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What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a state of consciousness resembling sleep. The mind is in an altered, relaxed state. When under hypnosis however, you can still concentrate on memories, sensations and other things.  Hypnosis is used to learn to control bad habits, pain, stress and many other health conditions.  

Some mentally healthy people are unable to go under hypnosis while others are very susceptible to this form of therapy. However, hypnotism will not work if the person does not want to be hypnotized, and the subject of hypnosis can interrupt it at any time. Hypnotism requires trust and imagination.

When hypnotized, your heart rate may decrease, body temperature may change, and blood flow to certain areas may be altered.  The state of deep relaxation can divert attention from pain and other negative stimuli. Hypnotism can even be used as a pain reliever during certain surgeries, such as dental surgery.

Hypnotism can be used for many situations including to: 

  • Reduce pain

  • Stop smoking

  • Reduce anxiety

  • Improve depression

  • Overcome a fear or phobia

Hypnosis and memory retrieval

Using hypnosis to extract hidden or vague memories may not be reliable. Although there is a widespread belief that hypnosis produces accurate memories, researchers found that hypnosis does not work well as a memory-recovery method. In addition, people who have been hypnotized tend to feel confident that their memories are accurate, contributing to the persistence of false memories.


Online Medical Reviewer: Garilli, Bianca, ND
Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Date Last Reviewed: 5/15/2015
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