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Merck Manual

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Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Feb 2019| Content last modified Feb 2019
Click here for the Professional Version

Hypnotherapy is a type of mind-body medicine. In hypnotherapy (hypnosis), people are guided into an advanced state of relaxation and heightened attention. Hypnotized people become absorbed in the images suggested by the hypnotherapist and are able to suspend disbelief. Because their attention is more focused and they are more open to suggestion, hypnotherapy can be used to help people change their behavior and thus improve their health. (See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine.)

Some people are able to learn to hypnotize themselves.

The mechanism of hypnotherapy is poorly understood from a scientific standpoint.

Medicinal uses

Hypnotherapy may be helpful in treating many conditions and symptoms in which psychologic factors can influence physical symptoms:

  • Hot flashes

  • Certain pain syndromes

  • Addiction

  • Depression

  • Some skin disorders (such as warts)

  • Anxiety

Hypnotherapy has been used with some success to help people stop smoking. It can reduce pain and anxiety during medical procedures in adults and children.

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