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 behavioral 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.
The Validity of Hypnosis
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:
- In a group hypnotherapy session among 3,000 smokers sponsored by the American Lung Association, 22% reported not smoking for a month afterward. (The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 2000)
- During surgical radiology, hypnosis diminishes patients’ pain and anxiety, shortens surgical time, and reduces complications from the procedure. (Lancet, 2000)
- Self-hypnosis was largely successful in alleviating chronic tension headaches among 169 patients. (International Journal of Clinical Experimental Hypnosis, 2000)
- Hypnosis significantly boosts the activity of B-cells and T-cells, both key components of a healthy immune system. (American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1995)
- In a study of 16 subjects who normally experienced nausea and vomiting before and during chemotherapy, hypnosis alleviated sickness in all of them. (Oncology, 2000)
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. 
Hypnosis Proves a Popular Choice
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.” 
Powerful Pain Relief Potential
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. 
Exploit the Power of Suggestion
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 behavior 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.
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