The Pain and Pleasure of Surgical Hypnosis

on July 28 2011 4:54 AM

Would you believe in your surgeon if he prescribed hypnosis to alleviate your pain quotient? Recent reports have brought out the benefits of hypnotherapy over pain killers and other available modern day anesthetics. In fact, an independent panel of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) observed that hypnotherapy might help in relieving chronic pain and help alleviate anxiety.

Involving hypnotherapy practitioners in surgical processes seems to be a modern day reality in some hospitals across France and Belgium. The Associated Press reports that around 8,000 surgeries or more have been performed across Belgian hospitals. Hypnotherapy as an anesthetic has increasingly become popular in France and Belgium in recent years.

While hypnosis finds favor with some plastic and facial surgeons in Germany, British dental surgeons too have started offering hypnosis as an alternative to modern anesthesia. In fact, the French Society of Anesthesiologists have come up with prescribed guidelines in practicing hypnosis along with anesthetics for reducing stress, anxiety and pain. Pushed by the demand for surgical hypnosis, the French Society of Anesthesiologists created a special stream for hypnosis in 2010.

Doctors warn that hypnosis as a choice over chemical anesthesia is effective in certain types of surgical interventions which require caution. Some experts believe that hypnosis would be unfeasible in key operations involving the heart or other internal organs because the pain in this case is unbearable. Dr Mark Warner, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists observed that doctors would need extra time to conduct hypnosis and that they would have to work more extensively with surgeons.

Warner noted that there are no guidelines on hypnosis as an adjunct therapy in surgical cases in the U.S. He is looking forward to more research on the right patient groups that would benefit from hypnosis. Other experts comment that hypnosis is a hard sell as very few profit from it.

Guy Montgomery, an associate professor at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, who led a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2007, noted that hypnotized patients needed fewer painkillers and sedatives and also required less time in surgery. On an average, each hypnotized patient cost the hospital about $770 less than those who were not under hypnosis. Marquis suggests hypnosis for patients who willingly wish to opt for the therapy and warned that it need not be feasible for all.

Although Sigmund Freud abandoned his attempt with hypnosis to alter hysterical behavior, modern day hypnotics have had a gain in practicing their art in the field of medicine. They see a growing demand and advocate therapies such as 'Weight loss' hypnosis or 'stop smoking hypnosis'. Hypnotherapy has also been extended to alleviate conditions of anxiety and insomnia and also to change behaviors of alcohol dependency.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis however cautions on care that should be taken in choosing the right hypnotherapy practitioner. It is important to check for trained, licensed and accredited providers. This would mean that the healer should have graduation training with valid license in either one of the health care streams such as medicine, dentistry, psychiatry, psychology, social work, or nursing.

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