March 7, 2011

No pain no gain by Vhina Sison

Pain. Pain.Pain. How painful can things get? Sometimes Id wonder if pain is really real because there are situations wherein I know it isn't supposed to hurt me but I still feel the thing we call pain. Hmmm Im sure that there are a lot of effective ways in reducing one's feeling of pain. Hypnosis has been known to make people feel something else instead of another, even if they are not as "willful" to do so, thus the person then has an easier time "coping". Ok, so there's this interesting journal that captured my attention, because it explored Hypnosis as a mechanism to define pain perception. can pain be reduced through the aid of hypnosis? 

A study conducted by Hylands-White & Derbyshire (2007) aimed to find out how Hypnosis can play a role in perceiving pain. The first part of the study explored Hypnotic susceptibility, which has something to do with the ability to focus one's attention to a task while ignoring other stimuli. They hypothesized that those people who have this characteristic are able to reduce their feelings of pain with the aid of distractors, because they are more skilled to focus on a task at hand. Participants were first given questionnaires to determine those who are HH ( high in Hypnotic susceptibility). Participants where then subjected to the cold pressor wherein their hand is submerged while trying to see whether they observe the flip of a geometric figure the necker's cube, which served as a task ( "distractor" from pain due to the coldness of water) . After which participants reported the amount of pain they felt with the help sensory and affective pain scale by Gracely McGrath and Dubner (1978) 
In the second part of the experiments, the other participants were subjected into 2 conditions that labelled the state of the participant, one had the pre-recorded indication of being in a relaxation state while the second one had the indication of being under hypnosis. In both conditions, participants had to submerge their hand in the cold pressor after hearing the pre-recorded labeling of one's state ( relaxation and hypnosis) then was asked to report their pain perception using the scale. 
Results showed that those in the first part of the study reported high levels of pain perception compared to those in the second part. Also on a curious note, those who were    "labeled" as being in the hypnotized conditions had reduced feelings of pain compared to those in the relaxation label.  
Study 2 was all about labeling and expectations. Since they were labeled as being hypnotized, they expected some degree of vulnerability from the pain. This actually reduced how much pain they felt. 
This study can benefit doctors or other health care professionals. According to Dr. Babu, a huge factor that affects hypnotizability is age. That is, children (more specifically) who are 7- 15 years old are easily put in a hypnotic trance (2007). Since it is actually children who are more affected by pain, pediatricians can utilize study 2 in effects to reduce pain perceived by their young patients. The doctors can pretend to be hypnotizing the children, whether successful of not, then label them as being hypnotized. From the studies, the pain felt by the children will be reduced. This can also be used by physicians to adults but i think that it is still important that these adults either believe in hypnosis. 
Wow amazing right! Not only can this be useful in the Medicinal setting but perhaps in everyday experience of pain. Can this work well in other sources of feeling pain? Can hypnosis be the key to those bad days of getting hurt, heartaches, or feeling that intense pain because of having been put down, and criticized? who knows, maybe i should have someone hypnotize me :p HAHA! 

Hylands-White & Derbyshire (2007). Modifying pain perception: Is it better to be hypnotizable or feel that you are being hypnotized? British society of experimental and clinical hypnosis. 24 (4), 143-153.

Babu, H. (2007). Factors Influencing Hypnotizability. Retrieved from on March 6, 2011

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