What exactly is hypnosis?
In the late 1700's, a doctor named Franz Mesmer had his patients swallow liquid with magnetic filings and then placed magnets along their bodies in an attempt to redirect the invisible energy in their bodies in order to heal them.
He also gave them suggestions; to IMAGINE their affected area healing, to PICTURE it clearly in their mind of the affected area healing.
The more you can focus on only one thing, be it a thought, a sound, a picture on the wall, a book, a TV show, etc., the more you'll naturally block out the surrounding things that would normally distract you. When you've done this in the past, your friends may have told you that you looked like you were a million miles away or zoned out. The townspeople in Mesmer's day called that zoned out look in their eyes as being MESMERIZED, named after Dr. Mesmer.
In the future, this process of a doctor giving the patients suggestions as to what to picture and imagine, and assuming they chose to accept his suggestions and repeat it to themselves over and over again, would be called auto-hypnosis.
Around 75 years later, around the mid 1800's, another doctor, James Braid, used this auto-hypnosis technique on himself many times in order to heal himself of various illnesses. And remember, this was before the words "hypnosis" and "auto-hypnosis" were created.
Auto-hypnosis can also be considered as self-hypnosis in that there was no doctor giving you the original suggestion to heal yourself, that you gave yourself the original suggestion and then repeated it.
Also note that he did this to himself. There was no Svengali or witch doctor taking over his mind and forcing him to do things against his will or religion.
He noticed that as he focused only on healing himself and nothing else that he would become very relaxed, very sleepy. Feeling relaxed and sleepy is a natural byproduct of narrowing your thoughts or vision to only one thought or object. Chances are, if you were laying down you would fall asleep, which is why meditators who focus on only one thing sit straight up.
Having a knowledge of Greek, he renamed the word Mesmerized to Hypnotized because the word "ypnos" is the Greek word for sleep. But since he wasn't asleep, just relaxed, he later tried to change the word hypnotized back to mesmerized, but by then the townspeople had ran with that word for so long that he gave up his efforts.
Years later, in the days of superstition, gullibility and naivety, the movie industry created movies showing a Svengali taking over a woman's mind and calling it hypnotized. They connected a new popular word they couldn't properly interpret and explain with a process that doesn't exist and the gullible public ran with it.
And that vision still exists today. Thanks to the movie industry and the thousands of movies that followed, there will always be people who feel the word hypnotism is mind control, witchcraft, voodoo, against their religion and is used only on the weak minded. The exact opposite of what it really is.
So let's forget the word hypnotized and go back to the word mesmerized, since they mean the same thing. Being mesmerized is being able to focus on one object or one thought or one chore to the point where you can block out the surrounding things that could easily distract you. When you have done so, you have entered a "hypnotic state of mind," or let's call it a "mesmerized state of mind."
Professional sports players have this state of focus, but they call it being "in the zone." Their coach was the guide that got them to put themselves in that zone. He got them all pumped up and to focus on the job at hand, and most importantly, to not allow the problems at home to distract them in order for them to optimize their talents. Does that make the coach a svengali? Did he control their minds? Is his process against anyone's religion? Are his players weak minded?
And guess what? Regardless of what the coach tells his players, it's ultimately up to each player to accept what the coach tells them and to run with it or to ignore him and to also focus on the problems at home. If the players accept what the coach is telling them, then they will repeat it over and over again in their minds, thereby essentially telling themselves what the coach originally told them. And again, this is auto-hypnosis.
A hypnotist simply guides you into that zone, that state of focus, at which point he then gives you suggestions as to how you should act or feel, but, just like the sports players, it is ultimately up to the client if he or she really wants to heal themself. If they accept the suggestion, then they re-tell themselves what the hypnotist told them, thereby healing themselves.
So it's up to you, to accept the words a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a sports coach or even a hypnotist is telling you. And to allow those words to resonate in your own mind and allow them to repeat themselves over and over again, to the point where those words, with your permission through auto-hypnosis, can become your reality.