At the very least, proponents say, hypnosis brings about a state of increased relaxation. Claims about its efficacy expand from there. It can serve some as a remedy for addiction, including drug, alcohol, and tobacco dependency. It helps some people maintain diets, relieve stress, and reduce anxiety. It can effectively relieve or eliminate chronic migraines, arthritis, and even warts, which appear to respond to various types of mental suggestion.
There are documented instances of hypnosis analgesia used successfully under varying circumstances. A fifteen-year-old girl who was allergic to phar-macologic anesthesia, for example, completed successful heart surgery with hypnosis as the only analgesic. It enabled her to remain conscious during the four-hour procedure, without so much as an aspirin required during or after the surgery.
Those who study hypnosis explain that it has measurable physiologic effects. Beyond its analgesic functions, hypnotic suggestion is known to steady the heartbeat and blood pressure, relax muscles, and reduce bleeding during surgery. Those who have used hypnosis in this capacity report less postoperative pain and faster recovery times than patients using pharmacologic anesthesia.
Proponents of the use of hypnosis during surgery contend that its pain-relieving effects linger indefinitely after emergence from the hypnotic trance.
Consequently, they argue, hypnosis should be appropriate and effective in controlling the persistent pain often associated with chronic illnesses such as cancer and arthritis.
Not everyone can be hypnotized. For those who can, or who wish to learn self-hypnosis, it has important benefits. To achieve control over various problems, for example, hypnosis can be self-induced by patients whenever they feel the need for pain or stress relief. This can help them avoid narcotic dependency and the long-term expense and physical complications of narcotic medication, and control their own pain or stress whenever the individual wishes.
Control: In hypnosis, it is the subject, not a practitioner or a doctor, who maintains control.
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