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The Power of Hypnosis for TMJ Problems

29 Oct

 

It makes sense that guided imagery and hypnosis would be a go-to intervention of the first order for TMJ disorders, which can go from mere unpleasantness all the way to serious debilitation.

After all, we’re talking about muscle tension, pain, swelling, tightness, aches and general discomfort around the jaw, ears, face, head and neck.

Often these problems come from unconscious jaw clenching or teeth grinding (but, nothing being simple, it’s important to note that a lot of people who grind their teeth and clench their jaws don’t ever get it). Not surprisingly, symptoms are exacerbated by stress.

So it’s kind of a no-brainer that you’d want to turn to a mind-body intervention. We know from piles o’ research that guided imagery and hypnosis perform well at countering pain, muscle tension and stress.

And that’s why we asked pre-eminent Harvard health psychologist, researcher, and hypnotherapist, Carol Ginandes PhD, to create an audio program to help people remediate their symptoms.

In her usual, super-skillful way, Carol delivers the goods – a wonderful new audio program of immersive, hypnotic guided meditations, that attack the problems of TMJ from every angle.

Here’s Carol, discussing it in her own words:

One of the things that continues to amaze me about hypnosis is how, by just shifting our state of awareness, we can perceive dramatic changes in body sensation.

For example, during hypnosis, some people spontaneously report that some part of their body – say, their hands - feels light, or tingly, or warm, or bigger or smaller. Others might feel like they are floating, or that their muscles are so totally relaxed, that they don’t want to move a finger.

There have even been some interesting studies that demonstrate that some of these perceptual changes don’t obey the same laws of anatomy that prevail in an ordinary state of awareness. For example, it’s been shown that while someone is in a hypnotic state, you can pinch or prick the skin to draw blood, and the person not only doesn’t feel it, but doesn’t bleed!

Although we don’t really have an explanation for the remarkable capacities we can access in this state, we do have lots of accounts about using them. There’s a video from the earlier days of hypnosis that even shows a woman - an opera singer in fact - singing an aria while her doctor performs a C- section on her. She is clearly oblivious to any pain.

So what does happen when you use hypnotic suggestions to target the diminishment of pain? Well, I have a friend who’s very allergic to Novocain, so she can’t use it for dental work. But luckily, she’s a master of self –hypnosis, and she’s trained herself to enter the hypnotic state to cool down and numb out one of her hands.

When she feels it’s cold and numb enough, she places that hand on her jaw, right where the tooth is, and allows the numbness to flow into that spot, to create her own local anesthesia. Then she gives the dentist the high sign to begin drilling!

Needless to say this is not something that everyone should do for dental work, unless they’ve done a lot of prior training and practice. But it’s certainly intriguing to know that we can actually call upon these internal “superpowers” for various purposes.

In the TMJ program I created for Health Journeys, I teach people how to enter into the hypnotic state and how to downshift the level of discomfort they’ve been feeling in the jaw area. I also teach them how to create and apply a soothing sensation in the hands that they can then transfer to the jaw.

The capacity to do these techniques varies among people, but I’m hoping the lessons I offer in the program can help people tone down the pain and distress they’ve been suffering from their TMJ!

So, check it out. Listen to a sample. See what Carol has wrought! You may know someone who would be very grateful for the two-fold benefits. The first is help for the TMJ problems. The second is getting acquainted with the vast power of the altered state, always there to invoke.

Take care and be well,

Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award