Theodore X. Barber of the Department of Psychology of American University conducted tests in 1956 comparing suggestibility during light sleep and hypnosis, and found his subjects as suggestible in one state as in another.
Since many hypnotists and hypnotherapists endorse sleep-learning and sleep-therapy, the results of the experiment bear out even further the claims and theories upon which sleep-education is based.
And if there is that much similarity in the two states, it follows that much or all of what can be accomplished by hypnosis can also be accomplished by Sleep-learning or Sleep-therapy.
A New York hypnotherapist reports that the dual application of Sleep-learning or Sleep-therapy and direct hypnosis has provided her with the most nearly perfect tools of therapeutic treatment.
Her controlled tests over the years have been so uniformly successful that she has recorded her curative technique for common emotional disorders, thus making professional self-development available to the public at a fraction of the cost of therapeutic consultations. All reports indicate a high degree of success.
In 1957, Pope Pius XII sanctioned the use of hypnosis as an anesthetic.
A recent article on hypnosis in Life magazine, while noting that hypnosis is not, most certainly, a cure-all, and will not bring recovery from illness except when used along with other medical treatment, describes its potential value in treatment of a physical illness where there is a definite emotional element involved.
Among the problems mentioned as responsive to help by hypnotherapy are asthma, anxieties, compulsions, phobias, and harmful habits such as excessive smoking, drug affliction and alcoholism. Hypnotism may also help strengthen a desire to live, or bring peace of mind, according to this report. It can, by suggestion, set off conditioned reflexes and even affect physiological processes.
Apparently hypnotherapy will not work on everybody. Perhaps 15% of the population is resistant to it, for reasons of extreme youth (children under four) or senility; feeble mindedness; and various emotional or mental health conditions.
Of the rest, it is calculated that 85% can achieve a light trance, 60% can achieve the second stage, and about 40% the deep stage. Only about 20% can be somnambules.
But since the trance depth can be increased by practice, perhaps those experts who say every normal person is a potential somnambule are right. No matter, since the very deep trances are not required for effective hypnosis. The benefits of hypnosis can be had while in the lightest stages, upon total acceptance of the suggestions offered.
Life reports that the most important aspect of hypnosis lies in its capacity to relieve stress and anxiety.
There has been considerable success in the treatment of peptic ulcers, and also in treatment of dyspepsia, chronic gastritis, colitis, high blood pressure, rapid pulse, heart palpitations, impotence and frigidity, poor bladder control, menstrual difficulties, and skin disorders such as eczema and hives.
Babies have been delivered under hypnosis, and bad habits like bed-wetting and blushing have been eliminated.
Motivation is stressed as important, of course, and along with this hypnosis has been employed to break the smoking habit, to overcome insomnia, and to help people reduce and gain weight.
Weight reduction experiments reported by Dr. Lawrence B. Winklestein in the New York State Journal of Medicine were extremely successful. On the other end of the scale loss of appetite has been overcome.
A series of articles in the New York Post, May 1959, describes the successful personal hypnotic reducing experience of a female reporter of that paper.
Life reiterates the warning found in all responsible literature on the subject—that symptom removal must be used with caution; the cause of the disturbance should be treated lest another and worse symptom replace the one being eliminated.
Many hypnotists disagree, claiming that bad effects of symptom removal, where it was indicated, were at a minimum.
One, in particular, claims that in hypnotherapy the symptom substitution she has used with great effect, is the substitution of accomplishing the elimination of a harmful symptom. In other words, she had found that the ideal symptom substitution is the elimination of the detrimental symptom, and the resultant pride of accomplishment.
In many instances, as reported by Life, hypnosis has been used along with deep therapy with success, sometimes to remove resistances and leave the patient accessible to psychotherapeutic help.
In the June, 1960 article in Pageant magazine by Gerald Walker, it is stated that hypnosis has become a powerful medical tool. Dr. Milton V. Kline, Research Project Director for Hypnosis at Long Island University, states that the usefulness and value of hypnosis "are as infinite as the capacities of the human mind, of which it is a function."
The Pageant article goes on to state that the cautious American Medical Association officially pronounced hypnosis "a useful technique in the treatment of certain illnesses." The AMA held a symposium on the use of hypnosis in major surgery and more research and better instruction in all its therapeutic uses.
The Pageant article also mentioned that an estimated 5000 U. S. physicians use hypnosis. Dentists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and clinical psychologists are taking advantage of the benefits of using hypnosis in treatment.
In 1958 the AMA Mental Health Council's report on hypnosis urged that the science of suggestion should be taught in medical schools.
In England hypnosis has been utilized as a medical and therapeutic aid since its enthusiastic endorsement by the British Medical Association in 1955.
There are sometimes short-lived uncomfortable post-hypnotic symptoms, but hypnosis in itself is harmless, according to Life. It is agreed that subjects will do nothing during hypnosis that is in contradiction to their own values or that threatens their self-preservation.
On the other hand, strong criminal tendencies, otherwise latent, may be released. Because we are all a mixture of social and anti-social impulses, it is stressed again that in hypnosis the integrity and competence of the practitioner are of the utmost importance.
Dr. Frank A. Pattie of the University of Kentucky helped a few people to wear contact lenses through hypnosis.
It is believed that, if applied to education, hypnosis may be able to increase comprehension, retention, speed of learning and general efficiency, and also supply motivation to learn and pleasure in performance.
A violinist improved her technical performance without playing or looking at the music, simply hallucinating a practice session in a trance in distorted time. (Hypnosis has been able to create the illusion of time flying or standing still.)
Warts have been made to disappear by hypnotic suggestion, and a hallucinated match can blister the skin.
At this time, sleep-learning can achieve results to rival those of hypnosis, and, since the technique does not require an experienced practitioner, it benefits directly the persons involved.
The mechanical and electronic tools of sleep-learning are easily used by the learner, and since he himself is in the position to determine the suggestions placed during sleep-study, greater control is evident.
Sleep-learning techniques have improved memory, trained children, speeded up learning, taught languages with correct pronunciation, raised school marks, increased music appreciation, eliminated blocks, rendered a minimum of sleep sufficient, upped salespeople’s capacities, eliminated nightmares and insomnia, and aided people to become relaxed and positive.
In 1947 a record called "Time to Sleep," made by Ralph Slater, became the subject of a court case. The record claimed to cure insomnia, but the government doubted this and eventually seized the records under provisions of the Federal Food and Drug and Cosmetic Act, saying the discs were misbranded.
Slater brought suit. In court in 1950, witnesses, including psychiatrists and neurologists, testified that tests they had made using the record yielded negative results. Sixty-eight people in the courtroom heard the record played and did not fall asleep. Some claimed to have been irritated and excited.
Backing up Slaters claims, a psychiatrist informed the court that the text was similar to that used by psychiatrists in treating patients, and that, under the proper conditions, it could induce sleep, although not in every instance. Another witness said there was no change in his patients' sleeping habits as a result of the record.
A witness for the defense stated that on four different occasions the record had helped him get much needed sleep. And, the director of the Sleep Shop at Lewis and Conger, the New York department store, said that his department had sold a substantial quantity of the record in the preceding three years, and less than four percent were returned by the purchasers.
Slater spoke in his own defense and asked that the case be dismissed as not coming under the Act, since it was not a food, drug or cosmetic.
Subsequently two neuropsychiatrists said that it could induce sleep if the subject were receptive to suggestion.
As a result, Judge Leo Rayfield ordered the records returned to Slater. But his judgment was later reversed by the Court of Appeals, which decided that the records and labeling were misleading and false because the discs proved wholly ineffectual in some tests.
Apparently this was a single record—an extremely unsophisticated version of the much more efficient sleep-learning and sleep-therapy equipment available today, with its automatic repeating tapes, electric timers, pillow speakers, and careful reduction of mechanical noise.
It is most essential that we recognize hypnotism stripped of the false raiment in which it has been clothed by history. The hypnotist is not a super-endowed being; with applied study and training, we are all hypnotists.
Since the door to the subconscious is best opened by suggestion, there is an evident relationship between hypnosis and the science of sleep-learning.