The National Council of Psychotherapists
Deepening The Use Of Hypnosis For Pain Control And Healing
There are two general classifications of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain is associated with the sudden outset of pain such as a broken arm, a cut finger, a burn on the hand and is generally more intense than chronic pain. Chronic pain is usually of an ongoing nature such as back pain, arthritis and intensity may vary.
By relaxation of the body there is a natural reduction of pain. By proper suggestion in the hypnotic state, the experience of pain can be reduced or eliminated for periods of time. I teach the client self hypnosis and imagery so that the client can use it when needed. To explain my use of hypnosis for pain management and to enhance healing, I would like to share with you two case histories.
My mother was in a hospital in Shreveport, La. for the removal of a cancerous growth on her jaw. She had surgery and had returned to her room. I stayed with her from about three in the afternoon until about ten the next morning. The nurses were very responsive to my mother's calls, the longest that she had to wait for a nurse to come was about three minute. I consider that excellent response time. The first thing that each nurse and her doctor said when they came into the room for whatever reason was, "Mrs. Durbin are you hurting?" Until about nine that night my mother had not needed anything for pain and I wondered, "Would she needed any pain medication at nine, had the question been different?" What if the nurses and doctor had said something like, "Mrs. Durbin, are you comfortable?" "Mrs. Durbin, how are you feeling?" Instead the suggestion that they were reinforcing with each visit was that my mother should be experiencing pain.
During that same hospital stay, the IV. in my mother left hand needed changing to the right hand. The nurse who came to make the change said, "Mrs. Durbin I wish I had an anesthetic to give you so that this would not be so painful." I said, "Oh you can give her an anesthetic." She responded, "No, no, I would get in trouble for I do not have a doctor's order for an anesthetic." I replied, "Just watch and see." I took my mother's hand and said, "Mother Look at me while the nurse works on your other hand. In a moment, the nurse will apply an antiseptic swab to your other hand. You feel the cold antiseptic as it is applied. The cold antiseptic causes a numbing effect so that you feel only pressure." As I talked to my mother, the nurse completed her mission of inserting the IV. When I stopped talking, my mother turned her head toward the nurse and said, "When are you going to begin?" The nurse looked surprised and said, "Mrs. Durbin, I have already put the IV in your hand and I am now putting the tape on to hold it in place." I said, "I told you that you could administer an anesthetic without a doctor's prescription." No formal hypnotic induction was used, but my mother was able to go through what could have been a painful experience with feeling only pressure.
(In the words of Judy Hamilton) In early April 1997, I was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in the left kidney. This took me totally by surprise as I had gone to the doctor for a totally different reason. During testing for the other problem, this tumor showed up. The doctor said that the only treatment for this was removal of the kidney. Surgery was scheduled for two weeks away. I was very distraught and despondent at this point as it came on so suddenly. I knew I needed a boost.
I had surgery Thursday morning. By that evening I was awake and alert. The next morning I was sitting in a chair and by Friday afternoon I was walking the hall of the hospital. The surgeon was amazed at the progress, mobility and recuperation that was taking place. He even stopped Paul in the parking lot of the hospital and told him how amazed he was. The nurses said how great I was doing and one other doctor that stopped in said she thought I was a pre-op patient instead of a post-op patient until she saw the bandages.
Young's answer, "Thank you for your letter of May 2, 1997, I am glad to
hear that you are progressing well. I too continue to be impressed with
the wonderful work that Chaplain Durbin does in the area of hypnosis. Our
medical community continues to partner with him on many occasions for
these type of services and we continue to experience the things that you
described in your letter. Thank you again for taking the time to write,
and for making Methodist your hospital. Sincerely, Fred Young,
The suggestions I used with Judy before surgery were: (2) Pre and Post Operation Suggestion:
night, you relax and sleep soundly. You feel relaxed and comfortable in
every way for your surgery . . . Imagine your body limp and relaxed. The
more relaxed you are the better you are prepared for surgery. You know
you're being closely observed by skilled doctors and you can safely
relax. The anesthesia is administered carefully and safely. The more
relaxed you are, the less amount of anesthesia you need for the surgery
and this is good for you . . The operation is performed skillfully. The
body's protective system remains active and can keep the wound dry, clean,
free of infection, minimize bleeding, reduce discomfort and promote
healing. By letting your body flow along with the surgery, you are working
in cooperation with the surgeon...
on the way your body is to behave after surgery. When you awaken after
surgery, you awaken peacefully as though awakening from a long, peaceful,
healthy restoring sleep. When you come out of the anesthesia, focus on
alerting your defense system to promote healing. Your natural body
processes are keeping the wound dry, clean, free of infection, minimize
bleeding and reduce discomfort....
you've thought about the way your body is to behave during your stay in
the hospital. Now I want you to think about the most important behavior.
I want you to imagine the things you do, without discomfort or worry, once
you've recovered. I want you to imagine yourself doing the things you're
eager to do. That's the reason you've come for surgery. You've come to
repair a part of your body that is troubling you so you can do the things
you want to do, without fear and concern.
Before you come out of trance, let's take the time to review your exercise. The first step focuses on the way your body is to behave during surgery; the second, on the way your body is to behave after surgery. Before surgery, you do both steps. After surgery, you do only the second step...
The second step focuses on recovery:
"Your defense system is alert to keep the wound dry, clean and free of infection, and to minimize bleeding and reduce discomfort as the healing takes place. Imagine yourself as you regain all normal functioning, your blood pressure rapidly stabilizes and returns to normal. You feel your appetite return. You get thirsty. You sense yourself going to the toilet. You feel eager to move around. Each time before you come out of trance think about the future, the real reason for going through surgery . .
yourself doing things that you want to do once surgery is over and you
As you rest peacefully and calmly, you know God constantly watches over you and you are able to place your trust in His infinite goodness. Now, you are ready to sleep, you sleep soundly and sleep well and wake up sound in body, sound in mind, sound in spirit, and sound in health. You progressively improve, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Day by day in every way, you are getting better and better, healthier and healthier, stronger and stronger.
Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D.
Director of Clinical Hypnotherapy
Methodist Health System Foundation
5640 Read Blvd # 840
New Orleans, LA 70127