How Hypnosis Does It Work?

There is no explanation for the mechanism behind hypnosis or, at a minimum, there isn’t a satisfactory explanation that addresses many of the questions asked regarding the phenomenon.

A fascinating line of inquiry is the interaction between top-down and bottom-up phenomena. The latter describes the pathway the stimulus travels before it reaches consciousness. Any external stimulus like an image passes through various stages or regions within the brain which are becoming more functionally advanced. The image travels through the cerebral cortex and different regions, which eventually encode the image, until it has a distinct significance. Similar pathways are found in the case of sound, touch as well as other sensory information. Due to the fact that it is moving from the particular stimulus to the more general understanding of the stimulus the process is known as”bottom-up..

The other argument is for exactly the opposite, i.e., perceptions originate from a larger concept such as a concept, idea, or concept before gaining more specific details. The process moves between the broad and the particular. It is a sign that impressions influence the sensory information that is collected, and interpret it in a particular way. It is generally believed that perceptions are dependent on beliefs, expectations and even knowledge. In some instances, we are conscious of this, but in other cases, the process happens completely in a completely uncontrolled and independent manner. One example of this process in action is the capability to read text with missing letters. The top-down method fills in the gaps.

In relation to hypnosis it is believed that one view of the phenomenon is that it appeals to both these interpretive frameworks to better understand the complexity of the unconscious process as well as how it works. In a more general sense, it is possible to say that it’s becoming more apparent the interplay between the mind and the outer reaches of the body, such as in this case, the tissues, cardiovascular system , and the immune system.

Within the mind-body methods we could consider hypnosis, biofeedback, guided imagination and meditation, and progressive relaxation and so on.. They have been proven effective in solving a wide variety of ailments, between insomnia and irritable bowel disorder, from chronic discomfort to hyperhidrosis.

In part due to these possible advantages, which can be achieved in simple and non-invasive ways the use of complementary medicine is increasing in popularity. However, this does not implies that they are covered by or are accepted by medical professionals. The mind-body connection is de facto unsuitable, since the mechanisms behind the interaction aren’t clearly defined or understood. It is also not possible to determine beforehand the likelihood of success of an intervention.

Mind-Body Interaction

The notion that the mind’s thoughts can profoundly and radically influence the body is not new. It is likely that the idea that health and emotions are in some way connected is well-known since the beginning of time, and for millennia there are practices of relaxation, meditation as well as breathing to control the mind-body connection. It’s no surprise that some of these modern methods are based on techniques that have been used for many thousands years by people in the Far East. One of these is are the “relaxation reaction” of Benson is a good example, which suggests brain-body connection via a reduction of cortical activation and the anti-stress function.

However, Benson’s model Benson is referring to can be expanded and expanded, going beyond the stress-relaxation system suggested by Benson. Spencer Jacobs and Jacobs (1) identify mind-body treatments as an “group of therapies that concentrate on the application of the mind together with the body in order to aid in healing.”


The interaction between the mind and body can happen in a top-down or bottom-up manner. In the latter scenario, stimulation starts by engaging in a voluntary activity (hypnosis or meditation, guided imagination etc.) in the brain’s cerebral cortex. The fact that the brain is a part of it in the first action does not mean the possibility of having or has unconscious processes stimulated through the stimulation.

Similar interactions can occur when starting from a stimulation that is sensory like in the case of the progressive relaxing in Jacobson as well as Benson’s “relaxation responses” that is the work of Benson. In these situations there are pathways which begin at the peripheral and recollect more specific areas of brain activity up down to the cortex of the brain.


It is true that things are not as easy as they seem because communication between the central and peripheral isn’t only a one-way road. Both routes, one leading up to the brain’s central activity and the second going downwards to the peripheral region, interact with each other and influence one the other.

In the previous case of relaxation progressive the stimulation of the peripheral cortex is affected by the activities of the cortex, which focuses the attention of stimuli to diminish them until reaching the state of relaxation.

We could talk about a two-way system that includes top-down and bottom-up that work together to create the desired results and, in the end, represent the mind-body connection.

Mechanisms of activation for Hypnosis

Bottom and top processes described above are connected to nerve pathways. Furthermore, the number of cells devoted to the top-down reaction is 10 times greater than the number of nerve fibers that support the bottom-up response.

This is crucial from the perspective, as it appears to suggest that the top-down mechanism could outweigh the bottom-up process. It is essentially, suppressing the stimulus of the bottom-up reaction. This effectively means substituting them with the stimuli of the top-down reaction. The mind’s capacity to create reality is what could explain the effects of placebo and nocebo and provide an interpretive framework for words-based therapies like meditation or hypnosis. This mechanism is the reason suggestion can be a substitute for reality.

A way to prove this is through the work of the Dr. Amir Raz of Columbia University who researched extremely hypnotizable subjects by using an experiment known as the Stroop effect. In this test , they show words that indicate a color, e.g. such as brown, red or purple, each that are written in a different color. The test is essentially choosing the color of it is written. However, reading is an automated process that you spend time trying to identify the color when it is not to the hue of the word. When the term “green” has been written with red ink, it will take longer to determine the color than if you read the words “green” appears in green.

Sixteen people were involved in the study, half of whom were highly hypnotizable, and half were resistant. The subjects were hypnotized individually and was provided with the same suggestions for post-hypnosis.

“Pretty shortly, you’ll be participating in an online contest connected to the brain scanner. Each time you hear my voice over the intercom, you’ll notice a series of nonsense symbols appearing on the screen. They’ll look like the words of an unfamiliar language that you’re not familiar with and you will not try to find any meaning in these symbols. The garbage is printed using one of the three colors such as blue, red and green, or yellow. Your goal is to quickly and precisely press the key in the same color as the one shown. The game will be played without difficulty.”

After the inductions, subjects are subjected to a brain scanner. The highly hypnotizable subjects the part of the brain that normally decodes written words did not turn active. In the same way, the region of the brain that normally detects conflict was not active.

The top-down process obliterated the circuits that are able to decode and read conflicts, even though the manner in how this occurred isn’t understood. It turns out as an indication that the top-down procedure is able to disable the bottom-up process and it is able to be done so by using suggestions in the process of hypnosis.

While this may be the explanation for the phenomena of suggestion, and specifically the hypnotic method however, there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered , and unanswered. Actually this process may be extremely specific. Studies on warts have demonstrated that it is possible to act on warts that are selected by drawing a circle around them. Allergies can be eliminated in small, precisely defined regions. This particularity is likely to require an extremely finely controlled level of the top-down response in order to be effective with excluding the lower-down reaction.

It is also important to determine if and for what people this response is activated solely by suggestions made in the state of hypnosis, or whether the same effect can be achieved through suggestions during the state of waking.

Results of the study suggests that if we are able to imagine something, we are able to transform it into reality precisely as Bernheim stated at the end of the 19th centurythat “Suggestion can be described as an idea that can be real.”


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