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Hypnosis is a state described as sleeplike. It is usually induced by another individual for the purpose of tapping into the unconscious mind. As a result of the hypnosis, the subject may experience forgotten or suppressed memories. Hypnosis has also been described as a way to use a person's inherent healing capabilities that usually remain inaccessible to him and outside of his control.

Purpose of Hypnosis

Hypnosis can be helpful in relaxation and pain reduction by decreasing muscle tension. Hypnosis can also reduce pain by helping the subject visualize and create an alternate reality perceived as being safe and comfortable. Many doctors now use hypnosis to overcome the pain of headaches, backaches, childbirth, cancer, severe burns, and pain and fear resulting from dental procedures. In some cases, surgeons use hypnosis in the operating room, not only to reduce the amount of anesthesia needed by the patient, but also to lessen anxiety and postoperative bleeding and swelling. In other instances, hypnosis has been found useful in reducing the severity of asthma.

Psychologists use hypnosis in treating patients to overcome negative habits, anxiety, fear and depression. Also, it is commonly used to help patients recall past events, which is useful in psychotherapy. Family physicians have recently begun to use hypnosis to treat psychosomatic illness (physical illnesses or complaints that are largely caused by psychological factors). Professionals in the field of psychotherapy have also found positive results in helping patients control appetite and reduce the levels of drugs necessary in the treatment chronic illness.


Precautions off Hypnosis

Because hypnosis can sometimes completely remove or distract people from feeling pain, it is important that a doctor or other appropriate medical specialist assess the underlying medical or psychological condition prior to hypnosis. Another important precaution when dealing with hypnosis is that, despite potential medical benefits of hypnosis, misinterpretation is possible because of the questionable reliability of the memories recalled during hypnosis. Because there is no medical degree required for the practice of hypnotherapy, persons wishing to undergo hypnosis should be sure that the therapist is well trained. It may be helpful to find a therapist who is a licensed professional in a field where hypnotherapy is part of normal practice, such as social workers and psychologists. It is important to check credentials and background when choosing a hypnotherapist.

Hypnosis is not to be considered a form of psychotherapy, nor a treatment capable of solving problems immediately or on its own. Problems and habits take time to get implanted in one's life, and it takes considerable amount of time--and often therapy--to remove them.

Description of Hypnosis

A hypnotic state results from gradually entering a state of consciousness unlike that of awareness or sleep. During this time, the attention of subjects is withdrawn from their surroundings. Most individuals can easily be hypnotized, but the depth and extent of the hypnotic state varies.

Hypnotherapy is the therapeutic use of hypnosis. In hypnotherapy, hypnosis is used by psychotherapists to modify a patient's behavior. According to the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, there is a 75-90% chance of effectively changing behavior with hypnotherapy. Once the patient has seen a hypnotherapist, self-hypnosis can be learned, and is sometimes recommended as part of the treatment plan. Self-hypnosis involves a patient using relaxation techniques and specific signals to clear his mind of extraneous thoughts and sensations.

Preparation for Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy requires only that the patient desire to change a certain type of behavior. The hypnotherapist usually prepares for the sessions by asking the subject to stare at an object, suggesting, in a soothing voice, that the eyelids are becoming heavy, that the subject relax, and that he is becoming hypnotized. Then, the hypnotherapist conveys to the subject that it will be effortless to follow the hypnotherapist's suggestions


Coming out of the hypnotic state is as simple as entering it. Waking from the hypnotic state slowly is preferable for optimal results. After hypnosis, subjects report changes in bodily sensations and describe an awareness of having gone into an altered state of mind.


Because hypnosis can sometimes completely remove or distract people from feeling pain, it is important that a doctor, or other appropriate medical specialist, assess the underlying medical or psychological condition. This assessment is important because, when using hypnosis to reduce pain or other physical symptoms, the pain may be alerting the patient to a problem that needs some other form of medical or psychological treatment. As an example, a brain tumor might be causing chronic headaches, and require immediate treatment.

Normal results

Family doctors have begun using hypnosis to treat psychosomatic illness, control appetite, and reduce the need for medication. Because of the utility of using hypnosis to reduce the sensation of pain, it can make it possible for physicians to lower dosages of pain medication in cases of chronic illness. Because hypnosis is actually an intense state of concentration, physicians have now accepted the fact that patients can regulate their own heart rate, circulation, temperature, muscle tension, and other body functions, if necessary.

Abnormal results

Hypnotherapy requires that the patient desire to change a certain type of behavior. Success is greater the more committed the subject is to change. If the patient is reluctant, hypnotherapy may be unsuccessful.


This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.


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