In the 1980s, a health fad swept America...
If you were trying to lose weight or stop smoking, you'd turn to a self-help hypnosis cassette tape. Folks would listen to the tapes in the car during their commute or through their Walkman during a lunch break, while exercising, or before bed.
Millions of these tapes sold over the decade, but experts often mocked their use.
Well, they weren't complete nonsense...
The modern era of hypnotherapy began in the late 1700s with Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer.
At this time, Isaac Newton's theory of gravity had been circulating for close to a century. And Mesmer – a student of theology, law, and medicine – gained inspiration from Newton's work. He developed a theory called "animal magnetism" for his doctoral thesis. According to this theory, a universal force from the tidal influences of the planets (like how waves in the ocean change due to the gravitational pull of the moon) impacts the health of the human body.
He used magnets in his medical practice to disrupt the gravitational tides that he believed were making his patients ill. But Mesmer knew the magnets only served as a prop to help his patients visualize the draining of harmful, illness-inducing fluids from their bodies. Eventually, he began using hand gestures and therapeutic touch to achieve the same effect.
And it worked.
Many of his patients became well again because they believed they could, like 27-year-old Franzl Oesterline, who recovered from toothaches and earaches that caused her delirium, rage, and vomiting.
Mesmer's unorthodox methods and flair for showmanship caused a lot of controversy... His patients were said to be "mesmerized," as if under his spell... And that term has been used ever since.
Today, thanks to modern science and technology, we have a better understanding of how powerful the mind is as a component of our overall health...
Hypnotherapy is like one of my favorite health practices – meditation. That's because both practices tap into what's known as metacognition – the way we think about our own thinking.
Hypnotherapy carries a stigma that meditation doesn't. That's because for some folks, when the mind is in a very relaxed state, you're more open to suggestion. But it doesn't work the same for everyone...
In order for hypnosis to work, the person being hypnotized must believe that they can be hypnotized and must also want to be hypnotized. It won't work if someone doesn't want it to because it requires a person to relax, feel comfortable, and be open to the experience.
I – for instance – am one of those people who just can't be hypnotized. It's probably because I like to challenge authority. Or it could simply be my belief that I can't be hypnotized. But to that point, even though hypnosis makes you more open to suggestion, you still have the choice to do or not do something. You're not under some "spell."
And studies show clinical hypnotherapy has a lot of practical uses, like:
- Reducing stress and anxiety before a medical procedure
- Relieving symptoms of hot flashes in women going through menopause
- Easing the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for folks with cancer
- Helping with mental health conditions like anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress
- Changing behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, and insomnia
- Managing pain for chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia
One 2020 study examined the effectiveness of four non-drug therapies for adults with chronic pain – something that more than 50 million adults in the U.S. experience.
The researchers randomly assigned 173 folks with chronic pain to one of four treatment conditions:
- Hypnotic cognitive therapy – which uses hypnosis to alter the meaning of pain
- Standard cognitive therapy
- Hypnosis focused on pain reduction
- Pain education (the control condition)
The participants received four treatment sessions of their assigned therapy. Their pain intensity, pain interference, and depressive symptoms were measured on five occasions: pre-treatment, post-treatment, three months, six months, and 12 months, following the treatment.
Researchers found that folks in the hypnotic cognitive therapy group experienced a greater reduction in pain interference and depressive symptoms than folks in the control condition.
So give hypnotherapy a try. You've got nothing to lose...
You can seek out hypnotherapy from a medical professional who is certified in clinical hypnotherapy. But that can carry a hefty price tag, depending on the practitioner and what they think the session is worth. One of my researchers tried a hypnotherapy session earlier this year and ended up paying a whopping $300 for the experience.
Turns out, you can also try hypnotizing yourself for free (which I'll link in the following "What We're Reading" section).
Even though I can't be hypnotized, my colleagues and I enjoy the idea of hypnosis so much that we hired hypnotist Joel Silverman to perform at the 2016 Stansberry Conference and Alliance Meeting in Las Vegas.
More than a dozen audience volunteers were sent into a trance on stage and provided with subconscious suggestions that made for hilarious scenes. And he ended telling his volunteers, "You will now wake up feeling relaxed, confident, and full of renewed self-determination."
We're about a month away from this year's conference. It's being held in Boston on October 24 through 26. Tickets are selling fast, but you still have a chance to attend our biggest event of the year. Get your tickets today right here.
And if you can't make it to Boston, you can livestream the event – getting access to all of the featured speakers, recommendations, and investing ideas – for a fraction of the price of an in-person ticket. Click here for more information.
What We're Reading...
- Read more about Franz Anton Mesmer and the history of hypnosis.
- Learn self-hypnosis today with Marisa Peer (video).
- Something different: The diagnosis trap.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
September 20, 2022