What is Hypnosis - Just a Brief Introduction to the World

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This page is just a brief introduction to the world and uses of hypnosis - what it is and what it is not! In this section, I examine the difference between the unconscious mind and the conscious mind, as well as having a brief look at the history of hypnotherapy, and trying to create a definition of hypnosis. I also look at hypnoidal states (don't know what they are? - follow the link at the bottom of this page to find out!) and compare hypnotism done by an external operator with self-hypnosis. So follow the links at the bottom of this page to find out more.

For many people, the only time they encounter hypnotism is when they watch a hypnotist on the television or as a stage act or see hypnotism being employed in the movies. Unfortunately, such acts give a false and narrow impression of what hypnotism is. As a result of watching such acts, you may have gained the opinion that hypnotism is a means of entertainment, or a way of humiliating people by making them behave in foolish ways. Worse than this - it is possible that someone reading this may have been hypnotised as part of a stage act, and found the experience unpleasant. But this is far too narrow a view!

Hypnosis is not a means of gaining control of someone else's mind; it's not a form of sleep (although an individual in a trance may appear to be asleep); it is not a means of making someone do something against their will. Unfortunately the portrayal of hypnotism in the movies and on television has created something of a sense of mystique about it that has somewhat jaundiced public opinion against its clear value as a clinical tool.

The hypnotic trance state is actually a naturally occurring state of mind in which the conscious mind is slightly less dominant than normal and the unconscious mind is slightly more dominant than normal. This creates a state of deep physical and mental relaxation while creating increased but narrowed mental focus. People who have experienced trance invariably report feeling awake and as if they could come out of trance whenever they wished.

The greater dominance of the unconscious mind when in trance means that it is possible to deal directly with the habits of thought and behaviour that are controlled by the unconscious mind, without the constant interference from the analytical conscious mind. So, whether carried out by a therapist on a patient, or by an individual on himself as self-hypnosis, hypnotism can be a highly successful method for dealing with a range of clinical and psychological issues.