Don’t open this if you’re squeamish about injections

May 21, 2024 in Courage, Mindset

On a recent day training for my hypnosis diploma, my tutor said we’d be doing a variety of exercises to develop our skills in self-hypnosis, ending with an optional “hypnotic anaesthesia” exercise, where we’d be imagining our arms to be numb/anaesthetised and he would put a needle in our arms so we could gauge the effects of our practise. 

When he first said it, I thought he meant he’d prick our arms with a needle to see if we could feel it, but then he showed us pictures of what he’d done in past classes, where a needle is basically skewered through the skin on the back of the arm.

Now, to some people, that process would seem like a piece of cake. 

For me, it was most definitely not so cakey. 

I’m the type who gets very worked up before blood tests and vaccinations. I’m not what I’d describe as needle-phobic because I will allow myself to have those things done when it’s medically necessary, but I really don’t like it, and all through the day I was getting slightly worked up about the thought of having it done. 

Our tutor assured us there was no pressure to do it, however curiosity got the better of me, and I put my hand up to say I was willing. 

He brought over sanitiser, a tissue and a clean needle for him to use once we’d given him the signal by opening our eyes that we were ready for him to skewer us. 

We were then given instructions to take ourselves into hypnosis and focus on numbing our arm, either by imagining it in a bucket of ice-cold water, or imagining an anaesthetic being applied to the area, all the while controlling our breathing and staying very still and relaxed.

I closed my eyes and started focusing on my breathing, and imagining the ice cold water. It took me a while to feel ready, and I still felt slightly apprehensive even though I was very physically calm, but I gave him the signal by opening my eyes and continued to keep a state of deep focus on how different my left arm felt from my right. 

It really did feel different, and he tested each arm with the back of his hand to check the temperature, and gently pinched up the skin. He told me my left arm was significantly cooler than the right, and the skin was less taut on it. 

I wasn’t even sure if I believed him, but I nodded my head and looked away from my arm. 

At the moment the needle touched my arm I focused on all the sensations in the big toe in my right foot, for an extra level of internal distraction.

I felt a tiny bit of discomfort, but only a small percentage of what I thought I’d feel. 

I looked at my arm in astonishment. The needle was right through, and I felt very calm. 

Unlike the myths that surround hypnosis in general, I wasn’t zonked out or asleep - I was very aware of what was going on and I felt in full control of giving my permission for him to do it, but it just felt OK. 

Hypnosis is used more regularly in medical and dental settings these days to ease anxiety and reduce pain. 

Some people in the class reported feeling absolutely nothing at all - I wondered if I’d given the signal too early, but nonetheless I felt proud of myself for doing it at all.

I’m so glad I actually proved to myself that it worked or I’d have felt a fraud telling people it’s effective when I hadn’t experienced it for myself.  

The author 

Vicki LaBouchardiere