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

Translations Available

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

Translate

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.

Search This Blog

Friday, February 28, 2014

Do Alternate Universes Really Exist?



In sub-atomic physics, an electron can be in several places at the same time, and its position is only fixed in one place when it is observed -- or so goes the theory.

Imagine that we place a living cat into a steel chamber, along with a device containing a vial of hydrocyanic acid, and a radioactive substance. If even a single atom of the substance decays during the test period, a relay mechanism will trip a hammer, which will, in turn, break the vial and kill the cat. The observer cannot know whether or not an atom of the substance has decayed, and consequently, cannot know whether or not the cat has been killed. According to quantum law, the observation or measurement of sub-atomic particles affects an outcome, so that the outcome as such does not exist unless the measurement is made. (That is, there is no single outcome unless it is observed.) We know that this actually occurs at the subatomic level, because there are observable effects of interference, in which a single particle is demonstrated to be in multiple locations simultaneously.

What that fact implies about the nature of reality on the observable level (cats, for example, as opposed to electrons) is one of the stickiest areas of quantum physics. We're in one universe if we see that the cat is alive at the end of the test period, and we are in another one if we see that the cat is dead. But not everyone agrees with this conclusion. Einstein said, "I refuse to believe that God plays dice with the Universe."  Schrödinger himself is rumored to have said, later in life, that he wished he had never met that cat.

Today, however, if you ask physicists about the existence of alternate universes, most of them will agree that it is a definite possibility. The cover of the February 17 edition of Time features a story about "the infinity machine," a supercooled computer which according to one theory of quantum physics, is "the first techniology that allows useful tasks to be performed in collaboration between parallel universes."   Time states that research with these computers, each one costing $10,000,000, is "backed by Jefff Bezos, NASA, and the CIA," and is proceeding rapidly.


Monday, February 24, 2014

You Can't Just "Commit" a Crazy Relative, Neighbor, or Co-Worker!

Did you ever wonder why there are so many obviously mentally ill people wandering about in the center of large cities? Have you ever thought that you might have to commit that crazy relative, neighbor, or co-worker who talks back to the television and believes that he or she is receiving messages by telepathy? Have you heard of families whose members are constantly fighting and threatening to "commit" one another? Civil rights come first -- and It may not be as easy as you think!

When I was working at a psychiatric hotline, I received a call from a woman who wanted us to come out and commit her grandmother. She was also talking back to the television. In addition, she believed that the airplanes flying over her house were transmitting messages intended especially for her.  I asked the caller if her mother had ever attempted or threatened to commit suicide, or if she had ever harmed or threatened to harm anyone else. I was assured that she had not. The caller also told me that she was certain that her mother had no intention of doing so in the future.

"How does she get her needs taken care of?" I asked.  I was told that her husband does all the grocery shopping and cooks and cleans for her. She was perfectly able to dress herself and care for her own personal hygiene.

I told the caller that we could not even come out to interview her mother. In New Jersey, as well as in other states and many other nations, you do not merely have to be mentally ill in order to be committed, you also have to be dangerous because you are mentally ill. if you are not a danger to anyone else, and if your needs are being taken care of despite the fact that you are so crazy that you would be a danger to yourself were it not for the assistance of others, you are beyond the reach of the mental health system no matter how crazy you may happen to be.


If you are suicidal, on the other hand, you are automatically assumed to be crazy, and that alone will almost certainly get you a one way ticket to the mental hospital. For example, as we were discharging a retired social studies teacher from the hospital after she had received medical treatment for a broken hip, I was asked to screen her because she had casually remarked that she was going to go home and kill herself. When she admitted this during my psychiatric screening, I gently informed her that we would have to keep her in the hospital and admit her to the psychiatric ward. She angrily told me that she had the right to take her own life if she wanted to, and nobody had the right to stop her. Since she was a retired social studies teacher, I told her, "Even in a democracy, we can take away your civil rights in order to save your life." She drew herself up to her fall five feet in height and looked me straight in the eye and used terms which I never expected to hear from the lips of a social studies teacher! 

She was admitted to the hospital psychiatric ward, and when she had satisfied the staff that she was suicidal she was released and allowed to return to her home. Several months later, I heard that she had regain her physical health and was doing quite well psychologically.

When someone has expressed an intention to commit suicide or to harm someone else, a telephone call to your local police department or psychiatric hot line is usually all that is needed to alert the proper authorities, and they will determine whether the problem is a legal or a psychiatric one. Voluntary admission to a mental hospital is also possible under similar circumstances if the person who is having such feelings is willing to make the call. Nevertheless, no matter how crazy one happens to be, unless their behavior also poses a legal risk to themselves or others, there is often not much that you or anyone else can do. Your local laws may vary, and no set of statements fits every possible contingency. Therefore, this posting is not intended to serve as a substitute for legal or professional advice.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Is Hypnosis Dangerous? Some Hypnotists Are!

The general public often thinks of hypnosis in terms of its potential for abuse. Most people have heard of the scandal which reached the highest levels of the Court of Imperial Russia and which may have been one of the factors which ultimately contributed to its demise, involving the notorious Russian monk, Rasputin who reportedly seduced many women by hypnotizing them.


Gregory Rasputin, Priest/Hypnotist/Seducer
at the Court of Imperial Russia
It would be a mistake to assume that fantasies of seduction occur only to male hypnotists and never to their female subjects, especially if they should happen to find that the hypnotist, or hypnosis itself, is sexually attractive. In the sexually repressive atmosphere of Imperial Russia, it should not be surprising that Rasputin was able to find volunteers who would be willing to act out such fantasies, with varying degrees of self-deception. 

Can hypnosis actually be used to compel obedience, when there is no underlying wish to comply? Some years ago, I was asked to testify in the case of a man who had falsely advertised himself as a psychologist and had begun hypnotizing teen-age girls in the area, one of whom subsequently accused him of rape. In order to make its case that hypnosis could be used to compel behavior, the prosecution had pointed to an incident in Eastern Europe several decades earlier, in which a stage hypnotist had handed a man a pistol loaded with blanks and commanded the man to shoot him. The hypnotized subject, who was an off-duty police officer, drew a loaded revolver from his pocket and shot three members of the audience. The defense, on the other hand, was prohibited from pointing to the girl's behavior in the neighborhood as evidence that she could have been voted "the girl most likely to. . . ."


I testified that while hypnosis cannot force people to people do something which is against their moral and ethical codes, it is impossible to conclusively demonstrate in the laboratory whether or not hypnosis could be used to compel anti-social behavior. You could never actually allow such behavior to occur in an experimental setting, or in any kind of staged demonstration, and the subjects know it! But, in what I like to call "the laboratory of life," the results are more clear-cut. Hypnosis in its modern form has been around for over two hundred years; and if you have to go half way around the world and back several decades in time in order to find even one instance of its alleged use in the commission of a crime, then it would be easier to conclude that this individual was psychotic or personality disordered than to conclude that his behavior was the result of the alleged coercive power of hypnosis. If hypnosis could be used in such a manner, by this time its anti-social applications would be well-documented -- in organized crime, in international espionage, by thwarted lovers, and in many other settings. And the evidence simply is not there. 

Carla Emery, who was herself the victim of an abusive love relationship in which hypnosis was present, even went so far as to conclude that the practice of hypnosis involved a vast conspiracy which was designed to protect the income of those who used it, while preserving the freedom of those who would employ it for anti-social purposes to continue to do so!

More recently, it has come to light that an attorney in Lorrain County, Ohio, was disbarred because he hypnotized two female clients who were in the process of getting a divorce and proceeded to involve them in sex acts. But in view of Orne's research, it is clear that susceptibility to seduction under hypnosis is limited to a tiny minority of people who have been made highly vulnerable to such manipulation, as these clients undoubtedly were.

With regard to the possibility of seduction under hypnosis, the problem is not with hypnosis itself, but with the power differential which is inherent in a therapeutic relationship. This trust must never be abused. The responsibility always lies with the person in authority, whether a physician, psychologist, priest, teacher, an attorney -- or a hypnotist. It is necessary for the trusted person to maintain strong boundaries and to stop any inappropriate relationships from developing, even if a client displays seductive behavior due to transference, a personality disorder, or mental illness. A teenager would be especially susceptible to such suggestions; and If she subsequently accused the hypnotist of rape, then chances are, he may have abused his position of trust and authority in order to have sexual relations with his client, which is tantamount to rape. Therefore, the prosecution's mistake was to attack hypnosis, rather than the power which the hypnotist (who had falsely advertised himself a psychologist) had abused while hypnosis was present. 

Instances such as these tend to be reported in great detail by the media, and are amplified still further by depictions of hypnosis in fiction. Because of the publicity which results from them, there are many people who will not have anything to do with hypnosis . And because these abuses continue to surface from time to time, the public is probably never going to be won over completely, despite our repeated assurances that hypnosis is perfectly safe when used by trained and ethical professionals. 
Hyperempiria, with its emphasis on suggestion-enhanced experience as a catalyst for growth and change, is much less likely to be perceived by hypnophobic members of the general public as inherently dangerous.

(I am grateful to Dr. Annette K. Schreiber for her collaboration and assistance in the preparation of this posting.)


 

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, February 16, 2014

How to Cope With the Inevitability of Death


If you can dream, and not make dreams your master.
If you can think, and not make thought your aim.
If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
And treat those twin impostors just the same. . . .
                                                                                             --Rudyard Kipling



Randy Pausch was a popular computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. At the peak of his career, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a few months to live. In his last lecture, he provided a model for all of us on how to face the certainty of our own death -- with courage, humor, and concern for others. It is an understatement to say that his talk went viral on the Internet! Now, unlerss you are one of the lucky ones who downloaded it before it became too popular to give away, you have to buy it. Here is what he had to say.