The word ‘hypnosis’ comes from the Greek word ‘hypnos’, which means ‘sleep1. Although it is hard to define hypnosis, because it has many aspects and degrees, it might be said that hypnosis is a kind of trance (a sleeplike condition) in which the subject responds strongly to the suggestions of the hypnotist. It is difficult to know exactly what changes hypnotism produces in the functioning of the nervous system or the personality.
There are many theories on hypnosis, but no single theory is accepted as completely explaining all aspects of hypnosis. One of the oldest theories regards hypnosis to be a form of sleep. This concept originated in 1784, and was further developed by Ivan Pavlov. However, this theory is contradicted by evidence which indicates that the hypnotized person is not asleep: the knee reflex, which is absent in sleep, is present in the hypnotic state, and recordings of brain waves show the typical patterns of the state in which we are awake.
Methods of putting a subject into a trance have changed in recent years. Very few modern hypnotists use the old method of staring into the subject’s eyes. Instead, they use methods which emphasize relaxing or even sleep. The subject sits in a comfortable chair while the hypnotist talks quietly, giving the subject directions and suggestions which lead him slowly into a trance. The hypnotist watches for signs for this state. For example, many subjects don’t talk when they are in a trance. Instead of talking, they nod or shake their heads when they have to answer the questions the hypnotist asks them.
The hypnotic trance may be classified according to its degree, which depends partly on the hypnotist and partly on the subject. In a light trance, the eyes are closed, breathing becomes slower and the subject is able to carry out simple suggestions. The subject is usually unable to open his eyes or move his amis if the hypnotist tells him that he cannot. In a medium-deep trance, the subject is able to experience feeling of movement even though he is not moving. After coming out of the trance, the subject may not remember what happened during the time he was in a trance.
In a deep trance, the hypnotist can produce very unusual effects. For example, he may tell the subject that, when he comes out of the trance, he will think that he sees a clock on the wall and that he will look at it and say it is midnight even though it’s four o’clock in the afternoon. When he comes out of the trance, the subject will do what he is told to do, but he may not remember anything about what happened in the trance.
In contrast to many people who can be put into a deep trance quite easily, there are others who are not affected at all. The number of such people constitutes about 20% of the population, but this percentage 45 may be higher among people who are 55 or older. Also, subjects who try too hard to fall into a trance may actually be difficult to hypnotize just like those who are afraid or suspicious of hypnosis or the hypnotist. People who resist the process can’t be hypnotized either.
However, some experimenters have reported that it was easier to hypnotize people who did not know they were being hypnotized. These subjects were patients who needed treatment for various kinds of nervous conditions. They were simply told that the doctor would teach them how to relax. Contrary to popular belief, there is no possibility of the subject not awakening as a result of an accident to the hypnotist. It is also not true that a hypnotized subject is completely under the will or power of the hypnotist.
A. What do the following refer to?
1. This concept’ (line 10):
2. ‘him’ (line 21):
3. ‘he’ (line 36):
4. ‘such people* (lines 43-44):
5. These subjects’ (line 51):
B. Mark the best choice.
1. The theory which regards hypnosis as a form of sleep .
a) is still accepted by many scientists
b) was first established by Ivan Pavlov in 1784
c) cannot be accepted because of the evidence which proves just the opposite
d) Both (b) and (c).
2. In modern methods of hypnotic trance .
a) everything depends on the hypnotist
b) relaxing plays an important role
c) most hypnotists prefer to stare into the subject’s eyes
d) subjects are asked not to talk while they are in a trance
3. Which of the following statements is true?
a) There are theories which explain hypnosis satisfactorily.
b) If something happens to the hypnotist after hypnotizing a subject, the subject may not come out of the trance.
c) The hypnotist can take every subject completely under his power.
d) After coming out of medium-deep or deep trances, the subjects may not remember what happened during the trance.
C. What kind of people are likely to be difficult or impossible to hypnotize?