In Germany, five to eight million people suffer from chronic pain. Women are affected more frequently than men.
What is pain for actually?
Pain is a warning function of your body that something is wrong. The brain then decides what to do about the pain in order to prevent your body from further damage. However, in some cases, this function is errant. The alarm will be set all the time, independently of a real damage or sickness. This is when a pain therapy gets necessary. Ideally, the therapy should not focus on eliminating the pain by medication or surgery only, but on uncovering the underlying causes for the disorder.
Although pain disorders are influenced by psychological factors, psychotherapeutic treatment is often neglected. Only about five percent of chronic pain patients receive psychotherapy*. The vast majority of chronic pain patients are still treated by medication only and therefore not sufficiently and in many cases incorrectly. Among the pain patients there is a not inconsiderable number of trauma patients who are not recognised as such due to a lack of diagnosis or a lack of awareness on both, the patient's and the therapist's behalf.
Therefore, the context of pain treatment, it is necessary to exclude unprocessed emotional problems or to uncover and work on them. An example of the emotional causes of a pain disorder would be unconscious self-sabotage or self-punishment due to an unaware need for self-punishment.
If these emotional causes of the pain are ignored, the pain will defy all treatment attempts.
Hypnosis, especially hypnoanalysis, offers a very effective approach both for uncovering the emotional causes of pain and for pain control.
* Issue "Chronic Pain", Federal Health Monitoring 2005, www.gbe-bund.de
Pain therapy under hypnosis
In the state of hypnosis the sensitivity to pain is severely reduced or completely eliminated. Hypnotic analgesia was used in combination with medical treatments or even surgeries long before the invention of ether and chloroform (1846/47).
Pain is a psychophysiological phenomenon. Just like feeling comfortable, pain can be influenced by psychological interventions. Hypnosis can dramatically change people's perception of pain. The importance of hypnosis as a clinical technique to treat pain is well scientifically well documented.
Why is it that many people under hypnosis feel no pain at all? Clinical psychologists at the University of Jena have researched this phenomenon. Under hypnosis, according to the researchers, the full pain information reaches the cerebral cortex. However, the brain physiological processing of the pain signals is influenced in the way that the perception of pain is reduced or completely switched off. The message "Ouch! pain!" that way will not be sent. In times before "chemical" anaesthesia have been invented, numerous surgeries were done under hypnosis.
Many patients with chronic complaints (e.g. migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, tension headache) have already been helped with hypnosis. Professor Klumbies from Jena developed ablation hypnosis decades ago. Even chronic pain patients who could not be relieved by any other treatment, archieved a pain-free state through hypnosis. The patients even learned to reach this on their own by initiating a self-hypnosis with the help of a colour chart as a conditioned stimulus.
In many fields hypnosis is more effective than strong drugs. For example, even the most severe pain conditions, which to massive narcotics no longer, can be treated successfully under hypnosis. Compared to many drugs, hypnosis offers the invaluable advantage that it has no side effects.
For the treatment of pain patients, hypnosis should be as deep as possible (somnambulism). On the one hand, emotional causes of the pain can be easily found and treated, on the other hand, the pain in deep hypnosis can be resolved very effectively.
For a successful pain treatment, a multimodal therapy approach usually is appropriate, which means that different therapeutic approaches should be combined. In addition to medical and psychotherapeutic measures, physiotherapeutic treatments or a special diet may be required.
Before hypnotherapy should be considered in pain patients (as in any other case), medical diagnosis is mandatory.
Switching pain off and on under hypnosis
The experience of pain can be changed in two different ways under hypnosis: to pain insensitivity or to hypersensitivity, in which even contact with a feather triggers a pain stimulus. The latter does make sense in the treatment of pain patients and should only be mentioned here.
Under deep hypnosis, insensitivity to pain can easily be established by appropriate suggestations. Those will be repeated until a feeling of numbness occurs in the area the pain is lokated in.
For pain patients, the ability to switch off pain in any part of the body by themselves is particularly valuable.
In a sufficiently deep hypnosis-state, a code word to initiate self-hypnosis can be anchored in the subconscious mind. For pain patients, the advantage of learning this technique is obvious.
If emotional reasons are involved, hypnoanalysis is the medium of choice. For organic causes of pain, self-hypnosis is the most effective technique.