Sometimes words become so complicated that it takes a paragraph to dispel the meanings attributed to them. Terms like hypnosis, trance or suggestibility invoke a natural caution. These words conjure up images of a watch-swinging Svengali rather than any sort of psychological science.

It is a good idea to step aside from the words, when they have become so loaded with emotion. The simple truth is that it is possible to manipulate the imagination. We can call that visualisation or guided imagination rather than hypnosis, but the event is actually the same, no matter how we describe it.

We tend to follow authority. My doctor knows far more about the human body and disease than I do, so I consider carefully anything that he has to say. The situation becomes ‘hypnotic’ if I simply do whatever he suggests without reflection, but there has been no ‘hypnosis’ involved.

Hypnosis is a deliberate attempt to control someone’s internal or imaginative experience, but we readily surrender that control every time we watch a movie or read a book. Far from the usual perception of weakness, such use of the imagination actually makes us stronger.

The imagination is a wonderful resource, as long as it isn’t controlled by someone else.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Jon’s new book? Do you have a story about hypnosis that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!