What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a state of restful alertness during which a person deeply concentrates, similar to a meditative state. A person who is hypnotized is able to concentrate intensely on a specific thought, memory, feeling, or sensation while blocking out other sensations. Hypnosis is often used to help learn to control bad habits, manage pain, and reduce stress. During hypnosis you may be open to therapeutic suggestion. However, you do not have to worry that the therapist will take total control; a person under hypnosis cannot be forced to do something that he or she does not want to do.
Can hypnosis help people with cancer?
Scientists do not know if hypnosis might affect cancer cells, your immune system, or the disease of cancer in any way. There is insufficient evidence for it at this time. Hypnosis is not a medical treatment for cancer, but there may be an important role for hypnosis in managing cancer. Hypnosis can help by reducing pain, stress, and depression, and it can calm fears and anxiety.
How does hypnosis work?
Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation that alters brain wave patterns. During hypnosis you may be given suggestions that could help to change your perception of pain and strengthen your coping abilities. Some studies provide strong evidence that hypnosis can reduce chronic cancer pain.
Most people can be hypnotized. However, hypnotism will not work if you do not want to be hypnotized or do not want to feel out of control. Hypnotism requires trust and imagination.
Are there any possible problems or complications associated with hypnosis?
It is not known exactly how hypnosis works, but it is not believed to have harmful side effects. The success of the treatment depends partly on the skill of the practitioner and partly on the patient’s willingness to undergo hypnosis. Hypnotherapy, as an addition to your cancer treatment plan, has the potential to be pleasant and therapeutic, but should not replace the care and treatment provided by your cancer care team. Always consult your physician for more information.