Scroll down for three different article on hypnosis.
Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
By MICHAEL WALDHOLZ
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Altered States: Hypnosis In Mainstream Medicine – Major Hospitals Use Trances for Fractures, Cancer, Burns, Speeding Surgery Recoveries
Hypnosis, often misunderstood and almost always controversial, is increasingly being employed in mainstream medicine.
Numerous scientific studies have emerged in recent years showing that the hypnotized mind can exert a real and powerful effect on the body. The new findings are leading major hospitals to try hypnosis to help relieve pain and speed recovery in a variety of illnesses.
At the University of North Carolina, hypnosis is transforming the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, an often-intractable gastro-intestinal disorder, by helping patients to use their mind to quiet an unruly gut. Doctors at the University of Washington’s regional burn center in Seattle regularly use it to help patients alleviate excruciating pain. Several hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School are employing hypnosis to speed up postsurgical recovery time. In one of the most persuasive studies yet, a Harvard researcher reports that hypnosis quickened the typical healing time of bone fractures by several weeks.
“Hypnosis may sound like magic, but we are now producing evidence showing it can be significantly therapeutic,” says David Spiegel, a Stanford University psychologist. “We know it works but we don’t exactly know how, though there is some science beginning to figure that out, too.”
Hypnosis can’t help everyone, many practitioners say, and some physicians reject it entirely. Even those who are convinced of its effect say some people are more hypnotizable than others, perhaps based on an individual’s willingness to suspend logic or to simply be open to the potential effectiveness of the process.
These days, legitimate hypnosis is often performed by psychiatrists and psychologists though people in other medical specialties are becoming licensed in it, too. It can involve just one session, but often it takes several — or listening to a tape in which a therapist guides an individual into a trance-like state. Whatever the form, it is increasingly being used to help women give birth without drugs, for muting dental pain, treating phobias and severe anxieties, for helping people lose weight, stop smoking or even perform better in athletics or academic tests.
Many health-insurance plans, even some HMOs, now will pay for hypnosis when part of an accepted medical treatment. Until the last decade, many traditional science journals regularly declined to publish hypnosis studies, and research funding was scarce.
That’s changing. Dr. Spiegel, for instance, is co-author of a widely referenced randomized trial involving 241 patients at several prestigious medical centers. Published several years ago in the Lancet, a respected medical journal, it found that patients hypnotized before surgery required less pain medication, sustained fewer complications and left the hospital faster than a similar group not given hypnosis.
Using new imaging and brain-wave measuring tools, Helen Crawford, an experimental psychologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va., has shown that hypnosis alters brain function, activating specific regions that control a person’s ability to focus attention. “The biological impact is very real and it can be quantified,” Dr. Crawford says.
Still, proponents say they typically spend a great deal of time dispelling commonly held myths and answering skeptics. Hypnosis, they say, cannot make people do or say something against their will. Credible hypnotists don’t wave a watch in front of their clients, as portrayed in many old movies. People who enter into a so-called hypnotic trance are not, generally, put to sleep. On the contrary, practitioners say, they refocus their concentration to gain greater control.
Even so, the field continues to be hurt by quacks, says Marc Oster, president of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. His group, along with the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, publishes research studies, conducts educational seminars for health providers and certifies those who complete course work and meet other standards. Dr. Oster suggests that people interested in hypnosis see a health provider licensed in a medical discipline, who is also certified by one of the hypnosis societies — someone who “uses hypnosis as an adjunct” to a principal medical practice.
Researchers say that most people unwittingly enter into hypnosis-like trances on their own in everyday life. When reading a riveting novel or watching a film or TV, many people are experiencing a trance-like state when they are so focused they become only vaguely aware of nearby noise, conversation or activity. In a dream, when someone imagines falling off a cliff and is startled awake by the sensation of falling, they are triggering the same mental machinery that in hypnosis allows the mind to influence the body, says Dabney Ewin, a psychiatrist at Tulane University Medical School.
Katie Miley used self-hypnosis taught to her by a Chicago-area psychologist to help her give birth “without being so anxious and without pain medication.” For weeks preceding the delivery Dr. Miley, herself a psychologist, used tapes provided by the therapist to practiced slipping into a hypnotic state. During the birth, and as suggested by the therapist, she muted the pain by imagining the contractions “as a warm blanket enveloping me,” she says. “It was weird,” she says. “I was aware of everyone in the room and I was interacting, but mentally my focus was elsewhere and I just allowed the process to unfold.”
Some of the clearest clinically measured results come from using hypnosis to mute severe and chronic pain — as the University of Washington’s regional burn-treatment center in Seattle is doing with burn patients. Patients sent there must undergo frequent therapy to sterilize their damaged skin, and get new grafts. They must be awake and alert during the treatment, and even the most powerful narcotics rarely diminish the intense pain.
David Patterson, a psychologist at the center, induces a hypnotic trance with a typical and relatively quick technique. Patients are told to close their eyes, breath deeply, and imagine they are floating. Through a variety of verbal suggestions, Dr. Patterson then helps the patient imagine themselves elsewhere, away from the treatment. “The pain is still there, of course, but patients simply don’t experience it as before,” he says.
While relieving physical pain is one of the more common uses of hypnotism, it is also the hardest to explain. Dr. Patterson and others report that hypnosis doesn’t appear to act on the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, the way drugs do. Instead, scientists believe, through hypnosis a person can be trained to focus away from the pain, not on it as most people usually do. Many athletes often unconsciously use such a technique to play through severe pain, concentrating their attention on the game or task ahead, instead of on their injury.
Recently, Dr. Patterson added another tool to transport hypnotized patients to a “safer emotional environment.” He and his colleagues created a virtual reality film; patients placed in a helmet during therapy watch a three-dimensional depiction of a snow-covered set of mountains and canyons. By interacting with the film, patients can feel they are suspended over a cool and calming world. Michael “Mac” MacAneny, one of the first burn patients to use the 3-D film, says he is certain that “it saved my life.”
Early last year, Mr. MacAneny sustained deep burns over 58% of his body when building a bonfire for his sons in his backyard. A gas tank he was using suddenly exploded, enveloping him in flames. Before Dr. Patterson began treating him, the 39-year-old Mr. MacAneny says he dreaded his daily therapy, “freaking out” whenever the nurses came to get him. Hypnotized and inside the 3-D virtual world, “I knew what was going on, but I just didn’t pay attention to it,” he says.
Hypnosis, in some form or another, has been used for more than 200 years. It began gaining credibility as a medical tool in the early decades of the last century as psychiatry and psychoanalysis began to show how the unconscious mind often rules daily life. Its usefulness was cemented when combat physicians reported using it during World War II for the wounded.
By 1958, as more doctors described their experiences in the war, the American Medical Association certified the technique as a legitimate treatment tool. Nevertheless, few doctors employed it. But in 1996, a National Institutes of Health panel ruled hypnosis as an effective intervention for alleviating pain from cancer and other chronic conditions. These days, as many people accept that stress can exacerbate illness, the potential curative power of hypnosis is becoming more acceptable, too.
Healing the Body
Carol Ginandes, a Harvard psychologist at McLean Hospital in Boston, is trying to prove that “through hypnosis, the mind can have a potent effect not only on mental well-being but also on the acceleration of bodily healing itself.” She has co-written a study showing ankle fractures among patients receiving a hypnotic protocol healed weeks faster than usual and another study showing wound-healing benefits for hypnotized breast-cancer surgery patients. Though these studies were preliminary, Dr. Ginandes believes that hypnosis enabled her subjects to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism to work more efficiently.
Elvira Lang, director of interventional radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, has made similar findings. She recently reported that hypnotized patients who must remain awake during certain vascular and kidney procedures fared measurably better than similar patients who didn’t undergo hypnosis. Still, says Dr. Lang, until very recently, “I didn’t dare use the ‘H’ word around here.”
The New York Times
November 4, 2008
By JANE E. BRODY New York Times
My husband, Richard, smoked cigarettes for 50 years, having failed several attempts to quit on his own. When a friend told him in August 1994 that hypnosis had enabled her to quit, he decided to give it a try.
“It didn’t work; I wasn’t hypnotized,” he declared after his one and only session. But it did work; since that day, he has not taken one puff of a cigarette.
Gloria Kanter of Boynton Beach, Fla., thought her attempt in 1985 to use hypnosis to overcome her fear of flying had failed. “When the therapist brought me out, I said it didn’t work,” she recalled in an interview. “I told her, ‘I heard everything you said.’ ”
Nonetheless, the next time she and her husband headed for the airport, she was not drenched in sweat and paralyzed with fear. “I was just fine,” she said, “and I’ve been fine ever since.”
Like many others whose knowledge of hypnotism comes from movies and stage shows, my husband and Mrs. Kanter misunderstood what hypnosis is all about. While in a hypnotic trance, you are neither unconscious nor asleep, but rather in a deeply relaxed state that renders the mind highly focused and ready to accept suggestions to help you accomplish your goals.
Hypnosis has been mired in controversy for two centuries, and its benefits are often overstated. It does not help everyone who wants to quit smoking, for example; then again, neither do other kinds of treatments.
And the patient’s attitude is critical. In the words of Brian Alman, a psychologist who practices hypnosis in San Diego, “The power of hypnosis actually resides in the patient and not in the doctor.”
Roberta Temes, a clinical hypnotist in Scotch Plains, N.J., insists that hypnosis cannot make people do anything they don’t want to do. Hypnosis can succeed only in helping people make changes they desire, she said in an interview.
In her book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hypnosis,” Dr. Temes points out that success in achieving your goal is the best proof that you were really hypnotized. She also suggests a second or third session if you didn’t quite reach your goal after the first try.
What Hypnosis Can Do
In effect, hypnosis is the epitome of mind-body medicine. It can enable the mind to tell the body how to react, and modify the messages that the body sends to the mind. It has been used to counter the nausea of pregnancy and chemotherapy; dental and test-taking anxiety; pain associated with surgery, root canal treatment and childbirth; fear of flying and public speaking; compulsive hair-pulling; and intractable hiccups, among many other troublesome health problems.
Writing in The Permanente Journal in 2001, Dr. Alman said that “useful potential” for benefiting from hypnosis “exists within each patient.” “The goal of modern medical hypnosis,” he said, “is to help patients use this unconscious potential.”
Dr. Alman described a 65-year-old concentration camp survivor who repeatedly choked when she tried to swallow, though examinations of her esophagus revealed no obstruction. After three hypnotherapy sessions, her problem was solved. “I was liberated from my esophagus,” the patient said.
You may not even have to be face to face with a hypnotist to benefit medically. Dr. Temes said hypnosis could be helpful even if done with a cassette tape or CD, or by telephone, which she offers as part of her practice. She said many helpful CD’s could be found through the Web site www.hypnosisnetwork.com.
Ellen Fineman, a physical therapist in Portland, Ore., had had five surgeries to repair a retina that kept detaching. Hoping that a sixth attempt would hold, she used a hypnosis tape prepared by Dr. Temes for patients undergoing surgery.
The hypnosis tape “was very calming and reassuring,” Ms. Fineman said in an interview.
“It told me that I would be in the hands of professionals who would take good care of me and that I’d have minimal swelling,” she said. “This time the surgery went superbly — no inflammation, no swelling and no more detachment. The surgeon was amazed and asked what I had done differently this time.”
While not everyone is easily hypnotized, nearly everyone can slip into a therapeutic trance, Dr. Temes maintains. Another of her patients, Dr. Susan Clarvit, a New York psychiatrist, thought she could not be hypnotized — she was too scientific, too rational a person, she said.
“But I was desperate,” Dr. Clarvit said in an interview. “I was pregnant with my second child and too nauseated to be alive. Dr. Temes asked me what I held most often, and I said a pen. She hypnotized me so that when I held a pen I had an overall feeling of wellness. I held a pen all the time, even while driving, and didn’t feel nauseated.”
Under hypnosis, Dr. Clarvit was given a posthypnotic suggestion that linked holding a pen to feeling well. Such suggestions enable people to practice a new, desired behavior after being brought out of the trance.
Someone trying to overcome snacking on sweets might be told, “When you are hungry, you will eat vegetables.” The suggestion to a smoker might be “you will drink water when you want a cigarette,” and someone terrified of public speaking might be told “you will do deep breathing when you feel scared.”
Many patients are also taught to practice self-hypnosis to reinforce the new behavior. Dr. Karen N. Olness, a professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University who is the president of the International Society of Hypnosis, said that “self-hypnosis training in children is an effective and practical strategy to prevent migraine episodes.”
Sometimes patients with well-established illnesses can benefit indirectly from hypnosis.
Dr. Alman told of a woman with multiple sclerosis who was treated with hypnosis for depression that had failed to improve with antidepressants. Almost immediately, he reported, not only did the woman’s depression ease, but her gait and speech improved markedly.
He explained that for many patients the medical problem is so complex that specific directions and commands may be ineffective. The benefit from hypnosis may rely more on unleashing unconscious processes within the patient. He suggested that there exists “a wealth of material in the patient’s unconscious that can be used in healing” but lamented the fact that although medical hypnosis can often produce rapid change even in difficult cases, it is “underutilized as a therapeutic tool.”
As with any other profession, some hypnotherapists are more talented than others. Dr. Temes suggests that word of mouth may be the best way to find someone practiced in hypnosis for the kind of problem you’re trying to solve. Also helpful is the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, at www.asch.net, which maintains a referral list of therapists, both certified and not, by location and specialty.
New York Times
November 22, 2010
A soldier returns from war unable to get the images of battle out of his head. An earthquake survivor rides out long, anxiety-filled nights. A young woman in a pretty floral dress walks her dog along the streets of Manhattan.
All three may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The woman walking her dog is Robin Hutchins, 25. She looks confident and self-assured, and few would guess that a year ago she discovered that she had the stress disorder.
“When I tell people I have P.T.S.D., it’s like I have to convince them it’s a real issue,” she said.
The disorder — in which a traumatic experience leaves the patient suffering from severe anxiety for months or years after the event — is often associated with battlefield combat and natural disasters. But as Dr. Frank Ochberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, noted in an interview, the typical trigger is more mundane — most commonly, a traffic accident.
In Ms. Hutchins’s case, it was sexual violence. During her first year in college, on a weekend home to tend to a broken leg, she was raped by a young man she knew. She returned to college without telling her parents about it. “I just really wanted to be a freshman in college,” she said.
Ms. Hutchins spoke to a counselor there and resumed her routine — attending class, hanging out with friends and trying to put the trauma behind her. “Nobody ever said, ‘You need to stop your life and deal with this — you can’t just walk through it,’ ” she said.
The following year she was briefly pinned to a wall by a drunken male student. Seemingly a minor incident, but it sent Ms. Hutchins into a tailspin. Anxiety and panic began to strike her without warning. The prospect of leaving her dorm terrified her. She stopped going to class.
Her reaction was not to get help, but to leave college. She traveled to Mongolia in hopes of clearing her head, but a car accident during her trip only made things worse.
Friends didn’t understand why she never wanted to go out. They would play down her anxiety and say, “Oh, you’re just going to laugh at this in a couple days.” It took years of sleepless nights and paralyzing anxiety over tasks as simple as grocery shopping before she began to look for help.
She sought out psychologists, but some dismissed her. “They’d say, ‘What does a pretty girl like you have to worry about?’ ” she said. Others were simply too expensive. Finally, during an initial consultation, a psychologist heard her full story and said the simple phrase that changed everything: “You have P.T.S.D.”
Dr. Ochberg, the Michigan State professor, who has never met Ms. Hutchins, estimated that as many as 80 percent of rapes may lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress. But the stigma of rape, along with a general misunderstanding of the disorder and how it can affect anyone who has suffered trauma, often gets in the way of a proper diagnosis.
For Ms. Hutchins, the diagnosis came as good news. “When you can’t control your emotions at work, at home, with friends, you stop trusting yourself,” she said. “Knowing that my panic attacks came from P.T.S.D. was such a relief.” Understanding the cause of her emotional outbursts gave her tools to change them.
Dr. Ochberg explained that the disorder causes violent memories to surface despite a person’s best efforts to tame them.
Worse, the memory often feels more recent than it should. “There’s no sense of place in time,” Dr. Ochberg said.
Studies suggest that the disorder may be associated with structural changes in the brain — in particular, a shrinking of the hippocampus, a region associated with memory.
For most young professionals, a night out at a bar is routine; for Ms. Hutchins, the strange faces and crowds put her on high alert. Crossing the street calls up a swarm of terrifying possibilities: Will the bus hit me? Is that guy following me? Should I run? Should I fight back? If I do, will I put others at risk?
Weekly therapy sessions helped her work through some of those irrational fears, and anxiety medications helped prevent some of the panic attacks. Still, she remained unnaturally vigilant.
Then she met Dexter.
After reading that “emotional support” dogs can be trained to comfort people with post-traumatic symptoms — staying by their side in overwhelming situations, for example — Ms. Hutchins adopted a small Lhasa apso from a shelter. Now, she and Dexter are training each other.
Dexter keeps Ms. Hutchins calm on airplanes and forces her to go outside for long walks. People who see Dexter in his little blue service jacket smile at him — and at her, calming her further.
She is still working on gaining control of her emotions, and she knows that the post-traumatic symptoms may linger. But there is less anxiety, fewer panic attacks. About Dexter she said, “He’s given me a partner in all of this.”