3 Basic Things That Aren’t Understood

My father is an anesthetist, which means he puts people to sleep for their surgical operations.

We have been using anesthetics for surgery, childbirth etc since ether was recognized for this purpose back in the mid 1800’s. There are now about a dozen main general anesthetic agents, Nitrous oxide ie Laughing gas, Halothane, various forms of ethers and so on.

Millions of people go off to sleep each year, have their treatment, and wake up afterwards, and here is the kicker…

We have no idea how it happened!

Theories are all over the place, but it’s still guesswork as to how they did their job.

But time and time and time and again they do!

Go back and re-read the last 4 sentences, but substitute hypnosis for anesthetics. It is the same.

The theories for hypnosis are equally as poor, and in dispute, as those for anaesthetics. It’s hard to even define what hypnosis is in the first place.

Both hypnosis and anesthesia have been extensively applied, and heavily researched and studied.

Let me give you a third item that is even more basic.

Going to sleep.

We don’t even know how to explain what sleep is, or how we go from being awake to drifting off and falling asleep.

So consider this… What hope does a new or uncommon treatment have of being studied and actually understood, when we have so little ability to understand what we are already using?

Does that mean we throw away something because we don’t know HOW it works?

Well I’m very pleased to know general anesthetics are around if I need an operation, and my wife wouldn’t wish to have had her third child without hypnosis beforehand.

Personally we’re not going to wait until scientific knowledge catches up.

-Dr Martin Russell

6 thoughts on “3 Basic Things That Aren’t Understood”

  1. So if they don’t understand that much about how the brain works, then why are they so sure that alcohol destroys the brain? Well, I understand alcoholic abuse – it certainly can destroy the liver, but one drink that helps a person sleep when they’re in pain – why discourage it?

  2. Miami Phillips says:

    Are you sleeping, hypnotized or taking drugs when you come up with this stuff?

    Keep it up…

    Free Management Video

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  4. “but one drink that helps a person sleep when they’re in pain – why discourage it?” The brain is not a total mystery. We know that introducing a foreign substance to alter the natural brain chemistry tends to discourage healthy brain functioning in both the chemical and psychological realms. There is a trade-off between momentary relief and dysfunction over time. Unfortunately, the “one” drink, especially if it works, may become a reliance if the underlying difficulty is not addressed. That’s the habit-forming nature of substance abuse.

  5. I’ve always wondered how anesthetists did their job. Then there are those nightmare tales you hear about people appearing to be asleep but being able to feel everything the surgeon is doing–every slice, cut, removal–but they can’t even scream. Is sleep a state of rest where you are unaware of your body and mind, or like hypnosis, can you be asleep within your body but function as though you are wake. So many questions, fascinating article.

  6. There are ways of monitoring the brain to tell if someone is asleep/aware or not. They don’t usually use that expensive equipment to monitor during anesthesia, though.

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