Discover the Power of Hypnosis

10 Amazing Facts About Hypnosis You Most Probably Didn't Know   

By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT

Discover the power of hypnosis in this brief article I have put together for you. Enjoy taking in these ten amazing facts about hypnosis that I am pretty sure you may not have heard before.

power of hypnosisThe Power of Hypnosis outlined by Dr. David Spiegel.

1. Did you Know That Many Famous Historic Personalities Used Hypnosis?

The topic of hypnosis has fascinated people of all classes from its inception in the 18th century by Franz Anton Mesmer (1734- 1815).

Although mesmerism/ magnetism continued to be largely rejected by the medical orthodoxy throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, it was highly popular with people of all classes, starting in Austria and France where Mesmer was active, and later spreading to the US.

Where the upper classes were able to afford consultations with Mesmer and other mesmerists (of which there were many), the lower classes attended traveling stage hypnosis shows for entertainment, or received diagnoses of their health problems through mesmerized clairvoyants.

Because of its popularity, there were many historic personalities who came in contact with mesmerism. The examples I gave on the info graphic here are only a small selection.

One example not included there is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) whose father Leopold was friendly with Mesmer and used to stay at his house when Wolfgang was a small child starting to perform his music in Vienna. Wolfgang is said to have composed some of his works in a trance state. While it seems plausible that Mesmer may have practiced 'animal magnetism' on Wolfgang, I have not found any clear evidence of this.

The examples included on the info graphic are of more recent times and historic evidence clearly exists that Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Nicola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Aldous Huxley and Sergej Rachmaninoff all used self help hypnosis for personal growth and to further their careers.

power of hypnosisHistoric personalities who were aware of and used the power of hypnosis

2. Did you Know That Hypnosis (Mesmerism), from the start, had Cures for ill Health when Conventional Medicine did not?

In the 18th and for the first half of the 19th century, conventional medicine had nothing much to offer people by the way of cures. Medical doctors used forms of treatment that would be classified as questionable these days. They included bloodletting, the use of leeches, and severe purging. Many patients died from these treatments and success rates were very low.

As a result, many people sought the power of hypnosis for cures with complaints that medical doctors were unable to help with. There are many hundreds of documented historic case studies of mesmerism succeeding in cases where medicine failed.

Even before mesmerists fully understood what it was they were doing, the power of hypnosis tapped into the area of psychosomatic illness- where the subconscious mind exercises power over the body and causes physical complaints. Mesmerists/ magnetists were able to cure such complaints through various methods.

You can read more about the history of hypnosis here.

3. Did you Know That Freud did not Discover the Unconscious- but Hypnosis did?

Many people believe that Freud discovered the unconscious. But these people are wrong.

Throughout human history, people were always aware of unconscious activities through dreams, visions and similar. In medieval times these were often attributed to demonic possession, later to organic causes.  

With the onset of hypnosis (mesmerism/ magnetism) in the 18th century, a new framework developed that described different states of consciousness, such as the conscious and subconscious minds. Hypnotism was an excellent tool for exploring the mind. Based on hypnosis, philosophers now developed the idea of ‘alternate streams’ of consciousness.

Freud started his work over a century after the inception of hypnosis. He came across it by accident when attending a stage show in Vienna where he was studying medicine in the 1870ies. By the time he graduated, hypnotherapy had become a popular method. He studied it and practiced hypnotherapy for some time but found the methods did not suit him. Ultimately he gave up.

His experiences with hypnotherapy, however, left a deep imprint on his work:


  • Freud developed the idea of the unconscious as always being present in all healthy human beings.

  • Freud was the first to argue that the unconscious did not constitute pathology as some other psychologists before him believed (most notably Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893) and Pierre Janet (1859-1947).
  • Freud also showed that the subconscious and conscious operate as one and are not strictly separate as believed earlier.

Yet, none of these achievements would have been possible without the work of hundreds of hypnotists throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Here you can read more about historic personalities involved with the history of hypnosis.

4. Did you Know That Hypnosis can be Used as a Complete Anesthetic During Surgeries?

The power of hypnosis to alleviate pain has been well documented from the middle of the 19th century:

  • The first painless tooth extraction under hypnosis occurred in America on June 18th 1836, conducted by one Monsieur Burgard who extracted a tooth from a 12 year old girl under hypnosis without pain or complications.
  • James Esdaile (1808-1859), a British surgeon operating in India, conducted some 3,000 major and minor painless surgeries under hypnosis.
  • There is modern research evidence too, that hypnosis is effective for pain relief, see it here in my article "Does hypnotherapy work?"
  • Today, childbirth hypnosis is popular and has been shown to give women a better birthing experience.
  • Pain hypnosis for a complete anesthetic during surgery is virtually the only use of hypnosis that requires achieving a deep state of hypnosis or self hypnosis trance. However, in a medium or light trance, hypnosis can still act as an analgesic.

5. Did you Know That Celebrities and Executives use Hypnosis?

power of hypnosisDiscover the power of hypnosis- celebrities who have used hypnosis

In my info graphic I have illustrated examples of celebrities availing of the power of hypnosis for different purposes from smoking cessation to weight loss, to childbirth hypnosis, to career and self improvement.

These cases have all been documented in the mass media, and you will likely have been aware of at least some of them. But did you know that executives, such as CEO’s of large companies, also appreciate the power of hypnosis?

Executives use hypnosis to:

  • Improve decision making
  • Improve creativity
  • Give them an extra edge
  • To improve their leadership skills

The use of hypnosis by celebrities and executives gives you a good idea of the versatility of how hypnosis can be used. Find out here how hypnosis can help you.

6. Did you Know That Recent Brain Imaging Research has Confirmed the Existence of the Hypnotic State?

For the longest time there has been a scientific debate as to whether hypnosis is a distinct state or not. ‘No state’ proponents such as Theodore Barber (1927-2005) argued that hypnosis achieved results simply through suggestion and that the altered state was not real.

And indeed, it has always been difficult to prove that such a state exists. But recent research from Stanford that used brain imaging techniques has opened the door to describing hypnotic trance.

Dr. Spiegel and his team worked with a sample of 500 subjects.  There was a large group who were put into a hypnotic state, and a control group who were in ordinary consciousness. This allowed the researchers to compare brain scans in ordinary consciousness to those of subjects in hypnotic trance.

The brain scans showed specific changes that take place in the brain in this state.

The results showed that under hypnosis, three distinct things happen in the brain:

  • There is reduced activity in the ‘dorsal anterior cingulate’of the brain, which indicates high absorption with one particular issue while excluding information external to that.
  • There is an increase in connections between two other parts of the brain which will cause high connectivity between brain and body, giving the brain more control over the body in this state. This may account for why hypnosis is highly suited for overcoming the symptoms of trauma.
  • Disconnection between three other parts of the brain likely represents a switching off of internal censors which are always in place in ordinary consciousness. This means that hypnosis can have you very focused on doing something and very involved with executing this particular task without questioning what you are doing, almost without being aware you are doing it at all. In ordinary consciousness we tend to question our actions all the time which slows us down in many ways.

Anyone who has experienced hypnotic trance before will be familiar with these three features from their own experience, but now researchers have been able to show them.

In combination, these three characteristic features combine to produce the power of hypnosis- used by hypnotherapists to effect changes in your mind that would otherwise be much more difficult to achieve.

See  more about the topic of how hypnosis changes your brain state in my article "What is Hypnosis?"

7. Did you Know the World’s Most Famous Therapist was a Hypnotist?

Milton Erickson (1901-1980) whose name you are likely to have come across somewhere before, is considered one of the most famous, if not the most famous therapist.

Much of his work was centered around hypnotherapy. Erickson developed his own method of hypnosis, called conversational hypnosis. This method is very flexible and designed to overcome anyone’s resistance to going into a hypnotic trance.

Erickson contended that he was able to hypnotize anyone and argued that if a patient was deemed not hypnotizable, it was the hypnotist’s fault. It meant the hypnotist did not use the right methods.

8. Did you Know That Everyone is Hypnotizable?

  • Milton Erickson argued that everyone was hypnotizable.
  • The recent piece of Stanford research (Spiegel, 2016) that I discussed above showed that only roughly 4.6 % of the population are hard to hypnotize. This is contrary to false claims you will see in many sources (usually without any source or evidence produced) that say that up to 25% of people cannot be hypnotized.
  • Everyone can achieve at least a light state of trance, and a light to medium depth trance is all you need to work on most issues you might want to change in your life.
  • Practitioners have always argued that achieving hypnosis or self hypnosis trance can be learned, taught and practiced. Recent research is now confirming this. Spiegel and colleagues found changes in grey matter during their research which led them to conclude that hypnosis trance is something the brain can learn.
  • If one method doesn’t work, try another. Also, much depends on the rapport with the hypnosis practitioner. If nothing else helps, your safest bet might be to use self help hypnosis, teaching yourself, so that you, too, can experience and use the power of hypnosis.
  • Grab my free self hypnosis guide below which is designed to help you along the way.

9. Did you Know all the Uses of Hypnosis Today?

You can use hypnotherapy for change in many areas of your life, and the list is ever growing:

10. Did you Know You can Achieve any Goal you Want Through Hypnosis?

  • The power of hypnosis enables you to literally set yourself any goal, and work towards achieving it.
  • You can become very task focused, determined and single minded, working towards your goal.
  • Find out how to avoid the 7 most common mistakes when setting your goal so that you will get the foundations for hypnosis for goal setting right.

What is Hypnosis? Other Articles on This Topic

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Does Hypnotherapy Work?

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The 3 Worst Mistakes Hypnotists Make

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16 Hypnosis Myths Exploded

Hypnosis has been shrouded in mystery. There are many myths or, simply, false beliefs attached to hypnosis. You, too, have likely picked up a few of them as they are ‘around’ in public consciousness. Let me bust those myths for you so you can be free to enjoy and appreciate hypnosis for what it is.

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Regression Hypnosis

Regression Hypnosis can help you to clear blocks relating to the past which are causing you trouble now. Find out how it works, how it compares to coaching and psychotherapy and see if it is suitable for you.

Life Regression Hypnosis

This article fills you in on how you can get the very best from regression hypnosis and is a must read if you are thinking of embarking on hypnotherapy treatment for a complex personal issue.

Past Life Hypnosis

Some hypnotists offer specific sessions to uncover past life memories. Is this a good idea? Find out what my thinking is on how to get the best results from past life hypnosis.

Online Hypnotherapy

Does online hypnotherapy work or is it inferior to face to face work as some people say? Find out what's involved and form your own opinion about advantages and disadvantages working online with us.

What is Havening and how Can it Help you Change Your Life?

Find out about a novel psychosensory treatment we combine with hypnosis which can help you clear trauma, fears, phobias, anxiety, low self esteem and more while also supporting you in building resilience and positive emotions.

Hypnosis for Habit Change

Discover how well hypnosis could work for changing your particular bad habit and how you can make it into a starting point for changing your life.

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Self Help Hypnosis Articles

Self Help Hypnosis

Can you help yourself with hypnosis? Find out here...

Does Self Hypnosis Work?

You will find this question answered but in a way you probably would not expect. Find out how self hypnosis is always at work, whether you harness it as a skill or not...

The Benefits of Self Hypnosis

Find out in this article how you can benefit from self hypnosis in your life, including what issues you can use it for.

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A good place to start practicing self hypnosis techniques first before infusing them with images regarding your specific goals, or changes that you want to make in your life is with relaxation techniques. Find a sample relaxation script on this page that you can start using today.

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Goal setting is key in working with personal goals. If you don’t get your goals just right, you are much less likely to get good results. Find out how to overcome the seven most common mistakes with goal setting when you use a self hypnosis based approach.

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Like any other form of therapy, self-help hypnosis, too has some limitations which you should be aware of before you start practicing. I also offer some practical tips and solutions to help you overcome most of these limitations.

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