This week, we explore the science of hypnosis, and take Science Vs to the edge of consciousness. In the service of journalism, Wendy tries to get hypnotized at a comedy club and in a doctor’s office. We talk to comedian Jim Spinnato, Prof. Philip Muskin, Prof. Amanda Barnier, and Prof. Amir Raz.


This episode has been produced by Heather Rogers, Wendy Zukerman, Caitlin Kenney, Austin Mitchell, Dr. Diane Wu, and Shruti Ravindran. Our senior producer is Kaitlyn Sawrey.

Edited by Annie-Rose Strasser. Fact Checking by Michelle Harris.

Sound design and music production by Matthew Boll, mixed by Martin Peralta. Music written by Martin Peralta and Bobby Lord.

Thanks to Alex Blumberg for being the man that spoke pretty often in the end… and Jonathan Goldstein for being our CIA agent… and if you like his CIA agent you’ll love his new show Heavyweight. It’s out next week and you can subscribe now.

Selected References2013 paper reviewing 100 journal articles on hypnosis Kihlstrom, JF, “Neuro-Hypnotism: Prospects for Hypnosis and Neuroscience,” Cortex, 2013.Is hypnotizability a genetic trait? Maybe, but it’s complicated Raz, A, et al. “Neuroimaging and genetic associations of attentional and hypnotic processes,” Journal of Physiology, 2006.Script for the Stanford test of hypnotizability Weitzenhoffer, AM and Hilgard, ER. “Stanford hypnotic susceptibility scale, Form C.” 1962.Highly hypnotizable people can be hypnotized to not recognize their own reflections Connors, MH et al. “Using hypnosis to disrupt face processing: Mirrored-self misidentification delusion and different visual media,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2014.There's more to hypnosis than expectation Lifshitz, M et al. “Can expectation enhance response to suggestion? De-automatization illuminates a conundrum,” Consciousness and Cognition, 2012.Brain study of a hypnotized man responding to suggestion that his leg is paralyzed Halligan, PW et al. “Imaging hypnotic paralysis: implications for conversion hysteria,” The Lancet, 2000.1955 CIA memo on hypnosis, 1960 CIA report on hypnosis