BY:Brent Lee Troop
Hypnosis, is an altered state
of consciousness and heightened responsiveness to suggestion; it may be induced in normal
people by a variety of methods and has been used in medical and psychiatric
treatment. Most frequently hypnosis is brought about through the actions of an operator, the
hypnotist, who engages the attention of a subject and assigns certain tasks to him or her while
uttering monotonous, repetitive verbal commands; such tasks may include muscle relaxation,
eye fixation, and arm levitation. Hypnosis also may be self-induced, by trained relaxation,
concentration on one’s own breathing, or by a variety of monotonous practices and rituals that
are found in many mystical, philosophical, and religious systems.(Fire walking, or meditation)
Hypnosis results in the gradual assumption by the subject of a state of consciousness wholly
dissimilar to either wakefulness or sleep, during which attention is withdrawn from the outside
world and is concentrated on mental, sensory, and physiological experiences. When a hypnotist
induces a trance, a close relationship or rapport develops between operator and subject. The
responses of subjects in the trance state, and the phenomena or behavior they manifest
objectively, are the product of their motivational set; that is, behavior reflects what is being
sought from the experience.

Most people can be easily hypnotized. The depth of trance, however, will vary from a light state
close to waking, to a profound state of somnambulism. A profound trance is characterized by a
forgetting of trance events and by an ability to respond automatically to posthypnotic suggestions
that are not too anxiety-provoking. The depth of trance achievable is a relatively fixed
characteristic, dependent on the emotional condition of the subject and on the skill of the
hypnotist. Only 20 percent of subjects are capable of entering somnambulistic states through the
usual methods of induction. Medically, this percentage is not significant, since therapeutic effects
occur even in a light trance.

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Hypnosis can produce a deeper contact with one’s emotional life, resulting in some lifting of
repressions and exposure of buried fears and conflicts. This effect potentially lends itself to
medical and educational use, but it also lends itself to misinterpretation. Thus, the revival
through hypnosis of early, forgotten memories may be fused with fantasies. Research into
hypnotically induced memories in recent years has in fact stressed their uncertain reliability. For
this reason a number of state court systems in the U.S. have placed increasing constraints on
the use of evidence hypnotically obtained from witnesses, although most states still permit its
introduction in court.

Medical Uses
Hypnosis has been used to treat a variety of physiological and behavioral problems. It can
alleviate back pain and pain resulting from burns and cancer. It has been used by some
obstetricians as the sole analgesia for normal childbirth. Hypnosis is sometimes also employed
to treat physical problems with a possible psychological component, such as Raynaud’s
syndrome (a circulatory disease) and fecal incontinence in children. Researchers have
demonstrated that the benefit of hypnosis is greater than the effect of a placebo and probably
results from changing the focus of attention. Few physicians, however, include hypnosis as part
of their practice.

Some behavioral difficulties, such as cigarette smoking, overeating, and insomnia, are also
amenable to resolution through hypnosis. Nonetheless, most psychiatrists think that fundamental
psychiatric illness is better treated with the patient in a normal state of consciousness.


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