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Ted Buchanan

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Pioneer in medical hypnosis marks 60th reunion

In 1950, Dr. Dabney Ewin says he won a close race for president of the Tulane University School of Medicine student body by campaigning to keep his peers engaged. At the university’s homecoming this weekend, Ewin will connect with classmates once more. 

Dabney Ewin
Dr. Dabney Ewin, who graduated from Tulane medical school in 1951, still teaches hypnotherapy at this alma mater. (Photo by George Long)

October 21, 2011

Kimberly Krupa
kkrupa@tulane.edu

After his 1951 graduation, Ewin embarked on a career as a physician and teacher, twin professions that gave him time to articulate the benefits of what was then an unlikely treatment for severe burns: hypnosis therapy.

“When I came up, you were a real charlatan if you fooled with it. It was voodoo,” says Ewin, who has taught hypnotherapy to Tulane medical students since 1970. He witnessed the benefits of hypnotherapy first-hand as company doctor for California-based Kaiser Aluminum.

When Kaiser workers fell into molten ore, Ewin used hypnosis to diminish the pain. The treatment prevented the body from releasing enzymes that reject burned tissue, he says. It also reduced recovery times so much that the need for a skin graft occasionally vanished.

Ewin is currently focused on hypnosis as a tool to treat a variety of injuries and conditions, including asthma. About half of his patients now manage asthma without medication, Ewin says.

“His contributions have been extraordinary,” says Dr. Daniel Winstead, chair of the Tulane Department of Psychiatry.

Thanks to a recently endowed lectureship in Ewin’s name, the School of Medicine can continue offering coursework on clinical hypnosis after Ewin retires. In the meantime, he is making plans to donate his library to the psychiatry and neurology department, and he has recorded two podcasts of his hypnotherapy lectures. One touches on the power of hypnotic suggestion. The other discusses using ideomotor, or non-verbal, signals to communicate in hypnosis.

For more information about the fund, contact Tiffany Palermo.

Kimberly Krupa is director of writing in the Office of Development.

 

 

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