Humans create representations of the world that differ from an external reality or another’s reality. These occur in three major ways. The first is that some parts of our experience will be deleted or ignored and not represented in our model. The second way the representation will differ from the world itself through distortions. Distortion is a modeling process that permits us to make shifts in our experience of sensory data, e.g. we may never have seen a pink unicorn but we can imagine one. This ability to distort can work for us or against us. The third process is generalization. This is when we use one element of our model of the world to represent an entire category when it is only an example.
Someone skilled in hypnotherapy and guided imagery will have a thorough understanding of how people in general, and each patient in particular, create a representation of the world in which they live. They are able to establish rapport with the patient so that he/she feels and experiences that the practitioner understands their map. From this point it is possible, through specific activities, to lead the patient to a new and comfortable perception of the mind-body working as a unit for change without challenging their belief system. The mind-body term is used to define the increasingly accepted concept that a person is an integrated combination of both mind and body and that these cannot – and should not- be divided. There are many examples that support how each affects the other for good or ill. It seems clear that a combined approach is most likely to give the best outcome for the patient. The goal is wellness and wholeness through respect for and attention to the whole person.
The history of hypnosis and guided imagery is a long one dating back to at least 170 AD. The mind-body connection has the same history and is a current and accepted view throughout the rest of the world in all cultures. In the United States at Stanford University, CA, began its study and work in this area in the 1950’s with Ernest R. Hilgard, Professor of Psychology and his wife Josephine, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry. In 1957 they established the Stanford Laboratory of Hypnosis Research.
Presently the Bernard Osher Foundation for Mind-Body has centers in UCSF, UC Irvine, University of Alabama, Harvard University, in conjunction with Brigham-Women’s Hospital, to name only a very few. Many of the top 100 US hospitals already have complementary medicine with guided imagery and hypnotherapy as a key component.
This important and most beneficial tool will further distinguish New Milford Hospital as an effective and caring center for health and healing.