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Hypnotic induction is the process undertaken by a hypnotist to establish the state or conditions required for hypnosis to occur. Self-hypnosis is possible, in which a subject listens to a taped induction or plays the roles of both hypnotist and subject.
It is contended[by whom?] that hypnotic induction is a necessary process designed to cause the subject to enter a state of increased suggestibility, during which their critical faculties are reduced and they are more prone to accept the commands and suggestions of the hypnotist. This state is known as a "trance."  Hypnotic induction, therefore, is whatever is necessary to get a person into the state of trance. Others[who?] argue that hypnotic induction is merely a popularly-expected ritual, which is not required for hypnosis to occur; hypnosis is a process of influence, which is enhanced (or formalized) through expected cultural rituals.
In early hypnotic literature a hypnosis induction was a gradual, drawn-out process. Methods such as progressive muscle relaxation were designed to relax the hypnotic subject into a state of inner focus (during which their imagination would come to the forefront) and the hypnotist would be better able to influence them and help them effect changes at the subconscious level. Modern alternatives include the Elman Induction.
Modern hypnotists practice what is known as instant (or snap) induction. Instant hypnosis inductions employ the principles of shock and surprise. A shock to the nervous system of the subject causes their conscious mind to be temporarily disengaged. During this window of distraction the hypnotist can intervene, allowing the subject to enter the state of imaginative inner focus known as hypnosis, or trance.