Chronic Pain is Determined by Emotions

  • As a hypnotherapist, I am often asked about the efficacy of hypnosis in reducing or even eliminating chronic pain.  People have often seen a stage hypnotist do something dramatic like stick pins in their subjects or have heard how it’s possible to undergo dental work or even minor surgery utilizing hypnosis to facilitate analgesia.   However, it often remains difficult for an individual to suspend their disbelief regarding pain.  Why?  Often because the evidence supporting these claims is anecdotal at best.  There appears to be no firm science behind it.  Well recently I came across an interesting piece of research that these people would do well to follow up.

    Reported in The Telegraph’s article “Chronic pain is determined by emotions, scientists believe – Telegraph.” last week, scientists in America have used brain scans to highlight an interaction between to regions of the brain in those suffering chronic pain – the pre-frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens.  Professor Vania Apakarian noted that the nature of an individual injury could not always explain ongoing chronic pain long after the actual injury has healed.  There must be something else going on!

    The nucleus accumbens is instrumental in teaching the rest of the brain how to deal with the world around the individual.  Therefore, it follows that if the brain responds to an injury in an anxious or other negative way, then it is likely that individual will experience chronic pain even when the wound has healed.  Using the techniques developed in the highlighted research, scientists where able to predict with 85% accuracy which subjects where going to develop chronic pain.

    Dealing with pain utilizing hypnosis is one of my favorite things to do.  I think this is because you have immediate results.  You can see a client’s eyes widen as they suddenly realize they are not perceiving the discomfort in the same way as before.  Of course, that is the key – Perception.  It’s getting your head around the idea that pain is just a perception, a signal generated by the body to let you know something is wrong with a part of your body.  What’s more this signal has a number of journies to make.  If you cut your finger, for example, the signal has to travel from the site of injury to the brain.  The brain then sends a signal back to the finger to tell it to hurt.  This is why most of us have cut ourselves at some time or other and not realized it until you feel the stickiness of blood from the wound.  Up until that point the wound simply hasn’t bothered you.  It’s failed to hurt!

    Dealing with chronic pain is simply stopping the signal getting to the brain using the power of your mind.  There are many hypnotic techniques for doing this and it can even be achieved in waking hypnosis.  But don’t let the drugs companies know.  Their sales of pain killers will fall through the floor!

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