Martin D, an eleven-year-old child, was suffering front a bad case of hives. He would break out after eating chocolate or eggs, after walking through a wheat patch, playing with animals, etc. He was hypnotized and told that he could now, eat chocolate and eggs and play with animals, without worrying about breaking out in hives. He was given a chocolate bar. He ate it and did not break out. He came back a month later, however, saying, "You know, I ate some tomatoes and broke out in hives." The suggestion concerning tomatoes had been overlooked. He was therefore hypnotized and told that he could now eat tomatoes.
Martin D was used as a demonstration subject, at which time he had been free from all hives for about nine months. One of the doctors present asked, "Do you think you could make the hives return?" The child was therefore hypnotized and given an amnesia for the fact that he had ever been previously hypnotized. Again he was given a chocolate bar which he ate. He had been told that in exactly fifteen minutes he would break out in hives. Fifteen minutes later he broke out in generalized hives. One of the doctors then inquired whether it would be possible to remove a particular hive from the child's cheek, pointing to the one he had in mind. The subject was then told that in fifteen minutes this particular hive would disappear. The hive did disappear. Martin was then rehypnotized and told that he would never have hives again; the amnesia for the fact that he had been previously treated was removed. He has been free from hives ever since.
There was a good deal more control over that experiment than is apparent in this description. The boy sat in front of some fifty persons. He himself was not sent out for the chocolate bar. Someone else went for it. He ate it in front of everyone present. His hands were watched to see that he did not touch his face or his body. He just sat there, ate the chocolate bar, and the hives were produced. The same conditions prevailed during their removal.
Hypnosis has a marked value in dermatology. As the skin is the largest organ in the body, most of the skin diseases have some emotional overlay. One needs to approach the individual personality to alleviate the emotional aspects of the skin disorder. By removing the emotional aspect, one can allow the physiologic functions of the skin to return more quickly to normal.
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