The Edge Markets
This article first appeared in Personal Wealth, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on Nov 16 - 22, 2015.
It is in this state that hypnotherapists offer suggestions directly to the unconscious mind to effect beneficial changes in their patients or clients.
Dr Daniel Zainal Abdul Rahman, a psychiatrist uses an iceberg diagram to explain why the subconscious mind is powerful. The visible portion of the iceberg represents logical thinking, critical thinking and willpower, while the submerged portion represents beliefs, emotions, intuition, values and imagination, among others.
Contrary to popular belief, he adds, hypnotherapy does not only help psychotic patients but is widely used to cure diseases that are influenced by psychosomatic disorders. The diseases include psoriasis, eczema, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and heart disease. Hypnotherapy is also used to help patients deal with insomnia, obesity and addictions, especially smoking.
“Hypnotherapy directly addresses the master control room. You must remember the mind and body connection is very powerful, and the mind is here [below the surface],” says Daniel.
In the 1800s, hypnotherapy was used in place of anaesthesia. After the use of ether was found to be a better solution, hypnosis was no longer a popular alternative.
But in the 1950s, the British Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association endorsed the use of hypnosis. And even in Malaysia, at Universiti Malaya in the 1960s, they had been using hypnosis for surgeries.
In the current modern age, she says, hypnotherapy has become popular again because it is an easy therapeutic tool that uses natural states of relaxation.
Hypnotherapy myth busting
Due to the way hypnosis is presented in popular culture, hypnotherapy is surrounded by a lot of misconceptions. One of the common myths is that patients will be out of control or even have amnesia. This is in fact false as patients remain in full control even though their focus might be somewhere else.
Daniel says instead of controlling the patients, as perceived by some people, he only gives guidance and suggestions, and it is up to the patients to decide whether they want to follow them or not.
Another misconception is that once a patient goes into a hypnoidal state, they will never wake up. Menon says that there is no reason to worry about this. “I am very happy to say that no one in the history of hypnosis has ever not woken up. Everybody wakes up. The worst thing [if the hypnotherapy does not work] is you go into a nice comfortable state, you fall asleep and wake up later feeling refreshed.”
Hypnotherapy is also associated with the “placebo effect”, which refers to something that appears to be a real medical treatment but is not, and yet still has a positive impact on the patient’s well-being.
Does hypnotherapy work? How?
“The evidence that hypnotherapy is effective in the management of IBS is now so persuasive that it has recently been suggested ‘that the skills of the hypnotherapist should be made routinely available to patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders’,” reads the excerpt of the study’s conclusion.
Why is this therapy effective in managing IBS? Generally, when we have IBS, we feel bloated or tight. The way we use hypnosis is that we create images of calmness or comfort. We find that the smooth muscle in the stomach responds to that.
Daniel says hypnotherapy is also helpful in stress management to prevent mental illnesses. According to the World Health Organization, depression will be the leading cause of morbidity in the world in a matter of three to four years. “It will replace cardiovascular disease as the No 1 problem. There is a lot of depression anxiety around here. Now, hospitals invest in sickness, which is the end result of stress, because it is a multibillion-dollar business. No one talks about wellness now,” he says.
Daniel says when one suffers palpitations, numbness, shallow or rapid breathing, or there is an increase in blood pressure, or migraines, people will always go to the doctor but find out that there is nothing wrong with them. “These are symptoms. Your aim is not to treat the symptoms. When they get really anxious, they go and see all the doctors. After they have finished ‘doctor shopping’, they end up here.
“That is why you should go for hypnotherapy. When you relax, you manage your stress. Pain also comes down, so it helps with pain management and all sorts of pain.”