Hypnosis has been used clinically for over 300 years and yet we have no true consensus defining just what hypnosis is. Some define hypnosis as a process while others describe key features and hypnotic phenomena. Many see hypnosis as an altered state while others offer different explanations of the behaviors seen while “under hypnosis”. Still other expert clinicians and researchers in the field admit that they just don’t know what hypnosis is. Perhaps my favorite answer to the “what is your own definition or understanding of hypnosis?” question came from current Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis president Rick Kluft, MD. “You know hypnosis is something I think I understand for about half an hour, maybe twice a year”.
Again, please remember that all of these definitions are offered spontaneously while sitting in front of a video camera. They are not the product of careful consideration and word-crafting but rather the nuts-and-bolts working definitions used by those who use or study hypnosis on a daily basis.