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.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Did Shakespeare use Hypnosis or Hyperempiria?

In Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, after Caesar's supporters had murdered him in the fear that his power would become absolute, the populace was initially inclined to support the murderers. The funeral oration was delivered by Marc Antony, one of Caesar's few remaining supporters. In ten minutes, he had converted those in attendance into a howling mob bent on vengeance. It was either a nefarious or non-nefarious purpose, depending on whose side you were on.

Shakespeare did not have a certificate in hypnosis, He understood very well, however,how to compound conviction and emotion. But is this hypnosis, or is it hyperempiria (suggestion-enhanced esperience)?  As was asked earlier in the play in a different context, "To be or not to be, that is the question." Here's the scene. Judge for yourself.



Friday, October 13, 2017

How Fundamentalists Get to Heaven

(This posting is adapted from Gibbons, D. E., & De Jarnette, J. (1972) Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, pp. 152-166.)

If you don't respond well to suggestion,
then you won't have a "Salvation" experience.
And if you don't have a "Salvation" experience,
then no matter what ELSE you do, you won't get into Heaven!
Carrollton, Georgia, is a small to medium-sized city located approximately fifty-five miles west of Atlanta. It is regarded by both students and townspeople as being part of the "Bible belt," and most (though certainly not all) of the churches in the area had a Fundamentalist Christian orientation. Fundamentalists take quite literally the scriptural statement, "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2: 8-9). The "salvation sermon" first leads the prospective convert to feel the tremendous burden of guilt which one bears for one's past misdeeds and failure to repent; and this is followed by a great wave of joy as the convert feels his or her sins being "washed away" and is "born again" as a "new creature in Christ."

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


From a scientific point of view, it may be postulated that the degree to which an individual is able to have a salvation experience such as the one described is a function of the degree to which that person is suggestible, and that there is therefore a direct relationship between the ability to be "saved" and the ability to be hypnotized. (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972; Gibbons, 1988). After giving a questionnaire to our high and low responders on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (Shor & Orne, 1962) concerning the nature of their personal religious experiences, we found that there was no significant relationship between hypnotic susceptibility and a previous change in denominational preference, or between susceptibility and the perceived religiousness of one's father. However, the low-susceptible subjects were less likely to perceive their mother as being moderately religious or deeply religious. Compairing high- and low-susceptible "saved" Protestants with high- and low-susceptible "unsaved" Protestants, the "saved" group contained significantly more subjects who were highly susceptible to hypnosis.


In follow-up interviews, the reasons for the differences between high and low-suggestible subjects became glaringly apparent. The high susceptibles said things like, "I began to feel a warm tingling glow inside of me. The next thing I knew, I was down in front of the altar, and I was crying," or, "It was like the Hand of God came down and touched me. I felt so happy. I never felt joy like I felt it that day." But when the few low-susceptibles who indicated that they had been "saved" were asked about their experience, they said things like, "I had been going to that church for about six months, mainly because my girl friend went there, but I never 'went forward.' Then one day the preacher accepted all those who had accepted the Lord to put up our hands, and we both put our hands up and that was it."


Hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, also plays a significant role in experiences as varied as falling in love, having an orgasm, coming under the sway of a totalitarian dictator, or exploring an alternate universe.  

 Print References


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. (1988) Were you saved or were you hypnotized? The Humanist, pp. 17-19. 

Gibbons, D. E. (1987, August). Were you saved or were you hypnotized? Paper presented at the joint conference of the American Humanist Association and the Humanist Association of Canada, Montreal. 


Gibbons, D. (1988, June). Hypnotic susceptibility and the salvation experience. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for Professional Hypnosis, Houston, TX. 


Gibbons, D. (1988, March). Were you saved or were you saved or were you hypnotized? Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for Professional Hypnosis, Atlantic City, NJ. 


Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11(2), pp. 152-156. 


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


Shor, R., & Orne, E. C. (1962). The Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting psychologists pres



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Helpful Links for Stress Management


Here is a list of links to some of the Blog entries which are most frequently used by my psychology clients. When you clck on a link and it takes you ro rhe Blog, just scroll down and the post that you have clicked on will come up first.. Then you can repeat this process for each additional link. If the links do not work on your computer or handheld, you can go to the blog address, www.hyperempiria.com, and enter them.

I hope you find them useful!

How to Avoid PTSD and Panic Attacks

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Emergency First Aid for Panic Attcks

How to Meditate Like an Expert Almost Anywhere

Is a Toxic Person Driving You into Therapy? 

How to Select and Strengthen Your Own Motives


How to Learn Self-Hypnosis at Home

How to Manage Stress Using the Best Me Technique

The Ultimate Cure for Existential Depression

False Beliefs that are Driving You Crazy

False Perceptions that are Driving You Crazy

Activities which Help You Get Off the Merry-Go-Round

Cognitive Behavioral Downloads for Clients and Therapists


When You're Just Too Depressed to DO Much

How to Eliminate Late-Night Snacking

How ro THINK Like a Thin Person

How to Control Pain and Suffering

How to Train Yourself Not to be Angry

Here is a link to a procedure which was recorded by my co-author, Kelley Woods. People who respond well to hypnosis can also use it to get a good night's sleep. http://virtualrealityhypnosis.org/journeytothemultiverse


How to Avoid PTSD and Panic Attacks


Ingrid Betncourt was a candidate for the presidency of Columbia when she was kidnapped by Rebel forces and held prisoner in the jungle for six years under extremely brutal conditions. In the following TED Talk with English subtitles, she tells the story of how she was able to resist her captors without being broken by them. She is obviously a mature and capable woman, and the manner in which she chose to view her circumstances can serve as a model for all of us as to how we can look at our environment positively, courageously, and optimistically when we are faced with a challenging environment so that we do not have to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by forces which are outside of us.




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

HYPNOSIS Does NOT Exist -- but SUGGESTION DOES!

But O! Beamish nephew, beware of the day
If your Snark be a Boojum! for then
You will softly and silently vanish away
And never be met with again.
--Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark

The Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (Shor & Orne, 1962) is modeled after the experimental approach originally begun by Clark Hull (1933). It contains a script consisting of a light hypnotic induction, followed by a list of twelve suggestions in increasing order of difficulty, from "easy" ones which almost anyone can pass, to more difficult items such as the inability to shake one's head "no" when challenged, or amnesia for most of the test items until after a prearranged signal has been given. Since its initial publication in 1962, the test has been used in studies all over the world, in order to give us a greater understanding of individual differences in suggestibility.

In a typical administration, in a class setting of about thirty people, there are from one to three high responders who obtain a perfect score of twelve on the test, one or two people at the low end who are just sitting there with their eyes open, looking around the room with a mixture of curiosity and boredom, and the rest manifesting varying degrees of responsiveness in between. Data of this type have yielded a great deal of useful information about differences between high and low responders over the years. For example, I found that highly hypnotizable people convincingly reported having undergone a Fundamentalist experience of "Salvation," while low scorers did not (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972).

Now let's perform a thought experiment. Im
agine, if you will, that the Harvard Group Scale is being given to a class of introductory psychology students, when a person dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room and says in a loud, commanding voice, "There is an active shooter in the building. Everybody get under your desk and await further instructions!!"

Even if such an announcement is a hoax (i.e., a cleverly-designed suggestion) thought up by a disgruntled student to disrupt the orderly running of campus activities, if it were to be conducted in a sufficiently convincing manner, everyone in the class -- including the instructor -- would probably cower under their desks in a high state of emotion. What happened to the individual differences in suggestibility which the Harvard Group Scale was supposed to measure? They simply vanished, as everyone scrambled for shelter.


A high degree of responsiveness to the impostor's suggestions would occur regardless of how an individual student might have scored on the suggestibility test which was currently underway. Notice also that the subjects would probably have been totally involved in the content of the impostor's suggestions: trembling, feeling frightened, weeping, crying out in alarm, and so on.

Even though many useful applications have been found, suggestibility only appears to be a trait of personality, because our experiments are designed and carried out in a standardized group setting such as a classroom. But if a suggestion is believable enough, or if you modify the setting in which it is measured, as in the hypothetical example just mentioned, individual differences in responsiveness change dramatically or even disappear.

Many practicing hypnotists will assure you that in clinical settings, these measured differences are less than reliable. Once their doubts and fears have been eliminated by an appropriate pre-hypnotic talk, some people respond to hypnosis poorly, most people respond to some extent, and a few others respond extremely well. A number of techniques have been developed to "hypnotize the un-hypnotizable" by convincing the low-responders that they too have been hypnotized.When this is done, they not only respond better on suggestibility tests then those who have not accepted this idea, but they also respond better in therapy (Lynn & Kirsch, 2006).

You're hypnotized if you think you are!! I use hypnotic inductions every day in order to facilitate the acceptance of subsequent suggestions, which are then accepted more easily because they have become more credible.I
f the enabling suggestion d oes not come from accepting the belief that you have been hypnotized, it can come from the fact that the suggestions of a performer such as Kreskin have been made sufficiently credible through his reputation as a successful entertainer, thereby enabling him to specifically repudiate the use of hypnosis,, as illustrated in the video below:



But why do we need inductions, or the assurances of a charismatic entertainer, before we can make the fullest use of our imaginative abilities? The answer is easy. Evolution dfd not come to a screeching halt with the first furless biped who could definitively be labeled homo sapiens was born. We have been developing our imagination in new and exciting ways ever since. But the imaginatively gifted among us usually need an "enabler" to allow us to use these emerging imaginative abilities with confidence, because they re so different from the ways in which we customarily think. Kreskin is an "enabler," just as a hypnotic induction is an "enabler." it's as simple as that. 
Since I don't have the kind of stage presence that would enable me to do without them, and since i need to use suggestion for more than falling into or jumping out of chairs, as Kreskin does, I use hypnotic inductions in my psychology practice almost every day and use the term as casually as anyone else (Gibbbons & Lynn, 2008), even though there is as yet no reliable, generally-accepted evidence that hypnosis is a separate physiological state of the organism, in the way that sleep, fainting, coma, and shock are separate states. 
The "snark" of hypnosis may indeed be a "boojum" of the active imagination, as the history of hypnosis will also dramatically show.. But far from "vanishing away," mental health professionals who employ hypnosis have an ever-growing number of clients and are continually finding new applications for it. Once our clients have accepted the suggestion that their consciousness is functioning differently, we can provide them with a wide array of additional suggestions to enhance the ongoimg narrative of their daily lives (de Rivera & Sarbin, 1998).

References
de Rivera, J., & Sarbin, T. R. (eds.) (1998). Believed-in imaginings: The narrative construction of reality (memory, trauma, dissociation, and hypnosis). Washington, DC: American Psychological association.

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

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

Hull, C. (1933). Hypnosis and Suggestibility. New York: Appleton-Century.


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

Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (2006).Essentials of clinical hypnosis: An evidence-based approach.Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hypnosis, Murder, and the Power of Suggestion

Hypnosis doesn't make us any more virtuous 
than we already are!.
The possibility of using hypnosis to commit a crime has long been the object of speculation, some of which is humorous and some which is deadly serious. Here's an example of how society teaches that there is a penalty if you violate a moral code -- specifically, the prohibition against using hypnosis to commit a murder. (The possibility that you could is taken for granted.) In the following cartoon, Wylie E. Coyote decides to do just that. Notice how he helplessly glances at the audience once he realize his impending demise as the result of his actions.


video

Is it really possible to commit a crime such as murder by means of hypnosis?  


In one well-known laboratory experiment, subjects were hypnotized and told to throw acid in the face of the experimenter (who was protected by invisible glass), to pick up poisonous snakes (which were actually harmless), and to shoot the experimenter with a gun (which had been loaded with blanks). A significant minority of the hypnotized volunteers complied. A few years later, however, the experiment was repeated, using both hypnotized subjects and a control group of subjects who were not hypnotized -- and about the same number responded, whether hypnotized or not!


Hypnotists often tend to pay too much attention to the specific suggestions they have given instead of the total situation of what is going on. For example, imagine that you are a student in introductory psychology, taught by Prof. Snarf, who asks for volunteers in a psychological experiment. You accept the invitation, and are given a hypnotic induction, followed by the instructions to pick up a beaker of acid and hurl it in the experimenter's face, to pick up poisonous snakes, or to shoot the experimenter with a supposedly loaded gun. Would you  really believe that a reputable scientist would let you commit a murder as part of a psychological experiment? Or would you be inclined to believe that because you are ordered to do these ridiculous things there must be a reason for it other than the one that was given, so you might as well go ahead and do as you are told? Some people, at least, choose the second option (Sarbin & De Rivera, 1998), 
Dr. Martin Orne coined the term demand characteristics to refer to this tendency of a subject in an experiment to act in the way that the subject thinks one is supposed to behave, rather than simply reacting to the instructions in themselves.

But there is another factor at work. Research by Milgram (1965) on the effects of obedience, revealed that about a third of his experimental of subjects were willing to turn a dial which purportedly increased the voltage of an electric shock to the point that it appears that they are administering a potentially lethal dose. The implication (which seems to be borne out by history, from Stalin to Hitler to Saddam Hussein and many others) is that an evil "authority" can sometimes seize control of a society and find enough followers who are willing to obey orders that they can keep the rest of the population under control.

Most of us would agree that a hypnotic induction does not make us any more virtuous than we were before. Obeying a command to perform an immoral act after an induction has been given, therefore, is likely to have been brought about by the fact that the hypnotist was perceived as a sufficiently credible authority figure to absolve people of legal and moral responsibility for their actions, as was the case with the compliant subjects in Milgram's experiments, or the willing henchmen of tyrants throughout history. 


See also: 
Is Hypnosis Dangerous? Some Hypnotists Are!


Print References

Milgram, S. (1965) Liberating effects of group pressure. Journal of personality and social psychology2, pp. 127-134.


Milgram, S. (1983) Obedience to authority. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.


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


How to Meditate Like an Expert almost Anywhere



By experiencing one minute a day of mindfulness meditation some significant changes can occur in your life, because the effects begin to multiply as the one minute meditations become a more frequent part of your life. You will feel more calm, resilient, creative, clearer thinking, focused and peaceful. Here are the instructions:

You can do this one minute meditation with eyes closed or eyes open. If you choose to have your eyes open in the beginning, I suggest you focus your eyes on something that has little meaning such as a doorknob or a speck of dust on the floor. If you are driving, you can use stopping for a red light as a cue to practice your one minute meditation by focusing on the red light until it changes.

Your focus of attention during the meditation is the experience of your breathing in and out. You will focus on some aspect of your breathing that feels natural to you, such as your chest moving, the feeling of air moving through your nose or mouth, your belly moving, your shoulders moving, or any aspect of breath that feels comfortable and natural. As you breathe out, relax any lightness in your body. During the one minute you will likely experience your mind having shifted from focusing on your breath to focusing on something else such as your thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, memories, conversations, movements, and/or other things. You may suddenly notice sounds you had not noticed before. You may find yourself reviewing conversations that you had earlier, or you may find yourself solving problems that you have been working on,or you may notice tensions in your body that come into awareness. When you notice that your awareness and attention have shifted away from your breath, you will mindfully, gently, calmly, and peacefully return your attention to your breath, just noticing the distraction without pushing it away or taking it in, or evaluating, judging, or getting involved in the distraction. Just gently and lovingly return your attention to your breath. You may find yourself doing this from 10 to 100 times during your one minute meditation. Eventually you will find that your "meditation muscle" gets stronger and there are fewer distractions. The distractions are normal and are part of the nature of our minds. Thoughts are like clouds in the sky. If you just notice them without trying to push them away or analyze them, they usually just pass away. The mindfulness practice will eventually bring you more peace, compassion, joy and calm for yourself and for others. 

Don't expect immediate results. The purpose of meditation is not to turn you into master overnight. Meditation works best when it is done for its own sake, without becoming attached to results for their own sake.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Ultimate Cure for Existential Depression

An existential depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance in the nervous system, but instead it is the result of a disaster in your personal life. This kind of depression is best dealt with not by medication, but by finding a sense of meaning in life. As Nietzche put it, "He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how."

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 book, Man's Search for Meaning, which is now in its third edition and has sold over two million 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, and 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. Instead of seeking pleasure, as Freud would have it, Frankl asserted that the most powerful motivating force in humans is the need to find meaning in life

The evidence for the importance of meaning in our existence s clear, once we begin to look for it. World renowned physicisr Stephen Hawking, for example, was only expected to live a short time after he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in his youth.However, he is still busy in his seventies, lecturing to large audiences about the cosmos, even though his illness has progressed to the point that he can obly move one muscle in his cheek and must use a special device in order to speak. In the video below, Hawking has laboriously be composed his answers ahead of time, despitee the impression of spontaneity. For Hawking, and for the rest of us, meaningfulness is the ultimate remedy for anxiety and depression, and the utimate meaning of his existence, as it is for the rest of us -- or as he put it,, "Look at the stars, not at your feet.!"




But what about the rest of us? The following video by Emily Esfahani Smith Describes how to find mining and purpose in an existence which is not marked by tragedy.














Friday, September 29, 2017

Hypnotic Mistrsses, Goddesses, and Those who Worship Them

I recently ran across a video on YouTube by "Mistress Lisa," which has been viewed over one and one half million times:



If you watch the tape of Mistress Lisa carefully, within a fraction of a second after she completes her induction, you will catch her throwing her head back and with a momentary gleam of triumph on her eyes. There is trouble brewing in paradise! Although she herself does not appear to have followed up on it, there are many other postings of female hypnotists, hypnotic mistresses, goddesses, and seductresses, some of whom merely provide constructive suggestions of well-being, and some of whom seem to be seeking the worshipful adoration of male (and occasionally, female) worshippers who appear to be all too willing to turn their lives and worldly goods over to them. 

These videos are obviously not illegal, and not very many people have complained about them, or YouTube would have closed them down years ago. In addition to YouTube, you can enter the words "mistress" or goddess" on Facebook, or at a Google prompt, and simply follow the links for an in-depth introduction to dozens, and possibly hundreds, of other mistresses and goddesses of varying methods and temperaments. However, I found only one Website, hypnoslave.com. devoted to the hypnotic enslavement of women. 

What are the psychological motives behind these practices? Are they ethical, are they dangerous, or merely harmless role playing? Do they benefit or damage their willing devotees, and if so, how?  Some parents view their children not as individuals to be loved and encouraged to develop their own lives, but as extensions of themselves, whose purpose in life is to flatter the parents' ego. They selectively withdraw love until the child, desperate for affection and totally dependent on the rejecting parent, will do almost anything to get it (Forward, 1989). The parent or parents may also act seductively, and even sexually molest the child in order to gratify their own needs, because "babies don't tell."

As adults, we often tend to re-create an approximation of the family environment in which we were raised. Is it any wonder, then, that some men long for a relationship with a woman whom they can worship as a goddess if this is the kind of mother they had, who is alternately seductive, punitive, and distant and rejecting?


Why are there so many more men than women looking for this type of satisfaction? Although there are documented instances of famous seducers such as Rasputin, who have taken advantagr of women in repressed societies whose motives have been ambivalent because of cultural differences in the way men and women are raised in that society, if a woman wants to dedicate herself completely to a man who only occasionally shows any concern for her, she probably will have little trouble finding one. 

See also: Can Hypnosis CREATE a "Master and Slave" Relationship?

References

Forward, S. (1989). Toxic parents: overcoming their lethal legacy and reclaiming your life. New York: Bantam.

De Rivera, J., & Sarbin, T. R. (eds.) (1998). Believed-in imaginings: The narrative construction of reality (memory, trauma, dissociation, and hypnosis). Washington, DC: American Psychological association.
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Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Law of Attraction is FATALLY FLAWED!

The central theme of the book, "The Secret," is that we create our own reality by "the law of attraction." If we send forth positive thoughts, then we attract positive events to us; and if we send forth negative thoughts, then we attract negative events.

If we really do create our own reality by sending forth positive or negative thoughts, then this effect should be apparent not only in individuals, but also in groups, in historical trends, and in society as a whole. Therefore, we should be able to examine the validity of "the law of attraction" by examining the degree to which it operates in these other areas of experience. But does it?

I have listed below some comments which my friend Roy Hunter reports as having been made to individuals who are suffering from cancer and other maladies which should also operate according to "the law of attraction," and taken the liberty of constructing a reply to them.   
  • What did you do to attract cancer in the first place? What about all those people who get cancer because they are living in an area where there is a high level of carcinogens in the environment?
  • You have a disease consciousness. The Black Death killed between 75 and 200 million people, between 1348 and 1350. What could all those people have been thinking that caused such a plague to so suddenly descend upon them?
  • You must have a karmic debt to pay off.  If you have read The Diary of Anne Frank, you will have a good idea of the kind of person she was. Now consider the fate of Ann and others like her as they lay covered with lice and dying of hypothermia in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. What did they do to bring this upon  themselves?
  • Why can’t you create enough faith to be healed? Age is a wasting disease. And the survival rate for this particular disease is zero. Has anybody crated enough faith to get out of that one?
  • Don’t you know smoking will kill you? With 99% of the same genes as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, and over a century of experimental research to back them up, most psychologists agree that short-term pleasure is often more important than long-term consequences in determining our behavior, particularly when it comes to matters of addiction.
  • Fat people are out of control. An African journalist recently stated that her greatest surprise in coming to the United States was to discover that in America, thin people are rich and fat people are poor, since in her own country the reverse is true. If this is the case, how can weight be a function of one's personal discipline rather than one's culture?
  • You have a poverty consciousness. The CIA World Factbook lists the United States as twelfth in per capita income, behind such nations as Norway and Hong Kong, yet most Americans are inclined to think of themselves as the richest nation in the world. If we create our own reality, why are we not in first place?
  • "Get out of the victim trap!" Try telling the survivors of Stalinist tyranny who were imprisoned in Siberia that they shouldn't have been thinking so negatively about their situation that it caused them to end up there.
  • Why did you create this problem? The CIA World Factbook lists the United States as fifteehth from the top in infant mortality compared with other nations. Explain to the parents of the babies who died because they were not given better medical care what they or their children did to create this problem.
  • What is God punishing you for?  If God is keeping quiet about His reasons, then what is the point of punishment?
  • If “The Secret” is not working for you, then you must be doing something wrong.  Maybe so!  On a recent radio interview show featuring a leading theoretical physicist who was commenting upon the latest discoveries in his field, a questioner asked him about the "law of attraction." He forcefully criticized the promulgators of this belief for misleading people, and assured the caller that the universe simply does not work that way. Perhaps what people who subscribe to this false doctrine are "doing wrong" is believing in "The Secret" in the first place!
Of course there can be negative and self-destructive attitudes within the personality which interfere with the successful accomplishment of a goal, and which contribute to the development of psychosomatic conditions. But their causes and effects are well-documented in the American Psychiatric Association's       m m m m m m mmm  mDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and have nothing to do with "The Secret!"

A more disciplined, scientific investigation of psychic abilities is the subject of ongoing research by the Parapsychological Association.  "an international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or 'psychic') experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition.  The primary objective of the PA is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Don't Pay Through the Nose for information!

How will we know when we are on the right track In assisting our clients? 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."

And how can therapists help them to get that way? Irving Yalom, famous for his group work, said, "It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. My professional rosary." As witch doctors and medicine men have known since the dawn of pre-history, If you construct an ideology that people accept, and if you relate well enough to your clients to get them to the point that Ellner just described, it doesn't matter much what you do. Regardless of whether or not the Academic community points out that there is no scientific support for your claims , you will still be regarded in some quarters as a success. In reality, however, there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars a workshop which is primarily intended to whet your appetite tp sign up for the next one in the series, in order to eventually qualify for a pricey "certificate" which has no legal standing, and no meaning to people who have not themselves embarked on a similar training quest .

"Your Withdrawals Happily Accepted!"
Many people spend a great deal of time and money going from workshop to workshop, either to perfect their therapeutic techniques or to experience the latest trends in psychotherapy for themselves, when the success of a therapeutic intervention actually depends more on the client than it does on them. Since most of these highly-touted and pricey procedures work at least some of the time, this creates a "partial reinforcement effect" which causes people to try even more advanced workshops, in the hope that they will eventually get it perfect -- in the same way that a laboratory rat who is only rewarded occasionally will work even harder than one that is rewarded all the time. 

 It looks impressive, of course, if there is a certificate on the wall stating that you have been certified by the Great Poo-Bah or Swami Rama-Ding-a-Ling (and preferably both!). But most of us are probably not going to know who they are. In addition, empirical research has confirmed that while psychotherapy in general is effective, the relationship between therapist and client is a more important contributor to a successful outcome than whether the degree on the wall (if there is one!) indicates that the therapist has completed a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral program, or the particular field in which the degree happens to be granted, or the theoretical orientation of the therapist. As Irving Yalom famously said, "It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. My professional rosary!"  

With the coming of the Internet, we are going through an information revolution which is more far-reaching in its implications than the ones which occurred when steam power replaced the horse, and electricity replaced steam. I am not arguing against continuing our professional education; but one thing ought to be clear when our nearest google prompt is a lot closer and cheapter than our nearest ATM prompt. Don't pay through the nose for information! The totem poles are on fire!
 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): Science or Sacred Cow?

A few years ago at a hypnosis conference in London, during a discussion of the phenomenon of hypnotic rapport, one of the members of the audience said that she used to occasionally lapse into her native Gaelic during a hypnosis session, and, even though her clients may not have understood a word of Gaelic, the results were still quite effective.

Suppose, instead of using a language that was already fully developed, she had decided to experiment with the language patterns of highly successful hypnotists, and assembled a group of like-minded individuals to help her discover exactly which inductions, and which suggestion patterns, were the most effective. Sometimes the results would inevitably appear to be more powerful in comparison with the patterns which had been used before -- at least with the current sample.

Over time, as these practitioners discovered that sometimes the results were more effective and sometimes they were less effective, we could expect a drift in the direction of ever more complex patterns as more and more elements were added to the mixture, much as the Native American rain dances evolved over the course of many centuries whenever they would dance as rain clouds appeared, because sometimes it did actually rain -- and heavily, too!  So, the obvious conclusion was not that the rain dance was ineffective when no rain was forthcoming,, but that it was necessary to keep working in order to make the dance more powerful


  

Before you continue to expend more time, energy, and money in developing fancier and fancier hypnotic language and induction patterns, you should consider that the effectiveness of a particular suggestion or induction lies in the individual meaning that ii has for the client in terms of his or her individual life narrative, rather than the linguistic style within which a suggestion is composed or the induction within which it is framed (de Rivera & Sarbin, 1998),



I am fond of quoting a well-known story about a boy who had become shy and withdrawn because his face was disfigured by a birthmark -- until his grandmother told him that this was a special sign from God that he was destined for greatness. Although he did not become famous, he grew up to experience a much more successful life than he otherwise would have had were it not for his grandmother's suggestion, which, even without the bebefit of an ibduction,  had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here's an experiment you can perform yourself. If you want to assess the scientific standing of NLP, the answer is as close as your nearest telephone. Call up the college or university nearest you, and ask to speak to someone in the psychology department who teaches courses in perception. Then, ask him or her whether neuro-linguistic programming is a recognized body of research or a "sacred cow" which cannot be killed, because generates income for those who teach it. 

Reference

de Rivera, Joseph & Sarbin, T. R. (Eds.) (1998). Believed-in imaginings: The narrative construction of reality. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.,

Friday, September 22, 2017

How ro Have a Full and Happy Retirement

"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
The following list of activities, based on the one at at www.smartrecovery.org, can serve as a starting point for getting off the merry-go-round of loneliness, anxiety, lethargy, depression, and despair. You can use this list of activities as a springboard for suggesting others. They can also strengthen the bond between you and one your friends when you do them together. As much as possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people -- and get moving!

• ACADEMIC PURSUITS (Self-help Books, Workshops, Lectures, Skills-learning, Career Development).
• CHORES AND USEFUL TASKS (such as Cleaning, Cooking, Dishwashing, Ironing, Sewing).
• EXERCISES (such as Jogging, Nautilus, Walking, Aerobic Dancing, Stretching orAerobic Exercises, Shadow Boxing, Skipping Rope, Yoga, Weightlifting).
• FOOD ACTIVITIES (such as Baking, Cooking, Barbecuing, Preparing Gourmet Meals, Shopping for Food).
• GAMES (such as Bridge, Checkers, Chess, Go, Jigsaw Puzzles, Monopoly, Poker, Online games, Scrabble, Crosswords, Anagrams).
• GRAPHIC ARTS (such as Cartooning, Drawing, Lettering, Mechanical Drawing, Painting, Photography, Silkscreening).
• HANDICRAFT ACTIVITIES (such as Basketmaking, Bookbinding, Crocheting, Embroidering, Knitting, Leatherworking, Dressmaking, Decoupage, Needlepoint).
• HUMOROUS ACTIVITIES (such as Cartooning, Improvisation Games, Charades, Jesting, Joke-making, Playing Practical Pranks and Jokes, Punning).
•MARTIAL ARTS (Akido, Jujitsu, Judo, Karate, Fencing, Wrestling).
• OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES AND SPORTS (such as Birdwatching, Gardening, Crabbing, Fishing, Canoeing, Sailing, Hunting, Walking, Ice-skating, Skiing, Rowing, Hiking).
• PERFORMING ARTS (such as Dancing, Ballet, Mime, Acting, Improvisation, Modern Dance, Tap Dance, Singing).
• READING (Fiction, Novels, Plays, Poems, Nonfiction).
• SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES (such as Anatomy, Biology, Herpetology, Physics, Medicine, Zoology, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology).
• SOCIALIZING (Conversing, Group Activities, Attending or Giving Parties, Rap Sessions).
• SPECTATING (watching Movies, Plays, Sports, Pageants, Circuses).
• SPORTS (such as Baseball, Basketball, GQlf, Gym, Football, Hockey, Dancing, Tennis, Skating, Running, Volleyball).
• STUDYING ACADEMIC SUBJECTS (such as Art History, History, Language, Math, Music, Science, Social Science).
• TRADES AND CRAFTS (such as Bricklayer, Builder, Carpenter, Foreman, Factory Worker, Gardener, Mechanic, Machinist, Police Officer).
• VENTING FEELINGS (such as Punching Pillows, Yelling, Talking, Writing, Expressing Good Feelings).
See also the book by R. Schwartz, and E. Braff entitled, We're no fun anymore: Helping couples cultivate joyful marriages through the power of play. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.

Additional Links Which May be Helpful:

Albert Ellis has put together a list of false beliefs that are driving you crazy because they set us up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us are inclined to at least occasionally believe some of them. Take a look at this list and see if you are inclined to agree with any of them, at least part of the time. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them.



 A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." This is a list of false perceptions that are driving you crazy. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world, by causing you to look at life "through mud-colored glasses." If you are inclined to look at things this way yourself, once you recognize that they are not accurate, you can get rid of them, too.

Perhaps the most important challenge in retirment is to find meaning in life, which is possible under almost any set of circumstances, as illustrted in the following entry entitled, The Ultimate Cure for Existential Depression.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Don't just toss and turn in bed
when you are having trouble sleeping.
Get up and do something Boring!
When I was working in the New Jersey State Prison, each of us in the Psych Department had to meet with one group of prisoners per week to teach a class in "sleep hygiene," because as you might imagine, it's easy to get your days and nights mixed up in there. We were able to trade notes freely among each other, and over time we accumulated quite a bit of useful information which I'd like to share with you now. I've used it quite a bit myself, and it does seem to help much of the time.
  •  Make sure you get enough daylight so that your body will be able to establish a daily wake-sleep rhythm. 
    • Some people have found commercially-available light boxes to be helpful, especially if you live in a location where there is less sunlight during certain seasons of the year. This lack of sunlight can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder  (more popularly known as "cabin fever"), characterized by periods of depression and interference with regular sleep patterns.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Darkness causes the body to produce melatonin, a natural sleep-inducing agent.
  • Don't play on the smartphone, the computer, or watch television. They all give off light which suppresses the melatonin in your system and overstimulates the brain,    
  • Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Trying to get by on less than this biologically-determined amount builds up a sleep debt which  cuts into your well-being and efficiency, and becomes harder and harder to repay.
  • Establish a consistent sleeping schedule. People tend to become sleepy 24 hours after they last went to sleep, and awaken 24 hours after they last woke up. Significant changes in either time -- especially shift work schedules which frequently change -- disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.
  • If your sleep is troubled by nightmares, or if you have personal problems which prevent you from getting the sleep you need, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance.
  • Have a set ritual before going to bed. 
  • Limit the amount of food you eat for the last two hours before you go to bed.
  • Limit your daily use of caffeine, or eliminate it entirely.  Using coffee or tea, or other drinks which are high in caffeine only makes it harder to repay your sleep debt.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably in the morning.
  • If possible, adopt a life style which reduces your total amount of stress.
  • While most of us prefer not to use prescribed sleep medications, millions of people do use them regularly without ill effects. Melatonin, the favorite of many, is available without prescription. Others prefer nutraceuticals such as St. John's Wort.
  • We frequently do not notice the "aches and pains" in our bodies because we have grown so used to them, but they can still interfere with our sleep.  Many clients find that taking a couple of aspirin or Tylenol work well, particularly when it is early in the morning and they do not wish to feel groggy from sleep medication the next day. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, use the bed only for sleeping and for sex. Instead of tossing and turning, get up and do something boring until you get sleepy. This helps you to avoid a conditioned association between not sleeping and being in bed.  
  • many people find it difficult to sleep because their mind tends to use this as a tine to worry about the problems of their life. which are making them depressed. the depression is environmentally caused, the Blog entry entitled, The Ultimate Cure for Existential Depression may be helpful.