Everyone knows about metaphors. However, when Dave Dobson started talking about meta 5’s in one of his hypnosis funshops, most of the students, myself included, were clueless.
Dave was well known for his use of hypnosis for pain control with hospitalized burn victims. He used what he called meta 5’s to help them go into an alternate reality of sorts while they healed. Of course, once in their “alternate reality” his patients were not only pain free, but having a good time.
Dave gathered more information from the burn patient’s family and friends than the patients themselves to build meta 5’s. He would ask them about the patient’s favorite hobbies, vacation spots, and pastimes. When he knew what the patient liked to do, he would start describing the favorite activity in rich sensory detail while the patient was in a hypnotic state.
One of the things that hypnosis does is to amplify the imagination. If a patient loved to scuba dive, Dave would start describing the sensations of breathing with scuba gear, the buoyant feelings of being underwater, the filtered light coming from the surface, the bright colors of fish swimming by.
After a short while, the patient would begin to access their memories of a scuba dive so vividly that it seemed as if they were really there. And, of course, on that dive they felt physically comfortable, and pain free.
So how does it work? Scientific research has shown that when we imagine a movement, lifting the right arm, for example, that there are tiny movements of all of the muscles of the right arm, as if it were actually lifting. Imaginary sensations and movements, hypnotically amplified cause the conscious mind to become completely focused on those sensations, so much so that they can seem completely real. The patient will then be transported by their imagination to the proverbial “better place”.
Even if the imagined experience is not “real” enough that the patient cannot distinguish it from reality, it can be real enough to eliminate or dramatically diminish the pain. And, having the patient learn how to go fully back into their enjoyable experience at will would be considered a successful outcome for a hypnosis pain control session.