Quelling anxiety, reducing obesity, treating migraines, alleviating pain after dental procedures - these are all conditions that German doctors are treating with hypnosis.
There are now thousands of physicians, psychologists and dentists across the country who use the technique, like members of the German Society for Dental Hypnosis (DGZH), which is meeting in Berlin this week for a conference, as well as the German Society of Hypnosis (DGSH), which is also meeting this week in Mainz.
Doctors may place their patients in a hypnotic state by using certain repetitive verbal and visual cues, relaxing them to an altered state in which they are more open to suggestions. This means patients may be able to learn to better cope with pain, or rein in undesired habits.
“Hypnosis is not what most people think it is,” said Götz Renartz, president of the DGSH.
Over the past decade, hypnosis has gained recognition in the scientific community as studies have shown it can help treat certain conditions, such as helping patients to stop smoking, as well as to address certain sleep and sexual disorders. Still, it is not recommended for people with certain acute psychoses or severe personality disorders.
Dentists, for example, might hypnotize their patients before and after a procedure, like removing wisdom teeth, in order to help them deal with the pain.
“More people are hypnotized than you may realize,” said Bernhard Trenkle, a member of the International Society of Hypnosis (ISH).
But experts emphasize that people do not lose control over their behaviour while under hypnosis and cannot be made to do something against their will, though magic shows might appear otherwise.
“You have to find your inner healer,” said Renartz.
The two conferences in Mainz and Berlin will address such events as workshops on diagnostic hypnosis for beginners; how school psychology, music therapy and hypnosis interact; and even a demonstration of hypnosis - though for dental purposes.