Hypnosis in surgery

Hypnosurgery using hypnosis for pain control has been gaining acceptance over recent years in medicine in the UK and other parts of the world. In addition to pain control, hypnosurgery can provide a range of other benefits such as anxiety reduction, less complications during surgery and faster recovery times.

Hypnosis in surgery has a long history, dating back to the first half of the 19th century. Even after the introduction of chemical anaesthesia, there are examples of major surgeries being carried out using hypnosis instead of general anaesthetics during the 20th and the present century.

Self-hypnosis has also been used by patients instead of general or local anaesthetics in operations in the past, including in the UK, some of which have been recorded on film. The Irish surgeon, Dr. Jack Gibson performed over 4,000 hypnosurgeries involving many serious operations including amputations. The decision to use hypnosis in these cases was made on medical grounds avoiding any sensationalism.

The first live demonstration of hypnosurgery was broadcast in the UK in April 2006 with Dr. John Butler of the British Society of Hypnotherapists (1950) as the hypnotist. He established a Hypnosurgery course, accredited for CPD by the Royal College of Anaesthetists, for surgeons and anaesthetists and developed and taught a course of training in hypnotherapy in nursing practice for the Royal College of Nursing in 1992. He has taught hypnotic anaesthesia to many surgical patients, including in 1996 the individual, who featured in a recent highly publicised case (April 2008) and performed hypnosis on patients while they were being operated on without general or local anaesthetics. He also used self-hypnosis for anaesthesia instead of a general anaesthetic for a filmed pelvic operation on himself in 2004.

Hypnosurgery courses are increasingly being established in many parts of the world. The methods taught include using a combination of hypnosis and chemical anaesthesia. This method, called hypnosedation, is proving particularly popular and is routinely used in a hospital in Liege, Belgium.

The method of hypnoanaesthesia by hypnosis and self-hypnosis is certainly not new in the UK and elsewhere but is nowadays being studied at a scientific level and gaining acceptance in medicine and allied professions.

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