Can comments made during surgery by your doctors, nurses, and other staff affect the outcome of your operation? Can you hear their conversations even while you’re anesthetized? The answer to both questions is an emphatic “yes,” according to Dr. Henry Bennett, Ph.D.
Dr. Bennett, a psychologist, has concluded several experiments on anesthetized patients. His findings convinced him that the operating room environment itself can help or hurt the patient, depending upon what is said there.
According to Dr. Bennett’s findings, an anesthetized patient is not “asleep.” The patient is aware of much more that even the operating room staff believes. The anesthetized state may be more like a deep state of hypnosis than it is like the “out” state we normally think of with total unconsciousness. Because of this, comments made about the patient during the surgery can have a profound effect upon the outcome of the surgery.
The last thing that a patient should hear, even in a stupor, is “This looks bad,” or “He’s not going to make it.” Instead, Dr. Bennett suggests that operation room staff always speak positively about the surgery to the patient, “as if the patient were awake.” In addition, Dr. Bennett suggest using the anesthetized state purposefully, as a vehicle to deliver even more positive suggestions, similarly as can be done in the hypnotized state. Such suggestions could be as simple a “You are doing very well;” or they could be more elaborate and specific to the surgery, such as “When the doctor introduces the new organ, it will be easily accepted by your body and will function perfectly.”
In two different studies where such positive suggestions were made to patients during surgery, there was a documented positive effect. In one case, a woman was instructed to have her body move the blood away from her back during her spinal surgery. She experienced a blood loss that was 50 per cent less than normal for this operation. In a different study a researcher gave the suggestion to hysterectomy patients that they would feel like getting up out of bed and walking around shortly after surgery. The patients receiving the suggestions ambulated sooner and had fewer complications than the test group who did not receive the suggestions.
This is reason enough to ask your doctor and his staff to monitor their “Operating Room Chatter.” But what if you want to go even further? You may not be able to convince your doctor to rattle off a list of positive statements during your operation. (His mind might be, you hope, focused on the more immediate task of performing the surgery itself.)
Nonetheless, you can still obtain the positive effects of positive statements made during surgery. Start by finding a qualified hypnotherapist. Ask the hypnotherapist to create an audiotape (CD) containing positive statements about your surgery (they hypnotherapist may have one or more such tapes ready made, or they might make one up specifically for you.) Check with your doctor before showing up in the Operating Room with your tape or CD; but since more and more patients are listening to tapes and CD’s during surgery, the doctor should not be surprised at your request.
An even better idea would be to visit the hypnotherapist one or more times prior to the surgery to pre-program the mental suggestions for positive results even more strongly. Armed with knowledge and a positive attitude, you will be ready for a successful operation and a speedy recovery.
Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”