Hypnotherapy, which is what Paul McKenna practises, is where medicine and theatre combust explosively.
Medicine has always been theatrical. Why else would surgeons operate in a theatre? I owe it to Paul Mckenna for helping me understand that my love of theatricality had a crucial impact on my work as a physician in Vienna and Paris at the turn of the eighteenth century.
Hypnotherapy began with my doctoral dissertation of 1766, De influxu planetarum in corpus humanum ["The Influence of the Planets upon the Human Body"]. I'm embarrassed to concede that it was a pile of nonsense about cosmic energies and I'm confident Paul hasn't read it because he has neither a Latin nor a medical education. I am equally confident that it was from my wordy little acorn that Paul has grown an incredible amount of money. Like the £23 million the Discovery Channel gave him in 2008 - the largest deal ever for a British TV personality.
Money and medicine have always had an awkward relationship. Like Paul, I don't have a conscience about becoming rich through making people feel better about themselves. For doing that, Paul has been labelled a charlatan in some quarters, which is exactly what happened to me.
Actually, Paul McKenna is a much more natural charlatan than I ever was. I do not mean that unkindly, nor to argue that I had nothing of the charlatan in me. You need the skills of the charlatan to be able to either mesmerise or hypnotise.
While physician to the great and the good in the reign of Louis XIII. I watched the first charlatans on the streets of Paris. Men like Tabarin and his brother, Mondor ,who would draw huge crowds to the Place Dauphin. They were comedic entertainers first and sellers of ineffective medicine second. They made Parisians feel better about themselves with or without buying their pills and potions.
Shamelessly, I borrowed their techniques to develop a form of healing that was far more effective than the bleeding, purgatives and opiates used by my fellow doctors. Patients flocked to me to free themselves from the bondage of their mental and sexual insecurities. Very soon I was dousing roomfuls of patients with spray from magnets and iron filings submerged in water. Then, wearing a purple silk robe and waving an iron wand, I would perform my 'mesmeric passes' .
McKenna came to hypnotherapy via the razzmatazz world of the radio disc jockey. His understanding of theatricality was more innate than mine. When a guest on his radio show described his hypnotic techniques, Paul suddenly glimpsed a more interesting and rewarding career. He dabbled with hypnotism, first to amuse his friends and then to gull inebriants in London pubs and clubs into making fools of themselves. His employers, a radio station which also owned a London theatre, realised that there was money to be made out of McKenna's unusual talent. They put him on the stage.
Unsurprisingly, Paul was quick to appreciate that radio was not the natural habitat of the hypnotist. Very soon,' The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna' was - may I use my word again? - mesmerising tv audiences in 42 countries. This was Paul McKenna, the entertainer. In his shadow, the shape of Paul McKenna, the self-help healer, was looming larger and larger.
In developing that side of himself, Paul hasn't latched onto any of my 'cosmic energies'. Instead, he first of all snuggled under the wing of Richard Bandler, the not uncontroversial pioneer of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Finding TFT a more compelling acronym, he then turned to Richard Callaghan, the inventor of Thought Field Therapy. And in case that's not mind controlling enough Paul has more recently collaborated with the American Zen Master, Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, abbot and founder of Kanzeon Zen Center.
A huge number of successful books and tv programmes have resulted. Along with an impressive list of personal hypnotherapy patients, like Simon Cowell, Ellen de Generis and David Walliams.
Kenny Craig, ‘Little Britain’ hypnotist
What Paul has perfected is the operating theatre of the mind. He owes me a great deal.