The Gentle Mind

Does hypnosis work?

Let’s set the scene

Hypnosis is quite simply a deep state of relaxation and focus.

It’s NOT exceptional.

We can regularly find ourselves lost in thought, adrift in music, and immersed in work. The difference is that during hypnotherapy, a therapist (me) guides you into a new positive mental state.

Once there, that’s where I help you overcome phobias, manage your weight, better handle stress, etc.

It is now promoted by the American Psychological Association (2020) as a therapy beneficial for “pain, anxiety, and mood disorders,” while helping people change negative habits such as smoking.

And since the 1990s hypnosis is a recognised alternative to general anaesthesia. The patient is given mild sedation, such as a local anaesthetic, then guided to focus on their inner world and, through breathing techniques, led to a safe place.

What’s the science?

When I relax you, hypnotherapy starts by dampening down the activity of the area of the brain called the frontal cortex.

I make you more open to information, more suggestible, and capable of creating more intense sensations in your mind.

So, for example, with hypnosis, you can imagine pleasant memories as if the experiences were real. The parts of the brain involved in movement and sensation became more active.

The $64 million dollar question - does hypnosis work?

Since the 1950s more than 12,000 articles on hypnosis have been published in medical and psychological journals.

And there's general agreement that hypnosis can be an important part of treatment for phobias, addictions, and chronic pain.

For example, electroencephalogram (EEG) records of brain activity at Penn State University suggest that hypnosis removes the emotional experience of pain while allowing the sensory sensation to remain. In other words, you notice you were touched but not that it hurt.

More recent research using modern brain imaging techniques shows that the connections in the brain are different during hypnosis. In particular, those areas of the brain involved in making decisions and monitoring the environment show strong connections. What this means is that under hypnosis the person is able to focus on what they are doing without asking why they are doing it or checking the environment for changes.

Now, what needs to be qualified is the level of hypnosis. The depth of hypnosis. What we’re saying here is, “Are some people more easily hypnotised than others?”

The simple answer is yes. But this bit isn’t fully understood.

A better marker is the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale. In the late 1950s, Stanford University established a reliable "yardstick" of susceptibility (aptly called the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales). Researchers learned that 95 percent of people can be hypnotized to some extent (with most scoring in the midrange on the Stanford Scale) and that "an individual's score—reflecting the ability to respond to hypnosis—remains remarkably stable over time. Even twenty-five years after their initial Stanford Scale tests, retested subjects were getting almost the same scores and the same level of hypnotic responsiveness.

In effect, hypnosis is a skill for life.

How effective is hypnotherapy?

It depends on the individual. Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can help to treat a range of physical and mental health conditions. I can also adapt suggestions in hypnotherapy to specific problems, and measure your progress across sessions. In many cases, hypnotherapy and other uses of suggestion can provide fast, effective treatment.

And remember. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. You do it to yourself. In a way it’s you coming to peace with yourself. I only suggest you into a deeper state of relaxation.
It’s also worth noting that hypnosis isn’t a therapy in and of itself. It’s a way to create a highly relaxed state of inner concentration and focused attention for you. It’s a technique that can be tailored to different treatment methods, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

And to my earlier point, you become more empowered by learning to hypnotise yourself at home to reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, or lower the symptoms of depression or anxiety.

A case study - me

I ate and drank myself to nearly 21 stone. Living it up in Soho, London. Beer, wine, spirits, meals out: I couldn’t get enough.

Then one sticky summer’s night walking along Oxford Street I was queueing to go down the stairs into Oxford Circus tube when I looked (ironically) at a reflection of a man in the Nike shop window. He had sweat rings under the arms of his polo shirt and a belly hanging over his belt. It was me. A mess. Hypnosis helped me change for the better.

I could then run marathons, do Iron Man events, climb Mont Blanc, and swim the Humber.

Who am I?

I’m James Thomas a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist. I’ve used hypnosis thousands of times to deal with clients’ stresses, anxieties, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, PTSD, overeating, low self-esteem, eczema, and anger, to name but a few.

I cover all of Lincolnshire with my rooms in Louth and Lincoln.

Get in touch with me at or call 07787563099.

Let’s make a calmer version of you.

To write this blog I referred to my knowledge, experience, and the following articles:

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