Millions of stents a year are inserted into patients with chest pains. The stents are designed to enlarge the arteries to the heart to allow the blood to flow easier. This is a standard operation and is performed under a local anaesthetic. Even though, there a re risks associated with stents as well as the high cost of the stents themselves. After many years, however, it has now been found that any benefit is due to the The placebo effect of stents.

We know that if someone is in pain, for example, and we give them a pill, the pain will get better even if the pill contains an inactive substance, This is the placebo effect. It relates to hypnosis in that in one sense the person has been hypnotised into believing they will get better, and as a result they do. As far as pills are concerned this is so well established that double-blind trials of drugs are used to measure whether the drug is more effective than using a placebo. However, no such controlled tests are usually performed on operations.

The Sydney surgeon Ian Harris has written about the placebo effect of surgery. As a successful surgeon, he realised that most of the operations he was performing were effective due to the fact that the patient was expecting an improvement, rather than the operation itself. Now it seems that science is catching up with him. In one sense this overturns all the assumptions that people make about modern medicine. The separation of thoughts, the brain and the body doesn’t exist in the way that modern medicine assumes. If thoughts can effect the body then surely this opens the door for using hypnosis for procedures that up to now have been considered purely physical, mechanical in fact. Years ago it was found that knee surgery was just as effective when performed ass a placebo operation.

It may be more effective to try hypnotherapy before succumbing to an operation, with all its associated risks,