More studies are now appearing on hypnotic techniques. In a long informative piece, Adriana Barton of The Globe and Mail, which Herbally Radiant feels makes useful observations.
She describes how a doctor (Leora Kuttner), specializing in clinical hypnosis, was able to
leverage the brain’s healing abilities during a trance state. At Legacy Oregon Burn Center
Portland, Ore. psychologist Dr.Emily hypnotizes patients to cope with the excruciating injuries.
Hypnosis is an induced trance-like state intended to provide an intensive awareness of the
present moment. Neuroscience studies show that this mind-body therapy affects the brain in
extraordinary ways. Clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating anxiety,
phobias, skin rashes, irritable-bowel syndrome and acute and chronic pain. In US, medical
centres such as the Mayo Clinic have added hypnosis to their pain-management tools.
However, many experts in cognitive neuroscience say hypnosis doesn’t work for everyone, and
it’s completely underused at present.
As with mindfulness meditation, hypnosis harnesses the brain’s natural abilities to regulate the
body and control the random thoughts that ricochet through our minds says psychologist Dr.
David Patterson, of University of Washington. But, he adds, meditation can take weeks or
months of practice before it helps patients dial down pain. With hypnosis, “the relief is just a lot
quicker and more dramatic.”
Hypnosis reduces our awareness of what’s going on around us, even as it increases our attention
and openness to new ideas. The brain’s command center lets its guard down, allowing the
therapist’s suggestions to embed themselves into the parts of our grey matter that regulate our
thoughts, perceptions and physiology, it’s as if you’re talking directly to the brain.
Hypnosis stimulates specific brain activity in adults who scored high in susceptibility to hypnosis
and these changes occurred only while they were hypnotized.
Using a brain-imaging technique called fMRI, researchers found decreased activity in the brain’s
salience network, the inner “air-traffic controller” that processes stimuli and preps us for action.
Secondly, they saw greater connectivity between the brain’s executive-control network and the
insula, a grape-sized region deeper in the brain that helps us “control what’s going on in the
body, and process pain,” the study’s co-author, Dr. David Spiegel, says. Finally, they observed
reduced connections between the executive-control center and the “default-mode” network,
involved in self-reflection. This could lead to a disconnect between a person’s actions and their
awareness of their actions.
Physicians describe hypnosis as a “very powerful means of changing the way we use our minds
to control perception, and our bodies. It could make “a huge difference” in the opioid epidemic.
In a previous study, doctors instructed patients in self-hypnosis techniques before their vascular
or kidney procedures. Compared with patients receiving standard care, the hypnosis group used
significantly less pain medication.
But hypnosis has an image problem. Unlike mindfulness, it lacks Zen-master cachet. Doctors and
patients have trouble forgetting the dangling pocket watches of stage hypnosis, or the bad guys
who put sleeper agents under “mind control” in movies. Despite solid evidence from clinical
trials, the medical field’s approach to hypnosis has been extremely careful and conservative.
And let’s face it: there are hundreds of charlatans touting self-hypnosis CDs or sessions on
Skype as a miracle cure for everything from obesity to cancer. In the land of psychics and crystal
magic, anyone can become a “certified hypnotherapist” in a month or less. Rampant quackery
“gives us a bad name,” Patterson says.
But in fact, people who respond to hypnosis may have better co-ordination between brain areas
that “integrate attention, emotion, action and intention,” according to a 2012 study published in
the Archives of General Psychiatry.
About 10-15 per cent of adults are “highly hypnotizable,” meaning they can easily slip into a
trance and act on hypnotic suggestions. The same percentage of adults do not respond to
hypnosis at all, while the rest are somewhere in between. Most children can easily imagine an
invisible “magic glove” that keeps needles from hurting, or a fantasy world free of pain, Kuttner
says. Concentrating on these beliefs can have analgesic effects. She recalls a child with leukemia
who spent her treatments in an imaginary land of candy.
Hypnosis techniques are relatively easy for health-care professionals to learn. But Kuttner
cautions patients against seeking hypnosis from someone with no medical training. A lay
hypnotist could fail to recognize the signs of psychosis, or encourage someone to regress to an
earlier life stage filled with traumatic memories, “and they won’t have a clue how to help the
person.” Kuttner recalls treating a patient who had gone to a lay hypnotist for headache relief but
came away weeping and confused.
Hypno-sedation works because the patient wants it to work, she says: It’s the opposite of “mind
control.” The anesthesiologist’s job is to use hypnotic techniques and communicate with the
patient, but the patient must collaborate, “so he puts himself in the hypnotic state.”
Finally, Hypnotic techniques cannot enhance your physical beauty for which you need to feed skin with rich natural nutrients.