One of the reasons hypnosis has been proven useful for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is because of the similarity between hypnotic phenomena and the symptoms of PTSD. The similarities include the absorption of awareness and the linking of emotional responses to outside stimuli. One can argue with some accuracy that PTSD is a form of hypnosis in that PTSD creates an effect in the same way as a post-hypnotic instruction. The difference between PTSD and hypnosis is that PTSD is highly negative and unintended while hypnosis is beneficial and consciously directed.
Absorption of Awareness
The trauma of an event causing PTSD has the effect of taking up all the the awareness. The trauma of the event becomes EVERYTHING the subject experiences. In psychological terms the subject becomes DISsociated from themselves and associate into the trauma. From this one of two things can result. The first result is the fear/panic/anxiety becomes linked to specific events, situations and environments causing phobias and extreme forms of aversion. Avoidance of crowds and loud noises is an example. The second result isn’t linked to anything specific and can erupt as free floating panic attacks and anxiety. Another symptom is a detachment from reality, where the subject doesn’t feel connected to anything they are experiencing.
Linking Strong Emotions
Both PTSD and hypnosis utilize emotions to make change. PTSD associates the subject into a trauma, hypnosis works by associating the subject into an positive and resourceful emotional state. For this reason hypnosis is a very useful tool to undo traumatic stress responses created by PTSD.
The hypnosis process is straightforward. The subject’s attention is guided by the hypnotist, thus all that’s needed is the ability to understand and follow simple instructions. Hypnosis creates a resourceful emotional state where the subject can experience events and situations free from fear and anxiety.
One client I worked with had been traumatized by a debilitating car accident that left her fearful to drive long distances. Even though the accident occured years earlier speaking about the accident was still emotional. Her life was reshaped by the event and eliminated any feeling of control or peace of mind from her day to day experience. At the end of the first hypnosis session she as asked to talk about the accident and be aware of her emotions. To her surprise she could talk about the event without tears or emotion. She reported feeling “a peace or mind and acceptance” now when talking about driving. Even when pressed to try to feel fearful and anxious she couldn’t do it. Other hypnosis sessions reinforced her feeling of control and focused on building a stronger sense of identity and self worth.
For more information about how hypnosis can help with phobia, anxiety and posttraumatic stress please call New Hampshire Hypnosis at (603)589-8033 for your free telephone consultation.