Using hypnosis to cope with cancer

Hypnotherapy is known to be highly effective in helping people to overcome a plethora of psychological problems, allowing them to live life to the fullest without carrying the negative weight of past issues. But what if the problem is not in the mind, but in the body? Being diagnosed with cancer can elicit all kinds of negative emotions, from fear to anger, and perhaps even indignation. Fortunately, hypnotherapy can be used as a complementary treatment to mitigate the psychological issues associated with cancer – this will help to bring cancer sufferers a sense of peace while they undergo conventional treatments such as chemotherapy. Amazingly, there is also evidence to suggest that hypnotherapy can be used to mitigate the physical symptoms of cancer as well as the psychological ones!

Reducing nausea during chemotherapy

Deep relaxation and visualisation techniques have been known to reduce nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy. In the year 2000, a study was published in the Journal of Oncology detailing the effects of hypnosis on 16 cancer patients who were experiencing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Each patient was inducted into deep relaxation and underwent hypnosis to try to prevent nausea from occurring. Amazingly, anticipatory nausea and vomiting disappeared in all patients and most of the patients experienced major responses to chemotherapy-induced emesis (vomiting) control. As amazing as this is, there are other ways in which hypnosis can benefit both the body and the mind of the cancer sufferer.

Hypnosis for surgery

General anesthetics can have some unpleasant after-effects, so to avoid this, patients can undergo hypnosurgery. The term ‘hypnosurgery’ refers to the practise of a hypnotist sedating a patient using suggestive language to prevent them from feeling pain during the operation; this allows the patient to complete the surgery in a state of alert consciousness and leave the hospital sooner after the surgery than would be possible after undergoing a general anesthetic. Last year there was even news of a hypnotist putting himself under hypnosis to undergo ankle replacement surgery which involved a surgeon sawing through his ankle bone, all without general anaesthetic!

Aside from hypnosurgery, hypnosis is used to help to relax patients before they undergo an operation – this not only gives them peace of mind, but evidence suggests that the surgery is more likely to be effective when the patient is relaxed instead of anxious. A study detailing the effects of hypnosis on patients undergoing breast cancer surgery suggested that patients who underwent hypnosis would be less likely to experience significant pain and discomfort after the surgery.

Visualising your way to a healthy immune system

David Seidler, the Oscar winning screenwriter of “The King’s Speech” has spoken on numerous occasions about how he used visualisation techniques to beat cancer of the bladder. In preparation for his surgery, Seidler stated: “I spent hours visualizing a nice, cream-colored unblemished bladder lining”. To the astonishment of his doctor after the operation, it was found that Seidler’s bladder was completely cancer-free. The doctor was so shocked he even submitted tissue from the presurgical biopsy to four different labs just to check if Seidler actually had cancer to begin with! Seidler credited his spontaneous remission to his regular visualisations and optimistic outlook on life, which he believes was responsible for keeping his immune system healthy and functional.

Hypnotherapy can also be used to combat other symptoms of cancer, such as: hot flushes, self-image issues pertaining to hair loss, fear of the unknown and more!

(Photo by tkobosz)