People who are afraid or phobic about operations would do anything to overcome their feelings of dread and trepidation; and these individuals often seek the services of a hypnotherapist through sheer desperation. Most are unaware of what hypnosis really is; rather, they are just trying hypnotherapy as a last resort...and they are usually pleasantly amazed at how great they feel after their session.
Unfortunately, most people who are preparing for an operation have no idea of the many ways in which hypnosis can be of very great assistance.
Even though the medical profession are providing much research evidence which proves the effectiveness of hypnosis in surgery (reducing anxiety, reducing the need for pain control medication, speeding up recovering time, and so on) there are still many people, medical professionals and patients alike, who are not sufficiently aware of the real benefits of this natural opiate.
Professionals sometimes argue that it’s just a placebo; that it’s all in the mind. But from the patient’s perspective, who cares? So long as it works. There’s a high placebo factor in the taking of pills, but not so many people think about that! As it happens, recent research indicates that in hypnosis a different area of the brain is activated to that seen in the placebo effect. But, from you, the prospective patient’s perspective, all that matters is that your surgery is as comfortable, successful and pain free as possible. You don’t really give a hoot whether pills, placebo or hypnosis are the key to this!! In fact the key is a combination of all three – this is your optimal approach to surgery. I’m not advocating an either-or scenario; Mind and medicine work beautifully TOGETHER. The use of hypnosis is complementary.
Returning to the matter of the placebo effect, both pills and hypnotherapy work best if you know what they are intended to achieve, and you can therefore expect a specific result. A brief look at some medical research findings will give you an idea of what you should expect and get the placebo effect working for you.
Hypnosis can be put to work in preparation for your operation, during the operation and also in the recovery stage. I have already mentioned it’s effectiveness in overcoming fears and phobias, which may relate to the hospital, the operation, needles, blood, claustrophobia or even to medical personnel. As I stated before, your expectations have a great impact on your actual experience, and so it is important to prepare well for your operation.
Whether you admit it to yourself or not, everyone feels a certain level of anxiety about a surgical procedure, and this anxiety changes your body’s rhythm, potentially making surgery less straightforward. Hypnosis can be used to relax, so your blood pressure remains normal and your heart beat slows down; as you relax you are able to listen better to your doctor or advisor and make more logical and rational decisions. Hypnosis can be used to visualize the optimal outcome. At the end of the day, a relaxed patient is a better patient and surgery will proceed more smoothly. (Dreher, 1998; Kessler, 1999; Levitan, 1992; Pinnel, 2000).
You may very well ask how on earth hypnosis can be of assistance when you are actually in the operating theatre, and are completely “out”, compliments of your anesthetic. Some of you may be aware of the phenomenon of anesthesia awareness, whereby some portion of mental functioning remains active even though you can clearly feel no pain. (Wilson 1969). Hypnotic suggestion can not only be given before the operation (with their effect takes place during the operation) but, because of anesthesia awareness, hypnotic suggestion can also be very useful during the operation itself. (Adams, 1992; Blankfield, 1996; Lang, 2000)
Hypnotherapy can be effective in pain control (Barber, 1996), accelerating tissue repair (Holden-Lund, 1988) and in increasing recovery time post operation. In fact, one research study showed that hypnotic suggestion resulted in patients reducing their time in their hospital beds to the average value of $1200 per patient! (Disbrow, Bennet and Owings, 1993)
As you can see, hypnosis can be an invaluable tool, allowing you to take control of your operative experience and achieve the most successful and comfortable outcome. In fact, in a meta- analysis on the effectiveness of adjunctive hypnosis in surgical patients (Montgomery GH, David D, Winkel G, Silverstein JH, Bovbjerg DH. Anesth Analg 2002 Jun;94(6):1639-45) it was seen that surgical patients receiving hypnotherapy had better outcomes than 89% of controls. EIGHTY NINE PERCENT! Not only that, this research also showed that the method of hypnotic induction, either live or via audio-tape, showed no significant difference.
Roseanna Leaton, specialist in hypnosis downloads for health and well-being.
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