Born January 5th 1925 and Died April 29th 1999.



This Tribute to J. A. "Mac" McMurtrey was written at the request of the McMurtrey family and read at his funeral.

[The 23rd Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still water. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."]

Paul Durbin's tribute to the gentle giant and my friend, J. A. "Mac" McMurtrey. The first time I meet Mac was in 1989 at a hypnotherapy convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. We were both looking for the men's room. It was in a dark hallway and we arrived at the door at the same time.

Seeing on the door what we thought had a sign which read "MEN", we walked in. When we got in we experienced a very unusual MEN's room. The walls were painted pink, the wash basins were heart shaped and the commode seats were pink and heart shaped. As there were no urinals, we decided that we were in the wrong bathroom so made a hasty return to the hall. Had a closer look at the sign in the dark hallway to see that it read WOMEN. Across the hall, we saw another door which indeed read MEN so we went into a much different scene. From that day, I have had no better friend than Mac.

Each time we met after that and the story was told it was embellished many times over. The last time it was told, Mac had it going something like this. We were in the hotel, walking down a dark hallway when we were invited into a room by two beautiful young women. Being naive and innocent, we accepted their invitation and walked in. The room was pink, the seats of the chairs were heart shaped and so was the bed. Above the bed was a large heart shaped mirror, the same size as the bed. Mac said that we were shocked to find that we were in a whore house so we made a hasty retreat to the hall. You can see that the last account had some of the elements of the original event but sounded much more exciting and entertaining. After all we remained true to our wives because we left as soon as we discovered what the young ladies had in mind.

Though death is the final step of one's earthly life, it is not the end, for the essence of a person lives on. This may be difficult to understand and perhaps St. Paul was thinking of this when he wrote, "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face, now I know in part; then shall I know even is also I am known." Now we see only the baffling reflection in a mirror, but then face to face.

Because they cannot see beyond the grave, some people believe that life is an absolute loss when a person dies,. Let us consider that there will be some material things which will keep Mac's memory present for those who loved him. Some experiences you shared or some material reminder of his place in your life. Ever time, I go to a Hypnotherapy convention, I shall remember the good times we had and the meals we shared. Mac, Artie, Al and Elaine Bottari, Robert Otto, Linda Otto and many the many others who ate with us from time to time will remember those wonderful occasions. Each time I look at the "Remington Mountain Man" bronze statue which sets in my den or when I look at a picture of him, I will remember Mac. I have a picture of the bronze statue which is a replica of Mac from the shoulders up (pictured above). That statue was commissioned to celebrate his induction into the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame. I and several others keep nominating him until he finally was selected. Thank God, the honor came to him while he was still alive. But, even if all these physical manifestation be removed, he will still be with us in our memory .

The joys you have experienced together, the sorrow and difficulties that you have faced, the conversation that you have shared. These and other memories will remain. I remember the time in Detroit at his last IMDHA conference when my knee was swollen and hurting. During the convention, Mac, Artie and Al Bottari toke turns  giving me pain control hypnosis sessions whenever I asked. They helped me make it through that convention.  (That was in October and in December, I had surgery on that knee. Thank goodness, it has not bothered me since the surgery.)

Then there was that day last December when Artie called and asked me to come see his dad. It was a Wednesday and I made reservations to go up fly up on Saturday and return to New Orleans on Sunday.  Mac was unaware that I was corning when I called to check on him later that day, as I often did, he seemed weak, but happy to hear from me. Artie picked me up at the airport at noon on Saturday. When we got to Mach's house, Artie said, "Let me go into his room first." Artie walked in and said to his dad, "Someone is here to visit you." I walked in and when Mac saw me, tears came to his eyes and he said, "I almost asked you to come see me Wednesday when we talked on the phone." I replied, "Well, I guess you communicated that in your thoughts because here I am. " I was especially please with that welcome because knowing Mac, I would not have been surprised nor hurt if he had said, "Paul Durbin! What in hell are you doing here?" I admit I preferred the greeting that I received.

During that weekend we spent some quality time together. Artie and I had four hypnotherapy sessions with him between my arrival at noon on Saturday and my departure at noon on Sunday. Mac told me that those sessions were just what he needed for he had been able to finish some unfinished business in his personal and spiritual life that needed to be worked on and released.

Before leaving, I told him that I had been praying for him since I first learned of the disease and would continue to do so. I had prayer with him and left his house for the airport. I shall always be thankful that I made that trip and had that time with Mac. It helps me deal with my grief even now.

Each one of you have your memories of Mac and how he touched your life. There is an old saying, "No one cast a shadow so small but someone walks by it." Mac cast a big shadow. His influence has touched many lives over the years. Mac's life was influencing people as he grew up, served in the military service, and gained a national reputation as a hypnotherapist. His influence was experienced by his wife, his children, his grandchildren, other relatives and friends.

Even if our memories be removed, the soul lives. Yet, ever since that tragic moment when Adam and Eve bent over their dead son Able, people have been searching for some assurance that there really is life after death. Ancient Job asked the timeless question, "If a man dies, shall he live again?" David had such a faith in immortality that he could write, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." Death in the mind of David was not the end. It was a valley through which we must walk. The valley may be dark and lonely, but we do not pitch our tents there, we pass to the other side.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me, through he were dead, yet shall he live." This is our promise and our hope: for Mac a new beginning. We find our assurance in Jesus Christ who died upon the cross and on the third day arose to be with us ever more.

He is present today to bring comfort in the midst of sorrow. He understands our sorrow, our tears, our hurts and shares them with us as he wept at the news of the death of his friend Lazarus. He says to us, "Blessed are they who mom for they shall be comforted." May each of us according to our needs be comforted this day in the midst of our grief There are some words of a hymn which I would like to share with you as we say farewell to Mac.

Does Jesus care when I've said goodbye to the dearest on earth to me.     And when my sad heart aches until it nearly breaks, it is ought with him? Does he care?  O yes, he cares, I know he cares, his heart is touched with my grief.   When the days are weary the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares."

As God receives Mac's spirit whole and new, may God's comfort and  peace go with each you. To his wife, children, grandchildren and friends; may you experience God's comfort. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (This concludes the eulogy which was read at Mach’s funeral.)


(Durbin greeting Mac and others at a banquet)

1. At hypnotherapy conventions, Mac always took time to respond to an individual's request for information regardless of whether they were a seasoned veteran or someone just starting out.

2. If a presenter failed to show up at a convention, Mac was willing to present on a variety of subject to help the convention program move on without missing a presentation. Mach was seldom a scheduled presenter but often filled in when needed.

3. During a convention, Mac often had private hypnotherapy session with people at the convention who requested a session.

4. Mac had a very successful hypnotherapy practice in Jacksonville, NC.

5. Mac had hypnosis students which he gave very special attention to and helped in many ways.

6. Mac was a member of the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame.

7. Mac was a gentle giant who was willing to give a helping hand to many people in the field of hypnosis.

8. Mac was the father of J. A. "Artie" McMurtrey.

9. The "Pebble in the Pond" IMDHA Award was established in honor of Mac McMutrey. The first person to receive that award was Artie McMurtrey, Mac's son and it was well deserved.  Picture  

10. A picture of Mac's wife Janie, the IHHF bust statue of Mac, and Roberta McMurtrey, "Artie" wife is in the "Pictures" section.


What we know about hypnosis is that it works and the further we get from the dangling watch/flickering candle misconceptions we’ve had about it, the closer we are to understanding why it works. Hypnosis has been with us longer than most people realize (before the advent of chemical anesthesia, a from of it was even used to numb patients for surgery), and it’s currently making a strong comeback in pain control. Hypnosis is also being used to treat everything form nail-biting to serious psychosomatic disorders. But it’s still hare to shed the notion that hypnosis is faintly fraudulent, a brand of hocus-pocus having more to do with the late show than with science.

To shake some of the mystery out of it, think of this: have you ever been so involved in a creative task... writing! sketching, even been frenziedly preparing a dinner party, cut your finger and not noticed it until the next morning? Or have you ever read one of those stories about a 98-pound woman who lifted a car off her daughter withe sudden superhuman strength? These are examples of spontaneous trances. Human "trance capacity".... Hypnotize-ability, really... is unquestioned by science. The variable is that this tantalizing potential differs from person to person.

Hypnosis has long been associated with the strange and mysterious, with sideshows and faith healers. But the truth is that hypnosis is not the least bit mysterious or supernatural. In fact, you have been in an hypnotic state literally thousands of times. You don’t notice it because it seem such a natural state of mind. The hypnotic state is natural for all humans and many animals. Chances are, at one time or another, you have fund yourself driving along a familiar freeway past your exit. Occurrences such as this one are common.

The important thing to remember about trance capacity is that it is inherent in you. It is not "projected" on you by the therapist. What a therapist does is teach you a procedure to use whenever and wherever you like... In other words, you can learn to go in to and out of trance yourself at will. Why would you want to? Say you have a specific bad habit you can’t seem to break, if it’s a simple one... you bite your nails... one session could do it. If your problem is more complex... you overeat, and you’re confused about your motivations... You may need several sessions to help you control the problem. The sessions may not "cure" you in one fell swoop... They’ll teach you a new and useful mastery over your habits.

How would hypnosis work on you, if you opted to try it? Hypnosis is the opposite of sleep. It is a state of intense, focused concentration where you are fully aware of what is going on, although your eyes are usually closed. Imagine yourself in a room full of objects. Then imagine the room darkened and a single beam of light directed at one of those objects. That is how your mind operates under hypnosis... with that kind of piercing directness.

The best example of a "simple trance" would bee on that is used in habit control... It’s probably the simplest and most common used. You and the therapist establish a goal.. . Say, "I must lose 30 pounds" and that becomes the kernel of all subsequent therapy. The trance can be induced in many different ways, but usually you sit in a comfortable chair or conch. Once you are in the trance, the therapist gives you instructions on how to change your attitude towards the problem and how to reach your goal. In the course of working on an overweight problem, the therapist may help you to discover why you overeat. Some of the most common reason for overeating are: 1. You eat to reward or entertain yourself. 2. You eat because you want to be noticed, to gain authority. 3. You eat to lessen or negate an unpleasant experience. 4. You eat because you are afraid. 5. You eat because you need love. Using hypnosis as a tool, you can discover your reasons, and make the necessary corrections that will put you "in charge" of your eating habit’s that in turn will allow you to be your proper weight.

In case of overeating, for instance, the therapist may point out that overeating is unhealthy for your body, that you need your body to live and therefore you own your body respect and protection. Then he or she may tell you to concentrate on your goal ("I must reduce 30 pounds) If this goal is important to you, then the desire to overeat should become less and less. The therapist my also teach you to become more aware of the physical sensations of hunger, and eat only in response to the sensation of hunger.

After this is done, the therapist will guide you out of trance, and then (or later) teach you how to get in and out of trance by yourself.

PUTTING THE FREEZE ON PAIN: There are two basic hypnotic approach to pain control. The patient can learn to experience the pain as something else: a cold numbness, a warmth, a tingling sensation. A patient with, say, a migraine might learn to imagine wearing a helmet of ice which is gradually cooling and freezing the pain into numbness. Or the patient can learn a "distraction" technique: concentrating on a part of the body (remember the beam of light in the room or objects) that is unaffected by the pain, perhaps, or leaving behind the painful body while the mind goes off on a relaxing trip to the sea shore. By learning different ways to absorb the experience psychologically, you can reduce pain to an amazing degree. Terminal cancer patients who use self-hypnosis often need far less pain medication than other patients.

Hypnosis is being used to treat a variety of disorders that are caused or at least worsened by anxiety or stress, such as hypertension, hyperventilation, upset stomach, migraines and even asthma. A simple technique of hypnotic muscle relaxation can have pronounced effect on a patient’s daily well-being.

TAPPING THE MEMORY BANKS: Perhaps the most amazing results of all in hypnosis have been in memory enhancement. Your memories of your recent and distant past are like an out-of-focus picture. Under hypnosis you can "scan" that picture, bringing bits and corners of it into high relief... Memory details as slight as a gesture can be made to reappear. Highly hypnotizable patients can actually "relive" events that occurred during their childhood or adolescence. We bury traumatic events in our lives in order to "protect" ourselves from being repeatedly upset by them. But in psychotherapy, those events are sometimes essential to understanding the patient’s emotional history. During hypnosis, memories can be resurrected in a carefully structured way... without shattering that protective mechanism

If you feel that hypnosis could ease an emotional problem or break an unwanted habit, make sure you track down a qualified clinician. Motivation seem far more important, and any treatment that make such good use of the inner resource you already have deserves looking into.

In addition to the areas mention, hypnosis suggestion has successfully been used to treat Allergies, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, digestive disorders, enuresis, headaches, hysterical deafness/blindness, labor pains, loss of appetite, eye/ear/nose/throat problems, sexual problems, peptic ulcers, "ringing in the ears", tics, tumors, vomiting, warts and a host of other problems.

3. TRIBUTE TO "MAC" MCMURTREY FROM A FRIEND HAROLD FOSTER: I received the following email from Harold Foster, a friend of J. A. "Mac" McMurtrey on January 21 and asked his permission to put it on my website which he so generously permitted me to include it under the "Tribute to J. A. ‘Mac’ McMurtrey". He wrote " I would be honored to have my comments included in a tribute to Mack." Some people spelled McMurtrey’s nickname "Mac" and other "Mack".

Dr. Durbin, Time has a way of making us all equals. It also never stops and doesn't slow down. I was going through several items that I hadn't used, read or even given much though to in the last several years when I came across your book, Kissing Frogs. It is signed by you. I received it from you following a discussion a mutual friend or ours had with you. Mack was my friend. He spoke to my Psychology class many years ago when I still taught high school. From that encounter he and I became friends. He helped lead me down a path of enlightenment, using yours, Gerry Kein, Gil Boyne and Dave Elmans work to name but a few. I didn't continue my studies in hypnosis, but I maintained my relationship with Mack right up to the end. I would stop by and see Janie once in a while after Mack died, but the demands of my job have prevented that of late. Mack used to chide me for working so much. I believe he thought I did it to give me self-importance. Time has proven him correct in that respect, but I haven't done much to change it. I left hypnosis when I quit teaching. Mack and I talked of that as well.

My father and Mack died not too many months apart and they both left me with a thought. They said "There are two places you can't live, the past and the future. You can prepare for the future, but you can't live in it. And the past, well you can't change it either, so you just live with it, in the present." The present; that was a place Mack lived in, and he lived in it fully. I'm thankful to have met him and through him, you, indirectly by way of your work. I realized as I read through the book tonight and viewed your webpage that I never sent a thank you for the book you sent me. If you would, please accept my apology for my lack of manners and rest assured my mother didn't raise me to not send a thank you note. I must accept full responsibility for that myself. I want to thank you for the book. As I looked through it tonight I realized I need to go back and read it again. And this time I will apply it to me. I miss Mack and my father, they were both exceptional men. Thank you once again for the book and taking the time to read my ramblings. Warmest regards, Harold G. Foster Jacksonville, NC