Coming into bikini operation season, we tend to resort to methods not always safe or scientifically proven, to lose weight faster, such as miracle diets, with many consequences or alternative methods.
In fact, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish what is scientifically proven and what is not. For example, we know that psychology can help us lose weight, but we don’t know as much about other somewhat more confusing methods, such as hypnosis. Can hypnosis help us lose weight? Below we analyze how hypnotherapy is used in different clinics that offer it as a method to lose weight and what the scientific research says about it.
How hypnosis works to lose weight
People who carry out hypnosis treatments to lose weight using different methods. The general idea is to create changes in the way the patient sees himself, provide you with a state of relaxation, and encourage your taste for healthy food.
One of the techniques they use is an induction by Dave Elman, which consists of relaxing the patient and, later, making him imagine a staircase with a mirror on the wall running the entire staircase. In that mirror, you have to visualize a positive image of yourself – in this case, a slim version of yourself. As you go down the stairs, you must merge your image with the image in the mirror to record a new mental image of yourself.
In other cases, one of the hypnobanda is done, a method used by some famous such as Caritina Goyanes, who claimed in an interview to have been a success, in which during hypnosis, through relaxation, the unconscious is made to believe that he is wearing a gastric band, although the patient knows that he is not wearing it.
Another method used is post-hypnotic suggestions: instructions that are given to the subject once he is in the state of relaxation caused by hypnosis and that, presumably, would be recorded in his mind.
All these techniques can be found in browsing the web pages of clinics and centers that offer hypnotherapy as a method to help us lose weight.
What science tells us about hypnosis for weight loss
The reality is that, from the year 2000 onwards, hardly any investigations have been carried out regarding the effect hypnosis could have as a weight-loss treatment.
In 2014, a study was conducted on the etiology of obesity and the role that hypnosis could have in its identification and resolution. In their results, they indicate that hypnotherapy could help change the habits that maintain obesity. They themselves clarify that these results are found when hypnosis is used as a complement to an obesity treatment that includes changes in eating behavior and exercise.
The curious thing about this study is not only the results but in the study itself they warn that the research carried out in this regard is minimal and out of date, so that, despite having found presumably positive results, the study authors themselves indicate that hypnotherapy cannot ask to be taken seriously as a method of weight loss.
They are not wrong. This type of research began to be carried out approximately 30 years ago, but it is very scarce and contradictory.
One of the first was the one carried out by Kirsch in 1995. They carried out a meta-analysis of 18 studies in which the effect on weight loss was compared between studies that only studied people who were taking a treatment based on cognitive therapy and others in the that this same therapy was complemented with hypnotherapy. In the results of the meta-analysis they found that, apparently, the weight loss could be greater when the two treatments were combined and that, furthermore, those who had received a combined treatment continued to lose weight after the treatment.
In any case, the authors of the research themselves indicated that the correlation between hypnosis and the results of weight loss did not provide information to explain the causal mechanism of hypnosis. That is, there was a correlation, but it was not explained by what mechanisms hypnosis could cause weight loss.
Later, in 1996, a new study was carried out, reviewing the results of the one carried out by Kirsch in 1995. In this new study, they found that Kirsch’s meta-analysis had methodological errors. After controlling for some of these errors, such as correcting for some transcription and computational inaccuracies, they found that the effect of hypnosis, if at all, was minimal.
Furthermore, Allison and her team, authors of this new meta-analysis, find that by withdrawing one of the investigations studied in the original meta-analysis, considering it quite questionable, the effects were no longer statistically significant.
Finally, in 1998 a new study was carried out in 60 obese apnea patients which, again, claimed to find a statistically significant effect between hypnosis and weight loss. However, the study found that the results were small and clinically insignificant. In addition, they indicate that it is possible that he had not maintained adequate control of hypnotherapy, so the results are quite questionable.
As we see, investigations are too old, insignificant, and dubious, as if to indicate that hypnosis has some kind of effect on weight loss. Neither as an individual treatment nor in combination with other treatments. A lot more and much more up-to-date research would be needed.