New understandings of the oldest treatment make it effective.

Medical science has variously ignored, opposed and embraced hypnosis. Now, research and clinical evidence show that hypnosis can be the preferred and most effective treatment for many medical issues or a sometimes-necessary addition to medical treatment.

After more than seventy years of research, hypnosis is considered the treatment of choice for Functional Neurological Disorders (FND), is commonly used to assist in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and is often the best treatment for Chronic pain. Despite its effectiveness and decades of research, it remains one of the great secrets of clinical medicine because it is so hard to define.

Since ancient times people have used hypnosis to treat various illnesses, pain, and emotional problems. And yet, the hypnotic phenomenon has defied a clear definition or explanation. It has been called Yar-Phoonk in a Hindi dialect, voodoo, magic, incantations, Mesmerism after Anton Mesmer, and animal magnetism. In Victorian times, Dr. Esdaile performed more than 200 surgeries using hypnosis as the only anesthesia. Then chemical anesthesia became available, and hypnosis was all but forgotten.

Some people think hypnosis is just trickery and only useful for stage entertainment. Movies have portrayed hypnosis as something evil or dangerous in which the hypnotist controls a person. In reality, it is a very pleasant state, often completely relaxed, and the person who is hypnotized has all of the control. It might take a little experience to easily get into a trance, but it is easy to pop out of a trance, and you cannot get stuck in a trance. Hypnosis is a natural phenomenon that everyone experiences every day as we focus our attention on one thing to the exclusion of other things. This can happen when reading a good book or getting involved in a TV program or computer game. Or we daydream or space out. The hypnotist just helps you get into that state of focused attention.

The current definition of hypnosis is “a state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion” (Elkins et al., 2015, p. 6). When a person is in a hypnotic state, they can experience suggested alterations in

  • physiology
  • sensations
  • emotions
  • thoughts
  • behavior

Hypnosis, then, opens the doorway to helping people deal with a host of different problems, often without the use of medications.

Sigmund Freud went to Paris to learn hypnosis, and his process of psychoanalysis could be considered hypnotic. He introduced the concept of the unconscious mind. We have learned how to gain access to the unconscious mind and communicate effectively. This gives patients the ability to rewrite scripts, reprogram neurological processes, and control many unconscious physiological responses.

Elkins, Gary R.; Elkins, Gary R.. Introduction to Clinical Hypnosis: The Basics and Beyond (p. 39). Mountain Pine Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Elkins, Gary R.; Elkins, Gary R.. Introduction to Clinical Hypnosis: The Basics and Beyond (p. 37). Mountain Pine Publishing. Kindle Edition.