Pain Relief Hypnosis – Hypnotherapy and Doctor Theatre
How does Pain Relief Hypnosis relate to “Doctor Theatre”?
As a hypnotherapist and NLP person who is also an actor I have experienced the phenomena we call “Doctor Theatre” or ” Doctor Greasepaint”. Many Actors have anecdotes about being ill or injured and carrying on with a performance – sometimes even excelling in that particular show.
Is it because of adrenaline that keeps them going? There are many tales of superhuman feats of people going beyond pain or even a normal capacity – Mothers lifting cars to free trapped children for example or athletes achieving amazing feats – there was a time when the three minute mile was considered to be impossible – and yet Dr Roger Bannister did it. The records continue to be smashed.
There appears to exist a mechanism that enables the shut down or diminishing of pain. For me this is accessed through a kind of self hypnosis which evokes what I call an uptime trance – in other words we can focus our attention .. The sports person does when they go “into the zone” and others do when they concentrate on a great film, texting or a sports match… Or making music in the flow… or acting In the Moment… Or an important job or enjoyable task.
What is “pain”?
I have heard pain described as “disguised anxiety” and clients I have treated affirm that Pain appears to ramps up way beyond what it should be.
I point out the aforementioned examples and ask ” what if” we could acknowledge pain as a message then turn it down or off using uptime trance. Of course there are elements of pain that are about self protection – not using a damaged muscle until it is healed, for instance, but a lot of pain seems to be unnecessarily painful. Sometimes it is connected to fight or flight where the blood is sent to the extremities thus draining the painful part of blood and increasing the pain. Contrary to what you might think – it is important to use techniques that I teach to acknowledge the alert rather than attempt to supress it.
I teach clients ways to ask their unconscious parts running the show to turn the pain down and this seems to help even with chronic pain. As long as they continue to try to do as much as possible to heal the cause of the pain then they really don’t need that level of pain.
Managing the pain is the first step. There is promoting healing. There is giving strategies to deal with pain and to stop “looking for pain”. There is help to sleep. We start with three sessions backed up by a CD to really embed the approach as well as give a resource. There is a scholarly article on the medical and scientific evidence as to how this works extremely well. Dr Deepak Chopra is another who has contributed much in showing how he, as a medical Doctor, recognised in ancient spiritual practices many other approaches that can also help promoting pain relief and healing through mindfulness and more. However you don’t have to be a “believer” the evidence is there and recently the notion of hypnosis as a placebo has been dismissed by MRI scans and experiments quoted in other blogs here to show that self hypnosis is a very effective tool,that we should all learn and when you visit a good hypnotherapist – that is what you learn.
Pain Relief Hypnosis and pain management
You might wonder how it is done: here is a small exercise in visualisation of how you might begin to deal with pain of any kind – try it:
Close your eyes and breathe in to the area where the pain is .. Slow deep breaths… Imagine the in breath as a healing colour whatever that is to you …. Imagine when it reaches that area it gently warms and soothes it… Now make your out breath slightly longer than you in breath and picture the colour of your pain as your out breath… Breathe it out of you…
Picture the pain as a ball of coloured energy … Imagine a lever marked 10 to 1 .. As you slide down the lever see the ball of energy shrink and turn it slowly to the healing colour… Relax and drift for a bit.. And see how you feel.
This might seem odd to you – but it is one of the easiest way to talk to the parts of you sending you the pain message!
Finally ponder how Esdaile in the nineteenth century could do major operations like amputations with no anaesthetic and lost less patients than any of his contemporaries. Wonder why it isn’t more a part of our medicine now and why it took Dave Elman in the 1950 s to rediscover “the Esdaile state” and teach several generations of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists in the US how to do it… And why it isn’t more widespread.
Elman told of a Doctor who had a last minute patient with severe pain in a hand. He had no pain killers in stock so being recently trained by Elman smeared some lubricating gel on the Man’s hand saying it was a powerful analgesic. It worked. Placebo maybe.. But the more interesting thing here is that the pain disappeared. If it a placebo effect shouldn’t we be learning how that works in preference to drug regimes as a default?
The man turned out to be a Drug Rep and wanted a sample of this wonder drug. The Doctor suggested that he had run out..I wonder how long he sought this miracle analgesic for his Pharma company when the answer was within?
Pain Relief Hypnotherapy
It is harder, in my experience, to get some one who is in the midst of a severe pain incident into hypnosis. However between pain incidents you can teach them to manage their pain and learn self hypnosis. Therefore it is hard to help you while suffering chronic pain but once an analgesic of some sort is in place you can start to deal with the pain – pain is a message so it is firstly good to let your unconscious processes to certainly KNOW you have noticed it and “ask” it to turn the pain down.
A little pain is there as a diagnostic but surely it isn’t necessary all the time? So why not hijack the placebo effect and use hypnotic trance to suggest less pain and trace the pain to it’s source to see if your body and mind’s self healing capabilities can help? After all you heal a cut don’t you?
Professor L G Walker at Hull seems to have had a great deal of success in prolonging alive in Aids and Cancer patients with hypnotic visualisation – experiments have shown that groups of patients having the traditional treatments set against other patients who have the same treatments plus visualisation appear to indicate that those who have the additional hypnotherapy live longer and heal better.
I would add from my own observation that they might well suffer less pain too.
I would love to see a wider trial of the usage of Hypnosis for Pain Relief – in the 1950’s and 60’s Dave Elman famously taught all those Doctors Dentists and Surgeons in the US – so what happened to all that great work? Have we forgotten the power of the mind? Esdaile was considered a fraud by the establishment in the 19th Century – yet he operated many times, including amputations, and his death rate was lower than anyone using anaesthetic… So more research needed? Some is quoted elsewhere – we have known of this for a long time. The first BMA approval of hypnosis goes back to successful trials in 1947! So why isn’t it used by Doctors more?
Graham Howes Advanced Hypnotherapist and NLP in Ipswich Suffolk and Colchester Essex