Someone drew my attention to an article published in the Daily Mail last year. It was all about an overweight woman who lost 8 stone by having a “virtual gastric band” fitted under hypnosis. If you’re interested you can read the article on the Daily Mail website. Just click here:

What a success story for hypnotherapy! Or is it?

People are becoming increasingly aware of the “virtual gastric band”. Clients increasingly enquire about virtual gastric band treatment rather than hypnotherapy for weight loss. They do this in the belief that their problem can be solved by one session of hypnotherapy and that no subsequent effort on their part is required. They believe, or hope, that the virtual gastric band is a magic wand which will simply make their weight problem disappear. If only it were that simple!

They say, don’t they, that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I’ve never believed that to be true. Stories which proclaim the success of hypnotherapy are always welcome – but only if they’re credible.

Let me begin by saying that I’m quite prepared to believe that the woman in the article did indeed lose a lot of weight. But the article makes it pretty clear that this was not achieved by virtual gastric band suggestions alone but by adopting the sort of radical liquid-through-to-solids diet which would be adopted by a person who had had a real gastric band fitted. The article also says that she had ten sessions of hypnotherapy and that the cost of treatment was £270. However I had a look at the website of the practitioner in question. He charges £270 for three sessions, not ten. In other words, his fees are £90 per session. If the lady had ten sessions then that would cost her £900. If you look at some of the readers’ comments on the article you will see that the most recent comment hits the nail on the head. The lady lost weight because she adopted a radical diet, not because of some magic-wand virtual gastric band. And when she returns to a “normal” diet, how long will the weight stay off for? Probably not very long.

How is the “virtual gastric band” supposed to work? Hypnosis can make the body do some amazing things. Operations can be carried out using only hypnosis as anaesthetic. It is quite conceivable that under hypnosis a person might be made to feel as if an operation had been performed and a gastric band had been fitted. But when the hypnosis is terminated the client is not left with a stomach which has somehow been shrunk by hypnosis. They may be told that they will feel as if a gastric band has been fitted. But how do they know what that actually feels like if they have never actually had the operation?

In essence, then, the client is told that their stomach is not as big as it used to be. It is possible that a highly suggestible client might accept that suggestion and lose weight. But how? By suddenly feeling sick when “too much” food has been eaten? By being faced with a choice between feeling sickness and discomfort on the one hand and hunger on the other? But people who are suggestible enough to accept a suggestion like that are also ideal subjects of conventional hypnotherapy weight loss treatments. For such people the elaborate hoax of a non-existent surgical operation is simply not required.

When I first heard about virtual gastric band treatments I knew that I would never offer such treatments because nothing that is based upon a total lie can ever be effective in the long term. Reality will always win out.

As far as I’m aware, virtual gastric band treatments have not been scientifically scrutinized or tested. I have found no mention of virtual gastric band treatments in scientific publications such as Contemporary Hypnosis or the European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. There may, therefore, be dangers in the treatment which have not yet come to light. Yet I suspect that the main problem is sheer ineffectiveness. Several of my own clients have had virtual gastric band treatments and have found them to be both highly expensive and totally ineffective.

At the end of the day, there are no magic wands. There is one way, and one way only, to achieve permanent and lasting weight loss – by making lasting changes to diet and / or exercise regime.

Shortcuts and magical solutions like the virtual gastric band are just gimmicks. The only thing which the virtual gastric band is guaranteed to make lighter is your purse or your wallet!

Horsham Hypnotherapy: serving clients from Horsham, Crawley, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Guildford, Redhill and all parts of West Sussex, East Sussex and Surrey. Contact us today.

3 Responses to “Why I Don’t Offer Virtual Gastric Band Treatments.”

  1. Richard Hennessy Says:

    Great article Neil! It is very clearly presented and makes a lot of sense. I think in a very similar way to you and I am a hypnotherapist in Sheffield who never has and never will offer hypnotic gastric bands, I see them as a big con and a waste of time and money. Hopefully hypnotic gastric bands will be a passing fad. I have also looked for proper research on the effectiveness of them but found nothing. I hope it’s not too long before someone looks into it and hopefully ends this rather unsavoury type of hypnosis.

  2. Neil Hall Says:

    Richard – many thanks for this comment and sorry I didn’t pick up on it earlier. Very good to know that there are other responsible practitioners out there. I hope your practice continues to thrive during these difficult times. Best wishes. Neil

  3. Neil Hall Says:

    Many thanks for this comment, Mark. I don’t say that VGB never works – I imagine that it could be effective, at least in the short term, for highly suggestible hypnotic subjects. But how long does it last? What about motivation, causes of poor diet, exercise etc? What, if any, are the long-term negative effects. I hate reading that “studies say” this, or “studies say” that. What “studies”? Where? I have yet to read a reputable scientific paper on the subject. I’ve made my own views pretty plain, and I’ve met some very disappointed (and very out-of-pocket) recipients of VGB. But if anyone wants to give it a go at least Mckenna’s product won’t cost hundreds of pounds. But I doubt that any good effects will last very long…
    Thanks again,

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