Hypnosis today is often considered from two different perspectives : the sciences used to study how it works, and the arts used to make use of it for specific purposes. These are such very different perspectives for two main reasons. First, there is the schism between the academic and the clinical subcultures that is found in many fields of psychology. Second, there is the particularly wide gap between hypnosis practice and academic psychology because of the periods when hypnosis was considered completely disreputable. This helped to polarize even further those who helped the arts using hypnosis to survive and those who would study hypnosis scientifically.
[n science, there is the basic idea of being able to create psychological onditions where people respond to verbal suggestions in a seemingly unusual way. This is what researchers study, and what forms the foundation for the practice of hypnosis as an adjunctive treatment in medicine. In order to study hypnosis in this manner, we define it as precisely as possible, and in most ases we utilize simple tests and suggestions. It is primarily from this perspective that the current document has been written.
The second perspective is the historical creation of the arts of hypnotic nfluence. This means making use of response to verbal suggestion in order to nfluence attitudes and behaviors more dramatically or over a longer period of time. This might be a healing art, a performing art, or a form of self-help. When we use hypnosis as a healing art, it is a form of psychotherapy and dheres to the same basic principles and ethical considerations as other forms of therapy. As a performing art, hypnosis has very little in common with psychotherapy aside from the occasional elimination of superficial symptoms by suggestion.
For more information on the arts of hypnotic influence, especially hypnotherapy as practiced by non-psychologists, I recommend starting with Roy Hunter's excellent FAQ on the alt.hypnosis newsgroup, maintained at Roy's home page at http://www.hunter.holowww.com. In order to learn more bout psychotherapy in general, I highly recommend either of two starting places : Dr. John Grohol's award winning Mental Health page, or Mental Health Net.
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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.