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People often have a difficult time understanding what hypnosis and hypnotherapy are and what their purpose might be. If you’ve ever been to a fair and a hypnotist asks someone to “cluck like a chicken,” and they do, the individual clucking knows exactly what he/she is doing. They may not care that they look silly because they are so relaxed from the hypnosis.

If you notice, there is usually always someone who won’t perform – these actions indicate that a person cannot do anything against their nature. In a less public setting, the practice of hypnotherapy is a valuable and positive method of helping people cope with many different and difficult issues.

Hypnosis is the process a hypnotherapist uses to help a patient find answers to issues that they are having trouble controlling. But what is hypnosis?

Most agree that it is a naturally altered state of consciousness. As defined by Gil Boyne, one of the leaders in hypnotherapy, it is “an extraordinary quality of mental, physical and emotional relaxation.” Many studies have shown that a person in hypnosis may show psychological and physiological changes that can be beneficial.

We all experience a form of hypnosis when we find ourselves “lost in the moment.” If you’re driving down the road listening to the radio and you notice that you’ve gone three exits without even realizing it – that is a form of hypnosis. Or, if you’re on your computer and in such a deep state of concentration that you don’t even hear the noises around you – that, too, is a form of hypnosis. What a hypnotherapist does is take you into that natural state of intense concentration and relaxation.

What is Stress? Stress is something we all deal with on a daily basis. Stress can be a good for alerting us to dangers. A rush of adrenaline can give you amazing strength and can help get you through physical and emotional challenges. If you diagnosed with a life-threatening disease like pemphigus or pemphigoid, stress levels may increase substantially, and for a sustained period of time. The issues that confront us can be overwhelming. Not only are we dealing with the illness itself, but the issues that come with it.

How can I live successfully with the drugs which can in themselves increase my stress levels? How is this affecting my family? Will I have the financial resources needed?.

All these issues elevate our stress levels substantially. But what does that mean physically? Stress over a lengthy period can raise blood pressure, cause irritability, cause our thoughts to race, and many other problems. Many of us turn to drug therapy – both prescription or non-prescription to reduce the symptoms, while some of us look for alternative methods to augment drug therapy — these alternative methods include acupuncture, yoga, exercise, meditation and hypnosis.

What does hypnosis do that the other alternative stress reducing methods don’t? If you find the right hypnotherapist, someone you trust, you use your mind, your imagination, and your trust that the person you are working with can help you alter any negative thoughts or habits that plague you. The techniques the hypnotherapist uses are proactive approaches, meaning that you follow the suggestions of the therapist and use your subconscious to perceive your issues in a different way.

There are definitely good and bad hypnotherapists, and there are places to go to find one — the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (www.asch.net) is an example of one. But often as with a traditional therapist, you use your instincts in your initial interview to know whether that person is right for you.

I became interested in hypnosis many years ago. Since pemphigus and pemphigoid are autoimmune diseases (diseases of the self), I thought if I could learn all that I could about pemphigus and how the disease worked, maybe I could “talk myself out of it.” Unfortunately, my situation precluded me from furthering my quest. However, I learned to meditate, which helped with the side effects of prednisone. A 30mg dose every day for 3 years worked well and put me in remission..

At this point, I was able to put the theory that I could control my own body on hold. Some years later, when the disease returned, I again started thinking whether hypnosis could help. I searched the Internet looking for any literature on the subject and came across a small study that was performed by Dr. Francisco Tausch at Johns Hopkins University, on hypnosis and psoriasis..

I invited Dr. Tausch to speak at the 2005 IPPF Annual Meeting in Arlington, Virginia, on this subject because his research indicated that hypnosis might be helpful in treating psoriasis.

Regrettably, his work on the possible connection was not yet complete. Could hypnosis help with pemphigus and pemphigoid? That is an unanswered question. However, from my two years preparing for my certification, and from my practice of hypnotherapy, I have learned for myself and from several people I’ve worked with that it reduces stress levels. This can open up one’s ability to look at life in a different way. I’ve been in remission — no drugs – from PV for 12 years but I have a high anti-Dsg3 titer count, making me very susceptible to lesions. Hypnosis has helped me reduce my stress so that I can notice my triggers if I get an oral lesion (which I do from time to time). As with any case study, it is not clear if the hypnosis has helped me to be successful in remission and to have a minimal, manageable number of lesions, but I believe that the power of hypnosis has allowed me to take some control over my body.

Because doctors often cannot spend a lot of time with an individual patient, the emotional component to treatment (their bedside manner) is often minimal. Hynotherapy can be an extremely helpful factor in the emotional recovery of people with illnesses. When we are under stress because of an illness, our perspectives change. We tend to view things differently — whether positive or negative. We notice changes in our bodies we might not have noticed otherwise. What hypnosis can do with stress (and also pain) is to reduce its intensity and often change our perceptions of our feelings.
We often tend to ignore our emotional needs when faced with disease. We hide our feelings making them less important than our physical state. As humans, we are all physical, emotional and spiritual beings. The only way to really bring health and well-being in a time of crisis is to acknowledge when dealing with illness, we must deal with the whole person.