What are general goals of medical hypnosis?
- Activation of the imagination
- Harmonisation of the inner milieu: Promoting somatic healing processes
- Increase in suggestibility
- Change in perception
- Restructuring and undermining the usual limitations of thinking
- Use of inner knowledge an resources
- Age regression (reliving in imagination of memories of an earlier developmental period of one’s life)
Activation of the imagination
In the treatment of organic suffering, the visualization of the organ in question and its healing can promote appropriate physical processes.
Thus, circulation is promoted by images of expanding hoses (such as in Raynaud’s disease and tinnitus). Itching of the skin and stomach irritation (gastritis) are alleviated by imagination of coolness. Asthmatic attacks can be alleviated by the visualization of dilating bronchi.
In a hypnotic state, such visualizations are intensified by the focus of attention and therefore increased in their effectiveness.
Harmonisation of the inner milieu
The physiological changes in hypnosis, which can either be spontaneous due to the relaxation response or triggered by suggestions, are suitable for promoting different somatic healing processes and reducing stress reactions.
The following vegetative changes takes place:
reduction of heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and muscle tone
decreased release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin
strengthening the immune system
Increase in suggestibility
In a hypnotic state, the tendency to accept what has been said as appropriate or meaningful is generally increased. This results in the possibility of direct suggestions, e.g. in terms of health, which would be warded off in everyday consciousness. (“You have no desire to smoke.”)
Change in perception
By focusing on the momentary experience, past and future become irrelevant or are perceived as present (e.g., in age regression, see below).
Everyday thinking is determined by logic for many people what is useful for quick orientation in everyday life, but often hindering finding new solutions. In the hypnotic state, a conversion to the visual processing of information can be used to undermine the usual limitations of thinking.
Use of inner (‘silent’) knowledge and resources
The hypnotic state allows the expression of unconscious wishes through involuntary movements, such as a twitching of the fingers, moving towards each other of the two hands, etc. It is believed that this expresses an inner readiness that is independent of the deliberate and conscious decision.
Involuntary movements of different fingers can be established as yes and no answers, thus enabling the unconscious, ‘silent’ knowledge to be queried, that is, personal experiences that have been repressed or forgotten, as well as those that are pre-verbal or from a collective unconscious.
A hypnotized person is inwardly going back to a past event and experiencing it in a detached way in the framework of the present. This process is called age regression.
The technique of age regression may be used to elicit further information about a specific past event that the client experienced. Or it may help the patient to access positive feelings and resources. Age regression can also help the client to re-experience, re-interpret or reconstruct a significant memory in a more adaptive way (e.g. in trauma therapy).