Hypnosis is a natural phenomenon which can allow an individual to awaken his deep resources and
therefore access the desired change in a natural and spontaneous way.
Hypnosis is a modern and scientifically recognized approach. It is taught at university.
This technique remains, however, linked to prejudices or preconceived ideas, sometimes even fear. You may be familiar with stage hypnosis, which is the historical form of hypnosis.
Modern hypnosis is a long way from stage hypnosis. Modern hypnosis is respectful: the hypnotized person remains conscious during the entire session, and completely free. You may have heard of doctors using this kind of hypnosis for pain management for example.
The scientific definition of hypnosis is :
"Hypnosis is a human condition involving focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion" (1)
The hypnotized person is not asleep, contrary to the false belief maintained by some hypnosis
When hypnotized, a person has different resources and increased capacities in certain areas.
Various neuroimaging studies have shown a change in brain activity during hypnosis (2,3).
In other words, when you are hypnotized, the brain works differently than when you are in your "usual" state of consciousness. This proves that hypnotized people don't pretend, that hypnosis is real.
Hypnosis is a physiological state.
This means that it is a natural state that anyone can access.
Hypnosis is aimed at all requesting people.
Becoming a hypnotist can be learned, you don't need a supernatural gift. It's a bit like music, some people are better than others, but anyone can learn.
Depending on the states and countries of the world, the laws are different. To our knowledge in France and Michigan anyone can practice hypnosis freely. The major advantage is that this
discipline remains easily accessible to all and for all. You should make sure your hypnotist is well trained and is following ethical rules.
- When hypnosis is used for performing, it is called "stage hypnosis".
- When hypnosis is is practiced in individual consultation in order to solve a problem or to make a dream come true, it is simply referred as "hypnosis" or sometimes "hypnotherapy" when the hypnotist is a caregiver (eg psychologist).
- When it is done by a doctor, it is called "medical hypnosis". The best known example is the use of medical hypnosis during certain surgeries.
There are many reasons for resorting to hypnosis. These reasons may or may not be medical.
In the field of health hypnosis is considered "complementary", that is to say that it does not replace therapies, it is added to them.
For example, hypnosis alone is not enough to treat cancer, but has been shown to be effective in managing the side effects of cancer chemotherapy (4).
In practice, we are often faced with a vagueness: take the example of a person wishing to quit smoking. This person can then consult his doctor, or not. This reason for resorting to hypnosis may or may not be considered a medical problem. If you are in doubt as with this example we recommend talking to your doctor.
The following reasons for consultation (6) can be taken care of by a hypnotist (this list is not exhaustive, each session is adapted to the requesting person):
The following problems can be managed by hypnosis in addition to your medical care. You have to go to your doctor first.
Hypnosis use is classically not recommended in psychotic patients for fear of worsening their dissociative symptoms. However none of the data available reveal any dangerous side effects in that case (5).
Thanks to scientific advances, data is evolving regularly . Our approach is to provide reliable, readable and simple information. If you have any information to update this page, please send it to us.
1. Pascale Haag. L’hypnose d’inspiration Ericksonienne. In: Vinot-Coubetergues, M,Marc E. Les fondements des psychothérapies : Des origines aux neurosciences. Dunod. 2014. p. 156.
2. Vanhaudenhuyse A, Laureys S, Faymonville M-E. Neurophysiology of hypnosis. Clin Neurophysiol. 2014;44:343‑53.
3. Maquet P, Faymonville ME, Lamy M. Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Feb 1;45(3):327-33.
4. Bontoux D, Couturier D, Menkès C-J. Thérapies complémentaires-acupuncture, hypnose, ostéopathie, tai-chi-leur place parmi les ressources de soins. Bull Acad Natl
5. Izquierdo de Santiago A, Khan M. Hypnosis for schizophrenia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;CD004160.
6. DSM V