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Related Research

Research supporting the use of guided imagery and other forms of hypnosis, including the “placebo effect,” is extensive. In general, it falls into two principal albeit overlapping categories: overviews with explanations appropriate for the general public, and reports of experiments intended for those interested in the supporting scientific evidence.

Our focus here will be on providing titles of books and links to articles or summaries available on the Internet. In general, we have used an informal method of citation to allow for easier access by most people. We have done our best to provide sufficient information for you to find the books and articles that will best meet your needs and level of interest in the experimental evidence that supports the efficacy of guided imagery and hypnosis in both personal and clinical applications. Some of the Internet links will take you to articles heavy with statistics (including meta-analyses of other articles). If something seems too complex, simply move on to the next one, as you’re sure to find the same information in a more accessible way elsewhere.

For those who wish to explore on their own, use one of the search engines on the Internet to search for the following terms (one at a time): guided imagery, hypnosis, trance, and placebo. Add + health or +surgery, or add the appropriate term for a condition of interest.

For example, a Google search for “guided imagery” +health produces about 3,480,000 results. While many listings are for products and services, many are also reports of research. We suggest that you spend whatever time and energy you need to have confidence that the form of hypnosis called guided imagery will help you meet your objectives. What we provide here is just a brief sampling of what’s available. Use the following as a starting point. One link will lead to another until you have what you need to feel confident that guided imagery and other forms of hypnosis can be a powerful addition to whatever medical procedures you may also employ.

Physicians and surgeons in particular need to be aware that “white-coat syndrome” influences more than a patient’s blood pressure. Virtually every word you say to a patient becomes a hypnotic command, so the more you know about guided imagery, hypnosis, and the “language of the unconscious mind”, the better off you—and your patients—will be.

Convenient Links to Select Books

Imagine Healing: Using Guided Imagery to Help You Heal, Preview and Order. Debra Basham and Joel P. Bowman.

Relaxation REVOLUTION: Enhancing Your Personal Health Through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing, Herbert Benson, M.D., and William Proctor, J.D.

Healing Scripts: Using Hypnosis to Treat Trauma and Stress, Marlene E. Hunter, M.D.

The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.

Magic in Practice: Introducing Medical NLP: The Art and Science of Language in Healing and Health, Garner Thomson and Khalid Khan.

Guided imagery for Healing Children and Teens, Ellen Curran.

Additional Internet Resources

Additional Reading for Professionals

  • Achterberg, J., Dossey, B., and Kolkmeier, L. (1994). Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness. New York, Bantam Books. Written by a psychologist and two nurses, it contains the inspiring stories of patients who have used imagery for personal healing.

  • Austin, A., (2007). The Rainbow Machine: Tales of a Neurolinguist’s Journal. Boulder, CO, Real People Press. Written by a registered nurse who spent many years working in clinical neurology and neurosurgery before developing a specialty in psychiatric and mental-health emergencies using NLP-oriented therapies.

  • Benor, D. J. (2001). Spiritual Healing: Scientific Validation of a Healing Revolution. Southfield, MI: Vision Publications. Many scientific studies showing the efficacy of mind-body procedures are presented.

  • Benor, D. J. (2004). Consciousness, Bioenergy, and Healing: Self-Healing and Energy Medicine for the 21st Century. Medford, NJ: Wholistic Healing Publications. Includes a number of specific references to the efficacy of imagery in treating a variety of physical and psychological problems.

  • Benson, H. (1975) The Relaxation Response. New York: Avon. Showcases Benson’s extensive testing in the laboratories of Harvard Medical School and Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. Once learned, the Relaxation Response only takes 10 to 20 minutes twice and day and, can release your body’s hidden defenses against stress and stress-triggered illnesses (including high blood pressure).

  • Benson, H. (1984) Beyond the Relaxation Response. New York: Times Books. Features the Faith Factor, the vital “next step” beyond the Relaxation Response, the stress reduction program that has helped millions of Americans.

  • Benson, H. (1989) Your Maximum Mind: Change your Life by Changing the Way You Think. New York: Avon. Describes the use of the relaxation response to improve health and well-being and to realize personal and professional goals.

  • Benson, H. and Proctor, W. (2010) Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing Your Personal Health Through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing. New York, NY: Scribner A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Presents scientific proof that the mind can heal the body, and describes how patients can recover more quickly by enhancing the natural recovery process through a more calm and positive mental state.

  • Borysenko, J. (1988). Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. New York: Bantam. Discusses the relationship between the way we think and the way we feel.

  • Buscaglia, L. (1982). The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story for All Ages. Thorofare, NJ: Charles B. Slack, Inc. A wonderful story of how Freddie changes with the passing seasons, this book is deeply touching for the child in each of us at any age facing the inevitability of the life-death cycle.

  • Byock, I. (2004). The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living. New York: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Four simple but transformative phrases—“Please forgive me,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you”—show us how to heal distances that have kept us apart from others in our lives.

  • Boyne, G. (1989). Transforming Therapy: A New Approach to Hypnotherapy. Glendale, CA: Westwood Publishing Company. Provides a readable introduction to the uses of hypnosis for solving problems. Contains a number of transcripts of problem-solving sessions using common hypnotic phenomena.

  • Brown, P. (1991). The Hypnotic Brain: Hypnotherapy and Social Communication. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Provides an excellent coverage of the evidence supporting hypnosis as a standard element of the communication process.

  • Bowman, J. P. and Basham, D. (2009) Healing with Language: Your Key to Effective Mind-Body Communication. Order from SCS Matters, LLC.

  • Charvet, S. C. (1995). Words That Change Minds: Mastering the Language of Influence. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt. Covers the metaprograms using the Language and Behavioral (LAB) Profile system created by Rodger Bailey.

  • Childre, D. (1994). One-Minute Stress Management Freeze Frame: A Scientifically Proven Technique for Clear Decision Making and Improved Health. Boulder, CA: Planetary Pulications. Presents a revolutionary approach and the research studies demonstrating breakthrough tools for stress reduction.

  • Cousins, N. (1989). Head First: the Biology of Hope. New York, Penguin Books. “Don’t deny the diagnosis,” says Norman Cousins. “Try to defy the verdict.” Presents the scientific evidence for his conviction that the mind can help heal the body.

  • Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: Avon Books. Provides a highly readable analysis of the way emotions are an essential component of rational thinking.

  • Damasio, A. R. (1999). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace. Addresses the issue of consciousness and its development from preconscious behaviors designed to ensure survival.

  • Damasio, A. (2003). Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. New York: Harcourt. Describes the relationship between feelings and thoughts.

  • Dilts, R., Hallbom, T., & Smith, S. (1989). Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well-being. Cupertino, CA: Meta Publications. Provides excellent coverage of the relationship between beliefs and physical and mental health. Includes coverage of procedures for changing belief structures.

  • Dilts, R. (1999). Sleight of Mouth: The Magic of Conversational Belief Change. Capitola, CA: Meta Publications. Offers extensive and excellent coverage of what are usually called the advanced language patterns, including ways they can be used to change “thought viruses” and other limiting beliefs.

  • Dolka, K, and Davidson, J. (1998). Living with Grief: Who We Are How We Grieve. Washington, D.C.: Hospice Foundation of America. This book was produced as a companion to the Hospice Foundation of America’s fifth annual National Bereavement Teleconference.

  • Dossey, L. (1983). Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. N.Y., HarperCollins. You will witness scientific reasoning for restoring the spiritual art of healing to the science of medicine. Dossey is the former Chief of Staff of Humana (Dallas), and co-chair of the Panel of Mind/Body Interventions, Office of Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

  • Ellis, A. (1988). How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything: Yes, Anything. Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, Inc. Provides excellent coverage of using Rational Emotive Therapy to overcome depression.

  • Ellis, A. and Harper, R. A. (1975). A New Guide to Rational Living. No. Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Books. One of the best books available on understanding the self and others and using Rational Emotive Therapy to improve one’s outlook on life and relationships with others.

  • Erickson, M. H. (1992). Mind-body Communication in Hypnosis. New York: Irvington Publishers. Covers the fundamentals of psychosomatic medicine and healing.

  • Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Excellent, well-written coverage of the way the unconscious mind facilitates the decision-making process and influences behavior.

  • Gordon, D. (1978). Therapeutic Metaphors: Helping Others Through the Looking Glass. Cupertino, CA: Meta Publications. Provides detailed instruction for the creation and use of therapeutic metaphors.

  • Gordon, D., and Meyers-Anderson, M. (1981). Phoenix: Therapeutic Patterns of Milton H. Erickson. Cupertino, CA: Meta Publications. Provides an introduction to the therapeutic interventions typically used by Erickson.

  • Grinder, J. and Bandler, R. (1976). The Stucture of Magic (Vol 2): A Book about Communication and Change. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books. Introduces several of the core concepts of NLP.

  • Grinder, J. and Bandler, R. (1981). Trance-formations: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis. Moab, UT: Real People Press. Covers the application of hypnosis to NLP techniques. A foundational work edited by Connirae Andreas from workshop transcripts.

  • Grinder, J., DeLozier, J., & Bandler, R. (1977). Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. (Vol 2). Cupertino, CA: Meta Publications. Provides additional coverage of Erickson’s use of language and includes analysis of transcripts of actual therapy.

  • Haley, J., ed. (1985). Conversations with Milton H. Erickson, M.D. New York: Triangle Press. Covers recorded conversations conducted over 17 years by John Weakland, Jay Haley, and Gregory Bateson with Erickson. In three volumes: Changing Individuals, Changing Couples, and Changing Children. Essential reading for therapists.

  • Heller, S., and Steele, T. (1987). Monsters and Magical Sticks: There’s No Such Thing as Hypnosis. Tempe, AZ: New Falcon Press. Excellent and highly readable coverage of the therapeutic uses of hypnosis.

  • King, M., Novik, L., & Citrenbaum, C. (1983). Irresistible Communication: Creative Skills for the Health Professional. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company. Provides excellent coverage of basic concepts and other-than-conscious communication skills.

  • Lakoff, G., and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Provides seminal coverage of the metaphorical nature of language. Considered the foundational book in covering the pervasiveness of metaphor.

  • Lankton, S., and Lankton, C. (1983). The Answer Within: A Clinical Framework of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel. Provides an excellent overview of Erickson’s philosophy of therapy and specific therapeutic techniques.

  • Leman, K., and Carlson, C. (1989). Unlocking the Secrets of Your Childhood Memories. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. Presents an introduction to the way childhood experiences create or crystallize core issues.

  • Ornish, D., (1999) Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy. New York: Harper Perennial. Addresses that medicine has not been trained to look the healing power of relationships. Encourages pain to be seen as something to be learned from, rather than feared or avoided. Honest revelations of his own personal healings.

  • Peale, N. V., (1959). The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking. New York: Random House, Inc. Shows you how a sense of confidence and inner strength comes from ways of thinking and believing.

  • Pert, C. B., (1997). Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine. New York: Touchstone. Pert’s work was featured in Bill Moyer’s book and PBS series Healing and the Mind. You will understand more how thoughts and emotions affect our health through chemicals inside our bodies.

  • Remen, R. N. (1996). Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal. New York: Riverhead Books. Remen addresses all of the spiritual issues—suffering, meaning, love, faith, and miracles—in a language of the human experience.

  • Rossi, E. L. (1993). The Psychobiology of Mind-body Healing: New Concepts of Therapeutic Hypnosis. New York: W. W. Norton. Provides excellent technical coverage of recent research in the effects of hypnosis on human psychology and physiology.

  • Satir, V. (1988). The New Peoplemaking. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books. Provides a good overview of Satir’s approach to therapeutic interventions.

  • Satir, V. (1985). Self-Esteem. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts. Brief treatment of an important topic by one of the best-known—and best—psychotherapists.

  • Siegel, B. (1986) Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients. New York: Harper and Row. This is Dr. Bernie Siegel’s first book, and it was a bestseller for many months after its publication. The book presents an amazing link between attitude and healing. He supports the idea that unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system.

  • Siegel, B. (1989). Peace, Love and Healing: Bodymind Communication & the Path to Self-Healing: an Exploration by Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. New York: Harper & Row. Siegel takes this next step in his writing of the mind/body unity as the way to self-healing.

  • Siegel, B. (1998). Prescriptions for Living: Inspirational Lessons for a Joyful, Loving Life. New York: HarperCollins. You will find this book overflowing with personal anecdotes and touching stories of how a positive attitude and an ability to give and receive love can influence our health, our ability to heal, and most important, the quality of our lives.

  • Siegel, B. (2005). 101 Exercises for the Soul: Divine Workout Plan for Body, Mind, and Spirit. Novata, CA: New World Library. Bernie takes a huge step as your personal coach and each page shows readers how to do what he discovered exceptional cancer patients do: create a positive mental attitude, overcome obstacles, and get empowered!

  • Thompson, G., Khan, K., (2008). Magic in Practice: Introducing Medical NLP: The Art and Science of Language In Healing and Health. London, UK, Hammersmith Press Limited. Thompson is a NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer, and creator of the Society of Medical NLP. Khan is a primary care physician and registered pharmacist, and also a medical acupuncturist.

  • Wegner, D. M. (2002). The Illusion of Conscious Will. Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books. Provides evidence for the power and scope of the unconscious mind in directing human activity.

  • Wilber, K. (1991, 2000). Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber. Boston: Shambhala. The touching personal story of Ken Wilber’s journey with his beloved wife as she was diagnosed with, treated for, and died from cancer. Her own journal entries are interwoven with Ken’s detailed account of their lives. This is a very powerful book, a must-read for any one working with others going through a medical crisis.

  • Wolinsky, S. (1991). Trances People Live. Falls Village, CT: The Bramble Company. Provides excellent coverage of problematic everyday trances and specific strategies for changing limiting behaviors.