Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hypnosis for Surgery Instead of Anesthesia

Everyone responds differently to anesthesia during surgeries; some do fine, others get sick. Then, there are some patients who forgo the anesthesia and undergo hypnosis instead. Hypnosis, according to dictionary.com, is “an artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible: used clinically to reduce reaction to pain, to encourage free association, etc”.
The purpose of using hypnosis is to reduce the pain a patient has without using medication (anesthesia) before, during, and after surgery. Hypnosis was used long before anesthesia was invented; originating over 200 years ago. At that time, it was called either 'mesmerism' or 'animal magnetism'. During that time, there was a great decrease in mortality in patients who used hypnosis compared to those who had no form of pain relief during their procedures. Over time, use of hypnosis went down due to being replaced by traditional anesthesia (such as chloroform, ether, nitrous oxide); it was mostly studied in laboratories. However, it became widely used again during World War II, a time when there was little to no anesthetics available to help alleviate pain from wounded soldiers. Use of hypnosis began to increase in the 1950s.

It is assumed that hypnosis for surgery is safer than anesthesia, reduces the number of toxic anesthetics in the body. There are also assumptions and claims that it will reduce anxiety and reactions to pain from the surgery. It can be believed that any patient can undergo the hypnosis process (the last assumption is not necessarily true).

While there are/should be professional hypnotists with the patient during the entire process, it is more effective for the patient to be familiarized with the whole hypnotism process in order for the surgery to be successful. How this process works, according to various websites, starts out with a person needing to get familiar with accessing a hypnotized state (lying in bed at night) before undergoing surgery. They need to know what it feels like to be hypnotized, maintain a clear conscience with doing hypnosis, gain knowledge of the procedure beforehand, get hypnotized a few times, and practice techniques of self-hypnosis to achieve a hypnotized state (all before, during, and after the surgery). There are some negative reactions to using hypnosis such as dizziness, anxiety, nausea, and fabrication of false memories. Not everyone is open to the idea of hypnosis and would prefer to use traditional anesthetics.

According to testimonials, it is quite successful and saved people from a lot of pain. I found the following news link as an example about a successful surgery with hypnosis.
Hypnosis, No Anesthetics, For Man's Surgery

Looking at this from my point of view, I originally had no idea that this was even an option. I remember watching an episode of Scrubs that had a patient wanting to be hypnotized for an appendectomy. I thought it was one of the strangest things I have heard of. Then, I became pleasantly surprised when I was reading up on this; I had no idea that hypnosis had been used for a really long time. I also had no idea this was even considered a part of alternative/complementary medicine.  I am pleasantly surprised that doctors and surgeons incorporate hypnosis in a professional way (i.e., keeping anesthesia at bay in case things do not work out).  I do not know if I would use primarily use hypnosis for surgical procedures, but it would be nice to have an alternative in the unlikely case my body reacts negatively to anesthesia.

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