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Similarly, the success of hypnosis does not depend on whether a subject is highly motivated or especially willing.

A very responsive subject will become hypnotized under a variety of experimental conditions and therapeutic settings, whereas a less susceptible person will not, despite his or her sincere efforts.

Though often denigrated as fakery or wishful thinking, hypnosis has been shown to be a real phenomenon with a variety of therapeutic uses - especially in controlling pain. Verrry sleepy..." A waist coated man swings his pocket watch back and forth before the face of a young woman seated in a Victorian-era parlor.

In the case of hypnosis, that yardstick is the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales.

The Stanford scales, as they are often called, were devised in the late 1950s by Stanford University psychologists Andre' M. Hilgard and are still used today to determine the extent to which a subject responds to hypnosis.

In addition, evidence indicates that hypnotic responsiveness may have a hereditary component: identical twins are more likely than same-sex fraternal twins to have similar Stanford scores.

A person's responsiveness to hypnosis also remains fairly consistent regardless of the characteristics of the hypnotist: the practitioner's gender, age and experience have little or no effect on a subject's ability to be hypnotized.

But the new findings reveal how, when used properly, the power of hypnotic suggestion can alter cognitive processes as diverse as memory and pain perception.