Proven and Effective: The Continued use of Hypnosis in Modern Western Medicine
Alternative medical therapy has become an increasingly discussed topic in the medical profession as more and more clinicians and agencies study and build collective works on the issues surrounding preventative and holistic medical care. It has begun to be acknowledged across the field that traditional Western medicine may have been entirely to focused on the technology and mechanisms that govern disease and not as focused as need be on the human needs of the patient.
Through this new emphasis on holistic care doctors, nurses, hospitals and their governing boards have begun to readdress issues of old, issues like the melding of eastern and western traditional therapies, sound therapy, aroma therapy, spiritual therapy and many others. At this what some would call the crossroads of this holistic focus one of the first things that has occurred is that proven methods of old have begun to be re-assimilated into modern medicine.
One of the most proven and the most holistically useful and repeatable is hypnosis. Hypnosis is a clinically proven and effective medical treatment for many human conditions and the further use and exploration of it will benefit not only today's patients and clinicians but those who will be treated for centuries to come.
Through the new ideas of holistic medicine challenges and science has been developed to answer many of the inherent questions of the subjective. One clinician believes that; "Biofeedback is precise and potent. Hypnosis and imagery are poetic, equally powerful, and so far as I am concerned, even more versatile ways of mobilizing the mind to aid in healing." He is clearly not alone. Hypnosis has been an accepted treatment for a myriad of disorders and diseases for centuries.
The history of hypnosis is so ancient that there is little known about its first possible uses yet, through history and literature it is clear that It has been an integral part of spirituality and religion as well as medicine in nearly every recorded culture. "Ancient Egyptians had the Temples of Sleep, and the Greeks their Shrines of Healing - both places where patients were given curative suggestion while in an induced sleep."
As best we can tell, Siberian shamans and African witch doctors, medicine men and healers around the world, have successfully used hypnosis and imagery for thousands of years."
Before there was a clear understanding of disease as a biological process it was thought that disease was associated with spiritual maladies, such as punishments from the Gods or possession by demons.
The modern mechanistic ideas of disease adopted from years of rational thought processes being applied to problems both psychological and physical, have led to a simple idea that nearly all symptoms either physical or psychological are simple biological processes occurring in the body. Through the natural progression of this rational focus the body has become to be seen as simply a biological machine and this has often resulted in the dismissal of alternative treatments. Each form of treatment must be researched and statistically proven to produce safe and effective outcomes before the Western Medical industry can accept it and sanction its use. Research associated with hypnosis has often been challenged by scientific problems associated with the simple fact that it is not always a clear cut, physically observable state of being and scientific skepticism is an underlying rule of all scientific exploration. "The two inextricable dangers are the danger of not providing sufficient disciplined skepticism, and the danger of not providing sufficient positive catalyst." standard research focus that can sometimes detract from alternative medicine research is the desire for scientists to find the mechanistic reasons for the effectiveness of a treatment, medicine or technique. Though this has been a danger since rational thought began it is also the basis for proof and a required prescription for the development of continues scientific discovery. It is through the scientific method that we have been so successful in developing the technology and understanding we now have of bodies and disease. The scientific method must be adhered to and real results need to be quantitative as well as qualitative in order for proof of effectiveness to be ensured. This can be seen as an obstacle or as an opportunity. Holistic practitioners of today would rather see it as an opportunity and would like to continue their own research with the validity of these standards.
Yet, in western medical history there is a real and documented reliance on hypnosis as an effective tool of medical intervention. "Hypnosis is probably one of the oldest, and best medically established methods of beneficially altering mental perceptions and sub-conscious programming."
While meditation is perhaps the oldest known method, it has not found as much favor within the western medical establishment, as hypnosis has. Hypnotism, on the other hand, began being used by western-world doctors for anesthesia during surgery, long before chemical methods were invented. In fact, hypnosis is still being used that way today.
Keeping sight of the believed phenomena of evil as causation for disease, relaxation and suggestive processes were used often with evident resulting success through the disappearance of symptoms; this was especially true of treatment for psychological symptoms. One of the most important uses for hypnosis that was ever used was as a natural anesthesia, a technology that did not exist in any largely effective physical form until very late in human development, "One of the greatest uses and needs for hypnosis was in the area of anesthesia. Because anesthesia as we know it didn't exist at all until the mid-nineteenth century."
Though there is a clear connection between religion, spirituality and hypnosis, a connection that sometimes bristles modern rational scientists, it is also an effective treatment that shows demonstrative physical success. It is clear that the early use of hypnosis as a medical treatment is in part due to the lack of alternatives. Without biological understandings of the human body and modern research and treatment, options are limited.
Though a lack of modern alternatives is clearly not the only reason that the technique of hypnosis is or has been used. It is clear that hypnosis is a time tested and effective treatment, one born of necessity but no longer dictated by it. This can be clearly seen in medical research for treatments both psychological and physical and most importantly the continued research continue to expose Western medicine to alternatives to surgery and pharmaceuticals. With better detection and observation technologies a marriage between effective alternative medicine and traditional mechanized western medicine can occur, to the great benefit of the human condition.
Stanford trained physician, Margaret Gedde, MD, PhD expresses her personal beliefs of the value and necessity of alternative medicine and specifically hypnosis:
have seen the dramatic impact the mind can have on the body, making it important to understand, and use, in the practice of medicine. I have studied psychology, meditation, and hypnosis. I have found that while meditation has unique benefits that can't be replaced by hypnotism, self-hypnosis can deliver many of the same benefits, far more quickly and easily. Meditation can take years of practice to bring about positive changes. Hypnosis can bring about certain types of changes in months, or even the first session for some rare individuals.
Dr. Gedde is certainly not alone in her observation of alternative medicine as one of the most promising bodies of future medical research and discovery.
One of the leading clinician advocates of the use of hypnotherapy as a viable and sometimes singular alternative to psychological and physical treatments in Erika Fromm. A noted psychologist in her right who that contributed largely to the body of knowledge on psychotherapy, Fromm describes the general sense of the effective use of hypnosis in a psychological treatment setting in this way:
To give the reader a feel of what modern permissive hypnosis is, let us give you an example. In trance, as in dreams, people tend to think more in images than in language. Imagine a hanging lamp, which when near the ceiling sheds its light over the entire room, making everything visible. When entering hypnosis, it is as if the light is pulled down to just above the therapist and patient so that it shines more intensely on them both and the rest of the room is rather dark. The focus is entirely on the two of them and what transpires between them. The room and its contents have all but disappeared, and what is left is only the process between the two people, patient and therapist.
Fromm became a leading advocate for the use of hypnosis and though controversy surrounded some of her assertions her words are a lasting legacy of the effectiveness and defense of hypnosis as a clinically proven and successful treatment option either before or after other means have been used.
An analysis of the historical scientific writings and research on the subject of hypnosis in the modern era lends the reader the understanding that…