People have been pondering and arguing over hypnosis for more than 200 years, but science has yet to fully explain how it actually happens. We see what a person does under hypnosis, but it isn't clear why he or she does it. This puzzle is really a small piece in a much bigger puzzle: how the human mind works. It's unlikely that scientists will arrive at a definitive explanation of the mind in the foreseeable future, so it's a good bet hypnosis will remain something of a mystery as well.
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We have, however, come a long way from the days of Mesmer’s animal magnetism. The increasing interest in mindfulness meditation suggests that mainstream acceptance of the mind-body connection is growing. This year, two well-received books by serious science journalists, Marchant’s Cure, out in January, and Erik Vance’s Suggestible You, out this month, explore this territory — the demonstrable results of hypnosis, faith, and even magic — long dismissed as pseudoscience or explained away as the placebo effect. Just last month, NPR reported that placebo pills work even when people know they’re taking a placebo. “Those are real, biological changes underlying those differences in your symptoms,” Marchant told Science of Us earlier this year. It’s all in your mind. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real.
Many religions do not condone the practice of hypnotherapy. Leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science religions oppose the use of hypnotherapy and advise their members to avoid it completely, whether for entertainment or therapy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints approves it for medical purposes, but cautions members against allowing themselves to be hypnotized for entertainment or demonstration purposes.
Jump up ^ The revised criteria, etc. are described in Yeates, Lindsay B., A Set of Competency and Proficiency Standards for Australian Professional Clinical Hypnotherapists: A Descriptive Guide to the Australian Hypnotherapists' Association Accreditation System (Second, Revised Edition), Australian Hypnotherapists' Association, (Sydney), 1999. ISBN 0-9577694-0-7.
The song had all the potential to become a surefire hit, from JC’s come-hither vocals to the snakecharmer hypnosis of the production. — Bianca Gracie, Billboard, "In Defense of JC Chasez, *NSYNC's Underappreciated Boy Band Frontman," 24 Apr. 2018 There was even a time when people worried about highway hypnosis, the tendency for smooth, uninterrupted freeways to lull drivers to their doom. — Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Driving Without a Smartphone," 10 July 2018 Melissa Errico stars as the hypnosis-seeking Daisy with Stephen Bogardus as the doctor who prefers her past life to her present one. — Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "11 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 21 June 2018 Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger says hypnosis is used by trained professionals in only a few cases. — Fox News, "Texas death row inmates push for forensic hypnosis ban," 14 May 2018 Kurczewski thought hypnosis could help get a clear story out of Teri. — jsonline.com, "CHAPTER 5: THE GIRL IN THE CAFÉ," 27 Sep. 2017 The most worrisome of all to Orloff are apps offering help for people experiencing suicide ideation or seeking anxiety release hypnosis. — Ken Alltucker, Alex Connor And Jayne O'donnell, USA TODAY, "Mobile therapy apps: With suicide rates on the rise, can text chats rescue those on the edge?," 15 June 2018 More recently, Sirhan's lawyers have explored whether he was hypnotized to begin shooting his gun when given a certain cue, even hiring a renowned expert in hypnosis from Harvard to meet with Sirhan. — The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn't believe it was Sirhan Sirhan," 27 May 2018 More recently, Sirhan’s lawyers have explored whether he was hypnotized to begin shooting his gun when given a certain cue, even hiring a renowned expert in hypnosis from Harvard to meet with Sirhan. — Author: Tom Jackman, Anchorage Daily News, "Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan.," 26 May 2018
Evidence from randomized controlled trials indicates that hypnosis, relaxation, and meditation techniques can reduce anxiety, particularly that related to stressful situations, such as receiving chemotherapy (see box). They are also effective for insomnia, particularly when the techniques are integrated into a package of cognitive therapy (including, for example, sleep hygiene). A systematic review showed that hypnosis enhances the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy for conditions such as phobia, obesity, and anxiety.
This popular representation bears little resemblance to actual hypnotism, of course. In fact, modern understanding of hypnosis contradicts this conception on several key points. Subjects in a hypnotic trance are not slaves to their "masters" -- they have absolute free will. And they're not really in a semi-sleep state -- they're actually hyperattentive.
Whereas the older "depth scales" tried to infer the level of "hypnotic trance" from supposed observable signs such as spontaneous amnesia, most subsequent scales have measured the degree of observed or self-evaluated responsiveness to specific suggestion tests such as direct suggestions of arm rigidity (catalepsy). The Stanford, Harvard, HIP, and most other susceptibility scales convert numbers into an assessment of a person's susceptibility as "high", "medium", or "low". Approximately 80% of the population are medium, 10% are high, and 10% are low. There is some controversy as to whether this is distributed on a "normal" bell-shaped curve or whether it is bi-modal with a small "blip" of people at the high end. Hypnotizability Scores are highly stable over a person's lifetime. Research by Deirdre Barrett has found that there are two distinct types of highly susceptible subjects, which she terms fantasizers and dissociaters. Fantasizers score high on absorption scales, find it easy to block out real-world stimuli without hypnosis, spend much time daydreaming, report imaginary companions as a child, and grew up with parents who encouraged imaginary play. Dissociaters often have a history of childhood abuse or other trauma, learned to escape into numbness, and to forget unpleasant events. Their association to "daydreaming" was often going blank rather than creating vividly recalled fantasies. Both score equally high on formal scales of hypnotic susceptibility.
Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH) is an integrated psychological therapy employing clinical hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The use of CBT in conjunction with hypnotherapy may result in greater treatment effectiveness. A meta-analysis of eight different researches revealed "a 70% greater improvement" for patients undergoing an integrated treatment to those using CBT only.