Case History

A middle-aged man presented to the pain clinic with a 10-year history of intractable burning and itching pain affecting the area of the face supplied by the infra-orbital nerve, following an episode of Herpes Zoster some 10 years previously. His pain was of such severity he was passively suicidal and he had been unable to touch his left cheek for many years. After he was placed on antidepressants his distress was reduced and three sessions of hypnosis using glove anaesthesia enabled him for the first time to control his pain. The imagery technique involved taking him back to his European childhood and asking him to imagine that he was holding a snowball against the affected area of his face.

This approach followed the use of the Wilson & Barber (1977) Creative Imagination Scale to assess his hypnotic susceptibility. One of the items of this scale involves asking the subject to imagine a local anaesthetic injection being given into the side of their hand and that the affected fingers are becoming numb and dull. In clinical use this item is translated into the phenomenon of Glove Anaesthesia. Other items in this 10-item scale may be used to predict patients' likely responsiveness to suggestions of time distortion, age regression, the utilization of music for induction or trance work and relaxation imagery.

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