Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I love going to bed at night knowing that I woke up that day believing something completely wrong and now stand corrected. It doesn't happen often, because there are some things every adult knows and the closer you are to becoming an adult, the fewer new things you learn.

This week in psychology we discussed hypnosis which I thought was about as legitimate as Tarot cards. I realized that I used to vacillate between two extreme positions. When it served my purpose I thought that hypnosis meant the hypnotist could control the patient. At other times I posited that it was placebo or that demonstrations were staged.

In lecture, the doctor said that in randomized clinical trials, hypnosis has been shown to be 25% effective against smoking, treating surgical pain (in place of anesthetics), and helpful for treating phobias and habit disorders. Hypnosis does not shut the brain down and convert the patient into a mindless, obedient serf, and is not a treatment in and of itself. It does allow the brain to be more open to suggestion. The American Psychiatric Association's position is that it is a "state of aroused, attentive, focal concentration with relative reduction in peripheral awareness that can be utilized to facilitate a variety of psychotherapeutic  interventions...The technique of induction of the trance state usually can be brief. Long induction ceremonies using a sleep paradigm are misleading."

Hypnosis is effective in controlling pain and the process is not well understood, but the changes on fMRI seen below indicate that there is diminished activity in the anterior cingulate cortex which is very active during the perception of pain.

From the Church Handbook of Instructions we find this: 

The use of hypnosis under competent, professional medical supervision for the treatment of diseases or mental disorders is a medical question to be determined by competent medical authorities. Members should not participate in hypnosis for purposes of demonstration or entertainment.

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