Healing with the mind ...
This is another book that came my way via the “Early Reviewer” program at LibraryThing.com … in this case from the December 2012 “batch”. As I've noted previously, this lends a certain serendipity to my reading, as I get books from there pretty close to monthly and they typically are ones that I might not have picked up or ordered if they weren't being offered by LTER. A number of years ago I took a hypnosis training course, and have read a number of books on the subject, so it was fairly logical that I'd have been selected (check out this FAQ
for details on how LTER works) to get Scott D. Lewis' The Hypnosis Treatment Option
Dr. Lewis has an interesting bio, having been a Chiropractor who was frustrated in helping his over-weight patients in his Las Vegas practice, and had felt somewhat hypocritical in his efforts as he was rather overweight himself. One day he got a mailing about a hypnosis training program for medical professionals, signed up, and found that the tools he got from hypnosis helped him to take off the extra pounds, keep them off, and begin to help his patients with their weight struggles. Evidently hypnosis was appealing to him, as he eventually ended up doing a long-running “comedy hypnosis” show at the Riviera Hotel!
This book, however, is serious to a fault. One gets the sense that Dr. Lewis is seeking to step away from the showy elements of hypnosis and build a groundwork for more serious, medical, usages. There is an feeling of him being somewhat defensive here, as though he needs to support hypnosis as a practice … largely expressed by his extensive use of reference footnotes to hundreds of studies. Unfortunately, his reliance on this research material (while frequently fascinating
in what it reveals), and tone that comes close to “apologetics”, creates a work which is almost not for the general reader.
The book is in three sections, the first part being about hypnosis in general, with descriptions of the practice, its history, discussions of myths about it, instructions for finding qualified hypnotists, and an outline of self-hypnosis techniques. This takes up about a quarter of the book, and was, to me, the most useful portion. The second part is a look at hypnosis being used in the treatment of a number of conditions, with chapters dedicated to fourteen common ailments, ranging from headaches to weight loss, to stress management. Each of these chapters has a discussion of the malady, a look at how hypnosis can help, a look at how this works for children (where applicable), a case study, and how hypnosis might have advantages over other treatments. The third section is very short, with a listing (with a few paragraphs each) of another 33 illnesses that hypnosis can help with, and an Epilog, Glossary, and Resource listing.
Frankly, reading through the second and third sections got a little tiring … I'm not a doctor, and I really don't care so much about conditions I don't have … which is most
of what's in there (thankfully). Again, this is where I was getting the “not for the general reader” sense about the book, as a healthcare provider (or dedicated hypochondriac) might find this listing of sickness after sickness interesting, it was a bit much to slog through.
interesting, however, were the statistics he cites for success rates for various treatments. One might not give a damn about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but reports of studies like one in the American Journal of Gastroenterology
showing a 78% success rate with patients who were previously unresponsive to other treatment methods, or in Lancet
where hypnosis showed a 95%
rate for improvement of symptoms, one has to take notice! Again, these sections are heavily annotated with references to the research, so the numbers, especially when remarkable, certainly carry some weight.
Of course, there is quite a degree of variability here, with some cases (like the above) of hypnosis succeeding where other (medical) approaches didn't, to cases where hypnosis' effects were in conjunction
with other therapies, and the numbers ranged from significant to extraordinary. As one might expect, much of what was most successful involved complaints with substantial “mind” components … pain, stress, nervousness, etc. … and less with “damage” issues, but even with problems such as lower back pain it's “a tool that can be used as often as you need it, without side effects and without waiting.”
I, personally, would have appreciated more material on the techniques
used in the various treatments, but that's no doubt due to my having practiced this a bit. If you have an interest in the clinical usage of hypnosis, or in medical treatments in general, you will likely find things to like about The Hypnosis Treatment Option
. It was, however, a whole lot more than I wanted/needed to know about these various conditions, and the “and I can PROVE it!”
angle wore thin as well (however, I suppose that in medical publications having research citations for nearly every point may be de rigueur
and expected). This definitely is one of those “your mileage may vary” situations, it's chock full of interesting info if you're into that particular thing, but probably “TMI” if you're not.