Pain catastrophizing is associated with greater levels of pain. While many studies support the efficacy of hypnosis for pain, the effect on pain catastrophizing remains unclear. The present study evaluated the effect of hypnosis on pain catastrophizing using experimental heat stimulation. Twenty-two pain patients engaged in 3 conditions: baseline (no suggestion), hypnotic induction, and hypnotic induction plus analgesia suggestion. Participants with higher baseline pain showed a significant reduction in rumination following hypnotic induction plus analgesia suggestion and significant reductions in pain due to both the hypnotic induction alone and the hypnotic induction plus analgesia suggestion. The findings suggest that unpleasantness-focused hypnotic analgesia reduces pain via its effect on the rumination component of pain catastrophizing.
Evidence supports the efficacy of hypnotic treatments, but there remain many unresolved questions regarding how hypnosis produces its beneficial effects. Most theoretical models focus more or less on biological, psychological, and social factors. This scoping review summarizes the empirical findings regarding the associations between specific factors in each of these domains and response to hypnosis. The findings indicate that (a) no single factor appears primary, (b) different factors may contribute more or less to outcomes in different subsets of individuals or for different conditions, and (c) comprehensive models of hypnosis that incorporate factors from all 3 domains may ultimately prove to be more useful than more restrictive models that focus on just 1 or a very few factors.