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For years, hypnosis, formerly known as magnetism, has been attributed a supernatural origin and, in fact, has fueled popular superstitions. It is a state of modified consciousness, caused by a hypnotist. How does a good magnetizer affect a person's physical or mental state? Under hypnosis, is the brain subjected to particular psychic processes, and is a subject in a trance devoid of any will? This type of question reinforces the idea that this practice belongs to the realm of the supernatural.

A spirit under influence

Researchers have been studying the phenomenon of hypnosis for two centuries; the word was introduced in the mid-nineteenth century by English physician James Braid (1795-1860). However, it was between 1950 and 1980 that decisive scientific research was conducted on the phenomenon and on the possibility of raising awareness of clients, as they are now called, to take control. These influences include a decrease in alertness, the suggestion of certain representations, reactions and sensations, as well as physical changes.

Post-hypnotic suggestions are the indications inscribed in the unconscious of a hypnotized subject who will, once his state of consciousness is found again, have the impression of acting on his own initiative. Psychic processes do not occur during hypnosis: indeed, it is only a form of extreme suggestion.

With the discovery of connections between the nervous and immune systems, hypnosis has taken a new dimension in the treatment of pathology or dependencies. Research on hypnosis, however, shows that the reaction is subject-specific. There are indeed people totally insensitive to this form of suggestion.

Medical Definition of Hypnosis

For Milton Erickson, "hypnosis provides easy access to the patient's unconscious mind. It allows one to deal directly with those unconscious forces that underlie personality disturbances. Only hypnosis can give easy, fast and wide access to the unconscious which is essential in the treatment of acute personality disorders."

The three methods of hypnosis

In the popular belief, the hypnotist is a kind of magician fixing his subject right in the eyes by intimating: "Sleep, I want it!" In reality, several methods make it possible to reach hypnosis. Among the three most common are fascination: the hypnotizing subject fixes a luminous object or reflecting light, like a pendulum. There is also a suggestion method of counting aloud. The hypnotist indicates that he will count to ten, for example, and that at the end of this count, the client will plunge into a hypnotic state. By fixing, the magnetizer fixes the person right in the eyes, enjoining him to torpor until his eyes are closed. Common point of all these techniques: the suggestion accompanies the customer at all stages, from relaxation to real fatigue. It is also the suggestion that induces the relaxed state of consciousness and annihilates doubts, real brakes to hypnosis.

Indeed, a person can not be hypnotized without his consent or if he is skeptical. Thus, the popular belief that one can be plunged into a trance against one's will and, moreover, under this influence to perform various reprehensible actions, is unfounded. In fact, the client, and he alone, spontaneously places himself in this modified state of consciousness. Specialists call this phenomenon: autogenic training.