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1. What is hypnosis? Does hypnosis exist? How and why did the concept of hypnosis evolve?

1.1. Hypnosis arose out of an operator-assisted altered state induction model.

"In the author's experience there can be developed in a person a special state of awareness that is termed, for the sake of convenience and historical considerations, hypnosis or trance.

"This state is characterized by the subject's ability to retain the same capacities possessed in the waking state and to manifest these capacities in ways possibly, though not necessarily, dissimilar to the usual actions of conscious awareness.

"Trance permits the operator to evoke in a controlled manner the same mental mechanisms that are operative spontaneously in everyday life."

The late master clinical Hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson

Modern theories of hypnosis have drastically changed the way we view this subject. Because the most common popular view of hypnosis is as an altered state of consciousness of some kind (i.e. trance), this will be used as a departure point to explain how hypnosis (1) has been viewed since the 18th Century when it was first systematically studied and mass interest first arose, and (2) has been deconstructed as a unitary concept by some modern scientific theorists of the subject.

The most popular traditional view of hypnosis is a sleep-like state induced by a procedure of some kind by an operator and in which certain special behaviors seem to result; particularly extreme responsiveness to suggestions made during the hypnotic process, including physiological responses, and where anomalies of the experience of volition and memory are consistently reported by subjects.

Therapeutic interest in hypnosis results mostly from the fact that response to suggestions apparently includes some increased capacity to access functions which are normally considered outside of conscious control and memory. Popular interest in hypnosis stems from the therapeutic interest, and because of the long associations of hypnosis with spiritual and secular traditions of self-improvement, self-insight, or self-fulfillment. There has also been interest in hypnotic methods in various areas of medical and scientific research.

A truly balanced and comprehensive study of hypnotic phenomena would probably have to include its relationship with neuroscience, cognitive science, models of subjective experience, models of creative thinking processes, theories of psycho-social development, theories of human language and symbol processing, and various philosophical stances that are still of interest today (such as moral and ethical considerations of various conceptions of the human will and responsibility for actions, and such as the legal status of testimony revealed with the help of hypnosis).

Based on a list developed by Zeig in 1988, the following frameworks can be identified:

  1. Janet (and later Hilgard) thought of hypnosis as dissociation, meaning splitting off of aspects of consciousness from each other in some way, with one seemingly being dominant at any given time, but others able to influence behavior at the same time, or to replace the dominant aspect. This is related to certain theories of how Multiple Personality Disorder develops. Traditional theories of spiritualist trances have often involved some notion of dissociation as well.
  2. Sarbin and Coe describe hypnosis in terms of role playing, acting out the expected role of a hypnotized subject in response to the relationship with the hypnotist. Spanos is also a leading proponent of this view.
  3. T.X. Barber defined hypnosis in terms of non-hypnotic behavioral parameters, such as task motivation and the labeling of a situations as 'hypnotic.'
  4. Weitzenhoffer first considered hypnosis a state of enhanced suggestibility, but later a form of interpersonal influence via suggestion.
  5. Gil and Brenmand described hypnosis in psychoanalytic terms as regression in service of the ego. Freud, though not highly important in the history of hypnosis, had great interest in it initially, and concluded, once he deviated from Charcot's neurological theories, that it represented an eroticized dependent relationship between hypnotist and subject.
  6. Edmonston assessed hypnosis as relaxation (based on a Pavlovian theory of sleep as partial cortical inhibition). This is linked historically to various physiological theories of how 'conversion' works in fervent religious activities, such as that of psychiatrist William Sargant.
  7. Spiegel and Spiegel implied that hypnosis was a distinct biological capacity.
  8. Milton Erickson held that hypnosis was a unique, inner-directed altered state of functioning.
  9. Various followers of Erickson's lead have proposed that hypnosis is best defined subjectively and phenomenologically as a process between individuals, and a communications strategy for the achievement of therapeutic goals, with or without recourse to 'trance.'
  10. We should also reserve at least one category for the numerous esoteric, non-scientific, or archaic models which view hypnosis in general as a condition of subtle unidentified or unobservable bodily fluids, a unique electromagnetic field phenomenon, or the result of supernatural influences or contacts, or contact with alternate realms of existence (in a non-metaphorical sense).



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Now, read some articles on NLP from the web NLP authority,
- What is NLP?
- Introduction to NLP
- The NLP Communication Model
- Strategies
- What is it Like to take an NLP Practitioner Training?
- What is it Like to take an NLP Master Practitioner Training?
- What is it Like to take an NLP Trainer's Training?
- What Opportunities exist in the field of NLP?

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