The British Medical Association and the American Medical Association has
called it "a temporary condition of altered attention in the subject that may
be induced by another person," (Compton\'s Multimedia Encyclopedia) but there is
still much about hypnosis that is not understood. Because it resembles normal
sleep, it was studied and was found that the brain waves of hypnotized people
are more similar to the patterns of deep relaxation than anything else. Rather
than a psychic or mystical idea, hypnosis is now looked upon as a form of
highly focused concentration in which outside influences are ignored.
The most known feature of the hypnotic trance is that hypnotized person
becomes easily influenced by the suggestions others-usually the hypnotist. They
retain their abilities to act and are able to walk, talk, speak, and respond to
questions; but their perceptions can be altered or distorted by external
suggestions. At the command of the hypnotist, subjects may lose all feeling in
a place on the body, and any kind of pain will not cause them any pain. The
heartbeat can be slowed or quickened, and a rise in temperature and perspiration
can be created. They can be commanded to experience visual or auditory
hallucinations or live the past as if it were the present. Also, recently a
scientist discovered that the way the subject\'s mind experiences time can be
altered so that hours or even weeks can pass in second, from the subjects point
of view. Subjects may forget part or all of the hypnotic experience or recall
things that they had forgotten. The hypnotist may also make "posthypnotic
suggestions" that are instructions to the subject to respond to a something
after awakening. For example, the hypnotist might suggest that, after the
subject wakes up he will have an urge to remove his left shoe, and the more the
subject resists, the greater the urge to remove it will be, and once it is
removed the urge leaves. These suggestions are sometimes used by specialists
to repress or suggest away symptoms in a patient such as anxiety, itching, or
Hypnosis is produced essentially by creating a deep relaxation and
focused concentration in the subject. They then become mostly unresponsive to
ordinary forms of stimulation, and although they are sometimes told to sleep,
they are also told to listen and be ready to respond to commands made by the
hypnotist. The word sleep is used in hypnosis not to induce actual sleep, but
in practice it is understood that sleep is simply the hypnotic trance. The
prefix hypno- is named after the Greek god Hypno which means "sleep." In this
state they will accept commands, even if the suggestions are illogical. In
general, however, subjects cannot be made to do something that conflicts with
their moral sense. This is because there are beliefs that are impossible to
change, because that person feels so strongly about it, subjects would not be
likely to commit murder or robbery even if the instructer told them to do so.
There are hypothetically two layers of "morals" that, of course cannot be seen.
On the first layer is the morals that were installed throughout the life of the
patient. The second layer is generally called the "fixed" morals. The
classical methods used to produce hypnosis are usually simple and frequently
employ direct commands or monotonous suggestions repeated continuously.
Subjects are requested to concentrate on the hypnotist\'s voice, or they may be
asked to concentrate on some object or to concentrate on some repetitive sound.
The hypnotist tells the subject over and over again to feel relaxed, or to let
his or her eyelids grow heavy and close, to breathe deeply and comfortably, and
to go into a deep sleep. The degree of hypnosis is tested by challenging
subjects to perform some simple task while suggesting that they cannot do it.
For instance, the hypnotist may say, "You will be unable to open your eyes no
matter how hard you try, and the more you try, the more tightly they will be
closed." The process of induction may take a few hours or a few seconds,
depending on how often the subject undergoes it, and also depends on how
willing the subject is. Usually, if suggestions are made during hypnosis that
it will be easy to induce hypnosis again, the subject will usually enter a
trance almost instantly upon an agreed signal from the hypnotist. In
conjunction with these induction methods, drugs such as sodium pentothal,
alcohol, and certain barbiturates may be used to make the procedure easier, but
these are hardly ever necessary and can sometimes even