Hypnosis: Does it Really Work?

True or False: Hypnosis Works for Stress Management, Weight Loss, and More?


Hypnosis is more than the gaze into my eyes nonsense of the stage and demonstrational hypnotist. Hypnosis is a medically accepted science, approved by the American Medical Association in 1958. Always use a licensed health care professional for competent hypnotic treatment. Photo courtesy Photos8.com

Before you ask does hypnosis work, you should ask what hypnosis is.

The Random House Dictionary defines hypnosis as “an artificially induced state resembling sleep characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion.”

If that definition is confusing, here are a few of my favorites:

“Hypnosis is a state of mind in which critical faculty of the human mind is bypassed and selective thinking is established.” Dave Elman Author, Hypnotherapy

“There are as many definitions of hypnosis as there are definers.” W.S. Kroger, MDAuthor, Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis

Kroger’s is the most accurate. Here’s why:

Every hypnotist can only define hypnosis based on his experience with hypnosis. The applications techniques and strategies used by the hypnotist combined with individual responses, results and outcomes of those people he has hypnotized. That’s why there are as many definitions of hypnosis as there are definers.

Every hypnotist has different skill levels, experience and training. Therefore, the difference in their opinions – what hypnosis is, how does hypnosis work, how it is best used, what the benefits of hypnosis are – will vary with each practitioner based solely on personal experience.

“Yeah, but does hypnosis work?”

Stay with me. I’m going to give you the answer you want. A brief review of the line history of hypnosis will answer your question with surgical precision. Then I will answer the question you should be asking, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HYPNOSIS, WILL IT WORK FOR ME?

The theories about hypnosis abound. None are fact. All are inconclusive. Here are some startling and revealing facts that answer the question, “Does hypnosis work?” and “How does hypnosis work?”

Before Hypnosis For Stop Smoking

  • Earliest written record of hypnosis described in Ebers papyrus, 3,000 years ago.
  • Earliest medical records describe healing in hypnotic form conducted in the Aesculapiean temples.
  • Récamier performs first recorded use of hypnoanesthesia in surgery. (1821)
  • Dr. James Esdaile performs hundreds of surgeries during battlefield conditions with amazing success.
  • Dr. James Braid is called the Father of Modern Hypnotism for coining the terms hypnosis and hypnotism. Braid later regretted the moniker realizing hypnosis was not sleep. (1841)
  • Catholic Church approves hypnosis in the Holy See of 1847.


  • Sigmund Freud bombs as a hypnotist but his failure did not slow the progress of hypnosis.


  • Clark Hull’s Yale University experiments renew interest in hypnosis and is responsible for the scientific understanding we have for hypnosis today. (1933)
  • Dave Elman, stage hypnotist, introduces time saving hypnotic procedures and teaches an estimated 10,000 physicians his techniques. Elman’s contributions cannot be underestimated. He is credited for making hypnosis economically practical for busy physicians. Elman’s work is still considered to be of the best ever. His basic induction is widely used in clinics today.
  • British Medical Association approves the use of hypnosis in 1955.
  • Ormond McGill, stage hypnotist, introduced the model for modern day demonstrational hypnosis. Cognizant at all times to protect the individual’s worth, dignity and integrity while keeping the entertainment value high. McGill introduced America to hypnosis from a stage and made it palatable and popular.
  • Another professional stage hypnotist of the same genre is Dr. Edwin Baron who’s ethical demonstrations won major coverage by Time, Life, Look, Reader’s Digest and several other media popular in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  • The American Medical Association approved the use of hypnosis in 1958.


Hypnosis receives mass acceptance as society searches for ways to lose weight and stop smoking. The success of everyday applications of hypnosis lead to acceptance of hypnosis in fields that include business, law enforcement, sports and academics. Hypnosis is a first choice treatment instead of the last hope for many hypnotic applications. More simply, hypnosis has arrived. The public’s current sophistication combined with modern scientific hypnosis has created a perfect storm for you and most everyone to make significant improvement in overall physical and psychological well being. Hypnosis helps you discover who you really are so you can be who you want to be.

Does Hypnosis Work? Approximately 12,000 psychologists, dentists, law enforcement officers, MDs, hypnotherapists and social workers hypnotize an estimated 10,000 Americans everyday for a wide array of applications.

Harvard, Stanford, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and other leading institutions of higher learning offer varying degrees of education in the science of hypnosis.

The Armed Forces, police, professional sport teams and corporate America have all documented the use of hypnosis.

The Chicago Sun Times (March, 2006) featured an article that in my professional opinion hit the nail on the head, “Hypnosis is safe, natural and effective.” What more could you ask for? A winner by even the most critical standards.

Psychology, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are a few modern day sciences given birth by the emergence and subsequent study of hypnosis.

Hypnosis is the art and science of suggestion. Suggestion is the uncritical acceptance of an idea.

To answer your question, does hypnosis work? Yes! An emphatic yes backed by studies and documented results. It is indisputable. Hypnosis’ value in several fields has been well documented and studied for decades.

Does hypnosis work for everyone for everything? No. And it would be naive to ever believe it would.

There are no magic wands or miracle cures. No replacement for your commitment and desire to succeed. Hypnosis cannot make your decisions for you, it can only influence them.

Most everyone can enjoy the many benefits of hypnosis with the exception of the very old, very young and the intellectually challenged. Personal commitment and cooperation are mandatory for success.

Dr. John Gullo has been practicing clinical psychology and medical hypnosis for 50 years. He has been a training supervisor for the internationally respected Albert Ellis Institute (NYC) and a university graduate school professor.

His contributions and work in the field of psychology have earned Diplomatic Status from the American Board of Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy and the American Psychological Practitioner’s Association. I am also a Platinum Recipient of the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. His practice in Tampa specializes in hypnotherapy for smoking cessation, weight loss, stress relief, anxiety and depression, fears and phobias.

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