Tim Brunson DCH

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Critique of claims of improved visual acuity after hypnotic suggestion



Psychological approaches to improving vision present an enticing alternative to invasive procedures and corrective lenses; hypnotic suggestion is one such technique. During the past 60 years, multiple studies have documented improvements in the vision of myopic individuals after hypnotic interventions.

Given the increasing interest in behavioral and alternative approaches, we have reviewed the pertinent studies to evaluate their validity. We delineate various shortcomings in these reports, including potential methodological caveats, problems with experimental controls, and controversial data interpretation. Overall, the data do not seem to support hypnosis as a viable option for significant long-term improvement of myopia. However, hypnosis can increase one's subjective feeling of enhanced visual acuity by affecting higher cognitive functions, such as attention, memorization, and perceptual learning, which could influence performance on visual tasks.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Unit in the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York 10032, USA. ar2241@columbia.edu

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