Medicine: Hypnosis for Cough

To the San Bernardino (Calif.) County Hospital early this year came a 14-year-old girl with a deep, body-shaking cough that had lasted continuously for 72 hours. The diagnosis: cough due to pressure on the laryngeal nerve.

The standard cough suppressants—syrup, steam inhalations, potassium iodide, codeine and various barbiturates—had no effect. After eight days of steady coughing at 15-to-30-second intervals, the girl was close to death from exhaustion. As a last resort, Dr. Richard Gwartney, a specialist in psychosomatic medicine, attempted a much-debated remedy: medical hypnosis. With several attendant physicians, Gwartney sat by the girl's bed and explained what he intended to do,...

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