Hypnosis occurs when Person 1 is guided by Person 2 to respond to suggestions. The suggestions usually involve Person 1 experiencing a change in sensation, perception, thought, or behavior. A person can do self-hypnosis as well.
Nope. Brain scan research shows that hypnotized people are totally awake. Contrary to how it's commonly portrayed in movies, hypnotized people can and do resist hypnotic suggestions, especially when asked to do things that are extreme or out of character. In reality, people under hypnosis are more in a state of heightened concentration but are still in complete control of themselves.
Some people are more suggestible than others. There are actually some procedures to test how suggestible people are. When I was in college and taking a clinical psychology course, my professor actually administered one to the class.
In this test, someone instructs you to stare at a spot on the wall and takes you through some relaxing techniques. And I swear, it does involve telling you that you feel really sleepy! They also make sure to tell you that you can only be hypnotized if you want to be.
When my professor tried to test our suggestibility, I really attempted to get into the spirit of the thing, even though I am a nasty, horrible skeptic (don't tell me something's true unless you want me to ask you HOW you know). She instructed us to try a bunch of things, like imagining our arms were really heavy or stiff. The funniest one was when she told us to imagine there was a mosquito buzzing around the room and landing on our hands. Someone next to me slapped her own hand so hard I nearly fell out of my chair. It was hilarious (sometimes I am a bad person).
In hypnosis stage acts, the entertainer uses a lot of techniques to 1) look for a really suggestible audience member and 2) play a lot of little verbal tricks to make it look like the hypnosis is working (they also sometimes just tell the person that they're going to help play a trick on the audience and to go along with the joke). Don't get that confused with the real deal.
Research has shown that hypnosis (hypnotherapy) can be effective in pain management, weight loss, and stress control. Also, can help with some sexual conditions! Woohoo! Ahem. Sorry.
What about retrieving lost memories??? Dun-dun-dun. You know, like using hypnosis to help someone figure out if she was abused as a child? Well, research shows that hypnosis does NOT help improve the accuracy of a memory--but it does increase a person's confidence in the truth of inaccurate memories!
Anyone seen that movie The Fourth Kind? Some hypnotherapists were totally ticked about that movie, which is about a hypnotherapist helping people retrieve memories of alien abductions. At this point, there's quite a bit of research to suggest that trying to dig up memories this way is pretty risky and untrustworthy.
If you're writing about mind control or hypnosis in a paranormal or fantastical sense, go to town. Get crazy. Give the vampire swirly eyes and make your hero to wild, unimagined things while in the grips of hypnosis.
If you're writing contemporary, at least go to Wikipedia and look up hypnosis and, if relevant, false memories, because the real world is a lot more complicated.
Have any of you been hypnotized? What was it like?