Is hypnosis real? Absolutely yes! Hypnosis has been studied for thousands of years and it is very definitely a very real phenomenon.
In 1892, a team from the British Medical Association commissioned to research hypnosis reported that they were satisfied as to “the genuineness of the hypnotic state”.
This team of researchers also said “ the committee is of the opinion that, as a therapeutic agent, hypnotism is frequently effective in relieving pain, procuring sleep, and alleviating many functional ailments (i.e., psycho-somatic complaints and anxiety disorders)." (British Medical Journal, 1892)
Then in 1955, the Psychological Medicine Group of the BMA commissioned a study, led by Prof. T. Ferguson Rodger, to deliver a second more comprehensive report on hypnosis. They found "The Subcommittee is satisfied after consideration of the available evidence, that hypnotism is of value and may be the treatment of choice in some cases of so-called psychosomatic disorder and psychoneurosis. It may also be of value for revealing unrecognized motives and conflicts in such conditions. As a treatment, in the opinion of the Subcommittee, it has proved its ability to remove symptoms and to alter morbid habits of thought and behavior. In addition to the treatment of psychiatric disabilities, there is a place for hypnotism in the production of anesthesia or analgesia for surgical and dental operations, and in suitable subjects it is an effective method of relieving pain in childbirth without altering the normal course of labour."
In 1958, the American Medical Association similarly conducted a report on hypnotherapy and likewise approved hypnosis as a legitimate therapeutic tool in the treatment of certain illnesses.
Hypnosis is not all in the mind. Research has found it creates real, measurable, changes in the brain. Using MRI scans a modern Israeli study showed reduced activity in some brain regions during memory suppression, and increased activity in others while hypnosis was induced.
Some researchers have dismissed hypnosis as mere social compliance. This view doesn't explain how hypnosis can allow for patients to undergo surgery without pain. I'm quite sure the Queen of Belgium was not merely complying with society while her surgeons sliced her open, without chemical anaesthetic, during her thyroid surgery.
Everyone understands pain and so there’s no better way to demonstrate the power of hypnosis by showing how well it manages pain. If you have any doubt at all about how real hypnosis is, and how powerful it is, watch the short video below. This remarkable video shows a Dentist only using hypnosis to extract teeth.
If the above video doesn't convince you that hypnosis is real, perhaps the following short video will. It shows a hypnotherapist using self hypnosis to bypass pain in surgery. It's well worth the watch.
Is hypnotherapy ever a one-session "quick fix" for a problem? Surprisingly, yes, although not everyone is always this fortunate.
Having conducted thousands of hypnotherapy sessions now, I have to admit that watching rapid change occur for my clients never gets old. I’m often astounded at how fast people can change using hypnotherapy if they’re ready for change. I’m also amazed that some people can have their problem sorted out in a single session while others can take quite a few sessions. Some clients never achieve their goals.
The difference between a single session “quick fix” client and a client that requires many sessions is usually just a matter of their readiness for change. One of the harder (by harder I actually mean lengthier) things to help a client with is an addiction to alcohol. The reason for this is that the alcohol is usually used as a crutch to the client. Most people using alcohol as a crutch are reluctant to part with it. For this reason, the first part of the hypnotherapy is dedicated to helping the client get to the point where the crutch isn’t needed or wanted anymore. Once this is achieved the magic really starts. I have had a number of clients that reversed this trend.
I have treated a number of businessmen that considered themselves to be alcoholics and had a different attitude to most people needing the help. These men displayed a fierce determination to stop drinking. I have the members of this group will always say something along the lines of “I don’t care what it takes, I don’t care how many sessions it takes, but I’m telling you now that I’m going to stop drinking at any cost”. Well, this shows a readiness for change that can’t be faked and these people almost always stop drinking, permanently, within a session or two of hypnotherapy!
It’s the same with clients wanting to stop smoking. Those that can look at a cigarette and honestly say to the cigarette “I hate you and I want you out of my life” almost always stop smoking in a single session. They were ready for change and because they were ready for change, change came quickly! This rule of thumb can be applied to most conditions treated using hypnotherapy.
I've also come across a number of clients that want their whole lives fixed in a single session. I call these clients “chancers”. They put themselves under tremendous pressure to achieve everything in a single session. Some of them do this because they’re struggling with finances and some don’t believe they’re worth the investment. They’re taking a chance. Regardless of their situation, this attitude generally isn't helpful to the achievement of their goals. They often end up “trying” too hard and that unfortunately just doesn't work with hypnotherapy most of the time.
Some people are in two minds about change. Some people will want to have a lovely slim, trim, healthy body, but at the same time want to continue eating a dozen chocolate eclairs a day washed down with their favourite soft drink. Hypnotherapy is a truly wonderful and powerful change agent, but you can’t normally change the rules of the physical universe with it! It would take a few sessions more of hypnotherapy to get the client to the point that a slim body is a greater priority than wolfing down pastries! Once this is achieved I have found that work progresses swiftly. Of course, the opposite is also true. Those that are ready to lose the weight do so very quickly with hypnotherapy.
Some people just aren't ready for change and never will be. There is no helping them. We each really do have free will and there isn't enough hypnosis on this planet to change this. Clients sent by their spouse or parent often fall into this category if they don’t want the change for themselves.
In a nutshell, commitment to change and readiness for change seem to be the catalysts that drive rapid change. Having the attitude ends up saving my clients time and money. It can’t be faked. The subconscious mind knows. Some clients need the change that they’re not ready for. This takes more work.
Troy Robins - Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Oxford & Witney, Oxfordshire in the UK.