Hypnosis the future of pain relief: doctor

By David Weber
Updated Sat 12 May 2012, 1:25pm AEST

A New Zealand psychiatrist says he expects hypnosis will be used more widely in the future as form of analgesia and anaesthesia.Auckland Regional Pain Service pain specialist Dr Bob Large says in some parts of the world, hypnosis has been used prior to major surgery.

Dr Large, who is speaking at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists conference in Perth today, says some people could even have surgery under hypnosis. “Some people are capable of very, very impressive anaesthesia and analgesia with hypnosis,” he said. “There are case reports of people having major surgery under hypnosis going way back. “Dr Large said being hypnotised before an operation had advantages as opposed to using gas or a needle. “I think in the first instance it helps them feel less apprehensive about the process,” he said. “And within the procedure itself it doesn’t negate the possibility of using chemical anaesthesia, but it reduces the dosages that are required and that’s pretty useful as well. “Women who use hypnosis for childbirth are able to be much more comfortable through the whole process, they have a good time, the baby comes out less sedated because you’ve not used as much morphine or other analgesia along the way.”

Audio: The hypnotic future of analgesia (AM)

However, Dr Large said many in the medical community were sceptical about the potential of hypnosis. “I think that one of the things that always comes up is the time factor; it’s considered that hypnosis is very time-consuming,” he said. “In fact you don’t have to spend a long time hypnotising people; if people are in the right space, if they’re motivated, if they’re interested, and if they have some basis hypnotic capacity, then it can be done very very quickly.” College of Anaesthetists president Professor Kate Leslie says hypnosis would not totally replace drugs but can form part of a multi-modal approach. “It’s a great adjunct to medicines and to nerve blocks and physio and psychotherapy,” she said. “It can be used as an adjunct to make people feel more comfortable when they’re having a procedure under local or regional anaesthesia, but it would never be used as the only type of anaesthesia for an operation.”