It’s called medical hypnosis and it allowed surgeons to perform their work with the patient awake enough to move, if needed. Some doctors say hypnosis needs to be embraced by mainstream medicine as a practical way to treat conditions and to provide a far less risky means of general anesthesia. Others, not surprisingly, aren’t convinced.
The Potential Value in Medical Hypnosis
In 2009, Professor David Spiegel of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services at Stanford University pushed to have hypnotherapy, or medical hypnosis, included in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (U.K) list of approved therapeutic techniques.
As reported by The Guardian, Spiegel had this to say in his speech at the joint conference of the Royal Society of Medicine, the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis, and the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis:
“There is solid science behind what sounds like mysticism and we need to get that message across to the bodies that influence this area. Hypnosis has no negative side-effects. It makes operations quicker, as the patient is able to talk to the surgeon as the operation proceeds, and it is cheaper than conventional pain relief. Since it does not interfere with the workings of the body, the patient recovers faster, too.”
It is also extremely powerful as a means of pain relief. Hypnosis has been accepted and rejected because people are nervous of it. They think it’s either too powerful or not powerful enough, but, although the public are skeptical, the hardest part of the procedure is getting other doctors to accept it.
Yes, there is a stigma surrounding hypnosis, and many within the general public and the medical community think it is some parlor trick rather than an effective medical tool. But parlor tricks don’t allow doctors to perform major operations (hysterectomies, lumpectomies, etc.) without general anesthesia. A study on women undergoing lumpectomies, for example, showed that those who underwent hypnosis felt about 50% less pain than the control group.
In another case, an overweight school teacher in the UK lost almost 8 stone (112 pounds in the US), after undergoing medical hypnosis – being hypnotized into believing she went through gastric band surgery.
Even for those doctors who think hypnosis has some value, a complete acceptance of it is rare. Instead, they believe it should be used for the psychiatric sciences, in the treatment of depression and addiction, for instance, rather than in the medical field.
Dr. Daniel Kohen, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Minnesota, says hypnotherapy works in pain management because people ultimately control how their pain feels. It is the job of the brain. And controlling your perception of the pain can essentially eliminate it.