Tim Brunson DCH

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Using art to help understand the imagery of irritable bowel syndrome



Full Title: Using art to help understand the imagery of irritable bowel syndrome and its response to hypnotherapy

A medical artist asked 109 patients if they had an image of their IBS pre- and posthypnotherapy, making precise watercolor paintings of any images described. Results were related to treatment outcome, symptoms, anxiety, depression, and absorption (hypnotizability); 49% of patients had an image, and a wide variety were recorded and painted. Imagery was significantly associated with gender (p < .05), anxiety (p < .05), noncolonic symptomatology (p < .05), and absorption (p = .001); 57.8% of responders compared with 35.5% of nonresponders to hypnotherapy had an image of their disease (p < .05) before treatment, and color images were associated with better outcomes (p = .05) than monochrome ones. All images changed in responders, often becoming more nonspecific in nature. Inquiring about IBS imagery helps to identify potential responders and nonresponders to hypnotherapy and may also provide insights into how patients think about their illness.

Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2009 Apr;57(2):162-73. Carruthers HR, Miller V, Morris J, Evans R, Tarrier N, Whorwell PJ. University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

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