Having worked in this area with both clients and family over many years, one has to first clarify what the person suffering from dementia is experiencing and then assess the role of hypnotherapy as an aid.
The recent occurrence of the corona virus actually provides an insight to those who have loved ones, family or friends suffering from this horrific condition. The virus has spread fear, anxiety, panic and exposed us to the lockdown life, isolated and frustrated. Not knowing the future or how we are going to cope.
Now imagine yourself locked into your own body and mind with all those emotions and fears, alone in a world with those around you not knowing what you are experiencing and how your world is changing, with no control to stop yourself slipping into a deep dark void. This may seem like something from a horror movie but, in reality, it is very real to those suffering with dementia.
So where does hypnotherapy fit in? The key factors are the emotions and feelings.
Fear, anxiety, stress, panic all create hyperactivity in the brain, in lay terms rather like a car engine being constantly over-revved or an electrical circuit that is constantly overloaded.
In our normal alert state, commonly known as Beta, our brain operates around 14 to 20 cycles per second; when we experience anxiety, fear etc it can cycle up to 60 cycles per second, acute hysteria or even a panic attack. With this happening on a constant basis, a tired mind has to occur.
Once a person is given the label or clarification they have dementia, you can only imagine the hyperactivity in the brain.
In simple terms we call it the onset of tired mind; it is my firm belief stress is linked to almost all sickness. Put into perspective a person suffering constantly from high stress levels suffers from many side effects – to name a few, bad sleeping patterns, over eating, or no appetite, lack of energy and motivation, loss of interest in life. All these lead to affecting the immune system and affect both the mental and physical state.
In hypnosis we have a tool that can effectively combat hyper stress activity in the brain, thus affording the body and mind the chance to reboot and rest to enhance the immune system and rest the brain
When experiencing hypnosis, one’s brain can cycle down into Alpha, between seven and 14 cycles per second, or even into Theta, four to seven cycles per second; both of these enable the body and mind to rest and produce chemicals that help us to fight off the effects of stress.
The sessions a therapist will carry out will focus on the specific individual’s areas of hyper stress and negative thought processes. They will also provide the client with hypnosis techniques that the client can use at home to reduce stress and anxiety on a regular basis or when needed. This will cycle the brain down often and create rest for the tired mind, thus enhancing the dementia sufferer’s coping mechanisms.
One case that highlights the effect is an event that took place at my rooms with a lady I worked with in helping her cope with stress during the early onset stage of her dementia, helping her cope with her anxiety. Many months later, as she entered the later stages of her sickness, I entered my therapy room where she was sitting next to her husband of 40 years and her daughter. She did not remember who they were but the moment I spoke she recognised me and greeted me by name. What many may not know, is in hypnosis our voice is our tool, the client adapts to the frequency and the initial bond of trust that is formed and the subconscious seems to hold onto that trust and recognition; that I have seen occur in many of my dementia clients.
To date no cure has been found but many are hard at work in the field of science to find that cure for this devastating condition. What I can confirm after over 23 years of work and research is that hypnosis is very underestimated in the fight against stress, anxiety and depression and I have seen how this tool can assist those suffering with conditions such as dementia: Far from the stage hypnotist movies or myths that sadly surround the real role of clinical hypnosis. This tool is available to young and old, non-addictive, with no side effects. If you have ever daydreamed you have experienced your brain cycling down; that is a form of hypnosis.
I believe we play a key role, especially in the early onset stages of dementia, to reduce anxiety and stress, to help the mind and body fight back, also to equip the sufferer with tools they can use between visits to their therapist and in their daily life.
I believe if we can achieve an improvement in their quality of life during their lonely journey into the depths of dementia, we can make a big difference and even assist in a chance of survival.
As Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind” Hypnotherapy is the use of words to create a positive behavioural change within the subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy can assist not for all but for many.