From ArticleWorld

There are many different theories of what exactly constitutes hypnosis and, indeed, some scientists doubt it constitutes anything more than a party trick but the more common view is that it is a natural altered state of consciousness where the conscious or analytical mind is bypassed in favour of the subconscious or creative mind. By using the creative mind, the subject is able to use suggestion to change or improve behaviour.

The key to successful hypnotism seems to be a narrowing of the sense of concentration to the point where all else is disregarded except for the change being elicited.

Different theories

Some theories maintain that only susceptible or gullible people are able to be hypnotized whilst for others, the strong willed are the best subjects as they are able to use their imaginations more creatively. For Pavlov, hypnotism was a state of partial sleep whereas subjects who have been hypnotized declare that their perceptions of smells, sounds and feelings had never been clearer. In one physiological definition, alpha brain waves are the ones responsible for the hypnotic state while for another, the theta brain wave was desirable.

Uses of hypnosis

Hypnosis is largely considered effective as part of a medical or psychological process rather than hypnotherapy working alone to change behaviour. It is applied in the area of pain relief, weight loss, and irritable bowel syndrome as well as in the lessening of anxiety with considerable success. As a treatment for those wishing to stop smoking, however, the results are not so conclusive.

It is also used in dental clinics to ease the procedure, mainly as it decreases anxiety, in the making of childbirth painless and as a forensic tool in criminal investigations with some countries accepting testimonies gained under hypnosis.

Its use in bringing repressed memories to the surface is one which is very popular in the movies, but considerably less so in the judgement of behavioural scientists. In their view, the power of suggestion has more of a role in this process than actual memories.