Chronic Pain is Acute Pain That
Does Not Go Away

by: Chap. Dr. Richard Ward, Ph.D., J.C.D.

Pain is the universal form of stress and it is a blessing that we are able to recognize this form of stress; for pain is the method of communication from one area of the body notifying the brain that there is some damage or injury without the symptomatic feeling of pain. Serious injury could be incurred without recognizing the need for medical attention.

The question may be asked that, once recognizing the injury through the body communication of pain, why must we continue to receive the message. The answer is very simple. We don't have to suffer any continuous pain. The problem lies in one's ability to cancel out the message after the first transmission.

By contrast, chronic pain tends to move along a different slower tract. It is dull, aching, burning and cramping. Once it separates, it goes on to the hypothalamus and limbic structures. The limbic structures are the places where the emotions are processed.

This is very important because it explains how ones feelings can influence their pain. Here is a short list of hypnotic strategies and techniques for managing pain:

* Unconscious exploration to enhance insight or resolve conflict.

* Creating anesthesia or analgesia.

* Cognitive perceptual alteration of pain.

* Decreasing awareness of pain (distraction techniques).

Neuro-Linguistic Programming has developed a number of other cognitively-based techniques to help people naturally and ecologically deal with physical pain. There are three primary pain control strategies in NLP:

* Reframing the pain.

* Dissociating from the pain

Chronic Pain is Acute Pain that Does Not Go Away - Pain Control

Pain is a fascinating thing in that it is useful for letting you know that something is wrong and then once the problem is realized, it may not serve any further purpose. One thing you must do with pain is to provide a context in which the natural response is to lose pain.


In my NLP studies, I was fortunate to have learn from practitioners who researched and studied with Milton Erickson, M.D. of Phoenix, Arizona and a few others prior to the development of NLP. There were many stories about Milton and his great work. One such story was on pain control. It told of a woman who was dying of cancer. She was brought to Erickson in an ambulance; they put her on a gurney, and rolled her into his office.

The women looked at Erickson and said, "This is the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life. My doctor sent me here so that you could do something about my pain. Drugs don't help my pain. Surgery doesn't help my pain. How are you going to be able to help my pain with just words?"

Erickson, was sitting in his wheelchair and he swayed back and forth as he often did and looked at her and paced all her beliefs by saying, (pacing is a valuable NLP tool) "You came here because your doctor told you to come here and you don't understand how just words could control your pain. And you think this is the dumbest thing you've ever heard of. Well, let me ask you a question. If that door were to burst open right now, and you looked over and saw a great big tiger licking its chops hungrily, staring at only you, how much pain do you think you'd feel?"

Dr. Erickson presented a context in where nobody is going to be aware of pain. Pain simply doesn't exist when you are about to be eaten by a tiger. This experience where there is no pain opens the door for the NLP Professional or HypnoAnalyst to anchor and lock in this painless state to be used later by the patient so she can trigger it anytime she wishes, as a painless altered state of awareness. This is one form of hypnosis for pain management.

Erickson said in his dry wit, and in the voice that his protégées love to imitate when telling Milton stories, that “Later her doctor didn't understand his cancer patient when she returned and said she had a tiger under her bed and she just listens to its purr."

This is an example of the many, many ways of approaching pain control with hypnosis and NLP; some of which are listed above.

Ref: American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
Michael D. Preston, M.D.
Capt. Ron Eslinger, RN, CRNA, Ret.
Hypno-Mercy Foundation, INC

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