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Hypnosis Facilitated Psychotherapy - Mind Over Matter?
Eric Vermetten, MD, PhD
Mind over matter is a phrase popularized during the 1960s and 1970s that was originally used in reference to paranormal phenomena. It is the belief that the mind is more powerful than the body. It refers to controlling pain that you may or may not be experiencing, such as holding your hand under extremely hot water and feeling no pain. Today, we know that the mind really matters. New scientific research studies have demonstrated that this is not a paranormal phenomenon. We can harness the power of the mind with techniques and tools that can help us change the function of discrete brain functions that may contribute to pain reduction, and also symptom relief. Hypnosis has a long tradition that acknowledges this. With neuroimaging, such as real-time fMRI, we have more insight into the underlying brain mechanisms and potential with which patients can learn to control or regulate (patho) physiological processes. This knowledge needs to be fertilized and brought closer to psychotherapy, and contribute to something like hypnosis facilitated psychotherapies, with virtual reality or feedback techniques. How these new ideas can add to the efficacy, quality and perhaps 'affectivity' of more traditional methods will be explored. Hypnosis can be the salt and pepper to therapy.
Eric Vermetten, MD, PhD, was trained as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist in the Netherlands, and finished his residency at Yale University where he continued to work as a post doc before he moved to Emory University. In 2001, he was employed by the Dutch Army and in 2007 he became an Officer (ranked COL) in the Dutch Military. He is Head of Research in the Military Mental Health Service with the Department of Defense. He also holds a position as Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Neuroscience Division of the University Medical Center in Utrecht. In his research he is looking at the biological basis of trauma-related disorders, and strategies for early prevention. He is interested in mind-body connections and has published widely on PTSD, dissociation, hypnosis and narrative psychotherapy. He has published over 100 papers on this topic. After serving as President of the Dutch Society of Hypnosis (2000-2006) he served as President of the International Society of Hypnosis from 2006-2009. Among his most recent books are Traumatic Dissociation, published by the American Psychiatric Press in 2007, with Martin Dorahy and David Spiegel; and Neurendocrinology of PTSD, in the series, Progress in Brain Research with Ron de Kloet and Melly Oitzl in 2008. Dr. Vermetten is an ad hoc reviewer for numerous journals and granting agencies. He has lectured on the topic of PTSD across the globe. His newest book is The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease published with Ruth Lanius and Clare Pain in 2010.