By Joe Morikawa-Phillips, Year 7
Hypnosis as we all know does something to the brain. Something which makes people lose control of their actions, maybe you’ve seen it on hypnotist shows. Maybe someone has been hypnotized in front of an audience and convinced that they are something they are not, perhaps a bird or a cat. That is what you call stage hypnosis. Hypnosis for the purpose of entertainment. There are other types such as hypnotherapy and self hypnosis, which I will tell you all about later on. But what does hypnosis actually do to someone’s brain? How does it work?
What is hypnosis?
Many people would think hypnosis is a fascinating technique that we humans have learnt about, and if you are one of those people you are neither right nor wrong! Hypnotism is a completely natural skill which allows someone to pay hyper attention to a specific thing, blocking out any distractions. Some deeply hypnotised people will even have to be reminded to blink! There are three different types of hypnosis. Hypnotherapy: a way of using hypnosis for a therapeutic use, stage hypnosis: hypnotising for the sake of entertainment, and self hypnosis: hypnotising yourself (perhaps by watching a video online).
Stages of hypnosis
Hypnosis is most likely to occur in a calm and quiet environment, somewhere with very little disturbance. The hypnotist first relaxes the person they are trying to hypnotise, then gets them to focus on one particular movement as well as the sound of their voice. Eventually the person may become hypnotised. Sounds simple, however it is easier said than done!
So how does hypnosis actually effect the brain?
Compared to a resting brain a hypnotised person will have far more areas of the brain ‘online’. In fact if you make an image in your mind the same areas of the brain will be online, except for one area which will be much more active in a hypnotised person: the Precuneus. The Precuneus is the part of the brain which deals with your consciousness. During hypnosis the Precuneus helps block out as many distractions as possible. All the other areas help them focus on the mental imagery, allowing people to imagine things very clearly (this is how hypnotists make people think they are something they are not, e.g a bird or cat). You may be thinking, how do you get out of a hypnotic state? This all depends on how you have been hypnotised. In some cases a simple surprise will wake them from a hypnotic state, in other cases it’ll just slowly disappear as time passes!
Hypnosis does two things to the brain. The Precuneus allows the brain to block out as many distractions as possible, while the other areas of the brain that are most active while being hypnotised help them to focus on mind imagery. However as with all things there could be more to hypnosis that we just don’t know about yet. After all it is a technique we know little about!
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