Stories like this one garner national attention and raise the hope of many who suffer from one ailment or another that perhaps hypnosis might work for them. But surveys show that only a small percentage of sufferers actually seek out hypnosis, because it still carries the reputation of being eccentric and somewhat occult.
But hypnosis is not as mysterious as many believe. The fact is, hypnosis occurs often in everyday living and only seems outlandish because we have labeled it as such. Each one of us passes through a momentary hypnotic state each night, as we go from wakefulness to sleep. You may recognize the 'twilight zone' if you've ever heard a sound, like a phone ringing, and couldn't distinguish whether you were dreaming it or actually hearing it. Drivers often lapse into a dreamy mood on long stretches of highway, babies are lulled to sleep by rocking and humming, students daydream at lectures, and music lovers doze off at mellow concerts.
We are all amenable to hypnotic states. Yet skepticism about hypnosis still prevails. Perhaps this is because most of us first witnessed hypnosis as entertainment. We saw it as a sort of sideshow practiced by charlatans. But in the domain of dedicated professionals, it is a respected cure for such chronic problems as nail biting, smoking, obesity, and insomnia. It has proved to be an invaluable asset when life-threatening symptoms do not react well to anesthesia, and has improved such condition as malnutrition, vomiting, uncontrollable hiccupping, and hypertension. What's more, it places no undue strain on the heart, liver, kidney or lungs.
If what you've heard about hypnosis has piqued your interest, you may be wondering if you'd be a good subject. The following quiz should help provide the answer. It identifies traits of good hypnosis candidates and is based on research conducted at Stanford University.