Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"The Mesmerized Mind"

Science News recently ran a wonderful article on recent work in hypnotism. Susan Gaidos reports:
"But hypnosis is more than a stage show act. For years, psychologists have used it to help patients calm preflight jitters, get a good night's sleep or chuck a cigarette habit. Hypnosis even has uses in mainstream medicine for reducing the side effects of cancer treatments and helping patients cope with pain."

But recent studies go even further and may, according to some, help lead to treatments for a range of psychiatric and neurological disorders:
"[Hypnosis] is now used as a research tool to temporarily create hallucinations, compulsions, delusions and certain types of seizures in the lab so that these phenomena can be investigated in detail."

A bit more of interest:
+ "When hypnotized people act on hypnotic suggestion, they really do see, hear, and feel differently" --color where none exists, for example. Or pain, "in the same brain areas as 'real' pain."

+ "10-15% of adults are 'highly hypnotizable'," according to David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, "meaning they can experience dramatic changes in perception with hypnosis."

Are you one of these? According to the article, it may be linked to "an ability to become deeply absorbed in activities such as reading, listening to music or daydreaming."

+ "Rigorously controlled studies have shown that hypnosis can also control blood pressure and even make warts go away." [wow--going to google scholar that one]

+ Researchers at the University of Geneva have been study "hysterical hand paralysis". Findings are published in Neuron.

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