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Last Updated: 21.06.23

Dr. David Spiegel: Using Hypnosis to Enhance Health & Performance

Huberman hosts Dr. David Spiegel, a renowned expert in hypnosis and stress physiology, to discuss its clinical applications. They explore trauma, pain, and anxiety treatment using hypnosis, hypnotizability, self-​​hypnosis techniques, and cognitive flexibility. Key findings and resources for guided self-​​hypnosis are shared, emphasizing the importance of working with trained professionals.

Key Takeaways

High level takeaways from the episode.

Hypnosis: a state of highly focused attention

  • Similar to being absorbed in a movie or sports game
  • Involves a narrowing of context and losing of the self

Clinical hypnosis: used for treatment of various ailments of mind and body

  • Involves changing brain state to make adjustments in brain and body

Clinical hypnosis can improve symptoms of stress, chronic anxiety, chronic pain, and other illnesses.

Stage hypnosis: hypnotist gets a person to do things they would not otherwise do

  • Different from clinical hypnosis

Not everyone can be hypnotized as readily as others

  • Dr. Spiegel developed a simple test to determine hypnotizability

Reverie app: developed by Dr Spiegel based on clinical studies and research.

Clinical hypnosis enhances control over mind and body

  • Provides cognitive flexibility and ability to shift perspectives

Hypnosis can help with unsystematic desensitization

  • Changing mental states to face problems and see them from a different point of view
  • Can help with phobias, trauma, and stress

Can help restructure understanding of trauma

  • Confront the trauma and engage in self-​​protection strategies

Adding hypnosis to PTSD treatment can improve outcomes.

Going into the state one is trying to deal with, but then dissociating from that state is key

  • Can help people drop into feeling states and deal with emotions around their experiences

Dr. Spiegel’s study on hypnosis for pain relief during medical procedures

  • Hypnosis group reduced pain by 80% and used half the amount of opioids
  • Fewer complications and shorter procedure time

Long-​​term effects of hypnosis

  • Study on women with metastatic breast cancer
  • Hypnosis group had half the pain after a year on low amounts of medication

Hypnotizability varies among individuals

  • 1/​​3 of adults are not hypnotizable
  • 15% are extremely hypnotizable
  • Users can see quick results and know if hypnosis is likely to help them

Spiegel Eye Roll Test: measures hypnotizability

  • Involves looking up at the ceiling, tilting head back, and closing eyes while maintaining upward gaze
  • If white part (sclera) is visible, person is highly hypnotizable
  • If colored part (iris) is visible, person is less hypnotizable

Grief: hypnosis can help individuals face loss, live with the emotion, and reflect on what they gained from the lost person.

Hypnosis can help children with fear and pain during medical procedures.

Hypnosis can be done in groups, such as support groups for women with advanced breast cancer.

Hypnosis can have a sedative effect at the chemical level, with a correlation between hypnotizability and GABA activity in the anterior cingulate cortex.


Spiegel Eye Roll Test to Measure Hypnotizability


Clinical Hypnosis for Stress, Anxiety, Pain, Grief, Illness



We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • Dr. David Spiegel: Using Hypnosis to Enhance Health & Performance

    Huberman Lab #60

    Huberman interviews Dr. David Spiegel on the clinical use of hypnosis and stress physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Full Notes

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