Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Self-Hypnosis Helps Tourette's Syndrome

Young People With Tourette's Reduce Tics Through Self-Hypnosis, Researchers Say
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

July 12, 2010 -- Self-hypnosis taught by using videotaped instruction may help children and adolescents control the tics that characterize Tourette’s syndrome, a new study finds.

Researchers at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine enlisted 33 participants ages 6 to 19. After being taught self-hypnosis techniques aimed at reducing Tourette’s symptoms, nearly all of the patients experienced a dramatic increase in tic control after only a few sessions, researchers say.

The study is published online in the July issue of the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Self-Hypnosis for Tourette's Syndrome

The study participants were shown video clips of a young boy with Tourette’s before, during, and after self-hypnosis training. Then each child or teen was taught self-hypnosis in individual sessions.

The participants were assigned to practice self-hypnosis techniques three times daily and also to answer questions designed to increase their awareness of tics and how they felt when experiencing them. All of the young people had motor tics, and three also had verbal tics in initial evaluations by experts.

Jeffrey Lazarus, MD, who is now in private practice in California specializing in hypnosis, says self-hypnosis helps people experience a state of mind that combines relaxation with concentration on a desired point of focus, pushing other thoughts or feelings into the background.

“Once the patient is in his or her highly focused special place, work is then done on controlling the tic,” Lazarus says in a news release. “We ask the patient to imagine the feeling right before that tic occurs and to put up a stop sign in front of it, or to imagine a tic switch that can be turned on and off like a light switch.”

Patients are also encouraged to conjure up their own images.

The researchers say that nearly all of the patients had significantly improved tic control after only a few sessions -- 12 after two sessions, 13 after three visits, and one after four.

Self-Hypnosis Treats Tourette's Without Drugs

This type of non-drug therapy to control tics is attractive because medications used to control Tourette’s symptoms can be associated with negative side effects, the authors say.

Also, the researchers say that doctors are reluctant to prescribe drugs for mild or moderate tic disorders, which many kids outgrow anyway.

The use of videotape as a teaching aid presents several advantages, Lazarus says.

These include standardizing the way the method is taught, shortening the time required to teach self-hypnosis, and making the method more accessible to younger children. Tourette’s syndrome afflicts an estimated 200,000 people in the United States. Symptoms generally show between the ages of 5 and 18.

“Viewing a series of videotapes of another patient gives patients the reassurance that they are not the only ones in the world with this problem, and it gives them hope and the motivation that they can take control of their bodies and life challenges,” Lazarus says.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections