How To Deal With Pain

Pain, whether of mind or body, introduces a new element for which we

have hitherto made no provision. By monopolising the attention it

keeps the conscious mind fully alert and so prevents one from attaining

the measure of outcropping needful to initiate successfully an

autosuggestion. Thus if we introduce the "no-pain" idea into the

conscious, it is overwhelmed by its contrary--pain, and the patient's

condition becomes, if anything, worse.

To overcome this difficulty quite a new method is required. If we

speak a thought, that thought, while we speak it, must occupy our

minds. We could not speak it unless we thought it. By continually

repeating "I have no pain" the sufferer constantly renews that thought

in his mind. Unfortunately, after each repetition the pain-thought

insinuates itself, so that the mind oscillates between "I have no pain"

and "I have some pain," or "I have a bad pain." But if we repeat our

phrase so rapidly that the contrary association has no time to insert

itself, we compel the mind willy-nilly to dwell on it. Thus by a fresh

path we reach the same goal as that attained by induced outcropping; we

cause an idea to remain in occupation of the mind without calling up a

contrary association. This we found to be the prime condition of

acceptation, and in fact by this means we can compel the Unconscious to

realise the "no-pain" thought and so put an end to the pain.

But the sentence "I have no pain" does not lend itself to rapid

repetition. The physical difficulties are too great; the tongue and

lips become entangled in the syllables and we have to stop to restore

order. Even if we were dexterous enough to articulate the words

successfully, we should only meet with a new difficulty. The most

emphatic word in the phrase is "pain"; involuntarily we should find

ourself stressing this word with particular force, so strengthening in

our minds the very idea we are trying to dislodge.

We shall do best to copy as closely as we can Coue's own procedure.

The phrase he uses, "ca passe," makes no mention of the hurt; it is

extremely easy to say, and it produces an unbroken stream of sound,

like the whirr of a machine or the magnified buzz of an insect, which,

as it were, carries the mind off its feet. The phrase recommended by

Baudouin, "It is passing off," produces no such effect, and in fact

defies all our attempts to repeat it quickly. On the whole, the most

suitable English version seems to be "It's going." Only the word

"going" should be repeated, and the treatment should conclude with the

emphatic statement "gone!" The word "going," rapidly gabbled, gives

the impression of a mechanical drill, biting its way irresistibly into

some hard substance. We can think of it as drilling the desired

thought into the mind.

If you are suffering from any severe pain, such as toothache or

headache, sit down, close your eyes and assure yourself calmly that you

are going to get rid of it. Now gently stroke with your hand the

affected part and repeat at the same time as fast as you can, producing

a continuous stream of sound, the words: "It's going, going, going ...

gone!" Keep it up for about a minute, pausing only to take a deep

breath when necessary, and using the word "gone" only at the conclusion

of the whole proceeding. At the end of this time the pain will either

have entirely ceased or at least sensibly abated. In either case apply

the particular suggestions recommended in the previous chapter. If the

pain has ceased suggest that it will not return; if it has only

diminished suggest that it will shortly pass away altogether. Now

return to whatever employment you were engaged in when the pain began.

Let other interests occupy your attention. If in a reasonable space,

say half an hour, the pain still troubles you, isolate yourself again;

suggest once more that you are going to master it, and repeat the


It is no exaggeration to say that by this process any pain can be

conquered. It may be, in extreme cases, that you will have to return

several times to the attack. This will generally occur when you have

been foolish enough to supply the pain with a cause--a decayed tooth, a

draught of cold air, etc.--and so justify it to your reason, and give

it, so to speak, an intellectual sanction. Or it may be that it will

cease only to return again. But do not be discouraged; attack it

firmly and you are bound to succeed.

The same procedure is equally effective with distressing states of

mind, worry, fear, despondency. In such cases the stroking movement of

the hand should be applied to the forehead.

Even in this exercise no more effort should be used than is necessary.

Simply repeat rapidly the word which informs you that the trouble is

going, and let this, with the stroking movement of the hand, which, as

it were, fixes the attention to that particular spot, be the sum and

substance of your effort. With practice it will become easier, you

will "drop into it"; that is to say, the Unconscious will perform the

adaptations necessary to make it more effective. After a time you

should be able to obtain relief in twenty to twenty-five seconds. But

the effect is still more far-reaching; you will be delivered from the

fear of pain. Regarding yourself as its master, you will be able with

the mere threat of treatment to prevent it from developing. You will

hang up a card, "No admittance," on the doors of your conscious mind.

It may be that the pain attacks you in the street or in a workshop; in

some public place where the audible repetition of the phrase would

attract attention. In that case it is best to close the eyes for a

moment and formulate this particular suggestion: "I shall not add to

this trouble by thinking about it; my mind will be occupied by other

things; but on the first opportunity I shall make it pass away," Then

as soon as you can conveniently do so make use of the phrase "It's

going." When you have become expert in the use of this form of

suggestion you will be able to exorcise the trouble by repeating the

phrase mentally--at any rate if the words are outlined with the lips

and tongue. But the beginner should rely for a time entirely on

audible treatment. By dropping it too soon he will only court


It sometimes happens that a patient is so prostrated by pain or misery

that he has not the energy to undertake even the repetition of the word

"going." The pain-thought so obsesses the mind that the state of

painlessness seems too remote even to contemplate. Under these

circumstances it seems best to employ this strategy. Lie down on a

bed, sofa, or arm-chair and relax both mind and body. Cease from all

effort--which can only make things worse--and let the pain-thought have

its way. After a time your energies will begin to collect themselves,

your mind to reassert its control. Now make a firm suggestion of

success and apply the method. Get another person to help you, as Coue

helps his patients, by performing the passes with the hand and

repeating the phrase with you. By this means you can make quite sure

of success. This seemingly contradictory proceeding is analogous to

that of the angler "playing" a fish. He waits till it has run its

course before bringing his positive resources into play.

Baudouin recommends an analogous proceeding as a weapon against

insomnia. The patient, he says, should rapidly repeat the phrase, "I

am going to sleep," letting his mind be swept away by a torrent of

words. Once more the objection arises that the phrase "I am going to

sleep" is not such as we can rapidly repeat. But even if we substitute

for it some simple phrase which can be easily articulated it is

doubtful whether it will succeed in more than a small percentage of

cases. Success is more likely to attend us if we avail ourselves of

the method of reflective repetition mentioned in the last chapter. We

should take up the position most favourable to slumber and then repeat

slowly and contemplatively the word "Sleep." The more impersonal our

attitude towards the idea the more rapidly it will be realised in our

own slumbers.

How Suggestion Works How To Teach Patients To Make Autosuggestions facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail