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the Mind And Body
Connection in Chronic illness

By Robert Espinosa, C.Ht.


My goal in this article is to have you understand
chronic illness as I view it in my world,
that of a hypnotherapist/hypnocounselor.

There is a rampant of unexplained symptoms
sweeping across our nation in this current day.
Widespread pain, fatigue, insomnia, gastrointestinal
problems, headaches, difficulty thinking and
concentrating are amongst the many complaints of the
millions of people caught in this mayhem.

Disability in the American Industry from lower back pain
continues to increase every year. People diagnosed with conditions
such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome
are left stunned as doctors label them "functional syndromes",
in other words, medical tests show no abnormality
that accounts for them. Although labeled "functional",
the symptoms are indeed very real.

Under the guidance of their medical doctors,
people suffering from some of these chronic illnesses
try different combinations of drugs in hopes of alleviating
their symptoms. Through education and from
witnessing results, there are growing numbers
in the medical community incorporating a more integrative
approach in dealing with these types of conditions.
The concept that the mind and body are one
functioning unit and not separate entities.

I make up that other half of the equation that is often
overlooked in the mind body connection, the "mind" part.
Notice I said the other half, there is still the physical part to
this equation. It would be in your best interest to address both
aspects by assembling your own "health care team" of professionals.

You have to approach an illness with a certain type of attitude,
that of a survivor, a warrior.
You should view your fight against whatever type of illness you have...
as a war.

When faced with a war, you want multiple weapons in that war chest.


I am not here to replace any of your weapons...
only to show you a powerful one to add to your arsenal.
Arm yourself in this battle and attack it from all angles.
The reliance on alternative practitioners including
homeopaths, hypnotists, and herbalists has grown
by nearly 50% during the 1990's. More hospitals
nationwide are building integrative medical departments
and offering such things as biofeedback, acupuncture, and hypnosis.
Even the United States Congress is involved in this movement.
In 1998, Congress established the National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the
National Institute of Health (NIH). The purpose
of the NCCAM is to stimulate, develop, and support research
on complementary and alternative medicine.

A survey published in 1994 reveals that more than
60% of doctors from a wide range of specialties
recommend alternative therapies to their patients at least once.
In addition, 47% of the doctors in this study
reported using alternative therapies themselves.


The Mind Connection

When discussing the mind model, I must give credit
to Gerald Kein, a master hypnotist from Florida who is
responsible for making such a complicated system as the
mind, easy to understand.

The easiest way to explain it is to view the mind as 2 parts,
the outer stoic conscious mind,
and the inner emotional subconscious mind.

Let's concentrate on the part of the mind the hypnotist
specializes in:
the inner mind.

The subconscious, is a very powerful part and plays a crucial
role in chronic illnesses. As you read about its functions,
keep in mind that hypnosis allows us to access this "inner mind".
Since we live in a high-tech world, I'll use the computer analogy.
Think of the subconscious mind as your inner organic computer.
When you are born, this computer has no programming,
it only has the operating system. As you
begin your journey in life, this computer receives programming
from your environment and through your senses.

This programming makes you who you are today!
The subconscious mind is also responsible for your permanent
memory. Everything you've ever known or experienced is stored
in that memory, whether or not you recall
it consciously is a different matter. The subconscious
mind is goal oriented, stick a goal in front of it
and it will relentlessly work 24hrs/day, 7 days/week
to achieve it. It will not stop until that goal is met,
regardless of how long it may take or what that goal
may entail. Your habits and self-perception are also
stored at this inner level.

Finally, your automatic body functions take place
at the subconscious level: breathing, circulation, healing,
digestion, and elimination.


Manifestation of an illness

This concept is best explained by the model
set forth by Stephen Parkhill, author of
Answer Cancer The Healing of a Nation.
He is a hypnotist from Florida who has worked
with thousands of chronically ill clients and has led
many of them onto healthier lives.

An illness is born with what we call an
initial sensitizing event (henceforth referred to as an ISE).
This event is the original seed planting of the condition.
The ISE is simply an event the person was involved
in where they lacked sufficient resources
to deal with the situation at the time.
Some of the resources they may have lacked include:
their ability to fight back, age, coping mechanisms;
there are hundreds of others.

There is a "gatekeeper" which stands guard
at the subconscious level. It's called
the critical factor and protects the subconscious mind from
incoming suggestions and programs that are not in line
with its belief system.

The ISE is able to bypass the critical factor (usually
because they didn't have one at the time, they may have been
too young, or because of the intensity of the event
and lack of resources) and a program is embedded.
According to Mr. Parkhill, the ISE of any negative symptom
carries a program that is self destructive in nature.
The ISE is then reinforced and compounded through a series
of subsequent sensitizing (SSE) that are usually negative in nature.

Remember that goal achieving subconscious mind,
it's also very opportunistic in nature. When the
opportunity arises, the self-destructive program
manifests itself into a physical or mental symptom.
Some people have difficulty accepting the idea that
your mind can create physical changes, but has
the following ever happened to you?

Have you ever gotten the "butterflies" before a very important event?
Has your face ever blushed in a real embarrassing situation?
Did you ever drive yourself into a fever as a child
in order to miss that dreadful math test?
These are just small examples of the mind body
connection at work.

As you probably already know, many chronic illnesses
involve more than one symptom. Think of the
layout of bowling pins. The ISE (original event)
is that lonely bowling pin in the front,
the SSE (following events that reinforce the original)
make up the middle portion, and the symptoms
make up the back row. Our medical community
does its best at addressing the symptoms.
They may go after the symptoms through different
combinations of drugs, physical therapy, and in some cases
surgery. This can sometimes bring on relief of the
symptology although the side effects in the case of drugs
can sometimes be hefty and intolerable.
There are times when a symptom can be eliminated,
yet another may pop up in its place.

What is happening here? The original event has
not been addressed. The original seed
of self-destructive behavior is still
in force and flexes its might by producing
a different symptom, or by making the original
even more severe. Our mental
professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors) work
with the rational part of your mind which is
located at the conscious level.
They try and help you determine why you do
the things you do. By addressing
the subsequent events that occurred in your life
they may help you deal with those clusters of emotions
that are attached to your illness and stuck
in that vicious cycle.


Then finally, there's the realm of the hypnotist.
Hypnosis allows us to sneak past the critical
factor (gatekeeper) and access that inner mind.
The hypnotist is able to take a person back
to the original event and with the help
of the client, change its perception
thus destroying the root of the symptom.
This tears out the self-destructive program
and can put the client on the path to wellness
and improvement of his condition.
It is equivalent to bowling
a strike and hitting that 1st pin head on,
the rest of the structure goes down with it.

Some of the other professionals I previously mentioned
understand the power of this, and have incorporated
hypnosis into their practice. However, this
technique remains the bread and butter
of every skilled hypnotist specializing in the
mind body connection.

The skilled hypnotist also has other tools in his war chest
to address issues such as secondary gains.
Secondary gains are the benefits that a person
may receive for having the symptoms.
Although consciously we probably want to be healthy,
your subconscious mind may interpret neglected duties,
extra attention, and monetary compensation from an
injury as a great thing. The illness
gets perceived as a benefit. This is an issue
that would most likely have to be dealt with.

Finally, the hypnotist can use the suggestive approach
as the "icing on the cake" by offering positive suggestions
for health and well being to the client
so that it will become part of his belief system.

Thanks to Hollywood films and the stage show hypnotists,
there are lot of misconceptions about hypnosis and its use.
Most people don't realize that hypnosis is a natural state
that we experience on a daily basis.
Everybody can experience this natural phenomenon providing
they have no fears or misconceptions and want to be hypnotized.
It is the duty of a properly trained hypnotist
to explain that during the process you are
completely conscious and in full control at all times.
The American Medical Association , American Psychiatric Association,
and the British Medical Association have all approved
hypnosis as a viable therapeutic tool.


Taking Responsibility.

The role of a patient in the doctor and client
model should properly be viewed as a partnership.
Remember the old saying: "Money can buy you
anything except your health."
That's a very powerful statement. Think of how
powerful money is, yet, all the money in the world
meets its limits when faced with certain health issues.
There is hope though, and that hope comes
in the form of knowledge.
Knowledge is power.
Learn everything that you can on your condition
and don't be afraid to discuss it with your doctor.

Remember what I stated early on in the
first article about that war chest, fill it up!
Don't limit yourself, find out what else
can help you in your fight and use it
to your advantage. Gain access
to cutting edge conventional care and technology
through the medical community, coupled with a more
holistic approach that emphasizes the mind/body connection.


You now understand the role the mind plays in an illness.

This is your time to take back control in your life,
instead of letting life control you.

You take power away from your illness just by
taking a step or steps to be back in control.

Talk to your doctor about the benefits of
easily overlooked ideas such as more sleep,
healthy diets, supplements, exercise,
and the elimination of addictive substances.

Ask him/her to help you some of these topics,
you'd be amazed at the progress you can make by
taking initiative in your path to a healthier life.


Robert Espinosa is a Certified Hypnotherapist/Hypnocounselor in Clifton, New Jersey
and the Director of the MINDsolutions Hypnosis Center.
He specializes in helping people that suffer from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue,
cancer, and other chronic illnesses upon medical referral.
For more information you can write to \ Mr. Espinosa
at 65 Van Riper Ave, Clifton, NJ 07011.
By email: [email protected] By telephone: (973) 253-9706.

You can also visit his website


From the Owners and Operators Of
Our Chronic Pain Mission . Copyright 2000

Please note that all material contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice or instruction. Consult your health care professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition.




[O.C.P.M. All rights reserved]

From the Owners and Operators Of
Our Chronic Pain Mission . Copyright 2000
Please note that all material contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice or instruction. Consult your health care professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition.