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The Mayo clinic definition of hypnosis

"Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration. Hypnosis is usually done with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images. When you’re under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and are more open to suggestions.

"Hypnosis can be used to help you gain control over undesired behaviors or to help you cope better with anxiety or pain. It’s important to know that although you’re more open to suggestion during hypnosis, you don’t lose control over your behavior."

This is a rather narrow definition of hypnosis.  While it is true that focus and concentration are aspects of hypnosis, it is not essential for them to be maintained throughout a hypnotic session.  It is true that hypnotists often use verbal repetition and mental images in a session, but trained hypnotists have other tools and techniques that can be implemented.    We all experience trance-like states in our every-day lives. This includes “highway hypnosis,” daydreaming states and being totally absorbed in reading a book or watching a movie.  And we all have the ability to easily shift from one state of consciousness to another.  Essentially, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.  That’s why I smile inwardly when sometimes people announce, “I can’t be hypnotized.” It is widely accepted that hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, where the subconscious level of the mind is open to receive suggestions. Consider Milton Erickson, (1901 – 1980), an American psychiatrist and hypnotherapist who had a huge impact on modern hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming.  In reference to a therapeutic setting Erickson said,”  Trance permits the operator to evoke in a controlled manner the same mental mechanisms that are operative spontaneously in everyday life." 

Perhaps the most succinct definition of hypnotism coined by Philip H. Farber and backed by brain-imaging studies is:  “Hypnosis is a set of techniques for switching brain modes from attention to introspection and back again, at will.”  The Journal of Hypnotism, Vol.29, p56. 

who can be hypnotized?

Anyone of normal intelligence, who wants to be hypnotized. 


*  Hypnosis works like a truth serum or lie detector.

*  Weak-minded people are the easiest to hypnotize.

*  The hypnotized person is asleep.

*  You can "get stuck" in a hypnotic state.

*  Hypnotists have strange powers.

*  The hypnotized person will not recall what happened during the session.

*  The hypnotized person is out of control.