Last month I spent a few hundred dollars on a psychotherapist who is also a trained hypnotist. You can find one of these at PsychologyToday.com or at asch.net. Today I will tell you everything I learned, and I won’t charge you a dime.
Hypnotism for chronic pain is based on the assumption that the mind and body are connected, and the mind has the ability to influence the body. There is lots of evidence for this assumption. For example, the mind can cause blood pressure and the heart rate to increase. Hypnosis makes the assumption that the mind can also impact the body in positive ways. There are research studies to demonstrate this as well. You can never really separate the mind from the body.
At my first session, the first thing the therapist did was test my hypnotizability. Some people aren’t hypnotizable, so this is the first step. He gave me a few suggestions, like close my eyes and imagine I’m holding a bucket of water in one hand and nothing in the other hand, and then he measures how much my arms move. I was graded an average level. So we proceeded to hypnotism.
Basically, you close your eyes and imagine yourself in a safe place. This will be a place from your past that you enjoyed and have good memories from. I chose a beach in Hawaii from a previous vacation. So I imagine myself on this beach, with the waves coming in, the palm trees moving in the wind, and so forth. Very peaceful and lovely place.
After I had spent several minutes in this trance, he asked my subconscious mind why I was having this health problem (not PVPS, actually another one I have). I gave an answer that I never imagined. I definitely recommend you ask your hypnotist to do this if you give hypnotism a try. I asked the therapist to do it for PVPS, but I wasn’t really under very deep when he asked, and I didn’t have an answer. There are different levels of hypnotism, you can be under deep or just slightly, and your performance can vary from session to session.
For pain relief, the therapist had me imagine a treatment that has consistently generated a reduction in pain. I chose an ice pack. He said imagine an ice pack being placed on my scrotum taking all the pain away. So I sit there and imagine the ice pack on my scrotum. But it’s not actually there. In my mind it’s there, and the mind is connected to the brain, and the brain is where the pain is actually felt. The body doesn’t feel pain, it’s all in the head, literally. Short term, this seems to have some effect on me, although I can’t report any long-term benefits.
Now we come to self-hypnosis, which is basically the same thing, except you do it on your own. You close your eyes and put yourself back in the same safe place. You do this 10-20 minutes per day. After you get comfortable for a few minutes you can imagine the ice pack if you want. This would be a good option I think if you were at work or wherever and couldn’t get an actual ice pack.
Self-hypnosis is very similar to guided imagery. You can find free guided imagery audio tracks on YouTube, Amazon Music, the Insight Timer app, and countless other places. Just close your eyes and follow the instructions. Do this once a day.
My hypnotist/psychologist didn’t do any post-hypnotic suggestions, like “you’re going to feel XYZ when you awake.” YMMV depending on what hypnotist you get.
My own suggestion is to start with medical doctors and medications, and if they don’t work, and you have the money, go see a hypnotist. Or at least do the guided imagery sessions. They are very similar, and you can do them for free. Same is true for Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) and autogenic training, both of which I’m currently doing as well.