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Conscious Hypnosis

Our subconscious mind often stubbornly prefers to cling on to known behaviours and symptoms even if they are negative and interfere with our quality of life. As far as it is concerned change is potentially scary. In order to make positive changes and become mentally fit you must be consciously aware of the need for change, be motivated to get better, and be prepared to devote the time and effort necessary for doing the mental relaxation exercises. We all know that getting your body into shape involves more than merely thinking about going to the gym. Mental fitness calls for the same level of dedication.

Many people assert that hypnosis is an ‘altered state of consciousness’ (ASC) that is qualitatively different from normal waking consciousness. Whether hypnosis produces an altered state of consciousness has been a key debate in the academic study of hypnosis and has come to be known as the ‘altered state debate’. Protagonists tend to be termed ‘state’ or ‘non-state’ depending on their theoretical orientation. State theorists hold that hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness whereas non-state theorists argue that the effects of suggestions can be experienced with or without the prior administration of a hypnotic induction and ask “what is the necessity for an altered state?”

One important factor to note when considering non-state theories is that they do not imply that subjects are always ‘faking’, or not truly experiencing a hypnotic response. Although non-state explanations use terms such as ‘role enactment’ or ‘self-presentation’ they are still entirely consistent with the notion that hypnotised participants have unusual experiences. One of the most eloquent defences of this position comes from┬áSpanos.

“For instance, to describe a man as enacting the role of “concerned husband” does not imply that the man’s displays of concern are necessarily feigned. By the same token, the socio-cognitive view does not hold that hypnotic subjects who report lessened pain following an analgesia suggestion must be experiencing higher levels of pain than they report, or that those who fail to report target items covered by an amnesia suggestion must be privately rehearsing the very items they fail to divulge. On the contrary, the socio-cognitive perspective attempts to account for how, and under what circumstances, hypnotic subjects come to convince themselves as well as others that they are unable to remember, unable to bend their arms, and the like.”

 

 
 
 
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