Trance is actually a normal and everyday state. We experience light trance whenever we are engaged in an activity that requires intense concentration such as playing a musical instrument, practicing martial arts, or dancing. We also may find ourselves in trance when we daydream or when doing something repetitious like driving a car on a highway or listening to a persistent musical beat.

Hypnosis is being in trance and receiving suggestions. There are many examples of hypnosis in modern society. Some are obvious. For instance, advertising makes use of suggestion transmitted through the trance-inducing medium of television.

But a lot of hypnotic suggestion is more subtle and falls under the guise of accepted conventions of family, culture, religion, nationality, law, and government. In fact, many clinical hypnotists claim that everyone has been hypnotized and that their job is really to remove those hypnotic suggestions that no longer serve their clients well.


There are many myths and misconceptions concerning hypnosis, for example, that a client is completely under the hypnotist's control. A hypnotist cannot make an individual do anything under hypnosis that they do not want to do. Hypnotic subjects are totally alert under hypnosis and can remember everything that happened while they were in trance. And if an emergency were to occur during a session, such as a fire, the subject would simply snap out of trance, and attend to the problem at hand.


The use of hypnosis in Western medicine was popularized by many prominent doctors including Mesmer, Braid, Charcott, James Esdaile, Sigmund Freud, and Milton Erickson, to name but a few. The American Medical Association formally recognized the role of hypnosis in facilitating healing in 1956.

Perhaps the most popular uses of hypnosis are for facilitating weight loss and smoking cessation. Overcoming phobias, stress reduction, pain management, low self-esteem, and career coaching are some of the other areas where hypnosis is commonly applied. 

For more on hypnosis, see my 30-minute interview conducted by Kate Blecher of Kate's Holistic Healing.