What Is Hypnosis?

“If you ask n experts, you will get n+1 answers” is so common a sentiment across fields as to be cliché, but it does reflect the lack of consensus among hypnotists and researchers about the nature of what they do. The American Psychological Association’s Society of Psychological Hypnosis, for example, first published a formal definition in 1994; this was immediately attacked for being too long, and for being too limited. Complaints were made that the notion of hypnosis as a distinct state was not mentioned, and suggested that this indicated a theoretical bias that was not representative of members’ beliefs. ​(Elkins, Barabasz, Council, & Spiegel, 2015)​ When members of the British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis were asked about their agreement with the definition, only about 70% of those who responded felt that their organisation should adopt the APA definition without significant changes. ​(Fellows, 1994)​