Treatments & Therapies

Hypnosis – treatment, effects and risks


Hypnosis is a special psychological state with certain physiological characteristics similar to sleep during which focus and concentration are heightened. Usually, hypnosis is performed by trained therapists and is used to influence behaviors such as fear.

What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis can be described as a cooperative interaction in which a patient responds to the hypnotizing therapist’s suggestions. The hypnotist takes on the role of coach or guide in order to guide the person to be hypnotized into the special state of consciousness.

While hypnosis is often described as a sleep-like trance state, it is a state of focused attention, heightened suggestibility, and vivid imagination. There are different theories to explain the effectiveness of hypnosis. Biological attempts at explanation assume that the generated state of tension activates the parasympathetic nervous system, instinctive body perceptions are split off, mental and physical events are linked with one another or a subliminal perception is generated.

Theories that use social behavior as an explanatory model describe hypnosis as the fulfillment of a role expectation, as taking on a specific role or as reactivation of childhood experiences and behaviors. About fifteen percent of people are very receptive to hypnosis, with children usually being more receptive. About ten percent of adults are considered difficult or impossible to hypnotize. The hypnotic suggestions can be made by a hypnotist or as autosuggestion.

Function, effect & goals

Physicians and psychiatrists may use hypnosis to treat depression , anxiety , eating disorders , sleep disorders , gambling addiction , or post-traumatic stress disorder, while board-certified hypnotherapists, who are not medically trained, often work with patients with smoking and weight issues.The aim of the hypnotic trance is to feed suggestions and images that enable the patient to fundamentally change their behavior. Since sources of distraction are hidden, people under hypnosis with increased attention and concentration are able to deal intensively with a specific thought or memory.

Hypnosis is now used in numerous medical sub-areas, for example:

Hypnosis plays a very important role in pain therapy. This includes reducing pain during childbirth, dealing with cancer and other chronic diseases. The treatment of skin diseases with hypnosis (hypnodermatology) has proven itself in the treatment of warts , psoriasis and atopic dermatitis .

Hypnosis has also been used to treat fibromyalgia , orthodontic problems, dental work, headaches , and to relieve the symptoms of hot flashes associated with menopause . Hypnosis has also been used with some success to influence sleep disorders, bedwetting , phobias and smoking.

A study examining the success rate of hypnosis as a smoking cessation method showed a 20 to 30 percent success rate. In the treatment of obesity , hypnosis is combined with cognitive behavioral therapy by suggesting a smaller stomach and reinforcing positive eating habits.

Mental health facilities use hypnosis to influence symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, negative behaviors or uncontrollable behavior and to increase self-esteem and confidence.

Risks & Dangers

Hypnosis administered by a trained therapist or physician is considered a safe, complementary and alternative medical treatment. Nevertheless, careful selection of a suitable therapist is recommended.An initial consultation should create a relationship of trust, explain the hypnosis process and explain the possible risks. Adverse reactions to hypnosis are rare, but can leave anxiety, headache, drowsiness, or dizziness . While amnesia can occur in very rare cases, patients treated generally remember everything that happened under hypnosis.

However, this can have a significant effect on memory, temporarily forgetting certain things that occurred before or during hypnosis. It is not possible to be hypnotized against one’s will, as hypnosis requires voluntary participation on the part of the patient.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.