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Hypnosis helped Stanford/Packard physicians pinpoint cause of children's seizures
Date:2/14/2008

he physicians found that all eight of the subjects were experiencing non-epileptic events.

"We had a number of clues that these particular children might not have epilepsy," said Olson, "but hypnosis helped us confirm our suspicions." Physicians begin to suspect causes other than epilepsy if an individual has a variety of episodes, if the person's cognition is unaffected despite frequent seizures or if the person has a pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis.

Were the kids in the study relieved to find they didn't have epilepsy? "Yes and no," said Shaw. "It's important to explain very clearly that although these events are psychologically based, they are completely out of a child's control." He and Olson compare the events, which are a type of condition called conversion disorder, to other well-known ways that stress and emotions affect other bodily functions, such as migraines, ulcers and blushing.

Stanford is part of an ongoing multicenter study of these non-epileptic events to better understand their causes and possible treatments. For now, Shaw often couples psychotherapy with self-hypnosis lessons to teach children how to avoid the events.

"When they're feeling out of control, this is a tool they can use. They know that they were able to 'turn off' an event during the initial hypnosis, and that gives them confidence to try it themselves," said Shaw.

In general, people are growing more comfortable with the idea of hypnosis in a medical setting, said Olson. "The first reaction of many people may be to equate hypnosis with some sort of black magic. But once we explain the reasons and benefits, they're very accepting."


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Contact: Krista Conger
kristac@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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