Can the Power of Hypnosis Kill Pain and Boost Brain Power?

Can the Power of Hypnosis Kill Pain and Boost Brain Power?
(Drazen Zigic/asama hassan/Venera_Ismag - Shutterstock)
By J.C.

Hypnosis is a much maligned and misunderstood aspect of mind “tinkering.” Many people think of hypnosis as a person clucking around like a chicken on stage after having a pocket watch dangled in front of his eyes. There’s more to this field of study.

In 2000, Brain Research Bulletin published a paper about the brain activity (electroencephalogram, or EEG) patterns of hypnotized volunteers. EEG activity showed a significant increase in the gamma band.

It has previously been discussed how the gamma wave brain activity (vibrating at a frequency of about 40 hertz) corresponds to moments of profound inspiration. Other brain activity, such as theta wave, corresponds to other mental states (relaxation, active problem-solving, etc.). Gamma waves have a relatively high frequency, and they can reach far higher than 40 hertz (Hz), though the effect of very high gamma waves is not yet well understood.
(Illustration - asama hassan/Venera_Ismag/Shutterstock)
(Illustration - asama hassan/Venera_Ismag/Shutterstock)
In 2004, a study published in the journal Pain outlined the differences of pain perception between waking and hypnotized volunteers. The researchers also found gamma patterns. Furthermore, they reported: “High hypnotizables, compared to medium and low ones, experienced significant pain and distress reductions for Focused Analgesia (visualization) during hypnosis and, to a greater extent, during post-hypnosis condition.”

The Power of Hypnosis

Everything you hear is a fact to you when you are put in a hypnotic state. For example, you will shiver at 100F if you are told it is 30F while you are hypnotized. 
What will happen if you enter a hypnotic state and hear that you have no pain? Your brain believes it as a fact, and you will feel no pain even after. 

How Effective Is Hypnosis for Pain Control?

Among non-pharmacologic interventions, hypnosis is found to be the most effective one.
Therapists take advantage of hypnosis techniques to help people manage their pain symptoms independently. You will only need 4-10 sessions to learn how to manage pain. However, it takes practice. Patients usually are asked to listen to a recorded voice when pain strikes.

Not only could hypnosis create a brain state conducive to great inspirations and problem-solving capabilities, it could also act as a potent painkiller.

In 2002, a study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology discussed pain perception in regards to hypnosis and 40 Hz  gamma waves. They found gamma activity predicted subject pain ratings, whereas no other type of brain activity did.

It appears these mysterious gamma waves have once again reared themselves during hypnosis. The question is whether the hypnotized volunteers merely think they feel less pain or if they actually feel less pain.

At some point, the question will be: does it really matter?

Let’s take a look at some of the more “externalized” cases.

The human mouth is considered one of the most sensitive parts of the body. The concentration of nerve endings in the mouth appear to be quite vast.

Generally speaking, the process of removing a fully embedded molar from a person’s mouth requires force and without the use of local or general anesthesia would be considered quite painful. The removal of a person’s wisdom teeth is considered to be surgical by nature, sometimes requiring general anesthesia (putting a person to “sleep” via sedatives) as well as local anesthesia (numbing in the area of the tooth removal).

(Illustration - Stockshakir/Shutterstock)
(Illustration - Stockshakir/Shutterstock)

In 2013, the Journal of Cranio-maxillofacial Surgery published a study in which 24 volunteers had two wisdom teeth removed. In each patient, one tooth would be removed utilizing hypnosis as a means of pain prevention while the other tooth would be removed utilizing local anesthesia.

The results of the study were as follows: “Of the subjects who underwent hypnosis, only two subjects (8.3 percent) reported pain after induction of hypnosis. In the local anesthetic group, 8 subjects (33.3 percent) reported pain. The results of the study showed that patients in the hypnosis group had less pain during the first few hours post-operatively.”

In 1999, Acta Chirurgica Belgica, the official journal of the Royal Belgian Society for Surgery, published a study regarding hypnosis and its effects on thyroidectomy (thyroid removal) and cervicotomy (incision into the cervix of the uterus) in place of general anesthesia (complete sedation).

The results of this study were as follows: “All surgeons reported better operating conditions for cervicotomy using hypnosis. All patients having hypnosis reported a very pleasant experience and had significantly less postoperative pain while analgesic use was significantly reduced in this group.”

Several other studies have showcased similar positive effects when hypnosis is used in place of anesthesia.

Can Hypnosis Affect Pain Tolerance?

According to a journal article in APA PsycNet, hypnosis has a significant effect on modifying pain tolerance. The researchers have also investigated the impact of anxiety levels on pain tolerance and found no relationship between them.
A national library of medicine article has also studied the effect of hypnosis on the pain caused by sickle-cell disease. A comparison between a control group and a sample group revealed that hypnosis significantly affects patients’ pain tolerance.
J.C. blogs at about a variety of issues related to the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin production, DMT, sleep-related phenomena, and more.
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