Hoosier Hypnosis St. Patty’s Day Edition

Lamenting the Drink

Happy St. Patty’s Day. This is Amber back with another installment of information from Hoosier Hypnosis.

We’ve been busy helping people with our services. We’ve also been working hard to make them even more available to everyone. Along that line, we are happy to announce that I am joining the hypnotist team. Part of the reason we have been absent is to allow time for training and my certification in January.  I am looking forward to both continuing writing these posts and working with all of our wonderful clients.

I often wonder how different so many of our lives might have been without hypnosis. I often think, what could have gone differently had I known about this sooner? While many of these instances are related to my own personal trials, there are others in which I wish I could have helped those that I knew. People struggling with things that I may, or may not, have been able to help them with.

This time of year in particular, I tend to think of a particular alcoholic friend of mine who struggled with addiction for years. I remember attempting to stop his St. Patty’s day binge nearly every year we were in college together. As I watched him loose his chosen family, his education, and his health, I always wished that I could help him.

Knowing what I know now, I found myself wondering could I have helped him.

The truth is, it depends.

Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a hard thing to beat, or more accurately manage. It never goes away. It is never cured in the classical sense of the word. And it takes a lot of work and avoidance of the substance to make it work.  It takes support and determination.  It takes willpower.  Even those who choose to enter treatment often struggle to stay on the wagon. Even those with the best support can struggle.

I know, this may make it sound hopeless, but I promise it isn’t. Even this can be overcome. The struggle is in understanding why its so hard to stay on the wagon. Something that while we often address it, we may be doing so inadequately. 

What Makes It Harder to Quit?

The biggest thing that people often miss when asking why someone falls off the wagon, is what was the precipitating event? We often would rather just blame and say “Oh, he’s just an alchololic.” Or “He’s just weak willed.”

Neither of these are entirely true.

We often forget that as with any addiction, there are often underlying issues that caused the addiction in the first place. We forget that these people are humans with feelings and struggles. And that while these struggles and feelings do not excuse their behavior, it can explain it. And if it can be explained it can be treated. It simply must be taken care of appropriately.

Often with many of our clients, I find that there are underlying issues. Sometimes Depression is caused by anxiety or vice versa. Often stress is a precursor to smoking and anxiety is a struggle in many weight loss clients. In fact, most of the people I’ve spoken to who struggled with some issue that a past hypnotist failed to address, it was because an underlying issue wasn’t taken care of. And with 6.2% of the adult population suffering from alcohol abuse disorders, that’s something we need to understand.

Underlying issues for Alcoholics

Stress

Everyone deals with stress differently. Some can manage it with exercise. Others with books or binge watching (probably also not good for your health). Others internalize it and let it build up until it manifests itself in unhealthy ways.  Alcoholics initially turn to alcohol until they seek help. 

While there are a varity of ways to deal with stress many people struggle to find productive ways to deal with it.  If this is your underlying issue hypnosis an help.  We have an entire page dedicated to how it can help overcome issues with stress. Though it is not often the first thing hypnosis is used to treat, it is something that I am finding more and more common as I begin working with clients myself.

Bad characters and places

We all have friends that uplift us and friends that bring us down to the gutter. When I talk about gutter friends, I’m not talking about dirty jokes or the like, I’m taking about people who get you into trouble.  We’ve all had these friends.  Some of us have removed them from our lives. An alcoholic with this issue will likely benefit from hypnosis, but will still have some hard decisions to make regarding those friends.

We can help you rewire your habits so that you are more likely to make better choices, but ultimately, you still have to actually make those choices.  And changing our relationships with others is hard.

And the same can be true of places that uplift you or bring you down.  Bars are likely not a good choice for those attempting to avoid alcohol.  While AA, church, or any other substitute social program may be more uplifting, you still have to make your choices carefully. Otherwise you risk substituting one bad behavior for another.

Anxiety

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes that 20 percent of people dealing with social anxiety disorder suffer from some form of alcohol abuse or dependence.  Even worse that that already dismal statistic is the fact that a recent study at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine showed that excessive drinking can lead to a rewiring of the brain. This rewiring can actually make someone more susceptible to the development of anxiety problems.

By drinking to overcome anxiety you could be making it worse. In addition, alchol increases your risk for a traumatic event that could lead to PTSD, which can also cause anxiety.  Regardless, UNC’s study further shows that there is a connection between alcohol and anxiety on a molecular level.  The good news being that hypnosis can definitely help you, if this is your underlying struggle to overcome your addiction.

Depression

According to addictioncenters.com alcoholism and depression are also closely related. Many turn to alcohol to escape with as many as 30-40% of alcoholics suffering from some form of depressive disorder. Unfortunately, it often has the opposite effect. See, as a depressant, alcohol slows down the body which slows down how quickly the hormones causing your depression can leave your system. So drinking to avoid your depression only makes it last longer.

IN addition, it has been shown to increase the severity of the depressive episode, likelihood, frequency, and severity of suicidal thoughts. Alcohol use also creates other problems which lead to stress, which ultimately lead to more depression and maybe some anxiety. What started as an innocent escape becomes a vicious downward spiral that can be extremely hard to break. 

Alcoholism can also cause depression. Prolonged abuse can drastically change the brain, as well as impact many other chemical balances in the body. This is particularly true of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which send electric and chemical impulses and control a great deal of the body and mind’s functioning. These systemic changes can cause depression.

But there is hope…this St. Patty’s Day

I always believe that there is hope to treat and manage anything. Not always with hypnosis, but in this case, definitely with hypnosis. Hypnosis can be used to manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety. We can help you make changes to your behaviors and thought patterns with the ultimate goal of creating a healthier you. 

Knowing why and what your underlying situations are, is always helpful in overcoming your struggles. Make sure that whatever treatment you seek, you take a bit of time to recognize those things that can make it that much harder to quit.  None of us want you or anyone else to fall off the wagon this St. Patty’s Day. And ultimately, if you need that extra little mental boost, know that Hoosier Hypnosis is always here to help. 

For more information on hypnosis and alcoholism please check out the alcohol page on our website. You can also call us anytime for more information and a consultation on how we might be able to help you.

Hypnosis for Alcoholism: A True Story

Welcome back to another edition of Hypno News with Amber.  Today I want to share with you an article by Elizabeth Archer. It details her experience with hypnotherapy.  Particularly her journey to prevent herself from becoming an alcoholic.

The truth is that many people suffer from alcohol abuse.  Many struggle to overcome it every day.  Some fight just to not take that one drink.  Others don’t know where to start and continue to spiral.  We all have our vices, but the good news is that they all can be overcome.  Some of us just need a little extra help. people typically drank in pubs and clubs. However, recent reports suggest that a growing number of people are choosing to drink at home. Meaning that it is likely that more people are consuming more alcohol than ever.

 
We all know that alcohol can affect our health. Booze is now the 6th most common cause of illness among people in their 50’s and 60’s. Compare this to 1990 when it was only the 16th most common cause of illness. New figures from Public Health England show alcohol-related problems are on the rise. Similar studies here show the same thing.

Elizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth found herself going for a bottle. At first, it was just on occasion. After a stressful day at work, she would reach for a bottle of wine.  After a while, this became more frequent.
 
It wasn’t until on Saturday morning, but, that she realized she needed to rein herself in.  That Friday she had a quiet night with some friends. Over the course of the evening, several bottles of wine led her to some questionable behavior. In addition, she woke up with the worst hangover of her life. She had decided that enough was enough.

The Hypnotist

That is when Elizabeth sought out a hypnotist to help her reduce her alcohol intake.  While she does not focus on cessation the fact that her therapy works is an indication that others to could use it to eliminate their addictions.

Georgia, the hypnotherapists explains that while “our unconscious mind makes most of our decisions, so while making a conscious effort to drink less may work in the short term, it doesn’t affect the deeper parts of the brain.”

and “Hypnosis encourages the conscious mind to switch off so the therapist can speak to the unconscious mind directly.”

It sounded so promising that Elizabeth decided to try it.

Her experience

Elizabeth signed up for a group hypnosis session. She remembers arriving at the conference room at a London hotel.  Inside was a group of 15 or so people from all walks of life.  With various events and actions leading to their problem.

During the session, each person spoke about the reasons why they and others continue to drink. While some people are people pleasures who feel pressured into drinking, others are perfectionists. They might abstain all week only to binge on the weekend. The more she listened the more she identified with being a people pleaser.

She realized that she got herself into all sorts of scrapes. Sometimes she would drink to keep friends company. Other times she would drink because she felt she had let someone down.  It seems she learned a lot about herself that night.

After the curtains were closed, the therapist dimmed the lights. They all laid down and closed their eyes. Initially, she says she “struggled to relax my mind and wondered whether hypnosis would work” for her.

However, as the session continued she describes herself as “sinking into a half-walking, half-asleep state”. Something that reminded her of meditation.  Elizabeth felt as though her body was floating.

“You drink lots of lovely, fresh water… you can stop drinking whenever you want,” she hears the therapist say.  And describes the sound as feeling distant to her.  As if her mind was wandering away from the words. And after what seemed like a long time, she woke them up. Elizabeth remembers feeling as if she had been in a deep sleep.

After lunch, there were two more sessions.  While she doesn’t remember everything the therapist told her, she remembers feeling calm and relaxed.

The Results

Fairly soon she had her first test. Elizabeth was supposed to be meeting friends in Brighton. She knew the people pleaser Elizabeth would have jumped on the train and rushed over there. But she didn’t. She realized that she didn’t want to go. She told her friends that she wasn’t going.  She remembers it felt “oddly satisfying to say no.”

And as the weeks wore on, her friends noticed a difference too. Elizabeth found herself making choices for herself more often. No longer was she running around trying to please everyone else. While she still drinks occasionally she no longer feels the need to get “sloshed” or to drink every night.

Instead, she says that she happily settles for a glass of water.

She goes on to say: “What’s interesting is that I don’t feel as if I’m having to force myself to do it; it’s easy just to say no. While I’m sure I’ll still have the occasional night when I let my hair down, I do feel something inside me has changed.”

Change for Everyone

We all have moments in which we need to change. Elizabeth found that moment after a hangover.  You might find it after making a huge mistake.  Or maybe its the cost. No matter why you want to stop drinking, Elizabeth’s story shows that we can all overcome our addiction.

If you feel that you are struggling with alcohol addiction, remember that you are not alone.  That there are people out there who want to help you.  Remember that you can do anything you put your unconscious mind to. And we can help.

Feel free to contact Hoosier Hypnosis if you need help overcoming your addition. No matter what it is, we can talk your unconscious mind into doing what you want it to do.  Into doing what you need it to do when your conscious mind can’t seem to.

Hypnosis isn’t magic, but it is a wonderful tool to impact change in your life.

 

 

 

Brain Surgery Using Hypnosis

Photo by Louis Bauer from Pexels.com

I’m here today with a short and sweet link about the first Brain Surgery to incorporate hypnosis. From what I gleaned from this study, it was a deep brain surgery using only hypnosis and no other anesthetics to control the patient’s pain.  This is something we’ve never seen before.

Brain Surgery and Hypnosis?

Earlier this year, a 73-year-old man with trembling hands had surgery performed on him.  At Jena Univerity Hospital in the German state of Thuringia, they are experimenting with using brain surgery and hypnosis to treat those suffering from tremors due to tumors.

During the procedure, the doctor electrically stimulates the regions of the brain responsible for the tremor. This, in turn, suppressed the tumor so that the patient could use his hands again without experiencing tremors.  To do this they implanted fine electrodes directly into the brain.  The doctor referred to them as “brain pacemakers”.

The patient has since reported that he is very satisfied with the results of the six-hour operation.  He had been suffering from the tremors for a while.  Nothing else had worked, including medication.

What does this mean?

Doctors normally perform these surgeries using Anesthesia. So let’s look at how not using anesthesia positively affected this scenario in particular.

In this particular surgery, the patients are woken up afterward to ensure that the electrodes are correctly placed and that the tumor is suppressed. But sedatives are a huge problem in this scenario. The sedative effects of anesthesia can lead to distorted results.  The article inferred that the anesthesia made it harder to determine whether the tumor was suppressed.

Better yet, under hypnosis, there are no side effects.  This is an enormous advantage when checking whether or not the activation of the electrodes were successful.  The patient was under hypnotic suggestion by Dr. Reichart for the entire procedure.

Dr Prell said: “This procedure allows a so-far unprecedented check on the effect of the deep brain stimulation and thus a clearly better and targeted electrode installation than in the usual procedures under narcosis.”

Just like this procedure, there are many, that could benefit.  Imagine a subject that doesn’t respond well to anesthesia.  Or what about a patient already dealing with chronic pain.  There are simply so many possibilities for surgical assistance with hypnosis.

The only problem the Dr. foresees in using hypnosis is that some patients are harder to hypnotize than others.

 

Halloween Hypnosis: Phobias and Fears

Hello, it’s Amber again with your spooky Halloween dose of Hoosier Hypnosis.  I hope you are all enjoying the season, even if you aren’t enjoying the cold.  Halloween is a time for fears and phobias.  While the holiday has many symbolic meanings, in modern times it has come to embody fear.  Despite the fun and candy, for those who suffer from fears and phobias, this time of year can be a real fear fest.

Not all phobias are Halloween related of course, but this season is rife with more phobias than one can shake a fist at.  For example, some people suffer from Maskaphobia, or fear of masks (yes, that’s the real word for it). Others may suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns), chiroptophobia (bats), samhainophobia (fear of Halloween itself).

What is a phobia?

A phobia is an intense, irrational fear.  Usually, a phobia is a fear of something that is not really a threat to your well being.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 9 percent of adults have at least one phobia.  The number is higher at 14 percent in children between 13 and 18.

Other phobias include the fear of spiders, heights, escalators, or even large or small spaces. According to most professionals, phobias tend to generalize or become more pervasive and intense over time.  The more we enable our fear by avoidance or other mechanisms, the worse it gets.

It can even evolve into multiple fears. As a general example, someone with a fear of enclosed spaces avoids driving because the car feels enclosed.  The more he avoids the car, the more he becomes afraid of driving as well. Not all phobias evolve this way, but it is possible.

How Fears and Phobias Form

Let’s take a moment to explain how our brain links information.   We’ve all had that moment when the radio begins to play an old song from our childhood.  The melody begins, the lyrics are sung, and we are taken back to a memorable moment in our lives.  If you continue on that train, that memory may remind you of something else.  And it goes on and on.

Our brain daisy chains events and ideas together.  However, this is not always done in a logical manner, especially in the case of a fear.  For example, as embarrassing as it is, when I was around 7 or 8  I was afraid to go to the bathroom alone or at night.  It had started with a famous movie, IT.  In that movie there are two scenes where children are attacked in the bathroom by a clown.

Logic would dictate that the clown would be the source of my fear.  However, I was never afraid of clowns.  IT was an alien.  And yet I wasn’t afraid of Aliens either.  Just going to the bathroom by myself or going at night.  The scenes from the movie involved a shower and a sink.  Again, you would think the fear would be limited to those two, but if something could come up a sink or shower drain, then why not a toilet?

Even now, if I’ve watched a scary movie later in the evening, I’m reminded of that former fear.  It never became a full-blown phobia. But if I had been able to avoid the bathroom it very well could have.  My point is, that the way our brains link and process information can be very strange.  You can have a fear and not even know what began that fear.  This is where hypnosis can help.

Born to Fear?

It is thought by some that we are born with only two fears – falling and loud noises. Which for an infant makes sense. Fear arises out of a sense of self-preservation.  However, most of us grow out of these fears.  All other fears are learned through experience.  Our mind forms fear to protect us, but that does not make all of our fears rational.

If we an learn to fear, we can unlearn that same fear.  Especially, if that fear is irrational.

Halloween Hypnosis

If you are suffering from a phobia, Halloween related or not, it is better to help sooner rather than later.  The longer you wait the worse it can get.  While there are many ways to fight phobic responses, hypnosis and NLP (neurolinguistic programming) are the gentlest methods currently available.  Other therapies involve facing the cause of your phobia in person and can take a very long time.

Through hypnosis, you can face your fear without ever being in the same room as it.   You can learn where it stems from or ensure that all the roots are lifted and removed.

You can overcome those patterns of behavior that are hindering you from achieving your goals and desires.   If you feel that a phobia or fear is limiting your life contact us for a free consultation at Hoosier Hypnosis.

 

Hypnotic Science

Your eyes are getting heavy, your body is relaxing. Going limp.  You feel like you are floating in space. Sound familiar? Fans of hypnosis should recognize those feelings. The power of hypnosis to change your mind is just as fascinating as how it can affect your body.  And all due to a few changes in specific areas of the brain, according to the Standford University School of medicine.  This is hypnotic science.

Scientists at Stanford scanned the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis. The sessions provided were similar to those you may see hypnotists use to treat anxiety, pain, trauma, and more. Here is just a little taste of what they found and what it could me for hypnosis, medicine, and behavioral sciences.

Why is this important?

For everything we know about the brain there is far more that we still do not understand. Understanding which regions of the brain are involved gives us a lot of information on how hypnosis works. Scientists are hoping that this knowledge can lead to altering someone’s capacity for hypnosis or even maximize its effectiveness. This could be monumental in treating pain.

A Serious Science

Scientists studying the potentials of hypnosis are constantly revealing the brain’s ability to heal medical and psychiatric conditions. I imagine you would find it surprising to discover that hypnosis is the oldest form of psychotherapy in Western civilization. However, we are only now beginning to be able to quantify and explain how it works scientifically.

Yet, little is known about how it works on a physiological level.  While it is proven that hypnosis works, we cannot explain it.  Many studies explain how hypnosis effects pain management or other treatments. This study, however, is the first to detail changes it enacts on the brain. In effect, scientists have studied what it does, but not how hypnosis achieves it.

The Meat And Bones

The study screened 545 healthy participants to find 36 people who tested high on hypnotizability as well as 21 control subjects who scored on the opposite end of the spectrum. Observations were then conducted while scanning the 57 subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging.  This scan measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow in the brain.

The participants were scanned under four conditions

  • At rest
  • While recalling a memory
  • Hypnosis session #1
  • Hypnosis session #2

The controls were included to help eliminate things that might not be associated with hypnosis during the course of the study.

Three Specific Changes

Of all of the subjects, the highly suggestive subjects showed three differences in brain function during their hypnotic sessions. Results showed that these changes only occurred in the subjects capable of being hypnotized. In addition, these results only occurred while the subjects were in hypnosis.

The areas they saw the change in were:

  • The Dorsal Anterior Cingulate
  • Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex
  • Insula
  • Default Mode Network (Which includes the medial prefrontal and the posterior cingulate cortex)

Dorsal Anterior Cingulate

First, the scans showed a decrease in activity in this area of the brain. It acts as a part of the brain’s salience network, which is a collection of regions in the brain that select which stimuli deserve our attention. This network is critical for detecting behaviorally relevant stimuli and for coordinating the brain’s neural resources in response to these stimuli.  Hypnosis pulls your mind into the process leaving little room for other distractions.

Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex and Insula

Secondly, they found an increase in the connections between these two areas of the brain.  Spiegal, the lead scientist on the team describes this as a brain-body connection that helps the brain process and control what’s going on in the body.  Think of it like a junction box.  If you want to make changes in the body, this is the place where the mind access those responses to effect change.

Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex and the Default Mode Network

Finally, the team observed reduced connections between these two systems.  The Default Mode Network is active when a person is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest, such as when we daydream.  But it is also active when we think of others, ourselves, remember the past, or plan for the future.  This network in our brain, while not well known, is our default when we are not engaged in a partiular task.

This functional change likely accounts for the disconnect between our actions and the awareness of our actions in hypnosis. It’s why we’re more suggestive in the hypnotic state.  During hypnosis this kind of disassociation between action and reflection allows us to engage with the suggestion without devoting mental resources or being self-conscious about the activity.  This also explains why the highly suggestible are willing to do such silly things during a stage show.

Future Potentials

Hypnosis shows results in many treatment fields. It has been used to treat chronic pain, pain associated with childbirth, and other medical procedures. Hypnosis has also been effective in treating addiction, PTSD, anxiety, phobias, and depression.  These new findings may pave the way for developing treatments for the rest of the population, those who aren’t naturally susceptible to hypnosis. If we can stimulate or decrease stimulation in these parts of the brain we could help so many people.

These studies could lead to new treatments that combine brain stimulation with hypnosis. We could improve the known analgesic effects of hypnosis and potentially replace the addictive medications. This could eliminate medications given to treat symptoms.  It could also lead to less medication for humanity overall. However, these treatments require far more research before they could be implemented.

Pain Research and Hypnosis

I have been doing a lot of research lately and I wanted to share a few interesting facts I’ve found about pain research and hypnosis. Research, in particular, psychology, has always been fascinating to me. I love to see what we are learning about the mind.  Even more so when psychologists are talking about hypnosis. I never know what I am going to find.

Recently, I keep finding studies promoting the benefits of hypnosis.  Even the APA has touted some of its benefits in their articles.  We just keep finding more benefits.  For example, look back at last week’s post about heartburn and hypnosis.  I would never have imagined we could use hypnosis to treat heartburn! With that in mind, let’s examine how pain research and hypnosis have become intertwined.

Pain Research & Hypnosis

While the research may not be able to explain why it works, we know that hypnosis works.  Various studies continually show that it is an asset both alone or in combination with other therapies.  Everyday hypnotists around the world use it to treat depression, pain, phobias, and anxiety.  It is used both alone and in combination with other therapies.  Some professionals even claim that patients can learn to hypnotize themselves. If this is the case, patients are becoming empowered to improve their own situations.

To quote Michael Yapko of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis “Hypnosis works and the empirical support is unequivocal in that regard. It really does help people…but hypnosis isn’t a therapy in and of itself. Most people wouldn’t regard it that way.”

Surgical Hypnosis?

One study suggested that hypnosis could be used before a surgery. In this study, patients received a 15-minute hypnosis session before they went under anesthesia. The results showed that the patients reported less post-surgical pain, nausea, fatigue, and discomfort. In addition, the study showed that the patients spent less time in the hospital, saving the facility around $772 per hypnosis subject. Best of all, those in the hypnosis group required less analgesia and sedatives during surgery.

“Hypnosis helps patients to reduce their distress and have positive expectations about the outcomes of surgery,” Montgomery says. “I don’t think there is any magic or mind control.”

Other Interesting Factoids

  • Another study showed that burn victims can even benefit from hypnosis according to the research.  IN 2007 Rehabilitation Psychology (Vol. 52, No. 3), found that hypnosis before wound debridements significantly reduced the pain reported by the patients.
  • For centuries hypnosis has been used in pain control.   During the Civil War, the Amry surgeons sometimes hypnotized injured soldiers before performing amputations.  Smith, Brenden L. (2011) Hypnosis Today. American Psychological Association, Vol. 42. No.

 

Hope these little tidbits have been as fascinating to you as they have been to me.  No matter what type of pain or problem you may suffer from if you would like to know if hypnosis can help you call Hoosier Hypnosis for a free consultation.