Can I Heal Myself?

Hypnosis appears to speed recovery from many types of trauma. In a 2003 pilot study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Harvard's Ginandes and colleague Patricia Brooks, PhD, evaluated 18 women who'd just undergone reconstructive breast surgery. The patients were assigned randomly to one of three groups for 8 weeks. All groups received conventional follow-up care; the second also met weekly with a therapist for emotional support, while the third met individually with Brooks, who used hypnotic suggestion in a 30-minute session each week to reduce pain and inflammation and speed soft-tissue repair. An audiotape was made for each woman in the hypnosis group so she could practice self-hypnosis daily at home. One week after surgery and again after 7 more weeks, a surgical team, which was "blinded" to the therapy assignments, assessed the incisions sites. Their conclusion: The hypnosis patients healed much faster. The women also reported that they experienced less pin and quicker recovery. An earlier Ginandes pilot study on hypnosis and bone fractures, funded by the National Institutes of health, found similar results: faster healing, greater mobility, less discomfort, and reduced use of pain medication among orthopedic patients who used hypnosis.

Physicians have long been frustrated in their attempts to treat patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), whose symptoms - sharp abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, gas, and backache - are compounded by stress, anxiety, and depression. In 2003, doctors in Manchester, England, released a study that had tracked 204 IBS patients for 5 years. Patients at South Manchester University Hospital attended up to 12 hypnosis sessions over 3 months and were encouraged to visualize soothing yet empowering scenes inside their colons. One woman imagined her gut as a flowing, colorful scarf. Another saw her colon as a runaway train whose driver had gone to sleep. She took over the controls and slowed down the train to a comfortable speed.

The results exceeded the researchers' expectations: More than70% of the patients rated themselves "very much better" or "moderately better" after hypnotherapy. Five years later, 81% of patients who'd initially benefited from the treatment reported that the improvements had lasted. Their anxiety and depression were reduced by at least half, as were their reliance on pain pills and the number of doctor visits they made. In another study, Olafur Palsson, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, reported an 80% success rate among 18 IBS patients who were treated with hypnosis after conventional care failed. Those results, coupled with several other recent studies on IBS and hypnosis, are remarkable, says psychologist Arreed Barabasz, PhD, director of he Hypnosis Laboratory at Washington State University and editor or the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. "These findings show that benefits of hypnotherapy for IBS are long lasting and that continued improvement after hypnosis treatment ends is the norm."

Warts are uniquely vulnerable to hypnosis - it beats the usual treatment, salicylic acid, hands down. In a Tulane University study of 41 patients whose warts would not respond to other treatments, 80% were cured with hypnosis. Studies suggest that other skin conditions may also respond: In a trial of 18 patients, hypnotherapy cleared up eczema symptoms - itching, sleep disturbance, and stress - for up to 2 years.

Few examples of hypnotic healing are as dramatic as those that come from treating burns. Dabney Ewin, MD, a clinical professor of surgery and psychiatry at Tulane University School of Medicine, hypnotizes burn victims in the emergency room. Ewin's published case studies include a restaurant worker who burned his arm up to his elbow in a 370ºF deep-fat fryer. The doctor induced a deep trance within 4 hours of the accident and provided hypnotic suggestion - "all your injured areas are cool and comfortable" - to the victim. Ewin and others have shown that such care can slow or even stop the inflammation and blistering that can cause permanent damage. In the worker's case, the injury healed in 17 days with relatively little scarring. Ewing uses a series of slides to show examples of burns in which early intervention prevented serious, lifelong injuries.

© 2024, Antonio Sangio

Contact Info

+1 (704) 904-4133