Health: Mind over Medicine

Hypnosis as an alternative to sedation is making a comeback in the operating room. Here's how it works

Shelley Thomas, 53, was wheeled into an anteroom at London's Middlesex Hospital in preparation for pelvic surgery. A patient going into that operation is usually given a mix of painkilling narcotics and nerve-quelling tranquilizers. But not Thomas. Instead she rested on a gurney, alert and calm, taking deep breaths at her hypnotherapist's instruction. Thomas counted aloud, "One hundred, deep sleep; 99, deeper sleep; 98 ..."

"By the time I got to 95, the words and numbers had all gone," says Thomas. "It's quite peculiar. They all go."

Minutes later, thoroughly hypnotized, Thomas was rolled into the operating room. There she underwent...

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