Hypnosis & pain research


Hypnosis for pain relief is not a new concept. In the 1840’s the British doctor John Elliotson pioneered the use of hypnosis for anaesthesia and pain control in surgery, conducting many successful operations, including amputations¹. There are well documented reports of his work together with that of his colleague James Esdaile who also conducted pain-free surgery on countless patients in India². Operations including amputations, tumor removal and mastectomies were all successfully conducted under hypnosis. Despite the success of hypnotic anaesthesia, mainstream medicine went on to favour the use of nitrous oxide in surgical operations and it is only in recent years that the value of hypnosis has been revisited.

Over the last few years a number of well-controlled scientific experiments have validated the use of hypnosis for reducing sensitivity to pain³. The technique known as hypo-analgesia has been associated with significant reductions in the level of pain experienced and a reduced need for analgesics or sedation in surgery. Patients have also reported a reduction in nausea and vomiting and have needed less time in hospitals to recover after procedures. As a result, surgeons and other health providers have reported much higher degrees of satisfaction from patients treated under hypnosis than with other patients⁴.

Hypnosis for pain relief is a tremendously empowering experience. It works by helping you access personal resources so that you can control and eliminate your pain. Under hypnosis your subconscious mind becomes much more open to suggestions and it is in this “trance state” that changes can be made to the way your brain perceives pain. Scientists still don't fully understand what is exactly going on in the brain when this happens but regardless of how it works more and more people are benefitting from this drug-free therapy.     



¹  James, C D (July 1975). "Mesmerism: a prelude to anaesthesia". Proc. R. Soc. Med.

 Schneck, J M (April 1963). "John Elliotson, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Doctor Goodenough". The International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis 11 (2): 122–30

² Esdaile, J., Mesmerism in India, and its Practical Application in Surgery and Medicine, Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, (London), 1846.

³ Patterson, D. R., & Jensen, M. P. (2003). Hypnosis and clinical pain. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 129, pp. 495-521.

⁴ Lynn, S. J., Kirsch, I., Barabasz, A., Cardeña, E., & Patterson, D. (2000). Hypnosis as an empirically supported clinical intervention: The state of the evidence and a look to the future. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 48, pp. 235-255.

Further reading:

Gonsalkorale, W.M., Miller, V., Afzal, A. Whorwell, P.J. (2003) Long term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gut Vol. 52:1623-1629


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