Martin St James passes away aged 80
Martin St James, billed as – The World’s Greatest Hypnotist – passed surrounded by his family on the 14th May 2015 aged 80. Whilst Martin’s name may be unfamiliar to a younger generation, to those in the hypnotherapy profession and to the public all over the world ages over 50, he was a legend in the field of hypnosis.
During his long career Martin performed stage and television shows in Australia, the USA, in England and thoughout Europe and Asia in the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s during which time he was a household name as an entertainer. His television show ‘Spellbound’ was watched by millions across the globe.
What is less publicly known about Martin is that those of us who daily ply our trade as clinical hypnotherapists owe a great debt of gratitude to to the pioneers of the art and science of hypnotherapy, and of those, Martin St James was arguably the greatest and the one who did the most to further the practice of hypnosis in our age.
It was Martin’s passion, his drive and his belief in hypnosis as a healing and helping modality that allows us to practice today. It was his determination to literally fight for the cause of hypnosis that resulted in the eventual deregulation of our profession. Here in Australia, in England and across Europe at the height of his fame and career Martin took on the establishment. He fought in court time and again for the right to practice his craft. He did so using his own resources a little like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, only this time the windmills fell. Time and again Martin won cases that gave those of us who followed him the basis with which to argue with Government and regulatory authorities that hypnosis should be de-regulated, and that is now the case in every state in Australia. In great measure that is Martin’s legacy.
The thousands of clinical hypnotherapists across Australia, the UK and Europe practice today in large part because of Martin’s unshakable belief in the benefits of hypnosis and the capacity of the human mind to change through hypnosis.
I felt honoured to speak at his funeral service and though I only got to know Martin over these last years and will always cherish the conversations we had about the hypnosis and how hypnotherapy can help the in need. I can still feel the passion for his craft that stayed with him to the end. Martin never lost his fervour, his reason for being or his advocacy for the possibilities that exist though hypnosis. His eyes were always to the future, not to his past. His passion never waned. The AHA awarded Martin Life Membership in recognition of his work in and for the profession and a couple of years ago I invited him to speak to some of our younger therapists in Brisbane and Sydney. My reason for doing so was that they should understand why they can train and practice as hypnotherapists and hear from the man who gave so much to make that possible. As you can imagine Martin was, well, Martin. He had his audience laughing and enthralled as his love for hypnosis came to the fore.
So we honour Martin and his immeasurable contribution to our profession, but we do not do so for the last time. Wherever hypnosis is taught or practiced or discussed, Martin St James will remain legend among hypnotherapists in years to come.