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.


Search This Blog

Sunday, October 11, 2020

How to Manage an Addicted Friend or Family Member

Addicts seem to have a Ph.D. in emotional manipulation.

Many therapists have clients in their eighties who have turned themselves into paupers and are living our their retirement years in distress and torment because they are unable to resist the emotional blackmail of their alcoholic or addicted children. (It should also be noted that some people can become addicted to spending itself, for a variety of reasons.) At the other extreme, I have interviewed prison inmates whose families have decided to press charges because their children have stolen money and personal belongings from them in order to support their addictions. In the middle are the clients we see every week in our private practice, who have sought our support in order to learn the art of "toughlove" -- to say no to the demands of their addicted children or other family members, both for the sake of the addicts themselves and to preserve the clients' own financial and psychological well-being.

When the victims threaten to deny or withdraw emotional support, they are subject to a series of manipulative tactics from their addicted family members which may include anger, rage, threats of suicide or actual suicidal gestures, and promises that the abuser will never have anything to do with them again. These tactics frequently succeed because, as family members, the abusers often know their victims well enough to understand exactly what to say and which buttons to push in order to manipulate their victims into giving in. This only encourages further exploitation in the future. For this reason, you should never make a threat to an addict, i.e., "This is the last time you are getting one cent out of me!" that you are not prepared to carry out.

Victims of emotional manipulation need to recognize that addicts are not the loving, playful children, friends, or relatives they once were were before their addiction turned them into someone else. Victims need to see themselves as survivors of abuse, and to create healthy barriers between themselves and their abusers.  

Don't let an addict shame or guilt you into giving in!
While some people can come to these realizations on their own, in many instances they need the emotional support and encouragement of a therapist, and possibly the services of an attorney, in order to disentangle themselves.    


Here are just a few the practical applications of hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, contained on this Blog,  You can learn how to:

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.

Understanding Fetishes

In certain species of fowl, imprinting is the mechanism by which young chicks learn to follow their mother. There is a certain "critical period" shortly after birth, generally lasting from a few hours to a few days, during which time the newly-hatched chicks learn to follow whatever moving object they see -- which, of course, is generally their mother. When the process is allowed to operate as it should, the result is that the baby chicks become imprinted on the mother, and learn to follow her lead as they grow and mature. However, the biologist Konrad Lorenz demonstrated that when the chicks are allowed to follow a different moving object during the critical period for imprinting, such as a human being, they will follow the human as though it were their mother. Most importantly, however, when they become sexually mature, they will attempt to mate with the human, and ignore members of their own species!

Ducklings Imprinted on Konrad Lorenz
Can humans be imprinted during a critical period, by pairing various stimuli such as pain with early sexual stimulation, leading to the development of a fetish for pain when they become mature? And what about other types of fetishistic attachments?  Obviously, we cannot conduct research on questions of this type, and the infantile experiences of adults with a particular kind of fetish cannot be investigated retroactively.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association states, "Among the more common fetish objects are women's underpants, bras, shoes, stockings, boots, or other wearing apparel. . . . Usually the fetish is required or strongly preferred for sexual excitement, and in its absence there may be erectile dysfunction" (p. 569). But considering the variety of  fetishistic attachments which have been reported -- everything from the stumps of amputees to the softly blowing gases from an automobile exhaust pipe  -- and the difficulty in modifying such attachments once they have been acquired, it is at least possible to form the hypothesis that such attachments may have been acquired during a critical period in infancy by the accidental pairing of a stimulus with newly-awakened sexual responsiveness.

Do humans have a critical period for imprinting?

Therapy for fetishism usually involves corrective experiences to enhance the attractiveness of more appropriate stimuli, which may be incorporated into a program of experiential  hypnosis and reconditioning based upon a classical conditioning model.


American Psychiatric Association; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

Scroll down for a list of some of the most popular sites on this Blog. 
Below this list are the most recent Blog entries. 
For an easily accessible list of all Blog postings, see the list entitled, "Blog Archive" in the column at the right of this page.


Here are some of our most popular sites:
The Blog contains many other examples of experience as an art form, for the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.

See also the following print sources:

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.

How to Overcome Flashbacks and Panic Attacks

Here is a list of grounding techniques which you can use immediately, to help when you have lost control of your surroundings in a panic attack. Grounding techniques work well not only with panic attacks, but also with flashbacks from PTSD.

First, look around you. Find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

It is also good in a flashback to ask yourself how old you are now, to differentiate from how old you were when the trauma actually happened.

One of the worst things about having a panic attack is how frightened you are about having the next one.

The following video by Babette Rothschild (herself a victim of childhood trauma) illustrates how to overcome panic attacks by focusing awareness on the perception of here and now rather than on the internalized memories of previous trauma.

After this basic level of security and safety has been attained, client and therapist can then collaborate in the construction of a therapeutic relationship which will increase feelings of confidence and self-esteem, overcome anxiety, depression, and despair, and bring forth an optimistic outlook on life which enables them change the narrative of their life story. (Levine, 1997; Naparstek, 2004; Rothschild, 2000; Scaer, 2007).  These new methods of treatment by the world's leading trauma researchers and clinicians constitute  ". . .a paradigm for understanding trauma's far-reaching psychological and physical consequences, without which, psychotherapeutic interventions remain extremely limited, and at times harmful to our clients." (emphasis mine). 

Procedures such as these are rapidly dealing a death blow to outmoded, Twentieth-Century notions of "healing" based upon regression to cause, which is about as sophisticated and as useful as trying to housebreak a puppy by "rubbing his nose in it." The puppy will usually stop sooner or later, but is that because of our treatment or in spite of it? And if the "training" is vigorously pursued, could the frustration and anxiety thus engendered actually make new learning more difficult? 
The following video from PESI Seminars features some of the world's leading experts discussing how recent breakthroughts in the treatment of trauma, dissociation, and multiple personality are making it possible for clients who have gone years without improvement to finally begin to change.  

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM-V, 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Forward, S. (1997). Emotional blackmail: When the people in your life use fear, obligation, and guilt to manipulate you. New York: Harper-Collins.  
Forward, S. & Buck, C. (2002). Toxic parents: Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life. New York: Bantam.
Levine, P.A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Naparstek, B. (2004). Invisible heroes: Survivors of trauma and how they heal. New York: Bantam.
Rothschild, B. (2000), The body remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and treatment. New York: Norton.  (Click on the link for a YouTube book review.)
Scaer, R. C. (2007) The body bears the burden: Trauma, dissociation, and disease. New York: Routledge.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

"I Don't Have a Self:" Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

"Marlene," a 38 year old married woman with one grown daughter, was seated in my waiting room with her long blonde hair drawn across her face to form a curtain so that other people could not see her, although she could see out well enough to navigate her way into my office. As soon as she had entered, she brushed her hair back into a normal position with her hand.

Her mother had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder before Marlene was born,  but she consistently refused to take medication or go to therapy.  Both her mother and the man she lived with were confirmed sadists "George," her mother's live-in boyfriend,, was also a chronic alcoholic who would frequently quarrel with her mother and storm out of the house, only to return a few days later as if nothing had happened. 

One of the things the two "caregivers" quarreled about was how hard to hit Marlene
In order to "punish*  her. George used a multi-tailed whip which is commonly available at most S&M vendors, while her mother insisted upon using the palm of her hand because, she believed, that way she could more easily tell how hard to hit her her. "I didn't know I was being abused," Marlene told me. "I thought every kid was treated that way."

When Marlene was a toddler, her mother would keep her  awake for extended periods, in order to have somebody to talk to while she was in a manic phase. When she was groggy from lack of sleep and her mother's mania was at his highest, her usual method of keeping her daughter awake was by molesting her.

With this "training" from infancy, when Marlene was old enough to play with the other neighborhood preschool children, spanking games and sex play in which she played the the starring role quickly became the neighborhood sport. She did develop a close bond with one of her playmates, an effemimite boy who was constantly beaten by his father in order to "make a man out of him " One day, when the abuse had become intolerable and both of his parents were away, the lad took his father's loaded shotgun, put the barel in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. Some neighbor women heard the shot, and rushed to call the authorities and to swab the bloodstains off the walls and ceiling before his parents returned. The bucket that they used for cleaning up the bloodstains belonged to Marlene's mother, and was  stored beneath the sink in Marlene's bathroom. She would later have to wash her hair in the sink directly above this bucket, which her mother refused to replace because, "Buckets cost money."

When Marlene was in high school, her first boyfriend used to take her out in a car with a few other boys and time them with his watch while the others took turns having sex with her.

In college, Marlene eventually came to room with  a sadistic student who introduced her to usung marijuana, and she quickly became dependent upon it. 

She first began therapy when she was in in her late twenties.  Her "therapist" was one of those warped individuals who had taken up his profession in order to prey upon vulnerable people  Almost immediately, he began to blur the boundaries between client and patient. The therapy hour was often devoted to her showing him various yoga positions, and to the two of them practicing these positions together. Thoroughly aware of her need for abuse, the therapist went to great lengths to be highly critical of anything she did to improve herself or to express her strong artistic inclinations 

Given her masochistic tendencies, this kind of "therapy" produced the intended result, and the two soon began a twisted sexual relationship. Marlene was required to wear a skirt with no hose or underwear every time she came to the office, regardless of how cold it was, but they were actually intimate only when it suited him. Whenever she would try to kiss the therapist on the mouth, he would draw back, because he was "Saving it for his wife."

Their relationship was 
discovered four years later, when her therapist's wife found some home-baked marijuana brownies in a desk drawer and confronted her husband about it, whereupon he confessed. The last year of Marlene's "therapy" consisted entirely of her begging him not to abandon her, and his insisting that she seek out another therapist, which culminated in her appearance at my office just before his wife was ready to put her foot down and institute divorce proceedings. 

Marlene remained steadfastly unwilling to give me the necessary permission to report her previous therapist to the State licensing board.  Perhaps sensing that I would be hot on his trail, her former therapist closed his practice and moved to another State. 

I eventually realized that each time that she arrived for be an appointment,  Marlene was in a state of cannabis intoxication and when questioned, she admitted as much.  l told her that I could not make house calls for obvious reasons; and neither could I accept responsibility for allowing her to drive to my office through city traffic in a high state of marijuana intoxication. She was not willing to seek therapy for her cannabis dependence. I reluctantly informed her that unless she could assure me each time that she came to my office that she was not "high," I would no longer be able to see her. 
 Since she was not able to make a commitment of this type, and she would not make a similar commitment in a referral to another therapist, I had no choice but to discontinue treatment and close the case. 

Needless to say, Marlene had chosen a sadist for her husband. Beset by numerous fears, she is now too fearful to venture out, and her husband is all too willing to indulge her cannabis dependence in his home-built "dungeon."

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hypnosis and the Fundanentalist Experience of "Salvation"

If you don't respond well to suggestion,
then you won't have a "Salvation" experience.
And if you don't have a "Salvation" experience,
then no matter what ELSE you do, you won't get into Heaven!

Carrollton, Georgia, is a small to medium-sized city located approximately fifty-five miles west of Atlanta. It is regarded by both students and townspeople as being part of the "Bible belt," and most (though certainly not all) of the churches in the area have a Fundamentalist Christian orientation. Fundamentalists take quite literally the scriptural statement, "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2: 8-9). The "salvation sermon" first leads the prospective convert to feel the tremendous burden of guilt which one bears for one's past misdeeds and failure to repent; and this is followed by a great wave of joy as the convert feels his or her sins being "washed away" and is "born again" as a "new creature in Christ."

This salvation experience, however, is not considered to be voluntarily attainable, since it is the result of  "grace," or the unmerited favor of God. Should an individual seek to join a  Fundamentalist congregation merely because one is convinced of the truth of Christian teachings, many members would be inclined to doubt that he or she is truly a member of the "elect of God" and, not being able to have such an experience, is probably fore-ordained to burn in Hell regardless of what kind of life they may be leading.

From a scientific point of view, it may be postulated that the degree to which an individual is able to have a salvation experience such as the one described is a function of the degree to which that person is suggestible, and therefore there is a direct relationship between the ability to be "saved" and the ability to be hypnotized. After giving a questionnaire to high and low responders on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (Shor & Orne, 1962) concerning the nature of their personal religious experiences, De Jarnette and I (Gibbons & De Jarnette, 1972) found  that there was no significant relationship between hypnotic susceptibility and a previous change in denominational preference, or between susceptibility and the perceived religiousness of one's father. However, the low-susceptible subjects were less likely to perceive their mother as being moderately religious or deeply religious. Comparing high- and low-susceptible "saved" Protestants with high- and low-susceptible "unsaved" Protestants, the "saved" group contained significantly more subjects who were highly susceptible to hypnosis. 
In follow-up interviews, the reasons for the differences between high and low-suggestible subjects became glaringly apparent. The high susceptibles said things like, "I began to feel a warm tingling glow inside of me. The next thing I knew, I was down in front of the altar, and I was crying," or, "It was like the Hand of God came down and touched me. I felt so happy. I never felt joy like I felt it that day." But when the few low-susceptibles who indicated that they had been "saved" were asked about their experience, they said things like, "I had been going to that church for about six months, mainly because my girl friend went there, but I never 'went forward.' Then one day the preacher invited all those who had accepted the Lord to put up our hands, and we both put our hands up and that was it." 

If relatively enduring changes in personality and behavior can result from the suggestions contained in a "salvation sermon," then people who respond well to suggestion should also be able to experience such changes in response to strongly worded suggestions of a therapeutic nature. This research has provided the foundation for the development of the script for multiversal healing meditation presented elsewhere in this Blog  After first taking my clients "down" into hypnosis and then :up" into hyperempiria (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010) and dissolving them into the infinite love of the Multiverse, the universe of all possible universes (Gibbons & Woods, 2016), fundamental changes in deep-seated beliefs concerning the self, the world, and the future which are the professed aim of cognitive psychology (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979) can sometimes occur in a single session, occasionally accompanied by tears of joy, as was the case with a high school senior whom I hypnotized a few days ago.  after taking her in hypnosis to the multiverse, I told her with considerable elaboration that she was dissolving into the infinite love of the multiverse itself  When she emerged from hypnosis, she expressed surprise that she found herself wiping tears from her eyes. The next time I  saw her, she told me that she wanted to pursue a college degree in hypnosis; and after I told her that no such program existed and we had discussed the situation she decided to major in social work instead.

 In summary, it would appear that people who respond well to suggestion and are ready for a meaningful life change which is in accordance with their preexisting beliefs and values may find that either  a salvation sermon or a hypnotic trip to the Multiverse can provide the catalyst for such a transformational change to take place. I now routinely use the script for
Multiversal Healing Meditation for the alleviation of many forms of anxiety, depression, and stress-related ailments.


Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.

Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11I2), pp. 152-156. 

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). 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.

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

Shor, R. E. & Orne, E. C. (1962) Harvard group scale of hypnotic susceptibility, Form A. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.


Thursday, July 9, 2020

Avoiding the Triggers for Anger, Anxiety, Fear, and Depression

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 perception or belief. When this was done properly, your  anger, depression, fears, and anxieties would be gone.

In today's culture, whenever 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 want, for use in different situations.

Frequently the negative beliefs and perceptions that are dragging you down are held by others. The same approach 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 popularly 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 often 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. 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

"First they ignore you. Then they disagree with you. Then they fight you. Then you win." -- Ghandi

The progress of scientific revolutions is less violent, but sometimes no less heated, than political ones. I highly recommend the excellent outline and study guide  for Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Kuhn, 2012),  which has recently been published in its fiftieth anniversary edition. (In my opinion, the outline reads better than the original!) Of particular relevance are Pajares' notes on Chapter V, X, and the chapters which follow it.

As Shakespeare said in his play, The Tempest, "The past is prologue" -- or, as a New York cab driver reportedly phrased it, "Brother, you ain't seen nothin' yet!"


Kuhn, T. S. (2012). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 4th ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Is the Multiverse Conscious? Is the Multiverse the Mind of God?

Our two cats always try to run out the door with us whenever we leave the house. With their limited brain size, however, they cannot possibly comprehend what we are doing out there and why we are doing it. 

We have a few billion more brain cells than our cats do, but our brains are still limited in size. Cosidering the vastness of the Multiverse in comparison to the biological limits of our own intelligence,  it is not only possible, but indeed highly likely, that we are just not smart enough to understand many of the things that go on there, no matter how much we would like to do so. But that won't keep us from trying, any more than we can keep our cats from trying to follow us when we leave the house in the morning to see where we go.

If the Multiverse is  conscious, as some physicists now believe, then we have a scientific explanation for concepts such as those expressed in Schopenhauer's "The World as Will and Idea," or in Claude Bristol's "The Magic of Believing," as presented
below in audiobook form:

Can we really command the Multiverse, as Schopenhauer and Bristol are saying, or are we just believing in our goal so intensely that it gives us the confidence to persist against all odds until success is finally achieved?  As the Greek philosopher Seneca observed, "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, but it is because we do not dare that things are difficult."   

All I can say is that I have used this book since my adolescence as a guide for challenges great and small. Despite my rigorous training as an experimental psychologist, I remain firmly convinced that if you can believe in a goal deeply enough that your motives are free from conflict, you can believe it. And if you can believe it, you can make it happen! 

Multimodal Hypnosis for Restoring Trust and Confidence

Tell me and I may forget.
Show me and I may not remember.
Involve me and I will understand.
                 --Chinese proverb

From the first glow of anticipation to the enduring treasures of fondest memory, multimodal suggestion provides us with a brush with which it is possible  to paint upon the canvas of human experience virtually any masterpiece we may desire.

Regardless of the type of imagery you employ,  any suggested experience is much more fulfilling when several different dimensions are combined to produce the desired result. You can think of each one of the following dinensions of experience as a different color on an artist's palate, which you can use in any combination you wish.

 Each letter of the words "Best Me" stands for a different dimension of experience, which may be summarized as follows:

Belief Systems which orient to person, place, time, and events may be modified by means of suggestion, allowing one to transcend present realities. 

Emotions which occur naturally in response to suggested events may be enriched by means of suggestion, and new emotions may be added and blended as well.  

Sensations and physical perceptions, in various combinations, can be suggested with an intensity approaching -- and perhaps even exceeding --  those of real events. 
Thoughts and images may be enlisted to support your other suggestions,  in much the same way that a chorus enhances a song.  

Motives may either be suggested directly or as an implied consequence of other suggestions 
Expectations may be used both to define what is about to happen, and the way that these events will be remembered later.

The categories of the Best Me Technique are not conceptually pure. Two or more categories may be combined, or ach category may contain elements of the others, in which case the name assigned to each category refers to the element which is given the greatest emphasis.

Jan and Jerry were high school sweethearts who married shortly after their graduation. As Jerry gradually rose to prominence in a large international corporation, he gradually became more distant and his wife was  starved for affection. Her boss, a sexual adventurer, sensed her vulnerability and began grooming her for his next conquest. After he was successful, he quickly lost interest and went in search of other prey.  Jan shamefully confessed her transgression to her husband and begged him for forgiveness.

Jerry was deeply in love with his wife, but his confidence was totally shattered. Despite a series of appointments with several therapists and marriage counselors, he was no longer able to make
love to her.

Jerry had hypnotized Jan on several occasions while they were in high school, mostly at parties. It occurred to him that if he could define the experience of hypnosis as something which only they could share, and which was so deeply fulfilling that no other form of human experience could equal it in depth and intensity, he might be able to get his confidence back. "The only way that I'm going to be able to make love to you for a while is to do it in hypnosis," he told her frankly, "because that's the only way I can be sure that what we have together is so special that nobody else can even come close to it."

With Jan's eager participation and consent, Jerry used the Multiversal Healing Meditation script presented elsewhere on this blog to make love to Jan in the supercharged environment of the Multiverse, including appropriately timed Best Me suggestions succh as, "I am your one, true, infinite, unbounded and everlasting love." 

Jerry's confidence was soon completely restored. The previous barriers to intimacy were  eliminated, and they were both convinced that the newly-strengthened bond between them would never again be broken. 

They lived in the United States; and whenever it was the Fourth if July, they no longer had to go out of the house or turn on the television in order to enjoy a fireworks display. They could make their own!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Re-living a Mystical Experience for Greater Personal Growth

Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) had a mystical experience while she was in her teens, and spent the rest of her life futilely trying to re-capture it. But hypnotists, know that it is possible to re-experience previous events even more intensely than when they first occurred.

Many other people, of course,  have had mystical experiences. When such a history is present, it can serve as a focus for re-energizing their present view of life. For example, a 58 year old retired English teacher and mother of five grown children who recently had been divorced after a marriage of forty years came to me (Don) for help with depression. She was spending the greater part of each day in bed, with the blankets drawn up over her head. She was taking antidepressants, but they did not seem to help. She responded well to hypnosis, and early in the course of therapy, she mentioned that when she was about sixteen, she had a mystical experience: "I could step beyond the ordinary world of reality, and I felt totally loved."

I asked her if she would like to re-visit this mystical experience as a way of getting over her depression, and she immediately agreed. I told her that for best results, it would help if she were to re-capture her mystical experience with the same life-changing intensity that she had experienced it the first time. She readily agreed to this also.

Pulling out all the stops in order to provide an experience of life-changing intensity, which she obviously needed, I regressed her to her earlier mystical event, and told her that we were going to make it even stronger using hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience. I suggested that we were reaching down into her vast, untapped potential for feeling happiness and joy. This potential for happiness and joy was flowing out from the innermost depths of her being in many different ways and on many different levels, like water from a hundred secret springs. As these feelings continued to flow without limit, they were healing and cleansing every muscle and fiber and nerve of her body, driving out all of the worry, and all of the stress, and all of the care that she had ever felt, and leaving her glowing from head to toe with such an intensity of happiness that she could not bear it if she were not hypnotized.

She remained outwardly impassive as I continued in this vein, emphasizing that this happiness was greater and more intense than anything she had ever hoped for, dreamed of, longed for, or imagined. To further emphasize its strength, I suggested that when she returned from hypnosis, she would not be able to bring all of this intensity back with her, because it would be more than she could bear in the everyday state of consciousness in which we live and move and have our being. But nevertheless, it would transform her life, and turn each new day into a thing of wondrous beauty.

Her depression lifted within two more sessions. Because she was a Buddhist, it was easy to frame her mystical experience as evidence that true happiness comes from within. She no longer remains in bed all day, and frequently goes out  shopping, or to play cards, or visit with friends. Her demeanor is pleasant, relaxed, and cheerful. She is continuing to come in for monthly sessions in order to keep her orientation focused on the positive aspects of life, and as a means of continuing her personal and spiritual development.

The client's youngest daughter, who has had a great many personal difficulties of her own, has recently moved in with her. Even though she frequently serves as a lightning rod for her daughter's wrath, the client has remained impassive, and has managed to maintain a generally congenial relationship with her daughter (when they are on speaking terms!)

Experientialism is the philosophical theory that experience is the source of knowledge. It is indeed an honor to work with the experientially gifted; for they truly are "the bearers of the light," which all of us may hope to one day follow.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Hypnosis and Human Evolution

To borrow a line from Charles Dickens, “One thing must be clearly understood, or no good can come from the story I am about to tell.” Our brain creates our own reality!  What is really out there bears no resemblance to what we actually perceive through our senses, as any philosopher or physicist will affirm. Because our brain does create our own reality out of the buzzing, blooming confusion of raw sensory input, we can use the power of suggestion to mentally construct a future in which we experience now, in the present, the complete and total fulfillment of our existence, in whatever way we choose to define it, thereby eliminating much of the anxiety, anger, and depression which are so frequently the hallmarks of everyday life, and, with this fulfillmment already pre-determined in our own minds, allowing us to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail.  

With the fulfillment of our existence already an accomplished fact in the Multuverse, the univerwse of all possible universes,  if one particular goal in the present should not be achieved, it becomes easy to switch to another with undiminished enthusiasm. In the words of Watterson Lowe, “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the face, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-interest, fear, despair -- these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.”

Confucius said, *Tell me and I may not remember. Show me and I may forget. Involve me and I will understand.”  Human evolution has given us the ability to hypnotcally project our anawareness into the future and experience now, in the present, the rewards of distant goals, thereby eliminating or greatly reducing the need for “will power” in order to attain them. As I began to use  hypnosis in my psychology practice to fully involve clients in corrective experiences which transcend the limitations of ordinary reality, I soon discovered that in one way or another, these life-changing events involved releasing into their own lives the indwelling presence of God.

When we have a long-term goal whose rewards are in the future, we attempt to bridge this gap between present efforts and future sources of satisfaction by daydreaming, autosuggestion, "positive thinking," affirmations, visualization, and fantasy techniques, These usually don't help very much, because they still don't do enough to involve the whole person in the satisfactions of goal attainment. Eventually, even though our long-term goal remains as attractive as ever, our motivation begins to falter, and sooner or later we give up. If the gap between our aspirations and what we are able to do involves the attainment of a major life goal, such as becoming a successful writer, artist, or composer, the gap between what we aspire to do and what we have actually achieved can often be great enough to cause a full-blown existential depression.

By hypnotically projecting our imagination into a parallel universe where our goal has already been achieved, we can experience the rewards of these goals now, in the pr4sent, where they are most needed for motivation (Gubbibs & Woods, 2016). If you can pre-experience the fulfillment of this goal with your entire being, then you will be able to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail!

The Best Me Technique of miltimodal hypnosis (Gibbons, 2001) is a method of suggestion-enhanced experience for involving your whole person in the content of a suggested event, which enables those who are sufficiently imaginative and properly trained in this procedure to experience in the present and in concentrated form, the rewards and satisfactions which would not normally be theirs until a goal has been achieved. This in turn can provide the motivational fuel to pursue whatever goal we may have chosen, no matter how distant or difficult that goal might otherwise appear.

Each element of the Best Me Technique corresponds with a dimension of experience (Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations); and these elements can be combined in a variety of ways. In the hyperempiric adventure which follows, the Best Me Technique is used to pre-experience the rewards of a graduation ceremony in order to enhance the motivation to pursue a course of study leading to an academic degree. However, the Best Me Technique can also be used to as part of a comprehensive program to enhance performance in other areas, such as athletics, music, dance, and theater or as part of a program to lose weight, or to become a non-smoker, or to rid oneself of other forms of addiction.

The suggestions are presented in B-E-S-T-M-E order for the sake of illustration; but in actual use, Best Me suggestions may be repeated in any order and varied and repeated as often as necessary in order to maximize involvement with their content, much as one might repeat the verses and choruses of a song. Rather than memorizing a specific set of suggestions or reading them to the client as a script, I usually count out the steps of the Best Me Technique on my fingers as I am improvising an induction or a therapeutic suggestion, going back and forth to make sure that I have adequately covered them all. This gives me more freedom to individualize my suggestions to better meet the needs of each individual, and to use their body language to gauge the speed and content of my delivery.

The incentive value of the Best Me Technique can be further enhanced by pre-experiencing the rewarding results of other situations related to the goal, such as celebrating at a graduation party with friends and family, or relaxing on the deck of a cruise ship on a much-deserved vacation after a long-desired degree is actually in hand. It is also helpful to pre-experience the rewards of sub-goals along the way, such as doing well on an upcoming major examination, or enjoying the semester break, secure in the certain knowledge that one is on the way to an inevitable success. At the conclusion of an appropriate hypnotic or induction, suggestions similar to the following may be given, with appropriate repetition and elaboration, much as one might vary the verses and choruses of a song.

Belief systems. Now you can feel your awareness of the present beginning to fade, as you become ever more clearly aware of yourself 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!

After allowing time to fully enjoy the experience for a few moments, the induction may be concluded in an appropriate manner. Once the technique has been mastered, it can be repeated daily as a form of experiential meditation until the goal is actually attained.  

The Importance of Sub-Goals

Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." About thirty percent of all the graduate students who have to write a dissertation as the final step in attaining their doctorate fail to do so. This is frequently because, when they think of a dissertation as a book-length project, the task looks too formidable and too difficult. But if they can break the job down into meaningful sub-goals, and experience a feeling of achievement when each of these steps is attained, it doesn't matter how long the journey is because they have learned to reward themselves at the completion of each small step.

I once knew a graduate student at the University of Portland who inherited three million dollars while he was enrolled in the Psychology program. He did not touch the money except inr one type of situation. He would treat himself and a date to a big steak dinner at a local restaurant every time he passed a test, and live frugally the rest of the time.  By successfully achieving a series of small sub-goals along the way, he obtained his degree with relative ease. As Martin Luther King put it, "If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl. But keep moving forward!"  

When there Is No "Impossible Dream"

When there is no clearly-identified goal upon which to focus, or when existing goals are not desired strongly enough to fully motivate a person to achieve them, suggestions such as the following can be given to increase the enjoyment of goal attainment in general.
Belief systems. Now we are going to help you to experience in concentrated form, both your desire to achieve and your ability to feel the satisfactions you are going to feel in the future from the fulfillment of a job well done.

Emotions. We are reaching down into the depths of your vast, untapped potential for feeling happiness and joy. Great waves of happiness and joy are flooding out from the depths of your potential, growing stronger and more beautiful and more intense with every passing second.  

Sensations and physical perceptions. The waves of joy are becoming stronger and more intense, filling and flooding every muscle, and fiber, and nerve of your entire body with a beauty and which is greater than anything you could possibly imagine.

Thoughts and images. Your mind is filled with such beauty and such joy that it is impossible to think of anything else, and all you can do is feel these waves of joy washing over you., growing in beauty and intensity with every passing second.

Motives. This is the kind of fulfillment you will be able to feel when you put your whole self into doing a job – any job – well. And you will have plenty of energy left over to enjoy every other aspect of life to the fullest.

Expectations. And I don’t know whether this experience will leave you with new goals, or with a re-dedication to the ones you already have. But in either case it will be a transforming moment, for it will have the power to change your life.

By using the Best Me Technique along with the necessary changes you need to make in your environment in order to accomplish the goals you have chosen, you will be able to provide yourself with the inspiration and incentive for a lifetime of accomplishment and personal growth.

A Word of Caution

Of course, we must still be able to give up on goals which are really not worth pursuing, no mater how attractive they may seem at first, in order to protect ourselves from our own mistakes in judgment. The world is full of people who want to become a success as writers, actors, sports heroes, and a host of other things, but are simply not cut out for that kind of work. On the other hand, many goals which may may seem impossible at first are attainable if we are willing to work long enough and hard enough. As we develop the ability to choose our motives as well as our goals, i.e., to have free will in the truest sense of the term, it is up to each of us to decide how practical or how idealistic we want to be.

Recently, Kelley Woods and I (Gibbons & Woods, 2016)I have been suggesting to hypnotized clients that they are being transported to an alternate universe where time and space do not exist. After orienting them to this universe and inducing emotions which are as pleasant as possible -- i.e., "dissolving  into an ocean of infinite, unbounded, and everlasting love," we suggest the following: "with practice, you will be able to feel this kind of fulfillment whenever you put your whole self into working towards a goal you have chosen. As you think about achieving the goal ahead of time, you can believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening! And with practice, you will be able to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail!"  

“Jan” was a 59 year old single white female with a Ph.D. in biology.  After a successful academic career, Jan decided to change course and enrolled in a medical technology program.  She hoped that her new laboratory skills, along with her doctorate, would help her to begin a new career in a hospital.

Several years ago, Jan had worked extensively with a hypnotist when she was in another transitional phase in her life.  From this previous experience, we knew that she was not only open to hypnosis, but was also highly responsive to suggestion. This time, Jan was seeking help with confidence.  She was particularly concerned about her final examination in hematology.  Following is a transcript of the multimodal hypnosis session which occurred a few days prior to her examination.

Sensations and physical perceptions.  Just imagine that it’s a warm summer afternoon, and that you’re lying on the deck of a small boat which is safely tethered at the edge of a shallow bay, about a hundred feet from shore.

Belief systems.  If you accept each detail of the scene as I describe it, without trying to think critically, your imagination will allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there.  

Sensations and physical perceptions. Let your body absorb the peacefulness which is all around you, as the boat rocks you gently back and forth and the sun shines warmly down.  Let the warm, golden glow of the sunlight spread throughout your entire body, relaxing you completely from head to toe.  Feel the cool breeze upon your skin, and savor the freshness of the fresh, salt air. Listen to the cries of the birds in the distance, and the sound of the water quietly splashing against the side of your boat as it rocks you gently back and forth, and that warm, golden glow of the sunlight relaxes you more and more with each passing moment.

          Emotions.  As that warm, relaxed feeling grows and grows, it is driving out all of your worry, all of your tension, and all of your cares, leaving you filled with perfect, infinite, boundless peace, calm, and tranquility.

Thoughts and images.  It’s so calm, and so peaceful there in the bottom of your boat, that all you want to do is keep drifting, and dreaming, and floating on, and on, and on, into a deep, peaceful state of total relaxation.

As the sun slowly sinks lower and lower on the horizon, you can just let go, and allow your consciousness to sink down into a deep, peaceful hypnotic state.  Sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down, and shutting down completely, as the sun gradually sinks lower and lower on the horizon. As the sun slowly sets, and the sunlight turns to twilight, and the twilight turns to darkness, you can let yourself drift even deeper.

Motives.  And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go.  And the deeper you go, the deeper you’re able to go, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

Expectations.  Now, while you remain deeply hypnotized, I am going to guide you to experience a different situation, which will be of great help to you as you prepare for all of the remaining tests in the course. You will always be able to hear and to respond to my voice, and I will bring you out of hypnosis in a few minutes.  But until I do, every aspect of the situation to which I guide you will be completely real, and you will experience it all just as if you were really there.

Belief systems.  Now I’m going to ask you to experience a different scene, in which you are becoming aware of yourself warmly dressed, standing at the top of a large, snow-covered mountain which slopes steeply downward toward the valley below.

Sensations and physical perceptions.  Feel the crisp, cold winter air upon your face, and savor its freshness as you inhale. Notice the dazzling whiteness of the snow in the morning sunlight, and feel its soft crunchiness underfoot as your mind absorbs the silence which is all around you, broken only occasionally by the faint stirring of a distant breeze. Down in the valley below, at the very foot of the mountain, you can see the goal you have been trying to reach. Your journey has brought you as far as this mountaintop; but all along the mountainside, standing between you and your objective, are barriers and obstacles of many kinds, which have been blocking you from the attainment of your goal.

Thoughts and images.  Bending down, you pick up a handful of snow and start to examine it. Notice how soft and powdery it feels in your hands.  In a way, it is like your resolve has sometimes been ‑‑ soft and powdery, when it ought to have been firm and strong. See yourself packing the snow together in your hand now, and compressing it into a snowball as you add still more snow, packing it down firmly, as you resolve to make your confidence just as firm and just as hard as the snowball itself.  See yourself rolling the snowball along the ground, packing into it every ounce of confidence you possess, until it has grown to the size of a boulder.

Emotions. And as the snowball grows even larger, you can feel your own courage and resolve becoming as hard and as firm as the snowball you are getting ready to roll down the mountainside, all the way down to the deserted valley below.  As you push the boulder over a small ledge and start it on its way, you can feel your confidence growing along with it.

Expectations. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening.

Motives. As the boulder begins to roll downwards on its own, you can feel your confidence growing along with it as it grows in size  ‑‑ growing and growing, becoming larger with every foot that it travels, until it has become an avalanche, sweeping away all obstacles in its path, as it thunders all the way to the bottom of the mountain.

Thoughts and images.  As you stride purposefully down the mountainside, you feel more and more confidence.  And as you complete your descent and approach the valley, you find that the snow has disappeared and the winter has turned into spring.  The air has suddenly grown much warmer, and the trees are covered with fresh, green leaves. The birds are singing, the flowers are in full bloom, and a small brook is bubbling quietly as it flows beside your path.

           Motives.  Just as the climate around you has turned into springtime, your future has turned into springtime as well. You know that your life headed for a certain and inevitable success, in ways which you cannot presently even imagine.

Expectations.  And whenever you have a carefully chosen goal that you can deeply believe in, you will be able to act, think, and feel as if it were a reality.

Belief systems.  In just a few moments now, you will return to the everyday state of consciousness in which we spend most of our waking lives.

Emotions. Your mind will be clear and alert, and you will be excited about the opportunities to put these experiences to use.

Sensations and physical perceptions.   You know how helpful hypnosis has been to you before, in ways you did not realize at the time.

Thoughts and images.  And you will also find many new ways to use today’s experiences, in addition to the ways you already know.

Motives.  Now, you are ready to resume your life’s journey of achievement, secure in the knowledge that, in whatever form it may take, you are destined for a complete and inevitable success.

Expectations.  As soon as you are ready now, you can open your eyes, feeling wonderful.  [ after a brief pause:] You can open your eyes now, feeling wonderful!

Jan told us later that she had decided during the hypnotic experience to construct her boulder in a different location than the one which was suggested. Since the snow on a mountaintop is very fine and powdery, she reasoned, she had chosen to imagine herself in the back yard of the house where she had lived as a child, “where the snow was wetter,” and consequently better suited to making a snowball.  As she rolled the boulder downhill and into her neighbor’s yard, its weight exposed a stretch of green lawn beneath it. Then, in order to experience the springtime scene, she had visualized herself in a nearby park. She believed that the imagery was effective; but she stated that she had wanted me to repeat the suggestions about feeling, and acting.

Instead of questioning her about it, I decided to re-frame her choice in a way which would facilitate her sense of empowerment.  I complimented her on her selection of new imagery, and told her that the clients who seemed to benefit the most from hypnotic suggestion were those who felt free to spontaneously modify the suggestions they were given in order to better suit their own needs and preferences.

Then, on a file card, I wrote the following summary: “Believe it will happen, will it to happen, and feel it happening.  As you do, you will be able to act, think, and feel as if it were a reality,” which incorporated all six multimodal hypnosis categories. She was then briefly re-hypnotized, and it was suggested that the statements on the file card would serve as posthypnotic suggestions whenever she looked at it; and that as soon as she became sufficiently familiar with their content, she would be able to repeat them to herself as autosuggestions whenever she desired to do so.


Jan reported back that she had studied just one day for her hematology final examination, rather than her usual three, and that she had gone into the examination room with confidence. She earned a score of 95% on her examination, and was elated.

In a telephone follow-up which was conducted some weeks later, Jan expressed some anxiety over an upcoming microbiology exam. A. K. S. added the following to Jan’s multimodal autosuggestions:

Thoughts and images.  Everything you read, write, study, and learn will be absorbed into your brain as if it were a sponge.
         Sensations and perceptions.  When it comes time to take your tests, the information will flow forth from your brain, down your neck, shoulder, arm, hand, fingers, and into your pen and onto the paper.
          Thoughts and images.  Everything you read, write, study, and learn will be engraved upon your mind as if it were stone.

          Expectations.  And when you take your exams, you can pluck the information out when you need it.

Jan did indeed become a medical technologist, and no she longer regards any examination as a “life or death” situation.  During her one-year course, she reported that she consistently obtained “A” grades on her tests after only a reasonable amount of preparation, and without experiencing any more anxiety than she regarded as “normal.”  She indicated that she repeats these suggestions to herself several times a week; and that she continued to experience a noticeable increase in confidence as a result.

By restricting Jan’s use of multimodal autosuggestion to those situations in which she had a carefully-chosen goal that she could deeply believe in, we were attempting to avoid several common pitfalls attendant upon its indiscriminate application.  Emboldened by their initial successes, many people who have mastered various techniques involving the use of positive affirmations may be inclined to apply them to more and more areas of their life, without sufficient forethought.  As they encounter more and more unforeseen problems, their confidence in these procedures begin to wane, and eventually, it becomes difficult for them to escape the belief that they are merely lying to themselves.

Clients have been saying things like, "I can't thank you enough!" and, "I'm at a point in my life now where I think I can accomplish anything!" The changes which they are reporting in their lives seem to bear this out.  It's too early for any hard data, as we have just begun to use these techniques. But we would like to invite you to join us in exploring these fascinating new realms of experience, and sharing with us in the thrill of discovery.  

Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016) Virtual reality hypnosis: Exploring alternate and parallel universes. Amazon Books, 2016. (Both print and Kindle editions are available.)