Pain intensity depends on the type of stimulus that caused it and on the psychological perception of the pain, such as fear and anxiety. Although not yet mainstream, a number of studies support the efficacy of hypnosis as an adjunct intervention in the treatment of chronic pain (1978, 2003, 2008,2019 ,2021).
This one clinical trial evaluated the potential value of clinical self-hypnosis in palliative care versus standard pharmacological care (e.g. Opioids, NSAIDS and Corticosteroids). They concluded that,
“The patient group receiving hypnosis as an adjuvant therapy showed a statistically significant decrease in pain and anxiety and a significantly lower risk of increasing pharmacological pain treatment in a long term follow-up after 1 and 2 years compared to the control group.” – Brugnoli et al 2018
Compared to the hypnosis group, the individuals in the control group (meds only) had 4-times increase in the risk of increasing analgesic medicines within 2 years of treatment. In addition, none of the patients in the hypnosis group reported any side effects.
This is frankly amazing, as I cannot think of a more challenging patient population than those with advanced cancer receiving palliative care. It is suggested that self-hypnosis may cultivate positive mental states such as kindness and self-compassion at the end of life, which may lead to less suffering and perhaps spiritual healing.
Listen to my 7-minute guided talk for those in pain and let me know what you think.