Virtual Reality Hypnosis – How A Hypnotherapy Treatment Using Virtual Reality Works

Virtual Reality Hypnosis – How A Hypnotherapy Treatment Using Virtual Reality Works

virtual reality hypnosis


If you were to look down a virtual staircase or walk through a virtual mall, the reality would not be the same as that which is really there.


 You’d be able to find a specific person walking that staircase in front of you, just as you would discover that person walking down the mall. The difference is that you’re looking through a virtual reality device, rather than looking at a real-world person walking the same path. And it’s not only you that feels different.


Closer to Virtual Reality and the Simulation Hypothesis


Virtual reality can also have psychological and social benefits. The virtual environment can be thought of like your own personal laboratory. With the advent of emerging social media, the human brain will soon be able to explore the worlds of online gaming and the physical world. 


In virtual reality, the viewer is immersed in an active real environment, which offers the user new stimuli and a sense of self-awareness. The user can become social, while the environment can be used to explore their own thoughts and experiences. It is a new way to engage in social interaction. 


Virtual reality can also be used to help patients with a variety of neurodegenerative conditions. The experience of the virtual environment is similar to that of real life. Some of the medical advancements that have resulted from virtual reality include brain stimulation, hypnotherapy, and functional magnetic resonance imaging procedures.



Virtual  Hypnosis for Pain Associated with a Fracture


A 69-year-old person with a history of arterial hypertension, COPD and acute symptomatic aortic valve stenosis had quite a proximal fracture-dislocation of the humerus during a syncopic episode. Because the patient had to be immobilized for roughly two hours in a position better known as a beach chair, they used virtual reality hypnosis to cause sedation and enhance ease of the mind without using medication. 

Headphones and head-mounted goggles supplied the self-hypnosis virtual reality by displaying pictures of underwater scenes produced by computers.


These images were then passed on to the user, and they were told that they could go down into the pool at random points throughout the movie to swim and were also presented with different scenarios and asked to interpret what was happening.


 To reduce the sensory dissonance of the whole experience, subjects did not know what they were doing at all times. Even when the virtual reality was not working, subjects still could feel the effects, as they could feel the “surprise sensations” that occur when they are being hypnotized. He was then asked his guesses as to when the images appeared to come from, and they had a high degree of accuracy in that assessment.


The operation lasted 90 minutes, which saw the maintenance of hemodynamic stability. The patient was calm and could communicate with the anesthesiologist and answer questions if needed. During the operation, he revealed no pain.


Researchers concluded that with virtual reality hypnosis for pain, non-pharmacological sedation can be accomplished. Patients with prolonged surgery under regional anesthesia can be provided with this choice.


virtual reality hypnosis pain


Virtual Hypnotherapy and EEC Coherence


Seventeen were randomly assigned to hypnosis in a clinical setting or control conditions. Ten participants gave consent; the remaining participants were included to determine if hypnosis and non-hypnosis EEG coherence can be related to performance results. A baseline test of EEG coherence during virtual reality hypnotizing was performed, after which the subject underwent a series of virtual reality-related sessions. A total of 45 sessions were performed with ten different types of hypnosis. A total of 40 EEG recordings were analyzed. 


The method of virtual reality hypnotherapy taken by this research used a spoken hypnotic induction with recommendations for relaxation, with ambient background sounds and scenes of rivers and brooks. The initial sixteen minutes of the program lasted for relaxed hypnotic induction and the hypnotic proposal was intended to maintain the fulfilled condition up until the final stage of hypnosis cessation.


Patient Settings During Hypnotic Induction


Participants were sitting in a darkened space in the same height as the chair, with legs resting on a footrest. Participants were subsequently equipped with EEG equipment; VR equipment made up of virtual reality and earphones. The neck was also supported by an inflatable neck pillow. Recordings were started with a 2-minute baseline period for the respondents to sit still with their eyes shut. The hypnosis stimuli started with the hypnosis DVD after the baseline period. The hypnotic induction used the VR device to introduce a relaxed, hypnotic 22-minute induction.


Two of the key issues of psycho-physiological studies of hypnosis are whether an alert state is distinguished from a hypnotic state by electrocortical distinctions and whether elevated and low hypnotizability show contrasting brain functions. The present study aimed to test these issues. Researchers used EEG-fMRI imaging to assess the effects of hypnosis on neural activity during visual task performance in the adults during a visual imagery task. 


EEG recordings were obtained during an active state in the awakened state. They used the combined method of signal attenuation analysis, time-domain analysis, and spectral analysis to examine the contrast between the two states. Although these results work to reduce the functions of the left frontier regions in the hypnotic phase, it continues quite controvertible to apply coherence as a functional connectivity measure for the underlying themes.


The ability of the current results of this study to address coherence with psychophysiological activity suggests that the results can be generalized to other regions associated with specific processes. For instance, coherence is a highly coherent activity pattern across the left and right frontal lobes. Furthermore, coherence across the right and left mid-parietal lobes would be highly relevant to other phenomena such as semantic processing. 


Does Virtual Reality Hypnosis Really Work?


That is a very good question. Many of these techniques highlighted in the research above involve using trance-like conditions to induce or “trigger” relaxation, concentration, and relaxation. People use these techniques just to help themselves relax, and the majority of times these techniques work when working with a licensed clinical hypnotherapist. These suggestions definitely make a difference in a person’s mental health. 

Mark Barrus

Mark Barrus is the Director of Healthy Life Centers. I have been in the Hypnosis industry for over 20 years, and have written many articles about the efficacy and effectiveness of Hypnotherapy to overcome unwanted habits and actions. Twenty years of Case Study research and examination have helped me to inform the industry on the results and be a leader in the field. I originally worked with Dr. Richard Neves, the former head of the American Board of Hypnotherapy, training other Hypnotherapists in Advanced Smoking Cessation protocols. In February 2005, we also started Healthy Life Centers, in Orange County, CA

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