Hypnosis Gets No Respect

Most physicians are convinced that it is 1) pernicious mind control, 2) ineffective, or 3) placebo.

In fact, it can teach patients mind and body control. The ability to be hypnotized is a trait possessed by most people who can enter or terminate it at will. It is not effective in schizophrenia, or in people with impaired attention or language. It has been shown to be effective for migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain disorders.

The placebo response to opioid-induced analgesia can be blocked by naloxone whereas hypnotic analgesia cannot. Functional MRI during hypnosis shows impaired connectivity between the pre-frontal cortex and insula and reduced activation of the cingulate cortex.

Patients want “self-agency,” meaning control of their own lives. Hypnosis has the potential to improve the quality of these lives and eliminate potential risks of medications.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis can help locate certified professionals and provide links to training.

Adapted from “Commentary” by Drs Kittle and Spiegel at Stanford in The American Journal of Medicine, 2020.

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