Aphasia is an acquired disorder of speech caused by strokes, head traumas or tumors.
Aphasic patients usually have no deficits in the overall structure of speech (Caplan, 1992), in communicative and metacognitive abilities (Tirassa 1999).
Aphasia represents a barrier to social participation, and it is worsened by the fact that people with aphasia (PWA) are aware of their linguistic difficulties and of the reactions that they cause in others.
Discouraged not only because of their condition, they stop participating to conversations, with heavy consequences in all areas of their lives, especially on their potential recovery (Code & Hermann, 2003); this leads to a deterioration of their quality of life and of the conversations they participate to (Davidson, Worral & Hickson, 2003).
Even in those cases in which patients don’t develop a full-blown depression, the loss of the ability to communicate effectively causes a deep change that influences many aspects of life: work, education, relationships, the organization of domestic life, of free time and even personal characteristics such as self-esteem.
Often, at the time when the stroke occurred, people had a job. Many of them, depending on circumstances and age, are forced to retire, to remain unemployed or to radically change their work conditions, not only because of communicative impairments, but also because of motor deficits, muscular weakness, constant fatigue and the problems in coordination (Parr et al., 1997).
Despite having a great impact on motivation, physical, cognitive and linguistic performance, emotions have often been overlooked in rehabilitative programs. They play a fundamental role in rehabilitation: motivation grows and performance improves when people are in a positive mood. Depressed people, for example, have worse outcomes to rehabilitative therapy compared to people who are not depressed (Code & Hermann, 2003).
Concerning specific aspects of communication, hypnosis proved its efficacy in the treatment of anxious states directly linked to language (Barker et al., 1972), especially to public speaking (Schoenberger et al., 1998), in the learning of specific aspects of another language (Schumann et al., 1978), and in the treatment of stuttering (Kaya & Alladin, 2012). In a recent paper, Gava, Cavarra & Di Bartolomeo (2013) suggest the possibility to effectively use hypnotic techniques in the treatment of “linguistic anxiety”, a typical condition related to aphasia.
Furthermore, recent studies demonstrate that hypnosis is a useful support in neuropsychological rehabilitation (Prifits et al., 2011; Cagiada et al., 2012).
Barker, L. L., Cegala, D. J., Kibler, R. J., & Wahlers, K. J. (1972). Hypnosis and the reduction of speech anxiety.
Cagiada, S., Canidio, L., & Pizzi, R. (2012). A Support to Neuromotor Rehabilitation based on Multimedia Enhanced Hypnosis. International Journal of Computer Applications, 56.
Caplan, D. (1992). Language: Structure, processing, and disorders. The MIT Press.
Code, C., & Herrmann, M. (2003). The relevance of emotional and psychosocial factors in aphasia to rehabilitation. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 13(1-2), 109-132.
Davidson, B., Worrall, L., & Hickson, L. (2003). Identifying the communication activities of older people with aphasia: Evidence from naturalistic observation. Aphasiology, 17(3), 243-264.
Gava, N., Cavarra M, Di Bartolomeo G., (2013) Linguistic anxiety: possibili contributi delle tecniche ipnotiche. Convegno nazionale “Riabilitare la comunicazione: Tecniche e Tecnologie applicate.” Torino, 29-30 Novembre 2013.
Kaya, Y., & Alladin, A. (2012). Hypnotically Assisted Diaphragmatic Exercises in the Treatment of Stuttering: A Preliminary Investigation. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 60(2), 175-205.
Parr, S., Byng, S., Gilpin, S., & Ireland, C. (1997). Talking about aphasia: Living with loss of language after stroke. McGraw-Hill International.
Priftis, K., Schiff, S., Tikhonoff, V., Giordano, N., Amodio, P., Umiltà, C., & Casiglia, E. (2011). Hypnosis meets neuropsychology: simulating visuospatial neglect in healthy participants. Neuropsychologia, 49(12), 3346-3350.
Schoenberger, N. E., Kirsch, I., Gearan, P., Montgomery, G., & Pastyrnak, S. L. (1998). Hypnotic enhancement of a cognitive behavioral treatment for public speaking anxiety. Behavior Therapy, 28(1), 127-140.
Tirassa M. (1999). Communicative competence and the architecture of the mind/brain. Brain and Language, 68: 419-441.