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All Pain Is In The Mind

All pain is in your mind.

I remember a Star Trek episode when I was a kid where Spock is in Sick Bay struggling to deal with pain from a parasitic creature that has infested his body. He explains to Captain Kirk, “Captain, pain is a thing of the mind. Vulcans can control pain by using their mind.”

Kirk, “But Spock, you’re half human”

Spock, “Yes, that IS proving to be a problem”

 

But that’s science fiction, isn’t it?.  Or is it?  Well, it turns out to be quite true. All pain comes from the mind, not the body.  And since hypnotherapy can influence the mind, it can affect pain.  Most people are aware that hypnotherapy can be very useful for quitting smoking or losing weight, but they might not be aware of its ability to manage pain as well.

 

Although there are many types of pain in terms of whether it is "Sharp" or "Dull", "Throbbing", "Burning", etc. there are essentially two types of pain in terms of where it originates. Some pain is triggered by damage to a part of the body.  A cut, a burn, a crushed portion, a pinch, or broken bones, etc. In many cases, bleeding is present at the site of the wound.  We will refer to this type as "Trauma-based Pain".

 

The other type of origination of pain we will call "Stress-Based Pain".  This is where the person is under stress, and that stress manifests itself as pain in the body.  Another term for this is "Psychosomatic pain". It is every bit as uncomfortable as trauma-based pain.  Just as real in terms of the pain level, but some people don't believe this type of pain exists if they cannot see a wound or a physical cause.  For many years, people who suffer this type of pain were told it was imaginary, or "hysterical pain" or often it was, "all in their head". 

 

Well, in a sense, it IS all in their head - because ALL pain is all in the head.  That is where the body interprets pain.  

Trauma-Based Pain

Most people associate pain with some sort of damage to the body.  When the body is damaged in some way, a cut, a bruise, a pinch, a break, etc. People see the pain as coming from that location.  But then there are the "phantom pains" that amputees get in the limbs that have been removed.  This is quite common among amputees.  They still feel the pain of a burn or a cut or break in a leg that is no longer even there.  

This is because the pain itself is not in the body.  The damage is in the body, which triggers a neural messaging along the nervous system to the brain, and it is the brain, or more precisely the mind, that interprets these neural signals as pain.  So the pain itself is in the mind.  And the mind may be adjusted to smooth over, transfer, lessen, or reinterpret the pain as something else.  A cooling sensation perhaps. Since your conscious mind is unaware that it is creating the pain as a response, you know that it is the subconscious mind that creates the pain.  And that can be changed, lessened, or even eliminated.  This can be done with hypnotherapy, because hypnotherapy works with that subconscious mind and can re-interpret the neural signals coming in as something different. 

An Easy Experiment

Try filling a bucket with cold water and put it in the fridge to make it even colder.  Now approach a blindfolded person who does not know of this experiment, and tell them you are going to be putting their hand into a bucket of extremely HOT water.  When they put their hand into the water, they will experience extreme heat instead of cold.  This is because their subconscious believes the idea that it is hot water, and therefore perceives the change in temperature to be heat instead of cold.  It is truly amazing how powerful the mind is.  This demonstrates how the subconscious can be directed to experience something other than what is actually happening, even in terms of physical body sensations.

Stress-Based Pain

When the mind feels stress, it looks for ways to express its discomfort within the body.  The emotional state of mind determines that there is great stress, and it wants to express this as pain.  For many years, this was understood in general terms, but it was unknown HOW the mind was sending the pain messages to the various parts of the body to create the headaches, chronic back pain, shoulder pain, arm or leg pain, etc.  Then researchers discovered that the brain actually sends neuropeptide molecules through the body's fluid systems to the affected areas to cause the problem. 

Body Syndromes

Interestingly, it chooses the parts of the body that the pain will manifest based on the type and degree of stress it feels and the subconscious associations for that type of stress.  For example, stress related to responsibility becomes shoulder pain.  Stress related to decision-making, becomes headaches.  Etc.  These are called Body Syndromes.  

 

As hypnotherapists, we know how to interpret these body syndromes to discover the potential sources of stress so that we can use the correct post hypnotic suggestions in order to reduce that stress, and ease that pain.

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