Can hypnosis be used as the sole anesthesia for surgery?

Yes. This brief video shows segments from a surgical procedure to repair an umbilical hernia while using self-hypnosis as the sole anesthetic. The patient, Holly, is alert and interactive during the entire procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hypnosis


What is clinical hypnosis?

What training is required and how would a qualified person be found?

Is hypnosis a new technique?

What is it used for?

What about treatment and cost?

What are some misconceptions?

What is clinical hypnosis?

Clinical hypnosis is an altered state of awareness, perception or consciousness that is used, by licensed and trained doctors or masters prepared individuals, for treating a psychological or physical problem. It is a highly relaxed state.

Hypnosis is a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention. It is like using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. Similarly, when our minds are concentrated and focused, we are able to use our minds more powerfully. Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.

While there is general agreement that certain effects of hypnosis exist, there are differences of opinion within the research and clinical communities about how hypnosis works. Some researchers believe that hypnosis can be used by individuals to the degree they possess a hypnotic trait, much as they have traits associated with height, body size, hair color, etc. Other professionals who study and use hypnosis believe there are strong cognitive and interpersonal components that affect an individual's response to hypnotic environments and suggestions.

Recent research supports the view that hypnotic communication and suggestions effectively changes aspects of the persons physiological and neurological functions.

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What training is required to do hypnosis, and how can I find a qualified professional?

The use of hypnosis is restricted to psychologists and other health professionals such as physicians, dentists and masters prepared nurses, social workers or marital/family therapists licensed for this technique. It is to be used in conformance with their own training and licensing laws. Most cities have a state or local professional society which may be contacted for names of professionals.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis takes a very strong position that hypnosis for the treatment of medical and psychological conditions should only be performed by licensed clinicians. This includes physicians, dentists, chiropractors and masters prepared nurses, social workers and marital/family therapists. Hypnosis is to be used in conformance with their own training and licensing laws. Most locales have a state or local professional society which can be contacted for names of professionals competent to provide hypnotic treatment.

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 Is hypnosis a new technique?

Hypnosis has been used for a long as records have been kept. Modern clinical hypnosis is dated from the late 1700s, and the use of hypnosis has grown by leaps and bounds since 1958.

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What is hypnosis used for?

In the mental health area, it is used for phobias, anxiety, sexual problems, alcoholism, smoking control, speech disorders, weight control, chronic pain, age regression therapy, self-esteem/ego strengthening, memory/concentration improvement and forensic work. In medicine, it uses include anesthesia and surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, control of bleeding, pain control, burn therapy, dermatology and habit control. Dentistry uses it to control fear, dental surgery, saliva control, gagging, bruxism, control of bleeding, tongue biting and general oral hygiene.

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What about the length and cost of treatment?

The length of treatment will vary depending on the nature and severity of the problem. Hypnosis is one tool and may be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment. The cost will vary in different parts of the nation. You need to discuss finances openly with your health care professional. Most insurance companies will cover 50% - 80% of the cost of individual therapy only if treated by licensed professionals. Hypnosis often helps quicken the pace of treatment.

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What are some misconceptions about hypnosis?

You will not become unconscious and you will be aware of everything at all times. Your will is not weakened in any way. You are in control and cannot be made to do anything against your will. You will not begin to reveal information you wish to keep secret. Hypnosis is not sleep.

One common misconsception is that a hypnotized person loses their will and is partially or completely under the command of the hypnotist. Nothing could be further from the truth. This unfortunate belief is reinforced by many stage hypnotists. You are in control of yourself, and cannot be made to do anything that is against your will.

Hypnosis, particularly the deeper forms, can appear to be like sleep because the person's body is typically very still and quiet. There is usually a great deal of mental activity, and measurements of brain activity during hypnosis show a significant level of neurological activity.

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