There's an app for that
Really? There are hypnosis apps out there? Over 1400 of them? Hmmmm. Consider me skeptical. From The Kernel.
The hypnosis health apps the FDA won’t do anything about
Hypnosis has always been somewhat controversial. According to Dr. David Patterson, a University of Washington professor and hypnosis practitioner, though, “Hypnosis is a true perceptual phenomenon that allows people to do remarkable things when used in the right circumstances, and it has accrued a surprising amount of scientific support over the last few years.” He suggests it can be a powerful therapeutic tool, and the American Psychological Association (APA) endorses it as a technique for treating conditions like anxiety. He also says, however, that it’s “a type of intervention that has always catered to people that are a bit on the edge.”
That type of intervention is no longer limited to professional use or those audiotapes you used to see advertised on late-night TV. It’s now available in the palm of your hand, thanks to any number of smartphone apps you can download, probably for free. And those apps—a search for “hypnosis” in Apple’s App Store yields 1,140 results—are among the many that promise health benefits, often with little to no evidence supporting their assertions. It’s a large-scale problem, and one that standard regulations may not be able to alleviate.
Let’s stick to hypnosis for now. In 2014, a team of researchers reviewed 1,455 hypnosis apps in the App Store and found not a single one “reported having been tested for efficacy, and none reported being evidence-based.” Their study indicates only 7 percent of hypnosis apps listed in the App Store even mentioned the developer’s medical credentials. “At best, apps not supported by empirical evidence are misleading, at worst, unethical,” they wrote in their report. The team recognized hypnosis apps have potential but ultimately need scrutiny.
The apps make alluring (if familiar) promises: You can lose weight, quit smoking, cure your insomnia, ADHD, agoraphobia, and alcoholism. Some even claim to perform past life regression—would you like to remember your past incarnations? Many users don’t seem to mind the lack of evidence. “Words cannot describe how I feel since using this app,” writes one iPhone user in the reviews for the Law of Attraction Hypnosis app. “It was amazing, and like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” writes another user of the app Past Life Regression Hypnosis (rated for ages 4 and up). “It felt like magic.”