Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How to Control Pain and Suffering

By heightening and enhancing our internal
states, we can learn to manage
the experience of pain.
As Susan French has pointed out, ". . .everything that we do [as hypnotists] has to do with directing attention from thoughts and perceptions that have negative effects to more positive states and perceptions. What results is not only changing a habit of thinking but creates the release of brain/body chemicals that support the state where the attention rests." By heightening and enhancing our internal states, we can have experiences which we are not capable of in everyday life, but which are just as "real" to us -- if not more so -- than if they were, with predictable effects on our personal lives.

I recently had a client who suffered from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder from a near-fatal automobile accident. He had been prescribed several pain medications, which were not always effective. I saw him weekly at his home. I used a traditional hypnotic induction, using suggestions of deep-muscle relaxation, followed by repeated deepening combined with suggestions of anesthesia and well-being, with post-hypnotic suggestions that the effects would continue. I also taught him self-hypnosis in order to prolong the effects of these suggestions between visits. He reported generally good results with these procedures, but he still needed his prescription medication. Even then, he stated that the inductions were sometimes not completely effective in removing all of his discomfort.

One day, his wife said to me, "We sure could have used you last week, Doc. Nothing seems to be working, and the pain is as bad as ever." I knew I had to devise an especially effective induction, so I told them about hyperempiria, indicating (as a "waking suggestion") that was a new and especially powerful technique which would enable him to experience higher states of awareness while his body remained asleep, thereby focusing his mind more effectively on the suggestions I provided. He was interested, and eager to try any new procedure which might bring about greater relief.

As the induction proceeded, I asked him him to picture himself relaxing deeply in the basket of a large balloon, which was about to lift off. As the balloon began straining at the ropes which held it, his body was sinking deeper and deeper into a deep, sound sleep. And as the balloon began to rise, his consciousness would rise along with it, until he entered hyperempiria. I elaborated upon this combined induction until he appeared to become highly involved with my suggestions, and then proceeded with my suggestions for healing and pain control.

The client later reported that his pain had considerably lessened. I showed him how to include autosuggestions for heightened awareness into his self-hypnosis routine, and his wife subsequently told me, "I often see him going upstairs in the middle of the day, and when I ask him where he is going, he tells me, 'I'm going for a balloon ride!'

The client and his wife have remained in occasional contact. In our most recent telephone conversation, two years after hyperempiric suggestions were incorporated into his self-hypnosis routine, the client reported that although some pain sensations remained after taking his medication, the combination of prescribed medication plus hypnotic and hyperempiric suggestions together provided the greatest amount of relief.

Here are seven things you should know about pain science.

Sarah Grabke, in a posting on March 10, 2013, wrote a posting on pain control in her Blog, which is partially quoted here with permission:
Pain is a messenger. Normally it wants to tell us, "Take better care of yourself!" or "Change something! The way it is now is not good for you!" These are important signals, which shouldn't be ignored under any circumstances. This is why I suggest to everybody not to shut down all the pain. That's often not necessary anyway. We all can go on good with a certain amount of pain and ignore that. But please not for long! That would be unhealthy and unreasonable.A messenger wants to be heard and requires that something be done, changed. This should be respected under all circumstances! 
Hypnosis Salad is an organization which gives hypnosis seminars. On YouTube there's a video with Michael Watson, where he talks with lots of humor about an effective method of pain control which a friend of his used. Here are two of the main points in his video about pain: Pain is so uncontrollable because we think of it as uncontrollable, and, at the given moment, pain seems endless. 
The method Michael Watson describes is so simple and clever. You take the pain and turn it into a symbol (maybe also a color), and hold this symbol in your hand. Then you throw it into a bin, or flush it down the toilet, or whatever. Why is it a clever method? Well, by turning the pain into a symbol, you change the sensory perception. It's a feeling changed into something visual. By placing the symbol in your hand, it's away from its original place (Except it's a pain in the hand, of course. Although, Even if that's the case, it would be a change from a feeling in a part of the body to a symbol you can see and hold in the hand.) What did you do there? Taking control through giving a change of shape and location and change of sensory perception! The endlessness stops when we throw away the symbol. 
I personally placed a symbol in my hand only one or two times. What I do is my own variation, Let's assume it's a headache. I imagine it's a geometrical shape with edges or spikes, which could give me the kind of pain in my head that I have at the moment. Often it's something like a polygon or something thorny, A color may or may not come with the symbol for everyone. For me, the shape often comes with a sort of yellow or green. The color is there without me thinking about one. I keep the shape in my head and imagine it go change into a ball, A ball has no edges, so they can't cause pain. Because of Erickson, The color purple is special for me, and has a calming effect. So the ball turns purple. Often what I do is imagine my whole head in a light purple, transparent ball, Like my head is in a goldfish bowl,  
Simply by having to concentrate on something which you see in your head is distraction by itself and changes the intensity. One advice if you're working with colors too. Pick a color that's far enough away from the pain color. For example, if your color is blue purple will be rather close to that color One time I told my dad about this method, and he suggested to take the complimentary color. I never did that. I keep forgetting about it, because purple is my color of choice automatically, or sometimes blue. Also, one needs to know which color the complimentary color is. (Interestingly enough, it fits for me with yellow-green and purple already,) 
Like I said, you should keep a little bit of pain. It happens for me that at Be point I don't have to concentrate on the purple ball anymore, and I just keep doing what I do at that moment, The headache is gone by itself then, So it is often enough to make the pain less  but not delete it altogether, 
Print Sources 

Gibbons, D. E. (2001). Experience as an art form. .New York, NY: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press (originally published 1979 by Plenum Press).

 Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Ruhe, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-291.


1 comment:

Sarah Grabke said...

I am not suffering from chronic pain as suggested in the post. I only was in pain for some days after certain operations. I don't know where the idea of "chronic pain" comes from. The way I see it I never had it and hope I never will.