Is the debate on hypnosis over?

The debate on whether hypnosis works or not is over, and may have been for some time.

This debate which had raged for centuries died in 1955 when Henry Beecher published a famous paper titled “The Powerful Placebo” in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He published this paper having witnessed an amazing event during the Second World War, causing a sensation!

While serving as a medical doctor for the American forces in Italy, morphine supplies ran dangerously low. A nurse tending to a soldier in his care told the seriously injured soldier that he was about to receive an injection of powerful painkiller. What she didn’t tell the soldier was that her syringe only contained salt water as they’d run out of morphine. To Beechers great surprise, the fake painkiller relieved the soldier's agony and prevented him from going into shock. The mere suggestion that the salt water was a powerful painkiller did the trick. Beecher had just observed the placebo effect in action and it changed the world.

A placebo is a simulated treatment for a medical condition intended to trick the recipient into getting better. The placebo effect is a beneficial effect produced by a placebo, which can’t be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and occur due to the patient's expectation to get better due to the placebo. As such, the placebo effect is a simple form of suggestive therapeutics not unlike hypnotherapy.

As a result of this profound experience, Beecher published his famous paper on the placebo effect and today all modern medicine has to prove itself in double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials. In this sense, hypnosis may be more tested than any single modern medicine.

Hypnotherapy differs from placebo in that there is no deception involved and hypnotherapy is not limited to simple suggestion. Hypnotherapy employs bespoke suggestions and therapeutic strategies as every client and every situation is unique. Perhaps this is why so many well informed people are turning to hypnotherapy for modern solutions, including royalty. For example, Queen Fabiola of Belgium resorted to hypnotherapy in 2009.

According to 'Expatica', when the eighty year old queen was admitted to the university hospital of Liège for thyroid surgery she didn’t have a general anaesthetic. Queen Fabiola was instead sedated using hypnotherapy. The technique used is called hypnosedation. Hypnosedation is used mostly on older people because general sedation can have many difficult side-effects and can be dangerous for older people. The hospital in Liège is known for using hypnosedation and had performed more than 4,000 operations at the time of her surgery.

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