Feature Archive

Got High Anxiety?

Calm Down With Hypnosis

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Gary Vogin

It was ten days before my wedding, and my mother and I were talking long distance. I was giving her a preview of the evening's highlights: my ten-year-old niece's speech about acquiring an aunt instead of an uncle from my lesbian marriage, and the non-mushy love poetry. Then I mentioned that my brother had composed a song for me to sing.

There was a pause. "Are you sure that's such a good idea?" my mother asked. "Won't you be nervous?"

Thanks, Mom.

For the previous year, I had been chipping away at my anxiety about singing in public. Every week I'd dragged myself to a local piano bar to belt out a tune. I had overcome my fear -- at least enough to find the prospect of singing at my own wedding reasonable, even attractive. Until that moment.

The worry that soaked my mother's well-meaning query seeped into me. By the time I hung up, tears had sprung to my eyes. That afternoon when I practiced the song, I was trembling again.

Hypnosis in a Hurry

"How about hypnosis?" my sister Dotty, a certified hypnotherapist, suggested. "Sure," I replied. Almost 20 years earlier, I'd used this method to banish migraines from my life. I knew people used hypnosis to control anxiety as well as pain, although I wondered whether the technique would really work in just a week and a half.