This top 10 list of hypnosis books is what I consider to be essential reading for any hypnotist who takes the craft seriously.
It doesn't matter whether you are brand new to the field or if you have many years of experience. You'll become a smarter and more resource-rich hypnotist after you get through reading ... or even better ... studying the books on this list.
This list represents a diverse mix of material, and is something my students have been asking me to publish for a long time. Rather than keep it private I thought it would be best to share it here on our website.
Take your time, make a plan, and read as many of these as you can. Your confidence will soar, your skill sets will grow, and your clients will thank you.
We've also made a Youtube video explaining our top 10, which you can watch down below. Leave us a comment and subscribe!
Note that these books are about much more than just how to hypnotize somebody. If that's what you want make sure you read our ultimate guide to hypnotic inductions.
1. Trance-formations: Neurolinguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis (Bandler and Grinder)
Out of print for a long time, this is still an excellent book. It is worth hunting down a copy and buying it at a reasonable price. John Grinder was one of my brilliant teachers, and this book shows him and Bandler at their best, before they had a falling out. The reader gets the sense of attending one of their live trainings, where they show that hypnosis does indeed have a structure, which they deconstruct in NLP terms. Essentially Ericksonian in method, the authors teach through a mix of lecture and demonstration.
2. The Collected Papers of Milton H. Erickson (4 Volumes by M.H. Erickson MD.)
Although not for the beginner, this four volume set of purple books is a goldmine of hypnotic theory and experimentation. The volumes may be read in any order, and are excellent for hypnotic browsing on a rainy afternoon. Erickson documents his experiments and experiences, effectively demonstrating why he’s still lightyears ahead of all other hypnotists to this day. I know I’m cheating by listing four books as one book, but they’re really that good. It’s become de rigueur to criticize Erickson, but in view of his genius, and all he accomplished, it’s hardly surprising. When Bruce Lee was alive, everyone was scared to death of him. Ten minutes after he was dead, it turned out he wasn’t that good, and your grandmother could have beaten him in a street fight. Same with Milton Erickson.
3. My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson (Edited and with commentary by Sidney Rosen)
Milton Erickson was known for his remarkable, seemingly effortless therapy. By simply telling his patients stories, he would cause his subjects to enter trance and their lives would often be transformed. Dr. Rosen has gathered 100 of Erickson’s powerful tales, along with his own comments. These are not stories to copy, but are excellent teaching vehicles for those who wish to become storytellers who can change lives.
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4. Monsters and Magical Sticks: There’s No Such Thing as Hypnosis? (Heller and Steele)
A small book and a quick read, but one of my favourite hypnosis books of all time. Bringing in elements of NLP, the authors teach through vivid example that hypnosis may not really exist as a specific thing - but it’s happening everywhere. One of my students (a naturopath) using the methods of this book, cured a stubborn wart in a young patient with a magical stick; in this case a pencil. A great book for the hypnotist who’s stuck in a static model of hypnotic trance.
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5. Transforming Therapy: A New Approach to Hypnotherapy (Gil Boyne)
I must say that Boyne and his super-fast work fascinate me. Containing transcripts from his own therapeutic sessions, this book is another gem that should not be missed. Boyne was a master of the rapid induction, and can teach street hypnotists a thing or two. Nevertheless, the trances he created were robust, and the results tended to last. Combining hypnosis with gestalt therapy, Boyne worked creatively, and this book will stand the test of time. If you’re a hypnotherapist, this is a must read, and must own.
6. Mesmerism in India (James Esdaile)
Originally written in the 1800s, it still remains a fascinating read. Esdaile was a British Army surgeon who served in India. The book documents his work with Mesmerism, the inchoate form of hypnotism, in an era when anaesthetic was yet to be discovered. Although it often took hours for him to produce a sufficiently deep trance for his surgical interventions, Esdaile did much amazing work, including removing testicular tumours (!). It wasn’t until many years later that the “Esdaile state” was rediscovered.
7. Hypnotherapy (Dave Elman)
A classic in the world of directive, authoritarian, paternalistic hypnosis. Erickson was the master of the subtle and indirect. Elman was the other side of the coin. Here you’ll find real hypnotic gold, as Elman teaches how to deal with stuttering, gagging, the creation of hypnotic anaesthesia, hypnosleep, the Esdaile state, and much more. If you’re a hypnotherapist and haven’t yet read this book, you are cheating yourself, because if you master the contents, you’ll be able to fix all sorts of things. With an introduction by Gil Boyne, this is a first-rate hypnosis text.
8. The Wizard From Vienna: Franz Anton Mesmer (Vincent Buranelli)
A fair and interesting treatment of the rather checkered life of Franz Anton Mesmer. Whether you deem him to be a charlatan or a genius, the fact remains: Mesmer was the first hypnotic rockstar. From his studies in animal magnetism, to his hypnotic seances for the aristocracy, and his treatment of hysterics, it’s all here. An important book, as I think we should know something of the history that underlies the art and science that we practice. The portrait of Mesmer that develops through the unfolding story is that of a genuine healer, trying to figure it all out on the fly.
9. Training Trances (Overdurf and Silverthorn)
An excellent little book that will teach you much about the evolution of the Ericksonian method. Like book #1 on this list (Trance-formations) you are essentially sitting in on a hypnosis seminar. The authors do a really good job of unpacking and teaching fairly complex concepts, including embedded commands and metaphors, in a friendly and approachable way.
10. Reality is Plastic: The Art of Impromptu Hypnosis (Anthony Jacquin)
I must confess that I like and respect Anthony Jacquin, and this book is one of the reasons why. Jacquin has a knack for teaching, while neither over-simplifying, nor bringing in unnecessary complexity. If you’re a street or stage hypnotist, this is a must have. Covering rapid inductions, deepening techniques, and a wealth of interesting hypnotic phenomena, this book will stretch you to do things with hypnosis you thought were impossible.
Central to Jacquin’s teaching is the concept of testing your work to ensure you have the depth of trance you need; something many hypnotists seem to be afraid to do. The Freddy Jacquin Power Lift; an induction that Anthony Jacquin learned from his hypnotist father, is worth the price of the book.
So I realize this is far from a complete list, but all of these books belong in the library of the serious hypnotist. By the way, if you have money to burn (say about $3,000.00) you can go to Bookfinder.com and pick up a new copy of Miracles on Demand by Charles Tebbetts, without which, your hypnosis collection is forever incomplete. I have an autographed first edition, but won’t tell you what I paid...
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