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.
Do I have to be “feeble minded” to be hypnotised? No. The exact opposite is true. You need to be intelligent enough to follow the hypnotherapist’s directions in order to go into hypnosis.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. As such, as professional hypnotherapist, the only person I’ve ever hypnotised is myself. To guide myself into hypnosis all I need to do is give myself the instructions into hypnosis and follow the directions into hypnosis. By doing this, the only place I can arrive is in hypnosis. I certainly wouldn't arrive in Beirut by following the directions into hypnosis.
It’s no different for anyone else wanting to go into hypnosis. All a person has to do to go into hypnosis is to follow the direction into hypnosis. Most people don’t have the directions needed to go into hypnosis and for this reason most people need to get these directions from an experienced hypnotherapist. Being able to following the directions into hypnosis takes a certain amount of intelligence which may disqualify the so called “feeble minded”.
Fortunately hypnosis is far easier done than said. It’s not rocket science and so most people are intelligent enough to follow the directions into hypnosis. What is becoming more evident to me is that it's the people with higher intelligence that are increasingly making use of hypnotherapy. There are several reasons for this:
I have encountered a very small number of clients that are too feeble minded to follow the simple instructions necessary to go into hypnosis. I have had the privilege of working with many people considered to be mentally disabled and most were able to patiently follow the directions into hypnosis. Most of them found benefit in hypnotherapy and returned many times. Very few, in my experience, have failed. I find this very encouraging.
Is hypnotherapy different to hypnosis? Hypnotherapy is a branch of clinical hypnosis. Before the word “hypnotherapy” was coined there was only “hypnotism”. Hypnotism is a huge subject and covers all forms and methods of hypnosis.
Basically there were two types of hypnotism practiced to begin with. There was the hypnotism used for entertainment purposes, called “stage hypnosis”, and there was the hypnotism used to help people to achieve their personal goals.
Because the general public in those days didn't understand how hypnosis worked, hypnosis, when used in the world of entertainment, tended to scare people. We have a natural fear of the unknown which we at last seem to be outgrowing as a species. For this reason, those people that practiced hypnotism to help others wanted to distance their art from that of stage hypnosis, even though some of the best hypnotists started out entertaining the public with hypnosis. They came up with the term “clinical hypnosis”.
Once clinical hypnosis had been differentiated from stage hypnosis, people started to specialise in the therapeutic branch of hypnotism. The word “therapy” literally means "curing” or “healing”. The objective of therapy is to correct health problems and so the word “hypnotherapy” was born to promote the use of hypnosis to help people to correct their heath problems.
Many people today would be surprised at the number of health problems hypnotherapy is able to help with. Hospitals in the UK are starting to employ hypnotherapists to help their patients that suffer with IBS and to help with painless childbirth. A number of years ago the Queen of Belgium had thyroid surgery and opted for “hypnosedation” instead of chemical anaesthesia. Hypnotherapy is also used to control pain as demonstrated in class below by one of the true masters of hypnotherapy, Gerald F Kein.
As the world continues to learn more about what consciousness is and how it works, more people are turning to hypnotherapy for answers including the doctors and the scientists. Hypnotherapy is non-invasive; there is no cutting, stitching, injecting or swallowing of chemicals in hypnotherapy. It’s also much faster, and thus cheaper and more effective than other forms of therapy.
How is hypnosis different from using affirmations? Hypnosis is different to using affirmations due to “critical factor bypass”. The “critical factor” is a filter in the conscious mind that decides whether you’re comfortable or not with incoming information. If I say “the sky is green and the grass is blue”, unless you’re an alien, you’d probably feel uncomfortable with that information.
That uncomfortable feeling is your critical factor rejecting that information. If I say “the sky is blue and the grass is green” you’re probably comfortable with that statement and means your critical factor didn't reject it.
If a morbidly obese person says to himself, “I'm slim, trim health and happy”, he’d probably feel a little uncomfortable with that affirmation. In this case, because the critical factor knows it’s not true, the information is rejected. It doesn't matter how many times he says it to himself, it’s not going to stick any-time soon. How many times would you have to tell yourself that the sky is green before it you’d believe it?
It would take a lot of work and a lot of time for that affirmation to get through the critical factor to become a subconscious fact. Of course, the subconscious is like an organic computer and so once it is a subconscious fact, it’s just a matter of time before the subconscious mind turns that information into reality. It’s just a matter of time before the person is slim, trim, healthy and happy.
Now there are some short cuts. It’s useful to know that the conscious mind is a very focussed mind and as such can only be in one place at a time. You can only focus on one thing at a time. If you give yourself affirmations and at the same time distract your conscious mind, the chances of these suggestions going through to the subconscious are greatly improved.
For example, if you repeated the affirmation “I'm slim, trim, healthy and happy” to yourself while tapping away at different parts of your face and forehead, your conscious mind would probably be too busy with the tapping to reject all of the affirmations (critical factor bypass). Of course this method would be far faster than just using affirmation alone, but becomes far more powerful with repetition.
This method may also sound a lot like “Emotional Freedom Technique” and having studied hypnosis since childhood, I'm sure it’s no different. There are other methods one can employ to bypass the critical factor too, but by far the most effective I know of is hypnosis. You can achieve a far superior degree of critical factor bypass with hypnosis and this allows information that you consider “reasonable and pleasing” to flow easily into the subconscious mind at a greatly increased rate.
To demonstrate how well hypnosis can work for you, enjoy the Ormond McGill clip below. It’s shorter than ten minutes and very informative. Bear in mind while watching, the client will only accept suggestions deemed “reasonable and pleasing”.
Is stage hypnosis real? The answer is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the stage hypnotist is using hypnosis and the people on the stage are hypnotised. No, in the sense that the people on the stage are all volunteers and will not do anything that they don’t want to do.
People that are hypnotised will only do things that they consider “acceptable”. By “acceptable”, I mean that it must be both “reasonable” and “pleasing” to the person in hypnosis. Anyone that’s practiced hypnosis for any length of time will tell you that you can’t get people to do anything they don’t want to do in hypnosis.
What this means is that the stage hypnotist needs to be very selective about who he chooses from the audience if he wants to put on a good show. For example, are you the type of person that enjoys running around on stage like a fool? If you are, you’re the exact type of person the stage hypnotist wants on his stage. If not, he doesn’t want you, or anyone like you, anywhere near his stage! If he has ten people on his stage that don’t want to be there, his show will fail!
So, how on earth does a stage hypnotist get ten people that think it’s reasonable and pleasing onto his stage? It’s very easy! First of all the stage hypnotist will warm up the crowd. He’ll get his audience to relax a bit and start to enjoy the show by kicking off with some comedy and good laughs. Obviously, stage hypnotists need to be good comedians. Once the audience has had a few laughs he’ll ask them if they’re having fun, and then he watches very carefully to see the response.
Those people that most enthusiastically reply are the ones that are most likely to think that playing the fool on stage is reasonable and pleasing. They’re the ones he wants and they’re the ones who can’t wait for the invitation (yes, hard to believe for me too, but some people actually love being the centre of attention). He then warns the audience that they can’t have any fun seated in the audience because all of the fun is on the stage. He might even repeat that statement a few times to really make his point. He then announces to the audience that he’s about to count to ten, and that if they aren’t on the stage by the count of ten they will lose out on all the fun! He then he starts counting!
Of course, by the count of ten, all those people that love playing the fool are all standing on the stage staring at the audience. They think the audience is losing out on a lot fun and the audience thinks they’ve gone mad! Most people are afraid of public speaking or of being exposed to an audience and the stage hypnotist knows this. He also knows that a small percentage of people aren’t afraid and these are the people he wants. So now there are fifty people on stage that all want to be there. The stage hypnotists doesn’t want fifty people, he only wants the ten funniest people.
The stage hypnotist then guides the people on stage into hypnosis using an induction. Once they’re in hypnosis he gives them something silly to do and then watches them. It’s immediately obvious who he does and doesn’t want on his stage. He chooses the ten funniest people and dismisses the rest. The stage hypnotist now has the ten people in very deep hypnosis and they all want to be there. These people think it’s both reasonable and pleasing to run around the stage and play the fool. They’re waiting for his first suggestion so they can impress the audience with their comedy genius.
The stage hypnotist will then give them a suggestion such as “when I snap my fingers you’re a chicken” and then snaps his fingers and we all know what happens. These people start off acting like chickens. They start flapping their elbows and making the most peculiar sounds. They may start off very slowly but as they’re competing for attention they usually get into character very quickly.
The trouble with stage hypnosis is that sometimes the people in the audience don’t know what hypnosis is or how it works. They aren’t aware that the people on stage are quite happy to be running around playing the fool. They are afraid of being on stage and become afraid that they too may be made to run around on stage. This is a very frightening prospect to many from all walks of life. To make matters worse, some people will exploit these fears in the name of entertainment.
Fortunately, things are changing. Now that we’re in the internet era, it’s possible to spread ideas and information very quickly. People are learning what hypnosis really is and how many people are benefiting from it. Also, it would seem that the stage hypnotists have learned that their audience is more enlightened these days and enjoy the show even more when it’s not scary. For this reason most stage hypnotists are totally transparent with their methods and even go to lengths to explain what they’re doing to their audience. In many cases, laughter is the best medicine. Below is a short clip of my favourite stage hypnotist, Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist, in action.
Is hypnosis like sleep? Hypnosis is not at all like sleep and has nothing to do with sleep. Many of my clients, about to experience hypnosis for the first time, will tell me that they expect to lose consciousness during the session. After their hypnotherapy session they're almost always surprised to report that they were aware of everything and were able to hear everything and remembered everything.
If you watch a person going into hypnosis it really does look like the person is going to sleep. They’re not! The word “hypnosis” was originally coined by a Scottish surgeon named James Braid. James Braid obviously also thought it had something to do with sleep because “Hypnos” is the Greek god of sleep. Dr Braid later realized his mistake and tried to rename hypnosis by calling it "monoideaism” (a marked preoccupation with one idea or subject). Unfortunately the word hypnosis stuck and is still in use today.
I remember years ago having two sisters visit my practice together. One sister, let’s call her Lilly, wanted some work done in hypnosis and her sister, Eve, was there to keep her company. Having
completing a thorough preliminary consultation with Lilly, with her permission I helped guide her into hypnosis. As she was able to follow instructions well she quickly dropped into a deep state of hypnosis and I went ahead and did the work. At the end of the session I emerged her from hypnosis. She took one look at me and said “I wasn't hypnotised! I could hear everything you said!”
I should have been flabbergasted. I’d just spent a full hour very thoroughly explaining to her why she would be able to hear everything I was saying when in deep hypnosis! But I wasn't. This is a normal reaction to people that are new to hypnosis. Their expectation of losing consciousness is sometimes so great that they completely ignore my advice. Fortunately her sister Eve was sitting patiently in the waiting room. I called her to come and help.
With both sisters seated comfortably in my office, I again directed Lilly into hypnosis. As she dropped into hypnosis all the tension left her face, her shoulders sagged and it was obvious to Eve watching this that something had happened. Her sister was breathing very lightly and her body was completely limp. I looked at Eve and shrugged. She returned my stare and nodded confirmation. I emerged Lilly from hypnosis and asked her if she’s been hypnotised to which she said “NO!”
Eve couldn’t believe it! She started laughing and shook her head. She'd just watched her sister drop into a deep state of hypnosis! It was nice to have someone understand how the hypnotherapist feels for a change! Eve described what she’d witnessed to her sister Lilly, who still insisted that she’d not been hypnotised because she was aware of everything and could remember everything.
The trouble with hypnosis is there isn’t a bell that rings inside your head when you’re in hypnosis. It just feels like you’re sitting with your eyes closed listening to, and following directions. Of course you feel more relaxed in hypnosis if the hypnotherapist suggests that you do. In hypnosis your mind is more alert and more wide awake than it is right now. Hypnosis has nothing to do with sleep. It never has and it never will.
I tried hypnosis before and it didn't work. Why Not? There could be several possible reasons for hypnosis to have not worked. It’s possible you were not hypnotised. It’s possible you weren't in deep enough hypnosis. You may be treating the symptom before treating the cause. Also, secondary gain issues may have prevented you from achieving your goal in hypnosis.
It’s possible you weren't Hypnotised.
It’s possible that you didn't go into hypnosis. There could be many reasons for this. Some people don’t know what to expect while going into hypnosis and are overly cautious. As a result, they don’t follow the hypnotherapist’s instructions and don't go into hypnosis. Some people do the opposite and try too hard which can also get in the way.
The solution to this is to know exactly what to expect before going into hypnosis. All good clinical hypnotherapists will conduct a thorough preliminary consultation with all new clients. This is a very important session that will explain what hypnosis is, how it works and what to expect before you attempt hypnosis. If you neglect this session you will have to learn what hypnosis is and how to do it through trial and error which is time consuming and expensive. Always check that your hypnotherapist conducts a thorough preliminary consultation with you. I consider the preliminary consultation to be the most important session and it should most definitely not be a ten minute meeting to acquaint yourself with the person you’ll be working with.
The cure for Alcoholism? A French cardiologist by the name of Olivier Ameisen is claimed to have discovered the cure for alcoholism. While running his successful practice he was severely stricken by an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. He felt like imposter waiting to be unmasked and found relief in large quantities of whisky and gin.
Having spent years in clinics without success, he heard of an American man that used Baclofen for muscle spasms and found that it helped ease his addiction for cocaine. Baclofen is a powerful muscle relaxant. On further researching Baclofen, Dr Ameisen discovered this medicine had cut addiction to alcohol or cocaine in rats.
The curious Dr Ameisen began treating himself with daily doses of five milligrams of Baclofen and he found that "the first effects were a magical muscular relaxation and baby-like sleep". Almost immediately he also detected a lessening in his desire for drink. He increased his daily dosage gradually to a maximum of 270mg of Baclofen, and found that he was "cured". He continued to take 30 to 50mg a day. Dr Ameisen died in 2013 aged sixty.
A hypnotherapists Opinion
As a Clinical Hypnotherapist I haven’t studied medicine and I’m not giving any medical advice here. But I have made some observations as a hypnotherapist and here’s my opinion: Baclofen is not a cure for alcoholism, Dr Ameisen was not cured from alcoholism and it’s doubtful that any medicine can cure alcoholism. Let me explain:
Baclofen is not a cure for Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a form of self-medication. Alcoholics are just people that use alcohol to relax themselves. Swopping alcohol for Baclofen as such is not a cure; it’s just employing a different muscle relaxant. At best it’s a treatment for alcoholism and comes with side effects.
Dr Ameisen was not cured from Alcoholism
While I am pleased that Dr Ameisen found some relief from alcohol, he was still not free from it. Instead of being dependant on alcohol, Dr Ameisen became dependent on Baclofen as he continued to take 30 to 50mg a day. If he stopped taking Baclofen would he not still need alcohol? Would he have reverted back to alcohol or would he have found another substance in its place?
It’s doubtful that any medicine can cure Alcoholism
Dr Ameisen was treating the symptoms of alcoholism and not the cause of alcoholism. It’s clear that in his case at least that the cause was emotional and not physical. He felt inadequate. He felt like an imposter. These feelings caused him distress which in turn made him tense. He used alcohol or Baclofen to suppress the tension in his body. He merely suppressed the symptoms (effects) of the emotions and did not treat the emotional cause.
Dr Ameisen was a physician, and physicians are trained to treat the physical. I am sure that as long as he felt inadequate about himself he would need something to suppress the tension in his body. I don't know of any medicine that can deal with a person’s feelings of inadequacy.
Why is Analytical Hypnotherapy Different?
To outright cure alcoholism I propose two things need to be done. First, the cause of the alcoholism needs to be removed and second the habit of using alcohol has to be removed. Instead of treating the symptoms it would be far better to find the emotional cause and fix it. The emotional cause in this case was a feeling of inadequacy as described by Dr Ameisen himself. As Jung said “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Emotions are generated in the subconscious mind.
As a hypnotherapist I would have helped Dr Ameisen find the reason for this feeling. I would have helped him to become conscious of whatever made him feel inadequate at an unconscious level. I would then have helped this doctor to change this incorrect opinion of himself permanently. I would help him to feel worthy. This can only be done at a subconscious level and would lead to a more relaxed mind and body. He would have been more at peace with himself.
With his self-confidence restored I would then have spend several sessions with him helping him to remove the habit portion of drinking problem. Habits are subconscious too.
I think this method of treating alcoholism is a more permanent and satisfactory method than using medication.
Troy Robins - Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Oxford & Witney, Oxfordshire in the UK.