January 10, 2010 Herbert Spiegel, Doctor Who Popularized Hypnosis, Dies at 95 By BENEDICT CAREY Dr. Herbert Spiegel treated pain, anxiety and addictions by putting people into a trance. Broadway actors sought his help to overcome stage fright, singers to quit smoking, politicians to overcome fear of flying. For years he had a regular table at Elaine’s, as well as his own place on the national stage. A New York psychiatrist, Dr. Spiegel, who died on Dec. 15 at the age of 95, was far and away the country’s most visible and persuasive advocate for therapeutic hypnosis, having established it as a mainstream medical technique. Beginning in the 1950s, he described the technique, both its uses and misuses, in magazine articles and in courtrooms. In the 1960s, he developed the first quick and practical test for individual susceptibility to hypnosis; it is still widely used. In later decades he appeared on television programs like “60 Minutes” and he helped treat the woman known as Sybil, whose controversial case became the subject of a book and inspired two television movies. In a famous course at Columbia University, Dr. Spiegel taught generations of doctors the art and science of hypnosis — how concentrated relaxation and suggestion can have a powerful effect on thinking and behavior. His son, Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, said his father had died in his sleep at his home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, not far from Elaine’s, where Dr. Herbert Spiegel’s regular table was near Woody Allen’s at what was a fixture of the New York intellectual and creative scene in the 1960s and ’70s.
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