fake_gastric_banding_surgery.jpgMind over matter is much more easily said than done when it comes to losing weight—or at least, it usually is. While some decide to place matters into a surgeon’s hands and have gastric banding surgery, others have turned to hypnotists to make them believe that they’ve had the surgery, even when they haven’t.

The placebo effect is definitely in play here; the placebo effect is a phenomenon in which administering a placebo or fake treatment (that is to say, an inactive substance like saline solution, sugar, etc.) can result in a marked improvement in a patient’s condition simply because that patient expects or believes that the treatment is real and helpful.

In this case, a patient is hypnotized into believing that she or he has had gastric banding surgery, and this belief is strong enough to result in weight loss—as if the patient really has gone under the knife in the name of losing weight.

This ABC News article tells of Kay Lindley, who had her fake surgery done in Spain. She underwent “pre-surgery counseling,” which included the information she might have gotten if she were really going to get the surgery; this stretched across several sessions over a few days. In the final session, she was taken into an “operating room” in which she was given the sensual facsimile of an actual operating room—she could smell the antiseptics and hear doctors and nurses talking. Then she went under—not anesthesia, but hypnosis.

Lindley reportedly paid $1,077 for the fake surgery and hypnosis sessions; she says she’s lost 70 pounds within five months. ABC News reports that a representative of the Elite Clinic in Marbella, Spain, revealed that around 470 mock gastric banding procedures have been performed in the three years since the process was developed by hypnotists Martin and Marion Shirran, and these have resulted in weight loss in 70 percent of the clinic’s clients. Gastric Mind Band hypnosis hit the US in late 2009, and the stateside Elite Clinics have already had a number of patients.

Despite early successes from this procedure, not everyone is convinced that hypnosis will lead to long-lasting weight loss, and there is the bigger concern of nutrition. While the placebo effect may result in weight loss immediately after the mock surgery, there are doubts as to whether this will hold true a year or two down the line.

There is also the concern that simply eating less is not the solution to obesity—people have to learn to eat better. But just like we say “mind over matter,” that’s really something that’s easier said than done—especially in the land that introduced the Golden Arches and the supersize phenomenon to the rest of the world.


(Photo by Afonso Lima via sxc.hu)

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