What Is Hypnosis?

You're getting sleepy, very sleepy. Or are you? The way hypnosis is portrayed on Hollywood screens might have you believing a swinging pocket watch and soothing voice can put anyone in a trance, to dispel secrets or implant ideas. But how accurate are these examples? Research has found that there is in fact some truth to the theory that if a person is in a highly suggestible state enough, they may be more willing to delve into their subconscious and respond to the hypnotist. In fact, scientific studies have show than everyone's susceptibility to being hypnotized falls somewhere on a spectrum—with some people better able to relax into suggestive mindsets and therefore reaping more benefits from the experience. Conversely, others may have a more difficult time being convinced. The word's root, "hypno" in hypnotism, is derived from the Greek word for "sleep." In hypnotherapy, therapists work to tap into a relaxed person's inner mind in order to dive deep into old or repressed memories and emotions. This tactic is praised by some who tout its effectiveness, while others—clinicians and patients alike—are more skeptical, and prefer traditional treatment routes. So can someone really be hypnotized in the way we usually see it? What about stage hypnotists?

Research suggests that stage hypnotism is actually what creates myths and misconceptions surrounding the topic. During a show, hosts are trained to specifically screen participants to see how potentially vulnerable they may be to the act. Because it's a performance, it's not the best representation of the very complex human phenomena we know as hypnosis. Learn more about this amazing practice and how the mind bends.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Hypnosis relies on suggestibility, and cannot be performed successfully without the subject's consent. 00:41

  2. Hypnosis may be able to reduce pain by refocusing the subject's attention. 02:14

  3. Some studies suggest that frequent meditation increases the ability to direct and focus attention. 04:04

Written by Curiosity Staff September 17, 2014

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