Hypnosis has received medical approval since 1892 as a safe and proven method of improving health and well-being.
Approval in the U.K.
In 1892, the British Medical Association (BMA) reported in the British Medical Journal that they had commissioned a team of doctors to undertake an extensive evaluation of the nature and effects of hypnotherapy:
“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. The Committee are of the opinion that, as a therapeutic agent, hypnotism is frequently effective in relieving pain, procuring sleep, and alleviating many functional ailments.’
In 1955, the Psychological Medicine Group of the BMA commissioned a Subcommittee, led by Prof. T. Ferguson Rodger, to deliver a second, and more comprehensive, report on hypnosis. This subcommittee was told “to consider the uses of hypnotism, its relation to medical practice in the present day, the advisability of giving encouragement to research into its nature and application, and the lines upon which such research might be organized.”
This subcommittee consulted several experts on hypnosis from various fields, including the eminent neurologist, Prof. W. Russell Brain, and the psychoanalyst, Wilfred Bion. After two years of study and research, its final report, “Medical use of Hypnotism,” was published in the April 1955 issue of the British Medical Journal:
“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 psychosomatic 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.”
Approval in the U.S.
In the September 1958 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the following was stated: “The use of hypnosis has a recognized place in the medical armamentarium and is a useful technique….”
In 1958, the American Psychological Association (APA) approved hypnotherapy for use by professionally responsible individuals.
In 1996, a National Institutes of Health panel recommended the use of hypnosis for a variety of issues (JAMA. 1996;276:313-318).
Prestigious hospitals in the U.S. now use and teach hypnosis, such as Stanford University School of Medicine in San Francisco, the Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The American Dental Association and National Cancer Institute recognize hypnotherapy as an effective nonpharmacologic method of pain control. Many insurance companies cover hypnosis for medical and dental uses, including major surgeries. Now, more and more people are choosing hypnosis over anesthesia for surgery. Some choose hypnosis simply because they fear not waking up from anesthesia. The fear-factor aside, however, hypnosis offers definite medical advantages, i.e. less bleeding, faster recovery time, and the need for fewer post-operative medications.
In conclusion, hypnosis is a safe and proven method of helping people improve their health and well-being.
Disclaimer: Hypnosis cannot, and should not, stand alone as the sole medical or psychological intervention for any disorder. Hypnosis should not be used instead of appropriate medical, dental, or psychological treatment, and any individual with a medical or psychological problem should first consult a qualified health care provider for diagnosis and professional advice. Hypnosis should only be practiced by those who have been appropriately trained, who practice appropriately, and within the scope of their training.