Despite the continued debate and lack of a clear consensus about the true nature of the hypnotic phenomenon, hypnosis is increasingly being utilized successfully in many medical, health, and psychological spheres as a research method, motivational tool, and therapeutic modality. Significantly, however, although hypnotherapy is widely advertised, advocated, and employed in the private medical arena for the management and treatment of many physical and emotional disorders, too little appears to be being done to integrate hypnosis into primary care and national health medical services. This article discusses some of the reasons for the apparent reluctance of medical and scientific health professionals to consider incorporating hypnosis into their medical practice, including the practical problems inherent in using hypnosis in a medical context and some possible solutions.
Hypnosis has been shown to alleviate symptoms and side effects of cancer and its treatment. However, less is known about the use of hypnosis at the end of life in individuals with cancer. Our goal was to systematically review the literature on the use of hypnosis to manage the most common symptoms of end-of-life cancer patients: fatigue, sleep disturbances, pain, appetite loss, and dyspnea. EMBASE, MEDLINE, COCHRANE, PsychINFO, and SCOPUS databases were searched from inception through November 7, 2016. No studies met the inclusion criteria. It appears that hypnosis has never been rigorously tested as a means to ameliorate the most common symptoms in individuals with cancer at the end of their lives. This finding is troubling, as it strongly implies that a population most in need has been largely neglected. However, a clear future research direction is revealed that may have significant clinical impact.
Smoking cessation remains a major health priority. Despite public campaigns against smoking and widespread availability of smoking-cessation treatments, many people continue to smoke. The authors argue that the “problem of motivation,” that is, suboptimal or fluctuating motivation to resist smoking urges and to comply with the demands of treatment, commonly undermines treatment seeking and adherence, appreciably reducing the success rates of smoking-cessation programs. The authors describe the history of the Winning Edge smoking-cessation program and discuss ways to enhance motivation before, during, and after formal treatment. They illustrate how hypnotic suggestions, administered in the context of their program, can promote cognitive, behavioral, and emotional commitment to treatment and enhance motivation to live a smoke-free life.
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.
For many years, the therapy field was dominated by a focus on the past. In this context, many clinicians were trained to use hypnosis as a tool to explore the past, and there is a rich literature documenting the use of hypnosis as a tool to induce age regression and the uncovering of traumatic memories. This article presents a therapeutic paradigm that focuses on the future. Hypnosis is used to induce creativity, flexibility, and openness to the future. In the context of health care, hypnosis is used to explore the best possible treatment outcome, which may be pharmacological, surgical, or a combination of both as well as other nonsurgical interventions. This article elaborates on the effective use of a therapeutic hypnosis strategy and technique focused on the future.
Two experiments that studied the effects of hypnotic suggestions on tactile sensitivity are reported. Experiment 1 found that suggestions for anesthesia, as measured by both traditional psychophysical methods and signal detection procedures, were linearly related to hypnotizability. Experiment 2 employed the same methodologies in an application of the real-simulator paradigm to examine the effects of suggestions for both anesthesia and hyperesthesia. Significant effects of hypnotic suggestion on both sensitivity and bias were found in the anesthesia condition but not for the hyperesthesia condition. A new bias parameter, C’, indicated that much of the bias found in the initial analyses was artifactual, a function of changes in sensitivity across conditions. There were no behavioral differences between reals and simulators in any of the conditions, though analyses of postexperimental interviews suggested the 2 groups had very different phenomenal experiences.
The author explores the nature of hypnosis, which he characterizes as a motivated mode of information processing that enables most humans to alter, to varying degrees, their experience of body, self, actions, and world. The essence of hypnosis is not to be found in heterohypnosis; instead, it lies in the spontaneous self-activation of that mode of information processing. The hypnosis field has substantially lost sight of spontaneous self-activation, because the word hypnosis is usually used to mean heterohypnosis. Self-activation of the hypnotic mode of information processing is the necessary sine qua non of hypnotic psychopathology. Moreover, self-activation of trance is the characteristic hypnotic behavior of a distinct subset of highly hypnotizable individuals.
Hypnosis and meditation, as a whole, form a heterogeneous complex of psychosomatic techniques able to control mind and body regulation. Hypnosis has been pragmatically used for limited therapeutic targets, while eastern meditation has much wider philosophical and existential implications, aiming for a radical liberation from all illusions, attachments, suffering and pain. The available data on the history, phenomenology, and neuropsychology of hypnosis and meditation show several common features, such as: (a) induction based on focused attention; (b) capability to reach an intentional control of both vegetative-somatic activities and conscious-unconscious processes; (c) activation/deactivation of several brain areas and circuits (e.g., the default modality network and pain neuromatrix) with a relevant overlapping between the two.
The authors asked breast cancer (BC) patients to participate in 1 of 3 mind-body interventions (cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), yoga, or self-hypnosis) to explore their feasibility, ease of compliance, and impact on the participants’ distress, quality of life (QoL), sleep, and mental adjustment. Ninety-nine patients completed an intervention (CBT: n = 10; yoga: n = 21; and self-hypnosis: n = 68). Results showed high feasibility and high compliance. After the interventions, there was no significant effect in the CBT group but significant positive effects on distress in the yoga and self-hypnosis groups, and also on QoL, sleep, and mental adjustment in the self-hypnosis group. In conclusion, mind-body interventions can decrease distress in BC patients, but RCTs are needed to confirm these findings.
Previous research using step-wise regression analyses found self-reported hypnotic depth (srHD) to be a function of suggestibility, trance state effects, and expectancy. This study sought to replicate and expand that research using a general state measure of hypnotic responsivity, the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory: Hypnotic Assessment Procedure (PCI-HAP). Ninety-five participants completed an Italian translation of the PCI-HAP, with srHD scores predicted from the PCI-HAP assessment items. The regression analysis replicated the previous research results. Additionally, step-wise regression analyses were able to predict the srHD score equally well using only the PCI dimension scores. These results not only replicated prior research but suggest how this methodology to assess hypnotic responsivity, when combined with more traditional neurophysiological and cognitive-behavioral methodologies, may allow for a more comprehensive understanding of that enigma called hypnosis.