Hypnosis and Pain Relief for Older Persons

  • Nicholas A. Covino
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


There is a bit of irony in the fact that a technique like hypnosis, which is so dependent on the exercise of “imagination,” has so many fantasies attached to its use. These fictions apply both to patients and to practitioners and range from the fanciful to the fearful. By the time that most people reach their senior years, there have been a number of opportunities to witness animated figures with force fields emanating from their eyes issuing commands to somnambulistic respondents. They may also have seen a stage hypnotist invite an embarrassed subject (often a paid accomplice posing as a volunteer) to feel unable to leave the stage to use the bathroom, despite a powerful urge to do so. The more erudite might even have heard the story of Freud’s abandonment of hypnosis when a patient allegedly rose from the couch to amorously embrace him. Most patients with chronic pain have doubtless been told that their distress is “all in their head.” On the other side, there are alternative medicine enthusiasts who guarantee magical cures from any “mind-body” technique and promise that hypnosis will heal whatever ails a person. If we add to this the popular, though unsubstantiated, idea among clinicians that older persons are not particularly susceptible to hypnosis, it is not surprising that this valuable technique is underemployed in the treatment of pain.


Pain Relief Bulimia Nervosa Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Abnormal Psychology Ischemic Pain 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas A. Covino
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DivisionBeth Israel HospitalBostonUSA

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