SCIENCE AND HYPNOSIS
There's currently a surge of interest in the benefits of hypnosis In the scientific community, with some 12,000 studies and counting on Pub Med. Of course, you don't need to understand how hypnosis works to benefit from it's positive effects, but it can make for very interesting reading. I've included a few interesting studies and articles below, as examples:
HYPNOTHERAPY & HEALING:
Hypnosis has been used to speed up recovery time after surgery. One study showed that six weeks after an ankle fracture, those in the hypnosis group showed the equivalent of eight and a half weeks of healing. That effectively demonstrates that using hypnosis helped that group heal bone fractures 41% faster. (1) Hypnosis also helped people having breast reduction surgery heal significantly faster than the control group. (1) Studies indicate that hypnosis treatment groups have better outcomes then 89% of patients in control groups. (2)
HYPNOTHERAPY & WEIGHT LOSS:
Hypnosis has been studied for weight loss, with the Journal of consulting and clinical psychology in 1996 reporting that It can more than double the effects of traditional weight loss approaches. (3) "Researchers analyzed 18 studies comparing a cognitive behavioral therapy such as relaxation training, guided imagery, self monitoring, or goal setting with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis. Those who received the hypnosis lost more weight than 90 percent of those not receiving hypnosis and maintained the weight loss two years after treatment ended." (3)
HYPNOTHERAPY & SMOKING CESSATION
Studies done in 2005 found that guided imagery was more than twice as effective as placebo in keeping patients smoke-free after two years. (4) "Thirty smokers enrolled in an HMO were referred by their primary physician for treatment. Twenty-one patients returned after an initial consultation and received hypnosis for smoking cessation. At the end of treatment, 81% of those patients reported that they had stopped smoking, and 48% reported abstinence at 12 months post-treatment" (5)
HYPNOTHERAPY & ADDICTION:
Hypnotherapy is used by many different addictions centres, With one study reporting that all patients (100%) completely stopped use of any street drugs. Two years after the end of the intervention, none showed permanent use of marijuana or cocaine. (6)
Click Here to compare EEG scans of the brain under hypnosis with the brain during meditation
Click Here to watch dental surgery being performed under hypnosis
NEUROSCIENCE GETS SERIOUS ABOUT HYPNOSIS
BRAIN ACTIVITY AND CONNECTIVITY
Spiegel and his colleagues discovered three hallmarks of the brain under hypnosis:
First, they saw a decrease in activity in an area called the dorsal anterior cingulate, part of the brain’s salience network. “In hypnosis, you’re so absorbed that you’re not worrying about anything else,” Spiegel explained.
Secondly, they saw an increase in connections between two other areas of the brain — the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula.
HOW SCIENTISTS ARE TRYING TO UNLOCK THE MYSTERIES OF HYPNOSIS
"To explain, Kirsch paraphrases a colleague, psychologist Marcel Kinsbourne. “There is a wave of bottom-up information coming up from the external world, up into your brain,” he tells me. “There is a wave of information coming from the cortex that consists of your evaluations, your beliefs, your expectations. Consciousness is these two waves hitting each other. It’s a collision.”
David R Patterson, Mark P Jensen:
"To study hypnosis, Jensen uses electroencephalography, or EEG, which measures electricity in the brain. Our individual neurons are constantly generating electrical pulses as they transmit information from the body to the brain and around the brain itself. Occasionally, large groups of neurons will coordinate these pulses into a sort of rhythmic pattern. Picture the brain as a giant football stadium, and the pulses are like the fans doing a wave. Using sensors attached to the skull, scientists can listen for broad electrical rhythms — called oscillations — caused by wide swaths of neurons working in concert.
Keep in mind, though, that the brain isn’t a single stadium, but rather 1.2 million interlocking stadiums at once. So the EEG may pick up many different interlocking elements, and to make matters more complicated, because the sensors are on the outside of your head, only the outer parts of the brain can be measured. That makes the stadium even harder to hear. “The Rolling Stones are in town, but you don’t have a ticket,” Patterson says. “So you are standing outside the stadium. It’s very loose. You don’t know what, exactly, you’re hearing, but you can tell if they are singing a ballad or a rock song.”
Amazingly, even with all these barriers, when scientists listen to multiple places in the brain, a neurological picture of hypnosis begins to emerge. During meditation, the “stadium chant” that many parts of your brain participate is measurably slower than in daily life; during hypnosis, the chant becomes even slower"
PLASTICITY CHANGES IN THE BRAIN IN HYPNOSIS AND MEDITATION
“Hypnotizability, so measured, yields a roughly normal (bell-shaped) distribution of scores: most people are at least moderately responsive to hypnosis, while relatively few "insusceptible" individuals are entirely unresponsive to hypnosis, and relatively few "virtuosos" respond positively to virtually every suggestion.”
"Hypnotizability is only one form of suggestibility, and is modestly correlated with "absorption", a personality construct reflecting a disposition to enter states of narrowed or expanded attention and a blurring of boundaries between oneself and the object of perception. Absorption, in turn, is related to "openness to experience", one of the 'Big Five" dimensions of personality.
HYPNOTHERAPY NOT THE PLACEBO EFFECT
A great article which explains the difference between hypnosis and the placebo effect in brain scans:
However, there are also major differences in brain activity between hypnosis and placebo effects. With placebo, decreased pain is associated with changes in several parts of the limbic system (such as the amygdala, hypothalamus and hippocampus) as well as in the periaqueductal gray and the nucleus accumbens. Instead, hypnotic pain relief is accompanied by changes of activity in the occipital cortex and basal ganglia. (“Brain activity during pain relief using hypnosis and placebo treatments,” Svetlana Kierjanen, 2012.)
(1) Ginandes C, Brooks P, Sando W, Jones C, Aker J. Can medical hypnosis accelerate post-surgical wound healing? Results of a clinical trial. Am J Clin Hypn. 2003;45(4):333-51.
(2) Montgomery GH, Schnur JB, Kravits K. Hypnosis for cancer care: over 200 years young. CA Cancer J Clin. 2013;63(1):31-44.
(3) Allison DB, Faith MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996;64(3):513-6.
(4) Wynd CA. Guided health imagery for smoking cessation and long-term abstinence. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2005;37(3):245-50.
(5) Elkins GR, Rajab MH. Clinical hypnosis for smoking cessation: preliminary results of a three-session intervention. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2004;52(1):73-81.
(6) Kaminsky D, Rosca P, Budowski D, Korin Y, Yakhnich L. [Group hypnosis treatment of drug addicts]. Harefuah. 2008;147(8-9):679-83, 751.
Disclaimer: Results may vary from person to person