Mind body Links
Hippocrates said approximately 2000 years ago – “The mind and body cannot be divided”. Unfortunately many of the medical profession have been working extremely hard to separate mind and body right up to the present time.
Below is a useful pictorial representation of the inter-relationships between the mind and the body.
Using this model – an illness at the extreme right would be a problem that was purely physical, without an emotional element. This could be, for example, the situation immediately after a person had fallen and fractured their femur. However, within a few moments the pain would cause anxiety and then they would start exploring the impact of this upon themselves and their family. Hence the situation moves towards the centre – where there are both physical and emotional factors. In a similar way a person who had a purely emotional difficulty would be represented by the extreme left of the model. However when we experience emotions these affect the body and cause release of chemical substances that influence heart rate, blood pressure, the immune response etc. Consequently again the situation involves a move to the centre.
Considering this model all illness is psychosomatic in that it has a mind (psychae) and body (soma) element. If a problem lies immediately at the centre on the diagram above then if, using psychological interventions, the emotional element is reduced to 50% then the overall effect of the problem is reduced to 75%. If, then, the response of the body is reduced by 50% using hypnosis to access mind/body links the overall effect is reduced to 50%. When things are working well in the body there is no need for interventions. However if adjustments are needed at mind/body level these are not possible without such access to mind/body links as hypnosis or biofeedback. Some like to expand this concept by talking of mind/body/spirit. Applications of hypnosis can be beneficial in most illnesses – but the response varies considerably as a consequence of individual factors.
It is important to know where hypnosis should be placed in terms of it’s relationships with standard medical approaches. It is not an alternative therapy – where there is a conflict or choice between the two approaches. Some call hypnosis a complementary therapy where it has an additional effect to the standard approach. However I subscribe to the concept that hypnosis is a tool that should be available to all medical and psychological practitioners. I also believe that no-one should treat a problem with hypnosis that they cannot treat without hypnosis. Hence I feel that hypnotic and imagery techniques should be learned by Health Professionals and Allied Health Professionals and used as another tool in their therapeutic toolbag.