"Your Expectations can have profound impacts on your brain and your health"
- Tor Wager, neuroscientist, Colombia University.
Hypnosis can really help take the suffering out of peoples chronic pain. It is important to understand the difference between the 'painful signals' and actual suffering', and how the brain processes the signals, using emotions, beliefs and expectations - only then does it becomes an 'experience of pain'. In this weeks blog post I am going to discuss how this principle can be applied to taking the suffering out of the condition known as Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterized by chronic widespread pain, fatigue and sleep difficulties. It is classed as a disorder of pain processing due to abnormalities in how pain signals are processed in the central nervous system. Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect 2% of the population. The term "fibromyalgia" derives from the Latin, fibro-, meaning "fibrous tissues", Greek myo-, "muscle", and Greek algos, "pain"; thus the term literally means "muscle and connective tissue pain".1 There are several theories as to what causes it but most experts agree that it results not from a single event but from a combination of many physical and emotional stressors.
There is much scientific evidence that the complementary therapy of hypnosis can help reduce and even eliminate much of the suffering associated with Fibromyalgia. A recent study carried out at the University of Iowa studied what happens to the brain during hypnosis.2 Researchers monitored chronic sufferers of Fibromyalgia in a hypnotic trance. It showed that there was reduced activity in the pain network area of the brain particularly in the area of the brain responsible for ‘feeling’ pain.
Hypnosis can help with Fibromyalgia in many ways:
(1) Fibromyalgia is often triggered by stress or anxiety. In fact, Fibromyalgia is often associated with it. Stress is also an important precipitating factor in the development of Fibromyalgia. Simply put, stress amplifies the perception of pain. Therefore as we lessen stress we reduce pain perception. Hypnosis can help people relax so that they can experience comfort rather than pain. The visualisation techniques used in my hypnotic sessions can help to decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety, as the saying goes 'The body achieves what the mind believes".
(2) As noted, Fibromyalgia is classed as a disorder of pain processing due to abnormalities in how pain signals are processed in the central nervous system. Hypnosis relaxes the nervous system, so it’s not as reactive to the pain, as well as redirecting attention away from the sensation of pain. Hypnosis helps focus attention on various parts of the body, to calm the autonomous nervous system , which is involved in stress, and the limbic system of the brain. A great hypnotic technique that helps do this is called 'autogenic training'.. This process involves targeting your focus, imagining how you feel and repeating that thought three times. For example turn your attention to your hands right now and think to yourself: 'My hands and warm and heavy', and repeat and soon notice, as you say that to yourself that you do really begin to feel your hands become 'warm and heavy'. The learning here is that we can make a choice on where to focus our attention on and that we can control the way we feel. Autogenic training develops awareness of calm and comfortable feelings, creating a positive reflex and reduced suffering. An elderly Cherokee Indian was once teaching his grandchildren about health and healing. He said to them: "A fight is going on inside everyone that has a health challenge. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf promotes pain and disease and the other promotes healing and well being". The grandchildren thought about this for a minutes and then one child asked his grandfather: "Which wolf will win?" , to which the old wise Indian replied "They one they feed".3
(3) I teach people hypnotic techniques to control their pain, showing them how to turn discomfort into comfort. Self-hypnosis allows using the imagination to expel the pain and breathe in fresh, revitalizing, energizing air and can help people program themselves in many healthy and beneficial ways. I also teach some relaxation techniques which can be used to focus in on and control breathing and I teach mindfulness which helps people 'just let a thought be a thought or a feeling be a feeling' without attaching meaning to it, just being able to live in the moment and go with the flow.
(4) Sleep deprivation/insomnia is another common result of Fibromyalgia. This can leave the person feeling continuously exhausted. Hypnosis can be used to improve sleep patterns so that the body has the time it requires rest and heal. The hypnotic state is a feeling between awakening and sleeping (e.g. daydreaming) in which the outside world seems to fade away, as the mind and body relaxes and focuses in the point of attention (to the hypnotists voice, to their own breathing, to the relaxation of their body, etc.). Once I facilitate this state for a person, it is something that I then teach them to do themselves, so they can obtain the sleep state easily once they leave my office.
Hypnosis is not a cure all for Fibromyalgia. However it can help reduce the painful symptoms, by empowering the person to control of their thoughts and emotions. There are tremendous benefits to using some of the hypnotic methods outlined here such as autogenic training and self-hypnosis. All proven ways to take the suffering out of pain.
3. "Hope Is Realistic - A Physicians Guide To Helping Patients Take Suffering Out of Pain", Woods, Kelley, T., & Ellner, Michael. 2012.
© Trevor Eivers 2015
My name if Trevor Eivers and I am based in Waterford, Ireland. I am a Certified Consulting Hypnotist (since 2010) with the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH), which is the largest hypnosis body in the world with over 14,000 members in 83 different countries worldwide. I am also a Certified NLP practitioner. I love my job in which I help everyday people with everyday issues. Contact me at 086-8211677 or check me out online at waterford-hypnosis.com or Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Trevor-Eivers-Hypnosis/177881245578285
Disclaimer: Please note that nothing on this blog is intended to hold out, state, indicate, or imply that Trevor Eivers is a physician, psychologist, doctor, surgeon or medical practitioner. Treatment with hypnosis is a complementary healing art service. It does not diagnose medical conditions, illnesses or diseases. Hypnosis is not a practice of medicine, psychology or psychiatry, and it is not in any way intended to be a replacement for diagnosis or treatment of any medical complaint or ailment.