Hypnosis is a special psychological state that is characterized by a degree of increased receptiveness and responsiveness in which inner experiential perceptions are given as much significance as is generally given only to external reality. The hypnotic state is marked by a functioning of the individual at a level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state. The hypnotized individual appears to heed only the communications of the hypnotist and typically responds in an uncritical, automatic fashion while ignoring all aspects of the environment other than those pointed out by the hypnotist 1.
The history of hypnosis began in the latter part of the 18th century with Franz Mesmer, a German physician who used hypnosis in the treatment of patients in Vienna and Paris. A number of clinicians made use of it without fully understanding its nature until the middle of the 19th century, when the English physician James Braid studied the phenomenon and coined the terms hypnotism and hypnosis, after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos 12.
Explore the Scientific Basis of Hypnosis.
When taking a look at the benefits of hypnosis and its history, you might find it relevant to first discover the safety and efficacy of hypnosis.
Hypnotherapy, when administered by a trained professional, is a safe and non-invasive procedure. It is essential to understand that hypnotherapy is not a form of mind control or brainwashing. Your therapist cannot compel you to engage in embarrassing activities or coerce you into actions against your will.
Areas of Efficacy
1. Weight Loss
Hypnosis for weight loss is a technique that aims to help people change their eating habits, exercise more, and cope with emotional triggers that may affect their weight. The effectiveness of hypnosis for weight loss depends on various factors, such as the individual’s motivation, expectations, and rapport with the therapist. Some studies have shown that hypnosis can enhance weight loss when combined with other interventions, such as diet and exercise23 . Here is more about How Hypnosis Can Help You Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals.
2. Pain Reduction
Hypnosis is a technique that involves inducing a state of relaxation and focused attention, which can make people more receptive to suggestions for changing their behavior or coping with various conditions. Hypnosis can help reduce pain by influencing the perception, emotion, and behavior of the person experiencing pain.
There is substantial evidence from clinical trials and meta-analyses that hypnosis is effective for reducing chronic pain, as well as acute pain from medical procedures, injuries, or diseases. Some of the benefits of hypnosis for pain reduction are:
It can enhance the effects of other pain treatments, such as medication, physical therapy, or surgery.
It can reduce the need for opioid drugs, which have serious side effects and risks of addiction and overdose.
It can improve the quality of life, mood, sleep, and functioning of people with chronic pain.
It can help people cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of pain, such as stress, anxiety, depression, and fear.
Some of the studies that support the efficacy of hypnosis for pain reduction are:
A meta-analysis of 85 studies that used experimental pain models, such as extreme cold, shocks, pressure, exercise, and lasers. The meta-analysis found that hypnosis had a moderate to large effect on pain reduction, and that the effect was stronger for people who were more susceptible to hypnosis1.
A review of 18 randomized controlled trials that compared hypnosis with standard care or other interventions for chronic pain conditions, such as low back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and headache. The review found that hypnosis was more effective than standard care or no treatment, and that it was at least as effective as other psychological or behavioral interventions2.
A randomized controlled trial that tested the effects of hypnosis on pain and recovery after breast cancer surgery. The trial found that women who received hypnosis before surgery reported less pain, nausea, fatigue, and emotional distress, and used less opioid medication, than women who received standard care3.
3. Anxiety Relief
Several studies and meta-analyses provide substantial evidence supporting the efficacy of hypnosis as a treatment for anxiety. A meta-analysis published on PubMed demonstrated that hypnosis was more effective in reducing anxiety when combined with other psychological interventions than when used as a stand-alone treatment. The analysis showed that the average participant receiving hypnosis reduced anxiety more than about 79% of the control group participants .
Additionally, a 2021 study found that hypnosis was beneficial for reducing anxiety symptoms in postmenopausal women, regardless of hypnotizability scores . Furthermore, hypnosis works best at reducing anxiety when combined with other psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy . Self-hypnosis has also been shown to be effective for reducing anxiety, with steps including progressive muscle relaxation and hypnotic induction.
4. Smoking Cessation
5. Sleep Improvement
Research and clinical studies support the effectiveness of hypnosis in improving sleep. A 2018 study, reviewed by Medical News Today, found that 29.2% of participants reported no benefit, while the majority experienced positive outcomes.
NCBI highlights hypnosis as a promising treatment for sleep problems, with low incidence of adverse events. Another study on PubMed supports these findings, suggesting that hypnosis merits further investigation.
Early research, as mentioned by the Sleep Foundation, indicates limited side effects of hypnosis and its potential to help individuals with insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
Moreover, Live Science reports that sleep hypnosis increases slow-wave brain waves by up to 80%, reducing night-time awakenings. TIME adds that clinical research supports hypnosis in relieving anxiety, pain, aiding smoking cessation, weight loss, and improving sleep.
In conclusion, evidence from various reputable sources suggests that hypnosis is a viable and promising approach for enhancing sleep quality.
6. Enhanced Self-Efficacy
Hypnosis has shown substantial evidence in improving self-efficacy across various domains. Scientific studies highlight the role of self-hypnosis in enhancing self-efficacy by teaching participants valuable skills, fostering a sense of control and confidence . The efficacy of hypnosis extends to the treatment of pain, sleep disorders, and functional issues, as concluded by expert committees after thorough appraisal . Additionally, meta-analytic evidence spanning two decades supports the effectiveness of hypnosis in addressing mental and somatic health issues, further emphasizing its positive impact on self-efficacy .
Furthermore, hypnosis has demonstrated its potential in enhancing self-efficacy in sport performers, linking high levels of self-efficacy to optimal sports performance . While the exact mechanisms of hypnosis are not fully understood, evidence consistently supports its efficacy in producing beneficial effects . Overall, the convergence of research findings underscores hypnosis as a valuable tool for improving self-efficacy across various domains, offering promising avenues for personal development and well-being.
7. Pain Management
Hypnosis has proven efficacy in pain management, offering relief for both acute and chronic conditions. Research highlighted on Choosing Therapy explains how hypnosis works and provides real-life examples. WebMD underlines that medical hypnosis is beneficial for various types of pain, including cancer, burns, and rheumatoid arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation supports hypnosis as a nondrug therapy for chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Scientific literature, such as a study on NCBI, reinforces hypnotherapy's effectiveness in managing chronic pain. Additionally, Mike Mandel Hypnosis outlines ten effective hypnosis techniques for pain relief. Even YouTube features content, like '90 Seconds w/ Lisa Kim,' demonstrating the practical use of hypnosis in treating pain.
These diverse sources collectively showcase the multifaceted effectiveness of hypnosis in alleviating pain across different conditions and offer a comprehensive understanding of its application in pain management.
8. PTSD Treatment
9. Stress Reduction
Research provides mixed but intriguing evidence regarding the effectiveness of hypnosis in stress reduction. A systematic review found unclear evidence for its effectiveness in healthy subjects12. However, a study on group hypnosis showed a reduction in perceived stress compared to a control group3. Another research article suggests the potential benefits of integrating hypnosis into standard treatment for stress and anxiety disorders4.
Moreover, science indicates that hypnosis can alter immune function, offset stress, and reduce susceptibility to viral infections5. By reducing symptoms and building coping skills, hypnotherapy may help reframe difficult situations6. While the evidence may not be conclusive, these studies suggest that hypnosis could be a valuable tool in stress reduction.