Placebo III

The story “Placebo III” demonstrates how the placebo effect can be actively used to heal a cold, even if the relevant medicine is not currently available and has never been taken by the patient before.

Someone once told me the following story; “I was visiting my sister. My niece was getting confirmed, and my brother-in-law had a terrible cold. He was sneezing, sniffing and coughing, and clearly felt terrible. ‘The homeopathic remedy Schuessler Salt No 3 would help,’ said my sister. ‘But we don’t have any in the house.’ ‘That doesn’t matter,’ I replied, and turned to my brother-in-law. ‘Say to your body, “Dear body, please check whether Schuessler Salt No 3 would help, and if it would then respond as if you had taken it.”’ ‘But he’s never tried it before,’ objected my sister. ‘That doesn’t matter either,’ I replied, citing as evidence the case of a patient treated by some doctor or other. In the meantime, my brother-in-law had stopped sneezing and sniffing and looked a little better in general. I cried out, ‘Great job! You must have an incredibly powerful subconscious – that’s truly impressive! Brilliant! What a feat of the subconscious – and you managed it so quickly! I think Schuessler Salt No 3 has done you a lot of good! You’re doing a brilliant job…’ My brother-in-law gave a lopsided grin and looked a little embarrassed, but his symptoms had reduced significantly, and stayed like that all day.”

Regarder dans les yeux du lion

Cette histoire me fut raconté par le Kényan M. Mniyka. « Si tu croises un lion », ainsi me raconta-t-il, « Tu dois le regarder droit dans les yeux. Un seul petit regard de côté, et seulement un dixième de seconde suffit pour que le lion attaque. Il bondit plus vite que tu ne peux bouger, ou parler ou bien penser. C’est pourquoi, quand tu croises un lion, il faut le regarder droit dans lex yeux. Regarde-le, regarde-le simplement sans bouger, jusqu’à ce qu’il s’en aille. »

Illness on Order

Promoting health- Infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases

The story “Illness on Order” illustrates how believing that “anyone who calls in sick must really be sick” can result in real illness, and how pretend or inconsequential illnesses can develop into real ones. The story can also be used as a metaphor for mental and social blocks.

A doctor once told me, “Once I decided to spend part of my working day at home so that I could make headway on a mountain of paperwork. I hung a ‘Closed due to illness’ sign on the door of my practice – and fell ill straight away. Yesterday I told my daughter-in-law about it. ‘I know just what you mean,’ she said. ‘I fall ill every time you give me a sick note as a favour.’”

Placebo II

Promoting health- Heart, circulation, bleeding and blood flow

The case study “Placebo II” demonstrates a similar procedure for sluggish circulation, in which the patient imagines a Kneipp hydrotherapy treatment.

“My feet often feel as cold as ice,” said the man. “That’s why I catch so many colds. I used to have Kneipp treatments and that really helped, but I can’t do that everywhere.” “Let me tell you a secret,” said the other man. “An imaginary Kneipp treatment will work just as well if you imagine it hard enough.”

Placebo I

Promoting health- Heart, circulation, bleeding and blood flow

The case study “Placebo I” illustrates how blood pressure can be regulated by imagining blood pressure tablets.

“I used to get terrible stage fright every time I had to speak in public,” said the man. “My blood pressure shot up, I got palpitations and my breathing became rapid and shallow. But then my wife gave me these tablets to lower my blood pressure, and I’ve not had any problems since then.” “Can I tell you a secret?” replied the other man. “Every time you take a tablet, your body knows that it needs to reduce its blood pressure – it knows what it has to do in response to the tablet. It knows it so well that it will do what it needs to do by itself, even if you just carry the blood pressure tablet with you.”

[1]       The following is another version of the ending; “Your body knows it so well that it will do what it needs to do even if you simply draw a white circle on every page of your presentation to remind you of the blood pressure tablets.”

How we Dream Reality

This video is an extract from a seminar which I held with the BMDSH Scotland, a society of dentists and medical doctors who work with hypnosis. The seminar was called “The Art of Therapeutic Storytelling”. The 4 hour introductory part is also available as an audio recording. I will put it in the Stefan Hammel Shop. It should be available there next week. There is also an English video demonstration on couple therapy in the shop – and on how to do couple therapy when only one partner is present. If you’re interested in these – you can also just send me an E-mail. For now – have fun with the little film!


The story “Nosebleed” is a basic intervention which can be varied in many different ways, and which serves as an example of the effectiveness of hypnotic suggestions in everyday life outside an explicitly therapeutic context. I have used the technique described below on five people, four of whom were children. In four cases the bleeding stopped within one to three minutes, and in one case there was no significant improvement. The valve should be turned to the right or left depending on the symptoms (to the left in order to increase blood flow). The suggestions are unambiguous, despite being phrased in an indirect and non-directive manner. The story can be used not only for somatic complaints, but also for patients suffering from erythrophobia (fear of blushing or compulsive blushing), as well as for patients with “bad” habits and other (chronic) psychosocial symptoms in order to highlight the power of the mind to eliminate a certain symptom without further ado. In such situations it is recommended that further episodes of the story be told, explaining how individuals simply “turned off” a problem or symptom (e.g. a red-hot oven ring, a garden hose or an annoying radio). Since most symptoms are involuntary and are defended by clients as occurring “not on purpose”, I would advise against discussing the content of the story on a cognitive level. Nevertheless, when eliminating symptoms it is always necessary first to ask oneself and the client, “What purpose does this symptom serve?”

They met by chance on a grassy field. The old man was exercising his dog, and the young man was simply going for a walk. They recognised each other because they belonged to the same chess club, and so they started chatting. Suddenly the old man hesitated. He took out a packet of tissues, pulled out a few and held them in front of his face. His nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. “Can I show you how to stop the bleeding?” said the younger man. “Look around you. Can you see anything red?” “That tree over there has red berries,” said the older man. “That’s right. Berries as red as blood. Can you imagine a valve on a water pipe in the same red colour?” “I can.” “Does it look more like the red handle on a tap, or a large red stopcock of the sort you sometimes use to turn off the water supply to a house?” “A stopcock.” As they stood next to each other and talked, the younger man stretched out his arm in front of him and kept turning his hand to the right as though he was closing a big valve. “You can put your tissues away again now,” he said.

“Good Morning Everyone!”

Promoting understanding – Understanding and misunderstanding

The story “GGood Morning Everyone!” can be used to encourage the listener to adopt a creative approach to gossip. It demonstrates how a victim of gossip can take proactive steps against the “rumour mill” by spreading counter-rumours.

There was once a priest who lived in a small village far out in the countryside in Bavaria. He was a young and good-looking priest who lived alone, which made him a figure of enormous interest for the other villagers. One morning he got up, opened his window, hung out two sets of bedlinen to air – as was the custom in that land – and drank his coffee in peace. Good morning everyone! Now he had plenty of material for his next sermon…

Without Words

Promoting understanding – Understanding and misunderstanding

The story “Without Words” offers examples of how body language can be interpreted. It can be used as therapeutic homework to provide young people with autism with a new way of interpreting other people’s behaviour, and to occupy highly gifted young people with observation tasks as a distraction from provocative or depressive behaviour.

While I was driving home I approached a zebra crossing. A pedestrian was walking along the pavement, still a little way before the crossing. I stopped. It is possible to tell whether someone is going to cross the road several metres before they stop or look around, because they make a small turning motion with their body or head which foreshadows the planned movement. There are situations in which it can be useful to observe these minimal movements which anticipate actual movements. When the person leading a committee meeting or seminar asks for a volunteer, for example, a long pause often sets in while everyone waits to see if someone else is enthusiastic enough to volunteer first. And yet the individual who finally volunteers after lots of encouragement is always the one who moved immediately after the request was made – by leaning forwards slightly, by opening his or her mouth briefly, by uncrossing his or her legs, by sighing or by any other movement which might serve as a non-verbal introduction to a spoken contribution. If I want to circumvent this tedious process, I address a direct question to the person who moved first after I asked for a volunteer, enquiring whether he or she would like to take on the task. Experience shows that the answer is always yes.