Earlier this year a study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (published under the American Psychological Association) that found hypnosis can have profound effects on executive function – the cognitive processes that regulate our goals as well as the thought processes and actions oriented towards achieving those goals.
This is known as the Clever Hands test and it has been used in previous experiments that have shown that people are unable to switch off their unconscious motivation for answering the trivia questions correctly.
The researchers found that hypnotising participants successfully inhibited their automatic tendency to correctly answer the easy questions. I’ve always loved animals. I adopted my first dog in 2008, and the whole experience of going into a high-kill shelter, and walking out with the love of my life was something that really affected me. I realized that loving animals wasn’t enough—I had to be doing something to actually help them, and to give back to them. I became more and more immersed in understanding how dogs end up in shelters and why so many dogs are put down every year, which I had never known. There’s something that lives in me that wants to make a difference in the world of animals. I feel lucky that I found something that I really, really want to change and give back to. I’ve worked at the Humane Society of the United States for years, and it’s an incredible organization. So much of what they do is just changing the laws to help animals. You look at the laws for puppy mills, and factory farming, all this stuff that nobody else is really attacking. In a perfect world we would love to get rid of puppy mills, but we know that is probably not going to happen in our lifetime. What we can do is change things for the dogs that have to be held in puppy mills, and changes for the dogs that are sold at puppy mills—do it that way.
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because
reality is finally better than your dreams.”
I grew up splitting my time between the country and the city [in New York]. I started [horseback] riding when I was four years old, competing when I was six. Almost every rider I think will say the same thing—that they started because they loved horses as a kid. That’s essentially how it always starts. It’s an interesting sport, and it’s different from many other sports in a lot of different ways, but predominantly because we have to have a connection with an animal in order to be successful. To be able to combine my love of animals with a sport is what I think really hooked me. But I’m also really competitive, and I definitely was never shy. A huge part of being an athlete is how you perform, but it’s also being OK with being in front of a crowd. Which is probably why I played so many sports growing up. I actually was the only girl in the ice hockey league and the baseball league when I was a kid—I loved both.
My approach to beauty, and what I wear—what I put on my body and in my body—all developed over time. I do think differently this year than I did last year, because I’m learning and becoming aware of things I didn’t know. For me, it’s all development—I don’t know everything. The beauty industry is developing as well. Cruelty-free beauty is becoming trendy and mainstream, and that’s wonderful. A few years ago, there weren’t that many great cruelty-free products that were effective, and mainstream, and well-known to a lot of people. Just the other day, even Covergirl announced that they’re going cruelty-free. It’s incredible, because now these things are available to everybody, all over the country. It’s not just for the crowd that shops at Whole Foods—it can be for everybody. Other companies are going to be pressured to do the same thing. If I go into a store, I always ask for them to show me the products that are cruelty free or vegan—you have to make a little bit of an effort, but once you start finding products you like, it gets easy. I would love to say all of my beauty is cruelty-free, but I very much doubt it, because I have things that people have given me, or that I’ve had for a while. And listen, you do your best, but there are things that can be labeled in a deceiving way—they say organic or natural, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s made in the way you think it is. I do my best, and I think that’s enough, and that’s all you can ask for from anybody. If you make a little bit of an effort in this world, that’s OK.
I’m pretty simple in the mornings. My skin is always dry, so I always moisturize. I try to use a serum before, and I’m very good about sunblock. Pretty much every day I’m outside in some way, so sunblock is very important to me. I use the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer—it’s the only one I ever found that, no matter how much I sweat, doesn’t go in my eyes. With riding, that’s really important, because I want something that absorbs into my skin, that doesn’t make me look white and pasty and that stays put. I have a La Mer toner that I use if I have makeup on and I need sort of an extra cleaning. I try to exfoliate once a week with a scrub from M-61. My mother gave me Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. Her dermatologist told her that if there’s one product she was going to use, that’s what it would be. I put it on and I was like, ‘I don’t even know what this is doing, I just know that my mother said it would be good for me.’ I’ve never had acne or anything like that, but I use a lot of oil and moisture products. I love a little face oil and a deep night cream. Whole Foods has a really good sheet mask—it’s the Andalou brand. I have their moisturizer as well. I love those, and then another good hydration mask you put on for like three or four minutes is No7’s Beautiful Skin Hydration Mask. That’s really good—it’s like a quick shot of moisture. I definitely do it more in the wintertime, but I feel like I still need moisture a lot in the summer. Tata Harper is a brand that I really like. I go to Heyday [for facials]. I love that they’re so easy to book, but also I don’t actually like getting facials—I don’t like sitting still. What’s great about Heyday is you just walk straight in, they don’t treat it as a big relaxation hour, they go in and get it done like, ‘we know you’re busy, let’s fix your skin and make you look good and be done.’
If I have something during the day that I want to look good for, I will use tinted moisturizer, or I’ll even just use a little foundation mixed in with my moisturizer if I don’t have the right tinted moisturizer around. I’m big on that, and then a little bit of eyeliner. I have a little bit of everything—I have a Benefit one I use a lot, and I have a MAC one I use a lot. For liquid liner, which I really like doing, I have a really good Kat Von D one, from Sephora. I like to curl my eyelashes and put on mascara, and a little lip balm. For mascara I just use Maybelline Great Lash, the waterproof one. I really need a waterproof one, because I’m outside so much. I put the Kiehl’s balm on every day and every night. I have a couple tinted ones. I’m really simple and natural, but because I don’t get a chance to wear makeup during the day a lot—and now because I have an almost five-year-old son I don’t go out at night as much as I would like—when I do get the chance to go out, I really have fun with makeup. I used to do a lot of art, so I think I’m really drawn to painting, coloring, and things like that. So much of putting on makeup is like painting your face, understanding how to use a brush or a liner, and actually having fun with it. I don’t use so much [foundation] because I like my natural skin, but I will do some for nighttime. I rarely use primer—I have one from No7, but I always forget to put it on. Then once I put on the foundation I remember instantly. I have the Sweet Cheeks blush from Bombshell Cosmetics, and I like it because it’s the only blush that I have right now. [Laughs] It’s just what I use! I like doing a lip—especially because I have dark hair, I feel like doing a liquid eye and a bright lip is a really great look. I like a really good strong red, like this one from Trestique. I always love things that are smaller in size when it comes to cosmetics. Because I don’t wear so much makeup, I don’t go through things as much as some people do. I also travel a lot, when something’s in a smaller package it seems better. I don’t need a huge lipstick, or a huge thing of blush. I need something small that I can travel with, and that I will use.
You know when you have bumps on your arms? It’s genetic—my mother gave it to me, I’ve given it to my son. I was actually so self-conscious that I wouldn’t wear tank tops or sleeveless dresses for years. After a while, my mother convinced me to start using Retin-A all over the top of my arms. I would use it every night, and it got a lot better, but I was sick of putting a chemical on my body every single day. I didn’t want to do that anymore. So I found this bar called Crystal Peel—it’s a microdermabrasion exfoliating soap, and it’s a grey bar, like a bar of soap. It’s really, really rough. I use that on the top of my arms every time I shower, and it works 100-percent in getting rid of the condition. I almost never get bumps on my arms now, and if I do it’s only if I haven’t used the bar in a few days. I just use it a little in the shower, and it works wonders. For me, it’s probably the greatest product I’ve ever bought, because it’s not a chemical, and it’s kind of changed my life. I’m not self-conscious like I used to be. I use Vitamin C Body Polish for the rest of my skin. In the shower I use this brand called Love Beauty and Planet, and it’s a normal CVS product, but I bought it because I like the packaging. [Laughs] I always struggle finding products that are animal-friendly, that are effective in what I need them to do, but also that look pretty. Sometimes I’ll find something that’s probably a really great product, but I just don’t like the packaging, or the way it looks, and I won’t buy it. I’m stupid in that way. Moroccanoil makes a really good body serum, which was my first time using a serum on my body instead of cream. It’s actually really cool. If I feel like my skin really needs the moisture, I have a dry body oil that I’ll use on top. You can just go to CVS and buy the cheapest one, and not feel guilty about [using a lot of it]. I really love Bath and Body Works, so occasionally I’ll buy some of those products. I just really love their packaging, and their scents—there’s something that just makes me so happy walking in there. For deodorant, I actually use Crystal Essence. My favorite fragrance is the Marc Jacobs Daisy. Daisy was actually my first pony’s name. I think with any fragrance, a lot of it is the mental thing. But I also love the way it smells—I think it’s really fresh and not overpowering.
I have to shampoo a lot more than I would like, because of the riding—I’m wearing a helmet every day. I pretty much shampoo and condition every single day, so my hair gets dry. Like my skin, it’s all about getting moisture and hydration. I use Moroccanoil again—I like their products, and I think they’re really good at moisture. I’m also blow drying my hair a lot—I’m always somebody who needs more volume. I’m somebody who has very thin natural hair. I love Drybar—there’s a Drybar actually around the corner, right next to my local Heyday, so it’s a good block. That’s really handy, and I go there a lot actually. For an event where I have to do an updo, I usually have someone come and do it. But usually my hair is long and straight, and I’ll just blow dry it and flat iron it, and that’s it. It’s a really good day if I have time to curl my hair. Every once in a while, I’ll use a volumizing spray or a mousse, and Moroccanoil makes a really good Protect and Prevent spray that I’ll use if I’m styling it. Pureology makes a really good thing for split ends. So a little bit of volumizing spray and a little bit of Pureology on the bottom. If I’m not blow drying my hair, or don’t have an event that night, then I’ll concentrate more on hydrating my hair. A lot of hydration products can obviously weigh your hair down, so it’s more about doing something good for my hair—less about caring how it looks.”
This successful response to the Clever Hands test highlights a potential for hypnosis in “treating addictions or compulsive behaviours, where people don’t feel like they’re able to inhibit very ingrained responses”, said Polito.
One 2002 study demonstrated that by hypnotising participants and suggesting that the language that appears on a screen is foreign and they are unable to understand it, the Stroop effect is overcome and participants will correctly name the font colour.
However, while Polito states that there is a general consensus in the hypnosis field that this experiment gave true results, there are some controversies attached to the Stroop effect study, with some failures to replicate its results. McAuley believes that the most important component in regulating the hypnotism market would be transparency for consumers.
“What I would like to know if I went to see somebody is what training they’ve had. Whether there’s a regulatory body that oversees that [is not of concern] but I’d like to at least know where they were trained and what sort of training they’ve had.” Polito’s greatest concern with Australia’s lack of hypnosis regulation is that this may undermine the benefits of the practice that science is uncovering.
“It’s concerning as a scientist studying hypnosis thinking ‘This is an important and interesting phenomenon’. The kind of negative associations around hypnosis make it harder to have this work taken more seriously.”