Throughout the history of this country, hypnosis has been dismissed as a form of gimmickry. Contrary to this, for centuries numerous cultures have used hypnosis as a means of mental and spiritual healing. Hypnosis is defined as an induced trance-like state in which one is highly susceptible to suggestions, or commands. There are three commonly known methods of hypnosis. Two of which, the authoritarian and standardized approaches, are generally considered non-beneficial towards the subject. Meanwhile the utilization approach, primarily developed by Dr. Milton H. Erickson, is the most widely used amongst psychologists today. The authoritarian approach focuses primarily on the power of the hypnotist over his/her subject. The out-dated though still used, standardized approach, is rather limited due to the fact that it considers a person either hypnotizable or not. In contrast to the authoritarian and standardized approaches, the utilization approach, stresses the interaction nature of the hypnotic relationship.
These approaches have many dissimilarities and thus are utilized for different practices.
The authoritarian approach emphasizes the power of the hypnotist. This approach, spawned by Mesmer and others, is still widely exploited by stage hypnotists and is consequently often the conceptualization held by the uniformed lay person. Even many trained physicians implicitly adhere to this view, which in it's extreme form involves some powerful and charismatic hypnotist exercising some strange power over a hapless and weak-willed subject. In essence, the hypnotist gets the subject to do something he or she wouldn't ordinarily do such as stop smoking or bark like a dog. This approach generally assumes that the unconscious is some passive vehicle into which suggestions are placed. This approach is one which is viewed as limited in value. It is also believed that the unconscious is mistreated or abused. Because of its authoritative manner, this approach is considered ineffective.