More than 20,000 times I have led, or gently pushed, someone into that pleasant and relaxing state that we call hypnosis.
These people have sought me out, paid my fee, and, with varying degrees of trepidation, have embarked upon this adventure in hopes that it would prove a life-changing experience. Very few of them have expressed any real interest in the theoretical nature of hypnosis. They have been much more concerned with its benefis than with its definition. Like every sufferer they have cared more for a cure than for an understanding.
It is probably just as well that most clients are not too curious about the underlying theory of hypnosis, for, in truth, there is much about it that science does not yet comprehend. It is only over the last 30 years or so that hypnosis has been the subject of much scientific attention and analysis. But despite these recent efforts at interpreting this phenomena, no single theory has as yet gained wide acceptance as an explanantion of hypnotic realities.
I say this without any real apology, for the same thing could be said of any number of other useful things. There is very little agreement, for example, on the precise nature of electricity, but this lack of exactness does not obligate us to sit in the dark. For a long time there was no understanding of the mechanism by which aspirin lowers fever. That it does, is obvious, but the method remained elusive. Should we then have refused to give this mysterious pill to those with a fever until we understood it better? If we are unwilling to use things until we have a perfect understanding of them, we shall use few things.
As a therapist I have tried to be responsive to the needs of my clients. Therefore the nature of my calling has been that of a practitioner, not a philosopher. I believe myself skilled in the practical uses of hypnosis, but freely admit that I can add very little to the debates concerning its epistemology or theoretical nature. These issues have been the focus of many academic discussions, but they have few implications for the therapist. What follows, then, is the distillation of what I have learned about the practical and therapeutic uses of hypnosis.
Hopefully, this book will satisfy the need that I feel exists for an informed, but non-academic and non-encyclopedic, study of hypnosis. While it is primarily addressed to psychotherapists who wish to include hypnosis in their arsenal of therapeutic techniques, I will be very disappointed if this book does not also give other serious readers some insight into the vast, and largely untapped, potential of hypnosis.
The above is modified from the Introduction to "Hypnosis: Clinical, Social, and Theatrical Uses," written by E.R. Hutchison. Mr. Hutchison is a psychotherapist, professor, and writer. He has earned three degrees from Syracuse University, and is a former Regents Scholar. :