Effortless Hypnosis

A chronological summary of notable Hypnosis studies. 

British Medical Association (BMA), 1892

The Committee, having completed such investigation of hypnotism as time permitted, have to report that they have satisfied themselves of the genuineness of the hypnotic state ... are of opinion that as a therapeutic agent hypnotism is frequently effective in relieving pain, procuring sleep, and alleviating many functional ailments ...

British Medical Association (BMA) Psychological Medicine Group, 1955

Considered the uses of hypnotism as it relates to present day [circa 1955] medical practice and the advisability of continuing research into its nature and application concluded:

The Subcommittee is satisfied after consideration of the available evidence that hypnotism is of value and may be the treatment of choice in some cases of so-called psycho-somatic disorder and Psychoneurosis. It may also be of value for revealing unrecognized motives and conflicts in such conditions. As a treatment, in the opinion of the Subcommittee it has proved its ability to remove symptoms and to alter morbid habits of thought and behavior...

In addition to the treatment of psychiatric disabilities, there is a place for hypnotism in the production of anesthesia or analgesia for surgical and dental operations, and in suitable subjects it is an effective method of relieving pain in childbirth without altering the normal course of labor.

The statement of proceedings noting the British Medical Association's (BMA) official 'approval' goes on to say:

For the past hundred years there has been an abundance of evidence that psychological and physiological changes could be produced by hypnotism which were worth study on their own account, and also that such changes might be of great service in the treatment of patients.

American Medical Association (AMA), 1958

That the use of hypnosis has a recognized place in the medical armamentarium and is a useful technique in the treatment of certain illnesses...

The US National Institute for Health (NIH), 1995

Technology Assessment Conference compiled an extensive report of the existing research in relation to hypnotherapy for chronic pain. Its official statement entitled "Integration of Behavioral & Relaxation Approaches into the Treatment of Chronic Pain & Insomnia"concludes:

The evidence supporting the effectiveness of hypnosis in alleviating chronic pain associated with cancer seems strong. In addition, the panel was presented with other data suggesting the effectiveness of hypnosis in other chronic pain conditions, which include irritable bowel syndrome, oral mucositis, temporomandibular disorders, and tension headaches.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ), 1999

Published a Clinical Review of current medical research on hypnotherapy and relaxation therapies, concluding:

There is strong evidence from randomised trials of the effectiveness of hypnosis and relaxation for cancer related anxiety, pain, nausea, and vomiting, particularly in children.

They are also effective for panic disorders and insomnia, particularly when integrated into a package of cognitive therapy (including, for example, sleep hygiene).

A systematic review has found that hypnosis enhances the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy for conditions such as phobia, obesity, and anxiety.

Randomized controlled trials support the use of various relaxation techniques for treating both acute and chronic pain...

Randomized trials have shown hypnosis to be of value in asthma and in irritable bowel syndrome...

Some practitioners also claim that relaxation techniques, particularly the use of imagery, can prolong life. There is currently insufficient evidence to support this claim.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) Professional Affairs Board, 2001

Charged a panel of expert psychologists to report on The Nature of Hypnosis. '...to provide a considered statement about hypnosis and important issues concerning its application and practice in a range of contexts, notably for clinical purposes, forensic investigation, academic research, entertainment and training.' The group's report includes a summary of the current scientific research on hypnosis and opens with the following remark:

Hypnosis is a valid subject for scientific study and research and a proven therapeutic medium.

Regarding the therapeutic uses of hypnosis, it states:

Enough studies have now accumulated to suggest that the inclusion of hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.

These experts provided an overview of the most important contemporary research on the efficacy of clinical hypnosis, summarizing: 

There is convincing evidence that hypnotic procedures are effective in the management and relief of both acute and chronic pain and in assisting in the alleviation of pain, discomfort and distress due to medical and dental procedures and childbirth.

Hypnosis and the practice of self-hypnosis may significantly reduce general anxiety, tension and stress in a manner similar to other relaxation and self-regulation procedures.

Likewise, hypnotic treatment may assist in insomnia in the same way as other relaxation methods.

There is encouraging evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of hypnotherapeutic procedures in alleviating the symptoms of a range of complaints that fall under the heading ‘psychosomatic illness’. These include tension headaches and migraine; asthma; gastro-intestinal complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome; warts; and possibly other skin complaints such as eczema, psoriasis and urticaria.

There is evidence from several studies that its inclusion in a weight reduction program may significantly enhance outcome.

Flammer and Bongartz, University of Konstanz, Germany, 2003

Conducted a meta-analysis on the efficacy of hypnotherapy, related to psychosomatic illness, test anxiety, smoking cessation and pain control in conjunction with orthodox medical treatment. Selecting the best research for meta-analysis they narrowed 444 studies conducted prior to 2002 down to focus on 57 rigorously controlled trials . These showed that on average hypnotherapy achieved at least 64% success compared to 37% improvement among untreated control groups. The professed aim of this meta-analysis was to ascertain whether hypnotherapy was demonstrably effective even in light of the most skeptical interpretation of the evidence.  It was.


  1. T., F.; Outterson (July 23, 1892). "Report of the committee appointed to investigate the nature of the phenomena of hypnotism". British Medical Journal 2 (1647): 190–1.
  2. "BMA Council Proceedings". BMJ: 1019. April 23, 1955.
  3. Kennedy, Alexander (June 8, 1957). "The Medical Use of Hypnotism". British Medical Journal 1 (5031): 1317–1319.doi:10.1136/bmj.1.5031.1317. PMC 1973771.
  4. AMA Proceedings, JAMA, September 1958, p. 57
  5. Vickers, V.; Zollman, Z. (1999). "Hypnosis and relaxation therapies". British Medical Journal 319 (7221): 1346–1349.doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7221.1346. PMC 1117083. PMID 10567143.
  6. "The Nature of Hypnosis". The British Psychological Society. March 2001. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  7. Flammer; Bongartz (2003). "On the efficacy of hypnosis: a meta-analytic study.". Contemporary Hypnosis: pp179–197.
  8. Abbot NC, Stead LF, White AR, Barnes J. Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation" Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001008. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001008
  9. Webb AN, Kukuruzovic R, Catto-Smith AG, Sawyer SM. Hypnotherapy for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome" Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005110. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005110.pub2