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Many people still consider hypnosis to be a pseudoscience, yet the claimed uses are staggering. With the help of a competent hypnotherapist, thousands have quit smoking, lost weight, and undergone minor surgery without pain. What is clinical hypnosis, and how does it differ from the usual party tricks associated with stage hypnosis?
We’re all very familiar with the concept of stage hypnosis. Only recently, the BBC reported how Simon Cowell was hypnotized by a dog while holding auditions for the upcoming season of Britain’s Got Talent. Cowell reportedly stared into the animal’s eyes before falling forward onto his desk, thanks to a German Spitz known as “Hypnodog” or “Princess.” Cowell was only under the pup’s spell for a couple of minutes.
Tales of hypnosis date as far back as recorded history. Many times, the act is used to amuse during an entertainment act. But its uses can be far more sobering, thanks to increasing research Through hypnosis, patients have been able to stop smoking, overcome the binge/purge cycle of bulimia, and overcome deep-seated fears. Likewise, migraines and chronic pain have ceased, stress has dissipated, and immune systems have bounced back surprisingly well from various illnesses. Patients have used hypnosis to recover quickly from surgery thanks to visualization exercises prescribed during hypnosis.
All of these results are still debatable, and correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation when it comes to clinical hypnosis and a positive prognosis.
One particularly interesting footnote in the study of hypnosis has been written about by the American Psychological Association. During the Civil War, Army surgeons used hypnosis as a means of anaesthesia before amputations. These doctors found the tool to be highly effective in lessening the pain experienced by patients. At that time, most Army doctors had no viable means to sedate their patient or administer any type of medicinal pain control.
Nowadays, researchers are working to confirm the use of hypnosis in surgical recovery. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports how patients who receive hypnosis in addition to anaesthesia or other pain medication are experiencing less post-surgical discomfort and nausea. These patients also saved money on the quantity of anaesthesia needed in the first place. Less money, less pain, and a more positive outlook … all sound like good reasons to give hypnosis a fair shake.