Making A Difference

Beating Pain with Brain Power

Dr. Elvira Lang (AMP 169, 2005)

Dr. Elvira Lang (AMP 169, 2005) is a former Harvard Medical School professor and the founder and CEO of Comfort Talk, a firm that promotes hypnotic techniques that allow patients to tap into the mind’s natural ability to block pain and reduce stress. In this interview, she explains how she is teaching medical professionals how to help patients avoid opioid addiction by using hypnotic strategies to reduce the need for pain medications.

“My work with Comfort Talk, which is the name of my company, in using hypnotic techniques for helping patients came about when I was at Stanford and at the VA in Palo Alto, California. There was this very scared young Vietnam veteran whom one could even get on the table. That’s when I saw the first time how a quick hypnotic intervention could make a difference.

“I built a research program surrounding that. We were able to conduct very large-scale clinical trials, and now - showing that there is a very big economic incentive to train medical teams in Comfort Talk.

“One of my big passions right now is the opiate crisis. All efforts now are directed at the back end, treating either addiction or limiting prescriptions. But our research showed that if you help patients at the time, in a procedure, how to cope with pain while they have a chance to still get drugs, to practice that while you guide them, it changes the way they process pain.

“If you look at the uses of hypnotic interventions, I think there are many applications for patients who are in a stressful situation. The key issue is that pretty much all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, and that one understands that it is guiding people to discover their own internal coping skills and what works best for them.”

(Published January 2017)

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