Does medical hypnosis work? If so, how? Does it produce real bodily healing at the physiologic level, or is its therapeutic effect merely the result of imagined comfort—and thus to be found in the mind only? These questions are reasonable and can best be addressed by clinical observation aided by modern technology.
The most clinically significant recent development in medical hypnosis is our understanding that the power of hypnosis actually resides in the patient and not in the doctor. This simple statement has profound implications because it implies existence of useful potential within each patient, what is known as the “autonomic nervous system”. The goal of medical hypnosis is to help patients use this unconscious potential—a revolutionary shift from the direction-focused, authoritarian therapeutic techniques of the past.
By contrast, modern medicine involves a highly rational belief system that minimizes the importance of autonomous therapeutic processes. This belief system has created an expectation that everything can be accomplished on a conscious and voluntary level, even though such voluntary efforts can sometimes obstruct natural healing processes. Notwithstanding this possible obstruction, a cumulative effect can be attained by simultaneously using the opposing concept that underlies modern medicine with medical hypnosis.