Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E Manahawkin, NJ 08050. Telephone us at(609)709-2043 and (609) 709-0009.Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72, on the road to Beach Haven West.After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Greater Coastal Realty. Then turn right and go past the Lyceum Gyn. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building. We. are the last office at the end. We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.Weekend and evening office hours are avalable.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Trump, Hitler, and Cognitive Dissonance

A recent article in Psychology Today stated that half of all Americans couldn't come up with a sudden demand for $450 in a crisis. Almost everyone now agrees that there are a lot of angry voters out there. on both the right and the left, who supported Trump because they feel that the system has failed them.



Many people haave compared Trump to Hitler  However,  the most important reason that Trump does not pose as much of a danger as Hitler did is obvious. Hitler was a much better speaker! He even made use of lighting, symbols, and audience involvement to drive home his points. Here, with English subtitles, is one of his classic speeches. 




Note that after Hitler boasts to his cheering supporters that he has eliminated all sources of political opposition, Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf  Hess strode to the platform at the conclusion of his speech, and ecstatically proclaimed that the Party was Hitler, and Hitler and Germany were one, thereby making Hitler's power absolute.

Trump's power is far from absolute. But why have his followers been so loyal that they have made the Republican Party the Party of Trump?  For many people, Trump is a strongman who appeals to their insecurities. Once an emotional commitment has been made, there is a powerful force called cognitive dissonance, which makes us reluctant to admit that we have been wrong.,  This is what doomed Hitler's followers to eventual destruction because they could not admit that their leader was a pathological narcissist. Here, is a clinical description of a narcissist and how to talk to one.  Judge for yourself whether, and how well, Trump fits this description. 



Lessons from Turning a Hypnotized Person into a Chicken

"Help! I'm a student in Dr. Gibbons' Psychology class!"
When I first opened my psychology practice, one of my first hypnosis clients asked me, "You aren't going to turn me into a chicken, are you?"

"No," I replied, somewhat taken aback. 'That's for stage hypnotists. If I did it, it wouldn't be professional." But I did once. 

Several years ago, when I was discussing the topic of hypnosis in an Introductory psychology class, I asked a student who had volunteered in a previous demonstration if she would be willing to help me illustrate how easy it was to turn a hypnotized person into a chicken. She readily agreed, and at the conclusion of an induction, I told her that I would count backwards from ten to one, and that at the count of one she would have been turned into a chicken.

"You will always be able to hear and to respond to my voice," I continued, "and I will return you to your normal state in a few minutes, before I bring you out of hypnosis. But until I do, you will experience the world exactly as if you had been turned into a chicken. You will remember everything I have said, and it will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Okay?"

She nodded in agreement, and I counted slowly backwards from ten to one, providing suggestions along the way that she could feel herself changing into a chicken; and at the count of one, I announced that she had become a chicken. "Would you like to open your eyes and walk around a bit?" I asked. She did so, walking slowly as I took hold of her elbow. "Why are you walking like that?" I asked.

"I'm a chicken," she answered in a high, cackly voice, much to the amusement of the class.

I guided her back to her desk, counted from one to ten to restore usual perceptions, and then concluded the hypnotic demonstration. I then asked her if she had really felt like she was a chicken, and she slowly and thoughtfully nodded in agreement. 

But if she really believed that she was a chicken, why did she not scurry away in fear as soon as I approached her desk? Why did she allow me to slowly walk her around the room, limping slightly, instead of struggling to get away, as a real chicken would surely do? Why did she answer my question about why she was limping by answering, "I'm a chicken!?" And why were the suggestions so easy to undo, as if she understood English as well as she ever did?

We could talk about a "hidden observer" that always knows what's going on and maintains control, no how matter deeply a person is hypnotized, as Hilgard (1974) did. We could talk about "trance logic," which is similar to the logic which is found in dreams, as Martin Orne (1959) did. But why should we infer the presence of any extra mental processes when they are not needed?

What she had actually believed and responded to, I believe, was the narrative of what had taken place (Sarbin & de Rivera, 1998), She knew that she was a student in my class, and she knew that she had consented for me to hypnotize her. She still had the kind of "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination which we all have as children, but most of us lose as we become adults. Therefore, she was also able to act, think, and feel as if she were a chicken for the purpose of a class demonstration.  

The demonstration described here was undertaken in the spirit of fun, and everyone understood that. However, as  long as the suggested narratives are real to the person who undergoes them, their transformational effects on the personality can be powerful indeed! 

Is it safer to tell a hypnotized person that they are turning into a chicken or to tell them that they are experiencing the fulfillment of their existence in a parallel universe?  I  have done both, and I can tell you from personal experience that one is just as easy and safe as the other. In fact, it was this experience of turning a hypnotized person into a chicken in a  demonstration in my introductory psychology class that gave me the courage to pull out the stops and tell clients in my psychology practice that they were going into an alternate universe and experiencing the fulfillment of their existence. But in the latter case, the personality changes which result can be as dramatic as the Fundamentalist experience of being "saved" in a revival meeting (Gibbons & de Jarnette, 1972), but individualized to fit the personality and unique characteristics of each particular client. In fact, with our adult ability to conceptualize, we can build an almost unlimited number of resource states, in an unlimited number of parallel universes in which anything that can happen really does happen (Gibbons & Woods, 2016).   

References

Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016). Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Books 


Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11(2), pp. 152-156. 

Hilgard, E. R. (1974), Toward a neo-dissociation theory: Multiple cognitive controls in human functioning. Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, 17(3), pp, 301-316. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Orne, M. T,  (1959), The nature of hypnosis: Artifact and essence. Journal of abnormal and social psychology,  psychnet.apa.org.

Sarbin, T. R., & De Rivera, J. (1998),  Believed-in imaginings: The Narrative Construction of Reality (Memory, Trauma, Dissociation, and Hypnosis) . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.




Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Blending the Hypnoverse Into the Multiverse

The hypnoverse of all possible experiences which may be brought about by means of hypnosis is only theoretically unlimited, as is the multiverse of experiences which constitute our daily lives. Here is Steve Lynn's excellent summary of how they work together, followed by an illustration of their application in everyday life.. His first sentences deal with the structure of the hypnoverse, and the final sentence refers to their application in the multiverse within which we live. 

 . . .how clients respond to suggestions depends less on the nature and success of a particular induction than on the following variables: (a) clients' prehypnotic attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and expectations about hypnosis; (b) their ability to think, fantasize, and absorb themselves in suggestions; (c) their ability to form a trusting relationship with the hypnotist; (d) their ability to interpret suggestions appropriately and view their responses as successful; (e) their ability to discern task demands and cues; (f) their ongoing interaction with the hypnotist; and (g) the appropriateness of the therapeutic methods and suggestions to treating the presenting problem. . . . Accordingly, clinicians should devise inductions and suggestions with these variables in mind and tailor their approach to the unique personal characteristics and agenda of each client they encounter" (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010, p. 289).  

 A nurse I used to work with in a screening center asked me to hypnotize her to stop smoking, which I was happy to do. She mentioned that one of her high school teachers used to hypnotize her regularly (apparently as a demonstration subject in his classes), so it was clear that she was imaginatively gifted. 

We didn't have time for the usual stop-smoking program that I use, with three visits and all the rest. But, knowing her as I did, it was clear that if she was ready to stop she was going to do so, with hypnosis providing the necessary catalyst regardless of the time and format which were available to us -- so I just gave her the usual stop-smoking suggestions, with the usual repetition and elaboration. As I recall, I told her that her desire to smoke would vanish, that the cues which would normally awaken a desire to smoke would no longer be effective in doing so; that she could not be suddenly surprised by taking a cigarette without thinking of it; and that she would feel strong feelings of pride, achievement, and accomplishment at the fact that she had become a non-smoker, 

To my consternation, the next day, when I asked her how she had done, and she told me that she had gone home and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes! But six months later, when I casually mentioned something about her smoking, she told me, "Oh, I haven't smoked since the time you hypnotized me."`


"But didn't you go home and smoke up a whole pack?" I asked her.

"Yes," she replied. "And then I stopped."


Having worked side by side on the same unit with her for quite some time, I realized why she had responded the way she did. Her approach to authority was basically confrontational. In her everyday work environment, she made it obvious to everyone around her that, "Nobody's going to tell ME what to do!" So, when I gave her suggestions under hypnosis that she was going to stop smoking, her life narrative required that she had to first go home and deliberately smoke up a whole pack just to prove that I wasn't telling HER what to do. Then, once she had made the point to her own satisfaction, she could comply with my suggestions because she was ready to change. 



Print Sources

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Hyperempiria: The Next Step Upward in Human Evolution


Evolution did not come to a screeching halt with the first bipeds who could accurately be labeled homo sapiens. We have been developing the powers of our imagination in new and exciting ways ever since. However, we frequently need the services of a hypnotist to function as an enabler, coach, or personal trainer to show us how to use these emerging abilities with confidence, because they are so different from the current patterns of thought which we are used to in everyday life

With 99% of the same genetic makeup as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, there is little doubt that our evolutionary development has been lopsided. We have highly developed frontal lobes which enable us to formulate lofty ideals and distant goals, but all too often our emotional centers prevent us from achieving them. More than once in the last century, we have come close to annihilating each other; and many societal institutions -- are devoted in whole or in part to regulating our behavior so that we do not destroy one another individually.  

Using the BEST ME Technique of multimodal suggestion for the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness.(Gibbons & Lynn, 2008), it is possible to fully experience the rewards of distant goals now, in the present, when they are most important for motivation, making it much easier to live up to the goals and ideals which evolution has enabled us to construct but have heretofore been difficult to achieve (Gibbons & Woods, 2016)..


Hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience,  is quite likely the next step upward in human evolution. And the challenge facing all of us is to learn to make the fullest use of our emerging hyperempiric abilities  for the facilitation of human growth, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the enrichment of human existence.


References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.




Sunday, August 12, 2018

Cognitive Dissonance: The Root of Social Conflict


The following You Tube video was made by a woman who had been suffering in an avusive relationship for many years. In personal terms, she explains the underlying psychological principle of cognitive dissonance, and how it kept her from realizing what was really going on and taking the necessary steps to end it.



Cognitive dissonance, as the narrator in the foregoing video points out, is about more than romantic relationships. Any time you have a set of ideas that you are deeply committed to and you encounter a belief which contradicts them, as in the group whose members quit their jobs and sold their homes because they believed that they were going to be rescued by flying saucer people who never showed up, you cognitive dissonance is the result.  Internet feuds may have the emotional insulation of a game of chess, but they have also resulted in threats of violence and death if one's deeply cherished beliefs and values are called into question. Political, racial, religious, and orher forms of cognitive dissonance have ruined many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, outdoor barbecues, and couples get-togethers; and they have provided the fuel for many riots. As this is being written, Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, which leads in front of the Whte Housse, is being closed to foot trafffic in anticipation of an impending riot between White supremacists and their opponents/

I used to quote the following lines to inmates in the State prison system who were sanctioned for fighting, and I advised them to be "Joe Cool," no matter what.


All day long and all night too,
One thing i must ever do.
Quench my heart and cool my blood
Lest I perish in the flood.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Limitations of Mechanically-Based Virtual Reality Systems

In spite of all the money which is currently being thrown at them, mechanically based systems of virtual reality are necessarily limited to the single sense of preception. And how "real" is that when they are STILL working with only one dimension of experience? Here is an example of what we as hypnotists can do to involve one's whole person in the content of a suggested experience  (Gibbons & Lynn, 2008; Gibbons & Woods, 2016).

The Best Me Technique utilizes the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness. Taken together, the elements of this technique form the acronym, BEST ME.

Belief systems which orient an individual to person, place, time, and events may be suggested as being different, allowing the participant to mentally transcend present realities.

Emotions may be enriched, intensified, weakened, or combined with others.

Sensations and physical perceptions may be suggested and experienced with an intensity approaching those of real events.

Thoughts and images may be created and guided in response to explicit or indirect suggestions.

Motives may either be suggested directly or implied as a consequence of other events.

Expectations may be structured concerning the manner in which the participant will look forward to and remember suggested events which will occur in the future, and the manner in which suggested experiences will subsequently be recalled and interpreted in memory.

When I was teaching at what is now the University of St. Francis de Sales, a student with whom I was well acquainted came to my office and said, "Hey, Prof! You gotta do something. I'm not studying!" Final examinations were coming up soon, and he was in the last semester of his senior year.  His grade point average was marginal at best. Since he had been a willing participant in earlier hypnosis research, I knew that he was a high responder. After hypnotizing him, I proceeded approximately as follows:

Belief systems. Now you can feel your awareness of the present beginning to fade, as you become ever more clearly aware of yoursel seated at your graduation ceremony, waiting to go up and receive your diploma. Just picture the scene, and imagine yourself excitedly waiting there, until it becomes just as real and just as clear to you as if it is happening right now.

Emotions. Let yourself feel an ever increasing sense of pride and achievement as you savor this moment to the fullest. As you look around at your fellow graduates and at the crowd of family, friends, and well wishers who have come to share in your success, you can truly rejoice in the thrill of all you have worked so hard to accomplish.

Sensations and physical perceptions. The graduates are getting up one row at a time to form a line beside the stage until their name is called. When it is your turn, you join the line and await your turn to go up and shake hands with the Dean and receive your diploma.

Thoughts and images. And all the time, you are realizing how much this means to you, and how much it has all been worthwhile.

Motives. Now, as you walk across the stage and shake hands with the Dean, he smiles and hands you your diploma, and you return to your seat, let yourself take a few moments now to bask in the satisfaction of a job well done, and savor your achievement to the fullest. [Pause.]

Expectations. And each time that you return to this treasured memory of the future, it will become easier for you to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, feel it happening, and savor in advance the fruits of your success!

We repeated this exercise five times in the final two weeks of the semester, and he did successfully graduate. Of course, it helped to have the active participation and encouragement of a faculty member who believed in him and was rooting for him; and the effectiveness of hypnotic suggestions must be evaluated in terms of the personality and unique characteristics of the individual to whom they are given, and the total context of the situation within which they are presented.  But what would we have been able to do with virtual reality goggles, even if they had been available at the time?


References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Personality Disordered People Can Wreck Your Life!

  

Personality-disordered people can wreck your life when they are bosses, friends, or family members, They can cause you to doubt yourself by causing you to believe their toxic opinions about you. 

The following descriptions of personality disorders have been compiled by some of the best minds in the field of mental health, drawing upon years of clinical observation and literally hundreds of research studies to find patterns which “clump together” in present-day culture. Of course, actual diagnosis and treatment should only be undertaken by a mental health professional, and many people can have the traits of one or more personality disorders withought qualifying for a full diagnosis -- but, there is an old saying, "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck -- it's a duck!"  If you know someone who appears to fit one or more of these descriptions, and if you are in a position to do so, it might be doing them a favor to encourage them to examine the reasons why they remain in an abusive relationship, with professional  help if necessary

Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The ancient Greeks used to tell the story of Narcissus -- a lad who was so good-looking that he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, and spent so much time gazing at it that he eventually fell into the pool and drowned. People who are given a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder are often perceived as being selfish or conceited. They may often spend a great deal of time telling you how great they are, or boasting of their achievements or accomplishments.

Some people think of a person with a narcissistic personality disorder as having a superiority complex to cover up for an inferiority complex. When you get to know such people well, it soon becomes apparent that the reason they spend so much time “tooting their own horn” is that deep down inside, they really feel afraid, inadequate, and unlovable.

Narcissists do not always act selfishly in the short term. They are often highly motivated to pursue long-term goals in order to prove their worth both to themselves and others. For this reason, narcissists often tend to gravitate to positions of leadership in business, government, education -- and yes, even churches.

Narcissists often cause a great deal of suffering, particularly when they happen to be employers, family members,  or romantic partners. Yet there are ways of dealing with them. (Since no two personalities are exactly identical, however, you cannot stereotype them and treat them all exactly the same way.)

Histrionic Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder may often be compared to an adult version of the “spoiled child” who will do anything to remain the center of attention. If histrionics are able to “show off” and remain the center of attention by doing a good job, they often accomplish a great deal. But if they feel that they are being ignored, or that the attention which they crave so deeply is denied them, they may become angry and disruptive in order to get it back again -- even if it’s unfavorable attention this time! ("I don't care what you say about me," one publicity-hungry histrionic is reported to have said to a reporter for a scandal magazine. "Just be sure you spell my name right.!")

Antisocial Personality Disorder.

People with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder did not incorporate our society’s standards of right and wrong into their personalities as well as the rest of us have. They begin getting into trouble with the authorities by the time they are adolescents, and don’t grow out of it. As you might suppose, this pattern is much more common in men than in women.

Since personality disorders are so difficult to change, many such people keep going back and forth to jail from their teen years until middle age, when they seem to mellow out of their own accord. They make up the bulk of most prison populations, and often have a history of substance abuse or substance dependency. However, people with antisocial personality traits (I like to call them stealth anti socials) may be encountered almost anywhere, even at the highest levels of many organizations; and they may not be found out until their behavior gets them into trouble. (The discovery and apprehension of stealth anti socials in high-profile positions is the basis of many of the news stories we read about every day.)

Borderline Personality Disorder.

To understand the person who qualifies for a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, think back to some of the stormiest days of your own adolescence, or the adolescence of someone you know well. With an incompletely developed sense of self, the borderlines have no firm idea of who they are and where they are going. Their lives are often erratic, with frequent job changes and alterations in long term goals, and intense and unstable friendships and romantic involvements.

Because of their poorly developed sense of self, borderlines often have difficulty with so-called “boundary issues,” or the ability to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate in a given situation. Some borderlines, in fact, may find it difficult to even talk to a person of the opposite sex for very long without acting as if they are falling in love with them. As would be expected, the romantic lives of borderlines tend to be especially intense and tumultuous. The manipulative abilities of people with borderline personality disorder often enable them to deceive those who do not understand the inner storms which produce such behavior, which frequently causes their sudden bouts of passion to be mistaken for genuine love.

Borderlines often engage in “splitting,” with either extremely positive or extremely negative feelings towards others, sometimes suddenly reversing from extreme friendliness to extreme rejection and vice-versa. This changeability frequently leads them to engage in behavior that is highly manipulative. This splitting may also be the reason why the interpersonal relationships of borderlines are often centered around real of imagined fears of abandonment. (One book on borderline personality disorder is entitled, I Hate You - Don’t Leave Me!) These tendencies to engage in splitting may also explain why borderlines also seem to have a strong ability to divide those around them into separate camps of friends and enemies.  

Borderlines usually have very low self-esteem, and suicidal gestures, genuine attempts,and successful suicides are not uncommon. Many borderlines have a history of cutting themselves, or other forms of self-injurious behavior as a result of low self-esteem.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be popularly known as a “nit-picker” or “neat freak.” They may become so involved with orderliness, perfectionism, and control that efficiency suffers as a result. This culture tends to place a high value on preoccupation with detail in certain jobs. With proper training, people who have milder forms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may become excellent law clerks, college registrars, bank auditors, or personal physicians -- in which case, it may not be a personality disorder any more, unless it interferes with their functioning off the job!

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is closely related to another disorder with a similar name, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD for short, which is similar in nature but more limited in scope. Obsessive-compulsive disorder refers to a pattern of continually recurring thoughts (obsessions), or behaviors which one is compelled to continually repeat, such as checking a door several times in a row to be sure that it is locked.

Avoidant Personality Disorder.

People who carry a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder have had such unpleasant social interactions in the past that with the possible exception of one or two close relatives or special friends, they have come to fear all human contact. Avoidants are frequently not merely shy about most social situations, they are genuinely phobic about them. Their avoidance is often centered around a core belief that if people really got to know them, it would immediately become obvious how incompetent and worthless they really are, and the immediate result would be scorn, rejection, and loss of employment. People with an avoidant personality disorder often tend to gravitate to solitary occupations -- researchers, librarians, or forest rangers, for example; and they may be attracted by certain monastic orders. (Of course, not everyone in these types of occupations could be diagnosed with an avoidant personality disorder!)

Dependent Personality Disorder.

A central theme in the life of people who have been diagnosed with a dependent personality disorder is a need to be looked after and taken care of, often accompanied by excessive fears of real or imagined abandonment. Ironically, some people who qualify for a diagnosis of DPD may behave in exactly opposite fashion. Those with milder forms of this disorder may attempt to satisfy their underlying dependency needs by becoming so efficient and thorough that they make themselves indispensable. Others, whose disorder is more severe, become highly dependent on instructions from above, and are reluctant to show any initiative in carrying out their responsibilities for fear that they will have made the wrong decision.

Paranoid Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnoses with paranoid personality disorder tend to see the activities of other people as ill-intentioned -- even when the opposite is true. Compliments may be seen as attempts to gain undue influence through flattery, and offers of help may be seen as evidence that the person to whom the help is offered is viewed as incompetent. The resulting suspiciousness and hostility may tend to bring about the negative attitudes and behaviors which the person with a paranoid personality disorder believes were always there. (The saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!”)

Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The person who has been diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder is an extreme loner or a “cold fish” who just isn’t interested in being around people. Such people are often found in the most solitary jobs which others might tend to shy away from. Because of their extreme lack of social skills, they should not be expected to change simply by inviting them to parties or by introducing them to a wide circle of people.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder typically have bizarre notions of cause and effect, and may practice unusual rituals of their own devising, either to make things happen or to prevent them from happening, similar to those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their everyday speech patterns and favorite topics of conversation are usually regarded by those around them as being somewhat bizarre, although not totally “crazy” in the popular sense of the term. They may also take a keen interest in cults and in the paranormal. Although certainly not everyone who is interested in such topics has a schizotypal personality disorder, the true schizotypal still tends to stand out because of bizarre thought patterns.

Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.

Although the American Psychiatric Association no longer officially lists this as a separate personality disorder, people with passive aggressive tendencies try to disrupt things by sabotaging the success of their employers, their family, or their friends without appearing do so deliberately, because they feel that their own needs for recognition, status, or achievement are not being met, or that other people are more successful than they are. Passive aggressive people may risk an occasional confrontation if it helps them to get their frustrations out, but they can usually gauge their actions carefully enough to avoid losing their jobs or their families.

If they are not frankly and firmly confronted about their behavior, their passive-aggressive patterns may become worse over time as they continue to follow their own “hidden agendas” and they feel that their actions are being accepted or condoned. They may single out for special treatment vulnerable individuals or groups who will not or cannot “fight back,” and their behavior may degenerate into outright bullying. Then, when the inevitable day of reckoning does arrive, the consequences may be much more serious -- both for the victims and for the organization -- than if the problem had been immediately and forcefully dealt with.

Limitations of a Personality Disorder Diagnosis.

In order to qualify for any of the foregoing diagnoses of personality disorder, the disorder must be seen to cause people significant distress in their social, intellectual, or occupational functioning, regardless of whether or not they are aware of this fact. Temperamental but highly successful movie stars, for example, whose demanding and self-centered behavior would interfere with their adjustment in another setting, would probably not qualify for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder as long as they can "get away with it." Similarly, people who live alone in a remote location miles from the nearest neighbor would not qualify for a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder as long as they are able to function well their current situation, regardless of how intensely they may dislike having social contact with their fellow human beings.

It's easy to see how more than one personality disorder, or the traits of several, can work together in the same individual. Most of us are familiar with, or have heard stories about, the narcissistic borderline who sleeps her way into an executive position and then proceeds to systematically eliminate all those who are familiar with how she got to where she is, while tyrannizing over the ones who have been hired as their replacements. We are also not surprised to learn about a narcissistic antisocial convict (sometimes referred to as a psychopath), who immediately commits another crime upon his release from prison, which entitles him to several more years of "three hots and a cot," plus free medical and dental care. Many of us have also witnessed instances of a passive-aggressive histrionic, who regularly disrupts public meetings with their oft-repeated tales of woe, to the extent that it becomes next to impossible to get any business done. 

People with personality disorders are not likely to seek professional assistance, because they are frequently inclined to blame their troubles on everyone but themselves. When they do seek help, it is usually because they are forced to do so (often in conjunction with an assault or a suicide attempt, or because a family member insists on it). They tend to remain as long as they are "hurting," or as long as they are forced to stay. When they are no longer hurting and are in a position to stop, they discontinue treatment.

Instead of seeing the personality-disordered individual directly,a therapist is much more likely to see a family member, romantic partner, or employee who presents with anxiety or depression as a result of their interaction with someone who has a personality disorder (whom they may refer to as a "toxic person" or an "energy vampire").

A final word of caution: as stated previously, an actual diagnosis of a personality disorder should only be made by an appropriately trained mental health professional. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to insult people is to let them know that you suspect them of having a personality disorder! While avoiding making such a diagnosis yourself unless you are properly trained to do so, and not communicating your suspicions to the individuals concerned, knowing how to recognize the major symptoms of a personality disorder will place you in a much better position to deal with such people on a daily basis, and to seek professional assistance in order to better cope with them if you need to do so. 

Print Sources

Cavaiola, A. C., & Lavender, N. J. (2000). Toxic co-workers: How to deal with dysfunctional people on the job. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual, DSM-V. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 

The Most Powerful Suggestion I Know

Carl Rogers based his entire system of therapy on "unconditional positive regard," on the assumption that this was all that was necessary for a damaged personality to heal itself. The following video illustrates the most powerful application of unconditional positive regard in everyday life that I am aware of. It has numerous potential applications, as the video will show.

The video has been expanded from its original version into a love story, and now it is truly -- well, awesome!









Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Myth of the Analytical Hypnotic Subject

It has been said that the organisms most frequently experimented on are the laboratory rat and the college sophomore, because they are the most available to academic researchers. The differences in hypnotic responsiveness which are commonly used in psychological research have been obtained when data are gathered under standardized testing conditions such as a college classroom.

The Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (Shor & Orne, 1962) is modeled after the experimental approach originally begun by Clark Hull (1933). It contains a script consisting of a light hypnotic induction, followed by a list of twelve suggestions in increasing order of difficulty, from "easy" ones which almost anyone can pass, to more difficult items such as the inability to shake one's head "no" when challenged, or amnesia for most of the test items until after a prearranged signal has been given. Since its initial publication in 1962, the test has been used in dozens of studies all over the world, in order to give us a greater understanding of individual differences in suggestibility.

In a typical administration, in a class setting of about thirty people, there are there are from one to three high responders who obtain a perfect score of twelve on the test, one or two people who will obtain a score of zero on the test, just sitting there with their eyes open, looking around the room with a mixture of curiosity and boredom, and the rest manifesting varying degrees of responsiveness in between. Data of this type have been gathered by now at many colleges and universities around the world, and has yielded a great deal of useful information about differences between high and low responders. Many useful inferences can be drawn from Measuring sugestibility as a personality trait, and I have collected some of it myself (Gibbons & de Jarnette, 1972).

Now let's perform a thought experiment. I would like you to imagine that the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility is being given to a class of introductory psychology students when a person dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room and says in a loud, commanding voice, "There is an active  shooter in the building. Take refuge under your desks immediately and await further instructions!

Even if such an announcement had been a hoax (i.e., a cleverly-designed suggestion) thought up by a dissident student organization to disrupt the orderly running of campus activities, if it were to be conducted in a sufficiently convincing manner, everyone in the class -- including the instructor -- would probably cower under their desks until they were found by the next class which was scheduled to use the room. What happened to the "analytical  subjects" who were supposed to be impervious to suggestion? What happened to the individual differences in hypnotizability which the Harvard Group Scale was supposed to measure? They simply ceased to exist!

Outside of the narrow confines of the classroom, however, suggestibility is the rule rather than the exception, which is why entrenched political and religious opinions are so hard to change. 

References

Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11(2), pp. 152-156. 

Hull, C. L.  Hypnosis and Suggestibility. New York: Appleton-Cenntry, 1933.






Wednesday, July 25, 2018

False Beliefs that are Diving You Crazy

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In ancient Greece, if you were anxious, fearful, or depressed, you would consult a philosopher. The philosopher would probably begin by asking you what you believe about life. When you came to an idea which appeared to be incorrect, he would debate with you until you had cast out this irrational belief. When this was done correctly, your depression, fears, and anxieties would also vanish. 

Just as the Greek philosophers did, you can get rid of these kinds of ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out. The psychologist Albert Ellis has put together a list of ten commonly-held irrational ideas which prevent us from experiencing life to the fullest, because they set us up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us have are inclined to believe them, at least occasionally. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them!



I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Many people are haunted by the nagging fear that "something is wrong with them." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance.
If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away: "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"
It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as bases for learning and future growth.
Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!
It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.  Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as pathways to further growth.
Of course, this list does not cover all the negative beliefs which hold us back from becoming the best that we can be. But you can't get very far in life if there is some idea which is preventing you from performing at your best, such as the belief deep down inside that you going to fail, or that you are incapable of success. When we are faced with a daunting challenge, most of us, at one time or another, have the nagging suspicion that we are not up to the task. Whenever you feel a change in mood and you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, depressed, or fearful, you can use a table like this one to write down what was going through your mind at the time, and to figure out how you might be able to see things differently. You can use the print command on your computer to print off as many copies as you need, and keep them handy to change your moods by re-examining and changing the beliefs that got you there.


Additional Links Which May Be Helpful:

A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." Here is a link to a list of false  Perceptions that are dragging You Down, which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. After the link has taken you to the Blog entry, scroll down and it will be the first entry that comes to view.  See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world, by causing you to look at life "through mud-colored glasses." If you are inclined to look at things this way yourself, once you recognize that they are not accurate, you can get rid of them as well..


Frequently the negative beliefs and perceptions that are dragging yu down are held by others. The same apprach can be applied to a friend or family member that is driving you crazy.  Here are a few additional tips to use with  a boss that is driving you crazy. 

Sometimes a friend, family member, or boss is difficult to change because they have a personality disorder, or what is populatly referred to as a toxic person, or an energy vampire. Unlesss they can be persuaded to seek psychological help, the best thing to do is iften to stay away from them or at least to recognize them for who they are so that you do not blame yourself for their problems. 

Finally, what you think is also strongly influenced by what you do -- or by what you don't do! In addition to buiilding up youf resistance to stress by getting plenty of sleep, a good diet, and regular exercise, here is a link to a list of activities which can also help you to get escape from the cycle of anxiety, anger, depression, and despair. They can also strengthen the bond between you and your friends or romantic partner when you do them together. If at all possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people as you undertake them.