movie.
In fact watching a movie or any number of other activities
that lead to a total absorption and narrowing of focus would
satisfy the definition of hypnosis being offered here.
When someone watches a movie, they choose to put their critical
faculties on hold to enjoy the movie. They suspend their judgment
to have the experience they want. Their attention becomes
very selective. They tune out certain things, and tune in
others, to have the movie experience. They are aware of where
they are and what is going on around them, it's just that
they do not care enough about it, to put any attention on
If some emergency occurred, they would very quickly snap out
of their movie induced trance and respond appropriately. But,
while they remain selectively focused on the screen and what
they are watching, and do not engage the critical factor,
they get to have the full movie experience. They know the
movie is not real, but that doesn't stop them experiencing
anger, sadness, fear or laughter. When the critical factor
is bypassed a world of possibilities opens.
This is exactly what happens in hypnosis. The subject willingly
follows the suggestions given to them by the hypnotist, to
have the full hypnotic experience and get the benefit of the
hypnotic state (stop smoking, lose weight and so on).
If the suggestion is given that "Your arm is so heavy that
you will not be able to lift it" and the subject chooses to
follow the suggestion and imagine that their arm is so heavy
they cannot lift it, they create a state where they won't
be able to lift their arm. While this gives the appearance
that the hypnotist is in control, it is the subject that chooses
to follow the suggestion and use the power of their imagination
to have the experience of their arm being too heavy to lift.
In the hypnotic state we are more open to suggestion. More
impressionable to suggestion. In this hyper-suggestible state,
the power of suggestion and the power of imagination come
together to create change and allow personal growth to occur,
free from the obstruction of the judgmental, evaluating critical
Suggestions made in hypnosis go directly to the subconscious
mind, where they are acted on without judgment, fear or doubt.
Many of the "feats" that can be performed while in hypnosis
and the personal transformations that many people undergo
when using hypnosis and hypnotherapy, can sometimes be quite
amazing. But really, they are simply the result of the focused
use of imagination and attention on the task at hand and the
suspension of all doubt that the outcome can be achieved.
Magic Articles by Ian Williamson please visit www.real-articles.com/Category/Magic/219
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