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What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis, like sleep, puts the mind in an altered, relaxed state. Under hypnosis, the mind can still access memories, sensations, and other thoughts. Hypnosis is often used for things such as breaking bad habits, controlling pain, managing stress, and many other health conditions.  

Some people can't be hypnotized. But others are more receptive to this form of therapy. Hypnotism won't work if the person does not want to be hypnotized. The person can also interrupt it at any time. Hypnotism requires trust and imagination.

When you are 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 stop people from thinking about pain and other concerns. Hypnotism has been used as a pain reliever during certain surgeries, such as dental procedures.

Other uses for hypnotism include:

  • Reducing pain

  • Quitting smoking 

  • Reducing anxiety

  • Treating depression

  • Overcoming fears or phobia

Hypnosis and memory recovery

Using hypnosis to recall hidden or vague memories may not be reliable. There is a widespread belief that hypnosis produces accurate memories. And people who have been hypnotized tend to feel confident that their memories are accurate. This helps lead to the persistence of false memories. But researchers have found that hypnosis does not work well as a memory-recovery method.

Tell all of your healthcare providers (conventional or complementary) about the health approaches, supplements, and medicines you use. This will give them a full picture of your health. It will help ensure safe, effective, and coordinated care.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bianca Garilli MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2019
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