Despite what many people believe, hypnosis has nothing to do with stage hypnotism. The latter is simply a performance designed to entertain, while real hypnosis is a potent and accessible tool for dealing with psychological and behavioural problems.
So what is hypnosis? It is a state of highly focused attention in which the subject is able to relax and welcome suggestions either during hypnotherapy from a qualified therapist, or through self-hypnosis materials. This relaxed state is known as a hypnotic trance and makes people more open to suggestions than they would be under normal circumstances.
According to Dr. Clifford Lazarus, Ph. D., hypnosis is “a genuine psychological phenomenon that has valid uses in clinical practice.”  The number and variety of clinical studies serves as testament to the power and effectiveness of hypnosis, often the last resort for people who have tried and failed using other methods and therapies.
It would take many volumes to contain the sheer quantity of case studies in which hypnosis has made a real difference in the quality of life of millions of people. Success stories abound where hypnosis has been used to quit smoking, lose weight, and manage pain, some of which are detailed below:
The evidence is everywhere. One study concluded that patients who quit smoking with hypnosis are twice as likely to remain smoke-free than those who quit on their own.  In another, hypnosis was shown to be 3 times as effective as nicotine replacement therapy and 15 times more effective than trying to quit on one’s own.  A study of 60 overweight females concluded that hypnosis was 30 times more effective for weight loss. 
These are not isolated cases, either. People from all walks of life are turning to hypnosis to help them improve various aspects of their lives. Speaking on the Oprah Winfrey show, actor Ben Affleck said: "I finally decided to quit smoking when I found out I was going to have a child. That was the thing that sort of put it over the top for me.” 
Celebrity Ellen DeGeneres famously kicked the smoking habit live on her US chat show, when British hypnotist Paul McKenna hypnotized her and, according to DeGeneres, “probably saved my life.”  British pop star Lily Allen recently confessed in an interview in the Daily Mail newspaper that hypnosis helped her drop 4 dress sizes, adding "after the hypnotism, I want to go to the gym every day, otherwise I feel really bad.” 
The list of people past and present who turned to hypnosis to help them develop positive habits, overcome limitations, or iron out personal problems includes Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Kevin Costner, Orlando Bloom, Mozart, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Jack Nicklaus, Jackie Kennedy, and David Beckham. 
According to the American Cancer Society, hypnosis has been evaluated and approved as an effective relaxation technique by the National Institutes of Health. The NIH also found hypnosis to be “effective in reducing fear and anxiety, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches, and controlling bleeding and pain during dental procedures.” 
The applications for hypnosis seem limitless indeed, and nowhere has it proven more effective than in the control and elimination of pain. Hypnotherapy has been shown to reduce pain and speed up recovery from surgery , lessen the frequency and intensity of migraines , lower post-treatment pain in burn injury victims  and contribute to the treatment of phantom limb pain .
Research over the last 40 years clearly indicates that hypnosis is a safe and effective alternative for a vast range of complaints, able to “treat headaches, ease the pain of childbirth, aid in quitting smoking, improve concentration and study habits, relieve minor phobias, and serve as anesthesia -- all without drugs or side effects”.  It has also been recognized by medical professionals as an alternative for the treatment of IBS, particularly recommended for patients who fail to respond to more traditional pharmacological treatments. 
Hypnosis enables a person to switch off the outside world, relax, and focus attention on a specific area with minimal distraction. Under hypnosis he or she becomes more open to discussion and suggestion, making it possible to “change perceptions or sensations”  and influence their thinking and behaviour in a myriad of ways. Hypnosis has been shown to stimulate creativity , strengthen the immune system , enhance sporting performance , and aid in the promotion of concentration, study habits, and the acquisition and retention of knowledge. 
Whether you want to improve aspects of your overall health or make changes that will allow you to live a happier and more fulfilling lifestyle, hypnosis provides a reliable and comfortable means of achieving it.
1. Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D. The Truth About Hypnosis. PsychologyToday.com, Jan 29, 2013
2. Wynd, CA. Guided health imagery for smoking cessation and long-term abstinence. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 2005; 37:3, pages 245-250.
3. University of Iowa, Journal of Applied Psychology, How One in Five Give Up Smoking. October 1992.
4. Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.
5. (PRWEB) May 31, 2010; Celebrities Turning To Hypnosis To Stop Smoking.
6. ContactMusic.com: Hypnotist Helps Ellen Kick Smoking. Oct 17, 2006.
7. Mail Online: Lily Allen slims from size 12 to an eight by having her 'brain reprogrammed'
8. NaturalHypnosis.com: Further Information and Scientific Research On Hypnosis
10. Faymonville ME, Defechereux T, Joris J, Adant JP, Hamoir E, Meurisse M. Hypnosis and its application in surgery. Service d'Anesthesie-Reanimation, Universite de Liege, Rev Med Liege. 1998 Jul;53(7):414-8.
11. Anderson JA, Basker MA, Dalton R. Migraine and hypnotherapy. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis 1975; 23(1): 48-58.
12. Patterson DR, Ptacek JT, Baseline pain as a moderator of hypnotic analgesia for burn injury treatment. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology 1997; 65(1): 60-7.
13. Oakley DA, Whitman LG, Halligan PW. Treatment of phantom limb pain using hypnotic imagery. Department of Psychology, University College, London, UK.
14. Barrett, Deirdre. The Power of Hypnosis. PyschologyToday.com, Jan 01, 2001. Updated Sept 02, 2010.
15. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Clinical guideline 61.February 2008, Page 15.
16. Mental Health and Hypnosis, WebMD.com, reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on June 05, 2012
19. Donald R. Liggett. Enhancing Imagery through Hypnosis: A Performance Aid for Athletes. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis , Vol. 43, Iss. 2, 2000
20. Theodore Xenophon Barber. The effects of “hypnosis” on learning and recall: A methodological critique. Journal of Clinical Psychology.Volume 21, Issue 1, pages 19–25, January 1965
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