Santa Claus, belief and hypnosis

For a long time now I have been troubled by ’belief’ which is not only a poor substitute for knowledge but very often involves some kind of brainwashing that denies truth. It is very apparent at this time of year when so many children are taught to believe in Santa Claus although those teaching this know very well that Santa Claus does not travel across the sky with a big bag of presents. What cannot be denied is that this archetype has been very influential on many generations of children, only for them to discover eventually that there is no Santa. Well there is and he has much to do with this belief system that we all encounter very young. The real story is in fact all about ‘belief’.

St Nicholas (also Nikolaus/Klaus) is also Saint Klaus or Santa. He gave money away, was born in Turkey and served in the monastery of St George. He lived around 300AD and was famous also for what they call the Nicene creed. This masterpiece is still in place. When I was young we had to recite it in church. It was created at the Council of Nicea in 325AD to ensure that Christians did not go the more sensible route and deny that Jesus was a god, just a man. From that time on any person thinking that was a heretic and persecuted. So this is the ‘creed‘ (creed kriːd/noun : creed; plural noun: creeds a system of religious belief; a faith)


WE BELIEVE in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.


I of course recited this many times without a second thought but only because it was part of the services that I was obliged to attend. Anyway it is a matter of some interest how St Nick became Santa Claus with his reindeer. All one can say is that over a period of 1600 years the stories passed down from generation to generation, took many strange turns and created a potent archetype considerably more powerful than the origin. However this also raises a very interesting phenomenon which can be extremely useful. Did you know that:

Hypnosis to Remove Warts

Did you know… that hypnosis and hypnotherapy have been proven to effectively treat warts? YES, the human papillomavirus (warts) responds very well to suggestion, visualization, and expections, that are well-crafted within one’s use of hypnosis.

Here is what Lewis Thomas MD wrote in the chapter, “On Warts” in his book, The Medusa and the Snail.

Warts are wonderful structures. They can appear overnight on any part of the skin, like mushrooms on a damp lawn, full grown and splendid in the complexity of their architecture. Viewed in stained sections under a microscope, they are the most specialized of cellular arrangements, constructed as though for a purpose. They sit there like turreted mounds of dense, impenetrable horn, impregnable, designed for defense against the world outside.

In a certain sense, warts are both useful and essential, but not for us. As it turns out, the exuberant cells of a wart are the elaborate reproductive apparatus of a virus.

You might have thought from the looks of it that the cells infected by the wart virus were using this response as a ponderous way of defending themselves against the virus, maybe as a way of becoming more distasteful, but it is not so. The wart is what the virus truly wants; it can flourish only in cells undergoing precisely this kind of overgrowth. It is not a defense at all; it is an overwhelming welcome and enthusiastic accommodation meeting the needs of more and more virus.

The strangest thing about warts is that they tend to go away. Fully grown, nothing in the body has so much the look of toughness and permanence as a wart, and yet, inexplicably and often very abruptly, they come to the end of their lives and vanish without a trace. And they can be made to go away by something that can only be called thinking, or something like thinking. This is a special property of warts which is absolutely astonishing, more of a surprise than cloning or recombinant DNA or endorphin or acupuncture or anything else currently attracting attention in the press. It is one of the great mystifications of science: warts can be ordered off the skin by hypnotic suggestion.


In fact many odd ’cures’ have been used to remove warts using this technique. Perhaps the most famous case was in 1951:

1951: Dr. Mason’s Hypnotic Miracle

In 1951, a 16-year-old boy whose body was covered in warts was largely healed, apparently by hypnosis… but it shouldn’t have worked.

The boy’s body, excepting his face, back of neck, and chest area, was completely covered by skin that had been overgrown by what appeared to be black warts, and had the texture and toughness of dry fingernails. His skin had very little elasticity, which meant it was always cracking and bleeding in the joints and chronically infected in these areas, leading to a horrible body odor. All attempts to alleviate or cure the condition had failed… and this is when Dr. A.A. Mason suggested that such cases often responded well to hypnosis. He was given permission to try.

On February 10, 1951, Dr. Mason hypnotized the boy in front of a meeting of medical experts, and told the boy that his left arm would heal and become normal skin; just the left arm was specified so that any change caused by the hypnosis would be obvious. Five days later, the black warty skin had become noticeably softer, and had begun to fall off the arm, exposing skin with a normal texture and color… and by the tenth day, the boy’s left arm was clear of the bumpy skin from shoulder to wrist. The hypnosis was repeated several more times — for his right arm, then both legs, and then his trunk — and in the course of a few weeks the boys’ body was 70% less warty than before, and the unpleasant odor had dissipated. The boy was ecstatic, and the doctor was proud… but other medical experts were not so happy.

The boys’ condition was caused by a genetic fault and, therefore, should not have been curable in the least. The evidence as it stood suggested the possibility that Dr. Mason had somehow changed the boys’ genetic code by hypnosis to alter the boys’ symptoms, a circumstance that all agreed was an impossibility; in addition, it was argued that if the hypnosis didn’t cure the boy entirely of the bumpy legions, then the so-called hypnosis ‘cure’ was basically worthless… an accusation that ignored the fact, of course, that no other treatment had caused any improvement in the boy’s condition previously. The case was argued back and forth a bit, and then quietly ignored until it fell into obscurity, no one being willing to investigate enough to determine how the boy was actually healed.

The question remains: how did Dr. Mason successfully treat a genetic malady with hypnosis?

Many times when I investigate these sorts of legends, I find that they are essentially wrong in the details reported… that they are not extraordinary when seen in their original light. Not so in this case; the legend is essentially correct in it’s details… Dr. A.A. Mason did hypnotize a boy with an incurable genetic malady, and the boy did improve noticeably, and in a way that proved the hypnosis was the cause… and I may now know how it worked.

One detail not mentioned in the legend is the fact that one of the previous attempts to help the boy included a plastic surgeon transplanting skin from the boy’s chest (with relatively normal skin) to the palm of one of his hands (which had warty skin). This was in the hope that the normal skin would settle in place and allow for eventual use of the hand. But as the tissue transplant healed and settled into place, the new clear skin started to change… and within one month had become just as black and bumpy as the tissue that had been removed from the boy’s palm to start with. A second attempt transformed into warty skin after being moved to the boy’s hands.

This is an important detail because it proves one thing: the only difference between the skin in the clear areas and the skin in the bumpy areas was in what was the skin was being supplied by the body at those areas. So the problem wasn’t the boys’ skin itself… it was how the skin was being supported and nourished.

Hypnosis cannot change a genetic code, but it can change how your body behaves, both at a conscious level and at an unconscious, or autonomic, level. What seems to have happened in the case of Dr. Mason’s remarkable cure is that, when given the suggestion that parts of his body would clear up, the boys’ hypnotized consciousness arranged for bumpy parts of his body to start receiving the same chemical nourishment and support that the clear parts of his body were receiving… and since it was already shown that the clear skin could be turned bumpy by the failed skin transplants to the boys’ palms, it shouldn’t be too hard to believe that the bumpy skin could then be converted to clear by changing the underlying system of support.

So, NO, Dr. Mason did not change the boy’s genetic makeup… but YES, Dr. Mason did cure the boy’s condition using hypnosis to change how the boy’s body basically treated the skin from the inside, a remarkable result that should have been investigated further but never was.

In fact Dr Mason was very famous and also rather perturbed by what happened:

In 1951, Dr. Albert Mason was a young anesthesiologist at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, who in his practice often used hypnotism to treat pain and cure common ailments. A chance occurrence led to a medical and professional breakthrough: by hypnotizing a young boy whom he believed was covered in hard, black warts, Dr. Mason brought relief – and clear skin – to the child. Yet, as Mason very quickly discovered, the boy did not suffer from warts but congenital icthyosiform erithrodermia of Brocq, a condition that, by all medical accounts, should not have responded to hypnotism. This amazing success was documented in the British Medical Journal and immediately lifted Dr. Mason’s career, bringing him hundreds of patients and worldwide fame.

Faced with a daunting array of patients whose ailments resisted other medical treatments, Dr. Mason became increasingly wary of the limitations of hypnotism as a therapy. More troubling than the patients he could not cure were the ones who believed that his hypnotism had cured their condition, when in reality they still suffered obvious symptoms. Mason expressed some of these doubts, while extolling the possibilities of hypnosis, in his 1960 textbook, Hypnotism for Medical and Dental Practitioners. In the early 1960s, after pursuing neurological experiments with Martin Halliday, Mason came to believe that hypnotic anesthesia did not attenuate pain signals to the brain, as some scientists had suggested, but rather diminished a subject’s conscious awareness of these signals. He became convinced that many of the patients he treated were suffering from psychosomatic conditions and required intensive psychotherapeutic treatment to alleviate their physical discomfort. He trained as a psychoanalyst at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London. By 1969, Mason had left his career in hypnosis. He moved to Los Angeles with the influential psychoanalytic writer and practitioner, Wilfrid Bion, helping to bring the Kleinian model of psychoanalysis to the United States.”

As a result of such pioneers hypnotherapy is available on the NHS and is used for pain relief and many other conditions and addictions. But no one really knows how it works. We have probably all seen stage magicians and mentalists. Hypnosis can control bleeding and pain and as a result when used before operations surgeons find it very helpful. It speeds up post operative healing. But there has not really been a study on its use with advanced cancer.

Hypnotherapy for symptom control in advanced cancer

In 2005 researchers carried out a review of studies into hypnotherapy for treating symptoms in people with advanced cancer. There were 27 studies but all were small or of poor quality. So it is not possible to tell whether hypnotherapy can help people with advanced cancer. We need research to find this out”

That is from cancer research website and it is a rather extraordinary statement as this is also on that website:

Research into hypnotherapy in people with cancer

Some reports show that hypnosis can help people to reduce their blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and pain. Hypnosis can create relaxing brain wave patterns. Some clinical trials have looked at how well hypnotherapy works for people with cancer.

Research has looked at the following areas

Hypnosis and cancer pain

A report from the American National Institute for Health in 1996 stated that hypnosis can help to reduce some kinds of cancer pain. A large review in 2006 looked at using hypnotherapy to control distress and pain from medical procedures in children with cancer. The review found that hypnotherapy did seem to help to reduce the children’s pain and distress, but it recommended more research. You can look at this cancer pain review on the Research Council for Complementary medicine website.

In 2012, researchers in Spain again reviewed studies of children with cancer and found that hypnosis appeared to help reduce pain and distress from cancer or from medical procedures.

Hypnosis and sickness

A large review in 2006 looked at research into hypnotherapy for feeling or being sick from chemotherapy. Most of the studies in this area have been in children. Overall, the studies did show that hypnotherapy might be able to help with chemotherapy sickness in children. There has only been 1 study looking at hypnotherapy for sickness after chemotherapy in adults, so we need more research into this. You can look at this cancer and sickness review on the Research Council for Complementary medicine website.

One study found that hypnosis can help to reduce anticipatory nausea and vomiting. Anticipatory nausea or vomiting happens when people have had nausea or vomiting due to cancer drugs and they then have nausea or vomiting just before their next dose.

Hypnosis and hot flushes

A clinical trial in America in 2008 found that women having breast cancer treatment who had hypnosis had fewer hot flushes and the flushes were less severe. The women also had less anxiety, depression, and interference with daily activities, and better sleep.

Hypnosis and breast cancer surgery

A study in 2007 in America gave hypnotherapy to a group of women before breast surgery. The researchers found that hypnotherapy lowered the amount of pain, sickness, tiredness and upset that the women had after surgery. Another American study in 2006 found that hypnotherapy helped to lower anxiety and pain during a biopsy for suspected breast cancer.

Hypnotherapy for symptom control in advanced cancer

In 2005 researchers carried out a review of studies into hypnotherapy for treating symptoms in people with advanced cancer. There were 27 studies but all were small or of poor quality. So it is not possible to tell whether hypnotherapy can help people with advanced cancer. We need research to find this out.

Hypnotherapy for stopping smoking

People commonly use hypnotherapy to help them give up smoking. In 1992 a review showed that hypnotherapy was the most effective way of giving up smoking. But in 1998 another review by the Cochrane Collaboration looked again at this. There were several trials of hypnotherapy but there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that it helps people to give up. You can read a summary of the smoking cessation review on the Cochrane website.”

There are many similarities between ’self hypnosis’ and ‘meditation’ and undoubtedly spiritual development uses these resources just as it uses sleep, that state which occupies so much of our lives. Eventually you will find that a bit more is happening during those sleeping hours than you thought and that our spiritual body is using our physical one as its energy source to do its own work.

But for today this really is about Santa Claus and ‘belief’. Do not believe things without any evidence. If some demand that you do, for example in your work or religion, it is worth thinking about. Spiritual development, if true, demands knowledge not acceptance of weird fantasies concocted thousands of years ago by people whose motives and convictions you will never know. But I have seen hypnosis of groups of people at first hand, done by experts who are selling their product is repetition and it is absolutely stunning what can be achieved, or how sensible people can come to believe firmly whatever they are told to the extent that they will cut off their families if they do not agree with them. One certain form of hypnosis uses low light, perhaps candles and ‘repetition’.

Why is it not used more widely for something really useful like healing cancer and heart disease? Think about it.




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