Is Hypnosis Really a Good Thing?

What is Hypnosis and where can Hypnosis be helpful? learn the most common ways and benefits of Hypnosis

Please say this sentence aloud, “Hypnotism used by a hypnotist to hypnotize a person with hypnosis, places YOU in a hypnotic trance.”

This sentence construction uses the various derivative forms of the word “hypnosis” in a repetitive singsong manner. Simply repeating this sentence many times, aloud, while in a calm state, will increase a person’s receptiveness to hypnosis. Notice the visual cue also, which is the bolded and the capitalized word “YOU”.” How does hypnosis work? Is hypnosis real?

Let’s explore these concepts further.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a fascinating technique used to contact the subconscious mind, and the hypnotist (or the person) can influence this part of the mind with suggestions.

To define hypnosis, one must define hypnotic trance and then answer the question, “Does hypnotherapy work?” There are three basic types of hypnosis. These are:

  1. Guided hypnosis performed under therapy with a qualified practitioner.
  2. Self-hypnosis.
  3. Hypnosis is used for entertainment purposes.

Each type differs in how to do hypnosis, which needs evaluation to determine the answer to the question, “Is hypnotism real?”

Definition of Hypnosis

The Mayo Clinic defines therapeutic hypnosis as a trance state with increased concentration and focus. Another name is hypnotic suggestion or Hypnotherapy. Wikipedia defines general hypnosis also to include self-hypnosis and stage hypnosis.

How Hypnosis Works

In a clinical setting, a therapist works with patients to help them achieve a calm, restful state by using a soothing voice, repeating phrases, and imagining images. Hypnotism is useful to help the patient get access to feelings, cope with anxiety, pain, or loss, and gain more control over behaviours they wish to change.

When used by a person alone, this is self-hypnosis. Goals are similar to those in therapy; the difference is a person trains him or herself to reach a calm state without the need for another person directly helping them. Many use audio tapes or video meditations to help guide them to this state of relaxed, calm, concentrated control, where they are open to suggestions.

When hypnosis is done on stage, this is included as part of the general hypnotize definition, which includes hypnotizing an entire audience for entertainment purposes.

History of Hypnosis

Before hypnosis therapy, there was “Mesmerism.” In the late 1700s, Franz Mesmer practised a technique to “mesmerize” a subject by passing his hands closed over the subject’s body without touching it. His belief was in invisible, magnetic forces, and a practitioner uses to heal others. This technique was especially effective when he hypnotized women supposedly suffering from hysteria.

Ben Franklin was on a scientific inquiry team assembled in 1784 at the request of King Louis Xvi to investigate Mesmer’s claims. They concluded that the effect did work, but it was more likely coming from imagination and belief than direct magnetic forces coming from Mesmer’s hands.

In 1843, James Braid described hypnotism as “rationale mesmerism’ when he published the first book on hypnotism called Neurypnology to help others learn hypnotism. Braid was trying to learn, does hypnosis work and come up with a hypnosis definition. Braid also included self-hypnosis in his hypnotic definition as “waking suggestion,” which focused the subject’s concentration on a single idea over all others.

In 1895, Sigmund Freud published a group of case studies conducted with Joseph Breuer called “Studies on Hysteria.” Freud preferred free association techniques combined with interpretation of the subconscious but thought hypnosis helped quicken a positive outcome from treatment.

This became the basis for regression hypnotherapy, where patients use their imagination to discover memories of childhood. In modern times, this also is useful in past-life regression hypnotherapy.

In 1904, Émile Coué created a technique promoted as the New Nancy School, a form of light self-hypnosis used when the patient is fully awake. Later, this became popular as a self-help technique.

Clark L Hull published the book “Hypnosis and Suggestibility” in 1933, which explored the relationship between hypnosis and conditioned reflexes. Then in 1964, Dave Elman published the book entitled “Findings in Hypnosis” (now called Hypnotherapy), which is now a classic. This led to the use of hypnosis in cognitive behavioural therapy.

Hypnotism as Entertainment

Stage performers used the Mesmer technique to “control” subjects in an outlandish fashion during Victorian times. The most famous stage act from this time is where a hypnotized woman becomes as stiff as aboard.

Two men, each using only one hand, one below her head and the other below her feet, then lift her. This form of how hypnosis works is quite amusing. It is mostly responsible for how the public first became aware of hypnosis stories. However, there is much trickery involved in such presentations.

Hollywood created a character of Svengali and others, who can control women with mesmerizing eyes. This is complete fiction and not considered possible in real life. From these sensational but false images of the process of hypnosis, many have a completely uninformed opinion about hypnosis.

Modern Uses of Hypnosis

It is important to understand that hypnosis creates a mental state where people are more open to suggestions. However, a person does not lose control over their behaviour. A person cannot do anything against their own will. This is why hypnosis does not have a 100% success rate. Nevertheless, hypnosis is very effective, especially when combined with a strong desire to achieve results.

Hypnosis to Quit Smoking

One of the most popular reasons to hypnotize someone is using hypnosis to stop smoking. Examining the statistics for stop smoking hypnosis answers the question, “Does hypnosis work?” Hypnosis for smoking is successful for many people who commit the quit smoking hypnosis.

Using hypnosis to stop s does not work for everyone. Websites claiming over 90% success rates are false. Almost everyone quits from attempting to do so for a short period, but many start-up smoking sometime later.

According to WebMD, the research is not conclusive. Some research concluded that about half the people stopped smoking by eleven months. Yet, the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute do not recognize hypnosis as a method for quitting smoking.

There is always the placebo effect, where up to thirty per cent of any results come from suggestions that change imagination and belief. Yet, when it comes to quitting smoking, believing it is possible and wanting to achieve it are both very important.

Behavioral Change

The Mayo Clinic also notes that hypnosis is useful to treat insomnia, panic attacks, hot flashes from menopause in women, bed-wetting, obesity, phobias, and self-destructive behaviors. They caution that a negative result of hypnosis is the possible creation of false memories. Alien abduction, forgotten childhood sexual abuse, and past life memories discovered under hypnosis may explain this adverse effect of creating false memories by hypnosis.

Pain Control

Hypnosis is effective for pain control. This is where hypnosis has a powerful use. Since pain is a subjective experience, the only judge of the pain intensity is the person feeling the pain. It is possible to use MRI scans to see the brain’s pain centres activated in those patients undergoing pain during an MRI procedure, but it is not possible to determine the extent of the pain.

Physicians use a self-referential scale of 1 to 10, asking the patients to recall level 10 as the worst pain ever felt and describe the current pain at that highest level to determine what the patient feels they are experiencing. Treatment for pain at lower levels is quite different for pain at higher levels. Some unfortunate people, such as those with advanced stages of cancer, experience chronic pain at level 10. Hypnosis helps them deal with such a horrible situation.


According to How Stuff Works, it is possible to slip into a hypnotic trance without making any effort. This happens while daydreaming and often occurs while reading, driving, watching television, and seeing movies. Any repetitive, monotonous activities, which allows the mind to wander, create a self-induced hypnotic state.

It is also possible to learn hypnosis to create this hypnotic state using self-help audio recordings and meditation techniques. Written hypnosis scripts are available, which a person records in their voice, then uses them to play during a self-hypnosis session. This can be an effective aid in making any desired positive changes.


According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), recent research supports the view that hypnosis effectively changes a person’s behaviour, physical function, and mental state. It is also a very useful tool for the exploration of the subconscious. According to the Hypnosis Motivation Institute (HMI), the most effective hypnosis methods are relaxation techniques to help hypnosis work, powerful mental images to reinforce the message, and suggestions that align with what the person wants.

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