Hypnosis, special psychological state with certain physiological attributes, resembling sleep only superficially and marked by a functioning of the individual at a level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state. This state is characterized by a degree of increased receptiveness and responsiveness in which inner experiential perceptions are given as much significance as is generally given only to external reality.


The hypnotic state

The hypnotized individual appears to heed only the communications of the hypnotist and typically responds in an uncritical, automatic fashion while ignoring all aspects of the environment other than those pointed out by the hypnotist. In a hypnotic state an individual tends to see, feel, smell, and otherwise perceive in accordance with the hypnotist’s suggestions, even though these suggestions may be in apparent contradiction to the actual stimuli present in the environment. The effects of hypnosis are not limited to sensory change; even the subject’s memory and awareness of self may be altered by suggestion, and the effects of the suggestions may be extended (posthypnotically) into the subject’s subsequent waking activity.


Uses of Hypnotherapy

The potential held by hypnosis for modifying perception is also what makes it particularly fitting as a complementary medicine approach.

Hypnotherapy is currently used, both in the United States and in Europe, to relieve several medical conditions and to help people let go of negative habits that can have a serious impact on their health


Some cases in which hypnotherapy has been found useful include:

People undergo hypnotherapy to seek help in managing many different conditions, such as IBS and insomnia.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Studies have suggested that hypnosis can relieve IBS symptoms in the short-term, though long-term effectiveness has not yet been conclusively tested.
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders. Hypnosis can help to manage insomnia, nightmares, and sleep terrors (which tend to affect children between the ages of 7 and 12), as well as some more unusual sleep disorders, such as sleepwalking. Relaxation and self-control suggestions are used to address these conditions.
  • Migraine. Some research suggests that hypnosis can be effective in treating migraines and tension headaches, and it might be a desirable alternative treatment thanks to the lack of side effects.
  • Clinical pain control. Hypnosis can have analgesic effects in the case of acute clinical pain, which usually means pain resulting from surgical procedures. Some studies also indicate that hypnosis may help women to manage childbirth pain, though supporting evidence is mixed.
  • Quitting smoking. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health detail studies suggesting that hypnotherapy may help people who want to give up smoking, especially if paired with other means of treatment. But in this case, too, supporting evidence is mixed.