Medical Hypnosis

hypnosis [hip-no´sis]

1. a state of altered CONSCIOUSNESS, usually artificially induced, in which there is a focusing of attention and heightened responsiveness to suggestions and commands. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not sleep but rather intense concentration, something like the familiar experience of being engrossed in a book to the extent of shutting out the outside world.

STATE OF HYPNOSIS. The nature of hypnosis and the way it works are still largely unknown. One widely accepted theory is that the person’s ego—that is, the part of the mind that consciously restrains instincts—is temporarily weakened under hypnosis at the person’s own wish. How deeply one responds depends on many psychologic and biologic factors. The ability to respond to hypnosis varies from person to person; it tends to increase after successive experiences.

USE OF HYPNOSIS. A common medical use of hypnosis is in treating mental illness. Historically, Sigmund Freud developed his theory of the unconscious as a result of his experiments with a hypnotized patient. Out of this theory came some of the techniques of PSYCHOANALYSIS. By lessening the mind’s unconscious defenses, hypnosis can make some patients able to recall and even re-experience important childhood events that have long been forgotten or repressed by the conscious mind.

In certain cases when the use of anesthetics is not advisable, hypnosis has been used successfully during dental treatment, setting of fractures, and childbirth, usually in addition to pain-killing medicines.

2. in the NURSING INTERVENTIONS CLASSIFICATION, a nursing INTERVENTION defined as assisting a patient to induce an altered state of consciousness to create an accurate awareness and a directed focus experience.

In 1995, the US National Institute for Health (NIH), established a Technology Assessment Conference that compiled an official statement entitled “Integration of Behavioral & Relaxation Approaches into the Treatment of Chronic Pain & Insomnia”. This is an extensive report that includes a statement on the existing research in relation to hypnotherapy for chronic pain. It concludes that:
The evidence supporting the effectiveness of hypnosis in alleviating chronic pain associated with cancer seems strong. In addition, the panel was presented with other data suggesting the effectiveness of hypnosis in other chronic pain conditions, which include irritable bowel syndrome, oral mucositis [pain and swelling of the mucus membrane], temporomandibular disorders [jaw pain], and tension headaches. (NIH, 1995)