Now that more than a third of Americans fall into the category of "obese" or "overweight," it is vital that every reasonable approach to weight control be examined. Hypnosis can be helpful to many, and offers the added benefit of avoiding the use of potentially harmful weight-loss drugs. Rather than being ridiculed as in the past, it has by now become considered a mainstream approach to both pain control and behavioral modification.
As with any health care issue, take caution if you plan to pursue weight loss hypnosis because even the most legitimate of appearances in programs can be covering poor research or out and out fictitious claims. Hypnosis can be most effective when pursuing a comprehensive program of diet, exercise, and behavior modification.
In order to understand its role in weight control, it helps to understand what hypnosis really is in the first place. Although hypnosis has been in widespread use since 1770 by Franz Mesmer, and likely goes back much further than that, weight loss hypnosis is a relatively new practice. It is likely that the magnetic healing and "sleep healing" performed by Paracelsus worked mainly though hypnotic suggestion, rather than through incantations, chants, or the action of waving stones over the body, which would induce hypnotic trances in the subject.
The trance state, a suggestible state somewhere between sleep and full awareness, was originally called a mesmeric trance (after Mesmer) or animal magnetism. Not until 1843 did Scottish surgeon James Braid call this state hypnotism, the name it is most often called today. Braid used pocket watches and other shiny objects to induce such trances. The AMA had affirmed that hypnosis was useful for several applications by 1958.
When used for weight control, hypnosis is usually directed at reinforcing the patient's desire to lose weight and be healthy, to actively suppress appetite, and to focus on success. Sometimes negative associations are given to dangerous fattening foods that may be a weakness for some patients. Like any successful weight reduction, weight loss hypnosis also much include a lower calorie diet and an exercise regime. However, by increasing compliance with these, hypnosis can significantly increase the chances of actually making a weight loss goal and keeping excess weight off.
One scam to avoid is the hypnotist who promises miracle weight loss and a permanent cure with just one session. Legitimate, certified hypnotherapists seem to agree that ongoing treatments and reinforcement are required for any real success. Another questionable method are do it yourself downloads and videos or books that promise you can hypnotize yourself and need no other support.
Now that more than a third of Americans fall into the category of "obese" or "overweight," it is vital that every reasonable approach to weight control be examined. Helpful to many people, hypnosis for weight loss offers the added benefit of avoiding the use of potentially harmful weight-loss drugs. As in any health plan, a coordinated and comprehensive program works best for losing weight, and will usually involve nutrition counseling, a careful diet plan, exercise, and behavioral support. Before committing yourself to any weight loss hypnosis program, do your homework and talk with your physician.