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Hypnosurgery

Hypnosurgery is a name used for an operation where the patient is sedated using hypnotherapy rather than traditional anaesthetics. It is claimed that hypnosis for anaesthesia has been used since the 1840s where it was pioneered by the surgeon James Braid.

Advocates of hypnosurgery believe that it has several benefits, including reducing blood loss and post-operative nausea and vomiting. There is some evidence to suggest that it can result in a faster recovery, less post-operative pain and a shorter hospital stay. Hypnosurgery can reduce the risk of unnecessary complications occurring after major operations, such as chest infections which may be related to the anaesthetic or pain relief medication. It can also offer an alternative to people who are allergic to conventional anaesthesia.

Though hypnotism during surgery has not been fully embraced by the medical profession in the UK, it is widely used in other countries. Hypnotherapy for dental patients is also becoming increasingly popular.

Hypnosurgery is, in fact, an old technique which is being revisited by doctors and surgeons in the 21st century. The use of hypnotism in surgery has a long history, and even accompanied the use of ether in the earliest medical operations. A 20th-century pioneer of the technique was the late Irish surgeon Jack Gibson, who in the 1950s and 1960s carried out hundreds of operations, including bone-setting, treatment for first-degree burns, plastic surgery and amputations, using just hypnosis to anaesthetise his patients.

On the model of words such as hypnosis or hypnotherapy, hypnosurgery includes the prefix hypno- which actually means 'relating to sleep'. It is based on the Greek hupnos (meaning 'sleep'). Though the term hypnosurgery is now in fairly wide use, there is as yet no substantial evidence for the related noun hypnosurgeon or adjective hypnosurgical.

 

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