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  • A trancelike state induced by a hypnotist, which can be used for medical purposes to relieve anxiety or alter behavior. Not all people are susceptible to hypnosis; new research suggests that susceptibility to hypnosis is related to fear and sensory gating ability (the ability to block sensory stimuli from awareness). The neurosurgeon James Braid (1795–1860), called the “Father of Modern Hypnotism,” ascribed the trancelike state to a physiological process resulting from prolonged attention to an object of fixation. Braid used hypnotism to treat various disorders and had little success, although other physicians at the time claimed better results. The neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893) endorsed hypnotism for the treatment of hysteria, and the reports of his success led to systematic experimental examinations of hypnosis across Europe. ...

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