What it is and is not
The Scientific Proof Behind Hypnosis
Hypnosis has nothing to do with stage hypnotism. The latter is simply a performance designed to entertain, while real hypnosis is a potent and accessible tool for dealing with psychological and behavioral problems.
So what is hypnosis? It is a state of highly focused attention in which the subject is able to relax and welcome suggestions either during hypnotherapy from a qualified therapist, or through self-hypnosis materials. This relaxed state is known as a hypnotic trance and makes people more open to suggestions than they would be under normal circumstances.
The Validity of Hypnosis
According to Dr. Clifford Lazarus, Ph. D., hypnosis is “a genuine psychological phenomenon that has valid uses in clinical practice.”  The number and variety of clinical studies serves as testament to the power and effectiveness of hypnosis, often the last resort for people who have tried and failed using other methods and therapies.
It would take many volumes to contain the sheer quantity of case studies in which hypnosis has made a real difference in the quality of life of millions of people. Success stories abound where hypnosis has been used to quit smoking, lose weight, and manage pain, some of which are reported by:
The American Lung Association (The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 2000),Hospitals (Lancet, 2000), and in several official edical publications: (International Journal of Clinical Experimental Hypnosis, 2000), (American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1995) (Oncology, 2000)
The evidence is everywhere.
Hypnosis Proves a Popular Choice
People from all walks of life are turning to hypnosis to help them improve various aspects of their lives such as Ben Affleck, Ellen DeGeneres,Lily Allen, Kevin Costner, Orlando Bloom, Jack Nicklaus, David Beckham and more. The list of people past and present who turned to hypnosis to help them develop positive habits, overcome limitations, or mitigate personal problems also includes Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Mozart, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Jackie Kennedy 
According to the American Cancer Society, hypnosis has been evaluated and approved as an effective relaxation technique by the National Institutes of Health. 
Powerful Pain Relief Potential
The applications for hypnosis seem limitless indeed, and nowhere has it proven more effective than in the control and elimination of pain. Hypnotherapy has been shown to reduce pain and speed up recovery from surgery , lessen the frequency and intensity of migraines , lower post-treatment pain in burn injury victims  and contribute to the treatment of phantom limb pain .
Research over the last 40 years clearly indicates that hypnosis is a safe and effective alternative for a vast range of complaints all without drugs or side effects”.  It has also been recognized by medical professionals as an alternative for the treatments of certain ailments and recommended for patients who fail to respond to more traditional pharmacological treatments. 
What Happens Exactly?
Hypnosis enables a person to switch off the outside world, relax, and focus attention on a specific area with minimal distraction. Under hypnosis he or she becomes more open to discussion and suggestion, making it possible to “change perceptions or sensations”  and influence their thinking and behavior in a myriad of ways. Hypnosis has been shown to stimulate creativity , strengthen the immune system , enhance sporting performance , and aid in the promotion of concentration, study habits, and the acquisition and retention of knowledge. 
Whether you want to improve aspects of your overall health or make changes that will allow you to live a happier and more fulfilling lifestyle, hypnosis provides a reliable and comfortable means of achieving it.
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NaturalHypnosis.com: Further Information and Scientific Research On Hypnosis
Faymonville ME, Defechereux T, Joris J, Adant JP, Hamoir E, Meurisse M. Hypnosis and its application in surgery. Service d'Anesthesie-Reanimation, Universite de Liege, Rev Med Liege. 1998 Jul;53(7):414-8.
Anderson JA, Basker MA, Dalton R. Migraine and hypnotherapy. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis 1975; 23(1): 48-58.
Patterson DR, Ptacek JT, Baseline pain as a moderator of hypnotic analgesia for burn injury treatment. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology 1997; 65(1): 60-7.
Oakley DA, Whitman LG, Halligan PW. Treatment of phantom limb pain using hypnotic imagery. Department of Psychology, University College, London, UK.
Barrett, Deirdre. The Power of Hypnosis. PyschologyToday.com, Jan 01, 2001. Updated Sept 02, 2010.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Clinical guideline 61.February 2008, Page 15.
Mental Health and Hypnosis, WebMD.com, reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on June 05, 2012
Donald R. Liggett. Enhancing Imagery through Hypnosis: A Performance Aid for Athletes. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis , Vol. 43, Iss. 2, 2000
Theodore Xenophon Barber. The effects of “hypnosis” on learning and recall: A methodological critique. Journal of Clinical Psychology.Volume 21, Issue 1, pages 19–25, January 1965