of Hypnosis in Habit Control
of studies demonstrate the efficacy of hypnosis as a tool to facilitate control
of smoking, with success rates in cigarette abstinence after treatment with
hypnosis ranging from 13 to 64%.
several mechanisms by which hypnosis may contribute to success in smoking
cessation. The ritualistic proc-ess of the hypnotic exercise may provide a kind
of substitute physical relaxation for the “breathing exercise” that accompanies
the act of smoking; the positive affirmations in self-hypnosis provide positive
reinforcement for behavior change and promote positive self-image; its use
enhances self-observation and self-monitoring; and finally it can facilitate
cognitive restructuring of the smoking habit.
single-session method developed by Spiegel (1970) emphasizes teaching patients
self-hypnosis rather than having multiple sessions with a therapist. It uses a
strategy that is in-trinsically self-reinforcing and meaningful to the patient.
It can be practiced whenever the urge to smoke comes on the patient. This
method of cognitive restructuring involves emphasizing that the act of smoking
is destructive specifically to the patient’s body and thereby limits what the
patient can do with his or her life by shortening the life span and
deteriorating the quality of life. Hypnosis is used to emphasize the patient’s
commitment to protect the body from the poison in cigarettes. This approach
gives the patient the ability to examine priorities and to balance the urge to
smoke against the urge to protect his or her body from damage. Smokers are
instructed to focus on what they are for
– protecting their bodies – rather than what they are against – smoking. This reduces the amount of attention they pay
to smoking or its absence and provides immediate internal rein-forcement for
attending to care of the body (Spiegel and Spiegel, 1978).
no evidence that treatments employing hypno-sis are more effective than other
interventions for smoking. Nevertheless, they may be more efficient because
they enable patients to employ a self-administered treatment strategy
(self-hypnosis) to reinforce a more adaptive cognitive restruc-turing while
providing patients with an exercise in physical relaxation.
will the use of hypnosis alone be sufficient for the treat-ment of weight
problems. It is usually employed as an adjunct to a comprehensive dietary and
exercise control program for weight reduction and management. Similar to the
use of self-hypnosis in the control of smoking, the purpose in dietary control
is to restructure the patient’s experience with overeating. Patients are asked
to examine their excess food intake and to pay attention to the damaging
effects to their body. This then translates into an exercise about learning to
eat with respect for one’s body. Once again, the emphasis is on what the
patient is for, rather than being against food.
long-term outcome studies on the usefulness of hypnosis for weight control are
lacking. Clinical experiencesuggests that those within 20% of their ideal body
weight may obtain some benefit from such restructuring techniques with
self-hypnosis, combined with a regimen of a balanced diet and exercise.