Salem Hypnosis: Time Magazine – Hypnosis for Cancer Pain

Salem Hypnosis Article: Hypnosis for Cancer Pain

salem hypnosis

Dec. 21, 1959

To the lengthening list of conditions in which reputable medical men now believe that hypnosis may be useful, a psychiatrist last week added cancer. Dr. Jacob H. Conn, a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins University, told a Manhattan meeting of anesthesiologists that this relatively quick and simple method of relieving pain—often a major manifestation in late cancer—can be used by any physician after brief special training.

Dr. Conn’s technique is conventional: he gets the patient to look at a spot on the wall and concentrate upon a pleasant scene of his own choosing. As his hypnotic state deepens under the doctor’s suggestions, pain subsides—provided he is not one of those patients who have a neurotic need for pain—and this relief may last several hours or longer. Eventually, the patient can be taught to hypnotize himself whenever pain becomes unusually severe. The method relieves anxiety as well as pain, and has enabled several Johns Hopkins patients to get along with reduced doses of narcotics.


Salem hypnosis article at Empowered Within

Salem hypnosis article at Empowered Within

Medicine – Surgery & Hypnosis

Jan. 5, 1962
“When you tell a patient that only five out of 100 people ever have any trouble in an operation,” says Dr. Fred T. Kolouch, “he isn’t really listening to you. He’s thinking. ‘I’m going to be one of the five.’ ” So now, at his first interview with a person who needs surger, Dr. Kolouch (rhymes with solo) tells the patient that he will have an easier time in the operation, and get better faster, if he agrees to be hypnotized. Last week Surgeon Kolouch finished compiling the records of 100 patients on whom he has performed surgery with hypnosis, and concluded that in 81 cases the trance experience had saved patients anxiety, pain and money, and had speeded recovery. It also helped the surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurses.
Nebraska-born Dr. Kolouch, 47, was trained at the University of Minnesota’s department of surgery, where he got a Ph.D. for a thesis on ulcers in addition to his M.D. He moved to Twin Falls. Idaho, 14 years ago to get more room for raising a family and to be closer to ski slopes. As chief of staff at Magic Valley Memorial Hospital. Dr. Kolouch had plenty of chances to observe patients being prepared for operations, was struck that so many of them had irrational fears.

Troubling Voices. Dr. Kolouch was as skeptical of hypnosis at first as most surgeons. But increasing use of it by reputable medical men, mainly in obstetrics and in special cases to reduce the amount of chemical anesthesia needed, persuaded him two years ago to give it a try. He read up on it, then worked for a while with a San Francisco expert.

Many people are hesitant when Kolouch first suggests hypnosis, and he does not press the idea. But by the second interview, most of them come around to accepting it, and the surgeon immediately sets about hypnotizing them. His attention-holding gimmick is a piece of gem quartz that the patient holds suspended from a chain. Dr. Kolouch arranges signals that will get the patient into a hypnotic trance promptly when needed in the future. He then assures the patient that he will feel nothing during the operation, that he will awake from the anesthesia with only minimum discomfort, and that he will soon be able to go back to work.

Equally important, Dr. Kolouch instructs the patient that while under anesthesia he will not listen to any conversation that is not aimed directly at him. Dr. Kolouch became convinced of the need for this after observing cases in which the operation was a success but the patient inexplicably made a poor recovery. Hypnotizing one such patient later, a colleague was startled to have her quote back to him verbatim a remark he had made while she was under anesthesia; she had misconstrued the remark as a bad omen for herself. Dr. Kolouch believes that even a sudden silence in the operating room upsets the unconscious mind of the fearful patient.

A Fast Recovery. Among his first 100 hypnotized patients, whose ages ranged from 4 to 83, were 25 who had only minor operations, usually under local anesthesia in outpatient departments. All but one responded well to hypnosis. The biggest group of 57 were hospitalized for surgery of medium severity. It was among these that Dr. Kolouch had his most satisfying success. All were more relaxed during anesthesia and on the operating table. They made fast and uneventful recoveries, with little need for pain-killing drugs. In cases of thyroid removal or hernia operations, the number of doses of opiates was half the usual average and the hospital stay was also cut in half. Hypnosis is less successful in operations such as removal of the gall bladder or part of the stomach. Dr. Kolouch suspects that, besides the severity of the operations, there are other reasons not yet clear.

Dr. Kolouch’s prize case was a businessman of 46 who had had a mortal fear of surgery since childhood, capped by an unsuccessful operation for hernia repair at the age of 41. After this earlier operation he had needed seven doses of pain relievers and was hospitalized for five days. Moreover, the operation failed, and he suffered agony for five years because he could not face repeated surgery. Dr. Kolouch talked him into it and used hypnosis. With his unconscious anxiety and conscious fears at rest, the patient needed only one dose of an opiate and was up and about again the next day after a successful repair.

Health Cover Stories: Why New Age Medicine Is Catching On
Fed up with surgery, drugs and quick fixes from their doctors, Americans are turning to an array of alternative therapies ranging from the believable to the bizarre


Salem hypnosis article at Empowered Within

Salem hypnosis article at Empowered Within

Nov. 4, 1991
You have a backache. (Who doesn’t?) Your spouse says go to the doctor, but you don’t really have a doctor. The local hospital has a walk-in clinic, but that means waiting, X rays, blood tests, waiting again — this time in a backless paper dress — only to be handed a bunch of insurance forms and a prescription for pills that make you logy. Your back still hurts, so you’re referred to a fancy specialist. More X rays. More insurance forms. More waiting in a backless paper gown, followed by talk of disk surgery from a doctor who looks as if his back hurts. It sounds awful, and next comes the final insult, the letter from your insurance company:

Then your friend at work says his wife had acupuncture for her tennis elbow, and it worked. Or he knows a chiropractor who does wonders with sore backs. Or your sister-in-law comes back from the health-food store with the name of a woman who does shiatsu. “Is that the raw fish or the seaweed?” you ask, laughing very carefully so as not to jiggle your back.

Or let’s say your problems are larger and darker. You have inoperable cancer. You are depressed and frightened. You ask your oncologist whether you should stop smoking or change your diet. He shrugs and looks glum. “If you want to,” he says, “but at this point it probably doesn’t matter.”

So, you wonder, if the doctor has written you off, where on earth can you turn?

If you are like millions of other Americans, you may find yourself at the doorstep of a homeopathic doctor or a “guided imagery” therapist or a chiropractor or any of the other innumerable practitioners of “alternative medicine.” Some of these alternatives, like acupuncture or shiatsu massage, are rooted in ancient Asian healing traditions. Others, like crystal healing and bioenergetics, were born in the New Age (i.e., rooted in the ether over California). Many alternative therapies assume that mind and body are subtly interlocked and influence each other powerfully. In terms of credibility, they run the gamut from the generally accepted — acupuncture for pain relief; to the plausible — inhaling eucalyptus to open the sinuses (aromatherapy); to the frankly bizarre — having the middle of your right foot manipulated to improve your liver function (reflexology).

Although a number of alternative techniques are widely accepted in Europe, American physicians generally take a skeptical view. But that hasn’t stopped the treatments from gaining popularity. A TIME/CNN poll by Yankelovich Clancy Shulman found that about 30% of people questioned have tried some form of unconventional therapy, half of them within the past year.

The growth of alternative medicine, now a $27 billion-a-year industry, is more than just an American flirtation with exotic New Age thinking. It reflects a gnawing dissatisfaction with conventional, or “allopathic,” medicine. For all its brilliant achievements — the polio vaccine, penicillin, transplant surgery — conventional medicine, many folks feel, has some serious weak spots, not the least of which is the endless waiting in paper gowns for doctors who view you as a sore back, an inoperable tumor or a cardiac case rather than a person. “The problem with modern medicine is that it is only pathology oriented, and practitioners don’t take the time to communicate with their patients,” says Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen, an M.D. who uses a preventive approach to healing at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, which he co-founded, in Rhinebeck, N.Y. “People are fed up with the old answers. They are beginning to realize that illness does not just drop out of the sky and hit them over the head. Health is an ongoing process.”

Conventional medicine has always put its emphasis on crisis intervention, and that is where it is most successful. It is what you want when they haul you in from a car wreck, or your Achilles tendon has snapped on the tennis court, or you’ve got a tumor in your lung. Standard medicine is about doing battle with a disease, bringing up the big guns of surgery and drugs to search out and destroy the miniature monsters that make people sick: bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, auto-antibodies and other biological evils. If your baby daughter has a 105 degrees fever, she needs big-gun medical attention, not brown rice and meditation.

What physicians are far less successful at is telling you how to stay healthy or what to do about the multitude of ailments that do not strike as a sudden crisis but sneak up and refuse to go away. Into this basket fall most of the diseases related to aging and life-style — arthritis, osteoporosis, lower-back pain, high blood pressure, coronary-artery disease and ulcers. Medicine’s prescription for these chronic diseases often tends to be of the same pill-and-scalpel variety that works so well for acute disease. But who wants to be chronically zonked on medication or have his arteries Roto- Rootered every few years? “Doctors are trained to use drugs and surgery,” says internist Dean Ornish of the University of California at San Francisco, who pioneered research into the use of diet, exercise and meditation to reverse heart disease. “To paraphrase Abraham Maslow, if all you’re trained to use is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.”

But you needn’t register at a wellness retreat to find your way into the lush, enchanted forest of New Age and alternative therapies. Indeed, to get there a traveler needn’t stray far from the path of conventional medicine. A handful of alternative techniques have found gradual acceptance among M.D.s. / And some physicians are even referring their patients for unconventional treatment. Among the more accepted remedies:

HYPNOSIS. The original hocus-pocus has moved off the magician’s stage and into the doctor’s office. According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, 15,000 health professionals now practice the technique. While not a cure, making healthy suggestions to hypnotized patients, studies show, can help them heal faster, give up smoking and other bad habits, and feel less pain — long after a session ends. One remarkable study showed that burn patients heal faster, with less pain and fewer complications, if they are put in a trance shortly after they are injured.

Exactly how it works remains mystifying. Doctors guide patients into a hypnotic state by having them focus on a particular mental image, a soothing voice or an object (yup, a swinging watch on a chain will do the trick). Once the patient is there, habitual patterns of thought are temporarily suspended. One theory is that the limbic system — the brain region linked to emotion and involuntary responses like blood pressure — is stimulated under hypnosis and rendered capable of reacting to external suggestions. An estimated 1 in 10 people, however, is not suggestible.


Salem hypnosis article at Empowered Within

salem hypnosis

GUIDED IMAGERY. Relaxed in a near trance, patients are “guided” by a therapist or tape recording to visualize their condition mentally and to wish it away. Introduced in the 1970s to help athletes and musicians perform better, the method has won increasing acceptance among some doctors as a way to battle chronic pain, tumors and persistent infections. Patients are advised to study in detail how their immune system is responding to a particular ailment and then, with cues from a therapist, to imagine the antibodies and white blood cells zapping the foe.

The technique is also thought to aid in recovery by reducing stress. Patients are urged to picture themselves in a soothing environment, like a beach at night with waves lapping softly. “The idea is to use any or all of the senses to quiet the mind,” says Dr. Carl Simonton of the Simonton Cancer Center in Pacific Palisades, Calif. One study found that guided imagery before minor surgery helped patients recover faster and with less pain. Cancer patients using the technique also showed a heightened immune response, although whether that improved their survival odds remains uncertain.

There’s more to placebo than one might think. “People have an incredible ability to respond to suggestion,” says neurologist Saper, who has investigated links between the brain and the immune system. “It’s well documented that pain is very suggestible, and even complaints based on pathology improve when people think they are getting better. In fact, that’s how most medicine was practiced up until the 20th century.”

Saper confirms that lowering a patient’s stress level, with relaxation techniques or simply encouraging trust in the doctor, can be healing. Research suggests that stress triggers the release of chemical messengers from the brain that suppress the immune system; relaxation would therefore revive the immune response. Call it a placebo effect if you will, but giving patients emotional support, making them laugh — as advocated by Cousins — and bolstering their sense that they can influence their own well-being (yes, empowerment) can also be potent medicine.

In a series of studies with nursing-home residents, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer showed that elderly people live longer and have fewer health complaints if they are encouraged to make decisions for themselves. Ornish, who stunned fellow physicians by showing — with angiograms, no less — that life-style changes can open up clogged arteries, is persuaded that meditation and group support were important to his patients’ progress. “I see in almost every heart patient a sense of isolation, of not having or being enough,” says Ornish. “I’ve become increasingly convinced that we are dealing here with emotional and spiritual dimensions.”

A growing number of doctors around the country have become more open to alternative approaches, looking particularly at the way that body, mind and life-style interact. Andrew Weil, a Harvard-trained M.D. and author of The Natural Mind, practices this sort of “holistic” medicine in Tucson.”


salem hypnosis

Salem hypnosis article at Empowered Within