Hypnosis for Cancer Pain Management

Hypnosis for Cancer Pain Management

Suffering with pain is a common experience for people with cancer. Sometimes, the treatments can cause side effects and what typically happens, patients seek complementary remedies and many stumble upon hypnosis by way of referral, recommendation or through independant research.

Hypnosis for controlling cancer pain is primarily a tool to improve your well-being. Even though hypnotism does not cure cancers, hypnosis can help you take plenty of rest whenever you need it. In this way, you can help your body recover after surgery. Above all, you can use hypnosis to give it time to relax and sleep better.

Pain that lasts for several months is called chronic pain. To specify, chronic pain may derive from cancer pressing on an organ, bone, or nerve. At times, surgery can be destructive. Or a treatment results in damaged nerves that short-circuit and send pain signals. In all these cases, hypnosis can be an effective pain-control technique you can use as needed.

Why people with cancer can benefit from hypnosis

Hypnotic techniques provide relief from symptoms and stress of the illness. For one thing, you decide when to use a self-hypnotic induction for pain relief. You choose what technique to use to improve the situation or your overall quality of life.

Hypnosis involves a non-judgmental awareness. In a sense, it is similar to how mindfulness is often described. But unlike mindfulness, hypnosis lets you influence pain perception. Also, mindfulness is meant to be practiced half an hour, twice a day, and focus more on self-compassion. Self-hypnosis is a practical tool you can use for five or ten minutes whenever you feel pain, stress, or discomfort for fast results.

As hypnosis relies only on your focus and imagination, there are no side effects. The hypnotist who teaches you hypnotism also provides an extra layer of support. Of course, a consulting hypnotist is not a physician. But you can talk about your issues and work together as a team. In the end, you will receive tailor-made techniques that may work better for you.

Here is what science says
  1. Through hypnosis, you put your needs first. This is why hypnosis for chronic pain management works well with children of any age and at any point in a serious illness. Instead of suppressing your emotions, you also learn how to deal with them ably.
  2. With the appropriate hypnotic technique, you can meet your psychological, social, and spiritual needs as well. Not to mention, the self-hypnotic state calms your mind to let you advance your health care planning with a cool and collected mindset.
  3. Hypnosis works by regulating the mind-body interactions. In your brain, pain activates specific parts. Thanks to magnetic resonance imaging, researchers can attest that hypnotizing yourself turns down activity in the brain parts that feel pain. For example, in a hypnotic state, the salience network activity decreases. As a result, pain perception changes. Plus, during hypnosis, you can focus on one thing and disconnect from yourself. The pain intensity can thus decrease, and you feel relief.
How might hypnosis help people with additional medical conditions?

Sometimes, cancer pain is not the only problem. This is why hypnotists may refer a client for mental health assessment. Usually, a hypnotist works with physicians and surgeons for as long as necessary.

You can always turn to your physician for more precise advice. But hypnosis eases you into an enhanced state of relaxation. So, virtually everyone can benefit from its application.

Hypnosis can be an integrative approach like acupuncture. But unlike other methods, it does not require anything but time and imagination. Whenever the outcome does not improve the current situation, you can always change technique or stop without ill effects.

As a result of fruitful hypnotic sessions, you might reduce the number of painkillers you take. Or sleep better without abusing sleeping pills. With time, you will get better at self-hypnosis and find new ways to benefit from it.

All in all, hypnotism is a safe and helpful complement for chronic cancer pain treatments. But if the hypnotist thinks that you might have to contact your physician first, you will know. In fact, hypnotism is not a standard approach to the treatment of cancer pain. So, the hypnotist must make sure that you are fit to try hypnosis before you do so.

The hypnotic techniques

So far, you have read about hypnotic techniques. In this section, you will discover some of the basic techniques that you will use. Plus, the overall strategy that a hypnotist follows for letting you enjoy the pleasant hypnotic state.

First of all, think of the whole process as taking a little break. You stop what you are doing to relax and focus on relieving pain or stress. As you can imagine, your mind might be chasing thoughts about your schedule or dealing with negative emotions. So, the hypnotist acts as an initiator and uses an induction routine to stop your thinking or worrying.

An overview of the hypnotic process

After the induction, the hypnotist deepens your feeling of relaxation. Most people report their minds drifting away. But usually, you are in a heightened state of awareness at all times. The more you go deeper and deeper into a relaxing and peaceful place in your mind, the more you are open to receiving positive suggestions.

Some hypnotists refer to your two minds: the conscious and the unconscious mind. Whatever the model they use to explain the transition into the hypnotic state, what matters is how you feel.

Your participation is key to success. If you do not trust the hypnotist, you might not be willing to let go. The same can be said about your doubts. No technique will work until you want and allow for the positive effect to take place. At any given moment, you are always in control.

The induction phase

The hypnotic induction is nothing more than a set of actions you take to make yourself comfortable. In detail, the hypnotist’s goal is to guide your attention. Absorbing your attention frees your mind from the mental chatter or worry. In practice, this translates into:

  • controlling your breathing
  • assuming a comfortable position
  • progressive muscle relaxation via body scan or other methods
  • guided imagery

Today, hypnotists use fast hypnotic inductions. This means that you will notice a quick change in your perception. But at this stage, you might not experience full cancer pain relief yet. Of course, practice can lead to quicker inductions still. After all, it all depends on how swiftly you can let go of the current negative state.

Deepening the trance

This phase aims to take you into a state with a greater degree of perceptual abstraction. All this means that you can relax even more and dissociate yourself from cancer pain.

Children experience hypnotic deepening during a mesmeric story. On a side note, the very word “mesmeric” has its origins in the history of hypnosis for pain management. My point is that the deepening stage is also a natural occurrence.

What I just used in the previous paragraph is a distraction. In the end, I kept on explaining the first sentence. But if I were to implement a deepener, I might have used a:

  • metaphor (a short story that paints a mental picture or stirs positive emotions)
  • direct suggestion that introduces a feeling of relaxation or relief
  • indirect suggestion, like a description that suggests how heavy your body can feel when you find yourself enthralled in a captivating plot.

A hypnotist uses deepeners to enhance the trance state. For some people, counting works best. The result is an enjoyable sensation that distances you from pain.

The positive suggestions

Hypnotic suggestions mimic our learning process. More precisely, the way we create our expectations within our mind before we turn thoughts into beliefs. Everything we believe we had to accept first. And before we can do that, we need not to question the original piece of information. This is also why it may be hard for most people to lose the principles and lessons they learned when they were children.

A positive suggestion for cancer pain relief entails just what the words imply. That is, the affirmation of something you can do, think, feel or say to yourself. Unlike the New Age affirmations, the positive suggestions only focus on what you can do to feel better. The hypnotist knows what your mind and body are capable of. So, he or she will remind it of what it can do for you.

In general, most positive suggestions include desirable outcomes. The rest may be handy to make you feel even more relaxed or to forget unpleasant memories. Mainly, the hypnotist uses two kinds of suggestions:

  1. Direct suggestions, which are like commands. They nudge you in the direction you would benefit from by telling you what to do, feel, or think.
  2. Indirect suggestions, which can take the form of vague comments and permissive offers. In essence, they promote change by softening the delivery and leaving you an opportunity for interpretation.
Ending a hypnotic session

Each session concludes with a reversal. At one point, the hypnotist will give you instructions to let your awareness orient back to the room. During a self-hypnotic session, counting backward is often used to return to the regular awake state.

During an in-person session, the hypnotist may use taps to signal a return from the deepened states of consciousness. Depending on how deep you went, the reversal may take a while. But usually, you can open your eyes at any time and get back to your day.

After you relieved stress, removed your fears, or controlled pain, you might want to stay in that entrancing state. That is ok. So, take your time and enjoy it as much as you can.

The efficacy of hypnosis

Chronic cancer pain saps your mental and physical energy. But thanks to hypnotic analgesia, you can turn down the pain dial. Other applications include using hypnotism to reduce postoperative pain and side effects.

During the hypnotic state, you cannot substitute a symptom for another. But you can prevent or ease a specific symptom from surfacing. Mainly by managing emotional distress and discomfort related to your therapy or treatment.

Since the early 2000s, research shows the efficacy of hypnosis in pain control and pain reduction. The latest findings point to pain management hypnosis as a safe alternative to alleviate procedural pain, nausea, vomiting, and other cancer-related issues.

Your physician might not approve of hypnosis as an adjunct remedy because of false myths and misconceptions about hypnotism. But many institutions and associations approved hypnosis over the years. So, it may be helpful for the hypnotist to discuss with the health care providers involved in your treatment.

Contributions of neuroscience to our understanding of hypnosis

Neuroscience shows us that the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex responds to hypnosis. This is the part of the brain that tells us what to worry about and what to ignore. During hypnosis, you are less likely to contrast and compare ideas to worry about what else you might be doing.

There is higher functional connectivity between the executive control region in the brain (the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex) and the insular cortex. Which is the part of the brain that forms the pathway for mind-body control and pain perception.

Thanks to the hypnotic state, you enhance your ability to connect your brain with your body. Plus, inverse connectivity between the executive control region and the default mode network happens as well.

This is why you do not ruminate and think about yourself under hypnosis. As a result, you dissociate from the cancer pain. Your brain reduces activity. But you never lose control over your decision-making process. You just relax deeply.

Online Hypnosis for Cancer Pain Management: Affordable, Effective and Digitally Optimised to meet the demands for the Modern Era using Zoom and SKYPE technologies.

Hypnosis is a medically and scientifically recognized technique that uses the mind’s natural abilities to effectively reduce physical pain and promote wellbeing. Learn how it can help you.

Legal Disclaimer

As a consulting hypnotist, Luis’ role is help you resolve ordinary, everyday problems using hypnosis. He is not a medically trained doctor or a licensed mental health practitioner that can diagnose, prescribe, treat, cure, or heal any physical, mental, or emotional illness. The hypnosis services rendered are not to be considered in any way, a form of health care, psychotherapy, or counseling.