What is Hypnosis?

If you asked a dozen experts to define hypnosis, you would get a dozen different answers, not because of disagreement but due to the complexity of the subject.  How do you define smell or pain?  They certainly exist.

These are some definitions of hypnosis:

Actually, the hypnotic state, like the conscious state and the sleeping state is extremely complex and involves so many physiological, psychological and interpersonal factors that no one theory has yet been able to account for all the intricate operations that take place within its range.
Dr. Lewis R Wolberg, Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical School
It is recognised that there is no generally accepted definition of hypnosis, though considerable consensus exists at a descriptive level.
Martin T Orne, MD, PhD (1927 – 2000)
It’s jolly good a getting rid of rotten habits and lots of fears.
Brian Painter (that’s me!)


For thousands of years, philosophers and wise men have known that our thoughts can control our body and behaviour.  We all have the ability to heal ourselves and others and hypnosis, which is probably the oldest and most natural forms of healing, is the best way to activate this ability.

Sometimes a client tells me that I’ll probably think that they are a hopeless case but nothing is completely hopeless.

Let’s get one thing absolutely clear, hypnosis is a completely natural state. You have spontaneously drifted into hypnosis many times during the day without even realising.  Whilst these spontaneous states are not usually referred to as hypnosis, that is what they are.  These states occur every day, we call them daydreams.

You can drift into hypnosis when your mind is focussed on a single function such as listening to music, reading a book or watching TV.

Hypnosis is gentle, relaxing and non invasive.  You’re probably aware of the sinister figure dressed in a cloak, wearing a turban and swinging a pocket watch in front of a helpless maiden and intoning ‘you are under my power’, and she responds, ‘yes master’.

‘Ridiculous’ you say and you would be correct but unfortunately many of the misconceptions surrounding hypnosis are as a result of this image. This and many other misconceptions are as far removed from reality as a family saloon is from a F1 racing car but it makes good TV and films.

Another misconception is that only people of low intellect can be hypnotised.  The fact is people of average and above intelligence make the best subjects.

I am often asked by clients if they will reveal secrets that they wish to keep hidden when in hypnosis and the answer is an emphatic ‘no’.

I like to be in control and I’m afraid that I won’t be if I’m in hypnosis’.  This is a common statement that I hear.  My response is ‘are you in control when you are on a plane, train, coach or taxi?’. However, unlike those occasions, you are always in control when in hypnosis and capable of making decisions, by that I mean at anytime, you could, if you wished, bring yourself out of hypnosis and leave the room.

When you are in hypnosis you will not accept any suggestion that contravenes your normal belief system. ‘Can I be stuck in hypnosis?’ is another popular question.  The answer is ‘no’.  Just as you can’t get stuck in a daydream or sleep, you can’t get stuck in hypnosis.

What can happen is that you enjoy the wonderful feeling of relaxed body and mind that you don’t want to come out of hypnosis.  ‘I’ve never felt so relaxed in my life’, is a comment I’ve heard many, many times.

Now that you have an idea of what hypnosis is and isn’t, it’s time to consider how it can help you.

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