Dr. P. Uma Devi
Published in New Indian Express, Kerala edition., May 31, 2010
‘Doctor, please help. This pain is killing me.’
This was an elderly female patient with advanced anal cancer. It was an agony for her to pass stool, because of the excruciating pain, apart from bleeding from the cancer growth. She felt hungry, but was afraid to eat, as even the thought of going to the toilet was a nightmare to her. She was also not able to sleep because of the pain. No pain killer, not even morphine, prescribed by the oncologist, was of much help. It was at this time she was referred to me. Four sessions of hypnotherapy gave her relief from the pain; she started taking food and was able to sleep well without any painkillers.
Mr. K, a company manager, 50 years old, was getting frequent attacks of migraine, the pain was so intense that he often fainted and this was seriously affecting his job. His small family, wife and one son, was so concerned, as allo0pathic treatments were not giving him much benefit and he was getting 1-2 serve attacks a month. Three sessions of hypnotherapy, and now he is a happy man because the migraine has not returned in two years. Mr. N., 78 years old, had chronic pain in his knees.
A physically active man, who always found something to do in and around the house and in the social circle, was finding it difficult to move around because of the pain. Ayurveda and homeopathy medicines gave only temporary relief. After two sessions of hypnotherapy he got significant relief. Now, after 4 years, he leads an active life, free from the pain and discomfort.
Pain is most common affliction that severely affects the quality of life and reduces the functional years of person. It can be due to physical causes, like injury, diseases like cancer, or due psychological reasons. Extreme tension, frustrations, stress and anxiety can create feeling of pain-head aches, muscular pains unspecified body pain etc. In the elderly people, chronic pain associated with arthritis, diseases like cancer, muscular and joint pains restrict movement and affect day-today life.
Headaches are common among younger people and even in school going children and are on the increase, due to the stresses of modern life. Migraine is the most severe of headaches that takes away the joy of life and results in loss of productive hours. Migraine is more common in women than in men. It usually effects one side of head. It can last from a few hours to a couple of days. Along with intense pain, the person may suffer from severe nausea, vomiting, fainting, allergy to light, sound, etc. Triggering factors can vary – exposure to sun, extreme cold, emotional outbursts like anger, crying, etc., sleep deficiency, intense grief, menstruation, etc. There is so far no lasting cure for migraine in allopathic medicine; most of the medicines are either prophylactic or symptomatic and give short-term effect. Hypnotherapy is found t be very effective in producing long-term relief from migraine, arthritic pain and cancer pain and other chronic pains. It is a form of alternative /complementary therapy, which does not use any medication.
Hypnotherapy works on the basis that all our physical and physiological symptoms have a mind factor, and our subconscious mind has the knowledge and power to change it. Hypnotherapist uses hypnosis (induced trance) to access the subconscious mind. Hypnosis induces an altered state of awareness, in which the senses become more acute and concentration becomes focused, and the suggestibility of the person becomes highly enhanced. Any suggestion given in this state will be accepted by the patient and becomes the reality. Thus, it is possible to bring beneficial changes through positive suggestions. The patient is put into a hypnotic trance and suggestions are given under this state to bring about the desired changes and then woken up.
Before starting the treatment, it is important to interview the person and find out the details of the problem and the specific circumstance/events, if any, that trigger the onset of the pain and the emotional feelings associated with it. The suggestions are formulated on the basis of this information and, therefore vary from patient to patient.
Hypnosis has a relaxing effect on the patient and helps in releasing tension from the mind and body. Therefore , after waking up he/she feels good and relaxed. Usually, 2-3 sessions will give the desired benefit, each session lasting 1-11/2 hours, and the effect is mostly permanent.
Apart from reducing the physical discomfort, hypnosis also produces mental relaxation, enhancing the beneficial effect of the therapy. Hypnotherapy has been successfully used to treat different types of acute and chronic pains, like migraines and tension headaches, arthritic pain, cancer pains, pain associated with surgery, tooth extraction, burns, child birth, menstruation, piles, etc. In treating surgical pain, pain associated with injury, burns, etc., hypnotherapy can also help in accelerating the recovery process.
Usefulness of hypnosis in palliative therapy and care cannot be overemphasized. In such cases, apart from pain, the patient may also suffer from emotional problems . For example, in older people, who had been active earlier, development of arthritic or cardiac problems, incontinence, etc. Can severely affect their mobility and social interaction? This will have negative impact on their personality and can demoralize to such an extent, that the person can go into depression. Hypnotherapy is very effective in treating such problems. It helps in building up confidence and self-image. It is also useful in reducing anxiety, stress and removing fear of death in patients with terminal diseases. People of all ages, from pre-school to old age, are amenable to this treatment, provide3d their cognitive faculty is not impaired. It does not produce any side effects.