Hypnosis is a state of focused
concentration during which a person becomes less aware of his or her
surroundings. Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis to treat physical or
During a hypnotic state (trance), a
person may be more likely to accept suggestions that can help change his or her
behavior. A therapist (hypnotherapist) can lead the hypnosis, or he or she can
teach people to hypnotize themselves (self-hypnosis). You can also learn
self-hypnosis from books.
Mary Avis had been a white-knuckle flyer for years. But on one fateful
flight from Virginia to Boston several years ago, her fear finally took
complete control. Although the weather was clear and the flight was smooth,
"I was sure that if I stood up, the floor would collapse and I'd fall
through," says Avis, now 61, who spent the entire flight motionless and
When the plane landed in Philadelphia to refuel, Avis fled. "My husband
was annoyed, to put it mildly," she...
The hypnotherapist's goal is not to
control a person or give the person answers but rather to help the person solve
his or her own problems.
Self-hypnosis usually consists of writing
or adapting a script to induce hypnosis (including suggestions to help with
specific problems), recording the script, and playing the tape to become
hypnotized. Some people are more comfortable with self-hypnosis because they
are alone throughout the exercise and are in control of all suggestions made
during the hypnotic trance.
Hypnosis does not work for everyone.
You must be willing to focus your attention and follow the suggestions of the
therapist. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot be hypnotized unwillingly.
Also, when you are hypnotized, you will not follow directions against your
Experts do not know how hypnosis works, but it seems to
put the body in a state of deep relaxation.
Some people believe
hypnosis causes the brain to release natural substances that affect the way you
perceive pain and other symptoms. Others believe hypnosis acts on the
unconscious mind and allows you to control body reactions that you cannot
normally control, such as blood pressure, heartbeat, and hunger.
What is hypnosis used for?
Hypnosis is not
intended to cure disease but rather to relieve symptoms of illness. Hypnosis
has been effective in relieving pain associated with surgery, paralysis, and
childbirth. Also, it is widely used to control addictions to drugs, alcohol,
food, and smoking. Hypnosis can reduce stress by increasing relaxation,
offering positive suggestions, and eliminating negative thoughts.