Mayo Clinic: hypnosis & health

Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus, concentration and inner absorption. When you’re under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and you can concentrate intensely on a specific thought, memory, feeling or sensation while blocking out distractions.

Under hypnosis, you’re more open than usual to suggestions, and this can be used to modify your perceptions, behavior, sensations and emotions. Therapeutic hypnosis is used to improve your health and well-being and is different from so-called stage hypnosis used by entertainers. Although you’re more open to suggestion during therapeutic hypnosis, your free will remains intact and you don’t lose control over your behavior.

Why it’s done

Hypnosis is intended to help you gain more control over undesired behaviors or emotions or to help you cope better with a wide range of medical conditions. Hypnosis isn’t considered a treatment or a type of psychotherapy. Rather, it’s a procedure typically used along with certain treatments and therapies to help a wide variety of conditions.


  • Pain control
  • Smoking cessation
  • Reducing stress related to medical procedures
  • Mental health conditions
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Surgical preparation
  • Childbirth
  • Weight loss
  • Athletic performance
  • Dental procedures
  • Coping with chemotherapy
  • Skin conditions
  • Gastrointestinal problems


Hypnosis that’s conducted under the care of a trained therapist or health care professional is considered a safe complementary and alternative medicine treatment.
Adverse reactions are rare but may include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Creation of false memories
How to prepare

You don’t need any special preparation to have hypnosis. But it’s a good idea to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing to help with relaxation. Also, make sure that you’re well rested before having hypnosis so that you’re not inclined to fall asleep during the session.

Be sure you carefully choose a therapist or health care professional to perform hypnosis. Get a recommendation from someone you trust. Don’t buy into promises of cures. And when you do find a potential hypnotherapist, ask lots of questions, such as:

  • Do you have training in a field such as psychology, medicine, social work or dentistry?
  • Are you licensed in your specialty in this state?
  • Where did you go to school, and where did you do your internship, residency or both?
  • How much training have you had in hypnotherapy and from what schools?
  • What professional organizations do you belong to?
  • How long have you been in practice?
  • What are your fees?
  • Does insurance cover your services?
What to expect

There are a variety of techniques for hypnosis. The approach you choose depends on what you want to accomplish and your personal preferences. Your hypnotherapist may make a recommendation about the best technique for your situation.

In general, a hypnotherapist explains the process of hypnosis and reviews what you both hope to accomplish. The hypnotherapist typically induces you into hypnosis by talking in a gentle, soothing tone and describing images that create a sense of relaxation, security and well-being.

When you’re in a deep trance-like state, the hypnotherapist suggests ways for you to achieve specific goals, such as reducing pain or eliminating cravings to smoke. The hypnotherapist also may help you visualize vivid, meaningful mental images in which you picture yourself accomplishing your goals, such as shooting baskets accurately. When the session is over, either you are able to bring yourself out of hypnosis or your hypnotherapist helps you end your trance-like state.

A typical hypnosis session lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. You may benefit from just one session or several sessions of hypnosis. You can usually resume normal activities immediately.

Contrary to how hypnosis is sometimes portrayed in movies, on television or on stage, you don’t lose control over your behavior while under hypnosis. Although hypnosis makes you more open to suggestions, you can’t be forced to engage in behavior involuntarily. Also, you generally remain aware of who you are and where you are, and you typically remember what happened when you were under hypnosis.

You may eventually be able to practice self-hypnosis, in which you induce a state of hypnosis in yourself. You can use this skill as needed — for instance, after a chemotherapy session.

(Mayo Clinic staff)

People pleasers pack on pounds

This common personality trait may take a toll on your waistline. Find out why—and what you can do about it.

Picture this: You’re at a restaurant and plan to order grilled chicken with vegetables because you’re trying to eat healthier and shed some extra pounds. Your friend, on the other hand, wants to order a burger with the works and a heaping side of fries—and encourages you to do the same.

So you switch your order just so your friend won’t feel bad about what she’s eating. Being concerned about other people’s feelings is a great trait in certain areas of your life, but when it comes to eating, it may backfire—and your waistline may pay the price.

New research from Case Western University found that people-pleasers tend to eat more. In the study, involving 101 college students, participants completed a questionnaire to determine their levels of preoccupation with pleasing others and maintaining social harmony, otherwise known as “sociotropy.”

They were then paired up in rooms with a female actor who took a small handful of M&Ms from a bowl and offered the rest to the participant. Researchers found that high-sociotropy individuals were more likely to eat greater amounts of M&Ms than other participants and admitted that they were trying to match the actor’s eating habits to make her feel more comfortable.

“People pleasers don’t like to pose any kind of threat to others,” says study co-author Julie Exline, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the university. “They don’t want to outshine someone and in this case, the way you’d be outshining is to eat healthy or really light when the other person is eating junk.”

Not sure if you qualify as a people pleaser? Ask yourself whether you agree with any of the following phrases used in the study’s questionnaire: “I worry a lot about hurting or offending other people”; “I’m very sensitive to criticism by others”; “I’m easily persuaded by others”; and “I’m too apologetic to other people.”

Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of “50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food”, says that you should also consider whether you frequently regret your decisions. If you often find yourself saying, “Oh, I should have done this instead of saying yes to that event” or “I wish I didn’t eat that cake my friend brought over,” your worry could be taking a toll on you, including your waistline.

People-pleasing aside, there’s a good chance you’ve mimicked your friends’ eating behaviors whether you realized it or not. Researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands paired up 70 women and observed them eating in a mock restaurant, noting bite timing for both participants. The experts found that women tended to mimic each other’s eating behavior. In other words, they were more likely to take a bite within five seconds after their eating companion took a bite rather than eat at their own pace.

The participants were also more than three times as likely to mimic the intake of their eating companion at the beginning of the interaction—in this study, the first 10 minutes—compared to the end of the interaction, or the last 10 minutes.

Whether it’s to make a good first impression—which might explain the mimicry timing results—or because seeing someone else do an action may physically trigger you to copy them, one thing is clear: “Women feel pressure to match or mirror other people’s eating habits,” says Dr. Albers.

Sure, we’ve all been there before. It’s tough to say no when your grandmother offers you a piece of her homemade pie or to slow down when all of your girlfriends are digging into nachos at happy hour. Every once in awhile is fine, but if you find yourself in this situation a lot, it can have detrimental effects on your health. “When [these negative social eating habits] start to become more of a pattern, you need to start paying close attention,” says Dr. Exline.

By: Abigail Cuffey