I have a keen interest in the role that magic and illusions play in the clinical environment.
Most of us are aware of the role of illusions in pain science. For those that don't, feel free to click on the previous link or read this review of a "pain" seminar I attended to get a better understanding.
What it ultimately comes down to is that all interventions should exploit the nervous system in some form or another. And in many cases, through the use of illusions.
Think about the last patient who stumbled through your door in severe acute pain. Or that individual under extreme stress with chronic pain. What sort of strategies did you use to get them on their way much happier and in less discomfort?
Like I alluded to above, it's not uncommon for me to utilize the power of illusions to care for my patients. Now this is not to say that treatment is all an illusion, but more so that illusions can be used as part of your "treatment" strategy.
Before we move forward, let's watch the following video:
As you can see, magicians utilize various known techniques to exploit neuroscience and influence perception. And for us clinicians, I don't think this should be any different. Here are some examples based on the video:
Misdirection of attention
Joint attention and mirror neurons
As you can see, the brain is limited in that it has a one track mind. And when someone is experiencing severe, acute pain or chronic pain, very often that one track = pain. So we need to know how to redirect their attention. Again, not as a stand alone treatment - otherwise we would all be magicians - but as part of our strategies when working in the clinic.
Remember, it's not just what we can do with our hands but also how we interact with our patients! And when it comes to humor, the first individual that comes to mind is Patch Adams.
For more information on what the neuroscience of magic reveals about our everyday deceptions, make sure you check out the book, "Sleights of Mind".