What is Hypnosis?
There are so many books, papers and web pages which go into the history, theory, and detail of medical use and therapeutic efficacy. Instead of doing that here, we'll give you a simple model of what Hypnosis is.
At its most fundamental, Hypnosis is a means of accessing unconscious resources. It enables you to access the REM state (Rapid Eye Movement, usually found during sleep) while awake.
Hypnosis involves trance, as a means of bypassing what's referred to as the Critical Faculty in order to get to the unconscious resources. The Critical Faculty is what makes us analytical and prevents us from taking everything at face value, but it can be suspended, for example when watching a TV programme or watching a film, and during Hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a relationship between a hypnotist and the subject where there is a feedback loop that causes a hypnotic state. This hypnotic state allows information to move between the conscious and unconscious mind freely, without the Critical Faculty second-guessing everything.
Hypnosis is typically used in two ways - stage hypnosis and therapeutic hypnosis.
You may have seen stage hypnotists get people to bark like a dog or quack like a duck for the entertainment of the crowd, so you might think that Hypnosis will mean you're out of control and that stuff is being done to you. But the reality is entirely different - in a stage show, people are there to be entertained and when they volunteer, they know what type of thing they're volunteering to do. We've all seen the shows. What a stage hypnotist can't do is get the subject to do anything their unconscious mind does not want to do.
The same is the case in therapeutic hypnosis, also known as Hypnotherapy. During these sessions, the hypnotist and subject talk about the purpose for the session and focus on making the changes necessary for the unconscious to modify how it operates. The subject is always in control.
In Hypnotherapy, the hypnotist facilitates changes at a deeply unconscious level so that those changes are fundamental and long-lasting.