GAINESVILLE, Fla.. Aug. 3, 2000 -- Hypnosis is often thought of as losing control because of the Hollywood stereotype: "Look into my eyes, you are getting sleepy and you're falling under my spell."
But a team of University of Florida researchers is finding that learning self-hypnosis actually gives a patient greater control over the stress, anxiety and pain of medical operations and childbirth.
A study directed by UF counseling psychologist Paul Schauble found that women who learn hypnosis before delivering babies suffer fewer complications, need less medication and are more likely to have healthier babies than are women without hypnosis.
And in an ongoing pilot study, Schauble's preliminary results show hypnotized patients with hypertension reported being able to make lifestyle improvements that can lower blood pressure.
Schauble, who is presenting results of the studies Friday (8/4) at the American Psychological Association annual conference in Washington, D.C., said that although hypnosis has been used in medicine before, it typically has not been done in a group setting or to prepare patients for treatment as UF researchers are doing.
"Training patients in hypnosis prior to undergoing surgery is a way of helping them develop a sense of control over their stress, discomfort and anxiety," he said.
It also helps them better understand what they can do to bring about a more satisfying and rapid recovery, he said.
"We've found, in working with individual patients, that they often feel literally stripped of control when they go into the hospital," he said. "The surgeon may do a good job of explaining the surgery, but patients' anxiety may make it difficult for them to absorb or comprehend. This can result in undue apprehension that can create complications or prolonged recovery."
A common technique to teach people to enter hypnosis is visual imagery, where hypnotic suggestion helps patients to imagine they are someplace else, Schau
Contact: Paul Schauble
University of Florida