Ep. 9 - eating disorders and hypnosis: what the science reveals
April 4th, 2022
Welcome back to the Weight Loss with Hypnosis Podcast!
This blog post includes a transcript from an episode of the Weight Loss with Hypnosis podcast. To listen to the full episode, click the link here.
This episode also referenced several studies on hypnosis and eating disorders. If you’d like to reference the studies, you can find them at the links below:
Hypnosis in Psychiatry:
Hypnosis in the Therapy of Anorexia Nervosa:
Hypnosis, Hypnotizability, and the Bulimic Patient:
If you feel you often lose control of your eating and your hunger, if you feel anxious or even afraid to enter your kitchen or go out to eat with friends. If you feel you can’t stop eating once you start, or you no longer want to be controlled by food and the emotions that surround it, lean in my friend and get inspired.
This is your wake up call to a life where food doesn’t control you. Where you’re comfortable with what you eat and where you can easily stop whenever you want to. This isn’t science fiction and it’s not another empty weight loss promise. This is hypnosis. And if you like this show, you’ll love my powerful hypnosis audio, The Binge Blocker Protocol. This hypnosis helps you stop out of control eating the moment you feel that urge. It’s a 15 minute audio that deals with the emotions behind compulsive eating. Once those emotions are out of the way, the urge to overeat goes [00:01:00] away with it. Once you get your binge blocker protocol, you can download it to your phone to carry with you whenever you might feel that urge. Whether in a restaurant, in your home or even at your workplace when those breakroom donuts are calling your name. Whether you call it a binge, overeating or simply losing control for a moment, this audio will help you resolve it. You can get your Binge Blocker Protocol by going to anywherehypnosis.com.
That’s anywherehypnosis.com. Right on the homepage, you’ll see where you can get your copy of the Binge Blocker Protocol right now. And I’m serious about that, right now. Pause this podcast to go get your hypnosis today. Don’t worry. I’ll still be here when you get back. Go to anywherehypnosis.com and sign up.
It’s completely free. And if you’re even thinking about getting this hypnosis, trust me, get this hypnosis today. Try it out because you’ll never know just [00:02:00] how effective this can be until you test it out in your own life. Again, that’s anywherehypnosis.com. One more time, anywherehypnosis.com. Now on with the show.
This is the weight loss with hypnosis podcast, where we share the why and the how of losing weight, eating right, and overcoming compulsive eating. Even better, we’re doing it with the minimum of lost time and wasted effort. My name is Doug Sands and I’m your weight loss and compulsive eating hypnotist. On this show you’re going to learn about more than hypnosis alone. You’re also going to get cutting edge interviews with industry leading health experts from dieticians and nutritionists to fitness experts, psychologists, and more. We’re also diving deep into the emotions that cause us to overeat and retain extra weight, or even explore the unconscious patterns that cause compulsive eating, body image issues and even eating disorders. [00:03:00] Get ready my friend, because this show may change your life forever. Let’s get started.
Welcome back to the weight loss with hypnosis podcast. My name is Doug sands and I’m the hypnotist and the host behind this show. And in this episode, we’re going to be exploring the studies done on hypnosis for disordered eating. If you’re a returning listener, you know, that we already did one focused specifically on weight loss and hypnosis.
And while there are a lot of great studies in that episode, there were a few too many to share, specifically those around disordered eating, compulsive, eating, and body image issues. There are actually a surprising number of studies around all three of these areas and I wanted to create a separate episode devoted to those entirely. So if you haven’t heard the one about the weight loss studies and you’re interested, I encourage you to subscribe, click the button on whatever podcasting platform you’re listening [00:04:00] to, because you won’t miss out on future episodes. And you’ll be able to review past episodes like that one on weight loss studies. This episode is perfect for those who want the hard science of hypnosis and disordered eating people who want the numbers, the percentages, the raw data, the science behind what I’ve been saying all along. Links to all of these studies are going to be in the show notes or in the description if you’re watching this on YouTube. And if you’d like to, I encourage you to check out those links and do your own research on this. And along the way, in this episode, I’m going to share some of the process of how I work with disordered eating. It’s a little bit different than what you might expect. So with that, let’s dive right into the content.
First of all, let’s talk about hypnosis and bulemia, and I want you to remember, this is not a diagnosis. This is not a doctor’s recommendation. This is simply information that you can use to find another way to deal with this issue. So there are a surprising number of studies done on [00:05:00] hypnosis for bulemia.
And if you want to see for yourself, I encourage you to go to Google scholar and search hypnosis and bulemia. When I did this, there were multiple pages of studies devoted to hypnosis and bulemia as well as other eating disorders. But I understand that no one really wants to sift through hundreds of studies just to get at this information.
And that’s why I took the time to do this for you. So let’s dive in with the first study. This is a study that comes from hypnosis hypnotizability and the bulemia patient. And here’s a direct quote from that study. Beaumont and Abraham, two researchers, reported that 75% of the bulimics they studied had experienced dissociative experiences of depersonalization or derealization during their binge purge cycles. Bulimics reported feeling that they’re bingeing and purging behaviors occur automatically, somehow out of their conscious control. And here’s why this is so important. First of all, I want to explain what dissociation [00:06:00] is. It’s that feeling you get when you’re kind of outside of your body?
It’s as if you’re watching your events happening in life, as if you’re looking at a movie. think for a moment of a memory that you’ve got. When you view that memory of the movie screen of your mind, are you in it? Are you looking out through your own eyes or are you watching yourself as if you are there on a screen?
When you are in that memory, you are associated, you’re looking out your own eyes and it’s as if you are actually there. If anyone has ever had a dream where they’re flying or they’re naked in front of a speech, or they’re chased by a Tyrannosaurus Rex around the pool, like I had once, absolutely terrifying. But.
That is when you were associated in that dream, because it feels real. When we dissociate from something, we are literally putting distance between us and that event, when we are dissociated from memory, we may not feel the emotions, the results, the reactions that we felt during that specific memory, quite as strongly as if we were actually [00:07:00] associated with this.
And dissociation is a very important part of hypnosis. And we’ll talk about that more in a little bit, but I also wanted to mention that the study explained that the behaviors seem to occur automatically as if they were out of conscious control. When this happens, it’s an action that has become so ingrained, the conscious mind no longer has any control to change it or divert it or get it out of the way or even stop doing it in the middle of this thing. Here’s why this happens. The unconscious mind is responsible for this behavior because it believes it is good for you. Your unconscious believes it is helping you with this specific behavior, in this case, bulemia. Your unconscious believes it is solving some certain problem with this very unique way of doing it. It may also be a problem that you used to have, but it’s no longer in your life. Maybe for many people, it was a trauma that you faced in childhood or a judgment or something else that shook the moral [00:08:00] fabric of your life.
And in those cases, that’s often when the brain will reach for any and all solutions that it can grab, even if the solution might not be the best overall. And this is so important because the brain responds to the world of yesterday. The brain is not responding to what is in front of you.
The brain is responding to what it experienced yesterday and the day before that and the year and the decade before that as well. Your brain is trying to make sure the bad things that happened to you in the past never happened again. Your brain can not predict every single bad thing that might happen to you in the future, but it knows that there is at least some likelihood that a certain bad thing that happened in your past might happen again, because if it could happen once it can happen again, right? And that’s the logic that your unconscious mind is using when it is using these tools to solve certain problems. Even though the problem may eventually become worse than the actual thing, the actual issue that it was trying to solve in the first [00:09:00] place, the brain is going to continue holding onto that because it does not want to give up a solution that it knows will work.
And here’s why this is such a problem. Logically, the conscious mind knows that it’s an ineffective program that maybe it’s actually hurting you more than it’s actually helping you, but the unconscious mind continues to use this solution because it’s the best that you’ve got.
That’s because the brain hates to take risks. The brain was developed in primal times when taking risks could literally mean death. If you took a risk trying to find a new water source and you didn’t find it, you could literally die. If you took a risk and ignored that rustling in the Bush, and it turned out to be a tiger and it ate you, you die. So the brain responds to risk in the same way. At our core level, our unconscious is deeply averse to risk. And this is true for everyone, whether it’s a thrill seeker who jumps out of airplanes or someone who cannot even go outside because they’re too [00:10:00] scared of what might happen.
You’re unconscious honestly is the most risk averse part of your mind. It’s the part that wants to keep the status quo, even if the status quo is not always perfect. In fact, the unconscious will stick with an imperfect program rather than running something new even if that imperfect program is hurting you in the long run.
Now to change this behavior with tools like hypnosis, we need to give the unconscious mind another way to achieve the same goal. We’re essentially giving it a new program, hopefully one that works a little bit better and still achieves that goal. And here’s why, because if you take away the program that the brain currently has without offering an alternative, you’re essentially creating a ticking time bomb.
You are in effect, removing the pressure release valve off a tank that is continually building pressure. And if it cannot release that pressure in some way, in this case with bulemia and you remove that [00:11:00] completely without giving them a tool, it’s going to build and build and build and build a build until it explodes, until it becomes something perhaps even worse, something like a gambling or sex addiction, another form of release even if that release doesn’t help you in the long run.
The thing here is that when the unconscious mind and the conscious mind are at odds with each other, the unconscious mind almost always wins. It may not be immediately, but when willpower runs out, when the chips are down and when your conscious mind is looking the other direction, the unconscious is going to get its way.
The unconscious is that sneaky trickster that wakes you up at two o’clock just to get that whatever delicious treat you might’ve been craving all day long, but you didn’t actually have. It’s that trickster that keeps using a tool like bulemia, even though it’s not actually helping you. And this is actually why hypnosis is so effective for dealing with disordered eating. Hypnosis is one of the very few treatments that works directly with the unconscious mind. The [00:12:00] part of us that stores those habits, those patterns, those mental programs that are creating this problem. Hypnosis gives the unconscious mind a selection of new programs to solve that same problem once it has those better options and no longer needs the option of disordered eating.
The key here is that in hypnosis, we have to reassure the unconscious mind that it’s safe to release this tool. Hypnosis is all about trust, both with the hypnotist and with yourself. With being able to make those changes and enjoy the process and actually enjoy the life that you have afterwards. You have to trust that you’re going to be all right or even better after this change happens.
And as an interesting note, what many many studies found was that patients with bulemia are actually exceptionally good at using hypnosis? Why is that? Because they are in effect already on themselves. Remember what I mentioned before about dissociation? That is [00:13:00] a key part of hypnosis. In hypnosis we are often disassociating from the self. Because when you are dissociated, you have more space between you and your emotions. And it’s easier to make changes when you’re not so attached to the change that’s happening. Also those with the bulemia may have stronger imaginations, which leads to stronger hypnosis.
Those who believe that they have this body image issue or another thing that is triggering this bulemia may have a strong imagination that they can use for good instead. And here’s why a strong imagination is so important, because to communicate with the unconscious mind, we need to use a language that the unconscious understands, and that means using thoughts, feelings, images, essentially the things that we had before we developed language. The unconscious mind actually developed out of our brainstem, out of that part that controls our lungs, our heart, our liver functions. All the hundreds and thousands of enzymes that are functioning [00:14:00] every single moment in our body without us realizing it.
It’s the part that was designed to keep us alive. And that is one of the oldest parts of our brain. And before we had language, our brain had to communicate with us in ways that we could understand too. So it would use things like gut feelings or flashes if we were sleeping or something.
Things that your mind can communicate without having to speak with you directly. And because our mind is still developing, slowly growing with this language that relatively speaking we haven’t had for that long, our unconscious mind still prefers to use that language. And those with stronger imaginations like those who have bulemia, already know how to use these tools.
And if you think you’re struggling with bulemia specifically, and you want to learn more about hypnosis, I encourage you to subscribe, click the plus sign or the bell if you are watching this on YouTube, because you won’t want to miss what’s coming next in upcoming episodes. And if you’re curious about the exact [00:15:00] ways that I help clients with this issue, or with issues like anorexia or binge eating disorder and how I can help you to overcome this often in as little as two sessions, I encourage you to schedule a time for a strategy call, go to anywherehypnosis.com and reserve your time right there on the homepage.
Now, I only do a limited number of these each month, because this is a time investment for me. And that’s time I could be spending, helping those clients who are already ready to make that change. Now, this program is an investment and when you are ready to invest in change that happens rapidly for you, let’s talk. Now, much of what we’ve already discussed, also applies to other issues like anorexia, binge eating disorder and less common issues. Now that we’ve touched on bulemia, let’s talk about some studies focused on anorexic patients. This one comes from Hypnosis In The Therapy Of Anorexia Nervosa. It was published in 2011 in the American journal of clinical hypnosis.
[00:16:00] Here’s what it had to say. Hypnosis was used successfully in treating 50 patients suffering from anorexia nervosa. Hypnotherapeutic intervention is most effective in treating such symptoms of this disorder as hyperactivity, distorted body image, failure of interoceptive awareness, feelings of inadequacy, perfectionistic tendencies, and the resistance to therapy.
And here’s a really crucial point that I want to point out about anorexia. So often it’s about perfection, but what many of us don’t realize is that perfectionism is just fear in good shoes. I forget who actually said that quote, I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert. But, perfectionism is just fear in good shoes. Meaning that at the root, it’s just fear that something is not going to happen, that you’re not going to get love unless you’re perfect or you’re not going to be accepted unless you’re perfect. And dealing with the root cause instead of trying to attack the issues, the symptoms if you will, of that anorexia, that’s going to be a [00:17:00] losing battle and it’s going to be a struggle that you’re not going to actually get anywhere with. And that’s where hypnosis and other modalities can come in very effective.
So let’s look at another one. This one comes from the Place Of Hypnosis In Psychiatry, and here’s a quote that really caught my attention. Kroger and Fezler, two researchers from 1976, recommended a combination of behavioral therapy and hypnosis in order to help patients increase their weight.
And this was achieved by the use of post-hypnotic suggestions in which food was associated with pleasant memories. A similar approach was used by Davis (1961), who use post-hypnotic suggestions to promote the fact that food tastes good and that one needs food to stay alive. The same text also tells one of the many stories of Milton H. Erickson, a hypnotist who many consider to be the best of all time. Milton Erickson lived in Arizona, in an area of Phoenix and he [00:18:00] helped so many people using some very, very creative ways. And if you’re curious, I encourage you to check out his work. But Erickson in this case, was helping a young woman named Barbie with anorexia. Barbie was only eating one oyster cracker and one glass of ginger ale each and every day.
And Ericson used hypnosis to work on improving her autonomy. And when we look at it this way, It’s kind of an interesting way to tackle an eating disorder. But I want to remind you that eating disorders are never about food. It’s about the emotions, about the emotional programs that we have running that cause us to do these certain behaviors.
And this is genius. Erickson used reverse psychological approaches to create this change. And here are the results of what Ericsson found with hypnosis. This course of treatment was highly successful. Barbie had achieved her desired body weights and was now eating normal meals during the course of the day. A long-term followup of 14 years [00:19:00] duration showed that she had made an excellent recovery. And this really reinforces the point that we all want autonomy. Sometimes autonomy means going against our own wishes just to stick it to the man or just to say something else and to be free.
And this is really to bring up an important point about our unconscious. Even if the solution might not be great in the longterm, if it solves the problem in the short term, your brain might still go with it. And so looking at the same article, let’s look at another use of hypnosis for anorexia.
In a nutshell, a 15 year old girl was admitted to the hospital. She had gone from having 103 pounds down to 50 pounds. That’s half her body weight. This girl was struggling.
She had fingers that were literally turning blue and she was fidgeting constantly. She was taught to you self-hypnosis for 15 minutes a day, and this drastically reduced her hyperactivity. This is what the study quoted. This treatment approach [00:20:00] is very similar to the river approach in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, which has been used extensively.
On this system, she gained two pounds each week and eventually reached a hundred pounds again. And during this time she became much calmer, and felt that she was able to explore some of the underlying causes of her anorexia. And shifting gears a little bit, looking at hypnosis for body image. This is one of the underlying issues that comes up with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder, and so many other issues in this area. Hypnosis is in fact, used extensively with body dysmorphic disorder and for disordered eating that comes with it. Here’s a quote from that same study. A case of a 17 year old female patient, Cathy who started losing weight after her boyfriend had commented about the size of her thighs.
She had gone from 130 pounds to 80 pounds and was subsequently admitted to the hospital. Cathy had a distorted body image. [00:21:00] She believed her hips and thighs were huge, even though in reality, they were quite thin. She was also preoccupied with the notion of gaining weight. In the hypnosis, she was instructed to look at the picture of eight craft and craft herself on admission. She was then asked to project herself into the future and to model herself on a favorite film star. Also, the therapist suggested that she should touch her thighs during the hypnosis and gradually she began to view her body with a more realistic light.
Concurrently, she started to put on weight and in a period of four months, she reached 118 pounds. Importantly, she was able to stabilize her weight and this was maintained over a three year period. Again, hypnosis is not just a flash in the pan.
Hypnosis is something that lasts long-term, especially as you build upon those changes. Here’s another quote from the same study. Nash and Baker in 1993, treated 36 female patients suffering from [00:22:00] anorexia nervosa and reported that at the 6 to 12 month follow-ups, 76% of the patients who received a combination of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy had a remission of symptoms that stabilized their weight.
This compared favorably with the group who had psychotherapy only where the corresponding figure was 53%. That’s almost a quarter more people who saw successful results when using hypnosis as an adjunct to regular therapy. And finally, hypnosis has a long history of helping people with disordered eating.
And if you’re curious, I encourage you to go to Google scholar and check this out. You can also find some of the top studies on my website. That is anywherehypnosis.com. And if you’d like links to these specific studies, check out the show notes or the description if you’re watching on YouTube. Finally, if you’re ready to make this change, let’s get started today.
Book your strategy call on my website because you may be ready to get this out of your [00:23:00] life for good. I want to ask you, what’s keeping you from making this change and making it now? How will your life be different when you no longer suffer from this issue? When you’re ready, go to anywherehypnosis.com and book your time.
Remember, there are limited number of these each month and looking at the calendar now, there are still a few available for this month and for the coming month ahead. I encourage you to get on this and get started today. Again, my name is Doug Sands and I help compulsive and emotional eaters to end the obsession with food and make peace with it, often in as little as two sessions. Thank you so much for watching and for listening. And I look forward to seeing you in the next one.
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To your journey towards better health,
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