Alas, advertisements or commercials for "hypnotherapy" to stop any number of bad habits from smoking to weight gain are almost unavoidable now days.

Are there any actual unbiased studies or hard statistics on whether or not hypnosis is effective at curing an addiction to nicotine, or breaking the habit of cigarette smoking?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ (Keeping in mind that placebos have a roughly 4.1% success rate) $\endgroup$
    – IQAndreas
    May 1, 2015 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ If you actually want to quit smoking, consider that their are no Hebrews that are addicted to smoking. One could argue that the craving is caused by a disconnection from God and the smoker seeks it in his Creation (the tobacco leaf). $\endgroup$
    – TheDoctor
    Oct 31, 2018 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDoctor xkcd.com/285 $\endgroup$
    – IQAndreas
    Nov 27, 2018 at 10:49

2 Answers 2


Green and Lynn (2000) conducted a meta analysis of 59 experiments investigating the efficacy of hypnosis on smoking cessation. Their conclusions were:

  1. There is mixed, inconclusive evidence for whether hypnosis is any better than placebos.
  2. Hypnosis treatments were generally confounded with educational interventions and cognitive/behavioral interventions, making it impossible to isolate hypnosis as the causal source of positive results.

In short, their conclusion is:

Hypnosis cannot, as yet, be regarded as a well-established treatment for smoking cessation

Barnes et al. (2010) ran a meta analysis ten years later, and came to the same general conclusion. There is no evidence that hypnotherapy for smoking cessation works better than no treatment at all. They found that claims of success in the literature are generally uncontrolled studies, and that:

The effects of hypnotherapy on smoking cessation claimed by uncontrolled studies were not confirmed by analysis of randomized controlled trials.


Barnes, J., Dong, C. Y., McRobbie, H., Walter, N., Mehta, M., & Stead, L. F. (2010). Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001008.pub2

Green, J., & Lynn, S. J. (2000). Hypnosis and suggestion-based approaches to smoking cessation: An examination of the evidence. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48(2), 195-224.

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, in essence, hypnosis can be an effective treatment, but not everyone can be hypnotized, and even among those who can be the results may vary significantly from person to person (for example how deeply hypnotized a person really is, is a huge factor, and how skilled the hypnotist is, is also a huge factor and directly related to how deeply the patients can be hypnotized to begin with) It cannot yet be regarded as a well established treatment maybe, but it is one of the very few with a very decent success rate. It's worth a shot at least if it is available to you. $\endgroup$
    – Cestarian
    May 1, 2015 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think the authors are claiming that it "can be an effective treatment." In fact, they are claiming the opposite: that it is generally no better than a placebo. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    May 1, 2015 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ I never said I thought they were, there are two factors to hypnosis, at least in this context, one of them is an unknown factor (some people just can't be or are extremely hard to hypnotize) the other factor is how much people want the treatment to succeed e.g. lets say some guy goes in "I'll try hypnotherapy, but I don't think it'll work" he's already set into a mindset of resistance making it harder for him to be hypnotized successfully and then if he doesn't really want to quit smoking, or doesn't want this to be how he quits, the therapy will fail 100% certainly, all it takes is resistance $\endgroup$
    – Cestarian
    May 1, 2015 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ This naturally severely diminishes the odds of hypnosis treatments successfully treating people, all it takes is a little bit of doubt, or a little bit of "My mind can't be controlled by some hypnosis" mentality, and most people will think that way. Mostly because they don't know what hypnosis is, and don't understand how long it's been around, it's mostly only the truly desperate, and those who already believe fully in hypnosis that can be treated this way in the end. Hypnosis isn't for everyone. But for those it will work for, it's like magic. $\endgroup$
    – Cestarian
    May 1, 2015 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Cestarian: You may be right, but the point of these studies is that your conclusions have not been demonstrated experimentally. $\endgroup$
    – Kramii
    Mar 4, 2016 at 12:40

Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion. It is however a non-permanent state so even if when you are hypnotised you don't have the impulse to smoke, once the hypnosis is over you'll be back to normal life. Freud was the first who studied this by studying a woman who could not move her arm in any way and when she was hypnotised she could, when the effect was over, she couldn't move it again. So, theoretically it's possible, but you should be in a permanent state of hypnosis, which obviously isn't the best think a person could experience.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to cogsci.SE! Good answers here are based in rigorous research, not just speculation or experience, and cite specific evidence to back up assertions. What evidence is there to support these statements? $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Aug 11, 2017 at 17:03

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