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Show 1354: How Hypnosis Can Help Your Health (Archive)

The practice of hypnosis can help patients manage a wide range of health problems, so long as they are hypnotizable.
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How Hypnosis Can Help Your Health (Archive)

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Would you be surprised to learn that hypnosis is a powerful tool for healing? If your primary exposure to this practice has been in books and movies, you may have a few misconceptions about how it works and what it can do. Some people imagine that when you are hypnotized, you lose control. Instead, it allows you great control of both your body and your mind. How could hypnosis help your health?

The Origins of Hypnosis in Western Medicine:

Shamans and other indigenous healers may have used techniques similar to this for healing in many different contexts. Europeans first learned of it from Dr. Franz Mesmer, an 18th century physician and showman who coined the term “animal magnetism.” Others would later call it “mesmerism,” but it was the first demonstration in medicine of the healing power of hypnosis. Dr. Mesmer may have discovered it somewhat by accident, but he figured out how to put it to use.

Hypnosis Could Help Your Health:

Our guest, Dr. David Spiegel, is probably the country’s leading expert on the medical uses of hypnosis. He relates one of his first experiences as a medical student putting it into practice. A teenage girl was in the hospital with a severe asthma attack, struggling to breathe. He was able to help her relax and slow her breath, which in turn helped her breathe more easily and stop wheezing.

There are many other conditions that respond well to this powerful approach. People who are hypnotizable can use this technique to ease anxiety and manage stress. Many individuals use it to help them cope with pain. For still others, it is an important part of a stop-smoking program or a way to overcome insomnia.

The Status of Hypnosis as a Medical Tool:

This approach has been well studied and found to be effective for many medical problems. However, the medical profession has not fully embraced its potential. Psychiatrists like Dr. Spiegel are more likely to be familiar with the practice than some other specialists.

Are You Hypnotizable?

Hypnosis can help your health only if you are hypnotizable. Luckily, most people are, at least to some degree. Hypnotizability does not depend upon an ability to visualize. Nor is it linked to intelligence. Dr. Spiegel and his colleagues have created an app (Reveri) to allow people to test their own hypnotizability and to put their aptitude for this technique into practice improving their health.

How Can You Find an Expert?

If you have a complicated health problem and would like to try hypnosis to manage it, you may wish to start with personal attention from a health professional. For less complex situations, the app itself may be enough. To find a person who has been trained in using hypnosis to help your health, check with one of the two professional associations that certify such specialists. They are the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

This Week’s Guest:

Dr. David Spiegel is Willson Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Director of the Center on Stress and Health, and Medical Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Spiegel has more than 40 years of clinical and research experience studying psycho-oncology, stress and health, pain control, sleep, hypnosis, utilizing neuroimaging and conducting randomized clinical trials. He has published thirteen books, 425 scientific journal articles, and 175 book chapters on hypnosis, psychosocial oncology, stress physiology, trauma, and psychotherapy. He is Past-President of the American College of Psychiatrists, the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Spiegel is Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of REVERI, an interactive hypnosis App: https://www.reveri.com/

Dr. David Spiegel, leading expert on hypnosis and its medical uses

David Spiegel, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine

The professional organizations for referral are:

American Society of Clinical Hypnosis: ASCH. https://www.asch.net/aws/ASCH/pt/sp/find-member

Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis    

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 24, 2024, after its repeat broadcast on June 22. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free.

Download the mp3.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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