Hypnosis, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is a cooperative interaction between a hypnotist and a participant. But it is more popular for the ridiculous and unusual actions people perform under hypnosis. But these acts don’t undermine the medical and therapeutic benefits of hypnosis.
Understanding the process of hypnosis
Most people relate a hypnotist to a sinister stage-villain swinging things back and forth. But the reality is just the opposite. Psychologist John Kihlstrom said that a hypnotist didn’t hypnotize people but works as a source for people to become hypnotized.
Describing hypnosis as a sleep-like trance state would be too simple but saying that it is a state of focused attention, heightened suggestibility and vivid fantasies would be just perfect. Hypnotized people look sleepy but in reality, it is a state of hyper-awareness.
In psychology, hypnosis is used as a therapy to treat a number of problems like pain management. It is called hypnotherapy and it involves hypnotism by visualization and verbal repetition.
Effects of hypnosis
Hypnosis effects vary from one person to another. For example, some people feel a sense of detachment or extreme relaxation while others feel like acting on the guidance and advice of the hypnotist. Also, there are people that remain fully aware and even conversant while under hypnosis.
Researcher Ernest Hilgardcarried out an experiment to demonstrate effects of hypnosis. He put arm of a hypnotized person in ice water and asked him not to feel pain. While you will quickly remove your hand from the ice water within a couple of seconds, a hypnotized person can keep his hand in that condition for several minutes without showing any sign of pain.
Symptoms treated by hypnosis
- Pain management
- Dementia control
- Managing ADHD
- Help with nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy
- Treating skin conditions like warts and psoriasis
- Reducing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms
Hypnosis provides effective treatment for pain and anxiety during medical procedures like surgeries and childbirth. It can also help with behavioral problems like quitting smoking, weight loss and bed-wetting.
Who can be hypnotized?
Research shows that a good number of people are more hypnotize than they believe.
- 15% of people respond to hypnosis
- Children can easily be hypnotized
- 10% of adults won’t respond to hypnotism
- If you easily get absorbed in fantasies, you are more susceptible to hypnosis
According to research, people who view hypnosis in positive light, have better experience of hypnosis.
Hilgard’s new-dissociation theory of hypnosis is considered the best theory. According to Hilgard, hypnotized people experience two different streams of mental activity in a state of split consciousness. While one state responds to the suggestions by hypnotist, the second state processes information outside of the conscious awareness of the person under hypnosis.
Myth 1: You won’t remember what happened in hypnotized state after waking up from hypnosis
While the amnesia affect can’t be ruled out on the hypnotized people but it is rare and has limited or and temporary effect. You will remember the process and acts done under hypnosis.
Myth 2: Witnesses of crimes can give exact details of crimes under hypnosis
While hypnosis can enhance memory but it won’t be significant. Also, it could lead to false or distorted memories.
Myth 3: People can be hypnotized against their will
Voluntary participation is required to get hypnotized.
Myth 4: Hypnotists can control actions of people under hypnosis
Hypnotized people could feel that their actions are controlled by others but in they can’t be made to act against their will.
Myth 5: Hypnosis can make people super-strong and fast
While hypnosis can enhance performance but it can’t induce super-powers in them.