Today we’re joined by Stanford psychiatry professor Dr. David Spiegel, an expert in the clinical use of hypnosis. David is co-author (along with his late father Herbert Spiegel) of Trance and Treatment, a classic work on hypnosis published by the American Psychiatric Association. And therein lies a story: almost 20 years ago, Jeff interviewed David’s 92-year old father Herbert Spiegel. Not just interviewed – Dr Spiegel managed to hypnotize Jeff, demonstrating to him first-hand the strange persuasive power of this mind-body intervention.
Now listeners can get their own taste on today’s episode. David’s first practice is a guided hypnosis session – essentially, he tries to hypnotize you. Then, depending on your suggestibility, he offers a specific therapeutic strategy for working with anxiety. David’s second short guided practice is an exploration of our innate hypnotic capacity. Hilarity ensues, as Jeff and Tasha observe their own dissociated arms tingle and float.
Our conversation explores the nature and neurobiology of hypnosis, how it is different from meditation, and the under-appreciated potential of hypnosis to help with all kinds of health conditions, from addiction to chronic pain to anxiety. As David says, “all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.” This is a safe, internally-directed healing modality that ultimately does not depend on experts, or medication, or anything except a willingness to open yourself to experience.
The first 10-minute hypnosis session begins at 8:05 and finishes at 17:51. The second eye-roll / arm floating test begins at 25:05 and finishes at 31:00.
To use the Eye Roll Test to figure out your own hypnotic capacity, check out this illustration from Jeff’s book, The Head Trip.