Many people have heard about hypnosis to manage pain, but few are aware of its history. In the 1800s, prior to the development of anesthetics, hypnosis was used on the battlefield, in surgery rooms and even during childbirth and labor, hypnosis has proven to be a natural and powerful way to manage pain.
In the days before anesthetics had been discovered, surgeries performed on patients were gruesome beyond description. Post-surgery mortality rates were as high as 40%, and patients were traumatized and mentally scarred for life after the experience. The only anesthetics known to doctors back then were the natural ones – and quite literally so; they believed that falling asleep, becoming unconscious and dying were the only three ways in which nature helped people cope with pain. There are many accounts given by the people of those days about the horrors of surgery performed on them without anesthetics. Dental surgeries, among other medical treatments, were performed after strapping the patient onto a table or a chair to prevent them from moving. Fanny Burney, a famous writer, once had a mastectomy without being given any pain-killers. So traumatizing and gruesome was the experience, that even nine months after the surgery, just thinking about it made her feel weak and develop a headache.
John Elliotson, who was a professor at the University College, London and James Esdaile were among the first doctors to report surgeries performed on patients painlessly. Their surgeries were reportedly performed after ‘mesmerizing’ their patients, rendering them incapable of feeling pain during the surgery. This happened in the 1800s. Soon, hypnosis became limited to a field of study and research in laboratories. However, the use of hypnosis in surgery and medical procedures surfaced once again during the Second World War. When analgesics and other pain-killers or drugs like morphine were unavailable, hypnosis was used on soldiers to reduce their pain. It was even used to help them deal with and overcome shell-shock.
Long and complicated surgeries have been performed on patients successfully without having to use anesthetics. Recently, a professional hypnotherapist, Alex Lenkei, underwent a complicated surgery to relive him of arthritic pain in his right hand without taking any anesthetics. Lenkei put himself into a deep trance shortly before the surgery, and was fully conscious throughout the procedure. Apart from the tugs and pulls, he felt absolutely no pain whatsoever. This man is a living example – apparently, he has had a similar anesthesia-free surgery for hernia in 1996, making the surgery for arthritis his second time!
There is also the case of a woman who recently underwent a mastectomy without being given any anesthetics after being put into a hypnotic trance by Dr. William S. Kroger. The doctor, a practicing hypnotherapist, stood in the operation theater instead of the anesthesiologist. Surprisingly, Dr. Kroger had hypnotized the woman only the night before the surgery! There have also been several documented cases of women feeling almost no pain during childbirth, after being hypnotized. Hypnosis used on women during parturition is much safer than anesthetics, which may have harmful effects on the fetus. Even cancer patients and critically or terminally ill patients have benefited from hypnosis, when it comes to dealing with the pain. Hypnotherapy shows a lot of promise in the field of medicine and painless surgery.
Hypnosis for pain management is an effective way to reduce the negative effects of surgery and to treat pain free of the possible dependency on pain medications. Hypnosis for pain management works by teaching your mind how to activate the pain control centers in your body to increase and release your body’s natural analgesics called endorphins. Hypnosis also works to manage your pain by retraining how your mind reacts to pain. Pain management hypnosis can benefit those with chronic conditions, cancer, and even those who are terminally ill by reducing their pain and increasing their sense of being in control of their bodies.
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