Objective: To review three cases of Functional Neurologic Disorder (FND) that resolved successfully with Hypnosis and to identify the specific techniques and reasons behind their efficacy.
Background: FND is a common cause of debility with heterogeneous presentations that can be difficult to treat, given the non-organic etiology. The standard treatment consists of multi-disciplinary care- psychiatry, neurology, occupational/physical/speech therapies, however the rate of resolution in adult FND patients remains unpredictable and overall low. Part of this is due to these impairments creating difficulties physically accessing care and the fact that many FND patients respond variably to different interventions. Hypnotherapy has been one of the less common, alternative treatments proposed for FND. Historically, hypnosis has been viewed as controversial due to perceived inadequate scientific evidence; however, there are emerging reports of its safe and efficacious role in treating somatic disorders.
Method: Three cases of adult FND who were successfully treated with hypnosis were reviewed with emphasis on the specific techniques used in understanding common themes behind the FND (ie. lack of automaticity and agency). The hypnotherapy sessions were 1 hour long, completed virtually over Zoom. Each initial session began with information about hypnosis and the historical benefit in treating disorders of the subconscious followed by suggestibility testing, guided metaphors, and post hypnotic suggestions (PHS). Suggestibility tests determined susceptibility to auditory instructions while guided metaphors involved various imaginative narratives with a common theme of learning to regain control over the body. PHS were collaboratively developed by the patient as a personalized word/action to help control symptoms.
Results: One of the three patients failed initial suggestibility testing. All three patients underwent guided metaphors and PHS. All three cases experienced full or substantial FND symptom resolution, one patient after one session and two patients after seven sessions.
Conclusion: Atypical suggestibility (heightened responsiveness to direct verbal suggestions) has been proposed as a common predisposing trait in FND patients but this very suggestibility may be key to recovery through hypnosis. Hypnosis can be a practical, adjunctive therapy in FND patients with limited physical access to care as its efficacy has been shown in virtual platform.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:J. Chen, J. Waugh, K. Brewer-Mixon, S. Chitnis, D. Morris. Hypnosis as an adjunctive treatment for FND, a case series [abstract]. Mov Disord. 2023; 38 (suppl 1). https://www.mdsabstracts.org/abstract/hypnosis-as-an-adjunctive-treatment-for-fnd-a-case-series/. Accessed September 29, 2023.
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MDS Abstracts - https://www.mdsabstracts.org/abstract/hypnosis-as-an-adjunctive-treatment-for-fnd-a-case-series/