Historically, hypnosis has been used as a medical tool for over 200 years. The British Medical Association in 1955 and the American Medical Association in 1958 officially recognized hypnosis as a bona fide medical treatment.
In 1845 James Esdaile, a Scottish surgeon began to work with hypnosis, then called “mesmerism” in a prison hospital in Calcutta. He read about the use of mesmerism by several surgeons in France who discovered that when patients would go into this state they could perform surgery painlessly.
Everyone has the ability to remove or control pain with hypnosis. This is true because hypnosis helps a person alter the way they perceive situations, circumstances, events, sensations, objects or feelings.
When someone is hypnotized for pain control, the hypnotherapist is changing, removing or blocking the sensation of pain to the mind. This makes it either a more acceptable sensation or allows the person to realize that there is no longer a need for the pain so they can release it. If the mind will block the sensation, the client’s body may still have the pain, but the mind doesn’t register it as pain anymore. Essentially what is happening is that the client is creating an anesthetic with their mind that is causing complete or partial loss of pain. The nerves are still sending signals to the brain, but the brain is changing the way it notices the signals.
Pain is categorized in two different ways. It is either chronic or acute.
Chronic pain remains unrelieved for a period of 6 months or longer. It can be of different types and in different locations. It may not have specific tissue damage associated with it. Chronic pain can have either physical or psychological origins.
Acute pain, which is temporary is related to specific tissue damage and reduces in intensity as the damaged area heals. It is usually caused by some kind of accident.
For most types of chronic pain conditions, there is a relationship between the psychological state and the intensity of the pain experience. Stress, depression, or anxiety can all increase the intensity of the pain. In light of this information, it is possible to utilize direct suggestion, stress management techniques and other hypnotic techniques to benefit chronic pain clients as well. They can help to reduce the intensity of the pain experience.
Virtually everyone experiences major chronic or acute pain sometime during his or her lifetime. Many people will turn to medications only to find that some of the side effects can be almost as bad as the pain.
Some areas where hypnosis can work with pain control are:
- Injuries – Injuries are normally caused by an accident and they can be anything from a broken bone to a burn, cut, bump or bruise.
- Illness and Diseases – Many people suffer from cancer, migraine headaches or arthritis. With an illness or a disease the pain is usually not a sudden thing. People have usually been suffering for quite a while.
- Pre-Operative – The use of positive suggestions before surgery occurs help bolster a person’s attitude or confidence and can be of significant benefit.
- Post-Operative – In these cases the rate of recovery of a person is radically improved. Medical and psychological research has shown that empowered patients who control their own feelings and thoughts heal faster and better following surgery.
- Procedures – These would be things where an actual procedure is taking place. The birth of a child or dental work would be good examples. Anticipation of pain makes it worse. Clients experiencing relaxation without fear, and with confidence in his/her ability to handle the situation, deal with the procedures with much less pain.
- Preventative – People who are proactive about their health also benefit from hypnosis. It helps people to develop the correct mind set to prevent illness in the first place.
- Self-Healing – The mind controls the physical body, however this should only be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
I will always require a doctor’s referral for pain control sessions. That is for the client’s protection. We would never want to block the signal that there is something wrong so that the client doesn’t get needed treatment or even delay treatment. We would never want to mask a symptom by using hypnosis to control pain! Hypnosis can be a very effective aide to medical treatment but not a replacement.
Following is what some experts have to say about hypnosis:
Dr. David Cheek, M.D., who has vast experience in the field, writes, “We can do more harm with ignorance of hypnotism than we can ever do by intelligently using hypnosis and suggestion constructively.”
Dr. Julius Grinker states, “The so-called dangers from hypnosis are imaginary. Although I have hypnotized many hundreds of patients, I have never seen any ill effects from its use.”
Psychologist Rafael Rhodes, in his book Therapy Through Hypnosis, writes: “Hypnotism is absolutely safe. There is no known case on record of harmful results from its therapeutic use.”
David Spiegel, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, put it this way: “Physicians often worry that hypnosis involves significant risks to patients. Actually, the phenomenon is not dangerous and has fewer side effects than even the most benign medications.”
Effective pain control can make the life of individuals who experience chronic pain much more bearable. It can result in enhanced physical, psychological, social and spiritual well being.