The Mind-Body Connection

An article in the NY Times today about hypnosis stirred up some of my own thoughts about where the 21st century is taking us in our pursuit of understanding how the mind works.


This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis, in today’s NY Times Science Times section, describes new research in the area of brain imaging and what actually happens to us when we undergo hypnosis. Long misunderstood, clinical hypnosis is not the stuff of party games and magicians; in the right hands, it can be a powerful tool to understand and influence behavior. Many studies have demonstrated the power of hypnosis and related mind-body therapies to reduce pain in children (see references below). I am particularly fond of two biofeedback programs available for home use: Freeze-Framer and Journey to Wild Divine. Both can be used in combination with breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to teach children self-regulatory skills. For hospitals, clinics or offices looking to invest in a wonderful piece of technology, TFH’s Vecta Distraction Station is a multi-sensory, portable unit used by our Child Life specialists at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital thanks to a donation from the Fallen Brothers Foundation.

My interest in mind-body mechanisms goes back to my undergraduate research days at MIT in the 1980’s, when I had the great fortune of working with Steven Pinker, the renowned cognitive scientist and current Chair of Psychology at Harvard. Dr. Pinker has written several fantastic, accessible books including How The Mind Works. For those interested in the crossroads of meditation and neuroscience, take note of the just completed conference Mind and Life XIII: Investigating the Mind 2005, featuring dialogue between the Dalai Lama and many of the world’s preeminent neuroscientists.

Mind-Body Medicine References

Anbar RD: Self-hypnosis in patients with cystic fibrosis. Pediatr Pulmonol 30:461-465, 2000.

Anbar RD, Hehir DA: Hypnosis as a diagnostic modality for vocal cord dysfunction. Pediatrics 106: e81, 2000.

Anbar RD: Self-hypnosis for management of chronic dyspnea in pediatric patients. Pediatrics 107: e21, 2001.

Anbar RD, Hall HR: Child habit cough treated with self-hypnosis. J Peds 144: 213-217, 2004.

Ball TM, et al: A pilot study of the use of guided imagery for the treatment of recurrent abdominal pain in children. Clin Pediatr 42: 527-532, 2003.

Barnes VA, et al: Impact of transcendental meditation on ambulatory blood pressure in African-American adolescents. AJH 17: 366-369, 2004.

Barnes VA, et al: Impact of stress reduction on negative school behavior in adolescents. Health Qual Life Outcomes 1:10 (1-7), 2003.

Barnes VA, et al: Impact of transcendental meditation on cardiovascular function at rest and during acute stress in adolescents with high normal blood pressure. J Psychosom Res 51: 597-605, 2001.

Butler LD, et al: Hypnosis reduces distress and duration of an invasive medical procedure for children. Pediatrics 115: e77-e85, 2005.

Dikel W, Olness K: Self-hypnosis, biofeedback, and voluntary peripheral temperature control in children. Pediatrics 66: 335-340, 1980.

Felt BT, et al: Behavioral interventions reduce infant distress at immunization. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 154: 719-724, 2000.

French GM, Painter EC, Coury DL: Blowing away shot pain: A technique for pain management during immunization. Pediatrics 93: 384-388, 1994.

Glazener CM, et al: Complementary and miscellaneous interventions for nocturnal enuresis in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 18: CD005230, 2005.

Gonsalkorale WM, et al: Long term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 52: 1623-1629, 2003.

Huth MM, et al: Imagery reduces children’s post-operative pain. Pain 110: 439-448, 2004.

Kazak AE, et al: Pharmacologic and psychological interventions for procedural pain. Pediatrics 102: 59-66, 1998.

Kohen DP: Applications of relaxation/mental imagery (self-hypnosis) in pediatric emergencies. Int J Clin Hypnosis 34: 283-294, 1985.

Kohen DP, Olness KN: The use of relaxation-mental imagery (self-hypnosis) in the management of 505 pediatric behavioral encounters. J Dev Behav Pediatr 5: 21-25, 1984.

Kuttner L: Favorite stories: a hypnotic pain-reduction technique for children in acute pain. Amer J Clin Hypnosis 30: 289-295, 1988.

Lambert SA: The effects of hypnosis/guided imagery on the post-operative course of children. J Dev Behav Pediatr 17: 307-310, 1996.

Larsson B, et al: Relaxation treatment of adolescent headache sufferers: results from a school-based replication series. Headache 45: 692-704, 2005.

McCraty R, et al: The impact of an emotional self-management skills course on psychosocial functioning and autonomic recovery to stress in middle school children. Integr Physiol Behav Sci 34: 246-268, 1999.

Olness K, et al: Comparison of self-hypnosis and propranolol in the treatment of juvenile classic migraine. Pediatrics 79: 593-597, 1987.

Pederson C: Effect of imagery on children’s pain and anxiety during cardiac catheterization. Journal of Pediatric Nursing 10: 365-374, 1995.

Scharff L, et al: A controlled study of minimal-contact thermal biofeedback treatment in children with migraine. J Pediatr Psychol 27: 109-119, 2002.

Schulz-Stubner S, et al: Clinical hypnosis modulates functional magnetic resonance imaging signal intensities and pain perception in a thermal stimulation paradigm. Reg Anesth Pain Med 29: 549-556, 2004.

Sugarman LI: Hypnosis: helping children help themselves. Contemp Pediatr, November 1996.

Wild MR, et al: The efficacy of hypnosis in the reduction of procedural pain and distress in pediatric oncology: a systematic review. J Dev Behav Pediatr 25: 207-213, 2004.

Whorwell PJ, et al: Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome. Lancet 2: 1232-1234, 1984.

Youseff NN, et al: Treatment of functional abdominal pain in childhood with cognitive behavioral strategies. JPGN 39: 192-196, 2004.

Zeltzer L, Lebaron S: Hypnosis and nonhypnotic techniques for reduction of pain and anxiety during painful procedures in children and adolescents with cancer. J Pediatr 101: 1032-1035, 1982.

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