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Living with chronic pain is extremely difficult for anybody and also difficult to explain to someone who has never had to deal with it before. As many Fibromyalgia patients know getting friends and family to understand the sort of pain you have to live with on a day to day basis can sometimes be futile. So, many of us will resort to trying anything to help relieve the pain. But have you ever tried hypnosis for pain?

In England around 1843, the surgeon James Braid revisited the phenomenon of Mesmerism and renamed it hypnosis, after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos. He was the first person to attribute the phenomenon to psychological rather than physical variables. His findings renewed interest in the subject, especially in France, where hypnosis gained popularity again as a form of pain reduction during surgery. Eventually, Braid’s technique was found to be unsatisfactory, and hypnosis drifted out of favor once again (Hall, 1986). 

Hypnotherapy is really nothing more than an altered state of mind. Rather than taking drugs or other types of pain relief, hypnosis is brought on by a process that focuses the mind on a narrow subject or moment in time. By employing their craft, hypnotherapists say they put clients into a deep state of relaxation.

While some people may view hypnosis as artificial, it’s progressed far from the days of being performed on volunteers in nightclubs. Hypnosis is not hocus pocus; it’s a tool used by an alternative pain management used by professionals to treat pain of all kinds from arthritis to dental procedures.

So, just what is hypnosis? Hypnotherapists say it’s a way to focus one’s imagination and attention to help alleviate physical and emotional problems. Brain imaging has shown that some hypnotic suggestions reduce activity in brain areas associated with emotional responses to pain, while other suggestions reduce activity in an area of the brain more directly involved with the physical sensation of pain.

Most hypnotherapists have patients stare at a fixed object, sometimes just a colored thumbtack stuck in a wall. The therapist is able to suggest ideas, concepts and lifestyle adaptations to the patient, the seeds of which become firmly planted. Next, he/she uses imagery and suggestions to block out or transform pain, such as, “Lock away the pain in the box in the basement of an abandoned house.” In therapy, hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist.

While hypnosis typically helps relieve pain in four to 10 sessions, some people benefit faster and others not at all. Practitioners usually teach ways to continue therapy at home, and as long as the techniques are followed, people may not have to return for further sessions.

Hypnotherapy is thought to work by altering our state of consciousness in such a way that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert.  The conscious control of the mind is inhibited, and the subconscious mind awoken.  Since the subconscious mind is a deeper-seated, more instinctive force than the conscious mind, this is the part which has to change for the patient’s behavior and physical state to alter.

Have you tried hypnotherapy? I have. The first time I had hypnotherapy was with my own GP who performed it in her rooms. She was trying to help me get through a difficult phase I was going through after a life threatening episode left me with flash backs. It worked perfectly and I can still talk about the incident without getting a hot sweat so I was keen to give it a go for weight loss. Unfortunately, it did not work for me for this type of treatment but it could have been the hypnotherapist I saw as with everything in life there are good and not so good therapists just like a good or bad plumber.

Like anything you have not tried before It is essential that you find a qualified hypnotherapist so ask your GP for a referral.

A great book on the subject is HYPNOTHERAPY: METHODS, TECHNIQUES AND PHILOSOPHIES OF FREDDY JACQUIN by MR FREDDY H JACQUIN B.Sc – Freddy Jacquin is the Founder of the UK Hypnotherapy Training College. This book ‘Hypnotherapy’ describes his methods, techniques that he has personally developed and his own beliefs and philosophies on how and why hypnosis works. His goal in writing this book is to enable anyone to learn how to hypnotise and to use that skill to help themselves and others. Each Techniques is described simply to enable the reader to learn them easily, and examples of how and when they have been used are also told in this book.

Source: NHS Professional Standards, Mayo Clinic


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