Physician Studies Hypnosis as Sedation Alternative

Tong Wenyu

PureInsight | February 17, 2003

[] A University of Iowa physician is studying hypnosis as a possible alternative for drug-induced sedation. The technique proved to be very successful under certain circumstances. The result of the study is published in February 2, 2003 edition of the University of Iowa News Release.

Sebastian Schulz-Stübner, M.D., Ph.D., UI Assistant Professor of Anesthesia, investigated whether clinical hypnosis could be used in place of sedating drugs to relax patients undergoing surgery with local or regional anesthesia. A local anesthetic numbs the body part undergoing surgery but, unlike a general anesthetic, the patient remains conscious. "One of the problems with local anesthesia is that the patient may be anxious or may not want to be aware of the procedure while it is taking place. They often don't want to see or hear anything," Schulz-Stübner explained. "Rather than giving these patients sedating drugs to calm them or make them more relaxed, we used clinical hypnosis."

In Schulz-Stübner's study, 48 patients undergoing surgery that required local anesthesia received clinical hypnosis instead of sedating drugs. All the patients undergoing elective surgery were successfully hypnotized and did not require sedating drugs. Prior to surgery, these patients met with the anesthesiologist who explained the technique and familiarized the patients with the procedure. In contrast to these well-prepared, receptive patients, only two of 12 emergency cases that also were part of the study were successfully hypnotized. The instances where hypnotism was successful in emergency cases involved patients who were already familiar with similar relaxation methods such as yoga or auto-suggestive training.

"The term hypnosis often has negative associations," Schulz-Stübner said. "Many people associate hypnosis with being controlled by someone else, and that is not the case. In fact, the patient is actually doing the work. The anesthetist is just providing the suggestions on how to do it."


The Chinese version available at

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