If you thought hypnosis was just about making people quack like a duck when you snap your fingers, think again. Hypnosis is being used more and more frequently to help people get through stressful and painful ordeals -- like surgery and giving birth. You heard right: it's called hypnobirthing, and according to British doctors, the technique produces "really chilled babies." (Which is to say, cool, Daddy-o babies, not hypothermic ones.) What's more, the mothers -- who learn to induce self-hypnosis rather than having someone dangle a watch in front of their eyes and count backwards -- often sail through the birthing process in only a few hours, with fewer complications than usual -- and without so much as aspirin. One mother, who describes herself as "a worrier" who had been excessively nervous about giving birth, describes her experience with hypnobirthing this way: "I just breathed her out without drugs it was just great and I could not have wished for anything better."
Meanwhile, on our side of the pond, a recent study indicates that hypnosis can help women going through breast cancer surgery. 200 women were recruited to undergo just fifteen minutes of hypnosis before surgery -- during which they were instructed to relax, and given pleasant mental images to concentrate on -- the majority of which reported markedly fewer side effects, pain, nausea or emotional distress after the operation.
If that wasn't enough, doctors are also beginning to use hypnosis treat conditions as varied as hay fever, asthma, eczema, migraine headaches -- and even to aid in the success rate of in-vitro fertilization (studies in Israel have found that hypnotized mothers-in-hoping have twice the chance of becoming pregnant as those not hypnotized).
All that sounds great, but selfish as I am I find myself wondering if I couldn't use hypnosis to help get through more mundane trials, like having my teeth cleaned at the dentist or getting through a slower-than-molasses rush hour commute.
Have any of you ever been hypnotized? Did it work?