Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Out of the Mines at last

Grammar Mines, part the last
My coauthor on this chapter tells me his writing style is a holdover from a certain style of teaching, where the teacher provides the students with all the tools but never provides the final step linking things together. That step is for the students to make on their own. And when they make it on their own, they ‘get it’ much better than they would if it were spoon-fed.
It’s the ‘coitus interruptus’ style of teaching, where the professor will get right up to the concluding word, and pause, and the student is meant to fill the word in himself. It works for some people, but Man, I hated that kind of lecture in college! It's nice to know there's a reason for all the missing information, though.
I’ve been going on excessively about the form and content of this book chapter I'm working on. Yes, I assure you, those of you who were becoming worried about my progressively deranged state of mind, that the form is being kicked into shape.
But what of the substance??
Aye, that be tha heart of tha matter.
I’m no expert on the role and efficiency of hypnosis in cancer care. I didn’t look up more than a handful of the papers cited. (For shame!) But all the same, there are a certain number of conclusions that can be made.
First off, nobody ever found that hypnosis was harmful. I think everybody can agree on that.
Whether it does any good should be cut into two parts, which I have taken care to separate:
Does it help slow down, or cure, cancer?
Does it make the patient feel better?

The first answer is, right now there’s no evidence that hypnosis makes anybody live longer. My colleague thinks that’s only because it hasn’t been studied enough. I think that if there were a real effect, big enough to pop out of the uncertainty of never knowing how long a given person ‘should’ live anyway, in all the studies that have been done, we’d have seen it. So there might be a small effect, but it’s not curing anyone. If there is an effect, it probably works by making you feel better, which in turn can boost your immune system just enough to get a handle on things. Plus the whole will-to-live thing.

For the second answer, YES! Yes, we can control nausea. We can alleviate pain. We can lessen anxiety. We can lessen fear.
We can do this using hypnosis with a therapist, with self-hypnosis, with guided imagery, with relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga... A dozen different routes are available. Some work better than others. Which works better for a particular person is up to that person.

So the thing is out the door, and I can get on with my regular life.
Which will now turn toward bitching and moaning about teaching. No - just kidding!


Cindy said...

Hmmmm, definitely food for thought. Have you told Barry about this hynosis thing? He might want to try it!

Niamh B said...

Sounds interesting. Hypnosis has a bad reputation from the "You are getting sleepy" kind of images that jump to mind when you hear the word, not to mention the awful caberet shows with people acting insane for the amusement of others, so I'd say there's a resistance to it from all that. The benefits you describe sound potent enough to make it worth while, but it's still a difficult one, philosophically, allowing an outsider to reprogram your thoughts and reactions, and because it's so mysterious (the brain) and how it works. I guess the important thing is that it works, and if it does it's probably less questionable than using a cocktail of drugs to achieve the same result. As I said at the start - interesting.

steven said...

hey nanu - good for you for toughing it out and pushing through the grammar mines! i bet you're a better person for it - or something! right?!!! have a peaceful evening. if there's money involved, cash the cheque asap!!! steven
p.s. ouch!! for the bike.

NanU said...

Niamh - There's a real need to distance show-biz hypnotism from medical/psychological practice. Not everybody can be hypnotized, either, justly because of the requirement for the subject to surrender control to the therapist. The benefits can be huge, like being able to face the day, remaining calm through a difficult procedure, and, certainly, the reduced need for chemical relief. Patients in chemo often become nauseated on arrival for their appointments, -before- the treatment has started, definitely a psychosomatic response and controllable.

thanks, steven, I just wish I had had time to go through and make more significant structural changes. I don't think there's any money in it (never was from the last one), but it counts for brownie points in the annual academic count-up.
Not my bike! Meerly seen through a random fence on my way to the flea market Sunday.

Cindy - since Barry meditates, I think he's onto it. Anyway he visits here, and if he's interested he'll act on that. I'm uncomfortable about saying 'you should try this or that', because I'm sure there are many, many people offering their two cents every day. My PhD is in genetics, not psychology!

Reya Mellicker said...

Welcome back from the mines. Is the sunlight blinding? Here - a pair of nice sunglasses to help you make the transition.

Welcome home!