Our Skin "Feels" Our Emotions - The Use of Hypnosis for Psoriasis and Eczema

Vanessa Lindgren, ModernWorks Hypnosis

It is important to understand that we don’t always “feel” emotions in the way we may think that we do. At times our efforts to not express or feel emotion can cause the body to express those very emotions in other ways. Often these blocked emotions are manifested by skin disorders.

Hypnotherapy can be a great help in treating patients with psoriasis and eczema.

Psoriasis is a chronic relapsing skin disease which may be triggered by a number of factors, including trauma, infections and most notably emotional stress. For this reason, researchers at the Department of Dermatology, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, carried out a three month study into the use of hypnotherapy in adults suffering with stable, chronic, plaque-type psoriasis.

Five patients received an active suggestion technique in which positive statements relating specifically to the patient's skin are given, and six patients received a neutral hypnosis technique in which there is no mention of the disease. The researchers found that the highly hypnotizable patients received far greater benefit than those who were only moderately hypnotizable. Although this was only a small scale study, it suggests that hypnotherapy may be a useful therapeutic treatment for those patients diagnosed with psoriasis.

We know that the brain causes our skin to respond to hypnotic suggestions. The theory is that through focusing the mind, via relaxation and suggestions, we effect tiny changes in blood flow, body temperature, muscle tension, and immune function which make enormous differences in the physical processes that produce various skin symptoms, including eczema.

Hypnosis is a complementary therapy that has been used since ancient times to treat medical problems. Today, it is successfully used with a wide variety of skin conditions. It is important to think of hypnotherapy as a powerful ally along with your Physician’s treatment but not instead of.

In a classic experiment, Japanese doctors Ikemi and Nakagawa hypnotized volunteers and told them that a leaf applied to their skin was a toxic plant, such as a poison ivy. The plant was harmless but the subjects' skin became red and irritated. The same experimenters applied the real toxic plant to other subjects' skin after telling them it was innocuous. The expected biological reaction of irritation did not take place.

In 1928, Drs. Heilig and Hoff of the University of Vienna used hypnosis to alleviate outbreaks of oral herpes (cold sores). In a separate experiment, they could also trigger new outbreaks in these patients by reminding them, under hypnosis, of the painful events that had triggered them originally (such as a death in the family) and of the itching and tingling that usually come just before the sores appear.

On the most basic level, hypnotherapy provides deep relaxation techniques that help patients to scratch less, which is always a plus for an eczema sufferer. On the deeper level, it can lead to the uncovering of any emotional causes for eczema. There is no denying that eczema is aggravated by stress, mental and emotional disturbances.

I am in no way suggesting that this skin condition is "in your head" or caused by you continuing to think about it, that there is some way you can "make" yourself not itchy. But if you were to take a detailed written account of your life, both as a whole and on a daily basis, you will most likely notice that there are times when the most stressful times in your life coincide with the worst flare-ups of your eczema.

Those stressful times and events can be one-time or recurrent; whatever the triggers are. Hypnotherapy for eczema aims to dig deeper into them, removing the unresolved issues in your life that may cause you to scratch more often.

This is not to say that all your eczema would magically disappear with one hypnotherapy session. It's like practicing for yoga, or any sport - it takes time to achieve good results, but is completely attainable with a little effort and patience.

Many health conditions where emotional factors play a significant role may be relieved by hypnosis. Why is this? Our emotional states may appear to arise autonomously, in a way that is outside our control. However, while it is true that emotional response is not a conscious behavior, it has been clearly demonstrated that the nature, intensity and duration of such responses can be modified with hypnosis. The skin has been called the "mirror of the mind" and may well be the external manifestation of an internal conflict. Possible emotions may be anger, aggression, frustration or guilt.

Hypnosis can raise or lower blood pressure, healing can be sped up, immune response can be strengthened and pain can be reduced or eliminated. Hypnosis is an extremely effective way to bring about such changes by reprogramming the so-called instinctive responses controlled by the unconscious mind.

In some cases, uncovering early memories and removing the association with the memory have lead to a significant improvement in the condition.

The National Psoriasis Foundation states that hypnotherapy can be useful in the treatment of psoriasis. They highlighted that hypnosis is a relaxation technique and stress is a well known trigger for psoriasis.

It is also believed that psoriasis may be caused by trapped emotion or an inappropriate release mechanism for emotion. The discovery of the emotional cause and development of an alternative method to release that emotion can control the psoriasis. The sufferer may not be aware of the cause. Even those who have suffered from birth can benefit from hypnosis.

Hypnosis is relaxing, powerful and I encourage any of you suffering with psoriasis or eczema to give it a try. I have seen many clients improve dramatically with just a few sessions.

Vanessa Lindgren, CCHt, Northern Virginia.Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in medical hypnosis, in practice for 20 years. www.modernhypnosisworks.com, hypnosisdrvanessa@gmail.com, 540-454-0213