The prospect of being hypnotized scared me. All I knew about it was from what I saw on TV. But the possibility of losing weight by somebody whispering into my ear drowned those worries away.
So I tried it.
Finding a Hypnotist
I found Dr. Scott D. Lewis, a licensed chiropractor and clinical hypnotherapist through his new book, “The Hypnosis Treatment Option: Proven Solutions for Pain, Insomnia, Stress, Obesity, and other Common Health Problems.” Dr. Lewis has been hypnotizing patients for 25 years and even used self-hypnotism to lose 41 pounds.
A week before treatment, Dr. Lewis and I discussed my diet and exercise habits over the phone. I am not overweight, but I tend to eat even after I am full. For me, the goal of the hypnosis was to curb my tendency to overeat and instead, eat smaller portions.
When he arrived, we sat down for 45 minutes to discuss the actual process. He assured it was “safe,” “not a form of brainwashing,” and most importantly, “a natural state of mind that we go into and out of every day.” He called it the “deepest form of concentration,” similar to zoning out when you’re watching a really good movie. If anything urgent occurred while I was under hypnosis — such as a fire alarm — Dr. Lewis assured me I would naturally wake up without his help.
Dr. Lewis and I sat in chairs across from each other in a quiet room. He had me close my eyes and relax each muscle in my body, all the way up to my mind. After a few minutes, I was still sitting upright in my chair but I was deeply focused on Dr. Lewis’ voice. I listened closely as he had me think of a happy place, imagine my body at my ideal weight, and feel a sense of achievement for losing weight. My focused mind absorbed the suggestions he made, such as, “You will be more satisfied with less food,” and “You will stop eating when you’re full.”
The entire session lasted more than 30 minutes, but it felt like five. When it came time to wake up, there was no snapping of the fingers or anything sensational. Dr. Lewis simply counted down from five and I opened my eyes. I felt relaxed, refreshed and motivated to lose weight.
Three weeks later
It’s now been three weeks since I was hypnotized and I can’t say I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, but I can say that I am more conscious of my eating habits and less inclined to binge. In subtle ways, I believe it has helped my mind and attitude towards food. Whether that can be credited to the placebo effect, I can’t say.
Following my treatment, I spoke with Dr. Joseph Zastrow, President of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, who told me that no one understood how hypnotism worked until studies using MRI’s were performed in 2005. The research found that under hypnosis, “you’re turning on one particular part in your brain — and that area is the executive decision maker.”
Dr. Zastrow then asked me if I knew of any other treatment or drug that was capable of physically changing my brain. The answer was no, which is why I believe that hypnotism is more powerful than some give it credit for.
Although I may not have lost any dramatic amounts of weight, I don’t think hypnotism is a total hoax — skeptical as I may be. I think that with a qualified doctor and the right program, there’s a real possibility that hypnotism can work.