[...] the real origin and essence of the hypnotic condition, is the induction of a habit of abstraction or mentalconcentration, in which, as in reverie or spontaneous abstraction, the powers of the mind are so muchengrossed with a single idea or train of thought, as, for the nonce, to render the individual unconscious of, orindifferently conscious to, all other ideas, impressions, or trains of thought. The
sleep, therefore, isthe very antithesis or opposite mental and physical condition to that which precedes and accompanies
Braid therefore defined hypnotism as a state of mental concentration which often led to a form of progressiverelaxation termed "nervous sleep". Later, in his
The Physiology of Fascination
(1855), Braid conceded that hisoriginal terminology was misleading, and argued that the term "hypnotism" or "nervous sleep" should bereserved for the minority (10%) of subjects who exhibitedamnesia, substituting the term "
",meaning concentration upon a single idea, as a description for the more alert state experienced by theothers.A new definition of hypnosis, derived from academic psychology, was provided in 2005, when the Society forPsychological Hypnosis, Division 30 of the American Psychological Association(APA), published the following
New Definition: HypnosisThe Division 30 Definition and Description of Hypnosis
Hypnosis typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestionsfor imaginative experiences will be presented. The hypnotic induction is an extended initial suggestion forusing one's imagination, and may contain further elaborations of the introduction. A hypnotic procedure isused to encourage and evaluate responses to suggestions. When using hypnosis, one person (the subject) isguided by another (the hypnotist) to respond to suggestions for changes in subjective experience, alterationsin perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. Persons can also learn self-hypnosis, which is the actof administering hypnotic procedures on one's own. If the subject responds to hypnotic suggestions, it isgenerally inferred that hypnosis has been induced. Many believe that hypnotic responses and experiencesare characteristic of a hypnotic state. While some think that it is not necessary to use the word "hypnosis" aspart of the hypnotic induction, others view it as essential.Details of hypnotic procedures and suggestions will differ depending on the goals of the practitioner and thepurposes of the clinical or research endeavor. Procedures traditionally involve suggestions to relax, thoughrelaxation is not necessary for hypnosis and a wide variety of suggestions can be used including those tobecome more alert. Suggestions that permit the extent of hypnosis to be assessed by comparing responsesto standardized scales can be used in both clinical and research settings. While the majority of individuals areresponsive to at least some suggestions, scores on standardized scales range from high to negligible. Traditionally, scores are grouped into low, medium, and high categories. As is the case with other positively-scaled measures of psychological constructs such as attention and awareness, the salience of evidence forhaving achieved hypnosis increases with the individual's score.
Hypnosis is normally preceded by a "hypnotic induction" technique. Traditionally this was interpreted as amethod of putting the subject into a "hypnotic trance"; however subsequent "nonstate" theorists haveviewed it differently, as a means of heightening client expectation, defining their role, focusing attention, etc. There is an enormous variety of different induction techniques used in hypnotism. However, by far the mostinfluential method was the original "eye-fixation" technique of Braid, also known as "Braidism". Manyvariations of the eye-fixation approach exist, including the induction used in the Stanford HypnoticSusceptibility Scale (SHSS), the most widely-used research tool in the field of hypnotism.Braid's original description of his induction is as follows:
James Braid's Original Eye-Fixation Hypnotic Induction Method
Take any bright object (I generally use my lancet case) between the thumb and fore and middle fingers of theleft hand; hold it from about eight to fifteen inches from the eyes, at such position above the forehead asmay be necessary to produce the greatest possible strain upon the eyes and eyelids, and enable the patientto maintain a steady fixed stare at the object. The patient must be made to understand that he is to keep the eyes steadily fixed on the object, and themind riveted on the idea of that one object. It will be observed, that owing to the consensual adjustment of the eyes, the pupils will be at first contracted: they will shortly begin to dilate, and after they have done so toa considerable extent, and have assumed a wavy motion, if the fore and middle fingers of the right hand,extended and a little separated, are carried from the object towards the eyes, most probably the eyelids willclose involuntarily, with a vibratory motion. If this is not the case, or the patient allows the eyeballs to move,desire him to begin anew, giving him to understand that he is to allow the eyelids to close when the fingersare again carried towards the eyes, but that the eyeballs must be kept fixed, in the same position, and themind riveted to the one idea of the object held above the eyes. It will generally be found, that the eyelidsclose with a vibratory motion, or become spasmodically closed.