Let's get hypnotized!


After my last post, I became more and more interested in the idea of hypnosis. For my senior day at my high school, 12 seniors go up on stage and were hypnotized by the hypnotist. One of the 12 happened to be my best friend and her recalling of it really made me believe that hypnosis was real, meanwhile it was obvious that other people on stage were faking or acting. So I thought I'd look into what exactly makes you hypnotized and if there are really some people who can't undergo it. 


The technical definition of hypnosis is as follows: hypnosis is a cooperative interaction in which the participant responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist. Basically this isn't really saying much. But the participant has to be open to be putting into this "mid-sleep" as it's called. When we are sleeping our mind is still functioning which is why we can dream, hypnosis is the state between being awake and being asleep. It's almost like the purgatory of the mind. If the participant is willing to enter that state, the hypnosis is able to work. While many have a stereotypical view of the hypnotist forcing the participant to participate in embarrassing actions, the scientific purpose of hypnotism is to use the hypnotist as a coach to reach your desired outcome. How hypnosis effects people varies from person to person. Some people can carry out full conversations while still in the hypnotic state, while others appear to be completely unconscious.

One very interesting study was completed by a professor at Harvard University, testing the effects of hypnosis on women undergoing breast reduction surgery. The study included eighteen women that were all undergoing breast reduction surgery to help minimize the strains on their back or other various reasons. In the study six of the women underwent standard care, six underwent psychological support before and after surgery, and six underwent hypnosis before and after surgery, all from the same doctors. Astonishgly all the women that went under hypnosis healed faster than all the other patients. Because of the small sample size scientists are skeptical of the results but similar studies have shown the same effect. A separate studied examined patients undergoing mending of broken bones and once again those were hypnotized proved to heal faster. I thought it was very interesting that simply the way we look at things or have our mind look at our own recovery can actually speed up the process.

Hypnosis hasn't shown to just be beneficial during the healing process. According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, hypnotism has been shown to have varying strides in medicine in things such as gastronomical disease (i.e. Crohn's Disease), burns, childbirth and more. I feel like more research should be put into how this is a beneficial treatment for not only medical use, but to help those who are psychologically damaged as well. Many hypnotists have been cited saying that those who aren't open to the hypnotism aren't able to participate so maybe if this becomes a more widespread idea hypnotism can become a regularly used medical practice.


I believe hypnosis is one of those concepts where we lead ourselves to believe it'll works and it does. For example people who go to parties and are informed there is alcohol there; everyone will act drunk due to the belief that they are consuming alcoholic beverages. I believe it is same with hypnosis; we fool ourselves into believing that we are in an unconscious state and partake in actions that we are soon to forget. The brain is an amazing tool, false memory often occurs when somebody suggests to you that there was an event that happened thereafter one starts to remember something that clearly was never happening to begin with. Why does this relate to hypnosis? Simple. There are instances where a person recalls the occurrence or doesn't recall it all due to the functioning of the brain. Upon a hypnotizer telling a person to remember or not to remember in their conscious state they adhere to the suggestion creating a memory of either to remember or not to remember. Same thing can be said with repressed memories there are things that we want to forget so we account for them by leading ourselves that they never happened and opposite for things that did happen. I so strongly believe that hypnosis falls under one of these blankets.

I agree with Anthony; and perhaps what he is also hinting towards is the idea of Placebo effect where in the subject is given a medication that he or she perceives will help, although it actually has no proven therapeutic effect for his or her particular condition. This could be in forms of sugar pills or fake surgeries etc and about 30% of the time, they do work. This probably happens because the subject undergoes a psychological response where in he or she may start to believe that the certain medication may actually be helpful. This reminded me of the class discussion on wether prayer helps or not. Although quite different from the actual definition of placebo, it somehow still rings a bell. People who really have faith in the power of prayer have usually seen their prayers being answered in some form or another. Just like liebovicis study could have been due to chance, probability that the chances of hypnosis and placebo working could also be due to chance. So I wonder to what extent could we label hypnosis as just a work of chance?

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