Health Articles

How Does Hypnosis Work?

How on earth can this be real?

Bear with me as you read this, you may find it a little out there, but then you may have already just watched the accompanying video and be wondering “How on earth can this be real?”

This is my personal theory about the mind, so you won’t find this in any academic book, but then find me an academic that can inspire people to respond to them in a similar way and I might put more weight into what they think about their theory. Theories are free and you can have your own. This one is mine, or at least its a part of mine…for the rest you’ll need to download the ebook I’m in the process writing. Until then, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter and my YouTube channel, and over the next little while I will share some pretty incredible stuff with you… and the evidence to prove it wherever possible. So, here goes…

As you read this, please remember that human beings designed and developed computers and the software that runs on them. Minds are like a computer. There is conscious RAM that’s in use or recently accessed, like short term and working memory, thoughts you are thinking and our current perceptions of ourselves. Then there is unconscious data stored away in case its needed, like old memories that form the foundation of who we think we are, lessons learned at 4 years old and WAY more than that. Just like a computer system, minds can run on “safe mode” - just following previously encoded sub-routines without deviation, or they can encode new data, new ideas - writing new responses or overwriting old responses. Whenever you learn a new behaviour or a new way of thinking, neurons form in the brain to register what its just learned. New neural coding can be created from birth to death, however, once formed, behaviours, emotional responses, ways of experiencing the world around you/within you, and thinking styles can become habitual and difficult to change.

In its simplest form, hypnosis is a mechanism to open a mind to changing the encoded responses that are essentially closed-off to re-evaluation, re-organization or deletion once they’ve been wired/burned into the brain. Previously over-learned responses (like a smoking habit, a phobia, or a negative thinking style) that are self-limiting or no longer relevant or necessary, can be updated in order to free an individual from conflictual styles of thinking, feeling, behaving or experiencing the world around us via the 5 senses — seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling. Every aspect of human existence is open to modification with hypnosis, a bold statement I know, but then I have no desire to join any conspiracy that would try to convince you that hypnosis does not exist or that its just a myth or a game of social compliance. Hypnosis, in the right hands, is an effective way to access automatic, involuntary responses; in the wrong hands, its just a myth or a game of social compliance.

When involuntary response patterns are causing problems in someone’s life, all they need to do is find a way to open that code to re-encoding. Patterns can be interrupted with help. More appropriate code can be encoded once a mind opens to being reorganized, re-evaluated or re-programmed. The trick is to get out of “safe mode” and into “write mode”… that’s where hypnotic techniques come in. Neuroscientist, Jungian analyst and apprentice of Dr. Milton H. Erickson (the single most gifted hypnotist in human history), Dr. Ernest L. Rossi, has published several academic books describing the requirement for the presentation of novelty in learning. Check out Dr. Rossi’s FREE ebook if you’d like to learn more.

Even to a non-academic its fairly obvious to understand that human beings don’t tend to put any effort into trying to learn what we think we already know. We even have a tendency of wanting others to teach us what they know so that we won’t have to put any effort into discovering things for ourselves. Welcome to the world of academia! The problem with rote knowledge and passed down “wisdom” is not always obvious, but if it were not for adventurous people refusing to believe what they were being told, our world would still be flat and there would be: no lightbulbs, no airplanes, no x-games, and almost certainly no hypnosis. If your doctor is telling you that hypnosis does not really exist, your doctor isn't a liar or a fool, they are just an academic, and academics refuse to believe anything that cannot be proven and over-proven over and over again. When it comes to hypnosis, there is a great degree of personalization required within the hypnotic relationship, and a great degree of skill/artistry. Academics don’t usually make great artists, since art and artistry are not intellectual endeavours, they are creative pursuits.

I was told by an academic that it was next to impossible to get someone to forget their own name, and that stage hypnosis was just social compliance. So I went out into the streets recently with some colleagues and proved time after time that they were wrong. Brains are designed to forget, and its great that they are, otherwise you’d be overwhelmed with old phone numbers, old shopping lists and so much irrelevant trivia that you’d likely fill up your brain like I relentlessly fill up my hard drive with video files that eventually need deleting in order to make room for more. The mechanism already exits and hypnosis is not needed in order to do it. Just when it comes to something important like someone’s own name, their brain might need some convincing to achieve that. But, as you can see from the evidence, it certainly is possible, even if only for a time.

Hypnosis is the art of influencing a mind to take on board new ideas, new behaviour, new ways of thinking about things, new ways of responding emotionally to things and new ways of experiencing the world around us visually, auditory and kinaesthetically. Even smells and tastes can be opened to alterations of likes and dislikes, which are in themselves just learned responses. Garlic in itself is neither nice nor nasty - people just learn to experience it one way or the other. The problem is, previously mentioned, once we’ve learned something well (like writing our signature, or even thinking in a certain way - like pessimism or optimism), we tend not to deviate from that encoded response, even when it becomes problematic or conflictual. Even when “intellectually” it makes no sense.

People just need help to gain access to closed-off code that runs in “read only” mode, so they can re-code more appropriate ways of being in the world. That’s when hypnosis comes in…..Hypnosis is simply a way to gain access to those automatic, involuntary responses in order to free you from stuck patterns of habitual behaviours, so that you can learn how to be happy (when you’ve previously learned you can’t be), be confident (when you “know” you are anxious), sleep better (when you “know” from experience that you’ll have trouble getting to sleep tonight) eat more healthily (when you’ve learned you love fries or that you hate all the other vegetables), feel better about yourself (when your experience has “proven” that you are worthless) and have longer, more fulfilling relationships despite our past failures etc. etc.

We can all learn to learn more efficiently. Anything you’ve learned you can un-learn, and if you have the capacity to learn, as we all do, well then you can learn pretty much anything. If you were able to learn English, well then you’ve proven your ability to learn a language. It could have been Italian, French, Mandarin or Latin, it doesn't matter. Science has proven that brains go on learning throughout our entire lives! (They just don't bother investing energy into trying to know something they think they already know.) So…..if you’ve learned to sign your name or drive a car, or even to soothe stresses with alcohol, food, sex or narcotics, your brain is very unlikely to be open to re-thinking a response that in essence works. It may cause you problems in other ways, like losing your job, your figure, your relationship or your teeth, but nothing will get that sub-routine to be rewritten unless your mind is open to changing it.

My job as a therapist, or more significantly a hypnotist, is to figure out how to open that code to being deleted or rewritten. In “street hypnosis” as seen in the video accompanying this blog entry, minds can be accessed through novel games and fascinating experiences, but I always put people back how I found them, effectively running an “undo” or a “restore” - again, brains are like computers. In the therapy room, with their conscious cooperation and agreement, the changes we aim to make are intended to be permanent. People can change - and they can change for good, with a little help from their friendly neighbourhood hypnotist. And since I’m referencing a line from spider-man, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Now the power is in the individual making the changes. Not everyone I approached in the making of these videos was able to let their unconscious run the show. It is my responsibility as a hypnotist to ensure that everyone I treat or coach, has the ability to take things at a pace they can handle. We don't all want to change over night. I have plenty of clients that have been seeing me weekly for years and thats their choice. I’m not looking to take on any more long term clients, but I am prepared to if thats more your speed? First and foremost I am a Psychotherapist, but I do love to help people make quick lasting changes if thats’ what they are prepared to do. If you are ready and motivated to change, you may be surprised how quickly you can turn your life around. But don’t believe me…find out for yourself. When you are ready to benefit from hypnosis, you’ll find me keen to help you in any way I can.