Using Hypnosis as a Non-Deceptive Extra-Strength Placebo

Irving Kirsch

Presented by

Irving Kirsch

Similarities between hypnosis and the placebo effect include

  1. Both affect the same clinical conditions.
  2. Expectancy manipulations can enhance both placebo and hypnotic responding.
  3. Neither requires the presence of a trance state.
  4. Like placebos, hypnotic inductions have no specific components.
  5. Suggestion is the active ingredient of both. 

Although this does not make hypnosis a placebo, it does indicate that that research on the placebo effect and the therapeutic relationship can inform optimal clinical use of hypnosis.

Irving Kirsch is Associate Director of the Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Relationship, and a lecturer on medicine at the Harvard Medical School (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center). He is also Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Hull (UK) and the University of Connecticut (USA), and a visiting professor at Plymouth University (UK). He has published 10 books, more than 250 scientific journal articles and 40 book chapters on placebo effects, antidepressant medication, hypnosis, and suggestion. He originated the concept of response expectancy. Kirsch’s 2002 meta-analysis on the efficacy of antidepressants influenced official guidelines for the treatment of depression in the United Kingdom. His 2008 meta-analysis was covered extensively in the international media and listed by the British Psychological Society as one of the “10 most controversial psychology studies ever published.” His book, The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, has been published in English, French, Italian, Japanese, Turkish, and Polish, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Mind Book of the Year award. It was the topic of 60 Minutes segment on CBS and a 5-page cover story in Newsweek. In 2015, the University of Basel (Switzerland) awarded Irving Kirsch an Honorary Doctorate in Psychology. In 2019, the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis honoured him with their “Living Human Treasure Award.”

1 hour presentation
14:45 - 15:45
Kew Theatre

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