Archive report of meeting

Thursday 20th March 2014

Past notice

Torty Colly and the deadly poison:
an investigation

A talk by Elwyn Griffiths

Though slightly odd, the title of the talk delivered to the March 2014 meeting of the James Braid Society was carefully considered.

For the speaker, Elwyn Griffiths, wanted to draw attention to the strangeness of the condition. To that end he used a 16th century term as precise shorthand for adult onset idiopathic cervical dystonia, an involuntary muscle action that distorts the position of the head.

The talk was in two parts (background and a case study) and the evening was rounded off with a third – a useful discussion of the role of hypnotherapy for this condition.

By way of background, Elwyn explained that Torty Colly (a focal dystonia) is a specific type of movement disorder, a category that includes other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, chorea, and tics.

The sausage poison is the Botulinum toxin – from the Latin botulus, sausage – the preferred and generally, but temporarily, effective treatment.

Hypnotherapy is recognised as being helpful to patients. Elwyn quickly reviewed some of the literature on but there is little in the way of specific guidance.
Elwyn GriffithsElwyn Griffiths

is Secretary of the James Braid Society and has a hypnotherapy practice in Islington, north London

He is particularly interested in the scientific basis for hypnotherapy and keen to develop the range of issues which can be tackled with soundly based approaches.

The condition is very distressing for sufferers and they present with pain, functional impairment, embarrassment because of the reactions of others, and a generally reduced quality of life. The video at gives an idea of what the condition means to those afflicted.

Elwyn described a case of a senior manager who had started sausage poison injections but had yet to gain any benefit. This man had a longstanding problem with embarrassment he had been able to control until the Torty Colly started.

This became the main focus of hypnotherapy and a number of standard approaches were used. However, the Torty Colly was addressed with some specific interventions.

The control room of the mind had seemed to be a good start with this client, but he spontaneously regressed to a childhood incident and the approach was aborted.

The client responded well to the idea of floating above his body and controlling it like a marionette. Elwyn had also experimented with a "virtual sausage poison". The client was helped to re-live the experience of a real injection and the physical benefits that followed.

There was some immediate benefit from this and it is hoped the client will be able to re-visit the experience on his own and extend the benefit he gets from Botulinum toxin injections.

Overall the client had benefited significantly from his hypnotherapy and was facing his future with confidence.

Elwyn will be happy to give more information to any therapist that would like it. He can be contact by email at


In addition the slides used for the talk, together with some notes and references, give some more details and can be downloaded by clicking the pdf image below
.PDF link