Kerry Gaynor is not a doctor but he has contributed to the health of thousands of people. The Santa Monica resident is a certified hypnotist who aims to cure people of their addictions-to smoking, eating, and phobias-through the use of hypnosis.
His client list includes some celebrity names-Matt Damon, Aaron Ecckhart, and Charlize Theron have credited Gaynor with helping them kick the smoking habit, which is the main focus of Gaynor’s work.
Hypnosis, says Gaynor is “THE most powerful way a person can break an addiction.” Hypnosis is actually not sleep but “a restful state. You’re very relaxed, very much at peace. But in order for my suggestions to work you have to be able to hear me. So the person in the hypnotic state is always aware of the hypnotist.
“In that relaxed state there is a part of the mind we call the ‘critical faculty.’ If you can bypass that critical faculty – it’s kind of like the ‘yeah, but’–‘I’d like to quit smoking but I don’t feel like I’m strong enough,’ [you can] get suggestions into the subconscious where they can feel empowered to overcome anything.”
Gaynor uses a three-session program. “In the first session, I don’t take them off cigarettes. We set up their quitting for the second session. In the second session, I teach them how to quit smoking, how to break the addiction. In the third session, I reinforce everything and deal with issues so that they don’t go back and start smoking again.”
The key is working with the subconscious mind. “Quite often the conscious mind and the subconscious are not working together. So when the average person wants to quit smoking his conscious mind is saying ‘I should quit smoking’ and the subconscious is saying ‘Don’t bore me with details – I need a cigarette.’ As a hypnotist I can help them to get to that level to the importance of quitting smoking.“
A big obstacle for people who are “hooked” on a substance, whether it is cigarettes or food is that they feel “deprived” by lack of the substance. Gaynor says that this is what he really works to help people understand.
“I think that the main problem is that we’ve misunderstood addiction. Most people feel victimized by their addictions and stuck and trapped so what I’m trying to teach people is the power that lies within them. I think people are going about it the wrong way.
“They think the power lies in the addictive substance. [But] the power lies in the inappropriateness of the relationship. It’s kind of like: imagine dating somebody for six months and you get suspicious about them and you follow them and you see them murder 25 people. Well there’s not a person that I’m aware of that would continue that relationship. Yet as a cigarette smoker, that’s exactly what’s happening. You’re dating a serial killer, one that’s killed millions of people and you’re not responding to it in that way.”
Gaynor has been in practice for 30 years. He notes that to become a hypnotist, one goes through a certification program – each state has one. “There isn’t a licensing program for hypnotists. I’d like that at some point in the future but it doesn’t exist now.” Most people in the field learn by apprenticeships to other hypnotists.
Interestingly, Gaynor does not advertise. Apart from some press, he has been the beneficiary of word of mouth. He charges the same reasonable rate for all of his clients and works at an office adjacent to his Santa Monica home. To make an appointment or for more information, Gaynor’s contact number is 310.452.4256.