The author explores the nature of hypnosis, which he characterizes as a motivated mode of information processing that enables most humans to alter, to varying degrees, their experience of body, self, actions, and world. The essence of hypnosis is not to be found in heterohypnosis; instead, it lies in the spontaneous self-activation of that mode of information processing. The hypnosis field has substantially lost sight of spontaneous self-activation, because the word hypnosis is usually used to mean heterohypnosis. Self-activation of the hypnotic mode of information processing is the necessary sine qua non of hypnotic psychopathology. Moreover, self-activation of trance is the characteristic hypnotic behavior of a distinct subset of highly hypnotizable individuals.
The development of new psychotherapies such as EMDR has led to numerous fresh approaches to both the treatment of trauma and to the understanding of underlying psychopathology. A unified view appears to be slowly emerging in an attempt to corroborate clinical practice with neurobiological data. This article attempts to demonstrate links between alternate psychotherapies by highlighting what appears to be an invariant among these approaches, namely “letting go.” This concept refers to a psycho-physical dynamic that combines psychological dissociation and re-association, as well as the body’s vagotonic mechanisms. Following an explanation of this process, it is demonstrated how letting go can manifest itself physiologically and why this may be significant in the study of trauma.