Sunday, 29 September 2013

VIDEO: 7 Life Principles From The Eagle

Friday, 27 September 2013

What Twin Studies Have Taught Us

Is it our experiences or our genes that make us who we are? Studying twins has revealed unexpected, and often unnerving, insights into the nature versus nurture debate.
IMAGINE RECEIVING A PHONE CALL out of the blue. You find the voice on the other end eerily familiar as it tells you some life-changing news: you are, in fact, a twin. And when it comes time to meet face-to-face, you find it’s like gazing into a mirror. You share a similar dress sense, hairstyle and even idiosyncratic gestures and expressions you thought were uniquely yours.
In 2004, Paula Bernstein found herself in exactly this situation when she was contacted by Elyse Schein, who broke the monumental news that they were twins, separated at birth and raised apart.
They met for the first time at a New York café, where nerves and trepidation soon gave way to warm conversation. “We had 35 years to catch up on,” says Bernstein. “How do you start asking somebody, ‘What have you been up to since we shared a womb together?’ Where do you start?”
“It was really surreal,” agrees Schein. “It was like meeting an alternate version of myself.” She found the similarity in mannerisms particularly spooky. “I always had the idea that [the way] I gesticulated – raised my eyebrows and so on … was due to my environment, but now I know it’s inherited.
We joke sometimes that we want to turn off each other’s mannerisms, because it’s unnerving to see them echoed back.”
AND IT WASN’T ONLY idiosyncratic gestures that the two had in common. Despite being raised by different families in disparate parts of New York City, they both followed an uncannily similar path in life.
“We were each editor-in-chief of our respective high school newspapers and then went on to study film theory,” says Bernstein, who is now a journalist, while Schein went on to become a writer and film-maker.
Cases like that of Bernstein and Schein are rare these days, but they give a compelling insight into the role that genes play in shaping the fundamentals of who we are. “Twins really do force us to question what is it that makes each of us who we are,” says Bernstein. “Since meeting Elyse, it is undeniable that genetics play a huge role, probably more than 50%.”
In fact, Bernstien and Schein, who documented their experience in their book Identical Strangers, were separated as a part of a secretive scientific study of nature versus nurture conducted by child psychiatrist Peter Neubauer in the late 1960s. Such experiments wouldn’t be possible today for ethical reasons, but identical, or monozygotic twins still represent an incredibly valuable resource to science.
“They are a beautiful natural experiment,” says Nicholas Martin, geneticist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and editor of the scientific journal, Twin Research and Human Genetics. According to Martin, identical twins give scientists the perfect opportunity to tease out genetic and environmental variables from factors such as personality or susceptibility to diseases including asthma, depression, alcoholism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And it’s all because identical twins are effectively natural clones.
AS MARTIN POINTS OUT, it’s long been observed that certain traits and diseases run in families, whether it be height, or asthma or even the preponderance of a particular profession. But it’s not always easy to draw conclusions from these facts alone.
“The trouble is that something running in the family is not sufficient to show it’s because of genes,” he says. “A high incidence of melanoma might be due to habits of being out in the Sun, because families share both genes and the environment.”
The trick is to disentangle the environmental influences from the genetic component. And this is where twins come in. The classic twin study uses both monozygotic and dizygotic (non-identical) twin pairs who have been raised together by their respective families.
This allows the researchers to eliminate shared environment – such as days on the beach in the hot Sun – as a variable, because it should affect both twins equally.
The researchers can then compare the variations between the two types of twins, knowing that the monozygotic twins share all their genes while the dizygotic twins share only 50%.
FOR EXAMPLE, IT COULD be found that when one monozygotic twin develops melanoma then it’s 80% likely that the other twin will also develop melanoma. In contrast, if one dizygotic twin develops melanoma, there might only be a 40% chance the other twin will also develop melanoma. As a result, it becomes clear that genes are playing a significant role behind the scenes of this particular disease.
Twin studies of this kind have yielded some startling insights into how influential genes are in shaping our behaviour. “Well conducted twin studies are able to completely change the way we view problems and to reorient entire research programs,” says Martin. “For instance, autism had been attributed to a variety of causes, such as emotional coolness in the mother, until a landmark twin study found much higher concordance in monozygotic than dizygotic twins.”
Another case cited by Martin is ADHD. “It was believed ADHD was caused by food additives. So parents would limit their kids’ intake of red smarties to stop them from being hyperactive. But that was complete rubbish,” he says. “[Then] someone did a twin study and showed that monozygotic twins share ADHD 80% of the time and dizygotic twins only 40% of the time, which is almost exactly what you’d predict if it was entirely genetic.”
But it’s not only diseases that have been scrutinised by twin studies. Twin studies have also been used to shed light on the influence that genes have on our very personality. What could be more central to our identity than our personality – our beliefs, dispositions, quirks and all those little things that distinguish us from everyone else?
It seems self-evident that much of who we are is shaped by our past experiences. This was the view in the social sciences for much of the 20th century. Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset summed it up in a 1941 essay when he wrote, “Man is what has happened to him, what he has done”. And that humans have no ‘nature’, all we have is ‘history’.
YET TWIN STUDIES PLACE such a perspective on shaky ground. Recent twin studies have found a significant genetic component to a broad spectrum of behavioural and social dimensions, to the point where it seems experience plays only a bit part in shaping our destinies. Studies have revealed this phenomenon at work in attributes such as alcoholism, voting habits or even whether you’re a tea or coffee drinker.
“We almost got sick of finding behavioural traits that are genetic,” says Martin. “Everything from social attitudes, socialism, free sex, trade unions, apartheid – all those things the sociologists tell us are shaped by the social milieu – well, lo and behold, they’re more genetic than environmental.”
One 1996 study in the journal Psychological Science even found that happiness appears to be primarily determined by our genes. It discovered that socio-economic status, education, income, marital status or even religiosity could account for no more than three % of the variance in happiness. Genes, on the other hand, appeared to account for around 50%.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS is not to be understated. For if we believe that our environment is the primary influence on our behaviour and personality, then we seek to change the environment to change behaviour. This was the principle underlying a broad range of social programs in the late 20th century designed to tackle deep-rooted problems such as unemployment and social disadvantage.
One example was the believed link between television violence and rates of violent crime, which were of particular concern in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s.
Yet, despite an increase in the availability of television channels and shows offering violent content since then, violent crime rates have dropped in the U.S., according to FBI statistics. As such, shaping the environment appeared to have little effect on real behaviour.
This is not to say that everything comes down to genes, or that identical twins are ‘identical’ in every way. In fact, one of the most vigorous areas of research today is exploring causes of differences between monozygotic twins. This is a question that is perplexing not only to researchers like Martin, but to twins as well.
Stephanie Lockery is an identical twin and a psychologist, which gives her a unique insight into the issue. She has lived her entire life in close proximity to her twin sister, Tamie, and despite their manifold similarities, Stephanie has often been struck by their subtle differences.
“People often assume that we are very similar. And on the surface, it may appear that we are – we’re both confident, outgoing, talkative and bubbly,” she says. “But people are often very surprised once they get to know us that we are quite different.” Lockery puts this down to their different ways of looking at the world; where she is more focused on facts and evidence, Tamie takes a more intuitive approach. This can be seen in their different ‘types’ according to the Myers-Briggs personality test.
THEY ARE BOTH IDENTICAL on three of the four metrics, but where Stephanie is ‘sensing’ – indicating she prefers concrete facts and evidence – Tamie is ‘intuitive’. And even this slight difference has led Stephanie and her sister on divergent career paths – into psychology and teaching respectively.
According to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research’s Martin, differences between monozygotic twins are not unexpected, but the question remains as to what causes them. Even in studies where environmental factors have been reduced to a minimum, there still appear to be unaccounted-for differences between twins.
“This has led me and others to question whether the ‘environment’ is actually something within the body, something endogenous,” says Martin. One theory is that it has to do with ‘epigenetics’, which looks at the variations that can occur in gene function without any changes in the DNA.
ACCORDING TO MARTIN, epigenetics is a growing area of interest for him and many other genetics researchers who are hoping to shed some light on the remaining unanswered questions of how genes influence our physical bodies and our behaviour.
So next time you have to make a substantial life decision, or you find yourself wondering how you got to be like you are today, spare a thought for those cunning nucleic acids and the authority they wield over who you are. Some might find it disconcerting to acknowledge that their identity is substantially shaped by their genes, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t room for you to steer your life where you want to go.
“Twins really do force us to question what it is that makes each of us who we are”, says Paula Bernstein. “Since I met Elyse, it has become clear to me that genetics plays a huge role in shaping our characters. But although we share many of the same interests and personality traits, it’s a relief to discover that we’re distinctly different people.”
Cosmos Magazine

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Baby Psychology: Insights Into The Mind of A Baby

Sure, they may while away their days eating, sleeping and soiling diapers. But Alison Gopnik says it's high time that babies got some respect. In her new book, The Philosophical Baby, the University of California, Berkeley, psychologist says modern research is revolutionizing our understanding of the first years of life, revealing early childhood to be a frenzied period of intellectual, emotional and moral development. "Any child will put the most productive scientist to shame," she writes. Gopnik spoke with TIME about the origins of creativity, the "boondoggle" of educational toys and discerning right and wrong during this uniquely fertile period of life.
TIME: You say that for most of history, babies were seen as "vegetables with a few reflexes." What's going on in a baby's mind that we didn't appreciate before?
Gopnik: If you just casually look at a baby, it doesn't look like there's very much going on there, but they know more and learn more than we would ever have thought. Every single minute is incredibly full of thought and novelty. It's easy as adults to take for granted everything it took to arrive at the state where we are.
They take in much more information from different sources than adults do and work very hard to make sense of that information. It's one reason we think babies sleep so much — they're doing much harder work than grown-ups are. They are the R&D department of the human species.
How about moral development? One of the great philosophical debates is whether people are born with an innate sense of right and wrong or whether it develops over time. Does your research shed light on that question?
Yes, there's quite clearly an innate basis for our moral sentiments. The youngest children have a great capacity for empathy and altruism. There's a recent study that shows even 14-month-olds will climb across a bunch of cushions and go across a room to give you a pen if you drop one. And we know babies imitate facial expressions and are sensitive to emotions; there seems to be a very strong connection with other people early on. It is a very hopeful finding.
What does research suggest about the link between unstructured playtime and creativity later in life?
There's a little bit of evidence that adults who are novelists or musicians, for example, tend to remember the imaginary friends they had when they were children. It's as if they are staying in touch with those childhood abilities in a way that most of us don't. Successful creative adults seem to combine the wide-ranging exploration and openness we see in children with the focus and discipline we see in adults.
I was surprised to read how quickly babies seem to absorb the culture that surrounds them. For instance, you say Japanese babies tend to be more anxious than babies from other countries.
That's another thing that studying babies can help make us realize. Many of the things we just take for granted, that we just think are parts of our [personal] backgrounds, are really things that we've learned.
What are the holy grails for you now in child psychology? What are the pressing questions we're trying to figure out?
The real excitement is collaborating with computer scientists and neuroscientists and starting to understand in detail how children learn so much so quickly. Another interesting frontier is understanding how learning fits with children's emotions and moral relationships. Those two things have tended to be separate — there are people who study emotion and there are people who study knowledge. Increasingly, we're realizing that those things go hand in hand for babies.
What does all this mean for parents? Does your research have any guidance for raising children?
One takeaway is that the billion-dollar industry of quote-unquote educational toys that are supposed to make your baby smarter is a boondoggle. There's no evidence that any of those things make a difference. Children are learning the way that other people's minds work, which is much more important to learn than even letters and numbers. I'm afraid the parenting advice to come out of developmental psychology is very boring: pay attention to your kids and love them.,8599,1916406,00.html#ixzz2fXn3s7zn

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Controlling The Voices Inside Our Heads

During a conversation, the brain constantly makes adjustments in order to efficiently process the speech volume of others while recognizing self-made speech for what it is. According to a new report published this week in The Journal of Neuroscience, Duke researchers have mapped the complex brain interactions responsible for the ability to hold a conversation or play a musical instrument.
What’s more, the team believes that their findings could also provide insight into schizophrenia and other mental disorders that are marked by a confusion between external and internal voices.
“Our finding is important because it provides the blueprint for understanding how the brain communicates with itself, and how that communication can break down to cause disease,” said study author Richard Mooney, professor of neurobiology at the Duke University School of Medicine.
“Normally, motor regions would warn auditory regions that they are making a command to speak, so be prepared for a sound,” Mooney said. “But in psychosis, you can no longer distinguish between the activity in your motor system and somebody else’s, and you think the sounds coming from within your own brain are external.”
To understand the integration between the movements associated with speech and auditory processing, the Duke researchers traced neural inputs to the sound-processing region of the brain using a newly developed technique.
The team said they were particularly interested in an area called the secondary motor cortex, or M2. This brain region is responsible for transmitting motor signals directly into the brain stem and the spinal cord.
“That suggests these neurons are providing a copy of the motor command directly to the auditory system,” explained co-author David M. Schneider, a postdoctoral fellow in Mooney’s lab. “In other words, they send a signal that says ‘move,’ but they also send a signal to the auditory system saying ‘I am going to move.’”
After establishing the nature of the connection, the neuroscientists took brain tissue from laboratory mice and manipulated tissue neurons that connected the M2 region to the auditory cortex. They discovered that stimulating these neurons actually reduced the activity of the auditory cortex.
“It jibed nicely with our expectations,” said co-author Anders Nelson, a graduate student in Mooney’s lab. “It is the brain’s way of muting or suppressing the sounds that come from our own actions.”
In one final test, the research team switched on the motor neurons in anesthetized mice and watched for a response from the auditory cortex. After playing ultrasonic mouse vocalizations to their test mice with activated motor regions, the team found that the signaling neurons become much less responsive to the tiny voices.
“It appears that the functional role that these neurons play on hearing is they make sounds we generate seem quieter,” said Mooney. “The question we now want to know is if this is the mechanism that is being used when an animal is actually moving. That is the missing link, and the subject of our ongoing experiments.”
After some additional research, the team said they could begin to investigate whether faulty wiring in this circuitry is perhaps responsible for auditory hallucinations that mark conditions like schizophrenia.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

11 Intelligence Killing Foods To AVOID!!

When it comes to nutrition, it must be mentioned that there are all sorts of foods: some super-foods are your greatest allies against extra pounds, while others stimulate your cognitive function and improve your memory. On the other hand, some foods are known to have a devastating effect on your brain functioning, and nutritionists advise us to consume them moderately in order to limit their negative impact. Having said that, here are the top 11 foods that kill your intelligence, slowly but surely:
1. Sugary Products
Sugar and sugary products are bad not only for your waistline, but for your brain function as well. Long-term consumption of sugar can create a wealth of neurological problems, and it can also interfere with your memory. On the other hand, sugar can also interfere with your ability to learn, this is why it is recommended to avoid pre-baked goods, sugar, corn syrup and products that are high in fructose.
2. Alcohol
Alcohol is known to harm your liver in the long run, and it also causes what is known as “brain fog”. Like the name suggests, the term of brain fog refers to a feeling of mental confusion, it acts like a cloud that impacts your ability to think clearly, as well as your memory. Have you ever noticed that you cannot remember common item names, or you cannot recall certain events or you are not sure whether they were dreams or they actually happened? This might be influenced by the high alcohol intake which impacts the balance of the brain. Fortunately, these symptoms are reversible provided that you stop consuming alcohol, or you limit your intake to one or two drinks per week.
 3. Junk Food
A recent study that was performed at the University of Montreal has revealed that junk food can change the chemicals in the brains, thus leading to symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Besides, foods that are high in fat can also trigger some symptoms that are similar to the signs of withdrawal when you stop consuming them. These foods affect the production of dopamine, an important chemical that promotes happiness and an overall feeling of well-being. Moreover, dopamine also supports the cognitive function, the learning capacity, alertness, motivation and memory. This is why it is important to avoid all foods that contain excessive fat.
4. Fried Foods
Almost all processed foods contain chemicals, dyes, additives, artificial flavors, preservatives and such – these can affect the behavior and the cognitive functioning due to the chemical that causes hyperactivity, both in children and in adults. Fried or processed foods slowly destroy the nerve cells located in the brain. However, some oils are more dangerous than others – sunflower oil is considered to be among the most toxic ones.
5. Processed Or Pre-Cooked Foods
Just like fried foods, processed or pre-cooked foods also impact your central nervous system and they also increase the risk of developing a degenerative brain disorder later in live (such as Alzheimer’s disease).
6. Very Salty Foods
Everybody knows that salty foods affect your blood pressure and they are very hard on your heart. However, as research suggests, foods that contain high amounts of salt (sodium) can affect your cognitive function and impair your ability to think. Otherwise stated, salty foods affect your intelligence!
As a matter of fact, the consumption of salty foods and nicotine have been shown to have the same effects as drugs, as they cause harsh withdrawal symptoms and cravings for salty foods.
7. Grains, Except 100% Whole Grain
All sorts of grains have an impact on your brain functioning and your overall health, except for 100% whole grain which is very rich and fiber and it is known to prevent arterial aging. If you consume regular grains, your body risks to age quicker than it is supposed to and you can also experience memory loss and brain fog. Having said that, try swapping the regular carbs for the complex carbohydrates – all you need to do is to opt for whole grain bread!
8. Processed Proteins
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles and they are very important for the proper functioning of your body. Meat is the richest source of high-quality protein, but avoid overly processed protein such as hot dogs, salami, sausages and such. Unlike the natural proteins that help your body insulate the nervous system, processed proteins do exactly the opposite. Opt for natural fish (especially tuna and salmon), dairy, walnuts and seeds as these are natural, high-quality protein sources.
9. Avoid Trans Fats At All Costs
Trans fats cause a series of problems, from heart-related issues to elevated cholesterol and obesity. However, they are bad for your brain as well, as they make your brain more sluggish, they affect your reflexes and the quality of your brain response – not to mention that they increase the risk of stroke!
Trans fats can also have other effects on your brain: if consumed for too long, they can result in a sort of brain shrinkage that is somewhat similar to the shrinkage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. This brain shrinkage takes place due to the fact that trans fats slowly damage the arteries – you can prevent this and lower the stroke risk by simply limiting your intake of trans fats.
10. Artificial Sweeteners
When people try to lose weight, they tend to think that they will become slim overnight by simply replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners. It is true that artificial sweeteners do contain less calories, but they can actually do more harm than good! If used for an extended period of time, artificial sweeteners can cause brain damage and interfere with your cognitive capacity, especially if you use high amounts of sweetener.
11. Nicotine
Despite the fact that nicotine is not really a food product, it still wreaks havoc on your brain by restricting the blood flow to this important organ, along with the regular flow of glucose and oxygen. Nicotine not only causes premature aging, bad breath and poses an increased risk for lung cancer, but it also affects the production and the function of neurotransmitters by tightening the capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that play a pivotal role when it comes to your brain function.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Hypnotherapy Statistics

Here is a brief review of some of the research evidence on the effectiveness of hypnosis:

90.6% Success Rate for Smoking Cessation Using Hypnosis
Of 43 consecutive patients undergoing this treatment protocol, 39 reported remaining abstinent from tobacco use at follow-up (6 months to 3 years post-treatment). This represents a 90.6% success rate using hypnosis.

University of Washington School of Medicine, Depts. of Anesthesiology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul;49(3):257-66. Barber J.

87% Reported Abstinence From Tobacco Use With Hypnosis
A field study of 93 male and 93 female CMHC outpatients examined the facilitation of smoking cessation by using hypnosis. At 3-month follow-up, 86% of the men and 87% of the women reported continued abstinence from the use of tobacco using hypnosis.

Performance by gender in a stop-smoking program combining hypnosis and aversion. Johnson DL, Karkut RT. Adkar Associates, Inc., Bloomington, Indiana. Psychol Rep. 1994 Oct;75(2):851-7. PMID: 7862796 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

81% Reported They Had Stopped Smoking After Hypnosis
Thirty smokers enrolled in an HMO were referred by their primary physician for treatment. Twenty-one patients returned after an initial consultation and received hypnosis for smoking cessation. At the end of treatment, 81% of those patients reported that they had stopped smoking, and 48% reported abstinence at 12 months post-treatment.

Texas A&M University, System Health Science Center, College of Medicine, College Station, TX USA. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2004 Jan;52(1):73-81. Clinical hypnosis for smoking cessation: preliminary results of a three-session intervention. Elkins GR, Rajab MH.

Hypnosis Patients Twice As Likely To Remain Smoke-Free After Two Years
Study of 71 smokers showed that after a two-year follow up, patients that quit with hypnosis were twice as likely to remain smoke-free than those who quit on their own.

Guided health imagery for smoking cessation and long-term abstinence. Wynd, CA. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 2005; 37:3, pages 245-250.

Hypnosis More Effective Than Drug Interventions For Smoking Cessation
Group hypnosis sessions, evaluated at a less effective success rate (22% success) than individualized hypnosis sessions. However, group hypnosis sessions were still demonstrated here as being more effective than drug interventions.

Ohio State University, College of Nursing, Columbus, OH 43210, USA Descriptive outcomes of the American Lung Association of Ohio hypnotherapy smoking cessation program. Ahijevych K, Yerardi R, Nedilsky N.

Hypnosis Most Effective Says Largest Study Ever: 3 Times as Effective as Patch and 15 Times as Effective as Willpower.
Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking, according to the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit. A meta-analysis, statistically combining results of more than 600 studies of 72,000 people from America and Europe to compare various methods of quitting. On average, hypnosis was over three times as effective as nicotine replacement methods and 15 times as effective as trying to quit alone.

University of Iowa, Journal of Applied Psychology, How One in Five Give Up Smoking. October 1992.(Also New Scientist, October 10, 1992.)

Hypnosis Over 30 Times as Effective for Weight Loss
Investigated the effects of hypnosis in weight loss for 60 females, at least 20% overweight. Treatment included group hypnosis with metaphors for ego-strengthening, decision making and motivation, ideomotor exploration in individual hypnosis, and group hypnosis with maintenance suggestions. Hypnosis was more effective than a control group: an average of 17 lbs lost by the hypnosis group vs. an average of 0.5 lbs lost by the control group, on follow-up.

Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.

Two Years Later: Hypnosis Subjects Continued To Lose Significant Weight
109 people completed a behavioral treatment for weight management either with or without the addition of hypnosis. At the end of the 9-week program, both interventions resulted in significant weight reduction. At 8-month and 2-year follow-ups, the hypnosis subjects were found to have continued to lose significant weight, while those in the behavioral-treatment-only group showed little further change.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1985)

Hypnosis Subjects Lost More Weight Than 90% of Others and Kept it Off
Researchers analyzed 18 studies comparing a cognitive behavioral therapy such as relaxation training, guided imagery, self monitoring, or goal setting with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis.
Those who received the hypnosis lost more weight than 90 percent of those not receiving hypnosis and maintained the weight loss two years after treatment ended.

University of Connecticut, Storrs Allison DB, Faith MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996;64(3):513-516.

Hypnosis More Than Doubled Average Weight Loss
Study of the effect of adding hypnosis to cognitive-behavioral treatments for weight reduction, additional data were obtained from authors of two studies. Analyses indicated that the benefits of hypnosis increased substantially over time.

Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments–Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519.

Hypnosis Showed Significantly Lower Post-Treatment Weights
Two studies compared overweight smoking and non-smoking adult women in an hypnosis-based, weight-loss program. Both achieved significant weight losses and decreases in Body Mass Index. Follow-up study replicated significant weight losses and declines in Body Mass Index. The overt aversion and hypnosis program yielded significantly lower post-treatment weights and a greater average number of pounds lost.
Weight loss for women: studies of smokers and nonsmokers using hypnosis and multi-component treatments with and without overt aversion. Johnson DL, Psychology Reprints. 1997 Jun;80(3 Pt 1):931-3.
Hypnotherapy group with stress reduction achieved significantly more weight loss than the other two treatments.
Randomised, controlled, parallel study of two forms of hypnotherapy (directed at stress reduction or energy intake reduction), vsdietary advice alone in 60 obese patients with obstructive sleep apnoea on nasal continuous positive airway pressure treatment.

J Stradling, D Roberts, A Wilson and F Lovelock, Chest Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7LJ, UK

Hypnosis can more than double the effects of traditional weight loss approaches
An analysis of five weight loss studies reported in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 showed that the “… weight loss reported in the five studies indicates that hypnosis can more than double the effects” of traditional weight loss approaches.

University of Connecticut, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 (Vol. 64, No. 3, pgs 517-519).

Weight loss is greater where hypnosis is utilized
Research into cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments established that weight loss is greater where hypnosis is utilized. It was also established that the benefits of hypnosis increase over time.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1996)

Showed Hypnosis As “An Effective Way To Lose Weight”
A study of 60 females who were at least 20% overweight and not involved in other treatment showed hypnosis is an effective way to lose weight.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1986)

Hypnosis Reduces Frequency and Intensity of Migraines
Compared the treatment of migraine by hypnosis and autohypnosis with the treatment of migraine by the drug prochlorperazine (Stemetil). Results show that the number of attacks and the number of people who suffered blinding attacks were significantly lower for the group receiving hypnotherapy than for the group receiving prochlorperazine. For the group on hypnotherapy, these two measures were significantly lower when on hypnotherapy than when on the previous treatment. It is concluded that further trials of hypnotherapy are justified against some other treatment not solely associated with the ingestion of tablets.

Anderson JA, Basker MA, Dalton R, Migraine and hypnotherapy, International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis 1975; 23(1): 48-58.

Hypnosis Reduces Pain and Speeds up Recovery from Surgery
Since 1992, we have used hypnosis routinely in more than 1400 patients undergoing surgery. We found that hypnosis used with patients as an adjunct to conscious sedation and local anesthesia was associated with improved intraoperative patient comfort, and with reduced anxiety, pain, intraoperative requirements for anxiolytic and analgesic drugs, optimal surgical conditions and a faster recovery of the patient. We reported our clinical experience and our fundamental research.

[Hypnosis and its application in surgery] Faymonville ME, Defechereux T, Joris J, Adant JP, Hamoir E, Meurisse M, Service d’Anesthesie-Reanimation, Universite de Liege, Rev Med Liege. 1998 Jul;53(7):414-8.

Hypnosis Reduces Pain Intensity
Analysis of the simple-simple main effects, holding both group and condition constant, revealed that application of hypnotic analgesia reduced report of pain intensity significantly more than report of pain unpleasantness.

Dahlgren LA, Kurtz RM, Strube MJ, Malone MD, Differential effects of hypnotic suggestion on multiple dimensions of pain.Journal of Pain & Symptom Management. 1995; 10(6): 464-70.

Hypnosis Reduces Pain of Headaches and Anxiety
The improvement was confirmed by the subjective evaluation data gathered with the use of a questionnaire and by a significant reduction in anxiety scores.

Melis PM, Rooimans W, Spierings EL, Hoogduin CA, Treatment of chronic tension-type headache with hypnotherapy: a single-blind time controlled study.Headache 1991; 31(10): 686-9.

Hypnosis Lowered Post-treatment Pain in Burn Injuries
Patients in the hypnosis group reported less post treatment pain than did patients in the control group. The findings are used to replicate earlier studies of burn pain hypnoanalgesia, explain discrepancies in the literature, and highlight the potential importance of motivation with this population.

Patterson DR, Ptacek JT, Baseline pain as a moderator of hypnotic analgesia for burn injury treatment. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology 1997; 65(1): 60-7.

Hypnosis Lowered Phantom Limb Pain
Hypnotic procedures appear to be a useful adjunct to established strategies for the treatment of phantom limb pain and would repay further, more systematic, investigation. Suggestions are provided as to the factors which should be considered for a more systematic research program.

Treatment of phantom limb pain using hypnotic imagery. Oakley DA, Whitman LG, Halligan PW, Department of Psychology, University College, London, UK.

Hypnosis Has a Reliable and Significant Impact on Acute and Chronic Pain
Hypnosis has been demonstrated to reduce analogue pain, and studies on the mechanisms of laboratory pain reduction have provided useful applications to clinical populations. Studies showing central nervous system activity during hypnotic procedures offer preliminary information concerning possible physiological mechanisms of hypnotic analgesia. Randomized controlled studies with clinical populations indicate that hypnosis has a reliable and significant impact on acute procedural pain and chronic pain conditions. Methodological issues of this body of research are discussed, as are methods to better integrate hypnosis into comprehensive pain treatment.

Hypnosis and clinical pain. Patterson DR, Jensen MP, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA USA 98104 Psychol Bull. 2003 Jul;129(4):495-521.

Hypnosis is a Powerful Tool in Pain Therapy and is Biological in Addiction to Psychological
Attempting to elucidate cerebral mechanisms behind hypnotic analgesia, we measured regional cerebral blood flow with positron emission tomography in patients with fibromyalgia, during hypnotically-induced analgesia and resting wakefulness. The patients experienced less pain during hypnosis than at rest. The cerebral blood-flow was bilaterally increased in the orbitofrontal and subcallosial cingulate cortices, the right thalamus, and the left inferior parietal cortex, and was decreased bilaterally in the cingulate cortex. The observed blood-flow pattern supports notions of a multifactorial nature of hypnotic analgesia, with an interplay between cortical and subcortical brain dynamics. Copyright 1999 European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Functional anatomy of hypnotic analgesia: a PET study of patients with fibromyalgia. Wik G, Fischer H, Bragee B, Finer B, Fredrikson M, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Karolinska Institute and Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden Eur J Pain. 1999 Mar;3(1):7-12.

Hypnosis Useful in Hospital Emergency Rooms
Hypnosis can be a useful adjunct in the emergency department setting. Its efficacy in various clinical applications has been replicated in controlled studies. Application to burns, pain, pediatric procedures, surgery, psychiatric presentations (e.g., coma, somatoform disorder, anxiety, and post traumatic stress), and obstetric situations (e.g., hyperemesis, labor, and delivery) are described.

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2000 May;18(2):327-38, x. The use of hypnosis in emergency medicine. Peebles-Kleiger MJ, Menninger School of Psychiatry and Mental Health Sciences, Menninger Clinic, Topeka, KS, USA.

Significantly More Methadone Addicts Quit with Hypnosis. 94% Remained Narcotic Free
Significant differences were found on all measures. The experimental group had significantly less discomfort and illicit drug use, and a significantly greater amount of cessation. At six month follow up, 94% of the subjects in the experimental group who had achieved cessation remained narcotic free.

A comparative study of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in the treatment of methadone addicts. Manganiello AJ, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1984; 26(4): 273-9.

Hypnosis Shows 77 Percent Success Rate for Drug Addiction
Treatment has been used with 18 clients over the last 7 years and has shown a 77 percent success rate for at least a 1-year follow-up. 15 were being seen for alcoholism or alcohol abuse, 2 clients were being seen for cocaine addiction, and 1 client had a marijuana addiction

Intensive Therapy: Utilizing Hypnosis in the Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders. Potter, Greg, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Jul 2004.

Raised Self-esteem & Serenity. Lowered Impulsivity and Anger
In a research study on self-hypnosis for relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users. Participants were 261 veterans admitted to Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Programs (SARRTPs). individuals who used repeated self-hypnosis “at least 3 to 5 times a week,” at 7-week follow-up, reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups.

American Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy (a publication of the American Psychological Association) 2004 Apr;46(4):281-97)

Hypnosis For Cocaine Addiction Documented Case Study
Hypnosis was successfully used to overcome a $500 (five grams) per day cocaine addiction. The subject was a female in her twenties. After approximately 8 months of addiction, she decided to use hypnosis in an attempt to overcome the addiction itself. Over the next 4 months, she used hypnosis three times a day and at the end of this period, her addiction was broken, and she has been drug free for the past 9 years. Hypnosis was the only intervention, and no support network of any kind was available.

The use of hypnosis in cocaine addiction. Page RA, Handley GW, Ohio State University, Lima, OH USA 45804. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1993 Oct;36(2):120-3.

Healed 41% faster from fracture
Healed significantly faster from surgery
Two studies from Harvard Medical School show hypnosis significantly reduces the time it takes to heal.
Study One: Six weeks after an ankle fracture, those in the hypnosis group showed the equivalent of eight and a half weeks of healing.
Study Two: Three groups of people studied after breast reduction surgery. Hypnosis group healed “significantly faster” than supportive attention group and control group.

Harvard Medical School, Carol Ginandes and Union Institute in Cincinnati, Patricia Brooks, Harvard University Gazette Online at

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Pyromania: An Addiction To Fire


Pyromania is defined as a pattern of deliberate setting of fires for pleasure or satisfaction derived from the relief of tension experienced before the fire-setting. The name of the disorder comes from two Greek words that mean "fire" and "loss of reason" or "madness." 

The clinician's handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , also known as the DSM, classifies pyromania as a disorder of impulse control, meaning that a person diagnosed with pyromania fails to resist the impulsive desire to set fires—as opposed to the organized planning of an arsonist or terrorist.

Although pyromania is considered to be a rare disorder in adults, repeated fire setting at the adolescent level is a growing social and economic problem that poses major risks to the health and safety of other people and the protection of their property. In the United States, fires set by children and adolescents are more likely to result in someone's death than any other type of household disaster. The National Fire Protection Association stated that for 1998, fires set by juveniles caused 6,215 deaths, 30,800 injuries, and $11 billion in property damage. It is significant that some European psychiatrists question the DSM-IV-TR definition of pyromania as a disorder of impulse control precisely because of the connection they find between adolescent firesetting and similar behavior in adults. One team of German researchers remarked, "Repeated firesetting, resulting from being fascinated by fire, etc., may be less a disturbance of impulse control but rather the manifestation of a psychoinfantilism, which, supported by alcohol abuse, extends into older age." Pyromania is considered a relatively rare impulse-control disorder in the adult population in North America.


Firesetting in children and adolescents

Although most cases of firesetting in the United States involve children or adolescents rather than adults, the DSM-IV-TR criteria for pyromania are difficult to apply to this population. Most younger firesetters are diagnosed as having conduct disorders rather than pyromania as DSM-IV-TR defines it; significantly, most of the psychiatric literature dealing with this age group speaks of "firesetting" rather than using the term "pyromania" itself.
Some observers have attempted to classify children and adolescents who set fires as either pathological or nonpathological. Youngsters in the former group are motivated primarily by curiosity and the desire to experiment with fire; some are teenagers playing "scientist." Most are between five and 10 years of age, and do not understand the dangers of playing with fire. Few of them have major psychological problems.
Those who are considered to be pathological firesetters have been further subdivided into five categories, which are not mutually exclusive:
  • Firesetting as a cry for help. Youngsters in this category set fires as a way of calling attention to an intrapsychic problem such as depression, or an interpersonal problem, including parental separation and divorce or physical and sexual abuse.
  • Delinquent firesetters. Firesetters in this category are most likely to be between the ages of 11 and 15. Their firesetting is part of a larger pattern of aggression, and may include vandalism and hate crimes. They are, however, more likely to damage property with their firesetting than to injure people.
  • Severely disturbed firesetters. These youths are often diagnosed as either psychotic or paranoid, and appear to be reinforced by the sensory aspects of fire setting. Some set fires as part of suicide attempts.
  • Cognitively impaired firesetters. This group includes youngsters whose impulse control is damaged by a neurological or medical condition such as fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Sociocultural firesetters. Youngsters in this group are influenced by antisocial adults in their community, and set fires in order to win their approval.

Pyromania in adults

Pyromania in adults resembles the other disorders of impulse control in having a high rate of co-morbidity with other disorders, including substance abuse disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, and mood disorders. As of 2002, however, few rigorously controlled studies using strict diagnostic criteria have been done on adult patients diagnosed with pyromania or other impulse-control disorders.

Causes and symptoms


Most studies of causation regarding pyromania have focused on children and adolescents who set fires. Early studies in the field used the categories of Freudian psychoanalysis to explain this behavior. Freud had hypothesized that firesetting represented a regression to a primitive desire to demonstrate power over nature. In addition, some researchers have tried to explain the fact that pyromania is predominantly a male disorder with reference to Freud's notion that fire has a special symbolic relationship to the male sexual urge. A study done in 1940 attributed firesetting to fears of castration in young males, and speculated that adolescents who set fires do so to gain power over adults. The 1940 study is important also because it introduced the notion of an "ego triad" of firesetting, enuresis (bed-wetting), and cruelty to animals as a predictor of violent behavior in adult life. Subsequent studies have found that a combination of firesetting and cruelty to animals is a significant predictor of violent behavior in adult life, but that the third member of the triad (bed-wetting) is not.

INDIVIDUAL. The causes of firesetting among children and teenagers are complex and not well understood as of 2002. They can, however, be described in outline as either individual or environmental. Individual factors that contribute to firesetting include:
  • Antisocial behaviors and attitudes. Adolescent firesetters have often committed other crimes, including forcible rape (11%), nonviolent sexual offenses (18%), and vandalism of property (19%).
  • Sensation seeking. Some youths are attracted to firesetting out of boredom and a lack of other forms of recreation.
  • Attention seeking. Firesetting becomes a way of provoking reactions from parents and other authorities.
  • Lack of social skills. Many youths arrested for firesetting are described by others as "loners" and rarely have significant friendships.
  • Lack of fire-safety skills and ignorance of the dangers associated with firesetting.
There are discrepancies between adult researchers' understanding of individual factors in firesetting and reports from adolescents themselves. One study of 17 teenaged firesetters, 14 males and three females, found six different self-reported reasons for firesetting: revenge, crime concealment, peer group pressure, accidental firesetting, denial of intention, and fascination with fire. The motivations of revenge and crime concealment would exclude these teenagers from being diagnosed with pyromania according to DSM-IV-TR criteria.

ENVIRONMENTAL. Environmental factors in adolescent firesetting include:
  • Poor supervision on the part of parents and other significant adults.
  • Early learning experiences of watching adults use fire carelessly or inapproriately.
  • Parental neglect or emotional uninvolvement.
  • Parental psychopathology. Firesetters are significantly more likely to have been physically or sexually abused than children of similar economic or geographic backgrounds. They are also more likely to have witnessed their parents abusing drugs or acting violently.
  • Peer pressure. Having peers who smoke or play with fire is a risk factor for a child's setting fires himself.
  • Stressful life events. Some children and adolescents resort to firesetting as a way of coping with crises in their lives and/or limited family support for dealing with crises.


Firesetting among children and adolescents and pyromania in adults may be either chronic or episodic; some persons may set fires frequently as a way of relieving tension, others apparently do so only during periods of unusual stress in their lives.
In addition to the outward behavior of firesetting, pyromania in adults has been associated with symptoms that include depressed mood, thoughts of suicide, repeated conflicts in interpersonal relationships, and poor ability to cope with stress.


The true incidence of pyromania in the general American population remains unknown. Of the six impulse-control disorders listed in DSM-IV-TR, only trichotillomania and pathological gambling appear to be common in the general population (4% and 3% respectively). Pyromania, like intermittent explosive disorder and pathological gambling, is diagnosed more frequently in men than in women.
Repeated firesetting appears to be more common in children and adolescents than in adult males. In addition, the incidence appears to be rising in these younger age groups: in 1992, males 18 and younger accounted for 40% of arrests for firesetting; in 2001, they accounted for 55%. As of 1999, 89% of juvenile arrests for firesetting involved males; 79% involved Caucasian juveniles. Within the group of male juveniles, 67% were younger than age 15, and 35% younger than age 12.
Less is known about the incidence of pyromania among adults. Some researchers have theorized that children and adolescents attracted to firesetting when they are younger "graduate" in adult life to more serious crimes with a "macho" image, including serial rape and murder. A number of serial killers, including David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" killer, and David Carpenter, the socalled Trailside Killer of the San Francisco Bay area, turned out to have been firesetters in their adolescence. David Berkowitz admitted having started more than 2,000 fires in Brooklyn-Queens in the early 1970s.
Another hypothesis regarding pyromania in adults is that it is more likely to emerge in the form of workplace violence. The recent rapid increase in the number of workplace killings and other violent incidents— a 55% rise between 1992 and 1996— is a source of great concern to employers. One of the complications in the situation is that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed by Congress in 1990, forbids employers to discriminate against workers with mental or physical disabilities as long as they are qualified to perform their job. Since 1996, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) reports that the third-largest category of civil rights claims alleging employer discrimination concerns psychiatric disabilities. In 1997, the EEOC issued a set of guidelines on the ADA and psychiatric disabilities. Significantly, the EEOC excluded pyromania (along with kleptomania, compulsive gambling, disorders of sexual behavior, and the use of illegal drugs) from the list of psychiatric conditions for which employers are expected to make "reasonable accommodation." The EEOC's exclusion of pyromania indicates that workers with this disorder are considered a sufficiently "direct threat" to other people and property that employers are allowed to screen them out during the hiring process.


DSM-IV-TR specifies six criteria that must be met for a patient to be diagnosed with pyromania:
  • The patient must have set fires deliberately and purposefully on more than one occasion.
  • The patient must have experienced feelings of tension or emotional arousal before setting the fires.
  • The patient must indicate that he or she is fascinated with, attracted to, or curious about fire and situations surrounding fire (for example, the equipment associated with fire, the uses of fire, or the aftermath of firesetting).
  • The patient must experience relief, pleasure, or satisfaction from setting the fire or from witnessing or participating in the aftermath.
  • The patient does not have other motives for setting fires, such as financial motives; ideological convictions (such as terrorist or anarchist political beliefs); anger or revenge; a desire to cover up another crime; delusions or hallucinations ; or impaired judgment resulting from substance abuse, dementia ,mental retardation , or traumatic brain damage.
  • The fire setting cannot be better accounted for by anti-social personality disorder, a conduct disorder , or a manic episode.
Diagnosis of pyromania is complicated by a number of factors; one important factor is the adequacy of the diagnostic category itself. As was mentioned earlier, some psychiatrists are not convinced that the impulse-control disorders should be identified as a separate group, in that problems with self-control are part of the picture in many psychiatric disorders. Bulimia nervosa borderline personality disorder , and antisocial personality disorder are all defined in part by low levels of self-control.
Another complication in diagnosis is the lack of experience on the part of mental health professionals in dealing with firesetting. In many cases they are either unaware that the patient is repeatedly setting fires, or they regard the pattern as part of a cluster of antisocial or dysfunctional behaviors.


Children and adolescents

Treatment of children and adolescents involved with repeated firesetting appears to be more effective when it follows a case-management approach rather than a medical model, because many young firesetters come from chaotic households. Treatment should begin with a structured interview with the parents as well as the child, in order to evaluate stresses on the family, patterns of supervision and discipline, and similar factors. The next stage in treatment should be tailored to the individual child and his or her home situation. A variety of treatment approaches, including problem-solving skills, anger management, communication skills, aggression replacement training, and cognitive restructuring may be necessary to address all the emotional and cognitive issues involved in each case.


Pyromania in adults is considered difficult to treat because of the lack of insight and cooperation on the part of most patients diagnosed with the disorder. Treatment usually consists of a combination of medication— usually one of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors— and long-term insight-oriented psychotherapy.


The prognosis for recovery from firesetting among children and adolescents depends on the mix of individual and environmental factors involved. Current understanding indicates that children and adolescents who set fires as a cry for help, or who fall into the cognitively impaired or sociocultural categories, benefit the most from therapy and have fairly positive prognoses. The severely disturbed and delinquent types of firesetters have a more guarded outlook.
The prognosis for adults diagnosed wih pyromania is generally poor. There are some cases of spontaneous remission among adults, but the rate of spontaneous recovery is not known.


Prevention of pyromania requires a broad-based and flexible approach to treatment of children and adolescents who set fires. In addition to better assessments of young people and their families, fire-safety education is an important preventive strategy that is often overlooked.
In addition to preventive measures directed specifically at firesetting, recent research into self-control as a general character trait offers hope that it can be taught and practiced like many other human skills. If programs could be developed to improve people's capacity for self-control, they could potentially prevent a wide range of psychiatric disorders.

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

VIDEO I Woke Up Gay: A Man's Sexuality Changed After a Stroke

Sunday, 15 September 2013

How Alcohol Changes Our Brains

If a new study in mice holds true for humans, researchers may have discovered what exactly in the brain turns alcohol abuse to alcohol dependence.
The study, conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, shows that chronic exposure to alcohol seems to move behavior control to the dorsal striatum -- the brain region associated with habit formation -- and away from the prefrontal cortex -- the brain region associated with complex decision-making.
"These findings give important insight into how excessive drinking affects learning and behavioral control at the neural level," Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said in a statement. "The shift to increased striatal control over behavior may be a critical step in the progression of alcoholism."
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and involved brain analysis in mice that were chronically exposed to alcohol vapor.
Researchers found that when the mice were exposed to the alcohol, there was expansion of dendrites -- signal-conducting projections of nerve cells -- in the dorsal striatum brain region. This dendritic expansion seemed to affect the brain's malleability in responding to experiences, as well as receptors known to play a role in sensation and mood.
Interestingly, researchers also found that the mice exposed to the alcohol vapor actually did better at a task that involved decision-making on a touchscreen. "Improved performance on learning tasks that we know depend on the dorsolateral striatum is particularly interesting because it suggests that alcohol could prime the brain to favor other dorsal striatal behaviors -- including things like habit formation, which may foster addictive patterns of behavior," study researcher Dr. Aaron Holmes said in the statement.
Alcohol use disorders -- which include both alcohol dependence (otherwise known as alcoholism) and alcohol abuse -- affect 18 million people in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. People with alcoholism are physically dependent on alcohol and experience cravings, an inability to stop drinking, and the need to drink higher amounts of alcohol to get the same effect as someone who is not an alcoholic. People who abuse alcohol, on the other hand, may not have the dependency experienced by people with alcoholism, but alcohol use has a negative impact on their everyday lives.
Recently, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed that excessive alcohol use cost states a median of $2.9 billion in 2006, with binge drinking accounting for most of those costs.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Long Lasting Effects of Hypnosis In Helping Children´s Stomach Issues

Hypnosis may bring lasting relief to some kids with irritable bowel syndrome or chronic stomach pain, a small study suggests.

Researchers found that of 52 children with the tummy troubles, those who had six hypnosis sessions -- plus at-home "self-hypnosis" -- were still doing well five years later.

More than two-thirds were free or mostly free of abdominal pain. That compared with just 20 percent of kids who were given standard therapy alone.

Researchers led by Dr. Arine M. Vlieger, of St. Antonius Hospital in the Netherlands, reported the results in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Many people may think of hypnosis as someone waving a pocket watch in front of your face, then making you do strange things, noted Miranda van Tilburg, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

But in medicine, hypnosis is used to help people create relaxing images in their minds to ease symptoms like pain and anxiety, explained van Tilburg, who was not involved in the current study but researches and uses "guided imagery" -- basically, self-hypnosis -- for kids' abdominal pain.

"Gut-directed" hypnotherapy may, for instance, suggest images for normalizing bowel function -- like picturing a smoothly flowing river.

A number of studies since the 1980s have found that hypnosis helps some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) when standard treatment fails. There's also evidence it can help kids with so-called functional abdominal pain.

Functional abdominal pain -- which is thought to affect up to 20 percent of children -- refers to persistent stomach pain that cannot be traced to a particular disorder. IBS involves abdominal pain too, but people also have bouts of constipation, diarrhea or both.

Often, tactics like diet changes, pain medication or extra fiber are enough to ease the symptoms of either disorder.

When that fails, there's behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy -- which targets the unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors that can contribute to health problems -- has been shown to help some cases of IBS or functional abdominal pain.

But no one knows yet if cognitive behavioral therapy helps beyond one year, van Tilburg pointed out.

The current findings are important, she told Reuters Health, because they suggest that hypnosis can offer lasting relief.

"We've known that it has short-term effects, six months to a year," said van Tilburg. "But the hope is that people will master the skill, and then practice it as a lifelong skill."

It's not clear whether kids in this study did keep using self-hypnosis over the long term, van Tilburg noted. But the advantage in pain relief was still there.

The findings are based on 52 children and teenagers who were randomly assigned to either have gut-directed hypnotherapy or stick with standard care alone, like diet changes and fiber.

Kids in the hypnosis group had six sessions with a therapist and were given CDs to help them practice self-hypnosis at home.

Five years later, 68 percent of kids in the hypnosis group were still largely free of abdominal pain, compared with 20 percent of kids who'd received only standard care.

The hypnosis group was also faring better in other symptoms, like bloating and bowel problems.

It's not clear why hypnosis might help with abdominal pain or other gut symptoms, according to van Tilburg. One theory had been that it alters pain sensitivity in the intestines, she noted -- but recent research suggests that's not what is happening.

Instead, hypnosis might affect how the brain processes pain signals from the gut. But for now, that's speculation, van Tilburg said.

One obstacle to trying hypnosis for your child's belly problems is availability. More psychologists and pediatricians are doing training in hypnosis these days, Vlieger told Reuters Health by email.

But there's still a dearth of properly trained professionals, van Tilburg said.

And, she cautioned, "there are a lot of people out there who call themselves hypnotherapists, but they don't have the right training to treat medical conditions."

If parents want to find a health professional who uses hypnosis, van Tilburg suggested trying the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis website,

Of course, there's a cost, which only some insurance plans would cover. Six or seven hypnotherapy sessions could run around $1,000, on average.

Van Tilburg and her colleagues are looking at making the therapy more widely available via CD. In a small 2009 study, they found that kids who learned self-hypnosis by CD were able to soothe their functional abdominal pain over eight weeks; nearly three-quarters said their pain had lessened by at least half.

Vlieger said her team is now doing a clinical trial to compare CD-based self-hypnosis against face-to-face hypnosis with a therapist. They should know how the two tactics size up -- in effectiveness and costs -- in about two years.