Uses of Hypnotism

   Scientists use hypnosis in research, medicine, surgery, and dentistry, and in psychotherapy, a method of treating the mentally ill (see psychotherapy). Doctors sometimes use it as a sedative to quiet patients who are nervous or irritable. They also use it to relieve pain or uncomfortable symptoms. Surgeons may use hypnosis as a form of anesthesia so that a patient undergoing an operation will feel no pain. Hypnotism is used by some doctors as an aid during childbirth.

   Dentists sometimes use hypnotism as an anesthetic. After the patient has been hypnotized, the dentist drills the tooth and then fills the cavity. The patient awakens from the trance relaxed, and has felt no pain.

   The ability of a hypnotized person to remain in a given position for long periods of time has also been important in the use of hypnotism as a medical aid. For example, doctors had to graft skin on a patient's badly damaged foot. The graft had to be done in two stages. First, skin from the person's abdomen was grafted to his arm. Then the graft was transferred to his foot. Under hypnosis, the patient was able to hold his arm tightly in position over his abdomen for three weeks, then over his foot for four weeks. Even though the positions were unusual, the patient at no time felt uncomfortable. When the doctors removed the hypnotic trance, the patient could move his arm and fingers normally and without pain.

   In treating mental illnesses, doctors may use hypnosis to calm disturbed patients. They also may hypnotize a person to learn what has caused his illness. Under hyp­nosis, these patients sometimes can remember incidents or situations that they had completely forgotten. Occa­sionally, such incidents may have contributed to their illness. Modern techniques used in hypnotism help scientists understand more about the human mind.