Research: CASIGLIA and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 149


CASIGLIA and colleagues, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Padova, Via Giustiniani No. 2, Padova, Italy,, report that hypnosis prevents the reflex responses of the heart to pain.


The aim of this study was to highlight the effects of hypnotic focused analgesia.


20 healthy volunteers underwent a cold pressor test in waking basal conditions by keeping the right hand in icy water until tolerable (pain tolerance); subjective pain was quantified by visual scale immediately before extracting the hand from water. The test was then repeated while the participants were under hypnosis. Cardiovascular parameters were continuously monitored.


Pain tolerance was 121.5+/-96.1 sec in waking conditions and 411.0+/-186.7 sec during hypnosis (p < 0.0001), and visual rating score 7.75+/-2.29 and 2.45+/-2.98 (p < 0.0001), respectively. Pain-induced increase of total peripheral resistance was non significant during hypnosis and +21% (p < 0.01) in waking conditions. Hypnosis therefore reduced both perception and the reflex cardiovascular consequences of pain.


These results indicate that hypnotic analgesia implies a decrease of sensitivity and/or a block of transmission of painful stimuli, with depression of the nervous reflex arc.


Casiglia E et al. Hypnosis prevents the cardiovascular response to cold pressor test. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 49 (4): 255-266, Apr 2007.

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