It is necessary to make sure that someone in pain has taken care of any medical conditions before using hypnosis for pain control. That is because it would be unwise to cover up an issue that needed medical or dental attention. When my client contacted me for the first time, she let me know that that after her knee replacement surgeries she had taken physical therapy. She had consulted with her doctors who had nothing more to offer than continued pain medication. She told me that she was taking heavy duty pain medications daily, and occasionally had a better day. She wondered if hypnosis could help lessen her pain. And, we both wondered if hypnosis could give her more comfort on a daily basis.
Hypnosis has been used successfully for anesthesia for surgery since the late nineteenth century. And, it has proven useful for alleviation of chronic pain as well. So, I told my client that I would offer her unconscious mind some ideas to consider that might prove helpful in increasing her comfort levels. And, she was also told that there were no guarantees. Hypnosis might eliminate her pain completely, lessen it, or increase her experience of comfort and relief intermittently.
Everyone has experienced the kind of pain relief available from hypnosis, although we do not usually think of it as “hypnosis”. For example, most people have had the experience of finding a bruise or scratch, looking at it and thinking that it ought to hurt, but it feels fine. Perhaps we were just too busy to notice the bump or scratch at the time. That is an example of a common, everyday analgesia, or anesthesia.
With hypnotic pain control, the nerves are sending the pain signals to the brain, but the signals never make it into consciousness. So it doesn’t hurt. One way to activate the ability of the mind to keep pain out of awareness is through metaphor. The unconscious mind thinks in metaphors, stories, associations, symbols and images. Its logic is very different from the logic of the conscious mind.
So, I guided my client into hypnosis, then told her various stories. I gave her direct suggestions for comfort, and offered her the metaphor of an alarm clock. I asked her to think about pain being like an alarm clock. When it goes off, we wake up to the fact that we need to do something. Maybe it’s getting up in the morning. If it’s pain, it’s something that needs to be dealt with. Once the physical body has been attended to, if the alarm keeps going it just confuses the conscious mind. We turn the alarm clock off because if the alarm were going 24/7 it would be meaningless, and useless, not to mention unnecessarily annoying.
Apparently, my client’s unconscious mind made sense of the alarm clock metaphor in a very personal way, and her pain stopped. After our first session, she only had an occasional off day, and took an aspirin to control her discomfort. After her second session, she was able to walk from the Atlanta Airport terminal to the gate on her own. Before she came for her first visit, she had needed to take a wheelchair from the terminal to her departure gate.
Hypnosis can be a wonderful option for pain control for someone who does not get satisfactory relief from drugs, or who just does not like taking drugs. The good news is that hypnosis is safe, has no side effects, and it is a pleasant experience.