People have been using hypnosis to promote healing since ancient times. However, in the past 50 years, hypnosis has experienced resurgence among physicians, psychologists, law enforcement and mental health professionals.
Hypnosis produces an induced state of deep relaxation in which your mind stays narrowly focused and open to suggestion. During hypnosis, you can receive suggestions designed to decrease your perception of pain and increase your ability to cope with it. (see anodyne) It also can help you stop habits such as smoking. No one knows exactly how hypnosis works, but experts believe it alters your brain wave patterns in much the same way as other relaxation techniques.
The success of hypnosis depends on the expertise of the practitioner, your understanding of the procedure and your willingness to try hypnosis. You need to be strongly motivated to change. The vast majority of people can be hypnotized. The smarter you are the easier hypnosis becomes. Only the severely mentally retarded will have a difficult time being hypnotized by a trained professional. People who don't want to feel out of control often have a more difficult time being hypnotized. Some people eventually develop the skills to hypnotize themselves. Unlike situations portrayed in movies and on TV, you cannot be forced under hypnosis to do something you normally would not want to do out of hypnosis.
Psychiatrists and psychologists practice hypnosis. There are also professional hypnotists, but beware, check to see if they are properly certified before using them.
A 1995 consensus statement from the National Institutes of Health cited strong evidence that hypnosis can reduce chronic pain associated with cancer and other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and tension headaches.
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