Hypnosis is a natural state of mind with special identifying characteristics as follows:
- An extraordinary quality of mental, physical and emotional relaxation.
- An emotionalised desire to satisfy the suggested behaviour; the subject feels like following the hypnotists instructions, directions and suggestions, except those that generate conflict with the subject’s values, i.e. character attitudes, religious beliefs and moral principles. The organism becomes self-regulating as the trance produces normalisation of the central nervous system.
- Heightened and selective sensitivity to stimuli perceived by the five physical senses and the basic perceptions.
- Lack of response to irrelevant, external stimuli.
- Immediate softening and lowering of psychic defences.
Because hypnosis is a natural state of mind, it can occur spontaneously and it is not an artificially induced state. One major theory is that electro-biochemical changes take place in the nervous system as a result of the brain being stimulated by words and images.
As an idea reaches the mind through the five physical senses it is first processed by the conscious mind and this analysing part of the mind can change, weaken, or inhibit the incoming suggestion. Our education, prejudices and misinformation can alter incoming suggestion. By the time the suggestion is filtered through this critical factor of the conscious mind and reaches the subconscious it is often substantially changed in intensity and content. As the conscious mind diminishes, the subconscious mind comes forward. Consciousness never disappears in hypnosis and hypnosis is never equated with unconsciousness.
When the deeper states of trance are induced, the conscious mind relaxes, agreeably relinquishes control and stands aside as an onlooker and can intervene whenever necessary.