This treatment modality is thought to manage symptoms of cancer, side effects from conventional therapies and/or control pain. Hypnosis should be used with, not in place of, standard cancer therapy.
What does hypnosis involve?
Hypnosis is a state of focused attention during which consciousness is altered and distractions are blocked, allowing a patient to focus intensely on one item. The hypnotic state resembles sleep, but the patient is alert and completely in control, although deeply relaxed. Generally, ninety percent of the population can be hypnotized.
How is hypnosis thought to manage specific symptoms of cancer, side effects of conventional therapies and/or control pain?
Hypnotherapy can help divert a patient's attention from cancer pain by evoking a state of deep relaxation and increasing the ability to respond to suggestion. Others have suggested that hypnosis can control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer medications. Many believe that hypnosis involves a loss of control by the patient, but this is incorrect. Control by the patient is fundamental to hypnosis. In fact, many patients learn self-hypnosis so that they may use the technique whenever it is needed to control symptoms.
What has been proven about the benefit of hypnosis?
The value of hypnotism in producing several health benefits is widely accepted. The American Medical Association approved hypnotherapy as a valid medical treatment in 1958. Reports from the NIH showed the ability of patients to block a natural response, such as pain, through intense concentration. While the medical community is aware of the lasting benefits of hypnosis, no one is certain of the reason behind the benefits. Some scientists believe that hypnosis can cause the brain to release natural pain killers, called enkephalins and endorphins, to alleviate pain. Others believe that hypnosis acts through the unconscious mind and the power of suggestion. Either way, the American Cancer Society endorses hypnotherapy as a means of reducing pain, promoting relaxation, reducing stress and improving quality of life. However, hypnosis should not be thought of as a cure-all. It cannot cure cancer or any other serious disease.
What is the potential risk or harm of hypnosis?
Hypnotherapy is considered safe for all patients, no matter what the medical condition.
How much does hypnosis cost?
Costs will vary depending on the practitioner.
For additional information:
Milton H. Erickson Foundation
3606 North 24th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Telephone: (602) 956-6196
Web site: www.erickson-foundation.org
The National Guild of Hypnotists
P.O. Box 308
Merrimack, NH 03054
Telephone: (603) 429-9439
Web site: www.ngh.net/
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.