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 (609)709-2043 and (609) 494-0009.

Driving directions: Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72 E After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Mill Creek Commons.Then, immedately turn right again and go past the Lyceum II Gym. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building,which will be the only building on your right. We are the last office at the end.

We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.
We do not accept credit or debit cards.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

"On Groundless Fears," by Seneca

Mzny of the clients in my psychology practice are upset by current political developments, and calls to crisis hotlines have multiplied. This is a You Tube audio of a letter from the Greek philosopher Seneca to one of his dear friends on the subject of groundless fears. He would be right at home with cognitive behavioral  psychology;"We suffer more in imagination than in reality," and then goes on to speak of the remedies of this condition. He's a bit brainy, but what would you expect from a Greek philosopher? However, his words have stood the test of time, and are especially true in today's conditions of post-election stress.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hypnosis Conditioning and Relaxation Tape

The following link contains a standard progressive relaxation hypnotic induction rape based on imagery of relaxing on the beach, with confidence-building and ego strengthening suggestions from John Hartland's Medical and Dental Hypnosis. I first heard Dr. Hartland present this script in the form of a paper at a professional meeting several years ago. I began to see more and more references to it in the professional literature, I began to use it in my clinical psychology practice with good  results. I am posting it here for the convenience of my own clients, and for others who might also wish to use it as a relaxation training and conditioning tape in between hypnosis sessions, with the consent and under the supervision of an appropriately trained and licensed mental health professional.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3gLdfLQ44mqaTRtN25VWlN1Rlk/view?usp=sharing

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Seriously Curious about Hypnosis? Try it Yourself!,

If you are seriously curious about hypnosis, this is an induction by my colleague Kelley Woods, that you can try in the safety and privacy of your own home. (It;s also great for insomnia!).


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Is it Possible to Hypnotize Animals?

 
Train? Yes. Hypnotize? No.

 Humans are the only species that can make use of what Michael Ellner has referred to as "the transformational magic" of an  provides both the opportunity and the occasion for those who have the ability to use their imagination in an "Alice-in-Wonderland" fashion to go ahead and do so. If we choose to adopt Michael Yapko's view that all communication is hypnosis, then "birds do it," and "bees do it." My own preference, however, is to use a more conservative definition such as Michael's, and "let sleeping dogs lie."


Monday, August 29, 2016

Trauma and Trauma Recovery

If you tie a string of firecrackers to the a cat's tail and light them, he may not be physically injured if you use a cord that is long enough  -- but he will never be the same cat again! Humans, with our more advanced brains, are often inclined to blame ourselves for a traumatic injury over which we have no control, thinking things like, "I must be a terrible, worthless human being, or my own father would never do such a horrible thing to me!" The first thing a mental health professional has to do is often to teach a traumatized person to love and accept oneself, so that the lasting effects of the trauma can be constructively re-directed.

We have all had minor traumas and have learned to adjust to them, more or less. But if the trauma is great enough, and/or if it happens often enough, a traumatized human will usually require the assistance of a trauma therapy specialist in order to facilitate the healing process.

In the following Ted Talk, Sasha joseph Neulinger speaks about surviving multi-generational sexual abuse and how it can still influence our choices for the future in positive directions even if it is not completely reversible.


Clients sometimes ask to be hypnotized in order to find out whether or not they have been molested or abused in other ways. Hypnosis is not used to help in the recovery of past traumas because there might be so much emotion associated with these memories that the client may be overwhelmed by them. Indeed, the relaxation and security of the hypnotic setting itself may occasionally be sufficient to bring about the recall of childhood traumatic events, possibly traumatizing the client all over again and making recovery even more difficult than it was before. Clients are not even encouraged to talk about their childhood trauma unless they feel comfortable in doing so. There is also the danger of "false memory syndrome," or the tendency of the imagination to construct events which never actually occurred, which caused great anguish in the past, before this phenomenon was formally recognized.

I like to recommend Babette Rothschild's The Body Remembers for clients in my practice  who like to read about trauma treatment and who themselves have been victims of trauma. She writes with great clarity, but some familiarity with the professional literature is usually helpful.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

How to Use Meditation to Identify Life Goals -- and Deal with Stress Along the Way

There are four basic stages of problem solving:



  • Preparation, in which you become familiar with the elements of a problm by turning it over in your mind;
  • Incubation, or letting it "sit" for a while as your right brain or "unconscious mind" works to come up with a solution; 
  • Illumination, or a sudden insight which presents itself as a solution; and 
  • Verification, or actually checking the solution to see if it is really going to work.ted  

  • Meditation is an excellent way of stoking your mental processes to speed up the incubation stage when you are seeking a solution to a problem or a life goal which has been which has been eluding you.  Although the process may still take some time, meditation is also an excellent way of dealing with the strong emotions which may arise while you are awaiting a solution and, eventually, while you are pursuing it. The following WikiHow article on meditation has been by edited by nearly 700 people and read by over 1-3/4 million. In addition to its other uses, I heartily recommend it as a means of identifying aims and purposes which then can be formulated into 
    winning goals.

    How to Meditate

    from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

    Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of self awareness. To free one's awareness from associating solely with the mind and its soul. There are many different meditation methods. At the core of meditation is the goal to focus and eventually quiet your mind, thus freeing your awareness. As you progress, you will find that you can meditate anywhere and at any time, accessing an inner calm no matter what's going on around you. You will also find that you can better control your reactions to things as you become increasingly aware of your thoughts (letting go of anger, for example). But first, you have to learn to tame your mind and control your breathing.

    Steps

    1. Make time to meditate. Set aside enough time in your daily routine for meditating; early morning and in the evening are often most preferable. The steadiness of mind meditation is most noticeable when you do it regularly; some people like to end the day by clearing their mind, and some prefer to find refuge in meditation in the middle of a busy day. The easiest time to meditate is in the morning, before the day tires your body out and gives your mind more to think about. Just take care to avoid spending too long meditating––start with around 5 to 15 minutes a day.
    2. Find or create a quiet, relaxing environment. For the beginner, it's especially important to avoid any obstacles to attention. Turn off TV sets, the phone or other noisy appliances. If you play music, choose calm, repetitive and gentle tunes, so as not to break your concentration.
      • Meditating outside works for many meditators. As long as you don't sit near a busy roadway or another source of loud noise, you can find peace under a tree or sitting upon some lush grass in a favorite corner of the garden.
    3. Sit on level ground. Sit on a cushion if the ground is uncomfortable. You don't have to twist your limbs into the half lotus or full lotus position or adopt any unusual postures. The important thing is to keep your back straight, as this will help with breathing later on.
      • Tilt your pelvis forward by sitting on the forward edge of a thick cushion, or on a chair that has its back legs lifted off the ground 8 to 10 cm (3 or 4 inches).
      • Starting from your bottom, stack up the vertebrae in your spine, so that they are balanced one on top of another and support the whole weight of your torso, neck, and head. Done correctly, it feels as if no effort is required to hold your torso up. (A small amount of effort is in fact required, but with the right posture, it is so small and evenly distributed you don't notice it.)
      • Relax your arms and legs. They don't need to be in any special position, just as long as they are relaxed and don't interfere with balancing your torso. You can put your hands on your thighs, but it might be easier at first to let your arms hang at your sides––the hanging weight helps reveal where things are out of alignment.
    4. Relax everything. Keep searching for parts of your body that aren't relaxed. When you find them, (and you will), consciously relax them. You may find that you can't relax them unless you adjust your posture so that you are better aligned, and that place doesn't need to work anymore. This commonly happens with muscles near your spine. You may also notice that you are twisted a little and need to straighten out. Little muscles in your face often keep getting tense, too.
    5. Let your attention rest on the flow of your breath. Listen to it, follow it, but make no judgments on it (such as "It sounds a little raspy... maybe I'm getting a cold?"). The goal is to allow the "chattering" in your mind to gradually fade away. Find an "anchor" to settle your mind.
      • Try reciting a mantra (repetition of a sacred word). A single word like "om" uttered at a steady rhythm is best. You can recite it verbally or just with the voice in your mind. Beginners may find it easier to count their breaths. Try counting your breath from 1 through 10, then simply start again at 1.
      • To circumvent images that keep intruding on your thoughts, visualize a place that calms you. It can be real or imaginary. Imagine you are at the top of a staircase leading to a peaceful place. Count your way down the steps until you are peaceful and relaxed.
    6. Silence your mind. Once you've trained your mind to focus on just one thing at a time, the next step is focus on nothing at all, essentially "clearing" your mind. This requires tremendous discipline but it is the pinnacle of meditation. After focusing on a single point as described in the previous step, you can either cast it away, or observe it impartially and let it come and then go, without labeling it as "good" or "bad". Take the same approach to any thoughts which return to your mind until silence perseveres.
    Tips
    • It is easy to lose track of time while meditating. Being concerned about time can be distracting to meditation. Some people find it liberating to set a timer and let it be concerned about how long you have to meditate. Choose a gentle timer. If it is too jarring, the anticipation of the alarm can be distracting.
    • Some other benefits that are less observable for most people include: falling asleep more easily, more ease in fighting addictions, altered states of mind (which are most prominent in people who have spent over 10,000 hours meditating such as Buddhist monks), and most recently discovered is that meditation on the concepts of calmness and relaxation can turn off genes within every cell in the body that cause cells to become inflamed when you are under a lot of stress.
    • If you find it difficult to meditate for the length of time you have chosen, try a shorter time for a while. Almost anyone can meditate for a minute or two without experiencing intrusive thoughts. Then, as the ocean of the mind calms, you gradually lengthen your meditation session until you have achieved the desired length of time.
    • With good posture, it will be easier to breathe as your lungs will have more space. In fact, you may notice how most of the muscles in your torso work to help you breathe, from the muscles in the base of your pelvis to the ones in your neck, centered on the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm. They work just a little, assisting the diaphragm. If you notice this, it's a good sign you have established a good posture. The right posture is easy and comfortable. You almost feel like you are floating.
    • You should be comfortable enough to concentrate, but not so comfortable that you feel the urge to fall asleep.
    • Set aside a specific time each day for meditation, but don't overdo it. If 20-30 minutes in the morning isn't enough, add another session later in the day instead of trying for a single, longer session.
    • Make some effort to be mindful of your mood and thoughts when not meditating. You may notice that you feel calmer, happier, and sharper on days when you have meditated, and notice a decrease in these qualities when you have not.
    • Meditation practiced over a long term period of time have been shown to have many beneficial results and is well worth continued practice. Benefits include: Increased mindfulness and awareness, reduced stress, calmer and more relaxed moods, improved memory and focus, and increased in grey matter (brain cells) in various parts of the brain.
    • It may be beneficial to mentally review or replay the previous day at the start of your sessions, if you can do so in a relaxed, passive way. This often happens naturally, and sometimes it's best to allow this to happen, as long as you don't get emotionally wrapped up or let it go on too long before beginning meditation. This procedure is known as "processing" of recent events, and becoming skilled at performing a non-judgmental review of events does much to increase awareness and emotional well-being.
    • Do what works best for you. What works for some people might have other techniques that might not work for you. Don't let that get you down. Remember to relax!
    • The benefits of meditation can be experienced long before the practitioner has been successful in maintaining focus or clearing the mind, simply as a result of the practice.
    • What you do with a silent mind is up to you. Some people find that it is a good time to introduce an intention or a desired outcome to the subconscious mind. Others prefer to "rest" in the rare silence that meditation offers. For religious people, meditation is often used to connect with their God(s) and receive visions.
    • For some people, focusing attention on a point or object does exactly the opposite of what meditation is all about. It takes you back to the life of focus, concentration, strain. In this case, as an alternative to the above techniques, some meditators recommend un-focusing your attention. Instead of focusing attention on a point or an object, this type of meditation is achieved by attaining a state of zero. Take your attention above all thoughts to a point where you lose all attention and all thoughts.
    • Do not force yourself to meditate. You should want to meditate before think about trying.
    Warnings
    • Don't expect immediate results. The purpose of meditation is not to turn you into a Zen master overnight. Meditation works best when it is done for its own sake, without becoming attached to results.
    • If you find your mind is wandering, try not to scold or beat up on yourself about it. Wandering restlessly is the normal state of the conditioned mind. This is the first lesson many people learn in meditation and it is a valuable one. Simply, gently, invite your attention back to your breath, remembering that you've just had a small but precious "awakening." Becoming aware of your wandering mind is a success, not a failure.
    • Some people find it's difficult to meditate immediately before bedtime. If you're very sleepy, you may find yourself nodding off. Conversely, meditating may energize your mind, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
    • If your posture is good, you will almost certainly feel a stretch on the back of your neck, and possibly in your shoulders. Just relax. If the stretch is so pronounced that it is painful, work on stretching and relaxing that area when you aren't meditating.
    • As you meet other people who meditate, you may encounter a few who will boast about their endurance for long meditation sessions, even hours and hours at a sitting. Don't be tempted to change your practice to "keep up." Meditation is not a competition––it's a way of life.
    Related wikiHows
    Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Meditate. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


    ------------------------------------------

     
    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.




    Tuesday, August 16, 2016

    What is the Most Effective Hypnotic Induction?

    +michael ellner  has just posted a quotation from MIlton Erickson regarding the most effective form of hypnosis: "It isn't the amount of time. It isn't the theory of psychotherapy. It’s how you reach the personality by saying the right thing at the right time."  This jibes with Steve Lynn's summary of our induction chapter in the American Psychological Association's  Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis, which concludes that the most important consideration  is the personality and individual characteristics of each individual we encounter, If you say the right thing at the right time, there's practically no limit to what you can accomplish!




    Monday, July 25, 2016

    The Balloon Ride: An Alert (Hyperempiric) Induction

    The following induction may either be presented by itself, or at the conclusion of a traditional relaxation induction which allows the client to first go "down" into hypnosis and then "up" into hyperempiria. 

    Now, with your eyes closed, imagine that you are sitting or lying inside the basket of a large balloon. If you accept each detail of the scene as I describe it, your imagination will be free to allow yourself to experience the situation just as if you were really there. So just let yourself relax now, in that large wicker basket, with the balloon above you slowly filling.upn withh helium.


    It is a beautiful spring day; you can smell the sweet, fresh air of the surrounding meadow, laden with the gentle fragrance of wild flowers. You can hear the soft rustling of the grass around the basket, and the song of birds in the distance. And as you feel the gentle breeze upon your face and the warm sun upon your skin, the balloon will begin to rise. And the higher you go, the greater your sensitivity will become.

    I'm going to count from one to ten, and at the count of one the balloon is beginning to rise. And with each count it will go higher. And as it does, it will feel as if your mind is expanding along with it, until you are able to hold within your own consciousness an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty.

    Now the balloon is nearly full. And as it begins to rise, I will begin to count, as your consciousness commences to expand.

    One. As the balloon slowly begins to rise, you are beginning to enter a new and different experience of awareness. You will find that you begin to experience very pleasant feelings of increased sensitivity.

    Two. You are beginning to enter a higher level now, as your body becomes more sensitive and more responsive with every word that I utter.

    Three. As the balloon continues to rise, you can feel the basket gently swaying in the breeze, rocking you back and forth as it does, and you can hear the sound of the wind blowing in gentle bursts as you continue to float up and up.

    Four. Your perceptions are becoming keener as you float on, higher and higher. It's such a pleasant feeling as you drift on, and on, and as your awareness expands more, and more, and more.

    Five. As you continue to rise higher and higher, you can feel the balloon swaying and turning in the breeze, as you drift on, high above the earth. And the higher you go, the more your ability to experience pleasure expands as well.

    Six. As you feel your consciousness expanding more and more, you are feeling an ever-growing sense of joy as you experience all of your senses being tuned to their highest possible pitch -- yet it is pleasurable in every way.

    Seven. It's a wonderful feeling of liberation which you are experiencing now. And by the time I get to the count of ten, you will have reached the peak of your potential. Your perceptions will take on new qualities, and they will possess a greater depth of reality than anything you have known previously.

    Eight. You can feel yourself drifting up, into the sky now, hanging on the very edge of space. Soon you will be able to travel on by yourself, into new dimensions, with only my voice to guide you. As the balloon continues to rise, the feeling of joy continues to increase, as you feel your capacity for experience becoming infinitely keener then it could be in any other state

    Nine. All the way up into the sky now, and ready to travel on into new dimensions of experience with my voice to guide you.

    Ten. Now, you are ready. And while you remain in hyperempiria, all your perceptions will be infinitely sensitive, and you will be able to experience the reality of whatever is suggested to you much more keenly than you could experience it in the everyday waking state of consciousness.






    Thursday, July 7, 2016

    Do Some People WANT to Destroy Themselves?

    It is commonly said that self-preservation is a powerful human need, which is understandable if we have a healthy self-concept and seek out opportunities and situations which tend to increase our self-esteem. But what if you have learned ti dislike yourself? If you have been treated badly by those who are closest to you, might you not also come to dislike yourself? Can this give rise to a need for self-destruction?  

    Most of us have known people who make one bad decision after another, and then "go off" on people who try to make logical but difficult suggestions which would interrupt their downward spiral. These bad decisions may involve maxing out their credit cards and repeatedly borrowing money from parents, friends, spouses, or relatives in order to pull them out of yet another self-inflicted spending spree, until others are unable or unwilling to engage in further rescue efforts. Self-destructive behavior may also take the form of self-injury or cutting, various types of addiction such as alcohol or drug dependency, pathological gambling, suicide or suicidal gestures, etc.  Eventually, These self-destructive tendencies may be expressed in the form of psychosomatic ailments which can eventually become disabling  to the point that the individual is no longer able to work.   

    In the proposed revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, a separate category of personality disorder, Self-Destructive Personality Disorder, was proposed for further study.  It was not included after was perceived as being largely the result of domestic violence caused by males. Many of us continue to see cases of self-destructive behavior in clinical practice, however; and politically correct or not, the concept does seem to have objective validity. Here is the description of the proposed self-destructive personality disorder.so that you can jjudge for yourself.

    A) A pervasive pattern of self-defeating behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. The person may often avoid or undermine pleasurable experiences, be drawn to situations or relationships in which they will suffer, and prevent others from helping them, as indicated by at least five of the following:
    1. chooses people and situations that lead to disappointment, failure, or mistreatment even when better options are clearly available
    2. rejects or renders ineffective the attempts of others to help them
    3. following positive personal events (e.g., new achievement), responds with depression, guilt, or a behavior that produces pain (e.g., an accident)
    4. incites angry or rejecting responses from others and then feels hurt, defeated, or humiliated (e.g., makes fun of spouse in public, provoking an angry retort, then feels devastated)
    5. rejects opportunities for pleasure, or is reluctant to acknowledge enjoying oneself (despite having adequate social skills and the capacity for pleasure)
    6. fails to accomplish tasks crucial to their personal objectives despite having demonstrated ability to do so, e.g., helps fellow students write papers, but is unable to write their own
    7. is uninterested in or rejects people who consistently treat them well
    8. engages in excessive self-sacrifice that is unsolicited by the intended recipients of the sacrifice
    B) The behaviors in A do not occur exclusively in response to, or in anticipation of, being physically, sexually, or psychologically abused.
    C) The behaviors in A do not occur only when the person is depressed.

    See also: How to Recognize a Personality Disorder.

    Saturday, July 2, 2016

    When Twelve-Step Programs Don't Work for You

    It was not until I had been teaching for about ten years that I realized that meeting a new class for the first time was like meeting a new person for the first time. Every class, just like every individual, has a distinct personality that is not entirely like any other. Many of the clients in my psychology practice have tried A. A. or other twelve-step programs and given up. I like to point out that every twelve-step program, just like every college class, has its own personality too. If you aren't comfortable with one particular class, you don't just drop out of school, you look around for another one that you can take. 

    However, there are still many people who are just not comfortable in group settings where they share their innermost secrets with the other people in the room. As an alternative to twelve-step programs, other groups have been formed which are based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral psychology. The folks at www.smartrecovery.org have a tool chest of resources which is a treasure-trove for people who want to alter hard-to-change behaviors of every type (not just addictions). They have a list of Articles and Essays containing a great deal of practical material which can be directly put into use, and a superb reading list. When twelve-step programs do not work for you, perhaps you might want to check them out!


     

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    The Best Me Technique of Self-Hypnosis

    The "Best Me Technique" is a form of hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, which involves your whole person in the content of a suggested event. Every letter in "Best Me" corresponds with a different element of experience and these elements can be applied in a variety of ways. It's the versatility and the thoroughness of these elements that makes the Best Me Technique distinct from meditation and visualization exercises.

    This link shows how to hypnotize yourself using the Best Me Technique. Since I put it up on WikiHow in 2009, it has received over 1-1/4 million hits.

    I just looked over the comments A few people said that it did not work for them, which is par for the course with any hypnotic induction. However, the overall approval rating in the upper right hand corner of the article is four stars out of five over the seven-year period that it has been up. 


    Print References

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


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




    Saturday, May 14, 2016

    Hypnosis and Hyperempiria in Sex Therapy

    When you're ninety, you probably won't remember your best day at the office. But most people, if they are fortunate enough, will recall a few special moments spent with a loved one which warm the heart forever.  Just as a painter works with brush upon canvas and a sculptor works with chisel upon stone, responsive and consenting couples under the guidance of a duly licensed mental health professional can harness the power of suggestion not only to resolve their present difficulties, but also to to create a total union of body, heart, mind and soul -- to enhance the setting for lovemaking, evoke the proper mood, maximize responsiveness and desire, and increase the length, depth, and frequency of climax, blending together all the elements of physical intimacy to create whatever masterpiece of fulfillment a loving couple may desire. 

    When the lovers' ability to mutually satisfy each other has been interfered with by age or disability, or when their desires are not equally matches for other reasons, suggestion can provide a full measure of gratification for both partners by restoring the needed balance. And for those whose closeness would appear to be incapable of further improvement, the greatest surprises of all may be in store; for it is those who have the greatest abilities who also possess the greatest potential.

    Saturday, May 7, 2016

    Hypnosis and the World's Most Famous Editorial

    The late Ted Sarbin, one of the most prominent hypnotists of the Twentieth Century and the founder of narrative therapy, regarded hypnosis as believed-in imaginings, in the same league with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy (Sarbin and De Rivera, 1988). He did not mean to imply that hypnosis did not exist, however, or that it did not exert a powerful influence on human behavior. 

    The influence of believed-in imaginings is especially powerful when it is corroborated by the statements of others, especially by those who are in authority, which we refer to today as "prestige suggestion." This is illustrated in the article below, which was written in 1912 in response to the letter of a little girl who wrote to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper asking whether or not there was a real Santa Claus: It has been reprinted many times since then, in many different languages, and is frequently referred to today as the world's most famous editorial. 

    We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:


    Dear Editor—

    I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

    Virginia O'Hanlon
    115 West Ninety Fifth Street

    Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

    We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

    You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real?

    Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
    No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


    Print Reference

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





    Monday, May 2, 2016

    VRH: The Best Me Technique of Virtual Reality Hypnosis

    (An earlier version of this posting appeared in HYPNOS, 2003, 31(2), pp. 89-93, under the title, "Multimodal Suggestion for Facilitating Meditation and Prayer." Reprinted by permission.)

    Considering the variety of suggestions which may be accepted by imaginatively talented individuals (Shor & Orne, 1962),  it may be hypothesized that suggested visualizations will also be actualized more easily if they are formulated in such a manner as to systematically and comprehensively involve several different modes of experience. The Best Me Technique utilizes the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness. Taken together, the elements of this technique form the acronym, BEST ME, and may be summarized as follows (Gibbons, 2001).
    Belief systems which orient an individual to person, place, time, and events may be suggested as being different, allowing the participant to mentally transcend present realities.

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

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

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

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

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

    Mystical and Transcendental Experience

    The following two sets of BMT visualizations describe a mystical experience in a natural setting and a visit to a cathedral. They may either be presented together in a series, or one at a time, depending on the needs and preferences of the client. They are not intended to be used as scripts, but rather as an illustration of how the Best Me Technique may be used as a template for constructing multimodal visualizations for a variety of similar purposes. They may easily be modified to refer to a visit to any site or event which the client may find personally meaningful. 

    People of many different religious traditions have attested to the life‑changing potential of mystical and transcendental experiences involving 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 visualization, experiences of this type may easily be made available to clients who desire them and are sufficiently imaginative. Such experiences should be determined by the needs and expressed preferences of the client, with the goal of providing reassurance, strength, and encouragement. 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.

    The following two sets of visualizations may either be undertaken as an individual meditation exercise or at the conclusion of what  +michael ellner has referred to as the "transformational magic" of an induction. Because of the nature of the experiences to be undergone, if an induction procedure is uses, an expressly hyperempiric induction, based upon specific suggestions of increased awareness and responsiveness (Gibbons, 1975), may be preferable to a more traditional hypnotic induction based upon expressed of implied suggestions of diminished awareness (Bányai & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1976),.

    In the first example, visualizations are provided which make use of imagery drawn from nature. The second example involves visualizations of a visit to a cathedral. Of course,the subject matter need not be specifically related to a cathedral: it can also be a mosque, a temple, an ashram, or any other situation which the subject finds spiritually meaningful. The two visualization exercises may either be presented singly or in sequence, one blending into the other as the client walks down the path until it leads to a Medieval town and the client comes to the doors of the place he or she is to visit next. 

    For ease of illustration, the suggestions presented below have been provided in the B-E-S-T-M-E order. In actual use, BEST ME suggestions may be administered in any order and repeated as often as necessary; and each step in the procedure may incorporate elements of the others with modifications which contribute to the total effect, much as one might repeat the verses and choruses of a song. (If it sounds complicated to use, it isn't! I usually count back and forth on six fingers to remind myself that I'm touching all six portions of the BEST ME Technique as I am improvising an induction with a client.)    


    On a Mountainside


                Belief systems. 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. Between you and your objective at the foot of the mountain, are barriers and obstacles of many kinds, which have been blocking you from the attainment ,of your goal.
                Emotions. You can feel the excitement inside of you growing stronger and stronger, as you prepare to eliminate them all.
                Sensations and physical perceptions.  Feel the crisp, cold winter aicr 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.
                 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 trust and 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.
                Motives. 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 trust and confidence growing along with it. As the boulder begins to roll downhill on its own, you can feel your trust and 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 every obstacle in its path, as it thunders all the way to the bottom of the mountain. As it does your trust becomes infinite in its power, completely obliterating any last vestiges of doubt.
                Expectations. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening!
                Belief systems. Next, you pick up another handful of snow and slowly pat it into a perfectly round snowball. This snowball is made of perfect faith.
                Emotions. This too you roll down the mountainside, as it does, you feel your faith becoming infinite in its power, and eliminating everything standing in its way.
               Sensations and physical perceptions. Watch it now as it carves a path beside the track left by the first one.
               Thoughts and images.  This snowball is also turning into an avalanche, sweeping away everything before it until it too comes crashing all the way down to the bottom of the mountain..
                Motives. Feel your faith expand along with it, until you feel as if nothing is impossible for you if you can believe in it.
                Expectations. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening!
                Belief systems. Finally, you pick up another handful of snow which represents perfect love, in its purest possible form. After slowly and tenderly patting it into a perfectly round snowball,
                Emotions. As it does, you can feel the love inside you also becoming infinite in its power and ready to sweep away everything which stands before it.
                Sensations and physical perceptions. Now you roll this snowball down the mountainside, watching it as it carves a path between the ones created by the first two,
                Thoughts and images. This avalanche of perfect love is also sweeping away every barrier which stands before it, until it too comes crashing all the way down to the bottom of the mountain.
                Motives. Now, with all doubt removed you confidently stride down the path that the boulders have made,  And as you reach the foot of the  mountain, you discover that the winter has  turned, into a beautiful springtime.  
                Expectations. You will be able to carry this mood with you, and it will turn the entire day into a thing of wondrous beauty. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening!

    A Visit to a Cathedral

    Belief systems. Now, as I continue to speak, you can gradually become aware of yourself standing in front of a pair of large wooden doors, which are the doors of a great cathedral. If you accept each detail of the scene as I describe it, without trying to think critically, your imagination can be free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there.So just let yourself stand there a moment, gazing at the carved wooded doors, as you prepare to enter. [Brief pause.]

    As the doors swing open, you first traverse a small area paved with stone, stopping at the font if you desire, and pause before a second pair of doors which leads inside.

    Emotions. You can feel a surge of happiness and anticipation as you pass through a second pair of doors and into the dimly lit interior. As your eyes gradually become accustomed to the dimmer light from the stained glass windows, take a moment to look around in wonder at the magnificence of all you see.

    Sensations and perceptions. Let yourself breathe slowly and deeply, as you inhale the faint aroma of incense, and listen to the gentle tones of music floating upon the quiet air. Some distance away from you stands the High Altar, bordered by banks of gently glowing candles. You select a pew and, after pausing to genuflect if you wish, you enter the pew and take your seat or kneel once more.

    Thoughts and images. Let your mind flow with the experience, and allow it to fill you to the very core of your being, until you feel as if you are able to hold within your own consciousness an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty. As it does, you can feel yourself gradually becoming aware of the presence of a Consciousness other than your own. As this Consciousness begins to merge with yours, you can feel the power of an infinite healing energy filling and flooding every muscle, and every fiber, and every nerve of your entire body. And it's as if all of the worry, and all of the tension, and all of the care that you have ever felt are being driven out and replaced by the power of this infinite, unbounded, healing love.

    As your own consciousness merges ever more completely with this Infinite Awareness, you feel as if you are able to hold within your own mind an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty ‑‑ infinite, beyond infinity, and eternal beyond all measure of eternity. And in this sense of total oneness, you are able to freely communicate all your deepest thoughts and needs.

    Motives. The experience, as it continues, is providing you with all that you had hoped to obtain from it. The serenity and the peace which you find here will remain with you, as a source of deep inner strength which will enable you to cope much more effectively with all of life's problems.

    Expectations. You will treasure the memory of this experience as it meets your needs in the future; and each time you return, you will be able to derive new benefits which will meet your needs even more effectively.                                                                                                  

    Discussion

    Although most of us routinely provide a considerable amount of detail into our visualizations in order to make them more realistic, the Best Me Technique of multimodal meditation provides a systematic framework for incorporating sufficient detail into several major types of experience for maximum effectiveness more thoroughly than expensive virtual reality systems, which only deal with the two senses of sight and hearing, rather than comprehensively involving the entire person in the experienced reality of a suggestion. 

    Suggestion has previously been found to facilitate the Fundamentalist experience of "salvation" (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972). Similar types of "believed-in imaginings" (Sarbin, 1998) may be involved in hypnotically-induced experiences of reincarnation, pre-incarnation, and co-incarnation, which, like religious sacraments, as well as hypnosis itself, may be conceptualized as a form of experiential theater. 

    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.  

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


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

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

    Gibbons, D. (2001). Experience as an art form: Hypnosis, hyperempiria, and the best me technique. San Jose, CA: 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., & 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.

    Sarbin, T. R. (1998). Believed-in Imaginings. New York: Barnes & Noble.

    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 (3rded.). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner-Routledge.