Hypnosis In The Modern Age
Hypnosis is a
process in which critical thinking faculties of the mind are
bypassed and a type of selective thinking and perception is
Although some individuals experience an
increase in suggestibility and subjective feelings of an
altered state of consciousness, this is not true for
In fact, some supposed hypnotic indicators and
subjective changes can be achieved without relaxation or a
lengthy induction by means of simple suggestion or waking
hypnosis, a fact that increases the controversy and
misunderstandings around hypnosis and the hypnotic state.
Some theories of hypnosis attempt to describe hypnotic
phenomena in terms of brain activity while others concentrate
more on the phenomenological experience. In either case, a
fundamental distinction is between "state" and "non-state"
theories of hypnosis.
State theorists believe that an altered state of
consciousness is a core part of hypnosis, whereas non-state
theorists believe that more mundane psychological processes
such as focused attention and expectation are sufficient to
explain hypnotic phenomena.
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The precise definition of what constitutes an altered state
of consciousness is a matter of some debate. Although many
people who are hypnotized describe their experience as
"altered" it is difficult to use these terms in the absence of
a prior definition.
The American Psychological Association remains neutral in
the argument between 'state' and 'non-state' theorists.
However, this controversy may be decreasing as modern
brain-imaging techniques offer hope for an increased
understanding of the nature of hypnosis, and as the value of
both perspectives is increasingly recognized.
The following theories have been presented from highly