How does hypnosis work?

We know what hypnosis looks like in the present form, but how does it work?

What causes a person to get hypnotized in the first place? What goes on in mind?

Here we attempt to answer these and help you learn more about hypnosis. It will employ scientific explanation to demystify some assumptions that people make.  

What is hypnosis?

The word “hypnosis” comes from the word “Hypnos,” which is an ancient Greek word for “sleep.” It looks at the power of suggestion has on the mind to change thoughts and behaviors.

This change comes about when someone is in a trance state, which is referred to as hypnosis.

However, when it comes to suggestion, some people are indeed more suggestible than others. 

That means that a person with higher suggestibility is going to experience emotions, thoughts, behavior, and other changes more. 

That is compared to a person with lower suggestibility. 

What parts of the brain are affected? 

illustration of brain and woman

When a person is under hypnosis, their prefrontal cortex, and the anterior cingulate cortex, along with the parietal networks, gets activated. The prefrontal cortex covers the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.

Here is where planning, decision making, behavior, personality expression, and the moderation of social behavior takes place. The anterior cingulate cortex is the front part of the cingulate cortex.

It has two parts, the dorsal region where cognitive processes take place, and there is the ventral region where emotional regulation takes place. 

Lastly, there are the parietal networks have to do with the starting and the regulation of cognitive abilities.

When a person is under hypnosis and neuro-imaging gets done, there is evidence of higher activity on suggestible people. However, what is unclear is the brain mechanism itself that is involved in hypnosis, but research is still underway. 

How hypnosis works and its uses

When you get hypnotized, several studies have shown that it is your cognitive process that gets affected.

It also involves being alert and focused all the while being receptive to what is getting suggested. It is the suggestions that are used to alter a person’s perception. An example would be the fear of heights.

Under hypnosis, a person is focused and present. However, their subconscious mind is open to suggestions such as to keep calm when they look down from a tall building or board a flight.

There is also the use of hypnosis in physiotherapy. It is considered as an alternative treatment to help people with certain mental disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Hypnosis can be part of the therapy where “therapeutic regression” is a technique employed used to uncover repressed memories relating to early trauma and abuse.

Once they get revealed, treatments such as psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy are useful in taking a client to the next level. 

There are harmful applications that have been associated with hypnosis, and they include the planting of false memories in someone’s subconscious mind.

It has also gotten used in magic shows where someone in a trance is asked to do something involuntary much to the audience amusement.

The people who volunteer don’t know what’s coming.

Once they are outside the hypnosis, they are left anxious, and with thoughts, behaviors, and overall cognitive functions they did not have before.

That leads to much discomfort, anxiety, and distrust of hypnotists. 

However, when used in the right way, it could be used to relieve other conditions and habits such as insomnia, IBS, migraines, quitting smoking, overeating, nail-biting, and eliminating procrastination.

On a personal level, one can use hypnosis to increase mental focus, self-esteem and confidence, rapport and trust with others, and overall wellness and self-improvement in all parts of one’s life. 

Wrap up

When talking about hypnosis, one is working with the subconscious mind to change thoughts and behavior or to access repressed memories.

Overall, when used in the right way, hypnosis is a powerful tool in transforming a person’s pain point or their life.

The transformation comes through the use of commands and suggestions to modify a problem area. 

Another application of hypnosis is getting someone to do what we want. It is a tool to meet one’s desires but should be used responsibly.

Equally, one is unlikely to do something extreme that is outside of their existing beliefs.

There is a level of responsibility that comes with hypnosis, and it is, therefore, better to work with licensed professionals.