Research on Hypnosis

Research on Hypnosis

18th of February, 2020

There are many myths about hypnosis, especially if you've watched some old movies; but in fact hypnosis is a well-studied and legitimate form of treatment for conditions ranging from pain after surgery to anxiety and stress.

I've listed below some abstracts from research papers - if you're interested you can search for the whole paper on Google Scholar.  Some may be behind a paywall in which case add 'PDF' to the search and you may find it elsewhere.  



Hypnosis in the Treatment of Anticipatory Nausea and Vomiting in Patients Receiving Cancer Chemotherapy

Marchioro G.a · Azzarello G.b · Viviani F.c · Barbato F.a · Pavanetto M.a · Rosetti F.b · Pappagallo G.L.b · Vinante O.b


Aims and Background: In addition to nausea and vomiting following chemotherapy treatment, cancer patients can experience these side effects prior to a treatment session, the so-called anticipatory nausea and vomiting. As various psychological and neurophysiological aspects have been claimed to be implied in its etiopathogenesis, the present paper aims to shortly review the etiological, epidemiological and therapeutical assumptions on the topic, in particular the psychological-behavioral therapies. Patients and Methods: The present study was carried out on 16 consecutive adult cancer patients affected by chemotherapy-induced anticipatory nausea and vomiting who had received at least four treatment cycles. All of them were submitted to induction of relaxation followed by hypnosis. Results: In all subjects anticipatory nausea and vomiting disappeared, and major responses to chemotherapy-induced emesis control were recorded in almost all patients. Conclusions: The experience highlights the potential value of hypnosis in the management of anticipatory nausea and vomiting; furthermore, the susceptibility to anticipatory nausea and vomiting is discussed under the psychoanalytic point of view.


Functional Changes in Brain Activity after Hypnosis in Patients with Dental Phobia

Article (PDF Available) in Journal of Physiology-Paris 109(4-6) · October 2016 with 608 Reads 

DOI: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2016.10.001

Ulrike Halsband; Thomas G. Wolf


Visiting the dentist is often accompanied by apprehension or anxiety. People, who suffer from specific dental phobia, a disproportional fear of dental procedures show psychological and physiological symptoms which make dental treatments difficult or impossible. For such purposes, hypnosis is often used in dental practice as an alternative for a number of treatments adjuvant or instead of sedation or general anaesthetic, as medication is often associated with risks and side effects. This is the first study to address the effects of a brief dental hypnosis on the fear processing structures of the brain in dental phobics using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). 12 dental phobics (DP; mean 34.9 years) and 12 healthy controls (CO; mean 33.2 years) were scanned with a 3T MRI whole body-scanner observing brain activity changes after a brief hypnotic intervention. An fMRI event-related design symptom provocation task applying audio-visual pseudorandomized strong phobic stimuli were presented in order to maximize the fearful reactions during scanning with video sets; control videos showed the use of familiar electronic household equipment. In DP group, main effects of fear condition were found in the left amygdala, bilateral ACC, bilateral insula and bilateral hippocampus (R>L). During hypnosis DP showed a significantly reduced activation in all of these areas (p<0.01). Reduced neural activity patterns were also found in the control group (p<0.01). No amygdala activation was detected in healthy subjects in the two experimental conditions. Compared to DP, CO showed less bilateral activation in the insula and ACC (p<0.01) in the awake condition. Thus, anxiety-provoking stimuli such as undergoing dental surgery, endodontic treatments or insufficient anaesthetics, can be effectively reduced under hypnosis. The present study gives scientific evidence that hypnosis is a powerful and successful method for inhibiting the reaction of the fear circuitry structures.


The effectiveness of hypnosis as an intervention for obesity: A meta-analytic review.

Journal ArticleDatabase: PsycARTICLES

Milling, Leonard S. Gover, Mary C. Moriarty, Caitlin L.


Milling, L. S., Gover, M. C., & Moriarty, C. L. (2018). The effectiveness of hypnosis as an intervention for obesity: A meta-analytic review. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 5(1), 29–45.


Two meta-analyses were performed quantifying the effectiveness of hypnosis as an intervention for obesity and the impact of adding hypnosis to cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) in producing weight loss. The primary meta-analysis comparing hypnosis with a control condition produced large effect sizes of 1.58 (p ≤ .001) for 14 trials at the end of active treatment and 0.88 (p ≤ .001) for 6 trials at the longest follow-up. The average participant receiving some form of hypnosis lost more weight than about 94% of control participants at the end of treatment and about 81% of controls at follow-up. The secondary meta-analysis comparing CBT with the same intervention augmented by hypnosis generated a small effect size of 0.25 (p ≤ .05) for 11 trials at the end of active treatment and a large effect size of 0.80 (p ≤ .001) for 12 trials at the longest follow-up in favor of the blended intervention. The average participant receiving CBT plus hypnosis lost more weight than about 60% of participants receiving only CBT at the end of treatment and about 79% of participants receiving only CBT at follow-up. Our findings suggest hypnosis is very effective in producing weight loss over a relatively short span of time, but more research is needed on the long-term benefits in follow-up periods of 1 to 5 years. Clinicians should view hypnosis as a promising treatment option for obesity, especially when used in conjunction with CBT techniques for weight loss. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)


Hypnosis and The Therapeutic Relationship: Relational Factors of Hypnosis in Psychotherapy

Eric B. Spiegel,Elgan L. Baker,Carolyn Daitch,Michael J. Diamond &Maggie Phillips

Published online: 02 Jul 2019


Over the years, the field of hypnosis has often given more attention to the state and procedural factors of hypnosis than the relational ones. In an attempt to address this imbalance, the 60th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) had as its theme “Hypnosis and the Treatment Relationship.” A centerpiece of this meeting was a collegial discussion among a panel of psychologists with expertise in relational hypnotherapy. The panel addressed several pertinent questions: (1) What are the healing qualities of relationship in psychotherapy? (2) What makes hypnosis relational in nature? (3) How do relational factors of hypnosis resemble healthy attachment processes and recapitulate stalled developmental maturation? (4) How does relationally informed hypnotherapy influence and strengthen the relationship, process, and outcome of psychotherapy? This article summarizes the factors that led to the creation of this panel; provides an edited transcript of this panel discussion, along with additional commentary on several key points raised; and concludes with a summary of the main themes and recommendations for further clinical practice and study.


Research Summary of the Therapeutic Relationship and Psychotherapy Outcome

Psychotherapy Theory Research & Practice 38(4):357-361 · October 2001  

Lambert Michael   Dean E. Barley

Brigham Young University - Provo Main Campus


Factors that influence client outcome can be divided into four areas: extra therapeutic factors, expectancy effects, specific therapy techniques, and common factors. Common factors such as empathy, warmth, and the therapeutic relationship have been shown to correlate more highly with client outcome than specialized treatment interventions. The common factors most frequently studied have been the person-centred facilitative conditions (empathy, warmth, congruence) and the therapeutic alliance. Decades of research indicate that the provision of therapy is an interpersonal process in which a main curative component is the nature of the therapeutic relationship. Clinicians must remember that this is the foundation of our efforts to help others. The improvement of psychotherapy may best be accomplished by learning to improve one's ability to relate to clients and tailoring that relationship to individual clients. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)


New directions in hypnosis research: strategies for advancing the cognitive and clinical neuroscience of hypnosis.

Jensen MP1, Jamieson GA2, Lutz A3, Mazzoni G4, McGeown WJ5, Santarcangelo EL6, Demertzi A7, De Pascalis V8, Bányai ÉI9, Rominger C10, Vuilleumier P11, Faymonville ME12, Terhune DB13.


This article summarizes key advances in hypnosis research during the past two decades, including (i) clinical research supporting the efficacy of hypnosis for managing a number of clinical symptoms and conditions, (ii) research supporting the role of various divisions in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortices in hypnotic responding, and (iii) an emerging finding that high hypnotic suggestibility is associated with atypical brain connectivity profiles. Key recommendations for a research agenda for the next decade include the recommendations that (i) laboratory hypnosis researchers should strongly consider how they assess hypnotic suggestibility in their studies, (ii) inclusion of study participants who score in the middle range of hypnotic suggestibility, and (iii) use of expanding research designs that more clearly delineate the roles of inductions and specific suggestions. Finally, we make two specific suggestions for helping to move the field forward including (i) the use of data sharing and (ii) redirecting resources away from contrasting state and nonstate positions toward studying (a) the efficacy of hypnotic treatments for clinical conditions influenced by central nervous system processes and (b) the neurophysiological underpinnings of hypnotic phenomena. As we learn more about the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying hypnosis and suggestion, we will strengthen our knowledge of both basic brain functions and a host of different psychological function