Hypnotic breast enlargement
“”As an International Glamour Model my looks and breast size are very important to me. After following the British Hypnosis Breast Enlargement CDs for less than 1 month, I have already increased my breast size by 1 cup. I have also noticed that my breasts are firmer. I look forwards to continuing with the program and I am completely confident that the enlargement will continue. Thank you so much!
Hypnotic breast enlargement (HBE) is a process in which a woo-meister hypnotizes a woman[note 1] in order to enlarge her breasts — or make her believe that her breasts have grown. Usually this is done at home, by listening to CDs. One course works through "simulating foreplay".
HBE apparently has something to do with increasing blood flow to the breast tissue, neurolinguistic programming, or some sort of subliminal thought process that somehow keeps women everywhere from filling out their sweaters. Another far-fetched explanation is that the hypnosis somehow causes the hypothalamus to stimulate the pituitary to produce growth hormone (a startlingly wrong explanation of human biology). Of course, when you only have to make stuff up, and not worry about actual evidence or stuff, what about: you have memories of when your breasts first grew; so the process clears away the mental blocks that stop you from letting your breasts grow and lets you talk to your "inner physician".
Such multiple incompatible explanations are inevitably a sign of snake oil.
Everything is based on how much a person wants to believe that it is possible, listening to all of the CDs, and overcoming supposed blocks to larger hooters. Ultimately, if nothing happens, the woo-ist will explain why it's not happening. That is of course by blaming the "patient".
Given that the placebo effect can convince people that their illness is getting better, it's not much of a stretch to say that if people hope for increased cleavage, it might actually feel like something is happening. Even though all it does is leave the victim's pocketbook and underwear lighter than she had hoped.
Two studies are commonly cited in support of HBE (and which have not been replicated since 1977). Both have serious flaws:
- Richard D. Willard M.D. (1977). Breast Enlargement through Visual Imagery and Hypnosis, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 19:4, 195-200, DOI: 10.1080/00029157.1977.10403875
- Sample size: 22 subjects. This is small enough that almost any result can be statistically attributed to chance. In fact, Willard notes that amount of HBE doesn't correlate with amount of growth.[note 2]
- Control group: No. This is atypical for medical studies and prevents comparison with any placebo effect.
- Measurements: 5 measurements over 12 weeks. While this is a long period of time, Willard failed to both (1) get a solid baseline measurement,[note 3] making it difficult to compare results, and (2) failed to re-measure after several weeks without HBE, making it impossible to know if results were temporary.
- James E. Williams (1974). Stimulation of breast growth by hypnosis, The Journal of Sex Research, 10:4, 316-326, DOI: 10.1080/00224497409550865
- Sample size: 6 (hypnosis only) and 13 (hypnosis plus suggestion to enlarge breasts): This is even smaller than Willard.
- Control group: No.[note 4] This is atypical for medical studies and prevents comparison with any placebo effect.
- Confounding variables: Williams failed to ensure that subjects were not also pursuing other augmentation efforts.
- Measurements: 15 measurements over 15 weeks. Williams successfully obtained a solid baseline measurement over the first 3 weeks and continued measurements for 12 weeks. However, Williams (like Willard) failed to re-measure after the HBE period had concluded, again making it impossible to know if results were temporary.
In summary, these studies suggest extremely weak support for HBE.
There was a suitable BBC expose of one such charlatan, David Knight, a stage hypnotist who apparently decided putting on a show wasn't enough. Knight protested, "They could've tried it before saying it categorically didn't work." It hasn't actually slowed Knight down from selling spurious rubbish, though. Penn & Teller also devoted part of a Bullshit episode to this; you can imagine how that went.
- Magical thinking
- Primal therapy, which also claims to make your boobies grow
- Penis enlargement
- Vaginal steaming
- It has never been established whether HBE works on male breasts. Surely, if HBE can help people "activate their pituitary" or "redirect bloodflow" towards their breasts, then HBE should also work equally well on men? Alternatively, women's breast sizes naturally fluctuate and all of this is false self-reporting.
- "There was no direct or indirect correlation between the total number of times the exercise was practiced, the total number of times the warmth or pulsation was felt and the amount of increase in the breast size."
- While Willard did measure once before beginning HBE, it's entirely possible that confounding factors — such as being in a new place, naked, and having someone measure you — could have thrown off the results of the study. It would be better to, as Williams did, take multiple measurements over multiple weeks and use those as the baseline.
- Although William's "hypnosis only" group might be considered "control", they indeed went through a test, albeit not the full one. Williams had no group which went through no tests whatsoever (with exception of the measurements).