Hypnosis is a set of techniques and suggestions that alter one's perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Today, it is widely used therapeutically, for entertainment, or getting over addictions. There have always been misconceptions of the power of hypnosis and the trance in which the person being hypnotized succumbs to. Chapter 5 of Lilienfeld's text, Consciousness: Expanding the Boundaries of Psychological Inquiry goes into greater details of the myths behind hypnosis on pages 182 and 183. For my senior class party in high school, we invited a hypnotist to come in for part of the night's entertainment. It was definitely funny, but I always wondered what really went on when someone was under the hypnotist's spell. The following Youtube video gives an example of what we experienced at our senior party:
Are they really under a spell? Does the hypnotist have complete control over the person being hypnotized? What does the person being hypnotized feel/experience?
Although hypnosis is still very much used as an alternative way to treat many aspects of mental and physical disorders, most of the results can be disputed by ruling out rival hypotheses. According to our textbook it can be a great tool when used therapeutically depending on how susceptible the person is to suggestiveness, but we also have to rule out the fact that the success of hypnotic treatment could be because of the relaxed state one becomes or the suggestibility of the person being hypnotized. Either way, I think that one of the reasons that hypnosis is a great therapeutic tool is the fact that the mind is very powerful when it truly believes it can fight an addiction or overcome fears. Hypnosis is a good tool to help the person believe that they can achieve their goal of quitting smoking, losing weight, getting over their fear of flying, etc; therefore, enabling itself to overcome obstacles that a negative thinker would otherwise be defeated by.
So can hypnotism scientifically be proven to cure diseases and ailments? No. Can it aid in the recovery of certain mental blocks like addictions and fears? I think there are too many variables to determine what is actually causing its effectiveness, but it doesn't hurt to try. It's the right tool for some people and others, no.