Debunking Myths about Hypnosis with Dr. David Spiegel

In this episode, we talk to Dr. David Spiegel to enlighten us about the many misconceptions about hypnosis and how it is an effective way to help control the effects of stress, anxiety, pain, and other behavioral health challenges. He also delves into a way hypnosis is being disseminated and taught now through an app called Reverie.

Nov 29th, 2022

Episode Notes

Memorable Moments:

  • 02:51 – Hypnosis is just a state of highly focused attention. It’s like when you get so caught up in a good movie that you forget you’re watching the movie and you enter the imagined world… It’s the ability to narrow the focus of attention and put outside of conscious awareness things that would ordinarily be in consciousness.
  • 03:44 – Shifting mental states has great power. And it’s something that we can learn to use better to help us live better.
  • 04:24 – You can start out dealing with stressors on the outside by dealing with the way they affect your body on the inside. That’s the way you start to gain control.
  • 06:32 – This is better because [for example] you’re trying to get to sleep at three in the morning. I’m not going to be there to hypnotize you back to sleep. But the app is. 
  • 07:24 – Hypnosis is the oldest Western conception of Psychotherapy. It started 250 years ago—the first time that talking interaction between the doctor and the patient was thought to have therapeutic value. 
  • 10:05 – Just by shifting your focus to how your body feels, you’re changing the relationship between external stressors and our normal reaction.
  • 10:43 – Learn to approach stress by first handling the thing you can best handle, which is how your body reacts to it, and then approach the problem and figure out what to do about it.
  • 11:42 – Hypnosis is Western. It’s meant to solve a problem… And it’s more focused on changing a given problem. You do it not just to be open and to lose yourself but rather to deal with your pain or your stress.  
  • 16:05 – We’re born with this big brain and a great imagination, but not with a user’s manual. We don’t use it very well.  

Tip on Self-Hypnosis:
When you feel stressed, one way to cope with it is to shift your focus. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, imagine being somewhere safe, and notice how shifting your focus changes how your body feels.

Dear Mind, You Matter is brought to you by NOBU, new mental health, and wellness app. To download NOBU, visit the app store or Google Play. 

This podcast is hosted by Allison Walsh and Dr. Angela Phillips. It is produced by Allison Walsh, Savannah Eckstrom, and Nicole LaNeve. If you’re interested in being a guest on this podcast, please visit

Show Contributors

Dr. David Spiegel

Dr. David Spiegel is Willson Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Director of the Center on Stress and Health, and Medical Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He has published thirteen books, 404 scientific journal articles, and 170 book chapters on hypnosis, psychosocial oncology, stress physiology, trauma, and psychotherapy. His research has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and a number of foundations. He is a past president of the American College of Psychiatrists and the Society for Clinical and experimental hypnosis.