January 1, 2010

Hypnosis

A reader asks:

"What or who did you use to bring yourself under hypnosis?"

I had some New Agey lady hypnotism therapist hypnotize me. My wife found her. I was pretty paralyzed by feelings of doom at the time (right after my diagnosis with lymphatic cancer in late 1996), so I don't remember how my wife found her.

There wasn't anything very exciting about being hypnotized. The hypnotist just spoke in a dull, repetitious manner until I was lulled into a state where I was more receptive to suggestions. Then she told me this story I had made up for her about how I was 80 years old and playing the 17th hole at Ballybunion with my sons and grandson. For the rest of the day, I'd feel like I was going to live to 80, which helped me function better. The next day I'd feel lousy, so I'd go back a couple of times per week.

After awhile, my depression lifted permanently, so I stopped going.

I have no idea if hypnosis would work for people on average, but it had a clear and immediate effect on me in that particular situation. Granted, that's purely my subjective feelings, but that's what I wanted to alter: my subjective feelings.

And, yes, I had the hypnotist try to get me to do amusing tricks under hypnosis like in an old nightclub act, but that didn't work. She declared me "moderately suggestible."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is Obama a hip-nosist?

Silver said...

There wasn't anything very exciting about being hypnotized. The hypnotist just spoke in a dull, repetitious manner until I was lulled into a state where I was more receptive to suggestions.

I've been dabbling in this stuff for over ten years. The theory has it that there are various "depths of trance," so if it didn't feel particularly special, I'd say you didn't go very deep.

On a few occasions I've self-hypnotized and reached what felt like incredibly altered states of consciousness. Especially notable was the feeling of "falling into" the trance.

I was mostly interested in "curing" my social ineptitude. I was a painfully shy early teen (except when enraged) and while I "naturally" improved over the years there were still remnants of those inhibitions that held me backs in early adulthood. I've improved beyond recognition since then but I can't really credit hypnosis with any of it. ("Reality-based cognition" -- my own term -- was the key for me; simple logical thought helped me realize that there was simply no solid factual basis for feeling shy or socially inept. From that, it was a very rapid process of fake-it-till-you-make-it.)

Obviously humans are much less likely to engage in certain behaviors in some states of mind than in others, and more likely to engage in other behaviors in others. But I wonder how you square hypnotic interventions with your hereditarian views. For example, I think I recall you once saying you'd make a poor something (pilot, 'high steel' worker?) because of your fear of heights. Well, what if that fear was only an intervention (hypnotic or other) away? I'm a hereditarian myself, but I think hereditarians are often way too quick to assign certain behavioral phenomena to genes and to condemn the actor to their repetition.

Anonymous said...

No Toby Gerhart update?

Anonymous said...

Even Michael Shermer, of Skpetic Magazine fame, says there's something very weird going on with hypnosis.

albertosaurus said...

If I had cancer I suppose I would have been depressed too. Luckily I had heart failure. It was going to kill me plenty dead but in a nice way.

My cardiologist told me that one day I would go into ventricular fibrilation and be dead in minutes - nothing could save me. It would be as if the foot of God suddenly stamped me out.

This news filled me with joy. Who could ask for a better ending? Not the least of the benefits of a bum ticker is that you no longer fear cancer and don't have to endure diagnostic procedures like a proctosygmoidoscopy.

Heart failure makes you happy. Cancer makes you sad.

James Watson is Right!!! said...

I'am glad you are only "moderately suggestible." When the thought police come for you Sailer, it will take real effort to brainwash you.

Anonymous said...

When I was in 6th grade I had my warts hypnotized away. From my experience, the effectiveness of the procedure comes down to three things: Relaxation, suggestion, and visualization. Prior to that experience the word "hypnotize" conjered up for me images of people acting like chickens in front of laughing audiences. In the event that I am ever diagnosed with the big C, I've always taken comfort in the hope that I will have this resource within me to help deal with the crisis.

Sean

Anonymous said...

I've never been hypnotized myself. I've long been curious about hypnosis as a weight loss aid. A few years back a magazine or TV show did a story about dieting and put various groups of people on different diets. After a year I think, the two groups with the most success at losing weight were the Atkins group and the hypnosis group.

-Vanilla Thunder

Anonymous said...

I'm the commenter who used hypnosis in childbirth, and I used a homestudy course that requires about a 30 minute a day commitment to listening to the scripts on mp3 or CDs, and practicing the self-induction. I've used the techniques to deal with other kinds of pain as well.

http://www.hypnobabies.com/

If you can handle watching ladyparts used for their other intended function, there are some very impressive videos:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hypnobabies&search_type=&aq=f

Hypnotic induction is pretty obviously used by cults like Landmark Education, and also by advertisings. It's very powerful, and it is pretty funny that people don't believe it works.

Phil The Power Taylor said...


There wasn't anything very exciting about being hypnotized. The hypnotist just spoke in a dull, repetitious manner until I was lulled into a state where I was more receptive to suggestions.


That ain't hypnosis you're describing; it's a presidential election campaign.

David said...

The classical music composer Sergei Rachmaninov also underwent successful hypnosis treatment for depression, in 1900. He wrote his Second Piano Concerto directly afterward, which clinched his worldwide fame.

Harry Baldwin said...

If in the spirit of the New Year I may be simply sincere, I must express my gratitude that you are no longer "paralyzed by feelings of doom" and instead are able to maintain the most thought-provoking blog on the net.

Happy New Year, Steve.

Mr. Anon said...

Harry Baldwin said...

If in the spirit of the New Year I may be simply sincere, I must express my gratitude that you are no longer "paralyzed by feelings of doom" and instead are able to maintain the most thought-provoking blog on the net.

Happy New Year, Steve."

Let me be the first to second Mr. Baldwin. We all owe you a debt of gratitude for providing interesting information and analysis. To you and your family I wish you a happy new year and many more to come.

blue anon said...

Silver,
Is there any solid reason to think hypnosis is different from mediation?

Anonymous said...

You believe in hypnosis? It puts all of your other positions in doubt. As in many of your positions the mainstream or accepted position disagrees with you (there is little real medical support for hypotism, and I bet you must search hard to find courses on it at Johns Hopkins) but contra the other unpopular positions you support, there is no plausable explination why anyone has an interest in supressing this truth. Hypnotism would just be another version of analysis or social work, its applications to be politicized but its effect recognized, if it were real.

Anonymous said...

It's not real? I guess I just imagined a nearly painless 21 hour labor then.

Anonymous said...

http://www.garyconrad.com/


That is the website for comedian Gary Conrad, who uses hypnosis in his comedy act.


I have a former co-worker named Larry who went to a comedy club called Zanies in Nashville, Tennessee where Conrad performed one night about a decade back. Larry was "put under" by Conrad, and during this time Larry peformed some silly acts as suggested by Conrad to the audience's comic delight. Larry explained to me that when you are "under", Conrad's suggestions just seem "like a good thing to do", so you do them.

During the show, Conrad asked for volunteers to be hypnotized. He gets them onstage and attempts to test them to see how amenable they are psychologically to hypnosis. Not everybody is receptive to hypnosis apparently. The ones who are not are asked to rejoin the the audience and enjoy the rest of the show watching the soon-to-be humorous exploits of those who are.

I too was very dubious about hypnotism, but my friend assured me that he was indeed hypnotized, but that hypnosis wasn't the zombie-like state we culturally expect. It, according to him, was a state of extreme agreeableness to Conrad's suggestions.

I have no experience with it myself, but this is what my old pal told me.

Anonymous said...

When I was "under" hypnosis for the wart problem I mentioned about, I recall thinking to myself "you're faking it...this isn't going to work...you're just playing along" etc. The truth is that it WAS working and I just had a misconception of what hypnosis was about. You don't lose your sense of awareness or memory of what happened. This was about 30 years ago and the hypnotist was a naval officer-physician at Mare Island in Nor Calif.

Sean

Sean

Anonymous said...

1) You have a fear of heights for a reason - because heights are DANGEROUS.

2) How is hypnosis supposed to tell the Papilloma/Condyloma Virus not to come out of remission?

[Although psychological stress does seem to lower our immune response to the point that viruses - like those in the greater Herpes family - can come out of remission.]

Anonymous said...

(Cliff Arroyo)

Obligatory Little Britain reference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3bRsL2M3MM

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve for all you do!

My college psychology prof & husband practiced self-hypnosis. They claimed the ability to fall asleep literally in a minute and to awake at any set time without an alarm clock: after naps or after a full night's sleep.

Professor Bowers conducted weekly relaxation sessions where she hypnotized us. After 20 minutes, I felt amazingly rested and wide awake.

Her husband once had a serious cut requiring stitches but was allergic to Novocaine. After a few minutes of self-hypnosis, he was stitched up and felt no pain.

I'd love to learn more about this. Could anyone suggest a book, web site or other resource? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"You believe in hypnosis? It puts all of your other positions in doubt."

For you, maybe; for me it merely confirms the integrity of Sailer's curiousity & open-mindedness. Personal experience always trumps the "mainstream or accepted position" on anything. What would be the point of a blog like this if we just religiously swallowed whatever the experts told us?

josh said...

Did you by chance ever see the Dick Van Dyke episode where he watches a stage hypnotist,and is unknowingly hypnotized to act like an extreme drunk whenever the phone rings,and will remain that way til the the phone rings again.(Extremely funny,and it brings to mind Foster Brooks,the old guy whose whole act was to pretend to be drunk.So funny; and even funnier now that that type of thing is seen as non-PC.) Nothing like that happened to you did it?:0 PS:Lots of these Game guys deal in hypnosis. David Shade has a whole method of hypnotising women to have orgasms on command.Ross Jeffries,the first pua,used to partner with Major Mark,a guy with the rep of being the worlds greatest hypnotist. Hypnosis is central to NLP,a major part of some Game schools.(Orgasms on command? has anyone told Tiger about this?)

Anonymous said...

Yes, and the Game guys are getting it from the same source that cults like Landmark got it too. The higher levels of Landmark are more sexualized than is apparent from the organization's public face.

Anonymous said...

Having read the earlier post about positive thinking, I now conclude that Sailor did not claim to believe in hypnotism, he made a much more modest claim about it. I don;t claim that the phenomina fails to exist (sugestivity after relaxation exercises), I claim the explination is bogus (animal magnitism). just as Thomas Szatz did not claim that irrational behavior failed to exist, he claimed the disease explination of irrational behavior was bogus.

green mamba said...

Personal experience always trumps the "mainstream or accepted position" on anything. What would be the point of a blog like this if we just religiously swallowed whatever the experts told us?

Bingo. And the mainstream, acceptable position on many "psi" phenomena is about as valid as the mainstream, acceptable position on hbd.

josh said...

"...cults like Landmark..." After reading a bit about Landmark it occurs to me that whites and Nams may gravitate to their seminars possibly at a higher rate than,say,inner city blacks or Mexican immigrants. Just a guess.

David Davenport said...

hypnosis = placebo effect

Anonymous said...

More like the placebo effect and hypnosis are probably related phenomenon. I don't understand why people aren't more interested in how and why "the placebo effect" works and how to make it better. Making it better and getting it under your control is definitely a lot of what self-hypnosis can do. When you're talking about controlling physical or psychic pain, this is something some people are highly motivated to make happen. Other people just say pish, placebo effect, and I guess it makes them feel superior.

Anonymous said...

I actually doubted that hypnosis would work on my warts (after dealing with them for over a year, including one on the border of my upper chin chin and lower lip lip!) But as I said above, I went along with the hypnosis procedure (two 30 minute sessions) and they disappeared without a trace in a matter of a few weeks (can't remember exactly how long). So in my case we're talking about something other than a placebo effect. For anyone interested, I pictured (i.e., "visualized") my lymphocytes as Spartan warriors who jabbed to death the wart virus! I got them to the affected parts of my body via inner elevators and tunnels! The Dr. told me had another young patient who visualized his lymphocytes as mice eating the wart virus.

Sean