Clinical Hypnosis and Pain Management

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on February 15, 2012 10:00 am

Pain in the Brain

Where is pain felt?  Where is it registered?  Where is it really experienced?  Pain seems to be experienced solely in the spot where it was inflicted.  We burn our finger, we feel pain in our finger.  I believe there is enough scientific “knowledge” out there to indicate that when pain is triggered in an area, the signal is sent through nerves to the brain, it is registered in the brain and a reactionary message is sent back through the same nerve system to the triggered area.  That would explain why, in simpler terms, a child does not notice the pain of a scratched knee while they are still playing; however, once they notice the injury, or someone points it out for them, the child feels the immense pain, begins to wail uncontrollably until they receive a bandage and a kiss.  It may also explain why a guy (such as myself) doing a chore from the “honey-do” list doesn’t notice the scratch on his hand until his darling wife draws attention to it; however, once he notice the injury, the guy feels the immense pain, wails uncontrollably until he receives a bandage and a kiss.  The brain was previously occupied by something more important to register the pain of the injury.  It was there, but the concentration of the involved act was more intense than the pain signal.  It wasn’t until other systems became involved that the brain had to notice.  The visual input (seeing the scratch), the emotional input (the reaction of others), the change in focus (the activity being stopped), all play an important role in noticing the pain.  With chronic pain, there is also the mental anguish; the emotional suffering (feelings of helplessness, the worry that it will never end, etc), the lack of sleep, the decreased physical energy that makes up  vast majority of the pain experience.

Outside the counselling room, my boy and a bunch of us were out tobogganing.  He, on a seated racer type sled (a G-t, I remember them being called) went down the hill, caught some air and landed hard winding him and bringing some intense pain that really only guys can truly associate with.  As I was sledding with him, I was also at the bottom of the hill.  He was in great pain and could not walk up the hill.  I could not see myself carrying him waaaaaaay up that hill so I suggested that we hypnotise him.  He was game.  I put him in a trance, introduced some suggestions to him about pain and comfort (I truly forget what suggestions I did at the time), and he was able to move enough to walk back up the hill. In the clinical setting, I was able to teach a client how to use self-hypnosis and a technique called glove analgesia while in recovery from surgery without the side effects of pain medication.  Basically, the process involved having an automatic trigger to go into trance, the mental numbing of her hand and then transferring that numb sensation to the desired area.  Another client had chronic, ongoing pain in her shoulder.  It turns out that with some questioning under trance, it came out that by “giving up” the pain, she feared she would be “giving up” the memory of a special person in her life as a car accident was the last memory she had of his individual (no, not a death, but a loss just the same).  We all experience pain differently, depending on the meaning we attach to it, the emotional reactions we pair with it, and of course, our ability to manage the varying intensity.  Remember, pain is important.  It tells us when something is wrong.  But outside of that, it holds to purpose.  There are ways to lessen the impact it has on us.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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