Electrifying the Mind: Pioneering Study Shows Brain Stimulation Boosts Hypnotizability for Pain Relief

Breakthrough in Hypnotherapy

A groundbreaking study from Stanford University reveals that electrically stimulating specific brain regions can temporarily increase a person’s susceptibility to hypnosis. This innovation has significant implications for treating chronic pain and other conditions traditionally managed through hypnotherapy.

The Science Behind the Discovery

The research, led by Afik Faerman at Stanford University, focused on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a key area of the brain associated with information processing and decision-making. The team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to deliver short bursts of electrical pulses to this region in individuals with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. Remarkably, this brief stimulation, lasting just over 1.5 minutes, elevated the participants’ hypnotizability for up to an hour.

Methodology and Findings

The study involved 80 participants with fibromyalgia, none of whom were highly susceptible to hypnosis initially. Half received the TMS treatment, while the other half underwent a sham procedure. The hypnotizability of participants was measured using the “hypnotic induction profile,” a standard assessment tool. Those who received actual brain stimulation exhibited a significant increase in hypnotizability, scoring about one point higher than before the treatment. This effect, however, was transient, diminishing after an hour.

Implications for Treatment and Beyond

This research opens new avenues for hypnotherapy, particularly as an alternative to long-term opioid use in chronic pain management. The transient increase in hypnotizability could allow more individuals to benefit from hypnosis-based therapies. Furthermore, the study hints at the potential of neurostimulation in temporarily altering other stable traits or enhancing responses to different forms of psychotherapy.

Future Directions

The Stanford team plans to investigate if varying the dosage of neurostimulation could further enhance hypnotizability. They are also interested in exploring the broader applications of this technique in psychotherapy.


The ability to temporarily increase a person’s susceptibility to hypnosis through electric brain stimulation marks a significant stride in both neuroscience and clinical psychology. This technique holds promise not only for pain management but also for a broader range of psychological and psychiatric conditions.

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