How Does Hypnosis Work?

Hypnosis is a subject which has caused divided opinion and controversy in medical circles for centuries.  Nowadays there is a general agreement that hypnosis does work and has great benefits, but there is still no agreed “correct” answer as to exactly how it works.

For many years a great many people doubted that hypnosis was actually possible at all.  In fact even today it is a commonly held belief that people just pretend to be hypnotized.  This is partly due to stage hypnosis shows which are primarily designed to entertain rather than to treat underlying conditions.

This is in spite of studies which would seem to prove the contrary.  For example, in the late 1950s, Stanford University concluded that 95 percent of people can be hypnotized to some extent.  This measurement of susceptibility is today called the “Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales”.

So how does hypnosis work?

The most commonly held view of how hypnosis works is that during hypnosis, the hypnotist will conduct an “induction” session, causing the patient to become gradually more relaxed.  Techniques of suggestion are used and during this period, the analytical left side of the brain relinquishes control and the less analytical right side of the brain becomes more dominant.  The conscious part of the brain is temporarily switched off and the hypnotist is able to address issues of concern to the patient by directly communicating with the subconscious part of the brain.

Once the conscious brain is no longer in control, the hypnotist can use various techniques to “talk” to the patient’s subconscious.  No matter how determined a person is to conquer an irrational fear, for example the fear of spiders, the fear is actually rooted in the subconscious and the conscious mind needs to be bypassed to address the fear.  Many people have conquered their fear of spiders, heights, public speaking and managed to stop smoking through hypnosis.

Although it still provokes much debate, the majority of scientific opinion seems to agree with the fact that hypnosis does work and is a useful patient treatment therapy.

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