The clinical application of hypnosis



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After a brief review of the literature and finding no accepted definition of hypnosis, three questions were posed. 1. What is hypnosis? 2. Why is it difficult to define? 3. What areas need to be investigated to further the understanding of hypnosis? It was concluded, hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness accompanied by certain phenomena depending upon internal and external influences acting upon the subject, functioning in a manner similar to psychophysiologic reactions. Its elements presented on a continuum from most general to most specific are social influence, motivation, learning, perception, personality and physiology. Until more is known about the lawful properties of these elements, a more precise explanation of hypnosis will not be possible. The definition postulated was not explanatory but descriptive and directional, describing hypnosis as comprised of elements and pointing out the pertinent areas of investigation. A better understanding of the internal element, physiology, may be an aid to psychosomatic healing and lawful information about the external elements will add insight to the understanding of behavior. Finally, since hypnosis is almost entirely externally determined, those who study behavior, e.g, psychologists, use hypnosis most effectively.