Are Hypnosis Apps Effective?

In the current novel I'm writing, Blood Sacrifice, the subtle use of drug enhanced hypnosis plays a vital part in the plot.

In the course of researching hypnosis, findings were inconclusive at best. It appears to have some effectiveness helping people cope with pain, stress and anxiety. It might help with quitting smoking or losing weight. For unknown reasons, some people are more suggestible. But it is not a panacea. It is basically a form of guided relaxation and focused attention. Cognitive therapy for example, which you can be trained to do on your own, is at least as effective.

As an active experimenter, I thought I'd try a variety of recorded hypnosis sessions on various Apple iPad apps to see if I felt any different after using them. I chose two of the highest reviewed and used them for a minimum of thirty days. I wrote the results in my Daily Writer's Journal.

This is what I found: no meaningful impact on my writing performance or mood. In fact I slept through many of the sessions because they were incredibly soothing to listen to.

As relaxation apps they were terrific. As performance enhancers, they did nothing that I could quantify.

But I’m skeptical by nature and since hypnosis works best on those who believe in its efficacy, I’m not a good subject. As an example of the importance of innate suggestibility, comedy hypnotists in Las Vegas skillfully choose participants who are most likely to respond to suggestion on stage. In essence, they pick the people - consciously or subconsciously - who most want to do crazy things in front of an audience. For these subjects, the experience is totally real. Not only are they open to suggestion, they are smitten with it. But alas, I’m not one of them.

What does work for me? Written cognitive exercises combined with written affirmations and mindfulness exercises such as gratitude and forgiveness practices. They don’t put me to sleep and actually do create a shift in attention. I also find music, and motivational apps like Peptalk, helpful to pump up energy and motivation. And just getting the daily quota of work done makes me feel better and maintains momentum.

Bottom line: do hypnosis apps work? Perhaps for other people, but not me.

Hypnosis is another of those mysterious mental black holes where we just don’t know enough about the underlying processes to say for certain why it works for some people and not at all for others.

If you’re drawn to it, by all means give an app a try. It might just work for you.