The Frustrated and Helpless Healer: Pathways Approaches to Posttraumatic Stress Disorders

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychophysiological disorder, characterized by the following: chronic sympathetic nervous activation; persisting perceptual/sensory vigilance for threats; recurrent distressing memories of the event, including intrusive memories, flashbacks lived as if in the present moment, and nightmares; and a persisting negative emotional state including fear and shame. The psychophysiological basis for this disorder calls for psychophysiologically based interventions. This article presents the case narrative of a 29-year-old national guardsman, exposed to combat trauma and later to civilian trauma in public safety work. His treatment followed the Pathways model, comprised of multimodal interventions, beginning with self-directed behavioral changes, then the acquisition of skills (including self-hypnosis), and finally professional treatment including clinical hypnosis and EMDR.

Breast Biopsy: The Effects of Hypnosis and Music

The authors evaluated the efficacies of audio-recorded hypnosis with background music and music without hypnosis in the reduction of emotional and physical disturbances in patients scheduled for breast biopsy in comparison with a control group. A total of 75 patients were randomly assigned to 3 different groups and evaluated at baseline and before and after breast biopsy using visual analog scales of stress, pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, optimism, and general well-being. The results showed that before breast biopsy, the music group presented less stress and anxiety, whereas the hypnosis with music group presented reduced stress, anxiety, and depression and increased optimism and general well-being. After the biopsy, the music group presented less anxiety and pain, whereas the hypnosis group showed less anxiety and increased optimism.

Hypnotic Relaxation Therapy for Reduction of Hot Flashes in Postmenopausal Women: Examination of Cortisol as a Potential Mediator

Hypnotic relaxation therapy (HRT) has been shown to reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women and breast cancer survivors. While the biological mechanism by which HRT reduces hot flashes is unknown, it has been speculated that reduction of stress mediates the intervention’s effectiveness. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of HRT on a known biomarker of stress (cortisol) and changes in cortisol as a mediator. Sixty-two postmenopausal women received hypnotic relaxation therapy for hot flashes and completed measures of hot flashes in addition to providing cortisol samples at baseline and endpoint. HRT resulted in significantly decreased early evening salivary cortisol concentrations. However, changes in salivary cortisol concentrations did not mediate the effects of HRT.