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December 9, 1974

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Spontaneous Remission, And Hypnotherapy

Author Affiliations

Walnut Creek, Calif

JAMA. 1974;230(10):1388-1389. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240100018015

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To the Editor.—  The factors that induce spontaneous remission are unknown; some may not be measurable. Since the probability of spontaneous remission is invariably invoked when a patient's condition improves after recourse to an unorthodox healing method, it would appear to be of some importance to understand what weight should be consigned to "suggestion" as a variable among the many factors that contribute to the healing process.A 10-year-old girl in whom a rheumatologist diagnosed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis responded minimally to large doses of salicylates and physical therapy over a period of seven weeks. She was depressed, uncommunicative, and inactive. When salicylism appeared imminent and corticosteroid therapy was being considered, hypnotherapy was tried. Three sessions were given. Despite resistance to the first session, the patient gave a positive ideomotor response to the question, "Does some part of your mind know why you have arthritis?" This query induced some anxiety, as