Dissociation is a commonplace reaction to trauma in psychiatric patients and in non-patient populations (Putnam, 1985; Spiegel, 1986, 1991). Without entering the complex domain of the relationship of dissociativity to hypnotizability, I will simply acknowledge that authorities disagree about their relationship, but most concur that they are difficult to distinguish when both are present to a high extent, and their copresence is commonplace in dissociative disorder patients. Conse quently, most traumatized persons with major dissociative manifestations are excellent candidates for the use of therapeutic hypnosis in the absence of contraindications.
In recent years Herman (1992) has advocated a triphasic approach to the treatment of the traumatized, building on similar observations made first by Janet, and subsequently by numerous others. Therapy begins with a phase of safety, in which the patient is made to feel secure, and can be both comforted and strengthened. Thus fortified and prepared, it proceeds to a phase of remembrance and mourning, in which the trauma is addressed and its impact and consequences are appreciated and grieved. Finally, in a phase of reconnection, issues of the reintegrations of one's identity, redressing interpersonal concerns, reentering one's social roles and obligations, and reestablishing normal coping are addressed.
In the phase of safety, hypnosis may play a role in relaxation, anxiety relief, symptom relief, ego-building, the creation of a safe place, affect regulation, accessing dissociated ego states, and the control of flashbacks and sleep disruption, among many other applications. Even suggestions of permissive amnesia have a role in some cases, in which the patient is totally devastated by what has befallen him or her, and is falling into a major regression, or becoming suicidal. In the phase of recollection and mourning, hypnosis may play an important role in relieving amnesia; the management of abreactions; the reconfiguring of ego states to ensure that work with one state's trauma does not mobilize others, leading to decompensation or alloplastic responses to painful material; and the containment and relief of the anguish associated with dealing with traumatic material. In the phase of reconnection, hypnosis can facilitate the blending of ego states, the integrations of ego-dystonic material, mastery of more adaptive coping, anxiety reduction, dealing with residual character and other issues, and has many other applications as well.
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HYPNOTISM is by no means a new art. True, it has been developed into a science in comparatively recent years. But the principles of thought control have been used for thousands of years in India, ancient Egypt, among the Persians, Chinese and in many other ancient lands. Learn more within this guide.