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What is Hypnosis?

By J. Beam
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hypnosis is best described as a state of intense inner focus in which the subconscious mind is at the forefront and the conscious mind is subdued. This is mostly what happens when a person sleeps, but hypnosis works while a person is awake and allows them to relax to the point of putting their conscious train of thought to rest. Clinical hypnosis is widely used and not to be confused with the hypnosis we think we see performed by magicians and other entertainers.

Clinical hypnosis does not involve surrendering your will to another person and hypnosis does not make a person do anything they don’t want to do. It is not mind control, but rather a state of such deep relaxation and inner focus that the power of suggestion becomes easily acceptable. Hypnosis works with the subconscious mind because it is the part of the brain that operates in the background during both sleeping and waking stages. Your subconscious mind controls inhalation and exhalation, receives and sends physical receptors, and works through many of the steps you take throughout the day.

Much like the operating system on a computer, your subconscious mind is always running while the conscious mind creates the execution of your behavior. Clinical hypnosis is used to effect change in a person’s behavior or thought process. Clinical hypnosis can be used effectively in a variety of situations and is most commonly associated with smoking cessation, weight control, and stress management. Psychologists and psychiatrists often use clinical hypnosis with traumatized victims of rape, assault, or incest. Hypnosis can also be a form of pain control, often used with burn victims and women in labor.

Hypnosis is very much a mystery to the general public and experts alike. However, many clinicians have seen that hypnosis can be very effective even though they can’t fully explain how it works from a scientific standpoint. Many people choose hypnosis as a way to change behavior, as in the above examples. Before choosing a hypnotic therapist, you should verify that they are licensed in the state or province in which they practice, not just certified. Licensing requires more education, and therefore helps to reassure you that you are visiting a therapist with a better understanding and application of hypnosis.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By TrogJoe19 — On Feb 10, 2011

Certain mp3s are designed to induce hypnosis or to cause a high. Sound waves available on the internet and videos of hypnosis techniques on youtube are becoming readily available, making the psychic capacity of people increase. This can be dangerous.

By GigaGold — On Feb 09, 2011

Many forms of hypnosis learn to train the subconscious mind to condition the person toward achieving goals and attracting success. Hypnosis can work for weight loss and reducing anxiety, or even for making good money. People can take these tactics too far, however, and should be careful with both their purpose and their method.

By mentirosa — On Feb 06, 2010

According to some sources hypnosis can help allergy sufferers. By focusing on a surrounding that does not have allergens in it, hypnosis helps the patient reduce certain allergy symptoms.

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