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What Happens When a Person Goes Under Hypnosis?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Under hypnosis, people routinely report feelings of calm and relaxation, as well as a decreased sense of pain. Through the use of brain imaging, researchers have noted that the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which manages activities such as focused attention and decision making, displays a distinct change in its usual patterns when a person undergoes hypnosis. These changes verify that less pain is actually being experienced and is not merely imagined, and that awareness is actually increased when a person’s consciousness is altered by hypnosis.

When the mind is under hypnosis, it is often assumed that people are asleep and lack control over their behavior. In fact, the opposite is true. Under hypnosis, the cognitive section of the brain that typically deals with logic and thinking is more active than it is in a non-hypnotic state. It is when a person is under hypnosis that the thinking part of the brain is actually stronger and, thus, better able to resist addictive behaviors or to endure pain without becoming overwhelmed by it.

Hypnotherapy is often used in treating anxiety and stress-related illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Research supports that hypnotherapy is successful in reducing symptoms of such illnesses because the mental effects of hypnosis result in deeper relaxation. After being placed under hypnosis, people also experience physical relief from symptoms often caused by stress, such as gastrointestinal issues, headaches, insomnia and fatigue.

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While under hypnosis a person is notably calmer, but through the power of hypnotic suggestion the effects of hypnosis can also help a person after a hypnotherapy session has ended. For example, during hypnosis, suggestions can be made for a person to breathe deeply when faced with stress in the future or to become more aware of the how the body feels when faced with anxiety. By creating a heightened post-hypnotic awareness, a person can then work to counteract negative reactions by intentionally relaxing the body’s muscles and taking a few cleansing breaths instead of falling into an uncontrolled emotional reaction when faced with future stressful situations.

Benefits are not only experienced when placed under hypnosis by a hypnotherapist, but research shows that the same reactions can be accomplished by self-hypnosis, as well. The emotional effects of hypnosis have even proven to be quite beneficial to women undergoing a breast biopsy, as well as for managing pain after such a procedure. Anxiety often accompanies the breast biopsy process, which involves a cutting away of part of the breast’s tissue for examination. Anxiety is also felt due to the possibility of a diagnosis of cancer. Research has proven, however, that women who are led to engage in self-hypnosis are less likely to experience high anxiety levels related to this procedure.

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irontoenail
Post 3

@Mor - Honestly, stage hypnotists have always seemed ridiculous to me, because if you really can influence people that much you should be doing it in a clinical setting rather than just trying to impress people.

Hypnosis should be explored further though. There have been studies where they have put someone under hypnosis and kept them there throughout surgery when they couldn't handle the anesthesia and it worked. That might not be magic but it might as well be in terms of the good it could do.

Mor
Post 2

@pastanaga - Hypnosis can be very interesting, but remember that it can't do the impossible. You can't put women under hypnosis and expect them to suddenly fall at your feet if they don't have any interest in you. You can't hypnotize someone to do something they physically can't do. You might be able to get them to do something they didn't think they could do, like a hand-stand, but even then I think you need the conditions to be right, like they once knew how to do one but hadn't done it for years.

Those cases where people suddenly start speaking foreign languages always turn out to be either gibberish or words that they did learn somewhere and forgot with their

conscious mind. They can't just pick words out of the ether.

In other words, hypnosis is basically just prodding the mind a little bit while it's relaxed. It's not magic, even if stage hypnotists do their best to make it seem like it is.

pastanaga
Post 1

I've always been quite amazed that hypnosis seems to actually work. It was one of those things I was obsessed with when I was a teenager, along with ESP and UFOs and so forth and most of it seems to have turned out to be nothing but speculation or outright rubbish.

I don't think deep hypnosis is necessarily real, where they can program someone to be an assassin or something like that, but people can definitely do some strange things when they are under hypnosis. I haven't ever done it myself, but I've had more than one friend get up with a stage hypnotist and do things I would have never expected to see them do, or even thought were possible.

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