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The Evolution of Hypnosis

My interest in hypnosis has spanned 60 years. My first exposure to hypnosis was in my sociology class during my senior year in high school (1955) when our teacher hypnotized one of my class mates (see My First Encounter With Hypnosis). This sparked my interest in the hypnotic process but it was several years before I learned how to use self-hypnosis to getting rid of my low self-esteem, fear of making sales call and other self-imposed limitations… and it worked.

A friend noticed that I had made some significant changes in my personal and professional behavior and asked what had made the difference. When I told him that I had been hypnotizing myself he said, “Hypnotize me. I want to stop smoking.” I use the same technique I had been using to hypnotize myself… and it worked. He quit smoking with a single session—and that is how I got started as a professional hypnotist.

This blog however is not about being a professional hypnotherapist but rather about the change in the attitude of people about hypnosis over the past six decades.

Here are a few examples of the mind-set of people in the early years of my involvement with hypnosis.

In high school I wanted to learn more about hypnosis but didn’t have the courage to breach the topic with anyone who might be in the know (even my sociology teacher) since I had been told by parents and church leaders that hypnosis was the work of the devil.

After I had successfully hypnotized a few people, in an attempt to become more knowledgeable about the subject, I visited the Salt Lake City Library but the shelf where books about hypnosis should have been was empty. I surmised that hypnosis was such a popular topic that they had all been checked out. So I asked the librarian if I could be placed on the waiting list for books about hypnosis and she said, “Oh, those books have not been checked out. We keep them in a locked bookcase in the back so they don’t fall into the hands of children or deranged people.”

In 1976 I was unable to place an ad in the personals secretion of the want ads of the Republic & Gazette because any advertising related to hypnosis was in violation of some standard set by a national organization governing ethics in advertising. Hypnosis was lumped in with subject matter like séances, fortune telling, voodoo, mystics….

I could advertise in the Yellow Pages but I received numerous calls from people not wanting to make an appointment to change something about themselves but to accuse me of being in league with Beelzebub sent to corrupt the minds of children and god-fearing people.

Hypnosis has come a long way since those days!

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