Pain is no fun. When you hurt, you want the pain to go away, and if you’re like most people, the first thing you think of is a painkiller—aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, if it’s sort of minor, and maybe an opioid or barbiturate if it’s really bad or long-lasting. At that moment you probably don’t stop to worry about how those drugs can mess up your stomach, wreck your liver, or get you addicted. You hurt, and you want to stop hurting.
In nineteenth-century India a surgeon named James Esdaile did not have modern painkillers, but he was able to make his patients’ pain go away with something brand new. Well, he thought it was brand new, although it has been around since the beginning of human existence.
Esdaile used hypnosis, which he called Mesmerism. His surgical patients were placed in a trance, and then Esdaile went to work on them.
In those days, before modern medical advances, surgical patients not only had to suffer tremendous pain, but up to half of them died from shock or infection. Esdaile’s surgical patients not only escaped pain, but almost none of them died.
Since Esdaile’s day hundreds of research studies have shown clearly that hypnosis is one of the most effective tools available for dealing with pain, any kind of pain. For instance, many dentists collaborate with a clinical hypnotist or hypnotherapist, which allows their patients to use less pain medication, or often none at all, when they are under the drill. Hypnosis works with migraine, and with cluster headaches. Arthritis responds well to hypnosis. Actually, hypnosis helps any kind of pain you can think of.
Hypnosis works for pain at more than one level.
First of all, when you hurt, your whole body becomes tense. Your muscles tighten up and stay that way. The muscle tension increases the pain, and the pain feeds back into the muscular tension in a vicious circle. When you slip into a comfortable trance you are relaxed. That means your muscles will loosen up and quit feeding the pain. So even before any specific hypnotic intervention, you feel better.
Next, pain can make you feel helpless, like you have no control. Those feelings actually increase your sensitivity to the pain you are experiencing. Once you have learned to use hypnosis and realized how effective it is as a pain killer, just knowing you have a new way to control things reduces the pain. After all, even though the source of your pain is physical, the experience of pain really is all in your mind.
Finally, the specific techniques that the skilled practitioners at the Hypnosis Therapy Clinic use will allow you to stop your pain in its tracks. You may learn to simply numb your pain down to nothing, or to turn it into a different kind of sensation, or just distract yourself so thoroughly that you forget to notice it. There is no single best way to deal with pain, which is why you go to a competent professional, someone who has experience in dealing with the problem.
But, you say, a pill is quick. I take it, and the pain goes away, or at least it mostly does, most of the time.
Can’t argue with that, and if quick and mostly effective most of the time works for you, go ahead and take the pills.
But if you are maybe a little concerned about what the drugs are doing to your body, especially if you have to take them frequently, and if you would like to be able to be the boss of your own body, then maybe it’s time to do a bit of mind magic with hypnosis.