Using Hypnotherapy and Placebos to Treat Hypochondria

I recall some years ago when I sat facing a client who could only be described as a Hypochondriac (suffering with imagined illnesses).

She shocked me by telling me that she visited her doctor every day and that he was no good as every time he have her medication, it only ‘cured’ that illness and another illness would occur.

To say the least, I felt sorry for her doctor as I could see that her problem was not being ill but attention seeking. How did I diagnose that? Simply by asking her questions and giving her a sympathetic ear.

“How long have you been married?” – “Fifteen years and two months.”

“Is your husband working?” – “Yes, BUT, he works away from home.” (Client looking very sad.)

“How long does he stay away from home?” – “Oh, he is away from Monday to Friday and only comes home at weekends, and sometimes he also has to work at weekends.” (Client looking a little angry).

“Does he like his job?” – “He likes his job but says he doesn’t like working away from his home. He cannot change it as there are no other jobs he can get.”

“Is he worried that you are always ill?” – “He is like an angel when he is home and looks after me. He worries about me but cannot get another job or become unemployed as we cannot live without his earnings.”

I noticed at this point in our conversation that she pulled her legs up a little and began to ‘pout’ like a small girl.

“It must be very hard for you managing on your own most of the week and not having him there to look after you?” – “I know he has to work so I accept it as part of my life.”

I continued my questioning, which is a necessary part of every Hypnotherapist’s consultation, and then asked her if she knew and understood that I was not only a Hypnotherapist but also practiced homeopathy. She knew I did hypnotherapy but did not know what homeopathy was, so I explained as best I could to her.

I also explained that my treatment for her would also include Homeopathic remedies and asked if that was OK. She was more than happy with that and was excited at the new approach to her many illnesses.

I won’t go into the rest of the session as it involved routine questions such as her medical history and medication etc. which adds no real value to this article.

On conclusion, I gave her two sugar pills (placebos) and gave them a name (which I don’t recall at this time) and explained that they would help to reduce her present symptoms or clear them completely.

The Second Session:

The client returned with a big smile on her face and much earlier than her appointment time.

She reported a total success in removing the symptoms of the illness she had, but, she now had another illness, the first one was stomach pains, now it was tightness in her chest.

On this occasion I used hypnosis to relax her and give her suggestions to help her with the ‘attention seeking’ aspect of her problem. Suggestions such as she had no need to look for admiration from other people as she was a wonderful person who need not answer to anyone else for her looks or personality. (That, of course, is only a very short resume of the total suggestions I used as they changed with each session).

I again gave her placebos and off she went looking very happy.

Then the following day, which was a Saturday, actually confirmed my diagnosis and added some further knowledge to my arsenal in dealing with her problem.

At that time, I also saw clients on Saturdays. My office was in the town centre. I had a gap in my schedule so I went out to do some shopping. And as I was walking to the shops I noticed a couple in front of me that looked as if they were newly weds.

The man was tall and the lady small and she had her arm linked into his and her head on his shoulder. Gazing up at his head. It was as though she was his daughter and admiring him as a daddy. This was as they were walking and with many people around us.

I then realised it was my client. It then struck me that in her husband’s presence, she was reverting back to childhood and behaving as she did as a little girl.

The Third Session:

Again, my client returned looking very happy and reporting total success, but again, she had developed another illness.

I asked her about her father, and learned he was deceased and she missed him very much, after many years.

On this occasion, I decided that I would use hypnosis and role-play as a father and child. I explained to her, whilst she was in hypnosis, that she was to think of me as her daddy (even though many clients do that automatically as they unconsciously consider the Hypnotherapist to be a father figure).

I then assured her, as her daddy, that I loved her and cherished her beyond anyone else etc, etc. and that when she grew up, she would always know I loved her, etc. etc. (This is not a lesson on Hypnotherapy, so I will not go into full details here).

I then gave her another placebo and off she went looking as happy as any human being can.

Subsequent Sessions:

I continued with this line of treatment until she returned one day and said that she was totally cured (I have using the word… cured … when referring to therapy as human beings are helped to handle their lives much better, not cured like a piece of meat).

A Surprising and Disappointing Conclusion:

A few days after her final session, a reporter from the local newspaper phoned me, as she often did, to ask if I had any newsworthy items for her column. At that time I was appearing on television shows and many radio stations and was well known to much of the media. I explained that I had a client who was an ‘incurable’ hypochondriac and who was now off all medication and living a normal like. I would contact my client and ask if she would like to speak to the reporter but under no circumstances could I give a direct contact without permission.

I phoned the client and she was very excited to know she could be featured, both in writing and a photographs, in the local newspaper – her fifteen minutes of fame. All she asked was to give her until tomorrow to speak to her husband first and then she would phone back to make an appointment for the reporter to contact her.

The next day she phoned me and asked in a voice that showed total disappointment, if I would just forget the whole thing. She explained that she had excitedly informed her husband that she was going to have her photograph in the newspapers and he said, “What? You can’t do that. If you do the local Social Security Office will find out and stop your Disability Allowances, and you can get into trouble for not telling them you are now well.”

Need I say more?

Robert Shields teaches Hypnotherapy and his own unique Fear Elimination Therapy (remove phobias in minutes). Teaching Hypnotherapists since 1986 his 30-lesson diploma course costs $197.97 or UKP98.00. Includes a money-back guarantee. Full details at:

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