Hypnosis can be different things to different people; some have strong beliefs in its existence and subsequent benefits and others not so. Some believe that hypnosis is simply a result of conformity, as defined by Solomon Asch in his 1951 experiments. Asch's experiment illustrates how people could be seen to 'conform' to the therapy being provided (see Appendix 1). Certainly in history too Hypnosis has had its pioneers and critics, to quote Parisian Neurologist professor Jean Marie Charcot (1882)
''Hypnosis is no more than a manifestation of hysteria''
Many definitions of Hypnosis exist and naturally are influenced by the author or practitioner's viewpoint and personal experience with hypnosis. In Michael Heap & Windy Dryden's 'Hypnotherapy a Handbook (1991)' they states that:
''Hypnosis is a psycholigal phenomenon, but about which there is much misunderstanding and disagreement.''
Within science there is no debate as to whether hypnosis exists or works, simply that it is difficult to agree on just what it is and how it works. Having experienced Hypnosis myself, I can identify with Ursula James definition of Hypnotherapy in 'Amazing You, Transform your life with Hypnosis (2007)':
''Hypnosis is the induction of a trance like condition, but when in it, the patient is actually in an enhanced state of awareness, concentrating entirely on the hypnotists voice. In this completely relaxed state, the conscious mind is supressed and the subconscious mind is revealed.''
Once in a state of total deep relaxation, this process of Hypnosis then enables you to listen to the therapist, who is then able to suggest ideas, concepts and lifestyle adaptions, the seeds of which become firmly planted. This practice of promoting healing or positive development is defined as hypnotherapy. This is confirmed by the The British Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis which states:
''Hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist''
Hypnosis is a tool for change and can be used for the treatment and relief of a wide range of psychological, physical and behavioural issues. It can treat and relieve a range of conditions and symptoms, alter unwanted behaviour patterns and create new ones, as well as being used creatively to enhance sporting, academic and other types of personal performance.
The level of hypnosis that is needed can alter from person to person. Some people may only need a light level of hypnosis, some a moderate level, while another may require a fairly deep level of hypnosis to bring on effective and helpful changes. Being in a hypnotic state or trance is something most people have more than likely already experienced many times in their life, although they may not have been previously aware of it.
For example, on a regular basis we experience a light to moderate level of hypnosis: when we are driving, or when we daydream and forget about what is going on around us and our awareness becomes more internally focused. Another example is when we are in a trance like state before we go to sleep each night and before we awake in the morning.