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The pocketwatch starts to swing back and forth.

The man in the white coat intones, “you’re feeling sleepy, very sleepy.” Soon you’re walking across the stage wearing nothing but a tutu, clucking like a chicken. Or at least that’s the image hypnosis used to hold. Today hypnosis has moved off the stage and into the mainstream of medicine. Doctors of all stripes are using it do everything from treating asthma and getting rid of warts, to helping patients quit smoking, reducing pain during childbirth, and perhaps, recovering lost memories.

But while evidence of the beneficial effects of hypnosis abounds, our understanding of how it works hasn’t advanced much beyond Franz Anton Mesmer and his theories of animal magnetism in the early nineteenth century.

(Hosted by Jacki Lyden)


Harold Zamansky, Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University. Carol Ginandes, Clinical Psychologist and Instructor at Harvard Medical School