Read Chapter 13 of A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis , free online book, by Melvin Powers, on

Practical Applications of Self-Hypnosis

With hypnosis on the march, there is practically no limit to its uses in the field of medicine, and new applications are being discovered every day. It should not be necessary to add, however, that some of these uses should remain as they are in the hands of professionals with years of experience in the area. One of the themes of this book has been that laymen should use hypnosis discriminately and intelligently. No responsible therapist would ever recommend masking or removing a symptom which was indicative of organic disease. For that reason, the practical uses of self-hypnosis will be limited to measures that can be taken safely by the layman. The only possible exception to this will be instructions on how to curb obesity, but even here it is suggested that a physician be consulted before embarking on a weight-reducing program.

The foremost use of hypnosis has been for relaxation, and it becomes more and more important as world tensions, anxiety and strain increase daily and millions seek vainly to “get away from it all.” Inasmuch as all methods of hypnosis discussed in this book utilized relaxation as the first step, it should not be necessary to go over this material. Simply review the many induction techniques.

Lung cancer has become a very real threat to many people today, and the professional hypnotist is besieged with men and women who wish to curtail or quit smoking. This is easier said than done because smoking, although there are no physical withdrawal symptoms when one stops, is a strong, conditioned reflex and cannot (except in rare instances) be accomplished by the will alone. The best way to stop smoking is to make it an impossibility, and that is exactly what you do when you follow the method touched on in an earlier chapter.

All of us have tasted or smelled certain foods or medicines that nauseate us. The subject who wishes to quit smoking is asked to conjure up the vision and the actual taste and smell of the substances which upset his stomach and offend his nostrils, transferring its properties to cigarettes. This, of course, must be done under hypnosis. The subject then conditions himself in the following manner: One ... This cigarette tastes and smells just like (mention name of repugnant substance). Two ... It is the most vile and repugnant taste I have ever encountered, and I shall not be able to continue after the third puff. At the third puff, I will develop a paroxysm of coughing. Three ... I cannot smoke the cigarette any longer, and I will have to put it out.

This sounds like a simple procedure, and yet it has worked for thousands. Some switch to chewing gum or candy, but the cure essentially lies in substituting one conditioned reflex for another. This is comparatively easy with hypnosis because, unlike narcotics, barbiturates or alcohol, smoking is purely a psychological addiction. There is no need for tapering off.

Stopping drinking, unlike smoking, doesn’t involve merely the creation of a physical aversion to the drug. The patient’s entire personality should be changed and more mature viewpoints substituted for the unrealistic and infantile viewpoints which lead to the addiction in the first place. The subject should give himself suggestions that he will be able to “face up” to the problems of every day life without recourse to the crutch of alcohol. It is a well-known fact that nothing is as bad as we think it is going to be once we confront it.

One of the strange aspects of drinking is that it is actually a form of self-hypnosis, and the cure lies in substituting a new viewpoint for the old. This fact can be demonstrated by the fact that drinking is begun in the first place so that the individual can be “one of the boys” or because it is the thing to do. Those who do not drink, at least as a social lubricant, according to this code, are “squares.” Because of this, self-hypnosis must be directed toward reorienting one’s sense of values. Sober reflection should convince anyone that the truly intelligent person does not drink to excess.

Nail biting is an unsightly habit, one that may even hinder one’s social acceptance. The help lies in a therapeutic approach similar to that for cigarettes.

It is not hard to predict that many of those reading these pages are suffering from overweight. With 30 million Americans in this category, it has become one of the nation’s chief health problems, and it is the predisposing factor in many other diseases such as heart trouble, diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis. If you are overweight, it is well to remember that (unless you are one in a million) you cannot blame your glands. The plain truth is that you eat too much.

We know today that overeating for some is an emotional problem, stemming from feelings of rejection and insecurity. Individuals who feel unloved, whether this is truly the case or not, make up for this lack to themselves by stuffing in large quantities of food. It would even appear that these people are masochistic, making themselves even more unloved by their gross gastronomical habits. A big factor in overweight in women is “raiding the refrigerator” while doing their housework. Most of them do this so unconsciously that they swear they eat less than most people.

There are a number of appetite-curbing drugs on the market today, but they should not be necessary for anyone who has acquired self-hypnosis. If you have learned to visualize yourself (visual-imagery) in different situations, you will have no trouble in picturing yourself having a slim, attractive figure, exactly as you were when you felt you looked your best. Keep this figure ever in mind and use it along with conditioning yourself against certain fatty and starchy foods. A trick used by some hypnotherapists is to have the subject purchase a dress or suit several sizes too small and then work toward being able to wear it. This actually has worked in many cases because it adds the element of competitiveness to the procedure.

Not all people overeat because of emotional problems. Some come from families where “licking the platter clean” was the rule because food was scarce. Others come from rich families where overeating by the parents established a habit pattern in the children. Certain races and nationalities look on fat as a badge of wealth and prestige, and children in such an environment are likely to be deliberately overfed. Regardless of the reason for overweight, however, the use of self-hypnosis is one of the answers to the problem.

Simple headaches, arthritis, neuritis and other painful symptoms yield readily to hypnotic suggestion. If physicians have given up on the problem and placed a subject on a maintenance drug dosage for pain, hypnosis can potentiate the drugs or even obviate them.

Two of the major uses of hypnosis are in childbirth and for intractable pain of cancer or some other incurable diseases. Although patients usually start with hetero-hypnosis, they are put on self-hypnosis as soon as possible, and there are many cases of women waiting too long and having their babies at home painlessly through self-hypnosis. The father invariably is the only one excited in such cases. The mother knows that she is an excellent subject and has been instructed in prenatal classes about every contingency that could arise. Inasmuch as stopping the birth pangs is similar to stopping other pain, the method should be learned so that it can be accomplished in a minimum of time.

The best way to stop pain is to let your right arm slowly rise while you are under hypnotic suggestion. Do not help it. If the suggestions are strong enough, it will “float” up. As soon as the arm is straight overhead, you should give yourself the suggestion that it is as rigid and unbending as a bar of steel. Following this, a suggestion is given that the hand is beginning to tingle and become numb. As soon as the numbness has spread through the entire hand, it will be insensible to pain. The hand is then placed against the part of the body where pain exists, and you will feel the numbness flowing from the hand to the affected area. This happens as a result of your suggestions and is the method followed by most subjects. Only a deep somnambulistic subject is able to remove pain by direct suggestion to the painful part.

There are many people today using self-hypnosis in the realm of sports, and an entire book has been written on improving one’s golf game with this method. It is called How You Can Play Better Golf Using Self-Hypnosis by Jack Heise (Wilshire Book Company Publishers).

Dr. Huber Grimm, team physician of the Seattle University basketball team, recently related the results when Dave Mills, a six-foot five-inch junior forward, asked for his help because he “froze” during competition. He had been benched on the eve of the West Coast Athletic Conference tournament in San Francisco. Spectators made Mills so fearful that he was afraid he would make mistakes and in this frame of mind, of course, he did. Under hypnosis, Dr. Grimm suggested to Dave that he would be unaware of the spectators, be completely relaxed and would play exceedingly well. Dr. Grimm asked coach Vince Cazzeta to allow Dave to play and the result was astounding. Mills scored 60 points and cleared 63 re-bounds, and his brilliant play led to his selection on the all-tournament team.

“All I did was free his spirit,” Dr. Grimm reported. “He was in need of confidence, and I gave it to him through hypnosis.” The Associated Press told the story as follows: “Dave Mills, a vacuum cleaner off the back-boards, led a fast-breaking Seattle University team to victory last night. It was hard to recognize Mills as the same player who has been with the Chieftains all year.”

Dr. William S. Kroger, a pioneer in hypnosis, undertook to improve the batting of a professional baseball player with equally sensational results. The player had been “beaned,” and his fear of a recurrence was so strong that he became “plate shy.” He had changed his batting stance so that he always had “one foot in the bucket” so that he could back away from the plate more quickly. He was given a posthypnotic suggestion that such an event happening again was exceedingly remote, and this was amplified by suggestions of confidence that he would immediately start slugging as well as ever. His batting average soared immediately.

Dr. Michio Ikai, professor of physiology at Tokyo University, and Dr. Arthur H. Steinhaus of the George Williams Laboratory of Physiologic Research in Physical Education, Chicago, have proved that track men can far surpass their best previous times under hypnosis. Their tests, incidentally, proved that there is no danger of an athlete going beyond his physiologic limit while bettering his former marks. They attribute the superior performances to the removal of inhibitions, which psychologically prevent an athlete from doing his best. This report was made before the International Congress on Health and Fitness in the Modern World held in Rome during the last Olympic games.

All reports, as a matter of fact, show that athletic performances are improved by psychological, not physical, means, and that built-in automatic reflexes protect the athlete against the danger of overexertion at all levels of awareness hypnotic or non-hypnotic.

Psychologists are using hypnosis more and more to facilitate concentration and learning, and it is likely this use of the ancient science will become even more popular than its medical applications. The reason one learns so quickly under hypnosis is because of time distortion which allows you to obtain the equivalent of many hours of study in a relatively short length of time.

Undoubtedly, you have had experience with time distortion in your daily life. Remember how slowly time goes when you are not interested in what you are doing and how fast it speeds by when you are? And the drowning man, who sees his whole life go by, is an excellent example of this. Enough people have been saved to know that this actually happens. The point is that the subconscious mind does not record the passage of time the same way as the conscious mind.

The conscious mind records time physically, by means of a clock. It is objective and tells you that a thought or movement requires a certain number of seconds, minutes, hours or days.

Your subconscious mind has an entirely different concept of time that has nothing to do with the physical world. It is called subjective because your own sense of the passage of time is used.

Personal time varies according to the circumstances in which you find yourself. Haven’t you noticed that when you are happy or extremely interested in something, time passes quickly? On the other hand, if you are sad or anxious, time seems to drag.

This is called time distortion. When you continue in a happy state, time is automatically shortened. When you are in a state of unhappiness, pain or anxiety, time automatically lengthens. This explains why the drowning man can review his entire life within seconds. Psychologists know this is possible, because your subconscious mind contains a complete record of everything that has happened to you since birth. Therefore, in moments of extreme distress your subconscious has the ability to distort and manipulate time.

If you have ever encountered danger or had a narrow escape, you probably experienced time distortion. Everything about you went into slow motion, and time seemed to stand still until the action was over. At that point, objective time started up again and everything returned to normal.

Many of you no doubt read an Associated Press report from Chicago on February 11, 1958, which reported how movie actress Linda Darnell had used hypnosis to help her with her first stage rôle. She had been asked to do the part on short notice and had no time for preparation. Miss Darnell telephoned her California physician for aid. He flew to Chicago.

Overnight, through hypnosis, Miss Darnell learned her part and astounded the cast by knowing everyone’s lines. Not only did she learn the part, but she was coached in the character of the artist she was portraying. As a result, “Late Love” was a hit play. Miss Darnell was under the impression she had been learning the part for a week although only about 48 hours were involved and these hours were not continuous. After her first performance, she said: “I never felt so secure about playing a rôle in my life. Hypnosis helped me feel the part completely.”

Imagine how much more we are going to be able to learn when study under hypnosis becomes widespread. And the best part of it is that the learning is in your mind for a long time. Forgetting or mental blocks that interfere with your recall of the information at any time, are reduced to a minimum.

In conclusion, I should like to recommend the entire field of self-hypnosis to everyone. It is a therapy which is positive, dynamic and constructive. An excellent example of this is contained in the autobiography, Rachmaninoff’s Recollections. In this book, immortal Rachmaninoff describes in detail his success in overcoming a severe case of mental depression. He had stopped composing and kept to himself, seldom leaving his room. After meeting with failure, using the available therapeutic remedies available at that time, he was persuaded by his relatives, the Satins, to seek the help of a hypnotist called Dr. Dahl. With much reluctance, he agreed to see Dr. Dahl and be treated specifically with hypnosis. Rachmaninoff’s own words read as follows: “Although it may sound incredible, hypnosis really helped me. Already at the beginning of the summer I began again to compose. The material grew in bulk, and new musical ideas began to stir within me far more than I needed for my concerto. I felt that Dr. Dahl’s treatment had strengthened my nervous system to a miraculous degree. Out of gratitude, I dedicated my second concerto to him. As the piece had a great success in Moscow, everyone began to wonder what possible connection it could have with Dr. Dahl. The truth, however, was known to Dr. Dahl, the Satins, and myself.”

Does this story sound incredible? You have the word of one of the world’s greatest musical composers that hypnosis alleviated his severe despondency. This is proof that the emotions of the individual can be changed by the ideas he builds up about himself.

Dr. Leland E. Hinsie, professor of psychiatry, Columbia University, writing in his book, The Person in the Body, (W. W. Norton & Co.) states, “In some persons the fear of disease is often the only damaging evidence of disease, yet it can be so strong as to disable the person in all his daily activities.” The entire field of psychosomatic medicine, which deals with the interrelationship between body and mind, has as one of its basic tenets that suggestion not only can cause psychological personality disorders, but many physical disorders as well.

It is, therefore, logical to conclude that the systematic use of positive mental attitudes in an organized, progressive, self-improvement program can be a vital influence in helping you lead a healthier life, both emotionally and physically.

Many people in need of help are at a loss as to where they can locate reputable hypnotherapists in their area. You may consult your family physician, county medical society or mental hygiene society. The chairman of the psychology department at your nearest college or university would usually have this information. I maintain a file of over 4,000 doctors located all over the world who practice hypnosis and would be pleased to refer you to doctors located in your locality.

The following national organizations maintain a specialized list:

American Academy of Child Psychiatry
335 S. Franklin St.
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

American Academy of Psychoanalysis
750 Park Avenue
New York 21, N. Y.

American Group Psychotherapy Association
2 rd St.
New York 29, N. Y.

American Psychiatric Association
1700 18th St., N. W.
Washington 9, D. C.

American Psychological Association
1333 16th St., N. W.
Washington, D. C.

American Speech and Hearing Association
10801 Rockville Pike
Rockville, Maryland 20852

National Association for Mental Health
10 Columbus Circle
New York 19, New York

National Association for Retarded Children, Inc.
99 University Place
New York 3, New York

National Council on Alcoholism, Inc.
2 rd St.
New York 29, N. Y.

National Health Council
1790 Broadway
New York 19, N. Y.

National Institute of Mental Health
U. S. Public Health Service
Bethesda 14, Maryland

Veterans’ Administration
Psychiatry & Neurology Service
Department of Medicine