Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

Translations Available

This blog is now available in several dozen languages. By entering the name of the desired language in the box which appears in the space below, any page you visit will have been automatically translated into the language you have selected. You can scroll down to view the most recent entries in chronological order, or you can view the most popular entries in the column on the right. By scrolling down the right-hand column, you can also see a list of all the previous entries.


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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Is it Possible to Hypnotize Animals?

Train? Yes. Hypnotize? No.
A while back, I was having lunch with another hypnotist and a third person, who asked my hypnotist friend whether or not it was possible to hypnotize animals. She replied that it was, and I did not contradict her out of politeness.  Indeed, I have occasionally seen references to animal hypnosis in the literature. For example, there is a book written in German entitled Menschen und Tierhypnose (Human and Animal Hypnosis), published by G. B. Schmid in Zurich in 1938. But in order to determine whether or not it is posible to hypnotize animals, we first have to ask, "What do we use hypnosis for?" We use it, as Terence watts has said, "as a delivery method for suggestions that make changes" -- to change people's beliefs about themselves, the world, and the future." Can we do that with animals? No! 

But isn't hypnosis just an enhanced form of communiication? Communication! Bees do it, ants do it, chimps do it, and horse whisperers do it. But only humankind is the storytelling animal. and therefore we are the only species that can make use of what +michael ellner has referred to as "the transformational magic" of an induction to provide both the opportunity and the occasion for those who have the ability to use teheir information in an "Alice-in-Wonderland" fashion to go ahead and do so..  

Social psychologists have amply documented that an attitude, or a tendency to respond in a certain way, is made up not only of an action component, but a belief component and an emotional component as well. As experiential hypnotists, we can intervene at any one of these levels, or a combination of them, to change human behavior. But with other animals, less cognitively endowed than we are, we are largely left with only two componentsof an attitude, emotions and behavior, to work with.

When I presented on the topic of hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, a member of the ajudience noted that she could obtain good results with anxious clients by lapsing into her native Gaelic, even though they did not understand a word of it. +Kelley Woods recentlt noted in the hypnosis forum, Hypnothoughts, that she was able to cure both a dog and its owner of separation anxiety with a couple of hypnosis sessions while the dog peacefully slept at the owner's side. Whenever we go away for vacation, our cat won't let us out of his sight for a week when we return,even though he has  been well taken care of by a friend. The question is not whether cats and dogs are capable of experiencing separation anxiety, but whether or not there is more to this than meets the eye. Was it Kelly's spoken suggestions, or was it her soothing voice, that produced the results with the dog and, to a certain extent, with the owner as well?  

Sufi mystics pose this question: "Imagine the sound of two hands clapping. Now, imagine the sound of one hand clapping. . . ." Language is a model of reality, and we sometimes tend to confuse the model with the reality it represents -- even when the model breaks down. My own preference is to use a more conservative definition of hypnosis as experience mediated by suggestion, and "let sleeping dogs lie!"

What is Hypnosis and How does it Work?


When you're hypnotized you're still you-- but with the added suggestion that you are hypnotized. If you happen to have an "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination (and some people do without realizing it), then accepting the suggestion that you are hypnotized makes it possible for you to experience things with your imagination which we normally regard as beyond our abilities, as depicted in the picture above. 

Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage. And the men and women merely players." Today, sociologists and social psychologists conceive of society as an interlocking pattern of social roles, which vary in their degree of organismic involvement, depending on the person and the situation: a customer buying a newspaper, someone being cited for breaking a traffic ordinance, a bride and groom in a wedding ceremony, or a victim actually dying under the perceived influence of a voodoo spell, which the late Ted Sarbin referred to as "role taking to the death."

Sarbin regarded hypnosis ia as a social role, and he defined hypnotizability as "role taking aptitude." The degree of organismic involvement in hypnotic role taking also varies, of course, depending on the person, the situation, and prevailing cultural expectations. This explains how, in Mesmer's time, people went into convulsions and fainted. Now, in accordance with prevailing cultural expectations, they usually experience a trance -- unless it is specifically suggested that they will not, as in hyperempiria. 

When it comes to bringing about permanent changes, if the necessary ingredients for change in the narrative of one's personal life are present, then accepting the suggestion that one is hypnotized can make it possible to change this narrative more easily. For example, 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. 

As Steve Lynn so eloquently put it in his summary of our induction chapter in the American Psychological Association's Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis:

. . .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, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-291.  

Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press (originally published 1979 by Plenum Publishing Co.).

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

How to Turn a Hypnotized Person into a Chicken

"Help! I'm a student in Dr. Gibbons' Introductory Psychology class!"
When I first opened my psychology practice in Manahawkin, New Jersey, one of my first hypnosis clients asked me, "You aren't going to turn me into al 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 did. We could talk about "trance logic," which is similar to the logic which is found in dreams, as Martin Orne did. But why should we infer the presence of any fancy mental processes when they are not needed?

What she had actually believed and responded toIMHO, was the narrative of what had taken place! 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! 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,. In the words of the mystical poet, William Blake, experiential hypnosis enables us, 

To see a world in a grain of sand,
Or a Heaven in a wild flower.
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

Infinity? No problem. Eternity? Check. "Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour?" Hang on, here we go. , , ,

See also:

What is Hypnosis and How does it Work?

Print Reference

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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Shakespeare vs. the Dalai Lama

I frequently hear clients in my psychology practice say, "everything happens for a reason." I like to help them explore their situation a bit more deeply, in order to determine whether to respond  with assertiveness, meditation, or a combination of both.

The traditional Eastern view of life may be summed up as follows:

The Western view, on the other hand, might be expressed in the words of Shakespeare:

To be or not to be, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to bear the slings and arrows of an outrageous fortune,
Or to take up arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them.

A modern version of this view is expressed in the following video:  

Who is right? If we were never willing "to take up arms against a sea of troubles," slavery would still exist, wives would always remain submissive to abusive husbands, and democracy would never have come into existence. On the other hand, for a small child growing up in an alcoholic and abusive home, someone toiling in a dead-end job, a prisoner serving a life sentence, or a person in a hospice, their only hope may be to turn inward in the quest for happiness and inner peace. 

For most of us, one answer may be appropriate in one situation or time in life, while the other answer may be appropriate at another time. I once had a Buddhisr client with multiple  personalities, who told me that in Tibetan Buddhism you choose your parents according to what they can teach you. "I must have had to learn an awful lot," she told me. She sure did!  

A guide to making the appropriate choice is suggested in the following "Serenity Prayer" by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, which has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step organizations:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Monday, May 16, 2016

How to Eliminate Premature Ejaculation

The most important sex organ is the brain!
Although it is not always necessary to employ a formal induction, it is possible to include positive autosuggestions of enhanced experience (hyperempiria) in an approach to treatment. Several years ago, I saw a nineteen year old, newly-married male client, who had grown up in a strict Baptist household, as had his wife. His previous experience with women was extremely limited. He had not learned to hold himself back when he and his wife were about to make love, and always climaxed too soon. His wife did not participate in the sessions, due to an expressed reluctance to discuss such intimate topics with anyone but her husband. Because of his strict Baptist upbringing, he rejected the idea of hypnosis. Therefore, my treatment was a combination of support and encouragement, positive suggestion, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
First, the client was reassured that his responses were perfectly normal. I explained that most young males need to learn to restrain their natural tendency to "let go" in response to their first sexual contacts with a woman.
In discussing his feelings for his wife, the client agreed that the most erotically arousing stimulus imaginable was to experience her in the throes of orgasm, which she had previously attained fairly quickly through heavy petting. He also reported that his wife was multi-orgasmic during these times, but one or two climaxes was all that he was able to manage. His wife had expressed disdain for mechanical vibrators, ribbed condoms, and the like, stating, "They aren't you!"
I assured him that he was extremely fortunate in having a multi-orgasmic wife whom he would be able to pleasure repeatedly as he acquired a greater degree of control. As the couple gained more familiarity with each other's bodies, all of his efforts were to be directed toward attaining this goal of pleasuring her as frequently and as intensely as possible, which took his mind off himself.
He was encouraged to frankly and openly discuss with his wife how they liked to be touched, and to continue to talk during intercourse, exchanging tender words and encouraging the types of stimulation that would be most satisfying at the moment.
The client was instructed to make the foreplay as long and drawn out as possible, with maximum clitoral stimulation for the wife, repeatedly leading her as close to orgasm as possible without actually achieving it unless she insisted. This could be either manual or oral, or both. Without revealing this to his wife, as the couple began to have intercourse and he felt that he was about to "let go," he was instructed to slow down and think of a series of the grossest, most repulsive things he possibly could as he began to make love, and the more tempted he feel to let go, the stronger he needed to make these images, until they filled his mind completely! The images were to be individually chosen by the client to make sure that they would be as repulsive as he could make them.
I also explained that it was okay to even stop once in a while, if he needed to, explaining, "It's just too good -- I have to stop a minute." The wife would recognize this a tribute to her femininity and to the intensity of her husband's desire for her.
The client was assured, as the lovemaking continued at a slower pace and his adaptation level gradually built up as he and his wife grew more used to each other's carnal presence, he would be able to tolerate more and more intense stimulation until his and his wife's respective arousal levels were more evenly matched. He was also instructed that it might take some time for his control to build up to the necessary level, but he was assured that if he practiced this restraint training, he would eventually be successful.
He was seen for a total of ten sessions, weekly at first for the first three sessions, and then spread out over the course of a three-month period, and at the end of this time he reported that after their arousal levels had become more closely matched, he and his wife had learned to enhance the meaningfulness of their relationship still more through various techniques of foreplay which he had previously found to be too arousing. 

Human sexuality, or course, is a complex tropic. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying such a technique yourself.


Gibbons, D. E. (2001). Experience as an art form. .New York, NY: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press (originally published 1979 by Plenum Press).

Gibbons, D. E., & Cavallaro, L (2013).. Exploring alternate universes: And learning what they can teach us. Amazon Kindle E-Books. (Note: It is not necessary to own a Kindle reader to download this e-book, as the Kindle app may be downloaded free of charge to a standard desktop or laptop computer and to most cell phones.)

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-291.