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Proposed Definitions for Hypnosis and Suggestibility

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hypnosis-hq.gifHere’s something to think about over the weekend (yeah right!).

Anyway, I’d like to propose some difinitions for two very important words in our profession, “hypnosis” and “suggestibility“. I just posted them on www.Hypnosis.ORG.


Definintion of HypnosisA heightened state of suggestibility, such that the suggestions given are accepted as being true and effect the beliefs, habits, perceptions and behaviors of an individual in varying degrees according to the depth of hypnosis established. “Deeper levels” of hypnosis enable the hypnotized individual to experience greater hypnotic phenomenon such as light states being able to create catalepsy by suggestion, and deeper states allowing the individual to experience amnesia, anesthesia, and hallucinations.Generally there are several types of hypnosis, (1) naturally occurring hypnosis, (2) hetero hypnosis, (3) self-hypnosis, and (4) waking suggestion which is similar to placebo.

Definition of Suggestibility – The extent to which a person is able to accept suggestion, which varies according to one’s state of mind (i.e. normal waking consciousness or hypnosis). The greater the suggestibility that an individual is experiencing, the greater the effect that suggestions offered will affect that person’s perceptions of reality. In hypnosis, which is a altered state of consciousness, one can reach high levels of suggestibility. In this altered state suggestions can profoundly affect perceptions including causing amnesia, anesthesia and both positive and negative hallucinations. When one is in a heightened state of suggestibility, the individual is said to be in hypnosis, or the hypnotic state.

Can they be improved? Like them? Hate them? Leave a comment.

6 Reader Comments to Proposed Definitions for Hypnosis and Suggestibility

  1. Troels November 18, 2007 at 12:32 PM

    Very interesting stuff. I like the way you define the trance as beeing a state of high suggestability. I myself have been experimenting with autosuggestion, and it works quite well. So the definition you provide, kinda made me understand why this stuff works. I read a story earlier about some guy that has experienced some cool changes via hypnosis.. Check it out at http://selfhelpwithhypnosis.blogspot.com/

  2. Steve R. November 19, 2007 at 11:35 AM

    Nice, but it’s been noted that the term “suggestibility” is often interpreted by the general public to be same as “gullibility”, and people might resist the idea of being hypnotizable if it’s somehow related to being gullible. While the definitions you propose may be useful from a practitioner’s point of view, I wonder if there could be a version for public consumption, that avoids this negative inference?

    I’m also curious about the idea that waking suggestion is similar to placebo. From what I’ve understood, placebo and hypnosis are not related. I would be interested to learn more about how waking suggestion hypnosis is similar to placebo. Thanks!

  3. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH November 19, 2007 at 12:41 PM

    Hello Troels – Thanks for your comment. However, note that I do not use the word “trance” in the definition of hypnosis. Too many people are using the words “trance” and “hypnosis” interchangeably, which I believe to be an error. “Trance” is a state of focused attention, which may not include a heightened state of suggestibility. Typically hypnosis includes trance, but trance can occur without hypnosis. Thanks again for your comment! Cal Banyan

  4. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH November 19, 2007 at 2:34 PM

    Hi Steve – You are right about public perception of the word, “suggestibility”. What I am proposing here is that we need some common definitions in the profession. I would never propose using the word suggestibility with out clients (for exactly the reason that you point out).

    For the public, I recommend that we promote hypnosis as a state of mind in which we can better accept suggestions that we like, such as for changing habits, increasing motivation, and so on. It is a state of receptivity to suggestions that we like, whereas in the normal state of consciousness we tend to reject this useful information.

    Regarding hypnosis vs. placebo, they both have to do with suggestibility, but placebo works with one’s normal level of suggestibility, where as hypnosis is a heightened state of suggestibility. The unconscious mind (the body’s consciousness is highly suggestible without hypnosis, and more so in the hypnotic state).

    Cal Banyan
    http://www.ourhypnospace.com/calbanyan

  5. hypnosis school November 19, 2007 at 5:56 PM

    A good start. I think you need to address the fact that there is no accepted single definition. Being honest about the murkiness out there helps.

  6. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH November 19, 2007 at 11:06 PM

    Thanks for your comment. I don’t know if the profession will ever find a single definition of hypnosis that makes everyone happy, and as a result is generally accepted. In psychology there are generally “schools of thought” that take specific stands on things, have their own theories, and have their own definitions. This might be the best we can hope for in the profession of hypnotism. In the mean time, the discussion is at least educational. 🙂

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