Using hypnosis to enhance health and performance

For those of you who wonder what is the scientific basis of hypnosis, I am adding here the videos or show notes of two interviews with Dr David Spiegel in Andrew Huberman podcast. Dr Huberman is a professor of Neurobiology at Stanford. For some reason the link to one episode keeps taking me to the other one, so please look both up separately on Youtube: Dr. David Spiegel: Using Hypnosis to Enhance Health & Performance | Huberman Lab Podcast #60 and also Dr. David Spiegel: hypnosis for pain & anxiety. All credits for these great episodes goes to the authors.

Dr Spiegel explains why hypnosis is safe, effective and faster for many ailments, including treating trauma and changing our state into a more powerful one. They will mention ADHD, stage hypnosis, stress and sleep, self hypnosis, OCD, EMDR, trauma, grief, group hypnosis, drug therapies, breathing, apps etc. Please note that The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman’s teaching and research roles at Stanford University School of Medicine. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.

A kind viewer added his notes and I thought it would be useful so you can quickly scan the paragraphs for the elements you are more interested in. Credit: @juanpabloaranovich5619.

What is hypnosis?

 Hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention. 

Self-hypnosis is a way of enhancing your control over your mind and your body. 

There is a difference between clinical hypnosis and stage hypnosis. 

Clinical hypnosis teaches patients to use a deep relaxation state to address issues such as smoking cessation, weight loss, pain relief, or self-improvement. … Although there are many different hypnotic inductions, most include suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and wellbeing. 

Stage hypnosis is hypnosis performed in front of an audience for the purposes of entertainment, usually in a theatre or club. A modern stage hypnosis performance typically delivers a comedic show rather than simply a demonstration to impress an audience with powers of persuasion. 

The episode is of course talking about Clinical Hypnosis.

Four Key Elements of Hypnosis 

1. Breathing 

2. Vision 

3. Bodily states 

4. Directed mental focus Neurobiology of Hypnosis

There are 3 things that happen when we enter into a hypnotic state:

First, there is a turning down activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC), which is a brain region that sub serves cognition and motor control. The DACC is like a salience Network or Conflict detector. DACC tells you to pay attention to a potential danger. It helps you decide. 

Turning down activity in the DACC makes it less likely that you’ll be distracted. 

Second, there is a higher connectivity between the DLPFC (Left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex -key region in executive control functions-) with the Insula (mind-body control system, involved in emotion processing and arousal including awareness of one’s own bodily states as well as decision-making and other executive processes.)

Third, there is an inverse functional connectivity between DLPFC and the posterior cingulate cortex (area that decreases in meditation). You put things outside of conscious awareness. You are doing something but not thinking about what it means. This is the dissociation that happens with hypnosis. 

Some benefits of hypnosis 

Attention & ADHD: Hypnosis is helpful to prepare you to go into a focused state.

Stress reduction: you can’t control the stress but you can control the physical reaction to it. Hypnosis helps control mind-body interaction in relation to stress. 

Sleep enhancement. 

Neural Connections – Neurons that fire together wire together. 

Repeated use of self-hypnosis the networks get stronger.

Hypnosis is like Exposure therapy that happens in the mind. You can expose to things mentally to become more comfortable (fight phobias perhaps) and to manage anxiety when they actually happen.

Hypnotizability – It refers to the capacity to have hypnotic experiences. 

Spiegel eye-roll test: if you look up and can keep your eyes up when closing the lids you are likely to be hypnotizable.

 About 2/3 of people who can be hypnotized. 1/3 can’t. 15% of people is highly hypnotizable. 

You can improve hypnotizability a little bit but it’s not worth the trouble. 

Using Hypnosis for Trauma

The essence of trauma is helplessness. It’s not fear or pain. You become an object, you don’t control what’s going on… Hypnosis is a superb way of enhancing control of your mind and body. Mere exposure to trauma is unavoidable. The important thing is how to manage trauma and stress. SO STOP HIDING. 

We try to move away from trouble all the time but this makes us more anxious. 

Deliberate self-exposure (deciding for yourself) to confront the trauma and then readjusting the emotional response is the hallmark of getting over anything. 


EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing): It’s a combination of hypnosis and exposure-based treatments. 

Grief – Grief is a way of making the loss real. Of understanding it. 

Seeing the loss not as a complete loss is helpful (Thinking of something that the dead person left you, in terms of habits or learnings perhaps). 

Expressing negative emotions eventually helps people be less anxious and depressed.

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