Why Hypnosis? How Does It Work?


Why Hypnosis? Why do doctors and psychologists recommend it? How is it related to increased concentration and attention? How is it performed? How does it work? What are the medical and therapeutic benefits of this mental state? Does it ease anxiety and chronic pain? How can hypnosis be used as a therapy to treat health issues, both physical and psychological?

With the advent of progress in healthcare, the mind-body philosophy has gained importance.  This philosophy explains that the mind and body are not different entities in a human. Rather, they are closely interconnected with each other. Heath, and likewise disease, are the result of the interaction between these two components. This shows the importance of the mind in emotional well-being and physical health. There are many kinds of therapies that are used to make our brains work better. These therapies improve the quality of life, reduce stress, and control the physical symptoms of various chronic diseases, particularly for young individuals. Hypnosis is one of these mind-body therapies.

Hypnosis can be defined as the cultivation of imagination in an altered state of consciousness (awareness and alertness) within a focused state (with or without physical relaxation), in which an individual is selectively focused, absorbed, and concentrating upon a particular situation or image aimed at improving psychological and physical health. It is an internal imaginative process. It uses the imagination to have the senses of touching, hearing, smelling, or tasting something. So, it’s pretty much like daydreaming. 

Hypnosis is an important mind-body tool that serves as an adjunct to conservative medical care. It uses self-directed therapeutic measures to create an imaginative field and improve the connection between mind and body. It is an easy teachable coping skill that individuals can learn with a minor effort. There are many similarities between hypnosis and other mind-body therapies. Their features overlap with each other. All of these therapies are aimed at self-empowered change in physical and psychological state.

When a person is in a hypnotic state, he is highly responsive to hypnotherapy. Different therapeutic suggestions include decreasing or eliminating undesirable symptoms, reframing and rethinking distorted thoughts about situations and stressors, building a positive attitude, reinforcing control over the reaction to situations, and strengthening the belief in the ability of the mind and body to work together to create desirable changes in behavior. These desirable changes will lead to better psychological and physical health.

The list of uses of hypnosis as a therapy is very long. Hypnosis, when learned and practiced regularly, will lead to the alleviation of symptoms of stress, anxiety, social anxiety, depression, and emotional problems. Studies have proved that hypnosis stabilizes arousal and reduces harmful risk-taking behaviors. It is especially important in adolescents as they are very responsive to it. They can enjoy long-term benefits from hypnosis.


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Hypnosis also improves the sleep cycle, increases self-esteem, and enhances communication skills. In children, it can be used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder (ADHD). Child specialists also use hypnosis to train children to quiet their minds and increase focus. Hypnosis can be the treatment of choice for the management of many physical problems. Examples include:

  • Enuresis
  • Chronic headaches
  • Needle phobia
  • Procedural pain
  • Decreased sleep
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain of malignancy
  • Crohn Disease
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Healthcare providers use hypnosis as adjunctive therapy for many more complex problems and diseases. It will prove as a highly effective modality in overall management.

Neuroscientists and healthcare providers have done extensive research. They have more than enough evidence to confirm that high cognitive centers and limbic systems have a profound effect on all parts of the human body. Consequently, improvement in the functions of these centers improves physical functioning as well. The overall conclusion is that hypnosis improves your quality of life by treating your health issues, both physical and psychological.

Types of hypnosis

Hypnosis is a mental state known as a trance-like state of mind. It is also characterized as a sleep-like state in which individuals express increased attention, heightened suggestibility, focused concentration, and distinct fantasies. It is a very real process that can be used as therapeutics for anxiety, chronic pain, and stress.

There are different types of hypnosis:

  • Self-hypnosis

In this type of hypnosis, the individual self-induce the relaxation state. It is usually developed to control pain and manage stress.

  • Guided hypnosis

In this type of hypnosis, the relaxation technique is induced by using tools such as music and recorded instructions. This is usually developed by utilizing mobile apps and online sites.

  • Hypnotherapy

This technique is used in psychotherapy and is performed by licensed physicians. In this technique, psychologists treat the conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, eating disorders, and anxiety.


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How is hypnosis performed?

This state of mind is developed by licensed and certified mental health professionals who are specially trained in the technique. It is usually done by using verbal repetition and mental images. It produces a particular state of consciousness in the individual by inducing deep relaxation. There are several techniques to develop this mental state. These involve Induction, Eye-fixation technique, Arm-drop technique, Progressive relaxation technique, and Imagery.

  • Induction

This technique is also called hypnotic induction. It is defined as the process that is used by a hypnotist to put the individual into a state where they are more open to suggestions. There are four steps to perform the induction process. These involve:

  1. Close the eyes of the individual.
  2. Imagine that he cannot open his eyes.
  3. Try to open his eyes while pretending he cannot.
  4. Relax the eyes and the whole body.
  • Progressive relaxation technique

In this technique, settle down the individual comfortably. Guide him to focus on breathing in and out. Relax his body so that it goes into complete relaxation.

  • Eye-fixation technique

In this technique, fix the gaze of the individual on some object until his eyelids become heavy and close so that the individual drifts into a state of deep relaxation.

  • Imagery

In this technique, guide the individual for deep breathing and imagining a scene that makes him feel comfortable and safe.

  • Arm-drop technique

In this technique, fix the gaze of the individual on one of his fingers by keeping the forearm vertical, continue doing this, then stops when the hand of the individual becomes heavy and starts drifting downward. Thus, hypnosis is achieved when the arm starts drifting downward, and the eyes become heavy and close.

Impact of hypnosis

The impact of hypnosis varies from person to person.

  • Some people feel extreme relaxation and a sense of detachment during a hypnotic state while other people may remain fully conscious and able to carry out conversations.
  • Some individuals feel that their performances seem to occur outside of their conscious volition.
  • The individuals may feel comfortable and pain-free.
  • Several individuals feel that they cannot be hypnotized. While some people can be more easily hypnotized.
  • Children tend to be more susceptible to hypnosis.
  • Individuals who become easily absorbed in fantasies are much more responsive to the state of hypnosis.

Benefits of hypnosis

There are several health benefits of the state of hypnosis:

  • Relief from anxiety

The state of hypnosis helps to ease anxiety. This hypnotic state is more effective in individuals who feel anxiety due to chronic health disorders like heart disease. A phobia that is a type of anxiety disorder may also be ameliorated by developing this state of hypnosis.

  • Relief from chronic pain

The state of hypnosis helps to eliminate chronic pain like the pain after surgery and migraines such as tension headaches. Moreover, chronic pain due to sickle cell disease, arthritis, cancer, and fibromyalgia as well as lower back pain can be relieved from the state of hypnosis.

  • Helps you sleep well

Hypnosis enables you to sleep well if you struggle and sleepwalk with falling and staying asleep. This state can relax you enough to get you to sleep more easily. The hypnotic techniques help you enhance the extent of time you sleep and the extent of time you spent in deep sleep.

  • Ease irritable bowel syndrome

Hypnosis is a highly effective treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. It has been estimated that irritable bowel syndrome affects almost 25 and 45 million individuals in the United States. Hypnotherapy uses the techniques of relaxation then hypnotic suggestions help the individuals learn to control their symptoms. So, the individuals show betterment in their quality of life and a decrease in common symptoms such as bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

  • Make chemotherapy more tolerable

The doctors use hypnosis as an anesthetic. This mental state plays an important role in the treatment of cancer. It is also used to reduce stress and anxiety. It helps to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy like vomiting and nausea.


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  • Patterson, D. R., & Jensen, M. P. (2003). Hypnosis and clinical pain. Psychological bulletin, 129(4), 495.
  • Spiegel, H., & Spiegel, D. (2008). Trance and treatment: Clinical uses of hypnosis. American Psychiatric Pub.
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