Hypnosis can be defined as:
A 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.
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 opposed to normalsleep, 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 Division 30 Definition and Description of Hypnosis
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. When using hypnosis, one person (the subject) is guided by another (the hypnotist) to respond to suggestions for changes in subjective experience, alterations in perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. Persons can also learn self-hypnosis, which is the act of administering hypnotic procedures on one’s own. If the subject responds to hypnotic suggestions, it is generally inferred that hypnosis has been induced. Many believe that hypnotic responses and experiences are characteristic of a hypnotic state. While some think that it is not necessary to use the word “hypnosis” as part of the hypnotic induction, others view it as essential.
According to “state theory”, it is a mental state, while, according to “non-state theory”, it is imaginative role-enactment. Hypnosis is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary instructions and suggestions. Hypnotic suggestions may be delivered by a hypnotist in the presence of the subject, or may be self-administered (“self-suggestion” or “autosuggestion”). The use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes is referred to as “hypnotherapy“, while its use as a form of entertainment for an audience is known as “stage hypnosis“.
The term “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word hypnos which means sleep. The words hypnosis and hypnotism both derive from the term neuro-hypnotism (nervous sleep) coined by the Scottish surgeon James Braid around 1841. Braid based his practice on that developed by Franz Mesmerand his followers (“Mesmerism” or “animal magnetism“), but differed in his theory as to how the procedure worked.
Contrary to a popular misconception—that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep—contemporary research suggests that hypnotic subjects are fully awake and are focusing attention, with a corresponding decrease in their peripheral awareness. Subjects also show an increased response to suggestions. In the first book on the subject, Neurypnology (1843), Braid described “hypnotism” as a state of physical relaxation accompanied and induced by mental concentration (“abstraction”). In addition, psychiatric nurses in most medical facilities are allowed to administer hypnosis to patients in order to relieve symptoms such as anxiety, arousal, negative behaviors, uncontrollable behavior, and improve self esteem and confidence only when they have been completely trained about their clinical side effects and while under supervision when administering it.
Franz Mesmer (1734–1815) believed that there is a magnetic force or “fluid” within the universe that influences the health of the human body. He experimented with magnets to influence this field and, so, cause healing. By around 1774, he had concluded that the same effects could be created by passing the hands, at a distance, in front of the subject’s body, referred to as making “Mesmeric passes.” The word mesmerize originates from the name of Franz Mesmer, and was intentionally used to separate its users from the various “fluid” and “magnetic” theories embedded within the label “magnetism”.
In 1784, at the request of King Louis XVI, a Board of Inquiry started to investigate whether Animal Magnetism existed. Three of the board members include a founding father of modern chemistry Antoine Lavoisier, Benjamin Franklin and an expert in pain control Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. They investigated the practices of a disaffected student of Mesmer, one Charles d’Eslon (1750–1786), and despite the fact that they accepted that Mesmer’s results were valid, their placebo-controlled experiments following d’Eslon’s practices convinced them that Mesmerism’s were most likely due to belief and imagination rather than to any sort of invisible energy (“animal magnetism“) transmitted from the body of the Mesmerist.
In writing the majority opinion, Franklin said, “This fellow Mesmer is not flowing anything from his hands that I can see. Therefore, this mesmerism must be a fraud.” Mesmer left Paris and went back to Vienna to practise mesmerism.
Some of my favourite videos:
1) THE master of hypnosis Derren Brown:
2) My mentor and very good friend Mark Davies, showing a very fast induction during his show:
3) Me a few years back :p
4) Patrick Jane as “The Mentalist”, showing his hypnotic skills:
5) The legendary Kreskin :