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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Monday, July 31, 2017

Quanrum Theory, Entanglement, Parallel and Alternate Universes

The following video is the most instructive one I have yet seen on the topic of alternate and parallel universes, the multiverse, quantum entanglement. The fact that is has over five million downloads is what first caught my eye, and now I can see why. It features physicists from world-famous institutions making their points so clearly that practically anyone can understand them. If you have an hour to spare and would like to catch up with thie exciting new developments in quantum physics, I heartily recommend iit!

The video also illustrates the conceptuall framework for the book which I wrote with Kelley Woods entitled, Virtual reality hypnosis: Exploring alternate and parallel universes. Amazon Books, 2016. (Both print and Kindle editions are available.)   (Gibbons & Woods, 2016)


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Is Hypnosis Concealing the Next Step Upward in Human Evolution?

Where do We Go from Here?

 Some people never know that they are color-blind -- that they lack an important ability possessed by the rest of us. Now let's consider the opposite. What if there should dwell among us a group of individuals who have an ability that is lacking in most of the population? Wouldn't they also be inclined to deny it, in order to fit in with the rest of the society?  

If I were to walk up to a person who responds extremely well to suggestion, ask him to close his eyes, and matter-of-factly state that by the time I got to the count of five he could open them and see me wearing a Santa Claus suit and hat, he would surely think that I was crazy. And if such a suggestion should actually happen to "work," he would surely think that he was crazy! But if I first asked him to close his eyes and suggested with sufficient plausibility that he was "going into hypnosis," and then I told him that by the time I got to the count of five he could open his eyes and see me dressed like Santa Claus, such a suggestion could be accepted much more easily because it would have become more credible.

There are so many ways to "hypnotize" people that entire books have been written on this topic, and new methods are being devised all the time. But as far as I have been able to tell, the only thing which they seem to have in common is that they all plausibly present the idea (either directly or indirectly) that a person's consciousness is beginning to function differently. It is this suspension of disbelief which enables people to make use of the previously-unrealized powers of their imagination. .All the rest depends on the ability and willingness of the subject to follow the instructions he or she is given.

What are we to make of this imaginatively gifted elite with an Alice-in-Wonderland imagination who dwell among us, and who need to legitimize the use of their natural gifts by means of what Michael Ellner has referred to as the "transformational magic" of an an "induction procedure" before they can make use of them? Where do these abilities come from, and what is their ultimate purpose? 

Human evolution is far from finished. and any,aliens who might be observing us from afar would surely conclude that our evolutionary development has been lopsided. With 98% of the same genetic makeup as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, there is little doubt that our evolutionary development has been uneven.. We have highly developed frontal lobes which enable us to formulate lofty ideals and distant goals, but all too often our emotional centers prevent us from achieving them. More than once in the last century, we have come close to annihilating each other; and many societal institutions are devoted in whole or in part to regulating our behavior so that we do not do so individually. 

For centuries, determinists have been saying that we do not have a free will. We feel free to make choices in accordance with our motives, but we do not choose the motives themselves. In other words, the issue is not, "do I choose?" but "do I choose to choose?" By using the Best Me technique to ensure comprehensiveness, it becomes possible for this imaginatively gifted group pf individuals to pre-experience the rewards of distant goals now, in the present when they are most important for motivation, vastly expanding our ranges of choices regarding which motives to strengthen, making it much easier to live up to the goals and ideals which evolution has enabled us to construct, but which we have frequently found it difficult to achieve, due to what is often referred to as a lack of "will power.".  And, since some cosmologists, Stephen Hawking among them, now believe that everything that can happen actually does happen, it is not necessary to restrict oneself to possible outcomes in this universe. You can selectively sample from the best moments of every parallel lifetime you can possibly conceive of, speed-walking on the path of enlightenment,  and you can directly explore the joys and wonders of the Multiversse itself, ti pave the way for all humannkind to one day follow.

The Best Me Technique of Multimodal Suggestion

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.]

Now, 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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Ultimate Art Form: Humn Experience Itself!

My co-author Kelley Woods (Gibbons & Woods, 2016) recently posted the following entry on a hypnosis discussion forum: "Yesterday I took a young teen who is on the autism spectrum to a parallel universe where he is free from feeling self-conscious about tics. He moved through the color bands of the rainbow, gaining various gifts and then viewed a series of crystal balls in which he observed his life...from birth to present and into the future. He left my office tic-free, floating on air! His last words as he went out the door: 'The Multiverse rules!'" 

The human imagination is so powerful that with a little technical assisgtance, a gifted conductor can take an entire audience out of this world using the power of music itself, with immediate effect. In the following video, Watch the faces of the people in the audience as Andre Riehu plays Beethoven's Ode to Joy (the Anthem of Europe), because they known what's coming:

As hypnotists, we can do even better. Confucius said, "Telll me and I may forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand." Multiversal suggestion enables us to paint upon the canvas of involvement almost any masterpiece we may desire, using what will surely is destined to become the ultimate art form -- human experience itself!

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


Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Enchanted Cottage: An Induction for Children

 "For as long as we stay here, in this enchanted cottage,
            even my words will be ehchanted."
As +Kelley Woods has pointed out, young children have no trouble instantly changing themselves into a monster or a fire engine, especially when parents encourage this kind of imaginative involvement. The following induction was originally written for children, but I later found that it was a favorite with the college students in my graduate hypnosis courses at the University of West Georgia. Perhaps we don't learn to become high responders in hypnosis. We un-learn it!
Just sit back, and close your eyes, and I am going to tell you a magic story. It is a story about a very special place, deep in an enchanted forest, where everything I tell you will come true. . . Imagine now that we are walking together down a long, winding path which runs through the middle of a large woods. We are walking along, early on a bright spring morning. Birds are singing in the trees, and here and there a flower is poking its head out of the soft, green grass which grows beside the path. And because this is a magic story, the farther we go along the path, the more real everything around us becomes. 

Now and then a ray of sunlight makes its way down through the branches of the trees and falls upon the dewdrops in the grass, causing them to sparkle like a million tiny diamonds. The air is fresh and cool, with gentle breezes blowing now and then, causing the trees, and the grass, and the flowers to move ever so slightly, as if everything in the world were feeling so happy on this bright spring morning that nothing could keep still for very long. . .

And because this is a magic story, the farther we go along the path, the more real everything becomes. . . As we continue on our walk, we can begin to be aware of the sound of rushing water. With each passing second, the sound is becoming clearer and clearer still. And now we are standing beside the bank of a forest stream, which is the source of the sound we have been hearing.

The water is flowing past us swift and clear, for it has come tumbling down from a magic spring many miles away in the hills. And because the water from the magic spring is enchanted, anyone who drinks it will be enchanted too. And anyone who is enchanted in this way will be easily able to find that special place, deep in the magic forest, where everything I say will come true.  

We dip our hands eagerly into the bubbling stream and cup them together, bringing the cool, fresh water up to our lips again and again, until we have drunk all that we want. . . Now it is time to hurry on our way once more; for the water from the magic spring has made it certain that we will soon find that very special place in the enchanted forest, where everything I tell you will come true; and we know now that it cannot be far away. 

As we continue on our journey, we notice a tiny path leading off to one side, and we decide to go up this path to see where it leads. Before very long, we notice that the woods are beginning to thin out, and that we are about to enter a clearing. And as we approach nearer and nearer to the edge of the clearing, we can see that the path we have been following leads right up to a small cottage. . . This is that very special place I have been telling you about, where everything will come true. For as long as we stay here, in this enchanted cottage, in the enchanted forest, even my words will be enchanted, and everything I tell you will happen exactly as I say it will.  

The door to the cottage is standing slightly open as we hurry up the path, and as soon as we reach the entrance we hurry on inside in order to lose no more time. We have arrived now, at that very special enchanted place in the enchanted forest which we have traveled so far to reach. And as long as we remain here, in this enchanted cottage, everything I say and everything I describe to you will come true as soon as I have said it. For as long as we remain here in this enchanted place, even my words will be enchanted. 

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

How to Train Yourself Not to Be Angry

With 99% of the same genes as our closest monkey cousins, the chimpanzees, it's no wonder that
under the pressures of modern life, the tendency to anger can sometimes spiral out of control!  This brief posting is not intended to serve as a substitute for counseling or therapy. If anger has begun to affect your personal or work relationships, you should definitely seek the services of a duly licensed mental health professional. However,for many everyday situations, the following information may be helpful in correcting those everyday habits that can sometimes get us into trouble.

It is generally agreed that cognitive-behavioral psychology is the fastest-growing oreintation within the profession. There is also a rapidly-accumulating body of evidence that it actually works! Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, may be summarized as the study of the relationship between thinking, feeling, and behavior.  Just as physical therapists can provide you with exercises to improve physical functioning, cognitive-behavioral therapists provide exercises to develop more effective psychological adjustments.

The information below was garnered from several different sources, and provides you with a variety of useful forms and worksheets so that you can use whatever combination of these CBT tools you find most helpful for training yourself not to be angry. The information referred to in any of the links below can be downloaded from your computer by clicking on the link and using the print command on your computer. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapists frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on when we keep making those angry responses that keep getting us into trouble. Here is what one looks like for anger, courtesy of They also provide a summary of the STOPP technique, which they describe as "CBT in a nutshell," and which can be summed up in one sentence: "Try not to act merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view; compose yourself."  

Following is a hypothetical example of how the anger thought record form might be used to see a situation from a different perspective, using the example of being suddenly cut off in traffic by another car, with the column headings in italics and one set of possible responses in standard type. You can practice using these forms for a number of other hypothetical situations, or situations that have actually made you angry in the past, in order to be prepared for a variety of possible situations in the future. 

Situation: A car suddenly swerves in front of you and slows down, causing you to slam on your brakes in order to avoid hitting it.

Feelings, Emotions,:  An increase in heartbeat and blood pressure, clenched jaw, faster brething.

Emotions/Moods (rate 0-100%):  Anger

Physical Sensations & Reactions: Swearing, gripping the steering wheel

Unhelpful Thoughts/Images:  Urge to speed up and pass the car in front of you, honk at the driver, make an angry gesture, and cut back in front of him.

What I Did/What I Could Do/What's the Best Response? (Re-Rate Emotion 0-100%)  Realize that the emotion will pass in a few moments, but if you act on it the situation could escalate and possibly lead to serious complications.

The folks at are featuring an Anger Decision Sheet  submitted by Jason Roscoe, which was "designed to help people identify personal triggers for becoming angry with themselves or others." It provides several examples of how to identify the trigger for your anger, and decide between forgiving the other person and letting it go, or being assertive, instead of just blowing up or keeping your rage bottled up inside. If you scroll down on the decision sheet, you will see two blank sheets that come with it for practicing these choices with situations that have actually happened.

The ABC Worksheet from, which is downloadable as an Adobe pdf file, can become your daily companion for taking control of your life in matters large and small! You can use it to make motivational and behavioral adjustments not only for controlling anger, but also for everything from paying your bills on time, to stopping smoking, or deciding on which career path to follow. 

It first asks you about the causes of something you would like to change in your life, and then asks about the emotional consequences which were the result, your beliefs about what happened, what beliefs could be substituted for the ones which brought about the unpleasant results, and how those changed beliefs make you feel. You can write on the form itself, clearing and changing it as often as you like. Then, when you are finished, you can either print it out or save it as a text file, using a different form for each problem you would like to work on. To re-examine it or re-do each form that you have completed, just call up that particular file and continue to modify it as you progress. It could prove to be extremely helpful if you are willing put enough thought into it to give it a try!

Finally, the folks at have a tool chest of resources which is a treasure-trove for people who want to alter hard-to-change behaviors of every type.They have prepared a selection of tips and tricks for managing anger in such a manner that in many instances you can not merely control it, you can get rid of it!  Here is a partial list of some of the other materials which they have to offer. The information may be downloaded free of charge by using the print command on your computer, although donations are encouraged. Here is a partial list of some of the materials which they have to offer:
Of course, training yoursself not to be angry is going to take time and patience. However, once you get the hang of it, if you continue to do these mental workouts as regularly as you would exercise physically in a gymnasium, you will  be able to think, feel, and act in a calm and confident manner in almost any situation. On the other hand, if you do not use the CBT Thought Record to identify your triggers and the other choices that you have, you might very well continue to feel anger when you know you it could continue to get you into trouble, but never do much about it. 

Just as reading a book on surgery will not make you into a surgeon, and reading an exercise manual will not build muscles, merely reading a Blog posting on how to train yourself to avoid anger will not be enough to enable you to get rid of it. People who practice meditation, for example, do not hope to attain enlightenment merely by reading about it!  Regular practice using the thought record for a variety of situations is the key to success. 

Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." But once you have taken that step, you have to keep going. The two rules for success in any self-improvement program are: 1) Begin, and 2) Don't stop!  If you frequently experience problems with anger, you should have plenty of motivation to follow both of these rules. No matter how long the journey, cognitive-behavioral psychology, especially when undertaken with professional guidance, can be of great assistance in successfully reaching your destination!

See also: 
How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy
How to Recognize a Personality Disorder

Hypnotic Communication with Parallel and Alternate Universes?

As an experimental psychologist who has been formally trained in the methods of scientific research, I frankly do not know whether or not reincarnation exists, though half the world believes in it; and neither do I know whether or not we would be able to learn anything about if, if it did exist, by using hypnosis. In spite of abundant anecdotal evidence to the contrary, Lynn and Kirsch (2006, p. 204), flatly state: "In summary, hypnotically induced past-life experiences are fantasies constructed from available clinical narratives about past lives and known or surmised facts regarding historical periods, as well as cues present in the hypnotic situation.”

It is just this kind of "anecdotal evidence," however, that is the starting point for any major revolution in our scientific view of reality. (Kuhn, 2012). Many of us know people who can tell of past-life experiences that are astonishing, to say the least; and some readers of this post may be able to recount such experiences themselves. If we are unable to completely dismiss all of this anecdotal evidence as merely delusional, then perhaps we might inquire what else science has to tell us about the possibility of communication with parallel and alternate universes..

By many accounts, Steven Hawking is the most intelligent man on the planet, even though his theoretical calculations are far too advanced for most of us to follow. Here's what he has to say about parallel universes:

If there is a theoretically infinite number of patallel universes, it is also to be expected that they do not always follow the same laws of cause-and-effect as this one. Hence, it is to be expected that we would not be able to understand PLR by using the same principles of scientific investigation that apply to our own universe. Perhaps these accounts of what is now referred to as paranormal experiences may form the starting point for demonstrating the actual existence of parallel and aternate universes, in which the commonly açcepted laws of cause and effect do not apply.

Re-framing past, parallel, and future lives to conform with he teachings of theoretical physics greatly expands our horizon of what we can do with them. What we need to do at this point is not to abandon our investigation into past lives, but to 
to include current, parallel, and future universes as well (reincarnation, pre-incarnation, co-incarnation, inter-carnation, and multi-carnation), and see where it leads us.

1. If you are living in a parallel Universe which exists prior to your own life, we may have support from theoretical physics for reincarnation

2. If you are living in a parallel Universe which exists after your own life, we may have support from theoretical physics for pre-incarnation.

3. If you are living in a parallel Universe which exists in roughly the same time frame as your own life, we may have scientific support from theoretical physics for co-incarnation

4. If you are living in a parallel Universe in which you experience several different lives within a similar time frame, we may have scientific support from theoretical physics for multi-carnation.

5..If you are living in a parallel Universe which exists in which you possess a set of genes which is partly yours and partly that of another person, we may have scientific support from theoretical physics for from theoretical physics for inter-carnation.

6 If you are living in an alternate Universe in which the laws of physics are different from those we experience on Earth, we may have scientific support from theoretical physics for intra-carnation.


Kuhn, T. S. (2012). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

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

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What Makes a Person a Good Hypnotist?

Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 

With regard to the question of what makes a hypnotic intervention effective, I like to quote Steve Lynn's excellent summary of our Induction chapter in the American Psychological Association's Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis: 

 . . .how clients respond to suggestions depends less on the nature and success of a particular induction than on the following variables: (a) clients' prehypnotic attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and expectations about hypnosis; (b) their ability to think, fantasize, and absorb themselves in suggestions; (c) their ability to form a trusting relationship with the hypnotist; (d) their ability to interpret suggestions appropriately and view their responses as successful; (e) their ability to discern task demands and cues; (f) their ongoing interaction with the hypnotist; and (g) the appropriateness of the therapeutic methods and suggestions to treating the presenting problem. . . . Accordingly, clinicians should devise inductions and suggestions with these variables in mind and tailor their approach to the unique personal characteristics and agenda of each client they encounter" (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010, p. 289).

How will we know when our clients are effectively on the road to recovery? In the words of Michel 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."

How do we create this frame of mind? 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 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 for 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 upon a similar training quest

In light of the foregoing, formal training in technique would appear to be less important.  People often 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 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. Today, there are many who would say that perhaps Freud's greatest insight was that if you charge a lot of money, up to a point, people will work hard to get well and will value your services in proportion to the size of your bill.
I am not arguing against continuing our professional education, However, with the coming of the Internet, we are going through an revolution which is more far-reaching in its implications than the ones which occurred when steam power replaced the horse, and electricity replaced steam. When our nearest Google prompt is a lot closer than our nearest ATM prompt, Attending a comferemce or a workshop is a great way to renew old acquaintances and establish new ones, and perhaps even learn a few facts, but don't pay through the nose for information!

"Your Withdrawals Cheerfully Accepted!"

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Religious Rapture, Mesmeric Convulsions, and Hypnotic Ecstasy

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek
And then when he woke up, it was
The Middle of Next Week.
"The one thing I regret," he said,
"Is that it cannot speak."
                                                -- Nietzche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Until comparatively recently, in Western culture the experience of trance was interpreted as due to demonic influences or, occasionally, the mark of holiness or sainthood, as it was in the case of Saint Teresa.

Saint Teresa was a prone to spontaneous
states of Rapture. 
Although healing by means of trance induction probably dates back to prehistoric times, the revival of interest in the induction of healing trances in Western culture may be traced directly to the work of the Viennese physician, Franz Anton Mesmer (1733-1815). Mesmer was considerably influenced by the teachings of Paracelsus that the stars and the planets exert considerable influence over human behavior by means of their magnetic fields. He decided to investigate the implications of this theory by slowly drawing some small magnets over the bodies of his patients. This was frequently found to be accompanied by convulsions, fainting, and the disappearance (at least temporarily) of a host of symptoms which today we would attribute to the power of suggestion. But to Mesmer and his followers, the discovery of these new "powers" of magnetism appeared to be an exciting medical breakthrough. 

Mesmer soon discovered, however, that he was able to produce the same results without the aid of special magnets. This led him to conclude that the "magnetism" in question was coming from his own body. He abandoned the use of metal magnets altogether, and simply began to make passes in the air with his hands near the bodies of his patients. He coined the term "animal magnetism" to explain what was happening.

When the demand for his services had reached its height, Mesmer proceeded to "magnetize" a large elm tree on the estate of his patron, the Marquis de Puysegur, a few miles outside of the city of Paris; and great crowds would often gather to stand under the tree, either to derive the benefits if its healing power for themselves or simply to observe the dramatic results which were apparently produced in others.

Events were to take yet another turn when a retarded peasant lad of twenty-three named Victor Emmanuel was brought to stand under the now-famous elm tree, in the hope that the "magnetic rays" which were supposedly emanating from the tree might also be of some benefit to him. As many delelopmentally challenged people are apt to do when they are placed in a situation in which they are not quite certain what is expected of them, Victor, though he remained standing, promptly utilized the occasion to avail himself of a quick nap. Other patients standing under the tree, seeing Victor asleep on his feet, apparently perceived this event as merely another result of the strange mesmeric rays emanating from the tree; for they promptly began to feel drowsy and to "fall asleep" themselves, thereby initiating a change in the form of suggestion-induced trance experience which heralded the death of mesmerism and the birth of traditional forms of hypnosis.

Hypnosis immediately became an object of fascination.
By now the role of suggestion in determining both the outward form and inward experience of trance behavior should be obvious. The mesmeric "crises" we re brought about by implicit suggestions or expectations arising from the eccentric astrological notions of Paracelsus, whereas the "sleeping" or hypnotic trance was first manifested by people who were imitating the behavior of a person who was too stupid to realize that he was supposed to go into convulsions and went to sleep instead! An induction procedure provides both the occasion and the opportunity for those who are able to respond well to suggestion to go ahead and do so. All the rest depends upon ongoing cultural narratives, explicit or implicit cues which are present in the situation, and the ability and willingness of the participant to comply with the instructions and suggestions which he or she is given. (Gibbons, 1979).

Today, we no longer need to rely upon the model of trance behavior provided to us by a sleeping retardate over two hundred years ago, when much better models are available. A hyperempiric induction is based on suggestions of mind expansion, enhanced awareness, and increased responsiveness and sensitivity, in contrast to traditional hypnotic inductions based on expressed or implied suggestions of lethargy, drowsiness, and sleep. (Gibbons, 1973). Hyperempiric inductions, or "alert hypnosis," have been found to be just as effective as traditional hypnotic inductions in facilitating subsequent responsiveness to suggestion (Bányai, & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1975, 1976). But this time, we didn't have to wait for another historical accident to come change our expectations of how a person is supposed to experience a trance. I simply made it up!  

Recently Kelley Woods and I (Gibbons & Woods 2016) have been inducing states of hypnotic ecstasy to conduct clients on a tour of the Multiverse, bringing the lessons of this experience back with them and returning a better person than they were before, with results that have been stunning both to us and to them., The resulting change in perspective seems to be catalytic for alleviating a host of stress-related ailments which we are now beginning to investigate in greater detail. This Blog contains many examples of the use of suggestion as an art form for the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.

Sources and Citations
Aaronson, B. The hypnotic induction of the void. Paper presented at the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, San Francisco, October, 1969.

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

Gibbons, D. E. (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. (1974). Hyperempiria, a new “altered state of consciousnes” induced by suggestion. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 39, 47-53.

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.

 Phillips, B. D. (2007). Tranceplay: Experimental approaches to interactive drama involving experiential trance. Journal of Interactive Drama, 2.1, pp. 15-55.

Sacerdote, P. (1977). Applications of hypnotically elicited mystical states to the treatment of physical and emotional pain. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 25(4), pp. 309-324.

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.

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.

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