How Does Hypnosis Work: Five Common Questions

Q. How does hypnosis work? I am not a very imaginative person. Can I still be hypnotized?

A. Probably. Studies have found that there is no correlation between having an active imagination and being easy to hypnotize. Scientists have also found that there is no single personality type that is best suited to hypnosis. How does hypnosis work then? The neurological mechanisms are still unknown although the phenomenon is well documented.

Q. How does hypnosis work? Are some people easier to hypnotize than others?

A. Absolutely. Studies have proven that there are people who are more or less susceptible to hypnosis. The Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales measure people from 0 (cannot be hypnotized) to 12 (respond to all hypnotic suggestions). How does hypnosis work? Most of us fall in the middle range between five and seven. Only five percent of the population scores a 0. Interestingly, this rating doesn’t change over time. It is as consistent as your IQ score.

Q. How does hypnosis work? Will I be put to sleep?

A. Contrary to the depiction of hypnosis in Hollywood movies, being hypnotized doesn’t induce sleep. Instead, you enter into a hyper-attentive and hyper-responsive state. How does hypnosis work? The key is to enter into a state of “flow”, where you feel mentally relaxed and absorbed. You should feel as if it takes no effort to make a decision or act in any way. It’s interesting to note that your body doesn’t have to be physically relaxed in order for hypnosis to work. Hypnosis can be attained just as easily when vigorously riding a bicycle, for example, as long as one is in flow.

Q. How does hypnosis work? What happens to my mind when I’m hypnotized?

A. Despite a wealth of research, scientists still don’t know what neurological mechanisms bring about a state of hypnosis. We need to further develop our understanding of the unconscious mind in order to arrive at any conclusions. But what we do know is that there are genuine neurological changes during hypnosis; the state is different from normal consciousness. How does hypnosis work? It seems to change your perception of sensory experiences. For example, it modifies the way your brain interprets and processes information. It may also modulate activity in the anterior cingulated cortex—the part of the brain that regulates what to pay attention to, what to ignore and how much emotional significance to assign to sensations among other variables. This could be why hypnosis is so effective for pain management.

Q. How does hypnosis work? Will I give up control?

A. No. You will still hold the power to resist or control what happens while under hypnosis. How does hypnosis work? Hypnosis calms our conscious mind and brings our subconscious to the fore, at a time when it is open to suggestion. This openness, however, doesn’t imply a loss of free will or moral judgment. Instead, scientists have found that people frequently become highly effective problem solvers while under hypnosis.

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