What is Hypnosis?
HYPNOSIS is a "sleep-like" state that can be used to help a subject experience forgotten or suppressed memories, to create hallucinations, or to heighten a person's suggestibility. The hypnotic state is NOT sleep, however, and the word does NOT mean "sleep," except in Greek.
|In Greek, "HYPNOS" means "sleep." Hypnos is also the Greek mythological god of sleep.|
If Hypnosis is not a sleep state, what is it?
To be under hypnosis means to be placed in a state resembling sleep, which is most similar to that of sleepwalking. The sleepwalking state is called "somnambulism." Hypnosis resembles normal sleep, but is different from normal sleep as evidenced by the subject's pulse rate and respiration. ...
|As a preface, "somni-" or "somn-" is Latin for "sleep"|
Hypnosis resembles anesthesia. A person in a hypnotic state is open to all forms of suggestion, including an openness to authority, advice, testing, criticism and judgment. Under hypnosis a person is open to suggestions affecting conscious choices and decisions.
The subconscious mind can control blood vessels and the flow of blood, raise blisters, induce or eliminate severe pain, cause and control lactation, salivation, and influence other sensations and body functions.
Normally a person awakened from a hypnotic trance remembers what happened while hypnotized, although the memory may be suppressed by post-hypnotic suggestions, those given while under hypnosis which can eliminate the memory.
|"Post Hypnotic Suggestions" are instructions made to a person under hypnosis, to be acted on after the subject is awakened|
Hypnosis can be induced by repeated stimulation of reflexes. Examples include blinking lights, the broken center line on a highway, the use of music, and the horizontal lines that scan back and forth on an analog TV screen that make up the image (before digital TV).
A hypnotic trance can also be induced by suggestions, which are ordinarily performed upon a willing patient. Examples include the repeated suggestion to relax, suggesting that one imagine a serene place, and the use of counting to deepen the trance.
Self-suggestion can result in self-hypnosis or auto-hypnotism. When we close our eyes and tell ourselves a story, out loud or in our own minds, we induce a stage of hypnosis upon ourselves. I will explain why these are hypnotic states in a moment.
There are degrees of hypnosis which have been characterized as lethargic, cataleptic, and somnambulistic; in other words, light and heavy hypnotic sleep, with corresponding variations in suggestibility.
Q: How does hypnosis work?
When people are in any stage of hypnosis – or REM sleep – then the subconscious mind is actually awake and functioning, while the conscious mind is not truly awake. Your subconscious mind can operate perfectly without your conscious mind interfering.
For example, when you are telling a story with your eyes closed and you are completely engrossed in the story you are telling, you are delving into your memory and you are not being critical or analytical of what you are saying. So your subconsious mind is very active, but your conscious mind is not participating in the thought process. This is a trance state, and yes, this is a light stage of hypnosis.
Your conscious mind is the critical mind, the analytical mind. It analyzes things and gives you a "consciousness" of your environment. Your subconscious mind is like a filing cabinet. It stores all the information you have learned or experienced.
|REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement|
When we dream, and at other times when our subconscious mind is active while our eyes are closed and our conscious mind is not alert and active, our eyeballs move under our eyelids, very fast.
If one is hypnotized, the subconscious (filing cabinet) mind is kept awake and the conscious (critical and analytical) mind is put to asleep. When this happens, the subconscious mind still functions and operates without worrying about analyzing and criticizing the information requested.
Examples of the most common hypnotic trances we all experience all the time are night time dreams and day dreams. Dreaming occurs when the subconscious mind is awake and running but the conscious mind is not interfering or participating in the thought process.
Q: Can a hypnotist access everything?
No. Our subconscious will not allow a hypnotist to access any information you want "locked" out of the hypnotist's access. So, a person that is hypnotised still can make choices as to what they want the hypnotist to free from the subconscious mind.
|One of the more common questions I answer after a show is, "How do you know if they are faking?" I reply, "I don't always. But I am doing a comedy hypnosis show, so if the person is entertaining and not distracting, I don't care if they are faking sometimes. However, if I see REM going on, I'm usually pretty sure they are not faking!"|
Q: Can a Hypnotist make me do things against my will?
Not normally. The answer is almost always NO, but there are rare exceptions on rare occasions. If the answer was YES, we'd be living in a much different world. George W. Bush would have the UN walking around like zombies doing his will. Believe me, the governments of the United States, Britain, and the USSR have looked into it extensively, and it does not work.
The subconscious mind will always know the difference between these four ideas, even in the deepest of hypnotic trances:
- I don't know
- It's none of your business
- So, only the information one wants to have accessed can be accessed while in a state of hypnosis. Secrets are safe, you won't commit crimes, and no one will do anything against his or her will. As a rule, in the hands of a safe hypnotist, everyone is safe. And in the hands of a naive or unscrupulous hypnotist, most of us are still very safe.
Of course, this is just a brief explanation and there are over 1,000 books written on the subject of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, plus there are many different areas of hypnosis, including:
- hypnosis for therapy
- hypnosis used in criminology
- stage hypnosis
- past life regression
- dream therapy
- and more
If you have specific questions, Alan Sands is happy to explain answers to you. However, please remember that Alan is an entertainer, not a doctor, and anything he shares with you is to be only used as general guidance. If you have medical or psychological reasons for using hypnosis, consulting a professional may be his only advice. More often Alan will recommend books wherein you can learn more, or he will direct you to people who may be able to answer your specific questions thoroughly.