1. Introduction

Ever since its emergence at the doorstep of the French revolution, hypnosis has been a subject of heated controversy.

Its seemingly overpowering nature and supernatural effects in the subjects fallen under its spell has amazed and inspired man for decades, and has continued to leave its imprint in both science, religion and popular culture to this very day.

Hypnosis was the original catalyst for the separation and validation of psychiatry as an accepted science amongst medical sciences, but it has also been the origin or rejuvenation of several highly questionable directions of alternative medicine that are still being practiced today. It has served as the inspiration for many classical fictional literary masterpieces, and, at present, it is still being used for entertainment purposes, whether on stage or on the television screen. It has been the least likely medium of the most successful treatment of many diseases resistant to conventional therapies, but it has also failed to prove its effectiveness in just as many diseases in which hypnosis would seem to be the obvious choice.

This apparent duality has caused the investment in hypnosis within the medical community to wax and wane over the years, but the continued interest by the common man has kept hypnosis alive and well in periods of disregard and has savored the art from extinction until the medical practitioners would acquire the knowledge on how to wield it to the benefit of their patients. However, the embracement of hypnosis in less scientific circles has also caused the artificial maintenance of grave misconceptions about hypnosis that refuse to die, and that has been allowed to obscure the truth about hypnosis from the public and discourage its use amongst medical professionals for far too long.

With this thesis I will not try to append any novel information to hypnosis as a science, nor will I try to resolve any of the ongoing disputes that have prevented and are still preventing leading researchers in the field from moving forwards in one unified body. I will not glorify hypnosis as a phenomenon or as a treatment modality, nor will I discredit it if sufficient evidence for either of them is present.

However, what I hope to accomplish with this thesis is to extract the well established scientific data from the wealth of unfounded claims obscuring the understanding and utilization of hypnosis in clinical practice and everyday life. Based on this information, I, furthermore, aim to briefly summarize the theory surrounding hypnosis and to make it a little bit more accessible and comprehensible for medical professionals not trained in the practice of hypnosis. Finally, I hope that the words I will lay down on the following pages will contribute to disowning some of the misconceptions regarding hypnosis, and to finally bring the truth about the science into the hands of every layman who would desire the burden of this knowledge.

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