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.

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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.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Whaf is the Strongest Human Need?

Steven Hawking, whose life is currently portrayed in the movie, The Theory of Everything, should have been dead fifty years ago, when he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given two years at most. But he subsquently married (twice!), and fathered three children.  Today, despite the fact that he can only use one muscle in his cheek, he keeps a busy schedule of lecturing and writing which has made him a world figure and arguably the greatest physicist who ever lived.  

What keeps him going? Abraham Maslow called this the need for self-actualization.  The need for self-actualization emerges after the basic needs for food, shelter, and friendship have been met. When self-actualization comes to the fore, the other needs are often sacrificed for the sale of this higher one. "The writer must write, the painter must paint, and the musician must play music."  

Of course, every theory has its critics. Psychology does not have a "theory of everything," any more than physics does. But however we choose to explain it, most of us would agree agree that Steven Hawking is literally too busy to die.  He wants to find out the secret of the Universe! As illustrated by the following two videos, his life provides irrefutible testimony to the fact that you can overcome almost any kind of suffering if you can find something to do with your life that you can believe in!








Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Never Grow Old


The world is so full of such a number of things,
I am sure we should all be as happy as kings.
                           --Robert Louis Stevenson

Viktor Frankl was a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. In his book entitled, Man's Search for Meaning, he describes one day when der Herr Kommandant lined all the prisoners up in formation and announced a list of "crimes" which would be punishable by immediate death by hanging. These included such "infractions" as cutting your blanket into strips to make ankle straps because your ankles were too weak to stand on. 

Then, about two hours later, he called them into formation again and announced that two potatoes had been stolen from the camp kitchen. If the prisoners did not give the offenders up to the tender mercies of the Gestapo, the whole camp would starve for the day. Naturally, the entire camp preferred to fast. 

On the evening of this day of fasting, they lay in their earthen huts,  in a very low mood, when suddenly the lights went out. The Senior Block Warden asked Frankel to give the prisoners a talk to raise their spirits. "God knows,"  Frankl said, he was in no mood to cheer anybody up. But he knew he had to try. 

He began by pointing out that the reason that most of the people around them were dying was not becauseof the starvation or the poor working conditions; it was because they had given up hope. Even in this Europe in the second in the sixth winter of the Second World War, he went on, most people could find some reason for hope. He estimated his own chances at about one in twenty, he frankly admitted.. But it was always possible that he could be transferred to a camp with unusually favorable working conditions, for such was the luck of the prisoner. Friends and family could be restored, fortunes could be regained, professions could be resumed, and anyone could find some reason for hope. When the lights came on again, people were limping toward him with tears in their eyes to shake his hand. He knew by the strength of their emotion that he had come upon something of great significance.

At the conclusion of the war, when Frankl had resumed his practice, he began to ask his clients why they did not kill him themselves. One client might say that he was writing a book that he had to finish, another might state that because it was because he deaarly loved his family, and so on. This gave Frankl a central point around which his patients would be able to organize their lives, and it provided the foundation for his therapy.

Today, research has confirmed that people who have a reason for living are much happier and live longer than those who do not. Moreover, the influence of Eastern thought has also helped to balance what many have considered to be an excessive emphasis on materialistic values.


Resources are currently available to help us discover meaning and purpose in our own lives. The folks at www.smartrecovery.org have several forms available which may be of help in deciding just what is important in life and what to go after. They include a hierarchy of values, for helping you to find which values are most important to you; a values and goals clarification list for identifying goals; a decision-making worksheet for weighing the benefits and costs of making a particular change; and a change plan worksheet for help in charting a course to achieve your goals. The information  may be downloaded free of charge by using the print command on your computer, although donations are encouraged.

The importance of having a set of ideals to live by is also shown in the following poem, which General MacArthur kept on the wall of his office to guide him during the darkest days of World War Two.


We Grow Old by Deserting Our Ideals
by Samuel Ullman



Monday, October 20, 2014

Which Psychological Theory is "True?" We'll Never Know!

As I have said elsewhere, post-modern constructionism is the point of view that since we can never really know what "truth" is, we should help clients to put together any type of conceptual framework which helps them to find the meaning of their existence, regardless of the personal reality that we construct for ourselves about the reality of things which are fundamentally unknowable.. 

How will we know, then, when we are on the right track? In the words of +Michael Ellner,
The path that the people who beat the odds take does not seem to be as important as the way they walk the path that they have chosen. This is based on extensive experience assisting people with life-threatening diseases and conditions and assisting people living with medically unexplained syndromes and symptoms like chronic pain, FMS, IBS and CFS. What they do — does not seem to be as important as how they do what they do… The people who do what they do with a happy heart, peaceful mind and playful spirit seem to have the best outcomes regardless of what they are doing.
  

Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Keep from Putting Things Offf

This free downloadable ABC Worksheet  from the folks at www.smartrecovery.com shows you how to apply the principles of cogniive-behaviorl psychology to  take control of your life in matters large and small. You can use it for everything from paying your bills on time, to stopping smoking, or deciding on which career path to follow.  

It first asks you about the causes of something you would like to change in your life, and then asks about the emotional consequences which were the result, your beliefs about what happened, what beliefs could be substituted for the ones which brought about the unpleasant results, and how those changed beliefs make you feel. 

You can write on the form itself, clearing and changing it as often as you like. Then, when you are finished, you can either print it out or save it as a text file, using a different form for each problem you would like to work on. To re-examine it or re-do each form that you have completed, just call up that particular file and continue to modify it as you progress. 

It could prove to be extremely helpful if you are willing to give it a try!

 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Brain: A Computer that Stops When You Die?

How can the physical world be reflected so perfectly in the mental world? 


If I think that I want to raise my arm, and then I raise it, how did the mental thought get translated into a physical act? What is the connection between the mind and the body?

In philosophy, this is traditionally known as the "mind-body problem." In the area of hypnosis, it usually takes the form of a debate as to whether hypnosis is a state, in the sense that fainting, coma, and shock are separate states of the organism, or whether it is best conceived of as a non-state, i.e., a set of "believed-in imaginings," as Sarbin has called it in a book by that title, or "the ability to think along with and vividly imagine the instructions and suggestions one is given," as Ted Barber has stated, or, as I have desctibed it,  a shared delusional system.

If we first take a closer look at the mind-body problem which underlies it, I believe we will have a better idea how to approach the state vs. non-state controversy in hypnosis. Several answers to the mind-body problem have been proposed, which usually fall into one of four categories:

1. We could say that everything is physical, and consciousness is just an illusion, much like the reflection in the photo above, as the behaviorist, John Watson and his followers emphasized. This answer leaves many others unsatisfied. When someone who holds this opinion asks you what you mean by consciousness, many people are inclined to scornfully reply, "I mean what you feel when you ask me that question."

2. We could say that everything is mental, and what we call matter is just an illusion, as did the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who believed that everything exists as an idea in the mind of God. (This provides a neat explanation for the problem of miracles: "God changed His mind!)

3. We could say, as did Descartes, that mental and physical get translated from a "pineal eye" located in the center of the forehead. But others will object that if you are going to talk about a connection between them, you must first establish that they are two separate entitites, i.e., you must establish something which is not true in the first place.

4. Finally, we could say, "Why make the problem?" as did the British philosophers, Bradley and Bosanquet. If we don't state things in either-or categories, then we don't have to wiggle out of them.  Hypnosis is a state of the organism, as is any constellation of thoughts -- but it is also a function of the imagination, which is a very real group of abilities located in the organ which we call the brain. And there is no need to separate them through the creation of any artificially-linked analogies.

Does this mean that the brain is merely a computer which stops when you die, as Steven Hawking claims? Not necessarily. If you accept Einstein's equation that matter and energy are two different forms of the same thing, this means that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed -- just transformed.


Matter and energy are both forms of the same thing!


Einstein expressed with mathematical elegance that matter and energy are two forms of the same thing.  Emerson carried this idea even further with the eloquence of poetry.

I am not poor, but I am proud,

Of one inalienable right,
Above the envy of the crowd,--
Thought's holy light.

  
 Better it is than gems or gold,
And oh! it cannot die,
But thought will glow when the sun grows cold,
And mix with Deity.




See also: The Evidence is In: "Free Will" is an Illusion!





Sunday, August 24, 2014

Determinism is the Secular Equivalent of Salvation

In considering the question of free will, it is also necessary to consider the question of moral responsibility. We hold people legally and morally responsible for their actions to the extent tha they know what they are doing is wrong, and understand the consequences of doing so. To the extent that this understanding is diminished, their guilt is reduced. But what criminal facing execution would have deliberately and with full understanding committed the crime that sealed his fate? How then could we hold him fully responsible for his act, and demand the ultimate penalty? 

Who could ever knowingly be so STUPID as to knowingly
and deliberately do anything that would lead to this?
Thinkers and philosophers have been debating the question of determinism versus free will for centuries. Briefly, the argument goes like this. If someone announces that he has made a decision and you ask him why, he will answer, "Because," followed by a list of reasons. Would he ever have decided otherwise? you ask. "Yes," he would answer, if he had other reasons. Our reasons determine our decisions, and our reasons are determined by our motives. But we do not choose our motives! Therefore, our decisions are all caused, and free will is an illusion. 

Can you think of anything that any human being ever does that is not determined by our motives, and the alternatives which we perceive before us? The most that a psychologist is able to do is to point out the existence of still other motives, of which we may be unaware.  The question is not, "Do I choose?" but "Do I choose to choose? and the answer is no!


Just as a computer makes choices in accordance with its instructions, we make choices in accordance with our motives. They are our programs. We only "feel" free if the choices before us are pleasant ones; but in reality, free will does not exist, for this kind of choice is just as determined as any other.


Today, neuroscience provides us with the conclusive answer to the question of whether or not we have free will. 




What we commonly refer to as "freedom" lies in the range of choices which are open to us, and whether or not those choices are experienced as pleasant or desirable, then some people's freedom can be a lot more limited than that of others. The psychiatrist Milton Erickson wrote a classic case study entitled "The February Man," in which he described a client who had such an inadequate personality that he had to do a series of age regressions with her to provide the corrective socializing experiences that she had missed, from childhood through her teen years and all the way into adulthood. This changed both her self and her motives, and greatly expanded her freedom to make her own choices.


Prisons  are still needed, of course, to the extent that they protect the public from dangerous persons, to the extent that they serve as a deterrent to others, and to the extent that they can make us want to do what we know that we ought to do (That's why we call them correctional institutions.). I worked in the NJ State Prison system for fifteen years, and i know that the system doesn't always work as it should, I agree -- but sometimes it does, when people begin to realize what leads to what. When I asked one inmate how he came to jail, he replied uneasily, "I was found behind the wheel of a stolen car." I asked him, "Did you steal it?" and he reluctantly replied, "Well, yeah."



When I say that there is no such thing as a behavior without a cause, I also have to admit that a person's self can be one of the causes. And what is the self? Is it the sum total of a person's past experience, or does it have a unique structure that is more than the sum of its parts? Most of us would say that each person's self is uniqe, and is capable of initiating action on its own.
But aren't there still reasons why you develop one kind of self and not another? Of course there are! So this whole free-will vs. determinism debate is like a reversible figure. If you look at it one way you see one thing, and if you look at it another way you see something else. That[s why the debate has persisted for hundreds of years, and why it will continue to persist until people recognize that it all depends on your point of view,
As far as deciding which view to emphasize, most of us would agree that Adolf Hitler should not be forgiven because he could not help himself/  But sometimes a  voluntaristic view of right and wrong needs to be balanced up a bit. Every day, I see people in my clinical psychology practice whose depression, anxety, and unhappiness are the result of beating themselves up for things which they couldn't help doing in the situations in which they found themselves. Determinists, however, realize this, and therefore they have no guilt. For atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers (although I an none of these), determinism is simply the secular equvalent of the Fundamentalist experience of :"salvation.".

Successful psychotherapy also provides us with  an increased range of choices available to us which did not exist before, and in that sense it can be said to expand our freedom. This is also the promise and the potential of hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, and of visiting multiple Universes to re-write our own history, for the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.    

See also: Hypnosis and the Mind-Body Problem

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Color Blindness Tests and "Hypno-Blindness" Tests

Some people grow up never knowing that they are color blind. They have to take a test similar to the following samples from the Ishihara Color Blindness Test in order to find out. They are shown a series of plates which are carefully constructed so that regardless of what color they aree,  the same of amount of light is reflected from each of the tiles of which they are composed.  Some the tiles that are of different colors than the others are arranged in the form of numbers.  Between twelve and twenty percent of the white male population, and a tiny fraction of females will not be able to see any numbers in the plates reproduced below. Can you



Why is such a test necessary? Because color-blind people believe that they are no different than anybody else, this causes them to operate in a "cultural trance" in which they gloss over very real differences in their experiential abilities.

A hypnotic induction may be thought of as  a "hypno-blindness test." A certain percentage of the population, more imaginatively gifted than the rest, is naturally capable of visual and auditory hallucinations, insensitivity to pain, and all of the other phenomena that we associate with high hypnotizability.  But, like those who grow up never knowing that they are color blind until they are tested for it, these experientially gifted individuals also operate in a cultural trance which causes them to feel that they are no different than anybody else, and which makes them gloss over real differences in their experiential abilities until they are tested.

What does hypnosis do to change things? In a recent thread on the Hypnothoughts discussion forum which asked people to describe the most unique induction they know, After the obviously humorous ones were removed, the only thing the remaining ones appeared to have in common was that they were all suggesting or implying that the subject's consciousness was beginning to function differently. And what does that accomplish? When a hypnotist suggests that someone's consciousness is beginning to function differently, this removes their cultural blinders and, if they are sufficiently able and willing, frees them up to use their imagination in what to the rest of us appears to be an "Alice-in-Wonderland" fashion.

Exceptions do occur, of course, when the cultural blinders are ineffetive, and people manifest hypnotic-like behavior without an induction. But we are usually quite hesitant about appearing to be very much different from those around us. As I have stated previously, if I were to walk up to an imaginatively gifted person, ask him to close his eyes, and suggest, with no previous induction, that by the time I got to the count of five he could open his eyes and see me dressed in a Santa Claus suit and hat, he would usually think that I was crazy. And if such a suggestion should actually happen to work, he would probably think that he was crazy! But if I first suggested that he was "going into hypnosis," using some sort of an induction proxedure to make such a sufggestion sufficiently plausible,then he can use the power of his imagination to do whatever he or she is able and willing to do with these gifts -- that is, until the session is concluded and they have to put their cultural blinders back on. 

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 I have just referred to are reliably obtained when data are gathered under standardized testing conditions such as a college classroom. But, unlike differences in color blkndness, which are largely hereditary, when the testing conditions for suggestibillity are fundamentally changed, these individual differences can instantly vanish.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How to Construct Hypnotic Suggestions and Autosuggestions Scientifically!


Most of us wouldn't quarrel with a definition of suggestion as "presenting an idea in such a manner that a person is likely to accept it as literally true, and therefore 'real.'" But hypnotists aren't the only ones whose work centers around making changes in the perception of reality!

Cognitive-behaviorial psychology works with automatic thoughts, which tell us how to respond to what is going on around us. Challenging people's automatic thoughts and substituting more adaptive ones is one way to produce a more efective adjustment to life. And, according to the definition just presented, these new ideas also qualify as suggestions. 

When the environment is pretty much the same for everyone, as it is in a standardized test such as the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Suggestibility, well-documented individual differences in suggestibility do exist. However, if you vary the environment enough, these individual differences disappear. Imagine, for example. that the Harvard Group Scale is being given to a class of introductory psychology students at the American University of Beirut, let us say, when a person dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room and says in a loud, commanding voice, "The city is under biological attack, and a germ cloud is headed this way. Take refuge in the basement immediately and await further instructions!" Even if such an announcement is 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 carried out in a sufficiently convincing manner, everyone in the class -- including the instructor -- would probably dash for the exits and head for the nearest underground shelter, manifesting a variety of emotional and cognitive responses to this suggestion without the necessity of a hypnotic induction!

Another way to vary the suggestions enough so that individual differences disappear is to customize them to fit the needs of each person to whom they are given, as cognitive-behavioral therapists do. It is generally acknowledged that the cognitive-behavioral approach is the fastest-growing orientation in psychology, with an ever-growing body of research behind it. Since both high and low-suggestible people respond better to any treatment if you first convince them that they have been hypnotized (Robertson, 2013), if the cognitive-behavioral way of constructing suggestions is more scientific, and therefore more effective, than suggestions generated by other means, then perhaps this method should also be adopted by more people who use hypnosis.

Contrary to what cognitive-behaviorists sometimes advocate, not all clients are suited for working with thought records themselves. As hypnotists, however, thought records can be of great help to us in helping us to analyze a client's problem in scientific terms, in explaining a situation to a client, and in deciding what suggestions to provide and what autosuggestions to teach the client to use.  For this reason, I am including more information in this posting to illustrate how cognitive-behavioral therapy may be utilized in a variety of ways. (I routinely use them both in my clinical psychology practice, sometimes individually and sometimes together.)    

This free downloadable ABC Worksheet from www.smartrecovery.org can become your daily companion for taking control of your life in matters large and small. You can use it to make motivational and behavioral adjustments on everything from paying your bills on time, to stopping smoking, or deciding on which career path to follow. (If you don't have the necessary Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can also download it free of charge.)

It first asks you about the causes of something you would like to change in your life, and then asks about the emotional consequences which were the result, your beliefs about what happened, what beliefs could be substituted for the ones which brought about the unpleasant results, and how those changed beliefs make you feel. You can write on the form itself, clearing and changing it as often as you like. Then, when you are finished, you can either print it out or save it as a text file, using a different form for each problem you would like to work on. No induction is needed, and there are no individual differences in suggestibility to take into account, because each suggestion is individually customized to fit the circumstances and thought patterns of the individual to whom it is given.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists also frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on in the mind when we make those habitual decisions that keep getting us into trouble . . . Here is what one looks like, and here is what it looks like all filled out, courtesy of www.getselfhelp.co.uk.  (A slightly longer, seven-column version of the same form is also available.)  Here are other free versions of the thought record form, adapted for special purposes:
You can make as many copies as you want for your own use by using the print command on your computer, and you can also obtain different versions for a host of other purposes. In addition, there is a free online self-help course and other materials on how to use them. Naturally, I cannot be responsible for the accuracy or the effectiveness of self-help materials downloaded from the Internet. Moreover,as a psychologist, I am a little more conservative than they are about what can legitimately be included within the rubric of "self-help."  But in any event, it works, and no induction is necessary -- although, of course, it helps!.

Reference

Robertson, D. J. (2013). The practice of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy. London: Karnac Books, Ltd.
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This 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.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why Do So Many People Die Before Their Time?

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who was interned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He experienced the tortures and depravities first-hand, and he was a keen observer of everything around him. He recorded his experiences in his boook, Man's Search for Meaning, wich is now in its third edition and has sold over two milion copies. 

In his book, Frankl recalled that on one particularly bad day, a list of "crimes" was announced which would be punishable by immediate death by hanging. These included cutting your blankets into ankle supports because, due to insufficient food, your ankles were too weak to stand on by themselves. Then, a couple of hours later, it was announced that two potatoes had been stolen from the camp kitchen. If the culprits were not immediately handed over to the tender mercies of the SS guards, the whole camp would starve for the day, Since they were starving anyway, the whole camp preferred to fast.

That evening, as the prisoners lay in their huts, the lights went out. For many, this seemed to be the last straw. As they lay there in total darkness, his Senior Block Warden asked Frankl to give them a talk to lift their spirits up. God knows, Frankl wrote, he was in no shape to cheer up anyone else. But he knew he had to say something. He began by noting that the real reason people were dying all around them was not their poor living conditions, horrible as they were, but giving up hope. Even in this Europe in the sixth winter of the Second World War, he continued, everyone could find some reason for hope. He frankly admitted that he estimated his own chances of survival at about one in twenty. Friends, family, careers, could all be restored, abd one could suddenly be transferred to a camp with unusually good working conditions, for this was the luck of the prisoner.

When the lights came on again, it was obvious that he had struck a responsive chord. People were limping towards him to shake his hand. Later, when he was liberated from the camp and re-opened his private practice, Frankl realized that in everyday life as well as in a concentration camp, when people gave up hope they were much more ready to die before their time. He began to forumulate the methhod of therapy which today is known as logotherapy, a close forerunner of today's post-modern constructionism.  Instead of seeking pleasure, as Freud would have it, or power, as Adler maintained, Frankl asserted that the most powerful motivating force in humans is the need to find meaning in life.

In my clinical practice, as well as in the lives of others people I have known, I have seen evidence of the unhappiness and despair which results when the main source of meaning in one's existence has been lost, or when it has never been found in the first place. But meaning need never remain lost or unachievable, even though it may appear to be. In the conclusion of the motion picture, Titanic, when her idyllic first love had been destroyed by the death of her lover when tbe ship sank, the heroine re-appeared as an od woman with children and grandchildren, and observed, "the heart of a woman is as deep as the ocean itself." 

Robert Louis Stevenson said, "The world is so full of such a number of things, I am sure we should all be as happy as kings."  Steven Hawking, who can easily be found on You Tube, is still busy lecturing to large audiences about the Cosmos, even though his ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) has progressed to the point that he can no longer sit up in his wheelchair and must use a special device in order to speak. Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor and an internationally-recognized expert in computer science,gave his "Last Lecture" on Achieving your Childhood Dreams and the Dreams of Others, has neow been viewed by over sixteen million people. If he had not been prematurely struck by Cancer, I am sure tha with his keen intellectual interests and his strong network of family and social support,t Dr. Pausch had the psychological preparation to live to a ripe old age. 



This principle is also illustrated in Cervantes' immortal novel, Don Quijote, in which the leading character is willing to pursue his idealistic "impsssible dream" into the jaws of death itself -- and, because he would never abandon his dream, his death was certainly not an unhappy one!




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rationalization, Positive Thinking, Re-Framing, Affirmations, or Lying to Yourself?

You can get rid of the false beliefs and  perceptions
 that make life diffiicult -- if you go sbout it in the right way!.
When the truth is too unpleasant to face directly, we sometimes lie to ourselves and believe our own lie in order to hide from rea;ity. This process is called rationalization, and there are two main kinds. "Sour grapes" rationalization is what we do when we fail to attain something and tell ourselves we didn't want it anyway. The name comes from the old folk tale about a fox who was trying to get into a vinyard to eat some grapes and, when he was unable to do so, walked away in disgust, thinking that the grapes weren't worth eating anyway, because they were probably sour. "Sweet lemon" rationalization is what we do when life hands us a disappointment (a "lemon"), and we make ourselves believe that the lemon is actually a blessing in disguise, as might be the case if a child was denied an inheritance and convinced himself that the life of hard labor which was the  became his lot was really better because it bult up his strength and physical endurance.

We have other ways to lie to ourselves, such as the excessive use of affirmations, and positive thinking which is not really true, but which only allows us to put off facing the inevitable. "You can do anything if you put your mind to it," is one example, or the classic , "Every day, and in every way, I am getting better and better," are affirmations which eventually lose their power to inspire us because they are not confirmed in everyday life. 


However, there is one kind of way to change how you look at things, called re-framing, which is a way of thinking differently that is actually more true than the way you looked at them before. A client with a lifelong fear of hospitals, for example, may have acquired this fear as a child when one by one, the family members who went to the hospital died. This fear had also generalized to a fear of dentistry. Re-framing would help this individual to see that hospitals are not really houses of death, but houses of healing, because if you go to the hospital when your physician deems that you ought to do so, the chances of surviving illness are actually much better than if you do not go.


Re-framing is one of the most important tools of hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral psychology. Much of the work of both hypnotists and cognitive-behavioral psychologists is aimed at teaching people to think differently, but more realistically, about themselves, the world, and the future, as they make and test hypotheses to see whether or not their previous beliefs are accurate or need to be revised. 


It still takes work, of course, because the "insight" brought about by re-framing often may not be enough by itself. 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. Once we change our long-held beliefs about a situation, we still have to contend with a lifetime of accumulated emtional and experiential baggage which supports the former point of view. But at least, now we know know the right direction in which to proceed! The client who reported a strong fear of hospitals, and who was now in her seventies was soon facing long-neglected dental work. In order to get her through it, in her own words, "hypnosis was my savior!" 


One of my favorite scripts for this type of work is john Hartland's ego-strengthening suggestions, which may easily be adapted for a wide variety of purposes.  The suggestions themselves are adapted from his book, Medical and Dental Hypnosis, which is now in its third edition. The suggestions are available online at no charge, and may be accessed by the foregoing link. Although Haerland's style is a bit more authoritative and commanding than those which many contemporary hypnotists are used to, I have found it to be especially well-suited for overcoming the emotional residue left over afer successful reframing. 


An alternative approach which uses imagery rather than verbal suggesstion is illustrated by Julie Andrews' rendition of the song, My Favorite Things. (For best results, of course, you'll want to make up your own list.):







Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy

The boss yelled at you today and it made you angry. Why did he do it?
  • Maybe your boss and his wife are getting a divorce.
  • Maybe his kids are on drugs.
  • Maybe he just got arrested for drunk driving.
  • Maybe something else is wrong that is even worse.
If your boss really had accused you of something that was false, of course you need to speak up. But why did it make you angry?
  • You could have thought that he was out to get you and felt afraid.
  • You could have thought that it was a personal put-down and felt hurt.
  • You could even have thought that he was making a fool of himself and felt amused.
If your boss has a personality disorder, or is out to get you for other reasons, you may need to cultivate beliefs that help you to conquer anxiety and perform at your best.

You might also need to replace beliefs which lead to exaggerated feelings of self-importance, self-blame, or self-pity.

Self-Importance:
  • "Whenever anybody raises their voice to me, it is an attack on my personal worth."
  • "I secretly believe that everything should always go my way."
  • "My boss is one hundred percent wrong, and I am one hundred percent right."
  • "I always have to have my boss's approval in order to feel OK."
  • "If my boss started it, I am justified in pushing it to the limit, even if it costs me my job and a good reference."
Self-Blame:
  • No one makes you psychologically depressed. You do that by the things you say to yourself.
  • You are not worthless even if important people in your life reject you.
  • Doing badly never makes you a bad person — only imperfect.
  • You have a right to be wrong.
  • Guilt is created in two steps: a) You do something bad and b) you decide you're awful.
  • Never blame yourself for anything. Instead, admit your responsibility for wrongdoing.
  • Self-blamers are grandiose in the sense that they judge themselves more harshly than they judge others who commit similar errors.
  • You can always forgive yourself since you are a) imperfect b) ignorant or c) disturbed.
  • Separate the rating of your behavior from the rating of your self.
Self-Pity:
  • You don't have to have everything you want. The world was not made just for you.
  • Not getting your way is only disappointing or sad—not the end of the world.
  • Count your blessings. You have put up with disappointments all your life; you can tolerate this one too.
Also, both you and your boss might be in the habit of seeing things in ways which make them look worse than they actually are. Trying to see both sides may lead to a better understanding. Cutting your boss some slack can also leave the door open for an apology. And, if your boss really is out to get you, at least it may give you some time to look for another job.

The most important thing, however, is that you are in control of your own emotional reactions, and these come from your own beliefs and values. This is the secret to something you can change -- although it may occasionally require the services of a trained psychologist, counselor, or social worker in order to help you to complete the process.

See also:
How to Recognize a Personality Disorder
How to Train Yourself Not to Be Angry.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Use Experiential Hypnosis (Hyperempiria)

(An earlier version of this posting was published in the Swedish journal, Hypnos, 2004, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, pp. 89-93, under the title, "Multimodal Suggestion for Facilitating Meditation and Prayer," by Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., and Annette K. Schreiber, Ph.D.)

Mother Theresa had a mystical experience while she was still in her teens, and spent the rest of her life trying to re-capture it. But, as hypnotists, we know that this is possible.

Many other people have had mystical experiences, and 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 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 to go shopping, play cards or to 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 the daughter is on speaking terms!)

People of many different religious traditions have attested to the life changing potential of mystical and transcendental experiences involving the experience of contact with a consciousness beyond one's own. In one study of the Fundamentalist Christian experience of "salvation," for example, subjects readily attested to both the personal reality of the experience and its subsequent influence upon their lives, although such experiences did not seem to be universally attainable and did appear to be related to the ability to respond to suggestion (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972; Gibbons, 1988).

Many clients approach life from a primarily religious point of view. Such believers -- particularly those who are elderly, infirm, or who have experienced a number of personal tragedies -- may experience a "dark night of the soul" (Peers, 1990) as they struggle to deal with the stresses of life without access to sources of experiential spiritual support for their beliefs. However, Glasner (1955) refers to several purported uses of suggestion and hypnosis in Scripture to encourage and inspire the faithful, concluding, ". . .Although it is impossible to state with any definiteness that hypnosis is referred to in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and in the Talmud, there would seem to be considerable evidence that the authors of these works were indeed familiar with phenomena which we today should call hypnotic or which we should explain in terms of suggestion" (p. 39).

From the standpoint of the therapist who is well-versed in the techniques of hypnosis, experiences of this type may easily be made available to clients who desire them and are sufficiently responsive to suggestion. From the first glow of anticipation to the enduring treasures of fondest memory, 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. Although most of us routinely provide a considerable amount of detail with the experiences we suggest in order to make them more realistic, the Best Me Technique provides a systematic, comprehensive framework for maximum involvement and effectiveness of experiential learning.

The theme and content of such experiences should be determined by the needs and preferences of the client, with the goal of providing reassurance, strength, and encouragement. In so doing, it should be of little consequence whether the religious and metaphysical beliefs of the client are shared by the therapist or are in conflict with those of the therapist, or whether the therapist has no theological or metaphysical beliefs at all.

Lawrence (M. A. Lawrence, personal communication, June 27, 2003) reports the successful application of the Best Me Technique with nursing home residents who are dealing with end-of-life issues.

The Best Me Technique would appear to possess numerous other potential applications. Good results have been reported using the Best Me Technique to enable experientially gifted clients to experience now, and in intensified form, the rewards which would not normally be theirs until a goal has actually been attained, thereby eliminating the need for "will power" or external environmental incentives (Gibbons, 2003). Sexual relations in multimodal trance between committed partners who respond well to suggestion can take on near sacramental qualities as the lovers consecrate themselves to one another anew (Gibbons, 2001).  

Recently, Kelley Woods and 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 the Multiverse 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!"  \

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


References


Bányai, E. I., & Hilgard, E. R. (1976). A comparison of active-alert hypnotic induction with traditional relaxation induction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 218-224

Gibbons, D. E. (1975, August). Hypnotic vs. hyperempiric induction: An experimental comparison. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Chicago.

Gibbons, D. E. (1976). Hypnotic vs. hyperempiric induction: An experimental comparison. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 42, 834.

Gibbons, D. E. (1988). Were you saved or were you hypnotized? The Humanist, 48, pp. 17-18.


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

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

Gibbons, D. E. (2003, July). The best me technique for constructing hypnotic suggestions. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Societies of Medical, Clinical, Dental, and Experimental Hypnosis, London.

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., & DeJarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, 152 166.

Glasner, S. (1955). A note on allusions to hypnosis in the Bible and Talmud. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 3(1), 34-39.

Hammond, D. C. (1990). Hypnotic suggestions and metaphors. New York: Norton.

Heap, M. & Aravind, K. K. (2001). Hartland's Medical & Dental Hypnosis, 4th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone.

Lazarus, A. A. (1989). The practice of multimodal therapy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lazarus, A. A. (1997). Brief comprehensive psychotherapy: The multimodal way. New York: Springer.

Peers, E. A. (1990). Dark Night of the Soul. New York: Doubleday.

Phillips, B. D. (2006) Experimental approaches to interactive drama involving experiential trance. Journal of Interactive Drama, 2(1), pp. 21-55.

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

Yapko, M. D. (2003). Trancework: An introduction to the practice of clinical hypnosis, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner-Routledge.