Today’s modern lifestyle has led to a surge in skin complaints such as psoriasis, eczema, rashes, sensitivities, rosacea to name but a few. Frequent visits to your local doctor or skin specialist will have you prescribed emollients, moisturisers, steroid creams and tablets and in the more chronic cases tablets that suppress the immune system. Phototherapy, which is the use of UV light to clear the skin, is also used to treat stubborn psoriasis and eczema. However we know that UV light is known to cause cancer so dosages are controlled and kept within a maximum to try to prevent burning of the skin which can lead to the skin cancer.
Finding the right treatment for you can be time-consuming and inconvenient but for some the effort is worth it as they learn to control their condition with these daily rituals.
The question I ask is, “Is there another way?”
A growing field in medicine is Psychodermatology, which is a field that addresses the impact of an individual's emotion as it relates to the skin. Karen Mallin, a Doctor of Psychology and an instructor in the departments of psychiatry & behavioural sciences and dermatology & cutaneous surgery says “The mind and skin are connected on many different levels. A lot of nerve endings are connected to the skin, which wraps around the organs, so as emotions are played out neurologically, they can be expressed through the skin just as stress can be expressed through gastrointestinal symptoms, increased anxiety, or hypertension."
According to clinical psychologist and psychodermatology expert Dr. Ted A. Grossbart, people who visit clinicians for a skin condition often have a related psychological problem that can affect the way they respond to medical treatment.
So with this information, what are we doing about it? Well, the answer is not a lot. You see to effectively use this information within the health service we would have to complete a psychological and emotional evaluation of all the patients with presenting skin conditions and then apply a suitable therapy to help the patient. This takes time, money and resources that the health service doesn’t have.
So what are the other options?
Well you have to look at where stress and emotions come from, and that’s the subconscious mind. One such cause of skin problems are past events, whether they are remembered by our conscious mind or not, that have an effect on our present lives and if the emotion surrounding that event isn’t dealt with then it begins to fester and manifest until it’s listened to. Often we get physical manifestations of a past emotional event. An example would be Siobhan, a 30 year old woman who at the age of 6 acquired plaque psoriasis which then turned into pustular psoriasis at the age of 15. She was also suffering from OCD with intrusive thoughts. In my clinic we applied an age regression technique and found the cause of her problems. After we released this cause, we used a variety of other techniques to improve self-image and confidence, as Siobhan said “We did some exploration work on the root cause of my psoriasis and agreed with my subconscious a new way to deal with the stresses that can cause a skin flare. Whilst working on my Psoriasis Paul also helped me work through my intrusive thought OCD and even helped my spider phobia that I have had since I was a child”. Siobhan is now a confident, relaxed person who enjoys swimming which, before seeing me, was too negatively self-conscious to do.
Another example would be Darren, 26 years old, suffering with terrible eczema since his mid-teens which is when his parents split up. In my clinic we discovered that Darren was so upset at the time and this wasn’t dealt with properly so this strong emotion was trapped inside and we discovered this was the cause of his eczema. Darren’s skin is now clear.
Day to day stress at our place of work, in the home or stress that we place upon ourselves creates a build-up of a stress hormone called Cortisol. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, triggers skin problems, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease... The list goes on and on. In my clinic I teach people how to cope with stress so their body can return to normal functions and they can be happier with their lifestyle.
So, you CAN think your skin beautiful, you just need to speak to an expert in the workings of the subconscious mind and also one who is experienced at finding the cause of unwanted emotions and stress management. Hypnosis meets all these requirements and I’m based at clinics in London and Norwich, Norfolk.
In the news today it is reported that the NHS will be using private companies such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World. It’s fantastic the NHS wants to tackle the obesity crisis, but are these diet plans the way forward? The answer in the short term is yes, as long as you stay on these programmes for the rest of your life then they will, for most people, be effective.
A study carried out to assess how effective Weight Watchers was proved that people lose weight over the 12 week programme. However, the funds for this study came from Weight Watchers so you have to query how subjective the trials were.
You also have to be conscious of the fact that while you’re on these diets you think of food ALL the time! You’re either counting calories all day trying to work out what you’re allowed to eat or figuring out what colour day it is for that particular food group. Doesn’t really sound like a lot of fun.
An independent study by Professor Traci Mann, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) said "Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people," "You can initially lose 5 to 10% of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back. We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority."
Prof Mann concluded that after analyzing 31 long-term studies into a range of diets for between two and five years that most people would have been better off not dieting at all. “"Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back," she wrote.
Weight loss and gain over a prolonged period, usually as people try out different diets, has been linked in previous studies to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and altered immune function.
The reason why 95 - 98% of dieters regain the weight they lost within 5 years is that food simply isn’t the problem. There are many underlying emotional issues that create the need to overeat, such as grief, boredom, depression, unhappy relationships, trauma from the past and learnt behaviour. Diet plans do not address these issues and until the issues are addressed then diets will only work whilst you are on them.
People who achieve long term weight loss have a happy and healthy relationship with food unaffected by negative thought patterns. They also realise you have to burn more calories than you ingest to keep the weight off - this can be achieved by an appointment with an accredited dietician or nutritionist.
So if the NHS is planning to plough millions of pounds of the taxpayer’s money into these diets then it’s mostly going to be ineffective, the money would be better used putting salaried professionals into the NHS to address the underlying psychological / emotional needs of the patient.
Unfortunately, the only people to profit from the use of these companies are the companies themselves.
It is widely believed and accepted that in order to move on in our lives we need to forgive those that have wronged us. In fact, there is even a type of therapy called forgiveness therapy. Many therapy schools teach us therapists different ways to get our clients to forgive their tormentors/abusers/bullies in order to release the trauma caused by them.
The question I ask is this: "Do they deserve to be forgiven for what they have done?"
The trauma that people have lived through should be honoured and respected. Is forgiving the violent mother for 20 years of physical abuse respecting and honouring what happened to that child? In most cases, no. It's belittling it. What does that mother deserve? Forgiveness or punishment?
The priest who sexually abused young boys, does he deserve forgiveness?
The recent press cases about famous celebrities committing sexual crimes against the young, do they deserve forgiveness?
If you have whiplash from an accident on an icy road then you can forgive that, if you wanted to release the anger from your neck.
Prolonged, premeditated, criminal and life destroying abuse, should you really be asking your clients to forgive that?
I do not encourage forgiveness in any arena of therapy. I encourage my clients to find their own way of releasing stored emotion, I certainly do not push them into any direction. I ask them what they would like to do. Would they like to take the abuser to a metaphorical court for sentencing? Would they like to meet the abuser in an imaginary boxing match with the strength they were missing as a small child?
Sometimes, and quite frequently, my clients will have a rant to release the stored emotion then I'll ask "What does Mr Abuser say to that?". The abuser may then apologise and that will be the release the client is looking for.
Other times the client needs the abuser to go through the same, and sometimes worse, physical, emotional and psychological torture that they suffered. After all, preying on the vulnerable isn't fair and the playing fields sometimes need to be levelled.
So I guess what I'm saying is, to be a true client centred therapist we need to be asking our clients what they want to do. It's their trauma, not ours, if they want to forgive then we apply suitable methods to allow them to forgive. If they want to punish, then we give them what they need to punish.
As long as that client gets the release they need to move forward in their lives then the work of the therapist has been successful.
So if you're trapped by the past, give me a call for a chat to find out what you need to do to be able to move forward.
First let's look at what psoriasis is and the different types of the disorder.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back but can appear anywhere on your body. Most people are only affected in small patches. In some cases, the patches can be itchy or sore.
Psoriasis affects around 2% of people in the UK. It can start at any age, but most often develops in adults under 35 years old. The condition affects men and women equally. The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. For some people, it is just a minor irritation, for others it has a major impact on their quality of life. Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.
Why it happens
Psoriasis occurs when the process by which the body produces skin cells is accelerated. Skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four months, but in psoriasis this process only lasts about three to seven days. The resulting build-up of skin cells is what creates the patches associated with psoriasis.
Although the process is not fully understood, it is thought the increased production of skin cells is related to a problem with the immune system. The immune system is your body's defence against disease and infection, but in people with psoriasis it attacks healthy skin cells by mistake. As psoriasis can run in families, there is also thought to be a genetic element to psoriasis. However, the exact role that genetics plays in causing psoriasis is unclear. Many people's psoriasis symptoms start or become worse because of a certain event, known as a trigger. Possible triggers of psoriasis include an injury to your skin, throat infections and using certain medicines.
The condition is not contagious so it cannot be spread from person to person.
Types of Psoriasis
Plaque Psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease and appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scale. These patches or plaques most often appear on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. They are often itchy and painful, and they can crack and bleed.
Guttate psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that often starts in childhood or young adulthood. This is the second most common type of psoriasis, after plaque psoriasis. About 10% of people who get psoriasis develop guttate psoriasis.
Guttate psoriasis causes a rash formed of drop-shaped salmon-pink areas on the chest, arms, legs and scalp.
Inverse psoriasis (also known as intertriginous psoriasis) shows up as very red lesions in body folds. It may appear smooth and shiny. Many people have another type of psoriasis elsewhere on the body at the same time.
Pustular psoriasis is characterized by white pustules (blisters of non-infectious pus) surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is a particularly inflammatory form of psoriasis that often affects most of the body surface. It may occur in association with von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis. It is a rare type of psoriasis, occurring once or more during the lifetime of 3% of people who have psoriasis. It generally appears on people who have unstable plaque psoriasis. This means the lesions are not clearly defined. Widespread, fiery redness and exfoliation of the skin characterize this form. Severe itching and pain often accompanies it.
Whilst it can be frustrating finding the right treatment for your psoriasis, and some can take a number of weeks before improvement can be seen, there is a wide range of treatments available.Treatments range from topical creams and shampoos, through to Ultra-Violet (UV) light therapy, systemic tablets and biologic injections. However, psoriasis tends to be very unique to the individual, and a treatment that works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another, because of this, treating psoriasis can be a process of trial and error, and it can be frustrating.
There may be times when your psoriasis gets you down, and when it can be hard to be motivated to use any treatment at all. However, above everything else, it’s important that you regularly see your doctor to review your condition, and be honest about your treatment. It’s the best way of making sure you get to try as many treatments as possible, and find one that makes a difference to you.
Psoriasis and Hypnosis
Of all the psoriasis types it's plaque psoriasis that the evidence is based on as this seems to be the type that has the most effective response to hypnosis. Studies have shown that in 80% of sufferers hypnosis can produce partial or complete remission, although there are many positive case studies around the other types as well.
Why is hypnosis so effective?
Psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder and as such the body produces an inflammatory reaction to the skin. It is well documented that hypnosis can control an inflammatory reaction and the NHS even uses this to help burns victims heal quicker and with less scarring.
Inflammatory cells are dispatched by the subconscious mind. All biological and chemical reactions within the body are controlled and regulated by the subconscious including hormonal and steroidal release. In hypnosis we have direct access to the subconscious and so we can affect what it releases into the body.
By controlling the inflammation the psoriasis doesn't have a pathway to the skin so the sufferer can feel the joy of having partial or completely clear skin! We also look at the triggers of outbreaks as these are usually emotionally/psychologically related.
One of my clients had been suffering with psoriasis for 26 years. It started with plaque psoriasis at the age of six then developed into pustular psoriasis at the age of 15. Her confidence was affected as was her attitude towards life. She had tried steroids and emollients, phototherapy, immunosuppressants, antibiotics, and biologics, all of which worked for 2 weeks at the most then her flare ups began again. After just 3 sessions with me she was able to come off her immunosuppressants and notice that her skin was 98% clear unaided by conventional treatment. She went swimming for the first time in 20 years and is now enjoying an active social life as she now has methods to control any further outbreaks.
Hypnosis is a vastly under-used modality in the treatment of psoriasis and I would be delighted to talk to you about the ways in which I can help you with the emotional, physical and psychological burdens of your disorder.
Paul believes hypnosis is empowering and life-changing. Look around the website and get in touch should you have any queries