Over recent weeks and months, I have championed pieces of research showing the efficacy and usefulness of hypnosis in conventional healthcare and so naturally, I could not let this one slip by unmentioned… Then as it is Friday, I have to point out one of the most hilarious pieces of research I have ever read… Scientifically proving that ‘Beer Goggles’ really do exist…

So anyway, a team of egg-heads and scientists from the Universities of Birmingham and University College London have been using fMRI scans ‘to examine whether a combination of suggestion and hypnosis would help patients cope better with painful sensations.

Through my work, I encounter so many people with fibromyalgia and one technique I teach my clients to use is that of establishing a ‘pain-dial’ although we learn to name it the ‘comfort dial’ as that is far more progressive! You see, not only does this dissassociate the individual from their pain, it gives them a way of measuring how they react to it… And much more besides… Anyhow, I digress…

This study actually looked at patients with fibromyalgia, it is a chronic condition that causes severe physical pain throughout the body and debilitating fatigue. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, as with many of the reports I get from my clients, their is seemingly little that your GP has been able to do to help you… Various cocktails of drugs tends to be the primary order of the day.

However, this new study, cited in this article in the Birmingham Post, demonstrated that ‘patients were able to alter their experiences of pain by turning down an imaginary dial measuring its levels.’ What a great idea! 😉

The article states:

Under hypnosis, 46 fibromyalgia patients were asked to use this device [the dial] to show the level of pain they were experiencing. Patients were also able to significantly reduce pain levels while under suggestion.

Researchers found suggestion was a more effective tool in controlling pain when the subjects were hypnotised.

The team also used functional magnetic resonance imaging with a dozen of the patients to look at brain activity while they altered their pain.

Dr Stuart Derbyshire, who led Birmingham’s team, said: “Fibromyalgia is an unusual condition because pain is experienced without any obvious physical stimulus being involved. In the study we looked at the exact neural processes that affect sufferers and their ability to control their pain.

“Our participants all showed classic brain activity that we would associate with severe pain. However, all were able control the intensity of that pain by turning the dial up or down.

“Although they were all able to affect their pain using the dial, this effect was significantly more pronounced when subjects were under hypnosis.

“This suggests that hypnosis could be a useful tool in helping patients manage chronic pain and is worthy of further research.

Our forward thinking Dr Derbsyhire also states:

“In this case the participants’ ability to turn down pain shows that the experience of pain goes beyond an immediate reaction to a pin prick or burn.

Rather than a stimulus causing pain, these patients might experience pain because of pain signals diffusing from the brain.”

Now this is interesting isn’t it? WHat he is illustrating here is that pain is produced by the brain through complex neural networks. It does not necessarily require an outside stimulus. I mean, I always discuss this n my work when we talk about psychological ‘suffering’ being as painful as the actual physiological pain… The kind of brain activity that is capable of turning up or turning down pain could be clearly observed on the fMRI scans as the patients used the dial visualisation in hypnosis… Brilliant!

The article goes on to say:

“Understanding the complex neural networks involved in generating pain obviously has significant implications for our ability to treat pain in all its forms.’

As author of one of the bestselling books of all time on self-hypnosis, these kinds of pieces of research delight me, because it shows and supports scientifically how amazing self-hypnosis truly is… Especially in pain management.

Now imagine if you could use that dial to do all sorts of other things… Like increase your perceptions in certain ways… Then you could have the beer goggle effect without drinking so much beer, couldn’t you?

Come on… I tried linking the two pieces research… It is Friday, I had to mention this study at the New Scientist… Brilliant…

The article states:

THE next time you hear someone blaming “beer goggles” for their behaviour, you may have to believe them. People really do appear more attractive when our perceptions are changed by drinking alcohol.

There have been few previous attempts to investigate the idea that people seem to find others more attractive when drunk. In 2003, psychologists at the University of Glasgow, UK, published a study in which they asked heterosexual students in campus bars and cafés whether they had been drinking, and then got them to rate photos of people for attractiveness. While the results supported the beer goggles theory, another explanation is that regular drinkers tend to have personality traits that mean they find people more attractive, whether or not they are under the influence of alcohol at the time.

To resolve the issue, a team of researchers led by Marcus Munafò at the University of Bristol in the UK conducted a controlled experiment. They randomly assigned 84 heterosexal students to consume either a non-alcoholic lime-flavoured drink or an alcoholic beverage with a similar flavour. The exact amount of alcohol varied according to the individual but was designed to have an effect equivalent to someone weighing 70 kilograms drinking 250 millitres of wine — enough to make some students tipsy. After 15 minutes, the students were shown pictures of people their own age, from both sexes.

Both men and women who had consumed alcohol rated the faces as being more attractive than did the controls. Surprisingly, the effect was not limited to the opposite sex — volunteers who had drunk alcohol also rated people from their own sex as more attractive.

So there you have it… Proof of a scientific nature that ‘beer goggles’ exist in reality… Though I reckon, you are better off using self-hypnosis to create them… Have a fabulous wekeend 🙂