Hypnosis is Conscious and Voluntary:

There are still many out there who think that hypnosis is some form of 'mind control' where they will be asked to stare at a swinging watch while the hypnotist quietly takes over their brain. 

Which of course is a long, long way from what actually goes on around here.

There are actually still many hypnotherapists who still rely on flawed notions of the existence an all powerful 'unconscious' or 'subconscious' mind in their work. They believe that by communicating with an actual thing called the unconscious mind they can help people to make changes. But a quick look at the anatomy of the brain tell us that there is no actual bit of us all called the unconscious mind. Of course, we do many things nonconsciously, from the bodily function like digestion and the beating of our heart, to habits and patterns that we follow through our day.   

So I was very pleased to read a new scientific report today called, 'Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Demonstrates That Hypnosis Is Conscious and Voluntary'. I mean, how exciting is that, to have fMRI brain scans showing what is going on during hypnosis?

Hypnosis dan regan hypnotherapy ely

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy 

I've written before (in this article) about Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy and how it is about seeking to use ordinary psychological processes to achieve desired therapeutic goals. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are about using our imagination, motivation, thoughts, ideas and cognitions to achieve goals such as overcoming anxiety. In essence, hypnosis is about adopting a hypnotic “mind set” in which we purposefully utilise our imagination, beliefs, expectations, motivation, mental engagement and thoughts.

And this latest scientific research really supports this approach by demonstrating that hypnosis is conscious and voluntary.

During the research, participants were hypnotised and studied through functional magnetic resonance imaging (or fMRI to the rest of us) whilst performing a task. The task here was hypnotic focused analgesia. The researchers carried out a series of scans both carrying out the task during hypnosis and out of hypnosis. The researchers said, "The results of the present study demonstrate that the brain areas activated during hypnosis were just those supposed to be associated with consciousness and free will."

The research paper concluded:

"The results of the present experimental research demonstrate that: 1) hypnosis is a real and measurable state, which can be studied with the instrumental methods that are typical of human physiology; 2) hypnosis, when realized in the frame of a task, is characterized by activation of particular brain areas that are those associated with consciousness and free will, areas that are inactive when the task is performed out of hypnosis; 3) as a consequence, the concept that hypnosis is a physiological modification of normal consciousness and that the participant adheres to it voluntarily appears plausible."

And of course they go on to suggest that further studies should be carried out on this topic to confirm these findings, something that I think all of us in the field of hypnotherapy would welcome. 

So there we have it, research showing that rather than hypnosis being something magical and strange, where a hypnotist exerts mind control over someone else, what this evidence shows is that hypnosis is a conscious and voluntary state that someone has to engage in. 

This then, also confirms the fundamental purpose of hypnotherapy, namely, it is about using very real psychological processes to help you take back control over an issue rather than feeling stuck or controlled by it in some way. And that can only be a good thing, can't it?

To your success

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket


Reference: Casiglia, E. , Finatti, F. , Gasparotti, F. , Stabile, M. , Mitolo, M. , Albertini, F. , Lapenta, A. , Facco, E. , Tikhonoff, V. and Venneri, A. (2018) Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Demonstrates That Hypnosis Is Conscious and Voluntary. Psychology, 9, 1571-1581. doi: 10.4236/psych.2018.97095.