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Scientific Belief in Hypnosis

By on September 28, 2014
Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles and

In our search to bring you the latest ideas in hypnosis, we daily review various news-sites, blogs, research journals and other sources for inspiration.

Very often we come across articles that have nothing to do with hypnosis. And very occasionally we give them a second read and find that actually they do.

So it is with this article about scientific ‘proof’ and how subjective it can be. At first this seemed a rather boring article on probabilities and how physicists become convinced that there is enough evidence that a theory is wrong and needs to be changed, written by a physicist with a brain the size of a planet, in this case John Butterworth from University College London.

But then we realized that our hypnosis clients go through a very similar process to that described by Professor Butterworth. They come in with a theory about how the world works, “I can’t stop smoking”, or whatever they have. One of our tasks as hypnotists is to change their belief system so they have the freedom to change their behaviors or feelings. We call this the ‘change frame’.

A great example of one type of change frame that fits in well with Professor Butterworth’s musings is Milton Erickson‘s work with Donald Lawrence, a shot putter who went from high school competitions to Olympic gold medal winner and world record holder. Erickson assisted Lawrence with this personal growth by suggesting that Lawrence could throw the shot put one inch further than he had so far. And of course one inch further, and one inch further.

You know that you can always improve your performance by a fraction. And when you see this happen enough times it  makes anything possible. It changes your belief about yourself. So if your hypnosis client believes they can’t make the change they want in their lives, you can easily agree with them and suggest they make a smaller change, ‘just one inch’, toward their goal.

One of the things that gets people fired up is that Bayesian statistics can introduce a level of subjectivity into the scientific process that some scientists see as unacceptable; whereas its counterpoint, the frequentist approach, can be seen (as Peter puts it) as answering the wrong question and is certainly prone to highly subjective (mis)interpretations. See more…

Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles and

The CafeHypno Editorial Team Sarah Carson, Jess Marion, Shawn Carson

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