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Modulating Pain With Hypnosis – Part 1


Pain is an interesting concept. I say “concept” because it has many components that allow us to perceive it. It is part biological, part neurological and part psychological. Pain is modulated by how we feel and what we think.

pain relief hypnosisI recently had the privilege of spending 2 days with medical research professionals from UCLA’s Integrative Medicine Program. Their approach of combining western medicine with alternative therapies has conclusively proved that patients fare better using this approach. Their research on mind-body connections to pain perception is in complete alignment with what we in the hypnotherapy practice have known for years and that is… “The wound may be in your body but the pain is in your mind.” Pain has emotion attached to it and is affected by how we think.

Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column that pinches the spinal cord, causing a great deal of pain when standing and walking. I am involved with the care of two clients with this condition and their emotions connected to it have created different outcomes. One is octogenarian who leads an active life, has a positive attitude. She describes her peak pain level as an 8, but has never taken a narcotic pain medication. Her life other than the pain is good. The other is a middle age male who has poor relationships and who is defeated with the consequences the disease has caused his life. He describes his pain as a 9 and takes narcotic meds several times a day. His life other than the pain is poor. I can make suggestions to help reduce his pain, but my first concern in hypnotherapy is to modify his attitudes towards the pain and to help him discover ways to find pleasure in his life despite it.  Pleasure is an amazing distraction from pain.

Pain can be caused by an emotion that ends up in the body or it can start in the body that causes an emotional reaction.  Since the brain does not have nerve endings, an emotional pain will be sent out to the body so we become aware of it. Where the pain lands will literally tell us what emotions are at the source of the problem. Tension headaches are notoriously connected to a “lack of control or an inability to make decisions”. A “pain in the neck”, or shoulder problems most often lead to responsibility or financial burdens. Arms and hands relate to fighting or attainment. You may have heard these pains referred to as “psychosomatic” because their origin is not physical. They cannot be treated with medication. If we follow the pain back to the emotion, you will find a cause.

Pain has memory and the perception of that memory modulates pain. Recalling a similar injury will involve a similar pain response. No perception of an injury, sometimes causes no pain response at all, even when the injury is serious, as in car accidents. It is not until the accident victim looks down and sees the nature of the injury that the pain comes.

The expectation of pain will produce it. A person that predicts lower back pain in the morning when they wake up, will get it.  The person that does not think about it may not. Any exaggerated response will produce an exaggerated expectation of pain and the body comply’s.

Hypnosis is a great alternative replacement therapy for drugs. It can  replace fearful emotions with ones more serene. It can replace anxiety stemming from the pain, with calm and relaxation. It can change your focus and perspective so the pain has little impact on your life.  And lastly, it can reduce the severity of the pain. Just check out a hypnotherapist or a hypnotist in your area that specializes in non-invasive pain techniques.

Click for “Modulating Pain With Hypnosis – Part 2”


  • Sheryl Hill. CHt.

    Sheryl Hill holds a certification in clinical hypnosis from the International Medical Dental Hypnosis Association and the International Association of Counselors and Therapists. She specializes in conditions related to medical/dental diseases and environmental hypnosis.

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