Hypnosis is a mental state (state theory) or set of attitudes (nonstate theory) usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a series of preliminary instructions and suggestions. Hypnotic suggestions may be delivered by a hypnotist in the presence of the subject ("hetero-suggestion"), or may be self-administered ("self-suggestion" or "autosuggestion"). The use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes is referred to as "hypnotherapy".
The words 'hypnosis' and 'hypnotism' both derive from the term "neuro-hypnotism" (nervous sleep) coined by the Scottish physician and surgeon James Braid around 1841 to distinguish his theory and practice from those developed by Franz Anton Mesmer and his followers ("Mesmerism" or "animal magnetism").
Although a popular misconception is that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep, contemporary research suggests that it is actually a wakeful state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, with diminished peripheral awareness. In the first book on the subject, Neurypnology (1843), Braid described "hypnotism" as a state of physical relaxation ("nervous sleep") accompanied and induced by mental concentration ("abstraction").
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