What is this thing called hypnosis

What is hypnosis?


Hypnosis is the name we give to a collection to phenomena and (much like love and depression). How do we define love or depression when we say some one is depressed or in love? How do we know that this particular person is head over heels in love?

In the same way hypnosis  can be understood as a naturalistic state of focused awareness.

Hypnosis is the process of communication with the unconscious mind recognizable by the presence of unconscious response to suggestion.

In other words hypnosis is characterized by the acceptance of an idea or suggestion without conscious interference. Hypnosis sometimes involves focusing on something ( you might have seen swinging pendulums, spinning hypnotic wheels, closing eyes, hanging head etc.) and all of this are methods of securing unconscious attention, establishing this unconscious communication. Hypnosis is natural, all human beings have this ability as a natural and necessary characteristic.

For those of you not conscious of what conscious or unconscious is – here goes -

A basic premise in hypnosis is that ALL information is processed by conscious and unconscious levels of awareness. We have a divided mind – a rational system and an experiential system.

The unconscious mind works as an experiential system. It is driven by emotions. It processes information automatically, rapidly and effortlessly. Events are recorded automatically and by using thoughts, metaphors, narratives, images and scripts. Events are recorded concretely.

Rational system in contrast is a logic based system. It is deliberate and slow and takes effort. So we are aware of this during the waking everyday consciousness because it is so plodding and takes effort. It has to think through things using logic and this takes time and effort. Even at that time our unconscious mind is still processing information in the background and we are not aware of it because it is effortless and automatic.

These 2 systems are independent but interact with each other. They both operate together and in alignment. Then everything seems fine with the world.


Experiential / Unconscious

Rational / Conscious

Holistic Analytical
Driven By Emotions Driven By Logic
Acts based on Gut Feelings / Instincts Acts based on conscious evaluations
Influenced by Images, Metaphors and Narratives Influenced by Words, Numbers and Images
Rapid processing of information Slow processing of information
Operates automatically and effortlessly Operates with conscious effort
Needs experience to be convinced Needs logic and evidence to be convinced
Slow to change Rapid change

Young children are mostly in this unconscious communication and so pick up a lot of stuff so quickly without conscious blocking. This is a blessing (when they learn new things that is good for their learning and progress) and a curse (since they also are exposed to the negative atmosphere around them when it so happens and take in negative comments and criticisms from others without conscious evaluation).

It is easier to show what phenomena hypnosis can show than defining what it is.

It used to be said that hypnosis is a state of consciousness.  There was some controversy around this then with some groups, which claimed that there is no specific hypnotic state since all the phenomena of hypnosis can be shown to be common to all and occurring in non-hypnotized people as well.

Self-hypnosis is similar to meditation,  mindfulness and related states. In general all hypnosis is considered self-hypnosis. The one difference between hypnosis and self-hypnosis is that the interpersonal aspect is absent or greatly minimized in self-hypnosis since a hypnotist is not present there.

Alterations of human awareness occur all the time during the course of a day. We enter into meditative states, fantasy worlds, become creative for periods of time, get absorbed in a talk or music and do not realize the passage of time, be immersed in intense feelings of some nature to the exclusion of everything else – all during the course of our day to day lives. We have experienced hypnosis – all of us doing these.