The nature of hypnosis has been much debated in the literature (Orne, 1959; Kihlstrom, 1985; Lynn & Rhue, 1991). Nevertheless, there is reasonable consensus about some of its defining properties. Although distortions typically occur, hypnosis can be said to occur when one person (the subject) experiences alterations in perception, memory, or mood in response to suggestions given by another person (the hypnotist). Although distortions typically occur, hypnosis is essentially an experiential phenomenon where the hypnotist typically guides the subject to create a favorable situation for the display of his or her special capacities and skills. Substantial reliance has to be placed therefore on the subject's self-report as to the nature of his or her experience.
If a subject is motivated to fake hypnosis (i.e. to report an experience that he or she is not having), then it is possible to do so. In such a case, subjects typically base their performance on the information that has been given about hypnosis before the hypnosis session and on the cues that are given during the hypnosis session itself. This is not a view that is compatible with hypnosis recovering traces of original perception, and sits most comfortably with the perspective that memories retrieved in hypnosis are products of hypnotized subjects' imaginative capacities at work. It does not say, however, that hypnosis is inherently distorting.
International Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis. Edited by G. D. Burrows, R. O. Stanley and P. B. Bloom © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
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Hypnosis is a capital instrument for relaxation and alleviating stress. It helps calm down both the brain and body, giving a useful rest. All the same it can be rather costly to hire a clinical hypnotherapist, and we might not always want one around when we would like to destress.