What is Hypnosis?

In plain terms, hypnosis is just a naturally occurring state of highly focused attention.

Have you ever gotten so caught up in a good movie or a play or a novel that you think you're in the fictional world and forget about the world around you?
That's what hypnosis is like.

When you use a telephoto lens or pinch to zoom way in on a picture on your phone - you get to see incredible detail of a very specific area, but you become less aware of the surrounding context.
That's what hypnosis is like.

Many people fear that hypnosis is a loss of control. In reality, hypnosis is a means of increasing your control over your mind and body. Our minds are powerful tools, and most of us can learn how to use them more effectively. Hypnosis gives us a pathway to alter the relationship between mind and body.

What is Self-Hypnosis?

Self-hypnosis is a powerful way to experience the benefits of the hypnotic state without needing another person to be present. Self-hypnosis can be practiced anywhere at any time, providing the fastest, most convenient way to experience the benefits of hypnosis.

About David Spiegel

Dr. David Spiegel is a psychiatrist who has taught more than 7,000 people how to better manage their minds and bodies using hypnosis. David is also Reveri's Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, bringing more than 45 years of clinical and research experience studying stress, pain, sleep and hypnosis. He has written thirteen books, 404 scientific journal articles and 170 book chapters. He was educated at Harvard and Yale and now works at Stanford. He started Reveri so that you can tap his expertise and change your mind.

What to Expect in Reveri.

Reveri's self-hypnosis experience is just like listening to a podcast.

Some of the sessions will be presented with an "Interactive" option.

In these Interactive Sessions, you will be asked questions which will require a response by speaking or tapping your screen. These sessions would be similar to what you might experience if you visited Dr. David Spiegel in his office. In some of the sessions, you can choose to turn off interactivity, in which case you will only listen and not speak or tap responses.

How does Hypnosis Work?

Your lived experience is created by passing combined information from your senses through a layer of interpretation, which is based on your previous experiences or expectations.

In neuroscience, this is called top-down processing. Your unconscious mind has a much stronger effect over your experiences, behavior and body than you might realize. Hypnotherapy allows you to harness the power of your mind to change the way you think and experience the world around you.

Take pain as an example. Our experience of pain and emotion are the result of an interaction between deeper regions of the brain that process primary experience and the higher frontal regions (including the Executive Control Network (ECN)) that put them into perspective and regulate the intensity of sensations.In other words, sensory experience is top-down as well as bottom-up.

In hypnosis, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a major component of the ECN, has heightened functional connectivity to the insula, which is part of the pain network and facilitates mind-body control. It helps to alter and suppress pain perception.

Less Pain, Less Medication

Hypnotherapy has been used for over two centuries to help with problems ranging from social anxiety to chronic pain. It has been rigorously studied in clinical settings. Key findings of its efficacy include:

Acute Surgical Pain

In a randomized clinical trial of acute surgical pain published in The Lancet, 240 patients undergoing invasive medical procedures were studied. Those taught hypnosis used just half the amount of opioids during the procedure, had half the pain and anxiety, and finished 17 minutes sooner.

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Chronic Cancer Pain

In a randomized clinical trial of the effects of emotional support and training in self-hypnosis on chronic pain, 54 women with advanced breast cancer were divided into two groups: 30 who learned self-hypnosis and 24 who had routine care. By the end of a year the women taught self-hypnosis had half the pain on the same and low amount of pain medications.

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Brain Networks

Dr. Spiegel’s research has identified three brain networks that are involved in hypnosis and bring about the state of focused attention, lack of self-consciousness, and greater control over one’s emotions and body sensations. These are the most important components of hypnotherapy.

The executive control network is active when you are doing something that involves focused attention and working memory - like mental arithmetic.

During Hypnosis: This network is more connected to a part of brain called the insula in the salience network. It is involved in monitoring the body and emotions. This may be why in hypnosis you have heightened awareness of the sensations in your body.

This network detects and integrates information from your body and emotions. It's activated when you’re challenged or anxious, and when you're working on a task.

During Hypnosis: There’s less activity in the salience network. When you are hypnotized, you’re more focused and less distracted by anxious or intruding thoughts.

The default mode network is involved in mental imagery, self-reflection, and processing your stream of consciousness. This network is most active when you’re at rest or ruminating.

During Hypnosis: There’s less activity and less connectivity to the executive control network. During hypnosis there’s less rumination and mind wandering and your mind can feel less ‘crowded.’

Jiang, H., White, M. P., Greicius, M. D., Waelde, L. C., & Spiegel, D. (2017). Brain activity and functional connectivity associated with hypnosis. Cerebral cortex, 27 (8), 4083-4093.

Try Reveri for Free

Many Reveri members experience the benefits of self-hypnosis after a single 10-minute session.

To help you explore Reveri, we’ll unlock the full experience for 7 days, totally free. Try all features and self-hypnosis sessions, and then decide whether a Reveri membership is right for you.

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