I admit I know very little about hypnosis, which is defined as “a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.” As a teenager, I attended a couple of events where people were hypnotized, and the participants obviously said and did things they wouldn’t normally do. I actually found that frightening.
Sure enough, if you search the Internet for “OCD and hypnosis”, you will find all sorts of claims, ranging from hypnosis as a helpful tool for those with OCD to assertions that OCD can be cured through hypnosis. Can hypnosis help those with OCD? I don’t know. But in my almost five years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever heard from anyone who has had first-hand success treating his or her OCD with hypnosis. What bothers me most about this information is that it steers those with OCD and their loved ones in the wrong direction; away from evidence-based treatment that does work: exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.
In fact, the way I see it, hypnosis and ERP appear to be opposite in some ways. At least in reference to the “reduced peripheral awareness.” While hypnosis reduces your awareness of what’s going on around you because your focus is narrowed, ERP therapy requires you to be aware of what’s happening all around you, so that you can feel the anxiety that is being created by a specific situation during therapy. In the article, Mr. Mandel describes being hypnotized, “… like a real and natural Xanax.” No anxiety there.
The bottom line is there is no easy fix for those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Recovery is possible, but it likely takes more than being hypnotized. It takes courage, it takes determination, and it takes ERP therapy.
That being said, if you’ve had successful experiences (or not so successful) with hypnosis, I’d love to hear from you. We all can learn so much from each other.