What is hypnosis?

2 Jul 2013

Hypnotherapist, Personal Trainer, Professional Sportsman (retired), Performance Expert

This is my first blog post for talkhealth, so hello, and I trust you are well!

I will be blogging regularly as well as being active on the forums and Online Clinics.  Feel free to ask me any questions you like and I will do my best to answer! I am a Hypnotherapist, Personal Trainer, and a Performance Expert so you can expect me to cover a wide range of subjects.

I constantly study and I question what I am told. As a result you may find me post things you find are controversial or go against conformity – yet please remember that my opinions are backed by knowledge. If you find yourself saying “that isn’t right” as you read my posts then please ask questions and make comment. I want to encourage a questioning attitude in my readership. That way we all develop quickly. Even my opinions change with new knowledge.

You can find out a little more about me on my Bio page. Hopefully you’ll learn a lot more about me though my contributions here on talkhealth.

To start with I thought I’d explain a very misunderstood topic – ‘hypnosis’. As a hypnotherapist it is the method through which I deliver my interventions. There are many myths about hypnosis so this blog post addresses a difficult question to answer – what is hypnosis?

All of the following are myths:

  • Hypnosis puts you into trance
  • Hypnosis is sleep
  • Hypnosis is relaxation of the mind and body
  • You need your eyes closed for hypnosis
  • You are always in control
  • You cannot be made to do anything that you wouldn’t normally do

There is no definite state of hypnosis that can be shown neurologically. Hypnosis is not about different ‘brain wave’ states. In fact, apart from the results, there is no evidence that hypnosis exists!

Hypnosis instead defines a process and a result. Recently I worked with a group of my leading peers to discover what they consider to be the correct definition of hypnosis. The definitions were discussed, dismissed, added to and evolved. I’ll end this blog post with the full description. Yet, for now, there is a very simple definition of hypnosis that should suffice for most people:

“Hypnosis is when your imagination is guided so that it becomes your reality.”

Whether hypnosis is used in therapy or in performance (such as by a street hypnotist or stage hypnotist), this is what is happening. The hypnotist guides your imagination until it becomes your reality. In performance the created reality is designed for entertainment. In hypnotherapy the created reality is for changing the way you think. If we change the way that you think you will act and behave differently, and get the results that you are after.

You think with your mind, and your mind can be thought of as ‘the resultant of a function brain’. To create change the hypnotherapist quite literally guides your imagination and makes real changes in your brain structure. Hebb’s Law states ‘neurons that fire together wire together’. A hypnotherapist will help your brain fire differently so it can wire together differently – we will literally change the way that your mind ‘thinks’.

A nice quote for this is from Dr Susan Vaughan. She states that a hypnotherapists is a “micro-surgeon of the mind”, who helps clients make needed alterations in neuronal networks.

With the mind and the body being intrinsically linked there is a psychological element, and sometimes even a psychological cause, with every physical condition whether disease or illness. A healthy mind provides a healthy body, as much as a healthy body provides a healthy mind.

This is my first blog post and hopefully you will already see it is packed with information. Some may think it is a little heavy. So, if that’s you, here’s a picture of my smallest husky, Max. He is actually my therapy dog who I utilise often during hypnotherapy sessions. Just don’t look into his eyes…

For the rest of you I’ll get a little bit more technical. Following this picture is the full working definition of hypnosis, fully broken down, which is still work in progress. Until my next blog I’ll see you on the forums!


If you are looking at getting a little deeper, I love this all-encompassing definition of hypnosis from the brilliant hypnotist Anthony Jacquin. I follow the definition with my further definitions (my breakdown, not Anthony’s) of the component parts, for better understanding and clarity.

“Hypnosis is a social construct that causes the cognitive processes of automatic imagination. Hypnotic responses are defined by their subjective sensation of automaticity or involuntariness, because they lack the knowledge or feeling of intention.”

“Social construct” – two or more people interact (or for self-hypnosis two or more parts of our personality) to construct hypnosis both as process and product.

“Cognitive processes” – the brain functions with cognitive processes, we ‘think’. (Note – all thinking is guided by the unconscious with ‘consciousness’ being a commentary on these unconscious processes’)

“Automatic” – autonomic, it happens apparently ‘outside of our control’. This is however a bit of a paradox as technically all of our conscious thoughts and actions are actually unconsciously driven before we rationalise them as them consciousness

“Imagination” – our unconscious is our imagination, we perceive our version of reality, all of our internal representations are imagined, etc.

“Automatic imagination” – the imagination is guided automatically at the suggestion of another – the other person (or personality) – automatically becoming their ‘reality’ with a disconnection between conscious control and unconscious actions.

“Hypnotic responses” – phenomena, sensory perception changes and thought pattern changes. Incidentally we can have the ability to produce every phenomena ourselves without hypnosis, the phenomena exist in daily life, yet here they happen at the suggestion of the hypnotist

“Subjective sensation of automaticity/involuntariness” – the subject believes it happens out of their control; it just appears to ‘happen’ to them, either as normal or extra-normal, yet still something that they can’t control

“Lack the knowledge or feeling of intention” – the subject is not able to access the knowledge as to what they are creating inside their mind nor the intention of meaning to do so.

For more information visit my website


Gary Turner

Gary ‘Smiler’ Turner brings unique skills to talkhealth. He has been World Champion thirteen times in his sports career – he fully understands physical and mental performance, from both the practical and academic standpoints. In his Hypnotherapy practice Gary works with a diverse range of clients who present issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety issues, eating disorders and weight issues, addictions, and a host of illnesses, diseases and physical conditions. Gary takes an evidence-based approach to his work. He is a sought after speaker and delivers workshops, seminars and presentations including having presented at the National Hypnotism Conference. As a Personal Trainer Gary is sought after by professional athletes and those who want to be ‘fit for life’. Gary is skilled with working with medical conditions and disabled. As examples he has taught a Paralympion to be a kickboxer despite being in a wheelchair, a client with neurological damage to his arm to be medal winning grappler, and successfully works with clients with prosthetic limbs. In his role as a Performance Expert Gary works with individuals, teams and businesses to help them achieve optimum performance. He often works with the British Army and has been a Subject Matter Expert on the re-writing of ‘Combat PT’ – the product delivered by Army PTI’s. He has also worked with many British Army sports teams such as the Judo, Boxing, and Kayak teams. Gary has a thirst for knowledge and studies 2-6hrs every day, on such diverse topics as psychology, neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and more. This will help to bring a rounded opinions and advice to talkhealth. Gary’s first book ‘No Worries’, a book to help people remove their anxiety, is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. In his personal life Gary enjoys working with his huskies as a team, competing in ultra-marathons, and still trains at his chosen sports.

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