by Barbara Adinolfi

When children experience physical therapies that need time and loving attention from their parents (ex. compresses, bandaging, washing and soakings), once recovered, even after quite some time, they may recreate the pathology that led to those attentions.
 I will describe 3 similar cases of children of different ages (Sara, Lorenzo and Viola), in which conversational hypnosis techniques were used both for diagnosis and therapy.
-          Sara, 5 years old
It easy to create the hypnotic bubble with children using an assertive phase and this is what happened with Sara. She came to me with her father.
As usual, I checked the record of the last examination on my computer: the previous month the child had a catarrhal conjunctivitis and I prescribed her chamomile compresses 4 times a day and the application of an ophthalmic ointment 3 times a day for 6 days. Her father told me that she recovered well and within the predicted timespan. Since then, when waking up in the morning, Sara screamed because of an intense pain in the eyes; such pain didn’t present itself in other occasions.
My attention focused on the child, I paid her compliments for her clothing and asked who chose it. She answered me calmly but became more and more concentrated especially since I asked her to remember who chose the ribbon in her tress (I was helping her to shift attention toward her inner self to facilitate the trance state). I asked about the color of her pajama and I asked her to describe me what used to happen in the morning when she was in her bed.
From the moment in which I introduced the image of the pajama, Sara stood still, she stopped touching the toy she had in front of her, she looked at her hands, she was in a light trance. She described me the pain she felt in the eyes while her mother was waking her up and dressing her up. I asked her whether she would prefer to be woken up by her father instead; she said “yes”. The problem was that her father used to be at work in the morning, so I said that her mother could wake her up slowly by kissing her for a long time before dressing her up. Then I helped Sara visualize and experience this suggestion of mine. She told me that while her mother was kissing her without dressing her up, she wasn’t feeling any pain.
These words were very effective, so effective that they led her father to end the examination himself, changing his mind about an additional ophthalmic exam. He explained to me that his wife used to dress their daughter up while she was still half asleep, in order for her to be ready to have breakfast once fully awake.
He added that he wanted to speak to his wife as soon as possible in order to change the way she used to wake their daughter up.
-          Lorenzo, 8 years old.
Lorenzo came to me with her mother to have a GP referral for a urological examination because of a polyuria (frequent urination). His mother told me that this problem had started after a balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans) from which he suffered one month before. He recovered well, there was no edema or purulent secretion and the sliding of the foreskin was possible and not painful.
I checked his record: to treat balanoposthitis I prescribed him 4 washings of the glans with a disinfectant solution and the subsequent application of a cortisone and antibiotic cream for 6 days.
The anamnesis revealed that, in absence of infection of the foreskin and glans, frequent, scarce and not painful urinations persisted.
Then I asked Lorenzo to urinate in order to examine urines using a reactive strip. The child willingly went to the bathroom with his mother. The results were normal.
Lorenzo seemed particularly satisfied of his urine sample while his mother was clearly worried.
I asked the child how often he did he pee and where. He told me that it used to happen only when he was at home, in fact he was able to normally attend to lessons at school. That surprised his mother, who had assumed that the problem was always present. Lorenzo kept answering my questions and told me that, at home, his mother knew when he went to the bathroom because the string of the W.C. was too high for him, thus it was always his mother the one flushed and, in those occasions, she used to ask the child why he did he need to pee again.
While Lorenzo was speaking, he was in a light trance, he listened and answered without looking at his mother; his hands were still and he stopped touching the toys that were on the table in front of him.
During this trance state, the child welcomed the suggestion of substituting one urination with some tender time with his mother.
At that point Lorenzo's mother intervened saying that she was always at home and she was always there to kiss him. I asked the child for confirmation and he told me that his mother used to spend a lot of time making necklaces.
I did a check by mentally accompanying Lorenzo back to his room in a moment in which he had the need to pee: the child told me that he was willing to eliminate many urinations in exchange for some cuddle time with his mother.
Once again it was the mother who intervened to conclude the work: she was surprised and told me that she wanted to be present at home in a different way and that she no longer thought that urine cultures, echography and urological examinations were necessary. I agreed with her.
Lorenzo seemed relieved.
-          ­Viola 7 years old
Viola came with her mother to schedule diagnostic exams because of a persistent pain to her left elbow.
No traumas were reported and no hyperemia or edema was present; function was not impaired, the child in fact was able to easily execute all movements even if she reported pain.
I asked her to visualize and describe her pain. It had the shape of a red loaf of bread and she pointed the exact spot from where it originated, where it ended and which was the most painful part.
While in a light trance, the child had been able to reduce pain until 2/10, starting from 9/10 and then she decided to keep it that way because it didn’t bother her anymore.
Her mother was clearly and happily surprised, so surprised that she decided to tell me about the pain that Viola often feels to the right ankle.
I checked the medical record of the child and I saw that 12 months before I treated a sprain in that ankle by prescribing the use of a cream 2 times a day. I also specified that the ankle had to be washed, dried and, only then, bandaged.
After my request, Viola explained to me that, when she was feeling pain, her mother used to carefully wash and dry the ankle, she then used to apply the cream and make “a sort of bandaging” that immediately led to relief.
I asked her whether there was something so pleasant that could make the pain in the ankle go away and that could replace the bandages. Viola refused a foot massage and a game with her mother and happily accepted a cuddling session.
Then I made her re-experience the pain to the ankle and, after a quick check, she confirmed me that replacing bandages with cuddle time was pleasant. Once she had some extra cuddle time I asked her if the pain could never come back again. At that point Viola surprised us: she scheduled two cuddling sessions a day in order to prevent the pain from coming back.
Her mother was speechless, she didn’t know that pain could also have non-organic causes, thus she had exonerated the child from sport at school for a year, she couldn’t sign her up for athletics courses (which was something that Viola really wanted to do) and she had resigned herself to look for a physical therapist.
I met the child again because of a tonsillitis a month later, she never again reported pain to the ankle or to the elbow and was regularly practicing sports.
Phobias in children are often stressful factors for parents, especially when they don’t suffer from the same limit. Sometimes, compassion towards the child’s problem is replaced by intolerance for this disability: it is the case of Martina’s parents.
-          Martina, 12 years old.
Martina came with her parents on a summer afternoon. My room was in half-light to try to fight the heat.
Her mother asked me for a referral to perform an otolaryngologic and childhood neuropsychiatric examination on the child in order to investigate and hopefully solve a problem involving dizziness. She told me that they lived on the second floor and Martina used to take “an awful lot of time” to walk down the stairs and she also had to hold onto walls or handrails.
The little girl seemed mortified. I asked her to mentally walk up the stairs. She told me that it wasn’t hard; then I asked her to walk them down: she showed her uneasiness with automatic movements and told me that the difficulty was growing step by step up to the point that going on became impossible if she moved to the middle of the staircase.  She was in a light trance. I asked her whether a different color of the environment could make things easier: she chose a kind of green that she felt like “relaxing”. Then I suggested her to go up and down the green stairs many times and to do it also in the central part of the staircase.
Another check demonstrated the achieved result. At that point I asked her whether she wanted to increase her speed in coming down the stairs. Martina told me that she could do it very quickly and easily, even at the center of the staircase. I asked her to visualize the staircases exactly as they were in real life and to walk down. Martina did everything without effort.
The parents were clearly unprepared for this kind of intervention; they didn’t speak for the whole time but were focused, they found their place inside the hypnotic bubble.
They felt like something was happening, the father even asked me to solve the fear the child had for earthquakes too. I succeeded in refusing his proposal, explaining him that Martina had already done part of a work and that her mind was going to keep on working for the following hours and days.
Two months later her mother called because her daughter had an enteritis and when I asked her about the dizziness she hardly remembered that problem that was completely gone (and apparently forgotten).
Children trust the wisdom of their parents and rarely oppose their choices even when they don’t agree; however the subconscious mind records the uneasiness and lets it express on a physical level. That is what happened to Abdoul.
-          Abdoul, 8 years old.
Abdoul, born in Senegal, came to my office with his 6 years old brother and his father, who wanted to have a referral for an otolaryngologic examination.
His father told me that, since the preceding year, when the child went to bed, he used to make loud noises with his nose. Those sounds were so loud that they could be heard from the nearby room. It probably was happening because he might have had problems breathing while lying down.
I asked Abdoul to let me hear the noise: he had his mouth closed and it sounded like a forced expiration.
During the interview, the child, who was very collaborative, told me that he couldn’t help but making that noise with his nose and that it happened only when he was falling asleep, neither during the night nor the day.