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A learning center for hypnosis and self hypnosis education. A resource for finding professional referrals for hypnosis treatment of medical and psychotherapeutic issues. A learning center for hypnosis and self hypnosis education. A resource for finding professional referrals for hypnosis treatment of medical and psychotherapeutic issues.
Member: American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis: Fact and Fiction
Is Hypnosis Dangerous?
Ideomotor Action
Semantic-Imagery Relaxation
Structuring Auto-Suggestions
Administrating Auto-Suggestions
Deepening the Hypnotic Trance
Testing the Hypnotic Trance
Emotional Behavior
Psychosomatic Disorders
Rules of the Mind
The Power of Creative Imagination
How to Set Realistic Goals
You Can Learn to Relax
Glossary of Terms
Finding a Hypnotherapist Near You
Certification: Licensed Professionals
Hypnosis Training For Professionals
Hypnosis Downloads

Hypnosis Learning Modules

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Module 1 -- Behavior

In this module we will present some definitions of terms and concepts so there will be no misunderstanding as what is meant when these terms and concepts are encounter throughout the following modules.


For our purposes we will define behavior as follows: Any observable activity of muscles or glands, such as movements of parts of the body, appearance of tears, perspiration, saliva and so forth. A smile is a behavior; so is talking, a grimace, trembling, blushing (produced by muscular changes in blood vessels), postural changes, eye movement as one follows words on a printed page.

Mind and Mental Activity

By mind and mental activity we mean a function of the brain and nervous system in the same sense that digestion is a function of the stomach and gastrointestinal track; and circulation is a function of the heart and vascular system. All of the infinitely complex manifestations of cerebral activity can be ultimately reduced to two phenomena -- muscular movements and glandular discharges. Whether it is Einstein solving mathematical equations on a piece of paper, a child hugging a new toy or crying over the loss of a toy, a musician composing the next hit song or the president delivering his State of the Union speech -- all ultimately are manifestations of muscular movement and glandular changes. The end result of all mental activity is muscular movement and or glandular changes. At first thought this may seem wrong. In order to help you reconcile yourself to this idea, I would remind you that most people would agree that all cerebral activity is manifested by "words" and "actions." Under action, falls all external mechanical activity of which man is capable. Actions are only possible by using muscles. We use words to express ideas and communicate with one another. Words are sounds produced in the larynx and in the mouth cavity by muscular movement, unless they are written, in which case the muscles of the fingers are used. Therefore, all external manifestations of the functioning of the brain can be reduced to muscular movement and a change in the secretions of the glands. This includes such observable phenomena described as animation, joy, passion, sorrow, etc., which are the results of greater or lesser contractions of definite sets of muscles and glandular secretions such as tears. If it were not for our muscles, we could accomplish absolutely nothing. The muscles of our body are controlled by our brain and nervous system.

A Two Way Street

Brain processes affect what happens in other organs of our body. Also, changes in other organs of the body in turn affect what happens in the brain. For example, anger or fear interrupts digestion, accelerates the beating of the heart, and increases the discharge of some glandular substances. The brain is not isolated from the rest of the body, how it functions depends on chemical substances delivered to it by the blood stream. The brain and the rest of the body constitute one system. Disorders in behavior may occur as a result of chemical changes in the body. They can also result from a person's perceptions and thoughts. We will have more to say about this later.

For our purposes we will divide human behavior into four categories:
  1. Voluntary Behavior
  2. Nonvoluntary Behavior
  3. Involuntary Behavior
  4. Hypnotic Behavior

By Voluntary Behavior we mean some action carried out by an individual, after he or she has made a conscious decision to perform the act. For example, If there should be a cup of coffee to the left of me on a table, but I feel I would rather have the coffee at my right, pick up the cup and move it to the right side of the table; I have performed a voluntary act. In order for an act to be voluntary, the individual performing the act must always know what is going to occur before the action takes place. In the above example, first there is the thought, "I would like to have the cup of coffee at my right." Next I decide to move the cup of coffee. Then I carry out the physical act of moving the coffee.

By Nonvoluntary Behavior we mean an action carried out by an individual that he or she did not consciously initiate, but once the individual becomes aware of the act, he or she can terminate the act. For example, If you have ever been at a basketball game, you may have observed some spectators throwing imaginary basketballs at strategic moments during the game. Or perhaps you have experienced this while watching a baseball game. You may find yourself throwing a baseball or performing some act you would like to see occur. You may then become aware of what you are doing, feel it is silly and stop performing the act. Another example of nonvoluntary behavior, that almost all motorists have experienced, is while sitting in the passenger's seat, something occurs that demands the automobile be braked immediately. Often the passenger will start pressing on an imaginary break. Once they become aware of what they are doing and realize that it serves no useful purpose, they stop the action. Sometime, if they feel the situation is very dangerous, they find it difficult to stop pushing on the imaginary brake, even though they know it will not help the situation.

Nonvoluntary behavior occurs when we want some action (by us or others) to occur and then find ourselves subconsciously carrying out the act. Usually once we become aware of what we are doing we can terminate the act. There is no sense of willing the act to take place on our part. Probably everyone has at one time or another caught himself unintentionally performing some action that he is watching someone else perform. For example, when we watch someone trying very hard to reach something, we unconsciously tend to reach. This type of behavior tends to occur when our attention is focused on one thing. That is, our mind is occupied by a single dominant thought.

Our field of attention is restricted to a single event. This type of behavior is sometimes referred to as ideomotor action.

By Involuntary Behavior we mean some action that an individual performs that he does not initiate, and has no control over. For example, if some object is rapidly approaching your eyes, you will blink. You have no choice. If you touch something very hot with your hand, your hand will immediately remove itself. Again you have no control over the action. If a light is shined in your eye, the pupil of your eye will contract; it is not under your voluntary control. Such behavior is usually due to an inborn reflex. You do not initiate it and you cannot control it.

By Hypnotic Behavior we mean actions that an individual performs in response to suggestions made by a hypnotist. These actions are carried out without any sense of voluntary action on the part of the subject. The subject observes these actions as responses to suggestion that he or she did not initiate. The individual acts in a passive manner; there is no sense of initiating or inhibiting the action. The individual is aware of what is happening and has no desire to control the action. For example, if it is suggested that an individual's hand is becoming very light and will begin to float in the air like a gas filled balloon. To the disbelief of many subjects, this is what occurs. If it should be suggested that the temperature in the room is rapidly dropping below zero. The subject will respond by shivering and goose bumps will appear on his skin. People in the "hypnotic state" tend to react to the suggestions of the hypnotist as though they were reality. If a hypnotist should suggest to a subject that there is a purple alligator in front of him, he will see the alligator, even though he knows he is responding to a suggestion, the alligator is not real and is a hallucination.

From an introspective point of view, the most characteristic difference between actions performed through the influence of suggestion and ordinary acts is that ordinary acts are felt to be willed, while suggested acts are felt not to be willed.

It is probable that any phenomenon which can be produced by suggestion while in the "hypnotic state," can be produced to a lesser degree by suggestions given in the normal waking condition. All observable behaviors described above are actually carried out by the musculature of the individual, which is under the control of his brain and nervous system.

Suggestions are ideational stimuli. They are used to convey an idea from one individual (the hypnotist) to another (the subject) with the intent of soliciting certain responses. These responses do not involve any conscious volitional effort and are neither innate nor acquired adequate responses to the stimulus. A distinguishing characteristic of suggestion is that the response elicited by it is nonvoluntary in its initiation. It never involves the active, conscious, volitional participation of the subject. This does not mean that the subject cannot evaluate or control the response if he wanted to; however, usually he has no desire to do so. The response is behavior in which he is a passive participant. This is why we call it "nonvoluntary" and not "involuntary" behavior.

Behavior as a Continuum

There is no hard-and-fast distinction between our classifications of behavior. In fact they seem to form a continuum in which separating them into categories is arbitrary. The extremes of the continuum manifest very clear differences, but they are a matter of degree.

One phenomena of hypnosis that is very impressive is, suggested behavior that is not considered under voluntary control, can be evoked when a person is hypnotized. We will see later that many involuntary behaviors can be through a process called conditioning, elicited without hypnosis. We can learn to control involuntary behavior.

Continue to Module 2 - Introduction to Hypnosis

The instructions presented are from the personal collections and writing library of Mr. Robert E. Cutter, who died December 13, 2001, while in the process of completing the transfer of his work to the internet. These are offered as educational instruction only. The purpose of this instruction is the effective learning and use of hypnotic techniques for vocational or avocational self-improvement. This instruction is not offered as a substitute for, nor as a supplement to, any form of therapy concerned with physical, mental, nervous or emotional illness. Robert E. Cutter served as web consultant for American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association for three years. His hypnosis education came through the training he provided at a school he owned in the 1950's in Los Angeles, California, along with his wife who preceded him in death in 1980. Robert Cutter was not a psychologist and did not practice psychotherapy, but his interest in hypnosis motivated him to provide free resources materials for others who wanted to learn to use the power of their minds to improve well being and health-related issues.
Michael A. Robinson, R.N.- BC Psychiatry
Licensed Texas State Nursing Board Registered Nurse
Texas State Nursing Board Certified in Psychiatry
In Honor and Memory of Robert E. Cutter, B.S. 1923-d.2001
From the Writings of Robert Cutter's Self Hypnosis Center
About Feelings Network
Texas . 78526
Phone (956) 203-0608
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