Recent brain research indicates that it is possible to talk to the amygdala, a key part of the brain that deals with certain emotions.
The inner mind is concerned with emotion, imagination and memory as well as the autonomic nervous system which automatically controls our internal organs. By talking to the amygdala, an experienced hypnotherapist can relax the autonomic nervous system shutting down, or curtailing the trigger that sets off secretion of the adrenal and pituitary glands. This gives the body an opportunity to rebuild its immune system in many chronic illnesses.
When a patient is in a hypnotic trance the amygdala automatically shuts down the rapid alert system and turns off the stress hormones epinephrine, cortocotropin, and glucocorticoids. Relaxation through hypnosis has proven a highly effective tool in giving the body a chance to heal itself through its own inherent wisdom system. This is the part of the mind that knows how to make you breathe and send oxygen to your blood cells.
The mind is like an onion. The outer layer, or conscious mind, deals with intelligence, reality, and logic. The inner mind is concerned with emotion, imagination, and memory, as well as the autonomic nervous system which automatically controls our internal organs (i.e., how we breathe, send oxygen to our blood cells, or walk without using the conscious mind.) The internal mind is on autopilot, reacting to the dictates of the pleasure principle. It seeks pleasure and avoids pain.
It is these characteristics that make hypnosis a highly effective therapeutic tool in dealing with a wide spectrum of mental and physical disorders. When a therapist is doing hypnosis, the amygdala is turned down. Therefore, it is called "talking to the amygdala." The hypnotist can actually relax the autonomic nervous system, shutting down the usual "fight, flight, or freeze" response and curtailing the trigger that sets off secretion of the pituitary and adrenal glands. This gives the body a chance to build up its immune system and reduce trauma on many chronic illnesses (i.e., irritable syndrome, bulimia, cancer, high blood pressure, and Parkinson's disease.) Even the Wall Street Journal (Friedman, 2003) has documented how hypnosis has entered the mainstream and is using trance states for fractures, cancer, and burns and speeding recovery time.
That evidence continues to pile up. Hypnosis is now being used in dentistry, fertility, childbirth, allergies, eating disorders, headaches and improved academic and sports performance. Eleanor Laser, PhD. assists physicians like Elvira Lang, MD by performing hypnosis and analgesia during operations at the Harvard and Iowa University Medical Schools. Hypnosis is not sleep, but an altered state of consciousness in which a person accesses that part of his or her mind that is capable of adjusting the problem without the conscious, thinking mind directing it.