Can Hypnosis Be Used As A Performance Enhancer? with Dr. Jeffrey Zeig

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Medical hypnosis can be used to help different people in different ways, from something like quitting smoking all the way to treating multiple-personality schizophrenia. However, some people are affected more strongly than others. In fact, it’s been estimated that although about 85% of us can be hypnotized, only about 15% are able to go into a deep trance. In this episode of the podcast, Daniel and Tana Amen are joined by Dr. Jeffrey Zeig for an in-depth discussion on the ways in which hypnosis can positively impact lives.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. One question to pose to our audience is what uses could you use hypnosis for? What might be helpful in your life, or in the life of those you love? So Jeff, as we talk about this, we're here with doctor Jeffrey Zeig, the head of the Erickson Foundation, who also does this amazing conference every couple of years, the evolution of psychotherapy. Does a story come to mind about how hypnosis has helped one of your patients?
Dr Jeffery Zeig: Oh, many stories. I know there's spectacular cases. I can remember one woman who came to me, and she was having episodes that were dissociative, so she would wake up in places in a compromised state, and there was blood, and there was knives, and they were very strange things, like a little baby doll. It was a rare case of somebody who had multiple personality, and hadn't been diagnosed at the time. So one of the first interventions was to put her in a trance, and have a part of her to communicate using automatic writing. At the beginning of 2020, you'll still be writing 2019, and if you're on a telephone call and you start doodling, it's automatic writing. What we're doing in hypnosis is taking a facet that can happen normally in life, and amplifying that to serve a therapeutic purpose.
So I had her write out some of the messages from this part of her that was so aggressive, put them away, fold them up, put them in her purse, and read them at a time when she would find that she could absorb what the message was. In the meantime, as she's writing furiously, and I mean furiously, she's having a conversation with me and the co therapist in the room, and doesn't realize is completely dissociated from what she was writing, and then never did find that piece of paper. But over a couple of months of therapy, and part of it was to be hypnotic, and to have her go into a trance, and to go away, basically, like we would say that there were a couple of facets with Sandy I and Sandy Y. They were different facets of her personality. Until I could use hypnosis to understand the severe trauma that she had suffered, and the fact that that trauma was repressed, and it had been an undercurrent that was guiding her life.
Now, in 50 years of practice, I think maybe I've seen two people who fit the diagnosis of having multiple personality in the way that I believed, but the use of hypnosis and amnesia was important in helping her to integrate these fractionated parts of her personality, and bring them together, so that she could live in peace with herself, and wasn't in disharmony with herself, due to the fact that she had been so severely traumatized in one point in their life. So that was a use of deep trance.
When people come to me and they want to stop smoking or stop using Internet pornography or gambling, I don't necessarily need to use a deep trance. You need to use the amount of trance that is necessary to help the person get the realization that they need. Of course, I can stop smoking. Of course, I can do a better job that monitoring my use of the Internet, for example. So I don't have to do something that is so spectacular as a dissociative state automatic writing deep trance, but help people to realize what they already know. Hypnosis can be like an amplifier in that regard.
Dr. Daniel Amen: People have different abilities as far as going deep into a trance. Probably not everybody's hypnotizable, you have to have a little bit of an attention span. But I think my experience, I'd be interested in yours, it's about 85% of people can be hypnotized, but only maybe 15 or 20% of those can go so deep that they actually don't remember what happened. My experience is most people remember what happens in a trance, but time gets distorted. It's almost uniformly a really positive emotional state.
Tana Amen: For me it is.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Unless control is a huge issue for them, and then they may not be able to let it go.
Tana Amen: I wouldn't say control's not a huge issue for me, but I find it empowering.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I would say actually it is a huge issue for you.
Tana Amen: But I find it empowering, so that's why it doesn't bother me. Do you know what I'm saying? I think it doesn't bother me because I find it in an empowering tool. In fact, I used you to hypnotize me for my first black belt test many years ago, and it was so helpful for that. I was nervous about it. I was scared to do this test, and didn't think I was going to make it through. With the use of that hypnosis, completely changed how I felt going into that test, and performed through the test. I used it again for my second black belt test, which was much harder, and I was terrified of. Used it again for that. I literally felt amazing going through that test. So, I really like it for uses that I feel are empowering. I've used it for pain ...
Dr Jeffery Zeig: Performance enhancement.
Tana Amen: Absolutely. But I've used it for pain and medical ...
Dr Jeffery Zeig: I've work with premier athletes. The difference between being exceptional and be excellent is very small.
Tana Amen: Absolutely. Yes.
Dr Jeffery Zeig: So premier athletes would come to me and could they get into the mental state that they need? What is the IPS? What is the ideal performing state for taking your black belt test? Can we use hypnosis as an ancillary to helping people get into adaptive states, and not just use it for something that's problematic, but using for something where you're enhancing performance?
Tana Amen: Exactly.
Dr Jeffery Zeig: So I should say that relaxation, and maybe in the last year, I don't think I've used the word relaxation with a client, hypnosis is not as traditionally thought of as like a psychological massage. The hypnotist is doing dot Dah Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, and the client is just, into a very passive state. But actually the problem of hypnosis is activation.
How to get people to activate and access the realizations that they need to be more adaptive in their lives. The other thing I'd like to mention is that in California especially, people can be a licensed to do hypnosis and that doesn't require any training at all. Being a hypnotist is not regulated in California. Anybody could put out a shingle and say I'm a hypnotist. They could take a weekend workshop and say I'm a hypnotist. At the Erickson Foundation, we only train people who are enrolled in accredited graduate program, or have a minimal of a master's degree in the health or health sciences. Hypnosis is an adjunct that can be used, but if the person has depression or a bad habit, you can use cognitive therapy, you could use hypnosis, you could use family therapy, you could use Gestalt therapy, psychoanalytic therapy. Every therapist has a tool at his or her disposal. I don't recommend the clients shop for tools, that they shop for a therapist. I wouldn't take my car to an unlicensed mechanic. So I certainly wouldn't take my psyche to a somebody who has [crosstalk 00:09:11] hypnotist.
Tana Amen: That's a good point. That's a very good point.
Dr. Daniel Amen: When I was young, I learned this technique called hypno analysis. Do you remember when that came out?
Dr Jeffery Zeig: Sure. Sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So powerful. I remember a 16 year old boy who came to me with a panic disorder. I hypnotize him. His mother's in the room, and I take him back. The technique is basically, put someone in a trance, take them back to the last time they had that symptom, and ask them what they're thinking and feeling. So it's, I can't breathe. Then in a trance have them imagine themselves getting younger and smaller, smaller and younger, and go back to the first time that you couldn't breathe. So I went back to when he was four years old, and he had a piece of steak stuck in his throat, and turned blue, and there was hysteria all around him until someone did the Heimlich maneuver on him, and he remembered hearing, Oh my God, you're dying.
That had got cemented a little bit in his subconscious mind, but then I learned you need to go back even further. So go back after they go to their, I think it was initial sensitizing event, is there anything else when you can't breathe, and his mother's in the room and he goes, it's dark, I'm wet, and somethings around my neck, and I can't breathe. His mother all of a sudden starts crying, because he was born with the cord wrapped around his neck. Now I don't know what people think about that, but as you then begin to plant your safe, people love you, healing images, he never had a panic attack after that. I found that bridging technique to be so helpful over the years. What's happening at the time you're having this symptom? When's the first time you had it, and go back even further if you can? Do you remember learning about that?
Dr Jeffery Zeig: Sure, yeah. An affect bridge can be created around an emotion or an image or a sound, and you're just allowing the person to go back in time to this a traumatizing event. If you can go back before, and you are providing somebody with some initiative that helps them to realize that they don't have to continue the debility that they've had, whatever it takes and however it is that you coordinate with the belief system of the client. Sometimes the belief system of the client conforms to the belief system of the therapists. But if people get better, whatever it takes to help people to get better, I'm for it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But that also brings up, and maybe we can talk about in the next podcast, is Brian Weiss's work, Many Lives, Many Masters, because he was a psychiatrist who, accidentally, according to him, took someone back and they flipped into a past life. Stay with us.
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