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Using Hypnosis to Understand the Mind

Friday, October 13, 2000 at 1:43 PM

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The community of Bath township is still trying to understand the mind set of the two teens from Revere High School that recently took their own lives. What causes someone to do so, or as in Ravenna where a woman killed another for her baby, remains a mystery. For years, man has tried to understand the workings of the mind. Scholars have used many methods to study human behavior, including hypnotism, which has been around since the pyramids. One of the first recorded uses of hypnosis happened in the sleep temples of Ancient Egypt around 3,000 B.C. Today the practice continues to be viewed with some skepticism. As 90.3's Tarice Sims reports, despite the myths, the medical world has embraced hypnosis as a beneficial tool of the mind.

Tarice Sims- When most people think of hypnosis they probably conjure up images like this:

(Sound of Hypnotism show)

But there is another side that some physicians say is medically beneficial, by using the concept of mind over matter. Today doctors, dentists, and psychologists are using hypnosis as a technique to help patients with medical issues ranging from headaches to pain management in child birth. For 12 years now University Hospitals in Cleveland has used hypnosis in its care. In 1988 the hospital brought in a team of hypnotic experts to work with patients and train the hospital’s medical staff. Dr. Howard Hall is with the Division of Behavioral Pediatrics. He studied and taught hypnosis at Princeton and Rutgers Universities before coming to UH where he uses hypnosis with both children and adult patients.

Howard Hall- You talk about alternative medicine, we talk about integrated medicine. It’s part of (a) comprehensive program, it can help give them some coping skills instead of flying off at the handle to use some self directive relaxation technique; but they may need some therapy, may need some medication, if they’re depressed, they may need some other approaches.

TS- Dr. Hall emphasizes that although UH uses hypnosis they don’t tend to refer to it as such because of the “baggage” that it carries. Non-medically trained hypnotists can understand the confusion surrounding its name. Pat Sievert is a certified hypnotherapist on Cleveland’s West Side. She learned hypnosis in the early seventies and even opted to put herself in a hypnotic state in lue of taking medication when giving birth to her daughter.

Pat Sievert- A lot of people are afraid and don’t understand what hypnosis is, they’re thinking it’s mind control or from the cults where they’re going to be surrendering or someone is going to take control of their mind and make them do things that they don’t want to do.

TS- She explains hypnosis is a way of accessing the subconscious mind through a heightened state of awareness. You may not know it, but you experience this condition several times a day. Sievert likens it to daydreaming where you become so focused on one thing that everything else you are aware of becomes irrelevant. In a hypnotic therapy session once you achieve relaxation, therapists make suggestions that can alter behavior, or even control pain. Sievert demonstrates on her husband Jim.

Unfortunately, she says, this isn’t the form of hypnosis that gets the most attention. People are often scared away from the clinical benefits because of its use in the entertainment world. University Hospital’s Dr. Hall agrees.

HH- Stage hypnosis, entertainment hypnosis is scandalous! Okay, we are very hostile and negative about that because that’s where you can get some negative affects. They can hypnotize someone and they can have a major negative reaction.

TS- Don Manarino is a Stage Hypnotist and has a clinical hypnosis practice in Beachwood. He agrees that many of the entertainers who do not have the academic background or medical training can be a danger to an unsuspecting audience just looking for a laugh.

Don Manarino- Some people on stage give suggestions and forget to reverse them, forget to take them away. So you never do anything that’s careless, at least I don’t. But I’ve seen (a) hypnotist go up there and say you’re at a picnic, you’re sitting at a picnic, it’s a hot day, you’re having a sandwich, there’s an ant on the blanket, there’s 2 ants, there’s 5 ants, there’s 10 ants there’s a thousand ants on your leg - now how do you know that person doesn’t have a hidden phobia on ants. If they did, and have a full blown anxiety attack, (the) stage hypnotist doesn’t know what to do.

TS- Even when that power of suggestion within a person’s mind is used properly not all doctors are completely comfortable with that. Dr. Donald Freeheim is the Director of the Schubert Center for Child Development in Case Western Reserve University’s Psychology Department. He chose not to learn hypnosis saying it just didn’t feel right for his practice.

Donald Freeheim- I guess I never felt comfortable with it because I’d rather deal with people when they were conscious and in a communicative state and felt a little uncomfortable when they were in a highly suggestible state.

TS- The American Medical Association has released numerous studies on the practice of hypnosis across the nation. A study on pain management released this year out of Brown University School of Medicine found that hypnosis can provide positive results in almost any setting. When used to complement medical treatment it can provide patients with a feeling of heightened emotional well-being and reduced physical pain. In Cleveland, Tarice Sims, 90.3 FM.

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