Wortzel J, Spiegel D
Am J Clin Hypn. 2017 Jul;60(1):4-17. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2017.1290577.
Cancer affects a growing proportion of the population as survival improves. The illness and its treatment brings a substantial burden of symptoms, including pain, anxiety, insomnia, and grief. Here, the uses of hypnosis in the treatment of these cancer-related problems will be reviewed. The utility of measuring hypnotizability in the clinical setting will be discussed. The current neurobiology of hypnotizability and hypnosis will be reviewed. Methods and results of using hypnosis for pain control in acute and chronic settings will be presented. Effects of hypnotic analgesia in specific brain regions associated with pain reduction, notably the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the somatosensory cortex, underlies its utility as a potent and side-effect free analgesic. Methods for helping those with cancer to better manage their anxiety, insomnia, and grief will be described. These involve facing disease-related stressors while dissociating the experience from somatic arousal. Given the serious complications of medications widely used to treat pain, anxiety, and insomnia, this article provides methods and an evidence base for wider use of techniques involving hypnosis in cancercare. Altering patients’ perception of pain, disease-related stress, and anxiety can help change the reality of their life with cancer.