Research has demonstrated that only about 25% of pain is the body’s physical response to trauma. The other 75% of the experience of pain is the emotional aspect, including the person’s fears, expectations and anxiety level.
Almost everyone has had an experience of “not feeling” a cut or scrape while involved in an activity. The pain and stress occur when the person becomes aware of the injury.
Hypnosis can prove quite effective for most people, particularly in handling that 75% emotional part. Since tension normally exaggerates pain, stress and fear, the relaxed state of hypnosis tends to raise the pain threshold. Anesthesia, or a sense of numbness, is also a natural phenomenon of a deep state of hypnosis.
Studies being done about the body’s’ physiological response to relaxation (hypnosis) have been performed by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and author of The Relaxation Response. Benson is largely credited for demystifying meditation and helping to bring it into the mainstream, by renaming meditation the “Relaxation Response”.
After concentrating on a single stimulus, such as an object or a phrase, as is done in hypnosis, Benson found that oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production, respiration, blood lactate, heart rate, and blood pressure decreased. He also found the intensification of alpha waves. He called the physiological changes the “relaxation response” His findings show that within certain limitations, everyone has the ability to control his or her body physiology. Thus, self-hypnosis may play a significant role in the future for treating diseases such as hypertension, because of the ability to control blood pressure.
Hypnosis is being used more and more frequently as a means of painless childbirth. Natural childbirth uses a form of hypnosis. This has been denied for some time, but recently many doctors, such as Dr. Crantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth without Fear, admit the methods of natural childbirth include hypnotic trance. For the use of painless childbirth and easier pregnancy, training in hypnosis should come early in the pregnancy. Hypnosis helps reduce morning sickness, backache, stress and constipation, which often accompany pregnancy. Even the increased weight that pregnant women seem to acquire can be controlled through hypnotic suggestion. Delivery is easier and less painful when hypnosis is used, as the pain threshold is automatically raised. And there are many cases of labor time being reduced by two, three, or four hours — as a direct result of hypnosis.
The most common technique used for childbirth is to induce insensibility to pain through a series of sessions. The mother gives birth in a state of waking hypnosis, feeling very little pain or discomfort. The advantages of using hypnosis during childbirth are not limited to the mother. The baby benefits, too, as hypnosis is the only method available that is totally devoid of danger to the child.
Drugs affect the baby, causing depressed respiration at birth. The baby can almost always breathe spontaneously without any stimulation when the natural method of hypnosis is used. A final advantage is the lessened post-natal shock. Bleeding can be controlled and the healing process speeded up, an advantage to both the mother and her pocketbook, considering the increasingly high medical costs that are prevalent today.