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Dr. Simcha Sheldon
Psychology, Health, Hypnosis, Behavioral Medicine, Relationships, Personal & Spiritual Development
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This article appeared in “Connections” magazine, Israel. August 7, 2016.
Hypnosis – An Enjoyable Technique for Health & Healing
By Dr. Simcha Sheldon
For centuries, hypnosis has been used successfully to improve people’s health and quality of life. Hypnosis is a state, or experience, of intense concentration, inner absorption, focused attention, and usually deep relaxation. Hypnosis creates a heightened ability to respond to positive suggestions, and to give and receive instructions to the body/mind. Hypnosis is a state in which many positive things can occur, including increased self awareness, self-understanding, memory, self-control, motivation, relaxation, and self mastery on many levels – physiologically, psychologically, emotionally, perceptually, sexually, and spiritually. Other phenomena which can be elicited using hypnosis include: dissociation, amnesia, anesthesia, time distortion (which can be helpful in alleviating physical or emotional pain), hypermnesia, age-regression, ideomotor activity, and positive and negative hallucinations (which can be utilized for a variety of applications, including uncovering important information and treating repressed traumas; many medical disorders, sexual dysfunction, etc.).
Deep relaxation, meditation, massage, guided imagery, and focused exercise can induce a state of hypnosis in which a person becomes highly suggestible. It is therefore very important to understand how to and how not to use suggestions. Often people during their daily lives give and receive negative suggestions without knowing, and experience negative consequences. The topic of suggestibility and using suggestions properly requires a separate article to analyze in greater detail.
Hypnosis, when utilized properly, is a safe, powerful, non-invasive tool that can be used to positively affect one’s thoughts, emotions, brain, immune system, vascular system, digestive tract, hormones, habits, and more. Hypnosis enhances a person’s abilities to create and maintain a healthy mind/body state, and to heal as well. It holds a valuable key and tool in the mind/body connection.
Most people experience naturally occurring states of hypnosis during their normal day-to-day lives. You have probably experienced being so absorbed in thought or in an activity that you simply did not notice sounds and activities around you. Perhaps you were driving and you did not notice what was on the radio for the last number of minutes. Your subconscious mind was paying attention for you to what was important, even though your conscious mind drifted. Perhaps you heard a song or smelled a fragrance that transported you to vividly re-experience something from your past. In times of extreme danger, the mind goes into hypnosis so that you will automatically do what will be self-protective. These are examples of spontaneous hypnosis. Although hypnosis has been used for centuries for healing, only in 1958 did the American Medical Association finally approve its use. Research done by the U.S. National Institutes for Health shows that hypnosis is an effective and recommended treatment for pain, phantom pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, smoking cessation, sleep disorders, migraine headache, night terrors, and other conditions.
Today, hypnosis is used around the world, by hospitals and health centers as well as by physicians, orthopedists, obstetricians, gastroenterologists, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sports psychologists, cardiologists, oncologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other health professionals. Prestigious health organizations as the Mayo Clinic and the U.C.L.A. Pain Center publish papers regarding the efficacy of hypnosis in their treatment programs. Interestingly, there are different opinions and theories as to what hypnosis is and how it works. We really do not understand how hypnosis affects the brain, but we know that it does. Clinical studies utilizing PET (positron emission tomography) scans have shown that hypnosis affects the physiology of the brain. For example, when a hypnotized person is asked to see colors while he is looking at a black and white picture, the part of the brain which is usually activated during color perception becomes activated. This research has given a whole new literal meaning to the phrase “it’s all in your head.” Hypnosis can be used as a medium for placing instructions in the brain for healing, health, positive attitudes and positive behaviors.
Ironically, the most prevalent reason people have for not using hypnosis is their fear of loss of control or being controlled. This same fear often gets in the way of such persons’ personal growth, success, and enjoyment of life. Self-hypnosis and hypnosis facilitated by a qualified professional enables and empowers the person in hypnosis to actually have more self control. (The misconceptions about hypnosis are largely aused by its portrayal during stage hypnosis and in movies.)
Hypnotic Phenomena, Techniques & Applications. The benefits of hypnosis are widely accepted in clinical psychology, sports psychology, and in medicine. Let’s look at how hypnotic phenomena are used for physical and psycho-emotional health. Hypnosis facilitates the ability to remember things that were long forgotten, which can be helpful in both diagnosis and treatment. “Hypnotic experiencing” can actually affect the physiology of the body. “Hypnotic rehearsal” is a technique that allows a person to ’try on’ new ways of being and feeling, in order to grow and alleviate fears and phobias, as well as to train the body to function in a more healthy way (e.g. imagining speaking in front of a group of people feeling confident, or eating slowly, or imagining the digestive tract working properly.) Hypnosis helps one to: identify and rectify false or harmful beliefs and mis-interpretations of events; eliminate unrealistic expectations; create positive expectations; and identify, acquire and strengthen personal resources, tools, and abilities with which to improve one’s life experiences.
Stress is likely the leading contributing factor that causes people to seek medical attention. Stress in large continual doses is very harmful for the mind and body. Stress can cause the body’s immune system and other bodily functions to malfunction or stop working entirely. Hypnosis is a wonderful method for reducing mental and emotional stress, and its negative consequences on the body. A person in hypnosis can use guided imagery and suggestion in many ways including: stop the spasm of the colon and other muscles, calm down an overworking digestive system, lower high blood pressure, reduce or eliminate pain. Often a physiological problem can be related to a psycho-emotional response to a traumatic event or to stress in general. Hypnosis can be utilized to help the patient communicate with his/her subconscious and discover the cause, heal the trauma, and alleviate the physical problem. Examples include sexual dysfunction, stuttering, TMJ, bruxism, hyperventilation, pain, and many other conditions.
Hypnosis, as a tool used by a good psychotherapist, can help individuals who suffer from difficulties of anxiety, depression, low self esteem, lack of self-confidence, and trauma to investigate, discover, and understand the causal factors, as well as alleviate the problem more easily, quickly, and comfortably.
Learning and using self-hypnosis can be an enjoyable way of promoting mental, emotional, and physical health. It can also enhance tefilla and the mitzva experience as increased focus and connection to oneself, Hashem, and life increases kavana.
Dr. Simcha Sheldon is an Israeli licensed Clinical Psychologist, Medical Psychologist, and Hypno-therapist, a U.S. licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist, and Clinical Member of the Israeli Society for Sexual Medicine, Israel Medical Association. He practices in Hashmonaim and Modiin. (08-976-1056). www.drsimcha.com © 2006 All rights reserved.
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