Clinical hypnosis in Palliative Care: neural correlates, clinical, psychological and spiritual therapies

Clinical hypnosis in Palliative Care: neural correlates, clinical, psychological and spiritual therapies

The past few decades have seen a rapid increase in the exploration of studies on clinical hypnosis as adjuvant therapy in Palliative Care. Evidence of increases in interest in the field of neural correlates of clinical hypnosis, clinical, psychological and spiritual therapies with hypnosis in Palliative Care, is apparent by the amount of attention that many international Clinical Hypnosis Societies pay to this topic.

APA American Psychological Association Division 30 for Psychological Hypnosis, ASCH American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, SCEH the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, ISH International Society of Hypnosis, ESH European Society of Hypnosis, and many other affiliated Hypnosis Societies around the world, organize studies, meetings and congresses to improve researches on clinical hypnosis in Palliative Care. This special issue therefore represents a timely addition to the scientific literature as well as a proposal for what is needed.

One commonly accepted early definition of palliative care developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) begins: “Palliative care is the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment…”. A major drawback of this definition was the limited access to palliative care for those at the end of their lives, when others with chronic rather than terminal illnesses could also benefit. Subsequently, in 1990, WHO suggested a more global approach by stating, “… control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families.” (1).

Over the past few decades, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has increasingly cured the lives of cancer patients and those suffering from severe chronic diseases in Palliative Care, who often experience pain, anxiety, fatigue and related symptoms because of their disease and treatment (2). The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines CAM as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” Complementary medicine is generally used in conjunction with conventional medicine (3). CAM is identified with many types of therapies as well as hypnosis, relaxation techniques (including meditation) and spiritual healing techniques (2,3).

Clinical hypnosis in Palliative Care is a safe and non-invasive therapy for relieving pain and symptoms in severe chronic diseases and cancer in adults and children. The field of hypnosis research is growing fast. The most exciting changes in the field have been made in the areas of theories and methods.

In 2015, the Society of Psychological Hypnosis, Division 30 of the American Psychological Association developed a new definition of Hypnosis: Hypnosis is “A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion” (4).

Neurophysiological studies have shown that hypnotic processes modify self-awareness as well as brain networks, particularly in the perception of sensory events (5). This special issue is a comprehensive exploration of clinical hypnotherapy in Palliative Care, starting from the neuroscientific studies of Landry and colleagues (5).

The scientific papers of K Szilágyi et al. (6), Brugnoli et al. (7) and Agarwal et al. (8) include the studies of interdisciplinary groups of researchers in order to study the increasing development of clinical hypnosis and the modified states of consciousness (as well as the related meditative states) in Palliative Care, as adjuvant therapies for physical, psychological and spiritual suffering. […]

di: Brugnoli MP. Clinical hypnosis in Palliative Care: neural correlates, clinical, psychological and spiritual therapies. Ann Palliat Med 2018;7(1):3-6. doi: 10.21037/apm.2017.09.11

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