Archive for Physical Illness

Hypnosis and its ability to deal with physical illness

Physical Illnesson April 8th, 2014No Comments

by Jorg Thonnissen (2010) Registered Psychologist

The first thing that we need to understand when we are ill is that it is only common sense to see a medical professional first before attempting anything else. In other words, when we have a broken leg…we should always first and foremost go and see a medical doctor to get it fixed.

As such, there is a clear order of priorities that needs to be followed when one is affected by illness and that involves seeing a medical professional first to get a diagnosis of the problem.
It is important to understand that hypnotherapists should never make ‘blanket’ claims that hypnosis cures medical illness as such. However, having said this, hypnotherapy most certainly has the ability to motivate our mind to work to its fullest potential to assist cure the body more effectively.

For those of us who doubt that there is a connection between our physiology and psychology, research over the last few decades has given a lot of credibility to this notion. To explain further, we all have probably heard of medical doctors who can foretell based on personality how well a patient is likely to be able to cope with stressful situations such as that following the diagnosis of a severe illness. A good example to show how our mind affects our body would be what medical practitioners call the ‘cancer personality’.

640px-AnkledislocationThis is not a far fetched assumption rather clinical studies have shown that depending on how a person reacts to stressful stimuli based on subjective awareness, as well as conscious perception there is indeed something that can be called a ‘type C’ personality. In other words, studies have shown that people can experience emotional stress with clearly measurable physical effects but they might manage to suppress their actual feelings about the stressful event beyond their conscious awareness.

Thus, the kind of mindset that the ‘Type C Personality’ has come to be associated with is defined as being the type of person who is passive, patient, accepting with a lack of assertiveness and overall extremely cooperative. In short, these are people who have a tendency of suppressing their reactions in order to avoid conflict. This follows that the Type C personality is assumed of practicing a pushing down of necessary emotional responses and with that is somewhat disregarding their healthy need for self assertion.

Based on this research the long held traditional Western medical view of a split between body and mind becomes increasingly outdated and the view that our physiology, including our immune system, is directly affected by our emotions gains more and more recognition. This follows that repressing necessary emotional responses can be thought of as threatening our psychological as well as physiological health by first and foremost suppressing immune responses which in turn leaves a person susceptible to viral or bacterial invaders as well as malignant changes from within.

Seen from this perspective, we can certainly say that our mind is of utmost importance when it comes to our well being. A healthy mind offers the body a better fighting chance. Therefore, it is only reasonable to assume that the expected outcomes of an illness will be affected depending on the given strength of a person’s mindset.

How Does Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy Make a Difference?

Well…it is often mentioned that the subconscious (unaware) part of our mind takes up most mental processes whereas we are only ever really conscious (aware) of the few things that we choose to focus on. In other words, everything other than what we are consciously thinking about is regarded as subconscious or unconscious. For instance our body temperature, our hormones, blood flow or the management of pain are largely regulated by subconscious processes which seem to happen somewhat automatic.

There is no doubt that these processes can be manipulated with the help of modern medicine but often we also have to take the undesired side effects into consideration that the introduction of medications could bring. Hypnosis on the other hand aims to encourage the body to do this naturally through stimulating the body’s own resources. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to exclude either option available to us when dealing with illness, and as mentioned earlier, the first priority is always to seek medical advice first before considering other approaches.

Depending on the kind of illness that is experienced, there is certainly merit for the application of both, medical treatment first and foremost and hypnosis to strengthen our mind with the effect of strengthening our body. These two approaches can be seen as working together in a body/mind approach to give a sufferer of disease the best possible outcome when going through the different stages of illness.

Today there are several recognised applications of hypnosis in medical settings.  For example, in addition to dealing with pre and post surgery anxiety, as well as general anxiety, hypnotherapy is commonly used in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Hypertension, Multiple Sclerosis, and pain management in general.