Reprinted with the kind permission of Barbara Keddy
For those of us with chronic pain and/or a myriad of other distressing physical and psychological conditions, the practice of ‘changing our brains’ through relaxation and exercise regimes can be overwhelming. Mindfulness meditation is one way that we can work with our minds to improve our daily lives, but it takes time and discipline. What if there is a quicker way for therapists to teach us how to bring about relief from those challenging symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as pain and chronic fatigue? The medical community is finding that hypnosis can be effective in that regard, although to this point there is little, if any evidence based research on the effects of hypnosis for those of us with fibromyalgia. Nonetheless, it sounds promising.
Note the work of Drs. Herbert and David Spiegel: Trance and Treatment: Clinical Uses of Hypnosis.
Adriana Barton in the Globe and Mail, June 12, 2017 (Section L) writes of the “growing scientific support for hypnosis.” She quotes Dr. David Spiegel’s description as a “very powerful means of changing the way we use our minds to control perception and our bodies.” Hypnosis is being used in Belgium, Canada and the US, among a host of other countries for a variety of conditions. Barton discusses the work of Dr. Leora Kuttner, a pediatric psychologist who specializes in clinical hypnosis, a technique for leveraging the brain’s healing abilities during a trance state.”
Given the ways in which those of us with fibromyalgia, PTSD, and other chronic pain disorders rehash our anxiety-ridden experiences that are stored in our memories, it is hopeful that we could turn to an approach which might release us somewhat from the past. Most of us are hurting deep down in our psyches and if we can discover ways to relinquish some of these painful memories we could at least try to ‘change our brain’ through hypnosis.
The past is always with us. Sometimes we carry it easily, but other times it drags around behind us. While those of us with fibromyalgia crave stability and certainty, it is of course unrealistic. Change is inevitable, yet even small change can occur very rapidly and bring with it triggers that instigate a flare-up. It could be even as simple as weather change or the excitement of a family gathering that can act as a trigger. The question is how we manage these events in our daily lives. If hypnosis can help us with the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis as uncomfortable or stressful memories flood our minds, what better non-invasive way to try a new approach? It doesn’t appear to be hocus pocus. The jury is out with regard to whether or not it will be found to be effective for fibromyalgia.
About the Author: Barbara Keddy, BSc.N., M.A., Ph.D., Professor Emerita, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, has lived with fibromyalgia for more than 40 years. Barbara has been interested in social justice issues throughout her professional career, with particular focus on women’s health, resulting in her book Women and Fibromyalgia: Living with an Invisible Dis-ease.