Explaining Hypnosis without Understanding It

By James W. Duncan, CHt © 2004

How does it work, this hypnosis thing? There are so many ways to attempt to explain the workings of the mind and yet no one really knows how it works. And hypnosis, well that is a whole other thing that is probably never going to be understood. But can we give it an explanation that explains how understanding it can be based on not understanding it? That may be the best way to approach it.

Think for a moment on all the things that happen every day for which we have no knowledge or understanding and yet, they happen just the same. In trying to explain something we could gather the exact information and anecdotal evidence needed to explain it and still not be able to make it clear to those we are hoping to convince. This is often the situation with hypnosis. So, can we step back and explain how we understand that it can’t be understood?

Take for instance the familiar symbol for infinity. When you see it you recognize it as the infinity symbol, but you would be incorrect, technically. That is the layman’s term for what is actually a lemniscate. Okay, so there is a new understanding right there. What difference does that make? Come back to the figure itself and you know that without knowing what its true name was you understand what it represents. What it does… Or do you? What you know, more than likely, is that you have been able to grasp that the symbol represents something that is impossible for human understanding to wrap our minds around in its entirety so we use it instead to represent a lack of complete understanding of the vastness of the concept and that perspective makes it tangible for us. We are accepting what we don’t understand. But this goes further. That figure 8 printed on its side is not just a flat line.

It may seem so after it has been simplified for the limitations of typesetting, but it is in fact a combination of several things; A mobius, which is a two dimensional figure in three dimensions that is further arranged in a specific symmetrical configuration. More specifically the dictionary tells us it is: A curve in the form of the figure 8, with both parts symmetrical, generated by the point in which a tangent to an equilateral hyperbola meets the perpendicular on it drawn from the center. We won’t even go into hyperbolas. You get the idea. Now, bypassing what the lemniscate really represents and going to the figure itself, we have accepted an understanding of a figure limited in exactness by the requirements of print media not really knowing what it truly is in a physical sense. I’m okay with that and I venture to say that most of the population can sleep well at night with this new information. But again we accept what we don’t understand.

At this point you may be asking; what does this have to do with hypnosis and the working of the mind? It is simple really. Hypnosis can be explained by explaining what we don’t know about it and yet we know it is there. Just as we see that infinity symbol on the page and know that we can’t possibly grasp it’s meaning and also know that what we perceive the symbol to be physically in two dimensions is in actuality something completely different.

Still, we see it, recognize it, know it is there without understanding it and ACCEPT it. We accept it… as we should, because it serves the purpose. Hypnosis is there to be accepted and to serve a purpose in helping people achieve well-being. We see it work without complete understanding. In this way the explanation is simple… Infinitely simple.

James Duncan, CHt, PhD(c) is a Life Fellow of the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association® and Chairman of Mentoring Programs for the IMDHA. He is known worldwide as a dynamic and innovative lecturer and teacher as well as keeping a busy in Private Practice in Royal Oak, Michigan. He can be reached at jimwduncan@wowway.com or by phone at (248) 635-2935 he is on the web at www.DuncanHypnotherapy.com.