Hypnosis – does it really work?
At last, it’s official. Hypnotism really does work – and it has an impact on the brain which can be measured scientifically, according to one of America’s leading psychiatrists.
David Spiegel, from Stanford University, told the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science that he had scanned the brains of volunteers who were told they were looking at coloured objects when, in fact, they were black and white.
A scan showing areas of the brain used to register colour highlighted increased blood flow, indicating that the volunteers genuinely ‘saw’ colours, as they had been told they would.
‘This is scientific evidence that something happens in the brain when people are hypnotised that doesn’t happen ordinarily,’ Mr Spiegel told delegates.
He added that there were ‘tremendous medical implications’ and envisaged people being able to manage their own pain and anxiety.
And, more importantly, that those I have cured of fears and phobias were genuinely cured.
I am delighted that this research confirms what professional hypnotists, such as myself, who have been successfully using the technique for medical purposes, have known all along – hypnotism has a genuine effect on the functioning of the mind, as well as the body.
Another area in which hypnosis works is pain control. We can all remember concentrating desperately hard on, say, putting up a shelf.
Your screwdriver slips, you cut your finger – and it hardly registers.
It is only when you have finished that you realise the finger hurts intolerably, and you notice blood running down your arm. The other area in which, in my experience, hypnotism works well is in curing irrational fears and phobias – as well as addictions such as smoking or overeating.
Or take the case of 19th century surgeon James Esdaile. He practised in India and, as a matter of necessity, performed dozens of operations, including major amputations, without anaesthetic and without his patients feeling pain.
He claimed a 95 per cent success rate, at a time when most surgeons killed some 40 per cent of their patients. But when he came back to this country and tried to interest his colleagues in his discovery, he was laughed out of court by the medical authorities.
Now I hope that the research conducted by David Spiegel and others will finally enable hypnotism to take its proper place as a serious part of medical science.