Hypnosis for healing and personal development

The Institut de nouvelle hypnose was founded in 1993 by Dr. Eric Mairlot M.D. in order to establish the first group of hypnotherapy experts in the fields of psychotherapy, psychosomatic conditions and medical disorders. The institute is organised around two centres:


Centre de thérapie brève

The Centre de thérapie brève (Centre for Brief Therapy) is for individuals of all ages who are looking for a lasting physical and psychological well being. The CTB team, inspired by Dr. Mairlot, consists of 13 specialists offering complementary competences:

  • 2 neuro-psychiatrists,
  • 1 physician-psychotherapist,
  • 5 psychologists,
  • 1 sex therapist and psychotherapist.
  • 2 coach and psychotherapist
  • 2 physio-psychotherapist
  • 1 nurse psychotherapist
  • 1 professionnal masseuse

All these therapists are, in addition, trained in hypnotherapy techniques.

  • We owe the modernization of hypnosis, and the development of  hypnotic techniques  for both diagnosis and therapeutic ends, to the genius of medical psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson (USA 1902-1980).

    First, Erickson adapted hypnotic techniques to each subject, according to their personality and their ability to communicate, making hypnosis accessible to all. He then discovered alternative techniques much more efficient than existing ones.

    Erickson broke with Freud's psychoanalytical vision of the unconscious by  considering the unconscious a vast reservoir of physical and mental self-healing resources. His strategies focused entirely on"how to help the patient" instead of "what is the source of the patient’s ailment". Erickson discovered that it is far more preferable to focus on what goes well, and will go well in the future, than on what doesn't and has been problematic in the past. In classic psychiatry the emphasis is the identification of symptoms, the diagnosis, and the classification of the pathologies. In contrast, Erickson focused his attention on the uncovering of the patient’s resources and the solutions at hand.

    M. Erickson revolutionized  psychotherapy and psychosomatic medicine; and this has lead to the integration of hypnosis in numerous psychotherapeutic strategies.


    • One wins time by no longer having to diagnose the problem and search for a hypothetical interpretation. In fact, Erickson’s work is founded on the following observation: the hypnotic process allows access to the patient’s resources and potentials which are inaccessible for the person when in a conscious state. His hypothesis is that the solution to a physical or psychological problem emerges from the patient’s organism itself.


    • A lot of therapists who learn Ericksonian Hypnosis are so impressed by the virtuosity of the master that they do not dare to use the method. Others only use some of his simpler techniques, without really inducing a modified state of consciousness.
    • Instead of using the permissive approach, certain hypnotherapists focus essentially on the manipulative techniques of Erickson. In fact, he has demonstrated that it is possible to heal patients without their collaboration, even without their knowledge. However, this approach does not increase the patient’s confidence in his/her ability to change, and risks making the patient dependant on the therapist. New Hypnosis, on the contrary, teaches patients how to heal themselves.  
  • Revolution and techniques

    During the past sixty years the use of hypnosis in medicine has progressed tremendously. Where it used to be a cause for controversy, it is now a fully recognized medical and psychotherapeutical technique.

    A positive step

    Instead of continually confronting the patients with their problems, the therapist gives value to all that goes well:  their qualities, capacities, resources, ideals and their potential; anything which has already been used in the past and that can be used again. The therapist guides the patient to potentials yet to be discovered, and the state of hypnosis facilitates the access to these.

    Evolution of the technique and discipline

    Therapeutic hypnosis is very different from classic hypnosis. The term “NEW HYPNOSIS” was created by D. ARAOZ (NY) in his book "New Hypnosis" and was used as a title for several Ericksonian congresses (e.g. Venice, 1998, 3rd European Congress on Ericksonian Hypnosis and Psychotherapy). ARAOZ uses the term “New Hypnosis” to differentiate it from traditional hypnosis.

    New Hypnosis is a practice that aims to:

    • Collaborate with the patient, who is an expert concerning his/her problems and the owner of capacities to change. New Hypnosis is completely opposed to the authoritarian therapist who forces changes, as well as to the “all knowing and can change you without your awareness” aspect of M. H. Erickson’s work.
    • Integrate the ideas and strategies of hypnotherapists who continue to develop hypnosis since Erickson’s death in 1980.
    • Use a number of CBT strategies (cognitive behavioural therapy); mostly those who tackle negative ideas and false beliefs which are sources of negative auto-suggestion.
    • Promote the understanding that negative auto-suggestions are active during the process of certain illnesses and (psychological) problems.


    Besides being extremely effective, New Hypnosis helps the patients to understand how they were capable of change. Therefore, patients become more autonomous, and are able to resolve future problems without necessarily the help of a hypnotherapist. In fact, patients will have acquired more confidence in themselves and in their own capacity to change.


    As there is no use of manipulation or authority, New Hypnosis only works with patients who are motivated and collaborative. If a patient shows some resistance, the therapy will take longer than necessary in comparison to when techniques of manipulation are used

  • Concerns the hypnosis developed and taught amongst others by Dr. Eric Mairlot.

    What E. Mairlot calls “phenomenological hypnosis" is directly derived from the findings of the “New Hypnosis” and Ericksonian hypnosis; but it takes the ideology further - concentrating fully on the patient and his/her resources to change. According to E. Mairlot each human being has undoubtedly astonishing hypnotic resources; most people who suffer from a problem are auto-hypnosis experts, but ignore it!

    Phenomenological hypnosis believes that patients can create their physical or psychological problems not only by negative self-suggestion, but also by negative auto-hypnosis. What we think we endure, we create in fact ourselves. This process uses “hypnotic phenomena” and is unconscious. We can produce profound negative auto-hypnosis to the point of crises: bulimic attacks, phobias, psychosomatic and painful states in which we relive past traumas, chronic fatigue, manias, obsessive compulsive disorders, tics, behavioural problems, etc. Hypnotic phenomena are also the origin of certain emotional states such as nervousness, anxiety, depression, rage fits, sensations of disgust, etc. All these states in which we loose control of our will are due to the hypnotic phenomena unconsciously taking control of the self (HLP Hypnotic-Like Phenomenom).

    A therapy that goes to the essence

    When one has thoughts and emotions like those mentioned above, hypnotherapy is very effective, as it reproduces the terrain from which the problem emerges. Suffice then to modify the negative hypnotic phenomena (PHL) into a positive sense to stop the problem or heal the symptoms. Patients will then use their own hypnotic capacities in a positive manner. Moreover, the patient will then have acquired autonomy from the therapist.


Centre de formation

The Centre de formation is a centre of expertise in hypnotherapy training for members of the medical and paramedical professions. It also proposes to learn to use the techniques of hypnosis and of autohypnosis in order to enhance the personal emotional, cognitive and sexual development.

  • Individual consultations in English, French, spanish, italian and Dutch

    The team’s practitioners offer individual consultations using a large range of brief therapeutic techniques: not only hypnosis but also EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), family and couple therapy (systemic therapy), coaching, NLP, sophrology, sex therapy, meditation and mindfulness.

    Brief therapies focus on using the patients’ own resources and are oriented towards problem solution rather than towards exploring the history of the problem. The practitioners in the Centre for Brief Therapy (CBT) therefore favour rapid and effective results rather than a prolonged and often difficult approach.

    Most French speaking therapists work in their own language only. However, because of the very pragmatic and change oriented nature of the therapy, they use a simple and easy to understand language. Any individual with a reasonable knowledge of the French language can, therefore, consult any of the team’s therapists.

    However, English speaking patients who wish to have a therapy in their own language can be seen by Dr. Gerbert BAKX . This physician-therapist, member of our team, has a perfect knowledge of both French and English and can therefore give therapy in both languages.

    Autohypnosis group workshops 

    The Institut de Nouvelle Hypnose organizes group autohypnosis workshops. In 5 or 6 sessions the participants gradually learn to master autohypnosis and to develop their natural capacities for self-healing. This is, however, not a group therapy where participants are invited to discuss their individual problems. The workshops are organized around several themes:

    • Smoking addiction. In order to free oneself of the smoking habit, the programme consists of an individual consultation followed by 5 sessions in a closed group.
    • Bulimia and overweight. The programme consists of 10 workshops in open group.
    • Stress management. The programme consists of 10 different workshops in open group.

    The autohypnosis workshops are given in French. The spoken language is very easy to understand and is accessible to non French speaking persons with a reasonable practical knowledge of the French language.

    Therapeutic massages

    Being massaged results in an enhanced feeling of « well being ». That is why a professional massage therapist is present in the centre. This physical approach is extremely effective to eliminate stress and to improve emotional disorders, even chronic ones, including depressive conditions and affective and anxious conditions.


  • Autohypnosis group workshops

    The Institut de Nouvelle Hypnose organizes group autohypnosis workshops. In 5 or 6 sessions, the participants gradually learn to master autohypnosis and to develop their natural capacities for self-healing. This is, however, not a group therapy where participants are invited to discuss their individual problems. The workshops are organized around several themes:

    • Stress management. This programme is aimed at learning to better deal with emotions and to enhance self-confidence
    • Sexual development
    • Mindfulness
    • Meditation

    Autohypnosis workshops are conducted in French. The language is, however, easy to understand and accessible to non French speaking persons with a reasonable practical knowledge of the French language.


  • Coaching in the corporate environment

    The Institut de Nouvelle Hypnose organizes training sessions in the corporate environment. This is a mode of coaching using autohypnosis in order to learn to manage stress, deal with fatigue (particularly for night work), increase professional performances (tonus, precision work, speaking in public, …). This training is given in French, English and Dutch.

    Training of health professionals

    The Institut de Nouvelle Hypnose is also a centre for therapeutic hypnosis training. This training is destined for mental and physical health professionals and is offered in French, English and Dutch.


The ideal attitude to adopt in order to benefit from the first experience in self-hypnosis: the hypnotic process is not to be confused with sleep, one remains conscious at all times. However one should act as though it were sleep (!). For example, when you are impatient and try very hard to fall asleep you will find it much harder to actually fall asleep! The same is true for hypnosis; be patient and let the hypnosis come to you naturally


When you worry about not falling asleep, it will keep you from it. For example, if you ask yourself questions such as: “Am I sleeping?” whilst you are falling asleep - you wake up, don't you? It is similar for hypnosis - to get out of the state of hypnosis, all you need to do is to think critically: “Am I in a hypnotic state?”, “Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?”, or “Should I be seeing this or understand that?”  Therefore, in order to enter a hypnotic state, forget all the “I should’s, I have to’s", etc...and just let it come to you naturally.


If during the session you feel tired (as though you’re about to fall asleep) let the alteration of your conscious state take place. It will not be sleep. Most people are only aware of two different states of consciousness: sleep and wake. As the hypnotic state comes closer to one or the other, we tend to believe that it’s either sleep or wake. However, a wide variety of states of consciousness exist. When consciousness profoundly changes it may resemble sleep, when in fact it’s not. If one fights against what one supposes to be sleep, the hypnotic state will end; because our effort thwarts the alteration of the state of consciousness.


Hypnosis is not RELAXATION; it is a mode of mental functioning, so it is not necessary to relax during hypnosis. One can even experience feeling tense, concentrated or distracted. Nevertheless, it enables an extraordinary communication between the mind and body; and certain hypnotic experiences may lead to profound states of mental and physical relaxation. In other words, hypnosis may lead to both, hyper-alertness and concentration, or intense joy and somatic/psychic well-being. You may come to a session feeling tired or tense, and come out feeling fit and ready for an intense day or night.


The hypnotic process comes to an end as soon as the hypnotherapist suggests that you come out of the state of hypnosis and back into the usual state of consciousness. Everyone comes back easily (there’s no need to worry about not “waking up”). You also remain free to come out of the hypnosis at all times. All you need to do is to want it (e.g. by opening your eyes). 

During an individual hypnosis session it is impossible for a hypnotherapist to:

1) Make people do something against their will, or do something their moral or religious beliefs do not allow (if they wish to respect them).

2) Make someone speak against his/her will, or make people relive something they don't want to.The same is true for group hypnosis.


If certain words or images suggested by the hypnotherapist do not suit you, make it a habit to translate them automatically into something that does. For instance, if the word "calm" does not please you, immediately replace it by a similar word such as “comfortable, cool, relaxed, etc..."


Hypnotic thinking is based on association of ideas, images, sensations and impressions just as thinking in an awakened state proceeds by analytic reflection, manipulation of abstract or intellectual concepts, and grammatical (left brain) logic. Thus, hypnotic thinking is more of the right brain type global and allows functioning intuitively, with more spontaneity and authenticity.

This may produce psychic and even psychosomatic experiences which are valued as real; in other words, are experienced as real-life! This is one of the characteristics that make hypnosis so efficient.


Everybody is capable of entering the hypnotic state; it's one of the natural capacities of the human brain to alter one's state of consciousness (see Transition). Men are just as capable to produce hypnosis as women. Children and some apt people can achieve it faster and easier than most people, but everyone has the capacity to achieve it. However, it may take a couple of sessions to familiarize oneself with the method and to fully benefit from the hypnotic strategies. Paradoxically one must be very patient in order to obtain fast results, as impatience blocks the unconscious process, which is the basis of real and durable changes.

We know that willpower alone can promote fast results when we aim for change.  But, in many fields (emotional, sentimental or in matters related to the body, sex, food, etc.) efforts are quickly exhausted and the positive changes brought upon by sheer willpower soon disappear. 

In contrast, non-voluntary positive changes are often slower to occur and are unforeseeable; but when they do occur, it is without great effort and they are often permanent. In some cases changes may occur quickly (mostly when you least expect them),  this s what gives a "magical" aspect to hypnosis.

Important: Group hypnosis is not advised for people who have experienced crises of paranoia or schizophrenia. Individual hypnosis will be more adapted.


The depth of the hypnotic state is not important in self-hypnosis.  The required depth will install itself automatically to adapt to the hypnotic strategy. During the exercises in autohypnosis one “descends" to the depth that one is ready for. Moreover, the way one experiences the hypnosis itself fluctuates; at some moments it may even be so light that one might feel as though you are "coming out of it", and then intensify again, and so on.Let this favorable attitude to hypnosis come by, letting whatever occurs (thoughts, sensations) take place. It will become easier by repeating the experiences.

More information about hypnoses


Hypnosis spreads an aura of mystery; it appears to be a powerful technique, practised by a small number of specialists or guru’s, which necessitates an initiation. It is often falsely perceived as if in the domain of occultism, secrecy and power held by the one who has the knowledge. When one speaks of hypnosis, sentences like “your eyelids are heavy” “ I want you to sleep!” “ You will do anything I ask of you” “ when you wake up, you will have forgotten everything!” come to mind…these incite fear and reluctance from the wider public, fear of loosing control, of being treated badly, of being influenced, of loosing ones own will… 

The fundamentals of hypnosis are based upon mechanisms that are not well  known by the wider public, they are not taught in the basic scientific cursus (contrary to chemistry & biology on which medicine is based). For these reasons it is necessary to refute some of the widely held misconceptions and false beliefs. 


Contrary to appearances hypnosis is not sleep!

One remains conscious no matter what hypnotic state is produced by traditional hypnosis or by new hypnosis.

The confusion that surrounds hypnosis is mostly due to the etymology of the word itself. The Greek word HYPNOS means “ sleep”, however hypnosis has little to do with sleep. On the contrary. In fact, hypnosis is a modified state of consciousness, a form of receptive concentration that fluctuates between hyper alertness and drowsiness. Everyone is capable of attaining this state naturally. This state of “parallel consciousness” enables us, whilst being in relation with others, to implicate oneself in another aspect of ones own experience of life.

This aptitude to maintain the beam(stream?) of parallel concentration is an indication of a very focalised extreme awakness. It is as if a part of the brain is hyper alert whilst the rest of the brain and body is resting, which may be perceived as sleep from the outside.


This is completely false!

This false belief has its origin in the works of Franz-Anton MESMER, a German doctor who lived in Paris, who was trying to understand the functioning of hypnosis. In 1778, he suggested the hypothesis of the existence of a magnetic animal fluid, comparable to the magnetism of metals.

The existence of such a fluid has never been proven. However, a couple of years later, other researchers have been able to prove that the functioning of magnetism is based on psychological influence, verbal and non-verbal suggestions.

To learn more about the subject, see the history of hypnosis.

So, there is no fluid. In fact, hypnotherapists stimulate the natural capacity of a subject to enter in a hypnotic state. The hypnotherapsist merely exploits this natural capacity with the cooperation and activity of the subject. In everyday life a person that is very concentrated on a specific task is susceptible to spontaneously pass into his own state of hypnosis in order to facilitate its realisation.

EXAMPLE: certain people are capable to auto- anaesthetize themselves at the dentist without having learnt autohypnosis. We often use auto-hypnotic capacities in this way to adapt to our surroundings.


This is totally wrong!

Hypnosis can be produced spontaneously, it is a natural capacity that everyone possesses and can appear spontaneously and naturally when alone.

Evidently, for most people the state of hypnosis is easier reached with the help of a hypnotherapist. But hypnosis is mostly produced spontaneously during the course of a life, in particular during difficult or very motivating situations, pushing the individual to surpass him/herself.



On the contrary.

Studies have shown that hypnosis takes longer and is less efficient on people who are fragile. People with  good mental health are far easier to hypnotize.

The wider public has been strongly influenced by Music-Hall shows and numerous works of fiction (cartoons, novels, movies…), which pictures hypnosis as an instrument of domination.

A technique that enables to act upon someone’s behaviour, against his or her will.

It is because of this that one believes that the person under hypnosis seems weakened. In which case we speak of authority and not of hypnosis (as well as the fact that music-hall hypnotisers often use actors who know the scenario prepared for the show).

 Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion between hypnosis used in shows and contemporary hypnotherapy. This confusion explains a lot of fears amongst the wider  public; the fear of loosing control, of being mistreated, badly influenced, of loosing one’s own will…

On the contrary, hypnotherapy proposes an approach where the patients discover how to use their own resources in order to induce change and, as a result, resolve other problems themselves. One learns how to exploit one’s capacity to heal oneself.

Because there is no form of authority used, hypnotherapy is based upon collaboration in a true and transparent atmosphere.



Everybody possesses the capacity to enter in the state of hypnosis; it is independent of the capacity of being influenced (suggestibility).

Someone who is easily influenced is not necessarily easy to hypnotize ( even though it is a capacity that they can eventually acquire), and vice versa. Evidently, for those who are easily influenced and easily hypnotised the therapy will be quicker and they will thus heal faster.



According to a comparative research (KROGER, 1977) hypnosis is the therapy with the least secondary effects. Evidently hypnosis is not dangerous;

• As long as health professionals practise it e.g. an anaesthetist or a dentist may use anaesthetic hypnosis, or calm the patients anxiety but it’s a psychologist that will treat real phobia for the dentist or anaesthetist???.  

• As long as there is enough trust between the patient and the therapist. However, it is not necessary to have more “trust” in a hypnotherapist than in any other kind of doctor. 

Moreover, in a hypnotic state, the body functions better, organs find their individual state; in the case that there aren’t any organic lesions.

Therapeutic hypnosis is a technique that is completely respectful of the patient. The rhythm of a patient’s evolution, their moral and spiritual values, their character, all this is taken into consideration and is respected. There is a real collaboration between the therapist and the patient, with a common objective; the pursuit of efficient and long-term wellbeing.



There is no difference between men and women.(Well I still think there is . “It makes no difference whether hypnosis is applied to men or women”). Scientific studies have shown that there are no differences in the distribution of hypnotisability between men and women.

Hypnotherapy is one of the rare therapies that have an even amount of male and female patients. In fact men are often attracted by the efficiency of a psychological treatment with a straightforward approach and a quick acquisition of autonomy.



Everyone has the capacity to enter in hypnosis.

We all have the natural capacity to enter in hypnosis, alone or with a hypnotherapist.

However, the facility with which one enters the state of hypnosis depends on the methods used, the experience of the hypnotherapist and the relationship between therapist/patient.

About 30% to 70% of the population can enter in the state of hypnosis by traditional techniques. But these proportions rise to about 99% with the techniques from new hypnosis.

More or less 15% of the population can reach a light trance that they can never surpass, but which is sufficient for most of the treatments. On the other hand 15% are capable of very intense hypnotic states.  The remaining 70% are situated somewhere in between.

One generally notes that, whatever the patients capacity, the ability to enter in hypnosis can be increased in a state of stress or of high motivation.

The only people for whom hypnotherapy is not recommended are people who suffer from schizophrenia and are currently in a crisis, people who suffer from paranoia, and people in a melancholic depression who idealize suicide.




In order to practice therapeutic hypnosis there is no need to be manipulative, authoritarian or fascinating.

Many people believe that a hypnotizer has to be a charismatic, fascinating or authoritarian to create an environment in which the state of hypnosis is possible. Techniques of medical hypnosis have often been used in an esoteric context such as in the circus and in shows. We all have the image of the hypnotiser as a “magician “ who uses his direct(ive) authority to obtain obedience and submission.

In reality, the induction into a state of hypnosis is relatively simple. The technique can be easily learnt, when explained rationally. With an open and “apt” subject, someone who is new to the technique can be just as efficient as a hypnotherapist with more experience.

It takes a while to learn the techniques of hypnotic treatment and it requires a basic training in medical/health care. There is a big difference between inducing someone into a hypnotic state in the context of a show, and to exploit the modified state of consciousness to treat problems.



On the contrary, in a hypnotic state the patient gains control.

A common misconception is that in the state of hypnosis one is no longer in control of oneself and of ones actions. When in fact the contrary is true.

The hypnotic state is one of intense concentration. The individual can no longer pay attention, to his or her surroundings and thus be distracted. Therefore, the context in which the hypnosis is done must be secure. Ones usual vigilance diminishes, making room for a spontaneous receptivity, which may make the patient more vulnerable to manipulations. 

 However, one thing is certain, in a hypnotic state the patient gains in control. Which is the reason that hypnosis heals problems as these are due to the loss of control, emotional, behavioural, control of the mind , even the loss of control of the mind over an organ…

The patient discovers, or rediscovers other forms of control than conscious willpower such as analogue thinking,or such as the visualisation of a healing image. This has far more power than the mere will to heal.

Moreover, the conscious capacities of control are accessible whenever the patient needs them. The patients can come out of the hypnotic state whenever they wish to do so, simply by opening their eyes.



The hypnotiser is not able to impose his will to the detriment of a patient. The wider public has been strongly influenced by the numerous fictional displays of hypnosis (cartoons, soaps, movies,…) and shows that present it as an instrument of domination.  In this light, hypnosis seems like a technique enabling the action upon someone’s behaviour, against his or her will. The hypnotised subject seems weakened and completely under the control of the hypnotiser. This impression is false, it is a result of the confusion between authority, fascination, and hypnosis. When in fact, it is a matter of three separate and different phenomena.

In the sate of hypnosis the subject intuitively senses what is good for him or her and simply rejects all that is not. Moreover, it is much easier to have authority over someone who is awake than in a state of hypnosis. In this way, when Milton H. Erickson used his authority he did so outside of the sessions in which he used hypnosis. Another important fact is that obedience rarely results into durable changes (with the exception of personal indirect tasks in Ericksonian and strategic therapies).

Therapeutic hypnosis is a technique that is completely respectful of the patient. The patient’s rhythm of evolution, their moral and spiritual values, their character type are considered and respected. A real collaboration establishes itself between the therapist and the patient, with a common objective: the efficient pursuit of  long-term well being.


Wrong, but… 

It is possible for the patient to heal very quickly and not understand how the problem has been resolved. This is what gives the “magical” aspect to hypnosis.

This general impression has been reinforced by the descriptions given by Milton H. Erickson of his therapies. In fact, his descriptions often merely contained the description of the session that had determined the healing of the patient. When in reality the treatment had often started a couple of weeks or months before the solution emerged.

“ One has to be patient with the unconscious but once it has found a solution to the problem, it is everlasting”

In fact, as every brain is capable of going into hypnosis, every unconscious mind is capable of discovering their self-healing capacities, even if it may sometimes take a while to learn how to discover these capacities.


Wrong !

It isn’t necessary. Hypnosis is a medically recognized treatment: just as it is not necessary to believe in aspirin in order for it to diminish your fever or relieve your pain.

Scientific studies have shown that sceptical people benefited faster from hypnosis than people who fiercely believe in it! In fact, if the patient has too much preconceived ideas and beliefs concerning hypnosis, his or her discovery of what hypnosis might bring him/her and how  he/she functions under hypnosis can be delayed.

Effectively, the hypnotic state can differ according to:

- The patients personality

- The relationship with the hypnotherapist

- The state one is in before the session

- The objectives, the expectations that one has concerning the experience

For a sceptical person it is important to be open to a new experience.


People are often afraid of this when they are advised to undergo psychotherapy, they are scared of unveiling memories and problems from the past; afraid of feeling powerless or discouraged at the idea of having to deal with them.

In fact, hypnosis allows the full respect of the patients wishes.

Therefore, if the patient does not wish to explore the past, he/she will never be surprised by the opening of a ‘so-called’ Pandora’s box.

On the other hand if the patient wants to discover the origin of a problem from the past , hypnosis ( as opposed to psychoanalysis and other classic therapies) can be used as a means (the means being the “vertical descend” to a memory) to an end, without having to deal with other undesirable memories.

Thus, hypnosis offers the possibility to treat a problem in a straightforward and precise manner.

3 articles to read :

Hypnoses makes headway in the clinic - The Lancet

The power of suggestion - The Bulletin

Using the powers of hypnosis to heal body and mind - Health

  • The Lancet – Vol 353 – January 30, 1999.


    Following an article featured in The Lancet, the worlds leading general medical journal (Dr Eric Mairlot)


    Exaggerated claims by lay hypnotists have obscured the technique’s proven benefits, say clinicians who routinely use hypnosis in the treatment of pain, needle phobia, and many other conditions.  « There is a rich scientific literature on hypnosis that stretches back over 100 years – each year there are about 150 articles on hypnosis in mainstream medical and science journals.  It’s not one of those fuzzy interventions for which no research has ever been done », stresses Michael Nash (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA), editor of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.  The American Medical Association and other medical associations have formally recognised hypnosis as a viable medical treatment, says Nash, and « we don’t even qualify for alternative-medicine research funds ».

    Donald D Price (University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA) says there is now evidence of a neurobiological basis for hypnosis.  « People think that during hypnosis, the brain goes to sleep.  In fact, specific brain areas become activated. »  In a study to be published soon in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, positron emission tomography scans were done on volunteers during hypnotic relaxation. Scans were also done during hypnotic suggestion : the volonteers’ hands were put in hot water, and suggestions given aimed at altering pain perception.  Different patterns of regional cerebral blood flow were recorded in response to hypnosis with and without suggestion (panel).

    Brain activations during hypnosis.

    Hypnotic relaxation.

    (+) Activity in : 

    - occipital region ( ?deep relaxation/decreased arousal).

    - caudal area of right anterior cingulate sulcus.

    - inferior frontal gyri.

    (-) Activity in :

    - right inferior parietal lobule ( ?dissociation/reduced sense of self).

    - left pre-cuneus/posterior cingulate gyrus.

    Hypnosis with suggestions.

    (++) Activity in : frontal cortices ( ?verbal mediation of suggestions).

    (+) Activity in : media land lateral posterior parietal cortices.


    These results imply that the hypnotic « trance » state is different from normal consciouness, and that it facilitates the processing of hypnotic suggestions, says Price, who has himself been hypnotised.  « My idea is that when you’re hypnotised, you experience things automatically, not deliberately.  If someone suggests that your arm is raising up, it’s as if your arm is doing it by itself. »


    Irving Kirsch of the University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT, USA) argues that what decides a patient’s response to hypnosis is patient expectations.  « You can’t get any response with hypnosis that you can’t also get without it, although hypnosis slightly increases the likelihood of getting the response.  How people behave and what they experience during hypnosis depends almost completely on what they think is supposed to happen. »  People who don’t want to be hypnotised won’t be, and hypnosis can’t make people do things they would normally refuse to do.


    « People have the idea that the hypnotist has the power, and it’s through his cunning techniques that a person experiences hypnosis.  That is wrong », says Nash.  In receptive individuals, the hypnotist « uses in a systematic way the abilities the patient already has.  It’s almost like helping them hone their own skills ».

    Irrespective of whether a person goes into a trance-like state or is simply open to suggestion, hypnosis is useful in the clinic.  Nash tells of a man who needed cystoscopy every 3 months for 5 years after removal of a bladder tumour.  At his first check-up, « he had to be held down because of the pain ».  The man did not want general anaesthesia, and epidurals were risky, so Nash taught him self-hypnosis.  Before the second cystoscopy, « he took 60 seconds to prepare himself, and that was it.  The procedure was over in 10 minutes, and the six people who had intended to hold him down went for coffee ».


    « Self-hypnosis facilitates a sense of control and self-efficacy in patients with cancer », adds psychologist Phyllis Alden (Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, Derby, UK).  Alden uses adjuctive hypnosis to help patients who have nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and anxieties associated with other procedures and the cancer itself.  « Hypnosis isn’t magic but it is a valuable tool in a cancer centre. »


    Hypnosis is also helpful in burn centres, where the daily care of wounds can be more painful than the initial injury, says David Patterson (University of Washington Burn Center, Seattle, WA, USA).  Large morphine doses are needed for these patients, but may not adequately relieve pain.  Patterson, who has held a National Institutes of Health grant to research into hypnosis for the past 9 years, has used adjunctive hypnosis with loggers and other « hardy » types not typically  thought of as hypnosis candidates.  In those with intense pain, « dramatic effects » can ben achieved, he says.


    Barry Hart, a consultant psychologist in Scunthorpe, UK, has had similar experiences.  For example, a dock worker with persistent pain and anxiety from a crush injury to his toes learned self-hypnosis and was able to return to work.  Hart also uses hypnosis in patients with respiratory problems who become panicky because of breathlessness, and in those with chronic pain disorders.


    Referring physicians should properly prepare patients for hypnosis and other psychological interventions, urges Hart.  « If you have chronic pain because of a real physical problem and you’re sent to a psychologist, you may feel like you’re being written off.  It should be explained that the pain is real, but that psychological factors can alter your experience of it. »


    Despite their enthusiasm, clinicians who use hypnosis warn against overstating the technique’s benefits.  « Hypnosis can be easily learned and used as a tool by general practitioners and other health professionnals, they note, « but hypnosis is a context in which you do therapy ; it’s not a therapy itself », says Hart.  « Using hypnosis won’t make you a good clinician ; you have to be a good clinician, and then you can use hypnosis in a savvy way », cautions Nash.  « I could teach a high-school student to do hypnosis in half an hour, but using hypnosis therapeutically is a very different story. »


    The Lancet – Vol 353 – January 30, 1999.

  • The Bulletin - March 12, 1992


    Long discredited as a form of therapy, hypnosis is making a comeback.  Lucy Magosse investigates some of its practitioners.

    Cabiria, a young prostitute, walks into a vaudeville theatre.  The man on stage is performing magic tricks.  He invites her to join him, she hesitates, the audience shouts encouragement, she reluctantly climbs onto the stage.  The magician hypnotizes her, then tells her to describe her most secret love fantasies.  She naively evokes a scene in which a young man offers her flowers and pure love.  When she awakens from the trance the audience is roaring with laughter.  The scene is from Fellini’s Notti di Cabiria, and it evokes the image most of us have of hypnosis : a music hall act in which people reveal their innermost secrets under the command of an irresistible wizard.

    Hypnosis is the ancestor of psychoanalysis and of most modern psychotherapies.  As a young neurologist, Freud used the technique to free his patients from the terrible secrets that burdened their souls.  But he abandoned it as he gradually developed new techniques to treat them.

    Hypnosis today, as practiced primarily by psychiatrists, has begun to regain its therapeutic credibility.  It has proven most effective in cases of psychologically rooted symptoms.  One major step in the development of hypnotherapy has been the work of American psychiatrist Milton Erickson, whose approach reached Belgium in the past decade.  A department of hypnotherapy now exists at Brugmann Hospital and there is a Milton Erickson Institute for the training of future practitioners.

    The Belgian analyst, Professor François Duyckaerts, is currently writing a book about psychologist Joseph Delboeuf who taught at Liege University during the last century and practised hypnosis.  Freud referred to the Belgian pioneer frequently in his early writings and, in his The Interpretation of Dreams, was very much influenced by Delboeuf’s research.  Duyckaerts explains the Delboeuf was a precursor of modern hypnosis as used by the Erickson school, an empathetic rather than an authoritarian method.

    Hypnosis has a long history that goes back to antiquity when it was often incorporated into religious ceremonies.  From the Middle Ages to this day, witchcrafts and possession have been the primal expressions of this still inadequately understood mental state.  The German doctor, Anton Mesmer, born in 1734, was perhaps the first recognized medical hypnotist.  He managed to induce convulsions in humans by passing a powerful magnet over the prostrate forms of his gullible patients.  Claiming to be able to cure any illness, he soon became a cult figure in Paris.

    Mesmer who, among other accomplishments, introduced the harmonica into France, was a friend of Mozart.  In Cosi fan tutte there is a scene of magic medicine in action ; Despina, the maid, disguided as a wizard, manipulates a giant magnet that makes the tenor and baritone suffer convulsions, or pretend to.

    In reality, the hypnotic state is not quite so mysterious as it may seem.  The power of a hypnotist is no greater than the person under hypnosis will allow.  Jean-Martin Charcot, with whom the young Freud studied in Paris, treated severely afflicted hysterical patients, a pathology one rarely sees nowadays.  He concluded that the hysterical illness with its strange symptoms was similar to the state reached under hypnosis.  In the case of hypnosis, the hypnotist could induce such hysteria-like symptoms as partial paralysis or the absence of physical sensation.  Through these observations, Freud came to understand hysteria from a different angle ; if they had no organic cause, then the body was saying something that words could not express.

    Research in the field of hypnosis came to a halt in France after Charcot’s death in 1893.  No further progress was made until the Pavlovian school of psychology conducted research into hypnosis in the Soviet Union and a handful of psychiatrists examined the phenomenon in de United States.

    Freud eventually gave up hypnosis because he wanted to extend treatment to pathologies other than hysteria ; he also noticed that whatever progress his patients made quickly disappeared when their personal relation to the therapist ran into trouble.  Hypnosis appeared also to stimulate erotic feelings ;  a young woman waking from a trance threw herself into his arms and attempted to kiss him, a scene he has described in his autobiography.  Later, he developed the technique of free association, encouraging the patient to let his or her thoughts flow forth in a verbal stream, like a traveller on a train describing the landscape as it passes by.

    French analyst Léon Chertok was consulted in 1948 by a 35-year-old woman who had suffered from amnesia for 12 years.  She thought she was 22.  With no idea what his chances of success might be, the young doctor hypnotized his patient and her 12 forgotten years came back to her.  Chertok devoted most of his career to hypnosis an its many therapeutic applications.  He faced a great deal of hostility from sceptical colleagues in France.

    Isabelle Strengers, the Belgian philosopher of science, has recently written two books in collaboration with Chertok.  Together they consider the ethical and philosophical questions of hypnosis versus psychoanalysis in L’Hypnose, blessure narcissique (Laboratoire Delagrange), Le Cœur et la raison.  L’hypnose en question (Payot) describes Chertok’s research and his adventurous life.

    His technique is considered traditional, rather in the vein of Charcot.  The aim is to break through a represented event and bring it back to the patient’s conscious memory.  This approach is unusually effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders.  Chertok’s book describe many case histories with successful outcomes, especially in the field of psychosomatic medicine.

    The important innovation brought about in hypnotherapy by Milton Erickson is the technique in which the traumatic event could be changed by the patient.  Under hypnosis, the patient relives the event and changes the course of it by entering the scene himself as an adult, or by asking the therapist to intervene.  The new insight this experience brings to the event restores the patient who can see him/herself in a different light and thereby move away from the crippling past.  The emotions attached to the tragic or terrifying scene will now have changed significantly.

    This form of therapy does not apply exclusively to victims of a specific trauma.  Its range of application is vast ; psychosomatic ailments like asthma, spastic colon, and allergies may benefit a great deal from it.  Dr Eric Mairlot, who founded the « Institut de Nouvelle Hypnose » and works at Brugmann Hospital, has helped many people to stop smoking by working on their nicotine addiction.

    Mairlot claims that most stress-induced symptoms – such as repetitive failure patterns both professionnal and emotional, or compulsive and obsessional behaviour – improve dramatically under hypnotherapy.  « Among my patients are actors and other stage performers who have been handicapped by severe stagefright », says Mairlot.

    He sees a structural connection between phobic states and bouts of compulsive eating.  « In both cases », he says, « the attacks are caused by an uncontrollable state of modified consciousness.  Hypnosis, too, is a state of modified consciousness, but a controlled one.  Pathologies that are characterized by a negative modified consciousness will respond to the positive and controlled effect of hypnosis ».

    Hypnotized people are not unconscious ; they are free to move, talk, say what they wish.  The frequently noted inability to remember what has happened under hypnosis – a form of amnesia – is generally caused by the patient’s unconscious desire to forget what may have been an emotionally painful experience.

    Hypnotherapy is a treatment.  It can last for months and is not compatible with other psychotherapies, except for group or couple therapy.  The technique not only focuses on getting rid of the painful symptom ; its aim is to help the person to feel better within himself.  The Ericksonian therapy respects the patient’s symptoms, unlike the hypnotists of the last century who gave strict commands and insisted on blind obedience.

    Today, hypnotherapists explain that their treatment induces positive modifications of behaviour.  The criticism that analytically inclined therapists make is that there is no analysis of the patient-doctor transference.  The transference is used, but not worked over ; the hypnotist assumes virtually magic authority.  It also means that the patient does not experience the conscious working-through process, as he does in analysis.

    The hypnotic state has been known to bring about some dramatic changes, even in the case of depression.  One of the most extraordinary examples occurred in 1900 when Sergey Rakhmaninov suddenly recovered from three years of creative despair after undergoing hypnosis and went on to compose his Second Piano Concerto.

    In Dr Mairlot’s words, « Coming out of depression means that patients can once again develop their full creative potential.  It is like discovering spring after a long dark winter ».

     The Bulletin - March 12, 1992


    by Jane E.BRODY

    My husband, Richard, smoked cigarettes for 50 years, having failed several attempts to quit on his own.

    When a friend told him in August 1994 that hypnosis had enabled her to quit, he decided to give it a try.

    « It didn’t work ; I wasn’t hypnotized, » he declared after his one and only session.  But it did work ; since that day, he has not taken on puff of a cigarette.

    Gloria Kanter of Boynton Beach, Florida, thought her attempt in 1985 to use hypnosis to overcome her fear of flying had failed.  « When the therapist brought me out, I said it didn’t work, » she recalled in an interview.  « I told her, ‘I heard everything you said’ »

    Nonetheless, the next time she and her husband headed for the airpot, she was not drenched in sweat and paralyzed with fear.  « I was just fine, » she said, « and I’ve been fine ever since. »

    Like many others whose knowledge of hypnotism comes from movies and stage shows, my husband and Kanter misunderstood what hypnosis is all about.  While in a hypnotic transe, you are neither unconscious nor asleep, but rather in a deeply relaxed state that renders the mind highly focused and ready to accept suggestions to help you accomplish your goals.

    Hypnosis has been mired in controversy for two centuries, and its benefits are often overstated.  It does not smoking, for example ; then again, neither do other kinds of treatments.

    And the patient’s attitude is critical.  In the words of Brian Alman, a psychologist who practices hypnosis in San Diego, « The power of hypnosis actually resides in the patient and not in the doctor. »

    Roberta Temes, a clinical hypnotist in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, insists that hypnosis cannot make people do anything they don’t want to do.  Hypnosis can succeed only in helping people make changes they desire, she said in an interview.

    In her book « The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hypnosis, » Temes points out that success in achieving your goal is the best proof that you were really hypnotized.  She also suggests a second or third session if you didn’t quite reach your goal after the first try.

    In effect, hypnosis is the epitome of mind-body medicine.  It can enable the mind to tell the body how to react, and modify the messages that the body sends to the mind.  It has been used to counter the nausea of pregnancy and chemotherapy ; dental and test-taking anxiety ; pain associated with surgery, root canal treatment and childbirth ; fear of flying and public speaking ; compulsive hair-pulling ; and intractable hiccups, among many other troublesome health issues.

    Writing in The Permanente Journal in 2001, Alman said the « useful potential » for benefiting from hypnosis « exists within each patient. »  « The goal of modern medical hypnosis, » he said, « is to help patients use this unconscious potential. »

    Alman described a 65-year-old concentration camp survivor who repeatedly choked when she tried to swallow, though examinations of her esophagus revealed no obstruction.  After three hypnotherapy sessions, her problem was solved.  « I was liberated from my esophagus, » the patient said.

    You may not even have to be face to face with a hypnotist to benefit medically.  Temes said hypnosis could be helpful even if done with a cassette tape or CD, or by telephone, which she offers as part of her practice.  She said many helpful Cds could be found throught the Web site www.hypnosisnetwork.com.

    Ellen Fineman, a physical therapist in Portland, Oregon, had had five surgeries to repair a retina that kept dtaching.  Hoping that a sixth attempt would hold, she uses a hypnosis tape prepared by Temes for patients undergoing surgery.

     The tape « was very calming and reassuring, » Fineman said in an interview.  « It told me that I would be in the hands of professionnals who would take good care of me and that I’d have minimal swelling, » she said.  « This time the surgery went superbly – no inflammation, no swelling and no more detachment.  The surgeon was amazed and asked what I had done differently this time. »

    As with any other profession, some hypnotherapists are more talented than others.  Temes suggests that word of mouth may be the best way to find someone practiced in hypnosis for the kind of problem you’re trying to solve.

    While not everyone is easily hypnotized, nearly everyone can slip into a therapeutic trance, Temes maintains.  Another of her patients, Dr. Susan Clarvit, a New York psychiatrist, thought she could not be hypnotized – she was too scientific, too rational a person, she said.

     « But I was desperate, » Clarvit said in an interview.  « I was pregnant with my second child and too nauseated to be alive.  Dr. Temes asked me what I held most ofter, and I said a pen.  She hypnotized me so that when I held a pen I had an overall feeling of wellness.  I held a pen all the time, even while driving, and didn’t feel nauseated. »

    Under hypnosis, Clarvit was given a posthypnotic suggestion that linked holding a pen to feeling well.  Such suggestions enable people to practice a new, desired behavior after being brought out of the trance.

    Someone trying to overcome snacking on sweets might be told, « When you are hungry, you will eat vegetables. »  The suggestion to a smoker might be « you will drink water when you want a cigarette. »

    Sometimes patients with well-established illnesses can benefit indirectly from hypnosis.  Alman told of a rectly from hypnosis.  Alman told of a woman with multiple sclerosis who was treated with hypnosis for depression that had failed to improve with antidepressants.  Almost immediately, he reported, not only did the woman’s depression ease, but her gait and speech improved markedly.

    He explained that for many patients the medical problem is so complex that specific directions and commands may be ineffective.  The benefit from hypnosis may rely more on unleashing unconscious processes within the patient.  He suggested that thera exists « a wealth of material in the patient’s unconscious that can be used in healing » but lamented the fact that although medical hypnosis can often produce rapid change even in difficult cases, it is « underutilized as a therapeutic tool. »

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