For the states basic methods of neuropsychological examination of the child by hypnotic drugs, see Sleep and Unconsciousness. Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. The term may also refer to an art, skill, or act of inducing hypnosis.
Theories explaining what occurs during hypnosis fall into two groups. Altered state theories see hypnosis as an altered state of mind or trance, marked by a level of awareness different from the ordinary conscious state. During hypnosis, a person is said to have heightened focus and concentration. The person can concentrate intensely on a specific thought or memory, while blocking out sources of distraction. Hypnotised subjects are said to show an increased response to suggestions. A person in a state of hypnosis has focused attention, and has increased suggestibility.
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. It could be said that hypnotic suggestion is explicitly intended to make use of the placebo effect. For example, in 1994, Irving Kirsch characterised hypnosis as a “nondeceptive placebo”, i. In Trance on Trial, a 1989 text directed at the legal profession, legal scholar Alan W. Scheflin and psychologist Jerrold Lee Shapiro observed that the “deeper” the hypnotism, the more likely a particular characteristic is to appear, and the greater extent to which it is manifested. The earliest definition of hypnosis was given by Braid, who coined the term “hypnotism” as an abbreviation for “neuro-hypnotism”, or nervous sleep, which he contrasted with normal sleep, and defined as: “a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention of the mental and visual eye, on one object, not of an exciting nature.
The real origin and essence of the hypnotic condition, is the induction of a habit of abstraction or mental concentration, in which, as in reverie or spontaneous abstraction, the powers of the mind are so much engrossed with a single idea or train of thought, as, for the nonce, to render the individual unconscious of, or indifferently conscious to, all other ideas, impressions, or trains of thought. Therefore, Braid defined hypnotism as a state of mental concentration that often leads to a form of progressive relaxation, termed “nervous sleep”. Hypnosis typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestions for imaginative experiences will be presented. The hypnotic induction is an extended initial suggestion for using one’s imagination, and may contain further elaborations of the introduction. A hypnotic procedure is used to encourage and evaluate responses to suggestions. Janet, near the turn of the century, and more recently Ernest Hilgard , have defined hypnosis in terms of dissociation. Spiegel and Spiegel have implied that hypnosis is a biological capacity.
Hypnosis is normally preceded by a “hypnotic induction” technique. There are several different induction techniques. One of the most influential methods was Braid’s “eye-fixation” technique, also known as “Braidism”. The patient must be made to understand that he is to keep the eyes steadily fixed on the object, and the mind riveted on the idea of that one object. Braid later acknowledged that the hypnotic induction technique was not necessary in every case, and subsequent researchers have generally found that on average it contributes less than previously expected to the effect of hypnotic suggestions.
Variations and alternatives to the original hypnotic induction techniques were subsequently developed. When James Braid first described hypnotism, he did not use the term “suggestion” but referred instead to the act of focusing the conscious mind of the subject upon a single dominant idea. Braid’s main therapeutic strategy involved stimulating or reducing physiological functioning in different regions of the body. I define hypnotism as the induction of a peculiar psychical condition which increases the susceptibility to suggestion. Often, it is true, the sleep that may be induced facilitates suggestion, but it is not the necessary preliminary. It is suggestion that rules hypnotism. Bernheim’s conception of the primacy of verbal suggestion in hypnotism dominated the subject throughout the 20th century, leading some authorities to declare him the father of modern hypnotism.
Contemporary hypnotism uses a variety of suggestion forms including direct verbal suggestions, “indirect” verbal suggestions such as requests or insinuations, metaphors and other rhetorical figures of speech, and non-verbal suggestion in the form of mental imagery, voice tonality, and physical manipulation. A distinction is commonly made between suggestions delivered “permissively” and those delivered in a more “authoritarian” manner. Some hypnotists view suggestion as a form of communication that is directed primarily to the subject’s conscious mind, whereas others view it as a means of communicating with the “unconscious” or “subconscious” mind. The first neuropsychological theory of hypnotic suggestion was introduced early by James Braid who adopted his friend and colleague William Carpenter’s theory of the ideo-motor reflex response to account for the phenomenon of hypnotism. The Stanford, Harvard, HIP, and most other susceptibility scales convert numbers into an assessment of a person’s susceptibility as “high”, “medium”, or “low”. Individuals with dissociative identity disorder have the highest hypnotisability of any clinical group, followed by those with posttraumatic stress disorder.