Del Mar physician releases first book about hypnosis in medicine


Del Mar physician Steve Bierman recently released his first book, “Healing: Beyond Pills and Potions,” detailing some of the ways he harnesses the power of the human mind to complement traditional medicine.

Dr. Steve Bierman

Bierman, who earned his undergraduate degree at UC San Diego and his doctorate at Northwestern University’s school of medicine, said the book “is about the impact of ideas on health and healing.”

“It also looks at the kind of ideas patients hold that often contribute to illness, or contrastingly, that can actually contribute to their wellness and overcoming whatever illness they’re fighting,” he added.

Throughout his career, Bierman has incorporated hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming, commonly referred to as NLP, to help patients as they prepare for surgery or other types of treatment.

Some research has shown hypnosis can supplement traditional medical treatments, but it hasn’t been widely embraced in mainstream medicine.

“It’s challenging to get physicians to understand that their words have an impact and that they have a choice,” said Bierman, whose career includes 20 years as an emergency physician at Scripps in Encinitas. “They can either issue a curse by not being careful or they can assist in a cure by finding the right words and gestures.”

Some studies have labeled NLP a pseudoscience, but there has also been anecdotal evidence of its efficacy in certain applications. Bierman said the results an NLP practitioner can expect to get are “operator dependent.”

“It’s fair to say the burden of scientific proof still rests on the people who are using these techniques,” Bierman said. “It would go a long way to have well designed studies proving out the points that they maintain.”

He added that based on the results he’s been able to get using hypnosis for helping patients improve their heart rhythms, open their airwaves or help them through other types of procedures, “it’s very hard to have doubt whether it worked or not.”

Bierman said the back of the book offers protocols for studies that should be done.

Bierman also said his interest in implementing hypnosis into his medical practice stems in part from the early works of self-help guru Tony Robbins in the 1980s.

“I began to piece together what was not at all understood by anyone, which was the common element to all these happenings I was witnessing,” he said. “The common element is that mind matters, ideas matter.”

Bierman said the feedback has been good so far.

“Most of it is very positive, better than I expected,” he said.

For more information about the book, visit