Would you give up anesthesia for hypnosis?

Interesting perspective.

When he reached Duke University Hospital, in Durham, N.C., he started breathing deeply, a signal for his body to relax. Next he held his thumb and forefinger together, imagining a walk around the pond at his home. Then he told himself, “Now it’s safe to go into a comfortable learning trance.”

So began Dick’s surgery by hypnosis, which he describes as being so trouble-free that he hardly realized it happened. He had nerve-blockers reducing the pain throughout the surgery, but his deep relaxation techniques made “going under” a needless step.

“It’s the closest thing to magic I know,” said Dick, a 72-year-old psychologist. “I knew it was there. I just wasn’t paying attention to it.”

Dick’s self-administered treatment is a rare but increasingly common alternative to general anesthesia, in which a patient is made unconscious through inhaled gases and intravenous drugs.

In 1957, Dr. William Saul Kroger demonstrated hypnosis on a breast cancer patient in New York, gaining notice in Time magazine.

In 2006, British television broadcast a patient having hernia surgery without any drugs, lulled into his inner peace.

In April, Guinean singer Alama Kante sang her way through throat surgery to keep doctors from damaging her vocal cords — a feat aided by hypnosis.

While anesthesia is widely considered safe, it carries the small risk of stroke, heart attack and death, especially in older adults or those with a serious medical history, according to the Mayo Clinic.

With this in mind, and knowing that anesthesia can mean a longer time in the hospital and in recovery, Dick decided to try the method he’s long employed in his own practice.

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