Hypnosis Is One Of The Most Powerful Medical Methods For Treating A Variety Of Complications; But Is It Possible To Raise The Profile Of Hypnosis And Not Just See It As A Magic Trick On Stage?
He did not need to ask for the room number when he told David Spiegel that his next patient was waiting for him. Upon entering the patient’s room, he saw a sixteen-year-old girl with red hair sitting flat on the bed with an asthma attack. Next to the girl, her mother was crying. In recent months, a girl has been hospitalized for asthma is the third time.
SPIEGEL was a medical student who worked part-time at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, USA, in 1970. As part of his training, he also takes a course in clinical hypnosis.
The medical team of a young patient with asthma tried to dilate his airways by injecting adrenaline. Helped, Spiegel asked the girl, “Would you like to learn a breathing exercise?” After two injections, the girl’s asthma attack did not subside.
The girl nodded, and SPIEGEL hypnotized her first patient. When the girl entered a state similar to anesthesia in hypnosis, Spiegel was ready to instill in the patient; Induction that the “active ingredient” of hypnosis therapy is usually a phrase with precise wording and an involuntary reaction; But when the girl sat quietly and focused on the bed, Spiegel wondered what exactly she should instill in her; Because he was still under training and had not learned asthma hypnosis. “Every breath you take will be deeper and easier,” he told the girl.
This improvisation technique was effective. In just five minutes, the patient stopped breathing and lay on the bed, breathing quickly.
The sick mother no longer cried. This approach was constructive for the doctor and the patient. The girl later became a respiratory therapist, and SPIEGEL continued her work in clinical hypnosis. Fifty years later, he established a comprehensive medical center at Stanford University and, according to his estimates, hypnotized more than 7,000 patients.
Hypnotic insinuations can lead to strange and profound experiences, such as the inability to recognize an image in a mirror.
At first glance, hypnosis seems like a useless psychological phenomenon, But contrary to popular belief, it is often fruitful. When a hypnotized person is told that their arm is starting to move, it is moving, or when the person is instructed that they are unable to untie their knotted fingers, the fingers stick together like glue or, when told, can not recognize themselves in the future. They see the familiar who imitates their movements behind the glass. For many people, getting into a state of hypnosis, focusing, and listening to indoctrination is enough to make that indoctrination a reality.
Hypnosis can be a valuable therapeutic tool if the suggestion is for chronic pain or anxiety to subside gradually. Numerous pieces of evidence show that hypnosis is effective for many people with pain, anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), stressful labor pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and other aches and pains. For some of these pains, hypnosis is superior to standard treatments in terms of cost, effectiveness, and side effects.
Despite decades of research into the therapeutic value and a growing understanding of the mechanism of hypnosis in the brain, the process of embracing clinical hypnosis has been significantly slow; Because many people find hypnosis just like magic tricks on stage. SPIEGEL says:
Hypnosis seems strange to the general public. Some people even say it is unused or dangerous, and there is no middle ground while both are wrong.
The beginning of magnetic sleep
Similar applications of hypnosis have existed for many years in many cultures worldwide. From quasi-anesthesia in traditional South African therapies to Siberian, Korean, and Japanese witchcraft to North American folk medicine, many methods focused on the body’s ability to enter the hypnosis-like state.
These methods later became popular in Europe and North America. However, the Western model of hypnosis dates back to the late eighteenth century. In 1775, a German physicist named Franz Mesmer proposed the theory of animal magnetism. Mesmer believed that an invisible magnetic fluid flowing in the human body affects our health and behavior.
Mesmer also tried to change the fluid by modifying the method known as the Mesmerism method. Working as a physician in the Habsburg Empire and later in Paris, he realized that by staring at the patient and consciously focusing on them, they could induce movements such as moving the hand from the shoulder to the arms and achieve therapeutic results. Mesmer quickly became famous for this invention. Jessica Riskin, an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, writes:
His halls in Paris were dark and tempting with attractive curtains, thick carpets, and astronomical decors. Mesmer also wore a taffeta robe.
Despite Mesmer’s popularity, the theory of animal magnetism soon became obsolete, But the phenomenon that Mesmer explored was considered in the nineteenth century under a new name: Hypnosis. Thus a group of eminent physicians developed theories about the nature of hypnosis that separated hypnosis from its ephemeral origins.
Sigmund Freud, a prominent figure in Western psychotherapy, presented some of the best-known analyzes based on case reports of patients such as Anna O (Bertha Pappenheim, an Austrian Jewish feminist), who was treated by Freud’s colleague Joseph Breuer from 1880 to 1982. Freud later turned away from hypnosis because of his “free association” method, But hypnotherapy eventually became the basis of Western psychotherapy.
This method became very popular on stage with discovering the therapeutic potential of hypnosis in the medical community. Famous hypnotists set up tours throughout Europe; They instructed participants to become like chickens, harden like wood, or even watch the dissolution of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Public whispers about hypnosis intensified in the 1880s; Eventually, several countries enacted laws to use this method. In September 1894, Ella Salamon, 22, died after being hypnotized in a remote castle in Hungary. The story spread among the scientific community and the famous European and North American press. Concerns about the long-term consequences of hypnosis intensified in the early twentieth century.
Three months before the incident in Germany, Baroness Hedwig von Zedlitz und Neukirch met a healer named Zesla Zinski seeking treatment for abdominal and headaches. He allegedly used hypnosis for several sessions to seduce the woman and arranged a fake wedding that astonished the German aristocracy.
The public welcomed the book following news reports of the Zinsky case. For months, Baroness Hedwig loved Zinsky, who had attractive eyes, thick hair, and white teeth. In the same year, a fictional hypnotic character named Sungai was born in the best-selling Tribly novel by George de Moreau.
Such scandals motivated physicians to try to distance themselves from hypnotists and legitimize their work. Many doctors believe that non-specialists should not use hypnosis.
Over the next century, these tensions remained unresolved. Many academic researchers and clinicians believe that non-specialist hypnosis is dangerous and that its reputation has prevented widespread acceptance of hypnosis in medicine; But with the rise of research papers on the clinical efficacy of hypnosis and new insights into its mechanism in the brain, researchers and physicians are working hard to revive hypnosis.
The Legacy of Strange Mesmer Experiments is a diverse body of research, from unrestrained mid-twentieth-century experiments such as using hypnosis with concentrated acid or using snakes to study published in leading medical journals on hypnosis a means of relieving pain without medication.
Theatrical hypnosis can involve insinuations such as immersing oneself in an animal, But academics are worried about the harmful consequences.
Only 10 to 15 percent of the population falls into the “highly hypnotized” category. Known as the “high” in the hypnosis community, It has intense and sometimes profound experiences during hypnosis. It means that It reacts to most indoctrination. However, a large part of the population reacts more quietly.
Most people with moderate hypnosis may respond to a few minor suggestions, But they usually fail more challenging tests. Eventually, 10 to 15 percent fall into the “low-hypnosis” group. A low person may react to a few easy suggestions or not at all.
According to various studies, people, regardless of whether they are high or low, have a constant level of hypnosis throughout their lives. According to a 1989 study at Stanford University, 50 novice psychology students were tested for hypnosis. Former classmates have had consistent scores over the years; Their level of hypnosis was even more consistent than individual differences such as intelligence.
The cause of hypnosis is one of the emerging fields of research.
It is sometimes attributed to dopamine levels; Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) in the brain linked to hypnosis. Early research points to a gene called COMT, which is involved in dopamine metabolism, But the findings are mixed, and a clear genetic perspective has not yet been found for them.
Another neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), is also linked to hypnosis. In a study by SPIEGEL, Daniel Disoza, and colleagues at Stanford, researchers found that people with high hypnosis ability had higher levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in a part of their brain that was thought to be closely related to hypnosis.
This part of the brain, called the anterior cingulate cortex, is involved in cognitive control and willpower. GABA also has an inhibitory effect on brain cells, so according to Disusa and SPIEGEL, more GABA in this part of the brain can affect the state of hypnosis.
Some personality traits are also associated with the ability to be hypnotized; But they are not at the level of the Big Five; For example, high and low people can be extroverted or introverted, adaptive or inconsistent, nervous or emotionally stable, open or closed to new experiences, conscientious or severely disordered.
However, some more complex traits such as more imagination, reaction to environmental clues, or a tendency for self-improvement are more common in tall people. On the other hand, hypnosis researchers describe several characteristics in high people. For example, these people become so oblivious to a book that they ignore their surroundings or shout at critical moments in the film.
Hypnosis is an individual difference, like intelligence, that varies from person to person.
The famous Stroop test provides valuable evidence. This test measures how difficult it is to identify a written color or word when the word is the name of another color. Consider, for example, the term “red” written in blue ink. In this case, it takes longer for people to say that the ink is blue than when the color ink corresponds to the word (do this test here ).
When the hypnotized participants were told that they could no longer read, the words seemed like meaningless shapes to them. As a result, they were faster at recognizing the color of mismatched dishes because the terms no longer misled them on the screen.
When a person is asked to “forge” something in their mind, brain activity is different from when they experience an involuntary reaction. And In a small experiment, researchers examined 12 healthy participants in a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner to measure metabolic activity in brain parts.
In one set of tests, they were given instructions to fake their inability to move their legs. In another set of tests, the same people were hypnotized and told that their legs were paralyzed. Brain imaging studies show that distinct brain areas are activated in either condition.
Another study, using an MRI scanner, provides more detail when examining soft tissues. This time, the researchers looked at the motor cortex, or motor cortex, which is responsible for controlling body movements, and showed activity in patients with hypnosis.
As a result, is there an indicator in the hypnotized brain that can describe strange feelings and experiences of the hypnotic reaction? The answer to this question lies in emerging research, But there are several candidates.
According to SPIEGEL, part of the answer can find in the brain salience network.
This network helps people identify the dimensions of the environment. For this purpose, they extract relevant information from perceptual data strips from which the brain is saturated every second. Spiegel and his colleagues hypnotized two people, high and low, in one of the experiments and scanned their brains simultaneously.
During hypnosis, the activity of the salivation network decreased in high individuals. “In this case, the person is less worried about the consequences,” Spiegel said. “In this way, he can be isolated from the world around him.”
And In this way, the feeling of intense concentration during hypnosis can explain, But what about the strange feeling of the body and doing things based on it? According to Devin Terhon, a neuroscientist at the University of London, the best evidence points to a network of the brain’s default state. This network includes brain areas that are most active at rest.
“This part is involved in thinking about oneself, such as daydreaming, mind-boggling, and such activities,” Tarhun believes. Part of this network, especially the prefrontal cortex, plays a crucial role in hypnosis. He says:
It seems to play a role in self-processing, metacognition (thinking about thinking), and the ability to control thoughts. These processes can regulate in response to hypnosis induction.
If the default network activity is temporarily disrupted, you can hardly think of yourself as a conscious agent. This problem indicates that you do not have complete control over your body. The connection of this part of the network to the default state in hypnosis can find in many studies.
For example, the frontal cortex participates in concluding other people’s mental states. You may also think about the experimenter and his thoughts while being hypnotized. Tarhun believes:
This disorder is the best evidence of decreased self-related processing performance and metacognition.
In the Stroop test, the names of the colors are written with a spot of non-conforming color ink. This test can produce exciting results under hypnosis.
From the laboratory to the clinic
Perhaps the best-studied medical application for hypnosis is the reassuring promise of drug-free pain treatment. While academic experimenters extract details about the cause of hypnosis, clinicians can use the effects of hypnosis. Several meta-analyses (research papers devoted to analyzing the findings of a comprehensive range of research and evaluating the quality and design of each) have achieved consistent results.
According to a new meta-analysis of 45 experiments on the effects of hypnosis on pain relief, hypnotized participants experienced 73% more pain relief than control participants. Two meta-analyses from the early 2000s also concluded that hypnosis performed better than standard therapy and was better applied in medicine. As expected, these works are not equal; For example, according to a review of 85 control laboratory studies by authors, including Taron, people who are hypnotized experience more significant pain relief.
Some of the most exciting findings in chronic pain are defined as pain that lasts more than three months. In the UK, between 13% and 50% of people experience chronic pain, compared to one-third of the population in the United States. Nearly two billion people worldwide experience recurrent headaches, the most common type of chronic pain.
Chronic pain is challenging to treat with medication because narcotic analgesics are addictive and have side effects.
According to a meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials in patients who experienced eight or more sessions of significant pain relief, hypnosis can reduce the severity of pain and its impact on daily life.
In 2000, SPIEGEL conducted a randomized hypnosis analgesia trial on 241 patients who were to undergo invasive surgery without general anesthesia. Patients were divided into three groups: one group received standard treatment, one group received friendly support from a nurse, and the other group was hypnotized.
All three groups had access to a button that allowed them to access a combination of fentanyl (a type of morphine-like substance), powerful painkillers, and midazolam (a drug that causes drowsiness) and forgetfulness). Every fifteen minutes before and after surgery, as well as during surgery, patients were asked to rate their pain and anxiety levels from zero (relaxation and no pain) to 10 (deep fear, anxiety, and pain).
The standard treatment group used more than twice the amount of fentanyl and midazolam as the other groups. The duration of the operation in the standard group was longer than the other groups (mean 78 minutes), while the shortest time (61 minutes) belonged to the hypnotized group. “The level of anxiety in the hypnosis group was zero, and there were fewer problems during the operation,” SPIEGEL quoted as saying.
Unfortunately, after the above article, clinical hypnosis did not increase significantly. SPIEGEL has now developed an app called Reverie for self-hypnosis that hopes to provide access to evidence-based hypnosis for people who want it, but given the effectiveness of hypnosis therapy for a wide range of conditions, why is the speed of application and implementation so slow?
The reason for most problems in using hypnosis is not the lack of evidence but the combination of concern and misunderstanding about the involuntary nature of the hypnotic response. According to Terhun:
It is one of the most widespread myths of hypnosis that once they come to a hypnosis session with me, I can take control of them and lead them to bad things, But there is no reason to worry.
Amanda Barnier, a professor of cognitive science at Macaulay University in Australia, has explored this question in a study of the clever use of postcards. He divided the study participants into two groups: the high-hypnosis group received a large set of postcards and, after hypnosis, was instructed to send a postcard to Barnier every day until he Called them.
The next day, the postcards reached Barnier, and the process continued. When Barnier finally contacted the participants, their reaction was astonishing. Barnier recalls:
People who hypnotized said, “My God, this was out of my control.” Even when it was raining, I would go to the post office and send you the postcard. I could not stop myself.
However, the experiment did not end there. Barnier also used a control group that was not hypnotized, But he asked them to send him a postcard every day. Barnier recalls:
I told them I was a Ph.D. student working on my dissertation. Can you send me these postcards every day?
Surprisingly, the second group was forced to accept Barnier’s request. When Barnier contacted them and asked about their experience, many were reluctant. Initial experiments were performed under stricter ethical rules, and more stringent demands were supposed to elicit a similar response. Barnier thus concluded that the hypnotized participants would not do otherwise.
During a dangerous experiment in 1939, hypnotized participants were instructed to pick up a diamond backbone. They were told the snake was just a rope. One of the participants tried to pick up the snake, But the glass plate prevented it. Another participant went out of hypnosis and refused the request. The other two participants were not told that the snake was a rope. However, they both tried to remove it.
Two participants were then instructed to be angry with the test assistant for putting them in such a dangerous situation. They were asked to throw a flask full of acid at the assistant’s face. They both did. Of course, I replaced the acid flask with a harmless liquid of the same color.
Asked The control group of non-hypnotized individuals to participate in these activities, But most of them did not take any steps because they were so scared that they did not approach the snakes. Reflected The findings in another study in 1952; Subsequent studies criticized the experiments because they believed that people in the control group should not be placed in the same situation as the hypnotized group.
A 1973 study that sought to answer more questions equated hypnotized and non-hypnotized participants. A group of college students was hypnotized and instructed to go to campus and sell what they told was heroin to another group. Both groups went out and did so.
The experiment encountered problems; Because the father of one of the participants was a university professor. “Based on the experiment results, undergraduate students tend to do stupid things and have little to do with hypnosis,” says Theron.
Like Barnier’s findings, the strange things people do under hypnosis are not limited to hypnosis because they can do all sorts of weird things, even if asked very simply.
These experiments do not provide a definitive answer to one thing: Does a person under hypnosis have to do something against their will? However, beyond academia, there are many examples of the use of hypnosis for sinister purposes.
Hypnosis can seem mysterious and strange, but people in different situations daily may usually experience similar hypnosis states.
Use and abuse
At night, there is heavy traffic outside a shop on North London Road. Inside the store, the shopkeeper moves a few items around, while a young man enters the store with a determined look, wearing a gray T-shirt and a dark denim suit. The young man approaches the shopkeeper and touches his arm.
According to CCTV footage, some strange things happen. The shopkeeper is suddenly nailed in the corner as if he is asleep. The stranger touches her chest and shoulders and then goes to his pockets. Only when the thief leaves the shop does the shopkeeper realize what has happened. “Theron says:
Can distraction be used to commit a crime? The answer is definitely yes. Is it possible to put a person in ecstasy and steal from him or harass him? The answer to this question is very complex and challenging. In my experience, such events are challenging to interpret because we do not know the full context.
Many thefts involve the sexual abuse of female patients by hypnotists, often due to a power imbalance between the abuser and the victim. The North London robbery is just one of many examples of such thefts. According to Tarhun:
These events are disgusting and awful. These examples are difficult to interpret because of the unusual dynamics of expert or expert power that people trust. These events usually occur in various situations with different power relationships, including relationships with coaches, teachers, and medical professionals.
According to Barnier, in addition to power dynamics, other criteria, such as stereotypes and perceptions about hypnosis (such as losing control in hypnosis), are difficult to distinguish. Barnier argues that these criteria make it unclear whether hypnosis is a cause of vulnerability or broader harm.
As a result, the question arises as to how a person seeking hypnosis can ensure their treatment is safe.
The answer to this question goes back to the golden rule: “If a person can not cure you without hypnosis, he will not be able to do so with hypnosis.”
Most physicians and researchers, including Hillary Walker, Executive Director of the British Academy of Academic and Clinical Hypnosis, and Joe Tramontana, President-elect of the American Association of Clinical Hypnosis, agree. The Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK also recommends constantly checking your therapist’s qualifications.
Hypnosis therapy should be performed primarily by qualified health professionals accountable to professional organizations. For example, this should be done by a doctor, psychologist, nurse, occupational therapist, or psychiatrist. One of the reasons this is so important is that in many countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, there is no formal body for legislating hypnosis. Quoted from Barnier:
In Australia, you may find people taking weekend or six-month courses at the Hypnosis Academy; And what if something goes wrong? There is no professional organization.
In some countries, hypnosis therapy colleges are usually selected to connect with organizations registering hypnosis therapists. For example, the General Hypnosis Standards Association (GHSC) is in the UK. Still, none of these organizations can consider themselves official legislatures because therapists and hypnotists, like physicians and psychiatrists, do not have the titles of patronage.
The GHSC, for example, requires hypnotherapists to follow a code of ethics and leaves the grievance procedure open to patients with registered members. The speaker of this association states:
However, since hypnosis therapy is not subject to static rules and neither we nor any other organization (which registers hypnotists) can prevent independent treatment from continuing, it is not written with the organization.
Although hypnosis is often considered a strange experience, it is not far from everyday life experiences. For example, people may experience hypnosis in the following situations: when they are immersed in reading a good book or when they are attracted to a movie. Or they may suddenly feel that they have lost sight of the road signs. If this happened to you, you would have had a similar experience with hypnosis. The lesson we learn from this is to ensure that the person you choose for treatment has the necessary qualifications.
There is a lot in common between smartphone addiction and hypnosis. For example, both change perceptions of time and reduce awareness of the external environment and a sense of control. For instance, while browsing the phone, you suddenly notice that this has disappeared; But if you do not have such profound experiences often, it is still expected. According to Barnier: “This experience is like the difference between extroversion and introversion. “Some people’s inner world is very different from the world around them.”
For similar reasons, hypnosis is not much different from the everyday world and can be used in conjunction with other tools as a medical intervention. If you use a needle, syringe, or knife incorrectly, each has the potential to inflict irreparable damage; But in the hands of a skilled person, they can be a powerful tool for the benefit of all.