In recent years, the practice of meditation has gained ground in the Western world. 'Mindfulness' is said to stimulate the brain, help fight depression and promote good cardiovascular health. In short: it is being praised for all its merits, although it is difficult to fully understand its mechanisms.
Even more surprising, the practice has just been introduced into operating theatres. Thanks to hypnosis, for example, it has been possible to perform open brain surgery without general anaesthesia - which can be accompanied by severe side effects.
By guiding the patient into mindfulness, it is possible to reduce, or even completely prevent the brain's response to pain. The general anaesthesia can then be replaced by a much lighter local anaesthesia.
Replace general anaesthesia
To compensate for the lack of trained personnel, or even simply training itself, some institutions are therefore turning to virtual reality. This is the case of the Starlight Children's Foundation in Colorado, which conducted a one-year experiment with the Lenovo company. Children were operated on without general anaesthesia, thanks to a hypnosis session administered via a virtual reality device.
According to paediatrician Joe Albeitz, interviewed by Venturebeat, the effects are convincing. This method has also led to a significant improvement in the quality of life of young patients, particularly those admitted to hospital for long periods of time. Virtual reality has allowed them to maintain a semblance of 'normal life:' 'This has a profound impact on their quality of life in the hospital,' the practitioner said. 'We see children who previously needed general anaesthesia, who are now able to stay fully awake with a minimum of medication.'
This is undoubtedly proof that the benefits of hypnosis on the brain deserve to be studied very closely. And that technology can sometimes still provide a useful service in our societies.