Art Versus Science in Hypnosis


Sure researchers can explore hypnosis scientifically, and that is no bad thing, but…

Researchers are scientists… Hypnotists are artists Researchers are all about eliminating the variables. Hypnotists are all about rolling with them. Researches are all about protocols. Hypnotists are all about skills.

Hypnotism in the real world is 100% art/craft. Researchers can discover a lot of cool things that can stimulate and inform the practicing artists, but you can’t make science out of art without destroying much of it’s range and essence.

So as a hypnotist, sure, use science… but connect with the art!

And the video takes you deeper! 🙂


P.S. If you want to learn more the art of high performance, creation and flow, you can do so right here talking about flow as a state of mind – Mindflow… Live!

P.P.S. And please ‘LIKE’ ↓↓↓↓↓ this and share it if you have any FB friends who would benefit from this information!

About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.


  • Stephane

    September 14, 2013

    Hi James,

    You’re bringing up what sounds to me to be a recurrent debate where people like to oppose art and science. I feel this opposition is very artificial.
    I fully agree that the simplistic way scripts are used is pointless, as you illustrate it with the boxer example. As Einstein said “Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” I think a lot of significant scientifical progress has come from the same place art come from. It is certainly my experience when I design new devices or invent new things, something most people would expect to be scientifical. I believe a lot of this debate comes from the different concepts the word ‘Science’ evokes in different people.
    That being said, as an engineer it amazes how in some aspects people are very much like computers. Would changework be so reproducible if there were no patterns? and if there are, then it makes sense to try to understand them. So I think the intention is commendable, but certainly not the approach when it gets too simplistic. At the same time, programming computers could be considered more like an art.

    • admin

      September 16, 2013

      Hi Stephane

      Excellent points… and a great perspective.

      In contrasting here I am contrasting the scientific method with the the more naturalistic developmental method of the artist/crafts person/human being in general. I am not saying at all that the two can’t mix or there isn’t some yin in the yang and yang in the yin.

      The scientific method is a pretty specific approach and is quite different in many respects from the approach taken by the tennis player looking to play at their best. If the tennis player attempted to learn tennis through the application of the scientific method exclusively to the development of his/her tennis game, my belief is that they would fall way short of developing anything seriously functional within that context.

      I would agree with you that identifying/mapping patterns is essential to doing great changework and much other art, and I would also say that this is an area that science has no specific domain over. Art/Craft is all about skill underpinned by understanding, but it is the nature of the acquisition and application of that understanding that differs from the scientific method (which, it is worth noting, is exclusively a method of enquiry and not application).

      Regarding the artificiality of opposition – there is a case that could be made that all opposition is artificial/conceptual. And, of course, that doesn’t negate the functionality of exploration through comparing and contrasting.

      So let’s boil the perspective of this piece down to it’s simplest form. The scientific method works by reducing variables so as it can test them in isolation. In practise, those variables do not operate in isolation, they are part of an interconnected flowing, systemic dynamic. To use the scientific method to ATTEMPT to isolate something from a changework practice, generate an evidence base for that something through testing, and then INSIST that that something is the thing that must be utilised by practitioners is one way to go – but to think that will create excellence in changework is a great fallacy. Why? Well, even if there was success in identifying and controlling the variables during the testing/research phase (and that’s a hell of a trick in this domain), that doesn’t account for all manner of potential excellence that got ruled out in the process. Beyond that there are the obvious problems of recreating the same control of variables in the clinical settings in which the interventions are to be applied.

      Now, don’t get me wrong here, I value the scientific method immensely. AND I absolutely advocate that changework artists/craftspeople pay attention to research, and allow it to intelligently inform their art/craft. But to reduce and limit the parameters of their art/craft exclusively to those that the scientific method can artificially reduce things down to and then test is not at all the best way reach ‘clinical excellence’. I would suggest quite the opposite – it is much more a fantastic route to clinical impoverishment.

      All the very best


      P.S. Personally speaking I do not see computer programming and engineering as science – I see them clearly as art/craft. Sure, the work and discoveries of science heavily inform them and perhaps even could be argued to provide a basis for them, but that doesn’t make them science in and of themselves. I think part of the potential confusion in this area comes from a common but erroneous identification between science and technology – and, of course, they are NOT AT ALL the same thing!

      • Stephane

        September 17, 2013

        Hi James,
        Thank you for taking the time to answer. I am fully on the same page here. Contrasting is often somewhat artificial but nonetheless very useful to get nuances. I think what you describe is a common mistake made when applying a ‘scientific approach’. That is to arbitrarily isolate an element that actually is not independent. That is a sure way to come to what looks like undisputable conclusions with a scientifical flavor that are utterly stupid (and potentially very misleading and damaging when it is not obvious).
        I remember a study that was run in an elementary school, trying to identify patterns between ‘intelligence’ and other traits. The astonishing conclusion was that the bigger their feet was, the smarter the kids were.
        I think a better way is to use science as food for thought. Neurocognitive science seems to be a good source here. And even then, one should be very critical in what is presented. Science history is full of wrong conclusions, even when pursued seriously.

        Best regards, Stéphane.

  • Joseph Hyde

    September 16, 2013


    I think that ‘Art’ and ‘Science’ are an ‘Art’ificial Distinction’ (see ‘Art’ wins!). I think that you can’t have one without the other, they may be two sides to the came complementary coin!

    But ‘Yes’ deviating to far “into” one from the other screws both up I think!

    They are both ‘human activities’.

    Yes I do agree with you here.

    Since we don’t know enough about ‘art’ to make a ‘Science’ out of it, I think that we should stick to art where Art is required and to Science where Science is required.

    Loving and talking about Love is not the same thing as Love..

    It seems that in this we are stuck!


    • admin

      September 17, 2013

      Hi Joseph. All distinctions can be argued as artificial… But that doesn’t make them not useful.

      But putting that aside, I would say, talking here about the ‘science’ as in the scientific method, you can very easily have art/craft without scientific method’, but less easily have scientific method without art/craft (as designing and executing experiments is art/craft).

      For more detail on this, please see my firs reply to Stephane!



  • Anthony Verderame

    September 16, 2013

    Hey James!
    Fantastic video! Thank you for sharing it, because you were RIGHT ON! Healing, change & transformation can only happen because of the organic “flow” of the therapeutic relationship. Hence why it is very much an art. A client who just left my office abreacted. I just went with what she gave me & continued from there. Then later while I was speaking she described a stone wall which upon inquiry, she described it as HERSELF….stable, strong, secure. I then ran with HER metaphor to solidify her healing. There is NO WAY you can do change work like this with a script. Keep up the great work James.

    • admin

      September 17, 2013

      Thanks Anthony.

      That’s the only real way too do it – roll with the moment… Participate in the unfolding a it happens.



  • Brian

    September 18, 2013

    Hi James,
    Spontaneity is the key to reacting to whatever you are being presented with. Scripts simply cannot contend with information of that nature.

  • Chins

    October 1, 2013

    Hey James.

    Do you agree that when people walk into a room as a teacher or boss and have to shout or beg for people to listen, they have already lost their authority?

    Or do you think the most authoritative person is somebody who shouts louder and tells people to be quiet and emphasizes how important they are?

    • admin

      October 3, 2013

      Good question!

      The truth is, there are many ways to play ‘high status’… and many ways to shout!

      I used to have a school teacher who shouted all the time, but his voice was all over the place with no centre. What it communicated was a guy out of control. But some people can shout with centre to their expression… they are just doing it for volume and maybe to create a moment of shock/pattern interrupt (I had another teacher at school who would do this).

      Mostly, however, when someone has is centred in their values, expertise and clear sense of self they do not really need to shout.

      All te very best


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