Is hypnotherapy credible?

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I'm vaguely familiar with hypnotherapy and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming).

Are there any papers published in prestigious journals on this subject? Or is this crackpot stuff.

I've heard that a potential cause of allergy may be anchoring allergic reaction to pollen when experiencing trauma. That way, a person's allergic reaction will be triggered when being exposed to pollen.

Furthermore hypnotherapy claims, since allergy is all in your head it may be cured with NLP.

Is this for real?
 

Danger

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I don't know about allergies or other chronic problems.
What I can say is that I've used self-hypnosis on a regular basis, and it works great. It doesn't cure the problem, but does let one cope with it better. My main example is when I had to play a baseball tournament with a broken finger. I just sat in the stands (oxymoron?) for a few minutes before each game and convinced myself that any pain stimulus would be interpreted as heat. Every time that I caught a ball or made contact as a batter, it felt as if I'd dipped my hand into hot water.
(I wear my mitt on my left hand, because it's quicker than my right, and it was a finger on the right that was broken, but I alway try to catch with 2 hands, which is why I noticed the impact of a caught ball.)
 
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Moonbear

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Can you provide any credible support for the premise that allergy is psychosomatic? Allergy is a dysfunction of the immune system. I don't know if there's any credibility to hypnotherapy for some things (perhaps better coping with the symptoms of allergy), but it's not going to fix your immune system.
 

Ivan Seeking

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I do find published papers by doing a Google Scholar search. For example,

Gut 1987;28:423-425; doi:10.1136/gut.28.4.423
Copyright © 1987 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd & British Society of Gastroenterology

Fifteen patients with severe intractable irritable bowel syndrome previously reported as successfully treated with hypnotherapy, have now been followed up for a mean duration of 18 months. All patients remain in remission although two have experienced a single relapse overcome by an additional session of hypnotherapy. Experience with a further 35 patients is reported giving a total group of 50. This group was divided into classical cases, atypical cases and cases exhibiting significant psychopathology. The response rates were 95%, 43%, and 60% respectively. Patients over the age of 50 years responded very poorly (25%) whereas those below the age of 50 with classical irritable bowel syndrome exhibited a 100% response rate. This study confirms the successful effect of hypnotherapy in a larger series of patients with irritable bowel syndrome and defines some subgroup variations.
http://gut.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/4/423
 

Ivan Seeking

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To cite this article: A.C. STEWART, S.E. THOMAS (1995) Hypnotherapy as a treatment for atopic dermatitis in adults and children
British Journal of Dermatology 132 (5) , 778–783 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.1995.tb00726.x

Eighteen adults with extensive atopic dermatitis, resistant to conventional treatment, were treated by hypnotherapy, with statistically significant benefit (P < 0.01%) measured both subjectively and objectively, which was maintained at up to 2 years where results were available. Twenty children with severe, resistant atopic dermatitis were treated by hypnosis. All but one showed immediate improvement, which was maintained at the following two clinic appointments. In 12 children, replies to a questionnaire at up to 18 months after treatment, showed that 10 had maintained improvement in itching and scratching, nine in sleep disturbance, and seven maintained improvement in mood
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2133.1995.tb00726.x
 

Ivan Seeking

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1: Med J Aust. 1975 Jun 21;1(25):776-81.

Certain patients with bronchial asthma can benefit, often greatly, from hypnotherapy. This report is based on a retrospective analysis of 121 asthmatic patients who were treated by hypnotherapy. Hypnotic techniques and treatment procedure are described. Of the total number, 21% had an excellent response to treatment, becoming completely free from asthma and requiring no drug therapy. A further 33% had a good response, with worthwhile decrease in frequency and severity of the attacks of asthma, or a decrease in drug requirements. About half of the 46% who had a poor response had a marked subjective improvement in general well-being. Statistical evaluation of the six variables (age, sex, result, trance depth, psychological factors and severity of the asthma) confirmed the clinical impression that the ability to go into a deep trance (closely associated with the youthfulness of the subject) gives the best possibility of improvement, especially if there are significant aetiological psychological factors present and the asthma is not severe. Subjective improvement in well-being and outlood is a potential outcome at all age levels, independent of severity of the illness or entranceability of the patient.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&uid=1152761&cmd=showdetailview&indexed=google
 

Moonbear

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That first one on IBS is the most surprising outcome of the three references you posted. I would have expected the group with known psychopathology to be the one that responded best to hypnotherapy rather than the group with more classic symptoms. It makes you wonder how much of a psychopathology exists but hasn't been properly identified in that group for something like hypnotherapy to work.

The last one on asthma is more of what I would have anticipated, that it would alleviate the psychological (psychosomatic) components of illnesses.

The question that I don't know about is HOW does it work. Is it a placebo effect? Are other coping skills introduced during the sessions? Is there really a hypnotic state that can be induced and has some beneficial outcomes, or makes people more receptive to learning coping skills?
 
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I'm not sure if this is credible, but interesting if so

Braun BG. Psychophysiologic phenomena in multiple personality and hypnosis. Am J Clin Hypn. 1983; 26(2):124-37.

The author presents three case histories of patients with multiple personality disorder. One client was found to be allergic to citrus fruits in all personality states save one; the allergic response was abruptly terminated by switching to a different personality. The second client was severely allergic to cats, except in one personality state in which she could play with cats indefinitely with no rash, lacrimation, or wheezing. The third responded to cigarette smoke with marked dyspnea and asthmatic bronchospastic wheezing in one personality and was totally free of symptoms in a smoky environment in a second personality
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_274/ai_n16359703
 

Ivan Seeking

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That first one on IBS is the most surprising outcome of the three references you posted. I would have expected the group with known psychopathology to be the one that responded best to hypnotherapy rather than the group with more classic symptoms. It makes you wonder how much of a psychopathology exists but hasn't been properly identified in that group for something like hypnotherapy to work.

The last one on asthma is more of what I would have anticipated, that it would alleviate the psychological (psychosomatic) components of illnesses.

The question that I don't know about is HOW does it work. Is it a placebo effect? Are other coping skills introduced during the sessions? Is there really a hypnotic state that can be induced and has some beneficial outcomes, or makes people more receptive to learning coping skills?
I also wonder what exactly constitutes "hynotherapy". Have there been controlls where hypnosis is used but not targeted towards a specific goal? Could this simply be a matter of stress reduction?
 

Ivan Seeking

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Is it a placebo effect?
That would be a pretty impressive placebo! The age dependence is interesting though.

This group was divided into classical cases, atypical cases and cases exhibiting significant psychopathology. The response rates were 95%, 43%, and 60% respectively. Patients over the age of 50 years responded very poorly (25%) whereas those below the age of 50 with classical irritable bowel syndrome exhibited a 100% response rate
 

lisab

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I don't know about allergies or other chronic problems.
What I can say is that I've used self-hypnosis on a regular basis, and it works great. It doesn't cure the problem, but does let one cope with it better. My main example is when I had to play a baseball tournament with a broken finger. I just sat in the stands (oxymoron?) for a few minutes before each game and convinced myself that any pain stimulus would be interpreted as heat. Every time that I caught a ball or made contact as a batter, it felt as if I'd dipped my hand into hot water.
(I wear my mitt on my left hand, because it's quicker than my right, and it was a finger on the right that was broken, but I alway try to catch with 2 hands, which is why I noticed the impact of a caught ball.)
Danger, I've done this same exact thing! Only I try to feel pain as cold. It works really well for me on sharp, acute pain. It didn't work at all during childbirth, though :eek: .

It also depends on how stressed or fearful I am at the time. Too much stress or fear, and I can't "switch" the pain to cold.
 

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