Video: Haley obliterates stress [full episode]

Haley was burdened with unrelenting irrational stress for years. It affected how she felt and the overall quality of her life. She was referred by a friend to try hypnosis and because she hated the prescribed medication her physician gave her she decided to give it a try.

Hypnosis in the hospital

Prior to becoming a Consulting Hypnotist I was a Registered Nurse and had the good fortune of working at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. My diverse acute care experience included the wide array people and problems on an extremely fast paced general medical floor; an angioplasty unit as well as caring for an international patient population seeking state of the art intervention on their world renowned surgical thoracic unit.

During this valuable learning experience I learned first hand the hardship, stress and grief so many of these patients endured. Then once I became trained as a hypnotist I realized how beneficial hypnosis could be in the acute care setting.

If the rapid assembly line of the mainstream healthcare system has clinicians increasingly overwhelmed how about the physical and emotional state of those being cared for? What expectations do have for recovery? Do they see themselves as temporarily side tracked or powerless? Is there a role for them to play in their own recovery or do they leave their healthy well being in the hands of others?

The authoritarian approach to western medicine assumes that health and wellness comes from others which minimize the importance of our own natural ability to not only enhance the healing process but to avoid illness to begin with.

Hypnosis is a great personal tool of empowerment. It is the gateway to the ever powerful subconscious mind which is the control center for all bodily function and can be used to maximize the physical and emotional response to a speedy recovery.

With extensive experience in acute care facilities as a Registered Nurse and through many years in private practice as a Clinical Hypnotherapist I can clearly see the many positive applications of hypnosis in the hospital setting:

Intensive Care: Clients can block out distractions and increase their level of comfort which improves their ability to get quality rest and speed up recovery time. Hypnosis reduces stress; safely balances blood pressure and heart rate which helps minimize complications. It can also be used to reduce secretions, bleeding, optimize immune response and also make procedures more tolerable.

Oncology: Hypnosis lessens anxiety, pain, nausea, vomiting and reduces respiratory distress. It increases confidence and self-image and also eases the acceptance of physical restrictions and managing end of life transition. A study of women with metastatic breast cancer showed that those receiving hypnosis over a one year period were able to reduce their pain experience by 50% and in a 10 year follow-up the treatment group had a survival rate of 36.6 months compared to 18.9 months for those who did not receive hypnosis. (Speigel and Bloom 1983)

Pediatrics: What better gift to give a frightened child than control during a time of crisis. Children have active imaginations and respond very quickly and positively to hypnosis. It melts away fear; increases relaxation and focus making it easier for them to understand instructions, procedures and treatments.

Mental Health: Hypnosis relieves symptoms of sadness, fear, phobias and addictions. It puts the client in control. They get to play an active role in their own recovery, which adds to an increased sense of involvement and ability to establish positive change. Everyone feels better about themselves after hypnosis.

Surgical: Pre-surgical hypnosis reduces anxiety, pain, stress and bleeding. It promotes rapid healing and improved immune response. These clients can better manage post-op pain and nausea, use less medication and avoid the side effects that go with it. Those who are positive and relaxed going into anesthesia are positive and relaxed coming out of it.

“A more rapid return of post-op intestinal motility: 2.6 days vs. 4.1 days for those who did not receive hypnosis; length of hospital stay: 6.5 days vs. 8.1 days and an average savings of $1,200 per patient. (Disbrow)
“Hypnosis group did better than 89% of those who did not receive hypnosis. The data strongly support the use of hypnosis with surgical patients.” (Montgomery)

“Patients in the hypnosis group had significantly less vomiting, 39% compared to 68% in the control group, less nausea and less need of analgesics postoperatively. Preoperative hypnotic techniques in breast surgery contribute to a reduction of both post operative nausea and vomiting and postoperative analgesic requirements.” (Bjorklund)

“In the mid 1840’s John Elliotson and James Esdaile began using hypnosis in the surgical setting as an anesthetic with great success. Prior to their efforts mortality rate was 40%; with hypnosis it was 5%. In spite of their success hypnosis would soon take a backseat to either, nitrous oxide and chloroform by the late 1840’s.” (Kihlstrom)

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH

Altered States: hypnosis in mainstream medicine

Altered States: hypnosis in mainstream medicine

Hypnosis, often misunderstood and almost always controversial, is increasingly being employed in mainstream medicine. Numerous scientific studies have emerged in recent years showing that the hypnotized mind can exert a real and powerful effect on the body. The new findings are leading major hospitals to try hypnosis to help relieve pain and speed recovery in a variety of illnesses.

At the University of North Carolina, hypnosis is transforming the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, an often-intractable gastro-intestinal disorder, by helping patients to use their mind to quiet an unruly gut. Doctors at the University of Washington’s regional burn center in Seattle regularly use it to help patients alleviate excruciating pain.

Several hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School are employing hypnosis to speed up post-surgical recovery time. In one of the most persuasive studies yet, a Harvard researcher reports that hypnosis quickened the typical healing time of bone fractures by several weeks.

“Hypnosis may sound like magic, but we are now producing evidence showing it can be significantly therapeutic,” says David Spiegel, a Stanford University psychologist. “We know it works but we don’t exactly know how, though there is some science beginning to figure that out, too.”

Hypnosis can’t help everyone, many practitioners say, and some physicians reject it entirely. Even those who are convinced of its effect say some people are more hypnotizable than others, perhaps based on an individual’s willingness to suspend logic or to simply be open to the potential effectiveness of the process.

These days, legitimate hypnosis is often performed by psychiatrists and psychologists though people in other medical specialties are becoming licensed in it, too. It can involve just one session, but often it takes several — or listening to a tape in which a therapist guides an individual into a trance-like state. Whatever the form, it is increasingly being used to help women give birth without drugs, for muting dental pain, treating phobias and severe anxieties, for helping people lose weight, stop smoking or even perform better in athletics or academic tests. Many health-insurance plans, even some HMOs, now will pay for hypnosis when part of an accepted medical treatment.

Until the last decade, many traditional science journals regularly declined to publish hypnosis studies, and research funding was scarce. That’s changing. Dr. Spiegel, for instance, is a co-author of a widely referenced randomized trial involving 241 patients at several prestigious medical centers. Published several years ago in the Lancet, a respected medical journal, it found that patients hypnotized before surgery required less pain medication, sustained fewer complications and left the hospital faster than a similar group not given hypnosis.

Using new imaging and brain-wave measuring tools, Helen Crawford, an experimental psychologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va., has shown that hypnosis alters brain function, activating specific regions that control a person’s ability to focus attention. “The biological impact is very real and it can be quantified,” Dr. Crawford says.

Still, proponents say they typically spend a great deal of time dispelling commonly held myths and answering skeptics. Hypnosis, they say, cannot make people do or say something against their will. Credible hypnotists don’t wave a watch in front of their clients, as portrayed in many old movies. People who enter into a so-called hypnotic trance are not, generally, put to sleep. On the contrary, practitioners say, they refocus their concentration to gain greater control.

Even so, the field continues to be hurt by quacks, says Marc Oster, president of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. His group, along with the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, publishes research studies, conducts educational seminars for health providers and certifies those who complete coursework and meet other standards. Dr. Oster suggests that people interested in hypnosis see a health provider licensed in a medical discipline, who is also certified by one of the hypnosis societies — someone who “uses hypnosis as an adjunct” to a principal medical practice.

Everyday Trances
Researchers say that most people unwittingly enter into hypnosis-like trances on their own in everyday life. When reading a riveting novel or watching a film or TV, many people are experiencing a trance-like state when they are so focused they become only vaguely aware of the nearby noise, conversation or activity. In a dream, when someone imagines falling off a cliff and is startled awake by the sensation of falling, they are triggering the same mental machinery that in hypnosis allows the mind to influence the body, says Dabney Ewin, a psychiatrist at Tulane University Medical School.

Katie Miley used self-hypnosis taught to her by a Chicago-area psychologist to help her give birth “without being so anxious and without pain medication.” For weeks preceding the delivery Dr. Miley, herself a psychologist, used tapes provided by the therapist to practiced slipping into a hypnotic state. During the birth, and as suggested by the therapist, she muted the pain by imagining the contractions “as a warm blanket enveloping me,” she says.

“It was weird,” she says. “I was aware of everyone in the room and I was interacting, but mentally my focus was elsewhere and I just allowed the process to unfold.”

Some of the clearest clinically measured results come from using hypnosis to mute severe and chronic pain — as the University of Washington’s regional burn-treatment center in Seattle is doing with burn patients. Patients sent there must undergo frequent therapy to sterilize their damaged skin and get new grafts. They must be awake and alert during the treatment, and even the most powerful narcotics rarely diminish the intense pain.

David Patterson, a psychologist at the center, induces a hypnotic trance with a typical and relatively quick technique. Patients are told to close their eyes, breath deeply, and imagine they are floating. Through a variety of verbal suggestions, Dr. Patterson then helps the patient imagine themselves elsewhere, away from the treatment. “The pain is still there, of course, but patients simply don’t experience it as before,” he says.

While relieving physical pain is one of the more common uses of hypnotism, it is also the hardest to explain. Dr. Patterson and others report that hypnosis doesn’t appear to act on the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, the way drugs do. Instead, scientists believe, through hypnosis a person can be trained to focus away from the pain, not on it as most people usually do. Many athletes often unconsciously use such a technique to play through severe pain, concentrating their attention on the game or task ahead, instead of on their injury.

Recently, Dr. Patterson added another tool to transport hypnotized patients to a “safer emotional environment.” He and his colleagues created a virtual reality film; patients placed in a helmet during therapy watch a three-dimensional depiction of a snow-covered set of mountains and canyons. By interacting with the film, patients can feel they are suspended over a cool and calming world. Michael “Mac” MacAneny, one of the first burn patients to use the 3-D film, says he is certain that “it saved my life.”

Early last year, Mr. MacAneny sustained deep burns over 58% of his body when building a bonfire for his sons in his backyard. A gas tank he was using suddenly exploded, enveloping him in flames. Before Dr. Patterson began treating him, the 39-year-old Mr. MacAneny says he dreaded his daily therapy, “freaking out” whenever the nurses came to get him. Hypnotized and inside the 3-D virtual world, “I knew what was going on, but I just didn’t pay attention to it,” he says.

Hypnosis, in some form or another, has been used for more than 200 years. It began gaining credibility as a medical tool in the early decades of the last century as psychiatry and psychoanalysis began to show how the unconscious mind often rules daily life. Its usefulness was cemented when combat physicians reported using it during World War II for the wounded.

By 1958, as more doctors described their experiences in the war, the American Medical Association certified the technique as a legitimate treatment tool. Nevertheless, few doctors employed it. But in 1996, a National Institutes of Health panel ruled hypnosis as an effective intervention for alleviating pain from cancer and other chronic conditions. These days, as many people accept that stress can exacerbate illness, the potential curative power of hypnosis is becoming more acceptable, too.

Healing the Body
Carol Ginandes, a Harvard psychologist atMcLeanHospitalinBoston, is trying to prove that “through hypnosis, the mind can have a potent effect not only on mental well-being but also on the acceleration of bodily healing itself.” She has co-written a study showing ankle fractures among patients receiving a hypnotic protocol healed weeks faster than usual and another study showing wound-healing benefits for hypnotized breast-cancer surgery patients.

Though these studies were preliminary, Dr. Ginandes believes that hypnosis enabled her subjects to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism to work more efficiently.
Elvira Lang, director of interventional radiology atBethIsraelDeaconessMedicalCenterinBoston, has made similar findings. She recently reported that hypnotized patients who must remain awake during certain vascular and kidney procedures fared measurably better than similar patients who didn’t undergo hypnosis.

Still, says Dr. Lang, until very recently, “I didn’t dare use the ‘H’ word around here.”

By: Michael Waldholz