Under Hypnosis and the Knife

Nicola Griffiths

Did that hurt?

A few years ago I wasn’t very well, and I had to have a bone marrow test.  According to a nurse friend of mine, this can be quite painful.  As a result of her words, my brain started to go down the automatic negative route of thinking ‘Oh no’!  It was, therefore, a good job I knew a bit about the huge impact negative thinking can have and how I could overcome it in order to get a better result.

So, there I was a few weeks later, lying on my side in Cheltenham General Hospital, having a bit of bone marrow removed.  I’d put myself into a nice hypnotic trance thinking very calmly of sitting on a beautiful hillside I knew in Snowdonia.  Obviously, I had the sun shining and a nice blue sky above me in this contemplation!

The nurse, whose job it was to keep me calm, said to me “You’re very relaxed considering what’s going on”.  I did inwardly laugh, because I know the more you focus on a problem, the bigger it gets.  She was, unwittingly, doing exactly the opposite to what she was meant to be doing, she’d now focused me on the problem! I calmly replied that I was doing self-hypnosis and sitting on a hill in Snowdonia.  I was hoping at this point she’d twig and stay quiet, but instead (lovely though she was) she replied “How did you learn to do that”? 

There was a sort of inward sigh at this point, I knew what was coming next.  I replied “I’m a hypnotherapist”.

At this point, you usually get one of two responses.  Either “Oh” and people run away or “Oh Wow” at which point you know you’re in for a good old chat.  Great when bumping into someone in the High Street, not so great when you’re lying down having a bone marrow test – which was still ongoing at this point.

The conversation then turned to whether or not I could fix this young lady of her spider phobia.  “Of course, can I talk to you about it after we’ve finished here?” was my reply, and I returned to my hillside.

The thing is, I know the power of hypnosis.  When I was taught back in 2007, Liege University Hospital in Belgium had already carried out quite a few thousand operations using a combination of hypnosis with a light local anaesthetic.  In fact, Professor Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville, head of the Pain Clinic there, reports hypnosis has been part of their routine practice in surgery since 1992.

She’d reported on a study of different approaches to pain, published in the European Journal of Pain* saying:

‘Medical hypnosis is also a safe and effective complementary technique in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes. Learning self-hypnosis/self-care improves not only pain but also psychological factors such as depression, anxiety, pain disability and improves patient’s global impression of treatment effectiveness.’

So, I’d gone into my bone marrow test pretty darned confident that if hypnosis worked in surgery, then it would work for me.  And that’s half the battle won already.

Over my years as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, I’ve worked with many who’ve suffered pain.  We can’t always get rid of it, but helping the client reduce their anxiety (both in general terms and specifically with regards to the pain itself) can lower the pain levels with a lot of people.  It’s not a panacea, it doesn’t work with 100% of people, but then again neither does medication.  However, it is a route to contemplate whether you want to reduce long-term pain or deal, in a better way, with an impending surgery!

Nicola Griffiths heads up a team of clinical hypnotherapists at the Cirencester Hypnotherapy & Health Centre in Dyer Street.  http://www.cirencesterhypnotherapycentre.co.uk.

*VANHAUDENHUYSE A, GILLET A, MALAISE N, SALAMUN I, BARSICS C, GROSDENT S, MAQUET D, NYSSEN AS, FAYMONVILLE ME, Efficacy and cost-effectiveness: a study of different approaches in a tertiary pain centre, European Journal of Pain, 2015, 19(10):1437-1446.

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