Friday, May 20, 2022 |
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Contributed Dr. Ran Anbar
PRINCEVILLE — Dr. Ran Anbar’s journey to clinical hypnosis began with a burger.
About 20 years ago, he realized that one of his patients, Paul, who was severely lactose intolerant, could develop asthma attacks just from the thought of eating a cheeseburger.
Paul’s condition helped Anbar realize the extent to which a person’s mental state could impact physical health and left him with the question:
“If you can think your way into disease, can you think your way out?”
He only had a passing knowledge of clinical hypnosis at that point but was encouraged by a fellow doctor to use the techniques to control Paul’s respiratory problems.
Anbar began practicing hypnosis with Paul and saw immediate success. The sessions, in which Anbar would coach Paul to imagine a relaxing place inducing him into a trance-like state, quickly calmed Paul down and helped him manage his anxiety.
His treatment of Paul began a long career in hypnosis that Anbar details in his book Changing Children’s Lives with Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center — which he will discuss Friday at the Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe from 5 to 7 p.m.
“Hypnosis in it’s modern form has been around 70 years. But hardly any doctor knows about it,” said Anbar in an interview in the lobby of his Princeville hotel. “I’m hoping that through this book people start to ask their physicians about it.”
The book covers Anbar’s 20 years of experience with the technique, during which he has treated 5,000 children.
He served as a professor of pediatrics and medicine and the director of pediatric pulmonology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, for 21 years and now practices at Center Point Medicine in La Jolla, California.
He has become a leader in the field of hypnosis, serving as a guest editor and advisory editor for the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, training more than a thousand healthcare providers and lecturing all over the world.
Though it may be regarded by some as being in the same realm card tricks as pulling rabbits out of hats, clinical hypnosis is a legitimate medical technique that has been shown to improve stress and anxiety, control pain and relieve side effects of cancer treatment among others.
The technique involves putting patients in a trance-like state with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images.
“All good clinicians use hypnosis whether they realize it or not,” Anbar said. “When you practice medicine or psychology well you’re using hypnotic elements.”
He added the caveat that anyone who treats patients with the technique should have the knowledge and training to treat the condition without hypnosis.
Key to the hypnosis process, Anbar says, is tapping into the subconscious mind, which can be a source of inspiration and wisdom.
It is also something that has become more difficult with the constant exposure to content in the social media age.
“We don’t give ourselves time to think,” said Anbar. “Not think consciously, just to be at peace and listen to ourselves.”
Anbar doesn’t only use hypnosis on his patients. He uses elements of the practice in his own life as well — to fall asleep, to gain insight, and even to control bleeding at the dentist.
“It could be as simple as going into a relaxed state by imagining your favorite place — you can say, I want my gums to stay clean, or you can imagine some metaphor,” said Anbar. “It’s not complicated, but the main thing is you have to believe in it.”
Some of the results of Anbar’s treatment verge on the miraculous. One of his patients in the book was able to control frequent seizures by visualizing his favorite character, Spongebob Squarepants as a protective shield around his head.
Anbar remains curious about the potential of the techniques. He is currently interested in using the process on people suffering with dyslexia, since he saw that some of his patients’ dyslexia was heightened by anxiety.
“You don’t know the extent of what the brain can do. It seems miraculous but it’s not really, it’s actually something that’s happened,” said Anbar. “I strongly believe that we don’t know the limits of our mind, and we should try to extend those limits and do things that haven’t been done before.”
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