According to studies done at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, suggestions given in a hypnotic state, even once, can produce actions in human beings that are the same type of actions that would have resulted from more long-term conditioning and practice.
In a research study on Self-hypnosis for relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users, (Am J Clin Hypn. 2004 Apr;46(4):281-97), individuals who played self-hypnosis audiotapes “at least 3 to 5 times a week,” at 7-week follow-up, reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups.
In a research study done with 60 college student volunteers (Spring of 2004 at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona), using hypnosis with ego-enhancement suggestions showed “significantly dramatic effects” in brain-wave patterns, subjective sense of self-confidence, and test scores.
According to published results of clinical studies (Am J Clin Hypn. 2004 Apr), the use of hypnosis facilitates a more uncomplicated birth process. In a separate research study done by University of Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble, it was also found that women who learn hypnosis before delivering babies suffer fewer complications, need less medication and are more likely to have healthier babies than are women without hypnosis. Schauble’s first study involved adolescents getting prenatal care at a public health clinic. A group of 20 patients who received hypnosis preparation were compared with 20 who were given supportive counseling and 20 patients in a control group who received only the standard prenatal care. None of the women who received hypnosis required surgical intervention in their deliveries, compared with 12 in the supportive counseling group and eight in the control group, he said. “Patients who are prepared for labor and delivery in hypnosis are more likely to absorb and benefit from information because they are in a relaxed, highly focused state,” he said.
In an ongoing pilot study being done by University of Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble, preliminary results show hypnotized patients with hypertension are more easily able to make lifestyle improvements that can lower blood pressure.
A study being done by a team of University of Florida researchers is finding that learning self-hypnosis gives a patient greater control over the stress, anxiety and pain of medical operations and childbirth, overall. “Training patients in hypnosis prior to undergoing surgery is a way of helping them develop a sense of control over their stress, discomfort and anxiety,” says Dr. Paul Schauble, psychologist. “It also helps them better understand what they can do to bring about a more satisfying and rapid recovery.” He also said, “We’ve found, in working with individual patients, that they often feel literally stripped of control when they go into the hospital. The surgeon may do a good job of explaining the surgery, but patients’ anxiety may make it difficult for them to absorb or comprehend. This can result in undue apprehension that can create complications or prolonged recovery.”
“Children make excellent subjects for hypnosis because they spend more time using their imaginations,” says Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble. “But with practice most adults can learn how to enter into a therapeutic hypnotic state quite easily as well.”
In 1998 Henry Szechtman of McMaster University in Ontario and his co-workers used PET to image the brain activity of hypnotized subjects who were invited to imagine a scenario in which they were listening to someone speaking to them, and who then actually experienced a scenario in which they were listening to someone speaking to them. The researchers noted that the act of imagining a sound, called hallucinating a sound, was experienced exactly the same as real hearing, both being experienced as coming from an external source.
18 separate studies found that patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy plus hypnosis for disorders such as obesity, insomnia, anxiety and hypertension showed greater improvement than 70 percent of the patients who received psychotherapy alone.
Hypnosis cannot, and should not, stand alone as the sole medical or psychological intervention for any disorder. Hypnosis should not be used instead of appropriate medical, dental, or psychological treatment, and any individual with a medical or psychological problem should first consult a qualified health care provider for diagnosis and professional advice. Hypnosis should only be practiced by those who have been appropriately trained, who practice appropriately, and within the scope of their training.
Information compiled by Gwyneth McNeil, Certified Hypnotist and Certified Instructor with the National Guild of Hypnotists and Managing Director of Academy of Life Management in Salt Lake City, Utah. 3098 Highland Drive Suite #317 – Salt Lake City, Utah 84117. Provided by www.WorldHypnotismDay.com © 2006
Treatment options when pain and anxiety or depression intersect
In patients with depression or anxiety, various psychotherapies can be used on their own to treat pain or may be combined with drug treatment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy. Pain is demoralizing as well as hurtful. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is not only an established treatment for anxiety and depression, it is also the best studied psychotherapy for treating pain. CBT is based on the premise that thoughts, feelings, and sensations are all related. Therapists use CBT to help patients learn coping skills so that they can manage, rather than be victimized by, their pain.
Relaxation training. Various techniques can help people to relax and reduce the stress response. Stress tends to exacerbate pain as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and mindfulness training.
Hypnosis. During this therapy, a clinician helps a patient achieve a trance-like state and then provides positive suggestions – for instance, that pain will improve. Some patients can also learn self-hypnosis. One study showed that hypnosis training reduced both gastrointestinal distress and levels of depression and anxiety in 71% of those studied.
Prepared by the editors of the Harvard Health Publications in conjunction with Michael Mufson, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. 49 pages. (2008)