Gibson, Jack Stanley (1909–2005), medical doctor and hypnotherapist, was born in Dublin on 3 November 1909, the youngest of six children (four boys, two girls; a brother predeceased him) of Adam Henry Gibson, merchant, and his wife Mary Jane ('Millie') (née Bailey), of Hollybank Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin. He was educated at Wesley College and studied medicine at the RCSI. Winning gold medals in anatomy and surgery, he graduated in 1933. He then attended the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, where he was awarded the Diploma in Tropical Medicine in 1934. When he became a fellow of the RCSI in 1934, he was at the time the youngest awardee; he had misled the examiners as to his correct age, which would have made him ineligible to present for the fellowship.
In March 1936 he left Ireland to take up a position at a missionary hospital in Aden. He then undertook locums in Malawi and South Africa, before becoming dean (1938) of the Medical Aids School in Durban (later Durban Medical School) in 1939. During the second world war he worked for the emergency medical service in Newcastle, Liverpool and Weymouth, treating survivors of Dunkirk and the D-Day landings. He then returned to South Africa to work as a general practitioner at Brakepan Hospital (1946–9), after which he settled in Guernsey where he worked as a surgeon (1950–59), before being briefly surgeon in the Tsehai Haile Selassie Hospital, Addis Abiba, Ethoipia (1959). Returning to Ireland, he was for a short time surgical officer at Dr Steevens' Hospital, Dublin, before being appointed in 1960 as surgeon at Naas County Hospital.
From 1965 Gibson released over thirty recordings dealing with self-hypnosis and psychosomatic disorders, which were promoted widely in the national media. These recordings claimed to deploy self-hypnosis techniques to engender 'painless childbirth', 'relief from asthma' and 'relief from migraine'. Gibson maintained that he had successfully treated patients with migraine and asthma using hypnosis in a clinical context; he always stressed that the voluntary engagement and commitment of the patient were crucial to the success of hypnosis. He also promoted the use of hypnosis during childbirth and in surgical wards, claiming it to be as effective as antibiotics in certain contexts: 'of course, antibiotics will cure disease which hypnosis cannot help, but hypnosis can cure cases where antibiotics are of no use whatsoever' (Gibson, 92). He also promoted hypnosis when dealing with road traffic accidents, where most patients presenting for emergency surgery would not have empty stomachs, precluding the use of conventional anaesthetics. The range of cases he dealt with as a general surgeon meant that many procedures requiring a local anaesthetic benefited from hypnosis.
His 1971 LP How to stop smoking topped the record charts for six weeks. He released on video The power of the subconscious, a recording of him conducting eye surgery on a patient under hypnosis. He retired from Naas County Hospital in 1979, and devoted himself to spreading awareness of the benefits of hypnosis, particularly in treating psychosomatic disorders, especially addiction – suffering that he saw as senseless. Furthermore, he sought to deploy hypnosis in treating asthma, insomnia and obesity – conditions affected to varying degrees by stress factors. He sought to treat holistically the whole patient, seeing a particular disorder as a likely symptom of something else. He regarded hypnosis as seeking to induce the subconscious mind to work in harmony with the conscious mind in a positive fashion, in accordance with the Hippocratic oath. He may perhaps have too easily ascribed potent benefits to treating the subconscious, yet his recognition of the limits of inter-war medical education in treating psychosomatic disorders has to be recognised.
His career, and in particular his formal medical credentials, were widely cited by practitioners of hypnotherapy. Those who promoted his achievement may not always have shared his acceptance of the limitations of hypnosis; he advocated the precise and limited use of hypnotherapy, with surgeon and anaesthetist working together. He claimed to have performed over 4,000 procedures using hypnosis as an alternative to conventional anesthetics, seeking to induce relaxation and minimise stress and pain during and after trauma: 'if we are tense, pain is intensified, if we relax, pain is relieved. If we relax totally, pain is abolished' (Gibson, 82).
Gibson married Elizabeth Maude ('Betty') James in Dublin on 29 July 1938; they had one child (Rosy Gibb (qv), social worker, clown, and magician). Despite suffering a severe stroke (1989) and having both knees replaced, he remained active and was promoting hypnosis until the end of his life. He died 2 April 2005 at Naas General Hospital, Co. Kildare, predeceased by his wife (died 8 August 1991), and his daughter (died 13 July 1997).