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Mindsci Hypnosis

Watch my beginner's video guide to hypnotherapy.

Kind Words - Mar '21

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Pain Relief

The following is a table from Biological Psychology, by Rosenzweig, Breedlove and Lehman, reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, Sinauer. This is not a book about hypnosis and, indeed, hypnosis isn't mentioned anywhere else in its 650 academic pages so it's not in any sense a flag waver for the hypnotherapy profession.

It compares various types of pain relief intervention, and hypnosis is the only one with no negative comment.

Measure Mechanism Limitations/Comments
Placebo May activate endorphin-mediated pain control system Sometimes inhibited by opiate antagonists
Hypnosis Alters brain's perception of pain Control unaffected by opiate antagonists
Stress Both opioid and non-opioid mechanisms Clinically impractical and inappropriate
Cognitive (learning, coping strategies) May activate endorphin-mediated pain control system Limited usefulness in severe pain
Opiates Bind to opioid receptors in peri-aqueductal gray and spinal cord Severe side effects due to binding in other brain regions
Spinal Block Drugs block pain signals in spinal cord Avoids side effects of systematic administration
Anti-inflammatory drugs Blocks prostaglandin and leukotriene synthesis at site of injury Major side effects
Aspirin Blocks prostaglandin synthesis at site of injury Does not block leukotriene synthesis
TENS/Mechanical Tactile or electrical stimulation of large fibres blocks or alters pain signal to brain Segmental control; must be applied at site of pain
Acupuncture Similar to TENS Sometimes affected by opiate antagonists
Central gray Electrical stimulation activates endorphin-mediated pain control systems, blocking pain signal in spinal cord Control inhibited by opiate antagonists
Cut peripheral nerve cord Create physical break in pain pathway Considerable risk of failure or return of pain
Rhizotomy (cutting dorsal root)
Cord hemisection
Frontal lobotomy


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