Abstract from research

Contemporary Psychotherapy offers possible interventions for dysmenorrhoea, the medical term for acute menstrual pain. This is first because its painful symptoms have no function as a warning signal of tissue damage, the normal and necessary function of pain. Second, because painful menstruation may be caused by unprocessed early and/or traumatic memory in the sufferer’s mind-body system. Contemporary Psychotherapy has interventions that work with non-verbal memory, also known as emotional intelligence or implicit memory and has the potential to engender change not easily accessed at the conscious, cognitive level of language.

In this research hypnosis was used with the intention of allowing the mind-body system to find a new, potentially pain free way for menstruation to take place.

The findings of this research would indicate that hypnosis can positively affect the experience of pain for women who suffer from dysmenorrhoea to a significant degree.

Transformation versus removal

The use of hypnosis in this case study has not only brought about a positive reduction in pain, perhaps more significantly, it has transformed the body’s response to menstruation in such a way that is has allowed for a reframe of the whole menstrual experience; where before menstruation was a struggle and a cause of severe trauma, it can become a feedback mechanism to encourage comfort, relaxation, self-care and healing.

Allied to these positive changes was a dramatic reduction in the symptoms of pre-menstrual tension; their reduction was far more dramatic and consistent than that of the pain reduction. Quite why this should be the case is not clear, but as the result is so startling, it would be worthy of further research particularly as it may have implications for the debilitating symptoms of menopause as well.

Whilst it would take neuroscientific research such as MRI scans, and chemical analyses to explain exactly how the hypnotic intervention has the effect it does, the research data collected would suggest that it is possible to communicate with the mind-body system by encouraging interpersonal communication in trance through metaphor and reframing of experience, encouraging the growth of new neural networks that allows for profound and powerful change.