So it aired last night on BBC2 — The new TV series entitled ‘Alternative Therapies.’

Last night was the first of the 3 TV shows, featuring hypnotherapy. All I can say is; what a pile of rubbish! Absolutely appalling TV which I am disgusted that my TV licence funds. I am going to rant and tell you why I think this….

Firstly, here is the BBC blurb for the show taken from their website:

Imagine having your dentist pull your teeth out and drill into your jaw with no anaesthetic — just someone muttering in your ear about being on the beach. Sounds alarming? Welcome to the extraordinary world of hypnotherapy.

Half a million people in England use hypnotherapy every year. It’s claimed it can help with smoking, weight loss, phobias, allergies, and even breast enlargement. But what do we really know about hypnotherapy and hypnosis?

In the first in a new series, Kathy Sykes, Professor of Science and Society at Bristol University, embarks on a personal and scientific journey to explore three popular alternative therapies: reflexology, meditation, starting with hypnotherapy.

Travelling across the UK, Europe and over the Atlantic, in a journey that is at times funny, intimate, moving and revealing, she follows patients and scientists working in the area. She meets Richard, the policeman, who wants to quit smoking; Nicola, who wants to eat less chocolate; and Mandy, who wants teeth implants without anaesthetic. Kathy tries hypnosis for herself as she learns about the science behind the hypnotic ‘trance’.

A mixture of serious science and personal journey — Alternative Therapies is intriguing viewing for anyone interested in the ever-confusing and controversial world of alternative therapies.

Serious science? Ha! And what is it with this billing and framing of the world of alternative therapies as “ever-confusing and controversial” ?

Firstly, did they gather up the biggest collection of useless therapists and medical professionals on the planet, or what?

There was a hypnotherapist dealing with a policeman in the midlands to help him stop smoking — the therapist was reading a script!? A child could have done that! Right there on TV! Reading a script to hypnotise the guy. Where did they get this guy from? Then, the hypnotherapist got him to imagine the worst case scenario of his smoking — to imagine standing at his own grave! Unbelievable. Certainly not my choice of therapeutic intervention.

Then there was the hospital doctor telling everyone not to eat healthy food of you have IBS…

The BBC seem to be of the opinion that because someone works in a hospital and wears a white coat with a title other than Mr or Mrs, then that person is allowed to be on TV, be perceived as credible and make claims…

Like this doctor specialising in hypnosis for irritable bowel syndrome… He was doing some fabulous work with his clients… Yet he referred to his hypnotic sessions as him “droning on…” as if the content of what he was saying was of no importance. All he did was repeatedly say “deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper…” Man, this guy was boring his clients into hypnosis!

The shining light of the programme though, was the brilliant example of a lady having teeth removed and replaced with implants, without anaesthesia, just using hypnosis; this was fabulous, I have to say. The presenter was obviously impressed and shocked with what she had seen, yet she still had to say that she was not sure if it was entirely down to the hypnosis… Well, how about getting someone to sit down and tell them that they are going to be pain-free while attempting to pull their teeth out without hypnosis and see how far you get!

They showed an experiment with a young man who was apparently ‘very suggestible’ and the next ‘professor’ believed that high suggestibility in a small percentage of the population is just the same as hypnosis… He took the young man into hypnosis and told him to make different colours appear on the screen and then did the same using only suggestion… He did this one after the other, so the guy was in a receptive trance state anyway… Then when he did the lifting of fingers while he was suposed to be in trance (what we call an ideo-motor-response) the guy lifted his finger totally consciously?!

When someone is truly in trance and their unconscious mind is responding, the movement is jerky-like and there is a notable difference that shows they are in a trance. This guy on TV was obviously in no real formalised trance, yet they concluded that this showed that hypnosis was nothing more than being open to suggestion — and that they were very different things?

The science section showing different parts of the brain responding to placebo, and then other parts being used with hypnosis was superb… Yet the only time the presenter actually experienced hypnosis was with a guy who was a part-time magician!  Who then let her lie down on a couch, roll around with various silly expressions on her face and gave her direct suggestions that she simply had a polarity response to!

When you give authoritarian suggestions in a direct ‘yes or no’ manner as this guy did, you give the opportunity for the client to say no! I mean come on… He actually told the presenter that she could not open her hands… And she said “yes I can…”  I mean, where was his hypnotic skill? He spent an hour with her generating a trance. Eventually, she went off to see the stage hypnotist from the beginning of the programme to take her into hypnosis properly! What does that say about our featured therapists?!

Not one therapist featured in the show used real, good quality hypnotic language. They all used boring, relaxation-type scripts… They were all direct in their suggestions and the entire thing nearly made my head explode.

Thank goodness for the very good stage hypnotist and thank goodness for my good pal Elliott Wald being in the show… But even when he had done a 10 minute technique with a lady on stage to show her the power of her mind to take control of her chocolate eating, the presenter followed her up 3 months later to discover that she had done well, had the odd nibble of chocolate… How the hell is this supposed to be a TV programme looking at the scientific efficacy of hypnosis when she is gauging success by one isolated 10 minute stage demonstration? Surely, even our presenter could see and understand that a lady as responsive as that could have a few weeks of persistent, continued development and build upon her ‘taster’ to enhance the effect and make it long-lasting and more concrete. No?

Then going on to say that hypnosis trials have proven that hypnosis is virtually impotent for stopping smoking and weight reduction… I mean, what trials was she looking at? Has she looked at the many scientific clinical trials that show hypnosis to be infinitely more successful and longer lasting than nicotine relacement treatments or other mainstream ways of stopping smoking?  

Am I being protective over my beloved subject? Am I just jealous that I was not featured in the show? Am I just fed up that hypnosis gets portrayed in the most ridiculous way by mass media and pseudo-scientific efforts like this one? Yes to all the above!

Tomorrow, I will have calmed down and got back into the joy of living… đŸ˜‰  
(ps Delia Smith’s show was on right before this documentary, which did balance things up a tad)