A child scrapes their knee badly. An adult is driving a car in rush hour traffic and is rear-ended by a minivan. In these two instances, both the child and the adult driver feel acute pain. While the pain appears to be located in the child’s knee, and also in the adult’s spine, that’s not where the discomfort originates.
All pain sensations originate in the brain. If the pain is acute, the signal travels up the column to the top of the spine, and then travels back down the spine, before it dissipates. However, if the pain is chronic, the pain signal often continues to circulate throughout the spine. Let’s say the minivan driver continues to suffer injuries after his accident, which never appears to heal fully. The driver continues to experience chronic pain at different times of the day.
Why is Hypnosis Effective for Controlling Pain?
Since the imagination plays such a large role in your subconscious, hypnotic suggestions, metaphors, and stories can gradually be incorporated into a series of mini-stories that enable you to access a profound state of relaxation. As Carl Jung observed, metaphorical stories play into our innate, ancient desire to resolve emotional and physical conflicts around issues about our need to experience diminished pain.
Other factors contribute to being successful when working with a client with significant chronic pain issues. For example, the session might begin by giving the client a small hard rock. Allow them to feel the hard angles of the rock in their hand, saying, “perhaps your pain feels angular, just like this rock.” Then replace the rock with a soft, squishy ball in their hand. “How does it feel to squeeze this ball and realize you can learn how to diminish the discomfort you’re feeling?”
The famed Dr. Milton Erickson had a way of describing how we routinely put up with low levels of pain daily, such as when sitting around a campfire and feeling pine needles scratching our legs, yet we’re so enthralled with the fire we forget all about the pain.
While in hypnosis, exposing the client to a serene location such as a tropical pool, or lake is extremely calming. Visualizing helps to increase the production of calming neurochemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Mentioning soft textures, such as feeling a rose petal brushing against one’s skin, also takes the client one step deeper.
Some of my clients with severe pain fall asleep during the session, only to feel so much lighter afterward.
If you have suffered from chronic pain, schedule your free consultation, and let’s discuss if hypnotherapy might be the right fit for you.