Hypnosis – The Technical Bits

Hypnosis – The technical bits

Hypnosis. Something that has defied scientific explanation for years.

Some definitions of Hypnosis:


  1. The induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to…
  2. This state of consciousness.

From Wikapedia

Hypnosis can be defined as:

a special psychological state with certain physiological attributes, resembling sleep only superficially and marked by a functioning of the individual at a level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state.[1]

From about.com Psychology

What exactly is hypnosis? While definitions can vary, the American Psychological Association describes hypnosis as a cooperative interaction in which the participant responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist…

The problem with these definitions

They don’t really come near giving an adequate definition that stands up to scrutiny.

At the root of the difficulty of defining what hypnosis is, is an ill defined concept of mind.

The conscious thinking mind, that of which we are aware of, appears to be everything, after all, we can only be aware of what we are aware of. To that end, consciousness, (another ill defined concept) has been the starting point for pretty much all research into what the brain does.

But if we consider for a moment, what the brains function is as part of the more expansive human nervous sytem, then we can take a backward step and look at the process from a more functional perspective, which is:


What!!! I hear you say, don’t be ridiculous, if it’s not designed to think what was it designed to do?

The most important aspect to what the brain does, is to create an appropriate response to our sensory input, we do this automatically all the  time. The Human brain has about 100 billion nerve cells and processes about 11 trillion bits of information per second

That is 11,000,000,000,000.

We can process consciously, somewhere between 5 and 9 chunks of information at any moment, on average about 7 chunks of information. Each chunk can hold between 5 and 9 chunks of information. This means that on average we can process approximnately 7 to the power of 7 bits of information, which comes to 823,543 bits of information.

Our level of conscious activity including our thoughts, come to 0.0000075% which means that we are processing 99.9999925% of the brains activity at an unconscious level.

Brain Function

Consider the human nervous system, the bulk of what which is the encephalon (the brain). Essentially constructed pretty much the same as any other animal, certainly the mammals, a few adjustments here, a few midifications there, but made up in pretty much the same way as any other mammalian nervous sytem.

It’s function, survival, a) of the individual b) of the species.

To do this we need to be aware of our surroundings, to identify potential threats and to identify potential sources to meet our needs, food, shelter etc. which has become the basis of what has been called the Pain Pleasure principle. Essentially we move away from something that can harm us and towards something that is good for us.

Our senses, provide us with that information, seeing, hearing, touch, taste and smell, and in the world of survival we repond automatically to the information received through those channels; the body adjusting it’s physiologial processes to deal with each situation as it arises, the so called Fight versus Flight response, that lies behind stress problems and how we cope with such things.

The Role of Lanuage.

What has really revolutionised humans is the way we have constructed sounds and created language. As language has evolved, we have been able to communicate not only with others, but also internally in the form of thoughts. These internalised sounds have been given meaning, and for every single person, the particular meaning we have giiven something, is what we respond to. Forget dictionary definitions, we, each and everyone of us, respond to our own internal representation of those meanings, and assume that everrybody has the same values, beliefs and meanings us. This is the basis of most arguments, not withstanding that each of us is the centre of our own personal Universe.

These thoughts stimulate the various sensory cortical areas creating various imaginary processes.

The result is that whatever we are focussed on, whether uptime through our senses concerning the external world, which in turn will be affected by our own sensory filter systems and the meanings we give those things, or downtime, from the internal world of our thoughts, imaginings and the beliefs and values that we give to these things, our bodies respond automatically to what is in our heads, not reality.

For example, a person with a frear of flying will have a completely different thought/imagination process to somebody who doesn’t have that fear.

Often they will be imagining all sorts of things, ie the plan crashing, being trapped etc. Our bodies automatically respond to these imaginings. These experiiences are essentially hypnotic responses, the automatic responses we create ina nay and every situation.

Hypnosis is essentially the utilisation of these automated programs that we run constantly though the day, whatever is going on in our heads, becomes an instruction to make it happen.

What you see in a hypnotic demonstration, often looks strange, because we are not used to thinking of the brain doing nearly allof it’s processing to

to be continued