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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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trump and Hitler: The Psychology Behind the Myth

In view of the recent indictments of  an organized Russian group working to influence U.S. elections in favor of Donald Trump, and the disclosures of his recent affairs with Playboy and porn stars, many of my psychology clients have been asking whether or not Trump's success might be due to his using  hyperempiria, or NLP, especially because his major sources of support seem to be Fundamentalist Christians. Whenever you use "alternative facts" in place of the real ones, as his former spokesperson Kellyann Conway admitted, it is an attempt to harness the power of suggestion. But if no induction is used and if the situation is not defined as hypnosis, why are suggestions which may strike many people as bizarre still sometimes effective?

A recent article in Psychology Today stated that half of all Americans couldn't come up with a sudden demand for $450 in a crisis. Although Trump may be unwittingly using some techniques which are commonly referred to in lay hypnosis circles as NLP or neuro-linguistic programming, almost everyone now agrees that there are a lot of angry voters out there. on both the right and the left, who supported Trump because they feel that the system has failed them (see below).



My wife grew up in New Jersey, and I have lived here for 25 years. We have read the first-hand newspaper accounts of how Trump has bankrupted several casinos and walked away with millions, paid his workers sub-standard wages, and stiffed his contractors by paying them much less than they were actually owed. Beneath his outward bluster lies a narcissistic personality disorder with antisocial traits, but don't just take my word for it. Here's a link to a story in The Independent which bears the headline, "Donald Trump has Dangerous Mental Illness, say Psychiatry Experts at Yale Conference." (His recent psychiatric examination was not a test for personality disorders.)

It is generally agreed that people often tend to make up their minds based on emotions rather than  facts, and hear what they want to hear in order to confirm these emotionally-based opinions. Trump's base has shrunken only slightly, but there are a lot of people who stayed home during the last national election because they didn't like either candidate and are now as energized as a space probe. This time, it will become increasingly difficult for special interest groups to persuade these energized voters either not to vote at all, or to vote against their own best interests. 

Is President Trump using hypnosis, hyperempiria, or NLP, then? No, but he has his NRA backers, his Russian data miners, and his dog-whistle racism. Hitler, on the other hand, limited his "alternative facts" to only two: the alleged superiority or the German race and the allegation that all the difficulties the Germans had suffered were due to a "world Jewish conspiracy." If Hitler were living in twenty-first century America, these beliefs would probably be categorized by mental health professionals under the diagnostic categories of narcissistic personality disorder, delusional disorder grandiose type and delusional disorder persecutory type. 

Hitler also taught that a big lie would be believed easier than a little one if it were repeated often enough, so by and large he restricted his big lies to only these two, with other lies invoked in support of them.

The most important reason that Trump does not pose as much of a danger as Hitler did is obvious. Hitler was a much better speaker! He even made use of lighting, symbols, and audience involvement to drive home his points. Here, with English subtitles, is one of his classic speeches. Judge for yourself.




Note that after Hitler boasts to his cheering supporters that he has eliminated all sources of political opposition, Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf  Hess strode to the platform at the conclusion of his speech, and ecstatically proclaimed that the Party was Hitler, and Hitler and Germany were one, thereby making Hitler's power absolute.

Trump has gone a long way towards capturing the Republican Party, but he is unable to eliminate other political parties as Hitler did.  With the recent horrifying visual images of weeping children being ripped from their mothers' arms and being abused and drugged in order to control them, what has now become the Party of Trump is probably headed for a series of defeats at the polls as his support gradually erodes. 

But why are Trump's followers so loyal that they have made the Republican Party the Party of Trump?  For many people, Trump is a strongmanl who appeals to their insecurities. Once an emotional commitment has been made, there is a powerful force called cognitive dissonance, which makes us reluctant to admit that we have been wrong.,  This is what doomed Hitler's followers to eventual destruction because they could not admit that their leader was a pathological narcissist, and this is what is currently in the process of destroying the Republican Party in the United States. Here, briefly, is how cognitive dissonance works, as explained by its founder, Leon Festinger.
















  
  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Why are Political Opinions so Resistant to Change?

n everyday life, it is useful to regard suggestibility as a natural state of the human organism rather than a trait of personality. Humans are natural storytellers, and the evidence of our "cultural trance" is all around us. Every society tells stories to its young which attempt to explain, in words which are simple enough that children can understand, the meaning of life and the identity of the people into whom they were born. As adults, we re-enact aspects of these same metaphors in patriotic and religious rituals.

The effect of such rituals appears to be benign -- except when it isn't. Unforunately, this power can easiy be abused; for there is no absurdity so palpable that it will not be accepted if it is presented as fact, especially to the young, and frequently repeated with great solemnity, as illustrated in the following video depicting the indoctrination of the Hitler Youth in the 1930s. The reasons that political opinions, once formed, are often so resistant to change by means of logical argument, and the parallels to the present day, will be readily apparent.





Suggestibiity: Exploding the Myth

It has been said that the organisms most frequently experimented on are the laboratory rat and the college sophomore, because they are the most available to academic researchers. The differences in hypnotic responsiveness which are commonly used in psychological research have been obtained when data are gathered under standardized testing conditions such as a college classroom.

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 dozens of 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 there are from one to three high responders who obtain a perfect score of twelve on the test, one or two people who will obtain a score of zero on the test, 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 been gathered by now at many colleges and universities around the world, and has yielded a great deal of useful information about differences between high and low responders. Many useful inferences can be drawn from Measuring sugestibility as a personality trait, and I have collected some of it myself (Gibbons & de Jarnette, 1972).

Now let's perform a thought experiment. I would like you to imagine that the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility 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. Take refuge under your desks immediately and await further instructions!

Even if such an announcement had been a hoax (i.e., a cleverly-designed suggestion) thought up by a dissident student organization to disrupt the orderly running of campus activities, if it were to be conducted in a sufficiently convincing manner, everyone in the class -- including the instructor -- would probably cower under their desks until they were found by the next class which was scheduled to use the room. What happened to the "analytical  subjects" who were supposed to be impervious to suggestion? What happened to the individual differences in hypnotizability which the Harvard Group Scale was supposed to measure? They simply ceased to exist!

References

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

Hull, C. L.  Hypnosis and Suggestibility. New York: Appleton-Cenntry, 1933.






Saturday, July 14, 2018

Toxic People Who can Wreck Your Life


Personality-disordered people can wreck your life when they are bosses, friends, or family members, They can cause you to doubt yourself by causing you to believe their toxic opinions about you. 

The following descriptions of personality disorders have been compiled by some of the best minds in the field of mental health, drawing upon years of clinical observation and literally hundreds of research studies to find patterns which “clump together” in present-day culture. Of course, actual diagnosis and treatment should only be undertaken by a mental health professional, and many people can have the traits of one or more personality disorders withought qualifying for a full diagnosis -- but, there is an old saying, "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck -- it's a duck!"  If you know someone who appears to fit one or more of these descriptions, and if you are in a position to do so, it might be doing them a favor to encourage them to examine the reasons why they remain in an abusive relationship, with professional  help if necessary

Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The ancient Greeks used to tell the story of Narcissus -- a lad who was so good-looking that he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, and spent so much time gazing at it that he eventually fell into the pool and drowned. People who are given a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder are often perceived as being selfish or conceited. They may often spend a great deal of time telling you how great they are, or boasting of their achievements or accomplishments.

Some people think of a person with a narcissistic personality disorder as having a superiority complex to cover up for an inferiority complex. When you get to know such people well, it soon becomes apparent that the reason they spend so much time “tooting their own horn” is that deep down inside, they really feel afraid, inadequate, and unlovable.

Narcissists do not always act selfishly in the short term. They are often highly motivated to pursue long-term goals in order to prove their worth both to themselves and others. For this reason, narcissists often tend to gravitate to positions of leadership in business, government, education -- and yes, even churches.

Narcissists often cause a great deal of suffering, particularly when they happen to be employers, family members,  or romantic partners. Yet there are ways of dealing with them. (Since no two personalities are exactly identical, however, you cannot stereotype them and treat them all exactly the same way.)

Histrionic Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder may often be compared to an adult version of the “spoiled child” who will do anything to remain the center of attention. If histrionics are able to “show off” and remain the center of attention by doing a good job, they often accomplish a great deal. But if they feel that they are being ignored, or that the attention which they crave so deeply is denied them, they may become angry and disruptive in order to get it back again -- even if it’s unfavorable attention this time! ("I don't care what you say about me," one publicity-hungry histrionic is reported to have said to a reporter for a scandal magazine. "Just be sure you spell my name right.!")

Antisocial Personality Disorder.

People with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder did not incorporate our society’s standards of right and wrong into their personalities as well as the rest of us have. They begin getting into trouble with the authorities by the time they are adolescents, and don’t grow out of it. As you might suppose, this pattern is much more common in men than in women.

Since personality disorders are so difficult to change, many such people keep going back and forth to jail from their teen years until middle age, when they seem to mellow out of their own accord. They make up the bulk of most prison populations, and often have a history of substance abuse or substance dependency. However, people with antisocial personality traits (I like to call them stealth anti socials) may be encountered almost anywhere, even at the highest levels of many organizations; and they may not be found out until their behavior gets them into trouble. (The discovery and apprehension of stealth anti socials in high-profile positions is the basis of many of the news stories we read about every day.)

Borderline Personality Disorder.

To understand the person who qualifies for a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, think back to some of the stormiest days of your own adolescence, or the adolescence of someone you know well. With an incompletely developed sense of self, the borderlines have no firm idea of who they are and where they are going. Their lives are often erratic, with frequent job changes and alterations in long term goals, and intense and unstable friendships and romantic involvements.

Because of their poorly developed sense of self, borderlines often have difficulty with so-called “boundary issues,” or the ability to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate in a given situation. Some borderlines, in fact, may find it difficult to even talk to a person of the opposite sex for very long without acting as if they are falling in love with them. As would be expected, the romantic lives of borderlines tend to be especially intense and tumultuous. The manipulative abilities of people with borderline personality disorder often enable them to deceive those who do not understand the inner storms which produce such behavior, which frequently causes their sudden bouts of passion to be mistaken for genuine love.

Borderlines often engage in “splitting,” with either extremely positive or extremely negative feelings towards others, sometimes suddenly reversing from extreme friendliness to extreme rejection and vice-versa. This changeability frequently leads them to engage in behavior that is highly manipulative. This splitting may also be the reason why the interpersonal relationships of borderlines are often centered around real of imagined fears of abandonment. (One book on borderline personality disorder is entitled, I Hate You - Don’t Leave Me!) These tendencies to engage in splitting may also explain why borderlines also seem to have a strong ability to divide those around them into separate camps of friends and enemies.  

Borderlines usually have very low self-esteem, and suicidal gestures, genuine attempts,and successful suicides are not uncommon. Many borderlines have a history of cutting themselves, or other forms of self-injurious behavior as a result of low self-esteem.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be popularly known as a “nit-picker” or “neat freak.” They may become so involved with orderliness, perfectionism, and control that efficiency suffers as a result. This culture tends to place a high value on preoccupation with detail in certain jobs. With proper training, people who have milder forms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may become excellent law clerks, college registrars, bank auditors, or personal physicians -- in which case, it may not be a personality disorder any more, unless it interferes with their functioning off the job!

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is closely related to another disorder with a similar name, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD for short, which is similar in nature but more limited in scope. Obsessive-compulsive disorder refers to a pattern of continually recurring thoughts (obsessions), or behaviors which one is compelled to continually repeat, such as checking a door several times in a row to be sure that it is locked.

Avoidant Personality Disorder.

People who carry a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder have had such unpleasant social interactions in the past that with the possible exception of one or two close relatives or special friends, they have come to fear all human contact. Avoidants are frequently not merely shy about most social situations, they are genuinely phobic about them. Their avoidance is often centered around a core belief that if people really got to know them, it would immediately become obvious how incompetent and worthless they really are, and the immediate result would be scorn, rejection, and loss of employment. People with an avoidant personality disorder often tend to gravitate to solitary occupations -- researchers, librarians, or forest rangers, for example; and they may be attracted by certain monastic orders. (Of course, not everyone in these types of occupations could be diagnosed with an avoidant personality disorder!)

Dependent Personality Disorder.

A central theme in the life of people who have been diagnosed with a dependent personality disorder is a need to be looked after and taken care of, often accompanied by excessive fears of real or imagined abandonment. Ironically, some people who qualify for a diagnosis of DPD may behave in exactly opposite fashion. Those with milder forms of this disorder may attempt to satisfy their underlying dependency needs by becoming so efficient and thorough that they make themselves indispensable. Others, whose disorder is more severe, become highly dependent on instructions from above, and are reluctant to show any initiative in carrying out their responsibilities for fear that they will have made the wrong decision.

Paranoid Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnoses with paranoid personality disorder tend to see the activities of other people as ill-intentioned -- even when the opposite is true. Compliments may be seen as attempts to gain undue influence through flattery, and offers of help may be seen as evidence that the person to whom the help is offered is viewed as incompetent. The resulting suspiciousness and hostility may tend to bring about the negative attitudes and behaviors which the person with a paranoid personality disorder believes were always there. (The saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!”)

Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The person who has been diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder is an extreme loner or a “cold fish” who just isn’t interested in being around people. Such people are often found in the most solitary jobs which others might tend to shy away from. Because of their extreme lack of social skills, they should not be expected to change simply by inviting them to parties or by introducing them to a wide circle of people.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder typically have bizarre notions of cause and effect, and may practice unusual rituals of their own devising, either to make things happen or to prevent them from happening, similar to those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their everyday speech patterns and favorite topics of conversation are usually regarded by those around them as being somewhat bizarre, although not totally “crazy” in the popular sense of the term. They may also take a keen interest in cults and in the paranormal. Although certainly not everyone who is interested in such topics has a schizotypal personality disorder, the true schizotypal still tends to stand out because of bizarre thought patterns.

Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.

Although the American Psychiatric Association no longer officially lists this as a separate personality disorder, people with passive aggressive tendencies try to disrupt things by sabotaging the success of their employers, their family, or their friends without appearing do so deliberately, because they feel that their own needs for recognition, status, or achievement are not being met, or that other people are more successful than they are. Passive aggressive people may risk an occasional confrontation if it helps them to get their frustrations out, but they can usually gauge their actions carefully enough to avoid losing their jobs or their families.

If they are not frankly and firmly confronted about their behavior, their passive-aggressive patterns may become worse over time as they continue to follow their own “hidden agendas” and they feel that their actions are being accepted or condoned. They may single out for special treatment vulnerable individuals or groups who will not or cannot “fight back,” and their behavior may degenerate into outright bullying. Then, when the inevitable day of reckoning does arrive, the consequences may be much more serious -- both for the victims and for the organization -- than if the problem had been immediately and forcefully dealt with.

Limitations of a Personality Disorder Diagnosis.

In order to qualify for any of the foregoing diagnoses of personality disorder, the disorder must be seen to cause people significant distress in their social, intellectual, or occupational functioning, regardless of whether or not they are aware of this fact. Temperamental but highly successful movie stars, for example, whose demanding and self-centered behavior would interfere with their adjustment in another setting, would probably not qualify for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder as long as they can "get away with it." Similarly, people who live alone in a remote location miles from the nearest neighbor would not qualify for a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder as long as they are able to function well their current situation, regardless of how intensely they may dislike having social contact with their fellow human beings.

It's easy to see how more than one personality disorder, or the traits of several, can work together in the same individual. Most of us are familiar with, or have heard stories about, the narcissistic borderline who sleeps her way into an executive position and then proceeds to systematically eliminate all those who are familiar with how she got to where she is, while tyrannizing over the ones who have been hired as their replacements. We are also not surprised to learn about a narcissistic antisocial convict (sometimes referred to as a psychopath), who immediately commits another crime upon his release from prison, which entitles him to several more years of "three hots and a cot," plus free medical and dental care. Many of us have also witnessed instances of a passive-aggressive histrionic, who regularly disrupts public meetings with their oft-repeated tales of woe, to the extent that it becomes next to impossible to get any business done. 

People with personality disorders are not likely to seek professional assistance, because they are frequently inclined to blame their troubles on everyone but themselves. When they do seek help, it is usually because they are forced to do so (often in conjunction with an assault or a suicide attempt, or because a family member insists on it). They tend to remain as long as they are "hurting," or as long as they are forced to stay. When they are no longer hurting and are in a position to stop, they discontinue treatment.

Instead of seeing the personality-disordered individual directly,a therapist is much more likely to see a family member, romantic partner, or employee who presents with anxiety or depression as a result of their interaction with someone who has a personality disorder (whom they may refer to as a "toxic person" or an "energy vampire").

A final word of caution: as stated previously, an actual diagnosis of a personality disorder should only be made by an appropriately trained mental health professional. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to insult people is to let them know that you suspect them of having a personality disorder! While avoiding making such a diagnosis yourself unless you are properly trained to do so, and not communicating your suspicions to the individuals concerned, knowing how to recognize the major symptoms of a personality disorder will place you in a much better position to deal with such people on a daily basis, and to seek professional assistance in order to better cope with them if you need to do so. 

Print Sources

Cavaiola, A. C., & Lavender, N. J. (2000). Toxic co-workers: How to deal with dysfunctional people on the job. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual, DSM-V. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 

Why Do Some People Stay in an Abusive Relationship?

Many clients come to see us in our psychology practice in order to relieve their anxiety and depression, and only later do we discover that "the elephant in the room" which is causing their symptoms is that they are involved in a toxic relationship with someone who is abusing them.  One client, for example, is in a relationship with a gang leader and drug dealer who has previosly served jail time for molesting several women -- including her own daughter!  This is an extreme example, of course; but  why does anyone choose to remain in a relationship with a partner who can wreck their life?  Unless we can identify and apecifically counteract the lies they are teling themseelves, these clients are not going to improve.

The following You Tube video was made by a woman who had been suffering in such a relationship for many years. In personal terms, she explains the underlying psychological principle of cognitive dissonance, and how it kept her from realizing what was really going on and taking the necessary steps to end it.





Friday, July 13, 2018

Cognitive Behavioral Psychology (CBT) for Stress Management

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 become stressed can sometimes spiral out of control, This brief posting is not intended to serve as  a substitute for counseling or therapy. If stress has begun to affect your personal or work life, 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 the habits and thought patterns that can frequently get us into trouble.

It is generally agreed that cognitive-behavioral psychology is the fastest-growing orientation 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. The information referred to in any of the links below can be downloaded 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, courtesy of www.getselfhelp.co.uk. 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 anxiety 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 breathing.


Emotions/Moods (rate 0-100%):  Anger.


Physical Sensations & Reactions: Swearinggripping 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.


Finally, the folks at www.smartrecovery.org have a toolbox of resources which is a treasure-trove for people who want to alter hard-to-change behaviors of every type, but especially addictive ones.They have prepared a selection of tips and tricks for managing anxiety 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:
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 stress will not be enough to enable you to get rid of it. People who practice meditation 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 making CBT work for you 

Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." 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
Toxic People who can Wreck Your Life


 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

How to Stop Grieving for a Lost Love

Many of the clients we see daily in our psychology practice have a broken heart somewhere in their past. Sometimes, however, you may be able to fix it yourself -- or at least, you can ease the pain enough to stop grieving so much about it. 
The following video explains how you should treat the loss of a loved one as if yo were wuthdrawing from a drug -- becuse that's exactly what the brain thinks it is!



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Experiential Therapy and Hypnosis

"Help! I'm a student in Dr. Gibbons' Psychology class!"
When I first opened my psychology practice in Manahawkin, New Jersey, one of my first hypnosis clients asked me, "You aren't going to turn me into al chicken, are you?"

"No," I replied, somewhat taken aback. 'That's for stage hypnotists. If I did it, it wouldn't be professional." But I did once. . . .

Several years ago, when I was discussing the topic of hypnosis in an Introductory Psychology class, I asked a student who had volunteered in a previous demonstration if she would be willing to help me illustrate how easy it was to turn a hypnotized person into a chicken. She readily agreed, and at the conclusion of an induction, I told her that I would count backwards from ten to one, and that at the count of one she would have been turned into a chicken.

"You will always be able to hear and to respond to my voice," I continued, "and I will return you to your normal state in a few minutes, before I bring you out of hypnosis. But until I do, you will experience the world exactly as if you had been turned into a chicken. You will remember everything I have said, and it will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Okay?"

She nodded in agreement, and I counted slowly backwards from ten to one, providing suggestions along the way that she could feel herself changing into a chicken; and at the count of one, I announced that she had become a chicken. "Would you like to open your eyes and walk around a bit?" I asked. She did so, walking slowly as I took hold of her elbow. "Why are you walking like that?" I asked.

"I'm a chicken," she answered in a high, cackly voice, much to the amusement of the class.

I guided her back to her desk, counted from one to ten to restore usual perceptions, and then concluded the hypnotic demonstration. I then asked her if she had really felt like she was a chicken, and she slowly and thoughtfully nodded in agreement. 

But if she really believed that she was a chicken, why did she not scurry away in fear as soon as I approached her desk? Why did she allow me to slowly walk her around the room, limping slightly, instead of struggling to get away, as a real chicken would surely do? Why did she answer my question about why she was limping by answering, "I'm a chicken!?" And why were the suggestions so easy to undo, as if she understood English as well as she ever did?

We could talk about a "hidden observer" that always knows what's going on and maintains control, no how matter deeply a person is hypnotized, as Hilgard (1974) did. We could talk about "trance logic," which is similar to the logic which is found in dreams, as Martin Orne (1959) did. But why should we infer the presence of any extra mental processes when they are not needed?

What she had actually believed and responded to, I believe, was the narrative of what had taken place (Sarbin & de Rivera, 1998), She knew that she was a student in my class, and she knew that she had consented for me to hypnotize her. She still had the kind of "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination which we all have as children, but most of us lose as we become adults. Therefore, she was also able to act, think, and feel as if she were a chicken for the purpose of a class demonstration.  

The demonstration described here was undertaken in the spirit of fun, and everyone understood that. However, as  long as the suggested narratives are real to the person who undergoes them, their transformational effects on the personality can be powerful indeed! 

Is it safer to tell a hpnotized person that they are turning into a chicken or to tell them that they are experiencing the fulfillment of their existence in a parallel universe?  I  have done both, and I can tell you from personal experience that one is just as easy and safe as the other. But in the latter case, the long-lasting positive effects can be dramatic indeed. With our adult ability to conceptualize, we can build an almost unlimited number of resource states, in an unlimited number of parallel universes in which anything that can happen really does happen (Gibbons & Woods, 2016). We would like to invite you now to join us in exploring these fascinating new realms of experience, and sharing with us in the thrill of discovery.  

References

Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016). Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Book 

Hilgard, E. R. (1974), Toward a neo-dissociation theory: Multiple cognitive controls in human functioning. Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, 17(3), pp, 301-316. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Orne, M. T,  (1959), The nature of hypnosis: Artifact and essence. Journal of abnormal and social psychology,  psychnet.apa.org.

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.




Saturday, July 7, 2018

Anniversaries, Nodal Events, and Social Systems

by Annette K. Schreiber, Ph.D.

A nodal event is an event in a person's, family's, community's or country's life that affects it profoundly. Some events are positive, like the election of a president or the birth of a Royal baby. Some events, however, are so negative, that they throw everything out of equilibrium. Hurricane Sandy was such an event.

The Jersey Coast and those of us who were personally affected by the storm know that things will forever be different. We, as individuals, families and communities, have been knocked off balance. Everything has changed, as we search for the "new normal."

When we approach anniversaries of negative nodal events, we may find that we don't feel "quite right." We may become symptomatic in many ways, physically, emotionally or behaviorally. One person may get a bad cold, or break out in a rash. Another may quietly get drunk, or not so quietly go speeding down the highway and get a bunch of tickets. And most people have emotional upsets. Feeling depressed, sad, irritable, anxious, or having panic attacks are ways that many people "mark" these anniversaries. Why? Do we decide this is how we are going to observe the anniversary of Sandy? No, it is not a conscious decision. Each individual is part of a system: a family, a community or a country. And if the system is out of equilibrium, there are shockwaves that reverberate throughout all parts of the system, bringing on symptoms.

After Sandy, many members of our communities remain in deep trouble. The disillusionment stage of recovery has set it. The insurance companies, FEMA, SBA, the local, state and federal governments aren't moving fast enough to get people back in their homes, or their businesses up and running. Many people remain displaced, and have lost everything they owned and are desperately trying to figure out how to move forward.

But, there are random acts of kindness, people volunteering and giving, and countless fundraisers. Groups of people gather in formal and informal support groups to help themselves and others make sense of it all, and to draw strength from each other.

So, if on a particular anniversary, you don't feel "quite right," realize that you are not alone in feeling this way, and that we have all been knocked for a loop.  But our people and our communities are strong --  so Keep Calm, and Carry On!




 





Monday, July 2, 2018

How to THINK Like a Thin Person

Most diets simply do not work for most people most of the time, because they have not learned to think like a thin person. After we have been on a diet for a while and lost some weight, our body reacts to the diet as if it were a famine. Our metabolism slows down, we stop losing. and eventually we begin to eat more, in order to return to what our body had previously considered as our "normal" weight. Here's how to break the cycle.

Cognitive-behavioral psychology is the study of the relationships between thinking, feeling, and behavior.  Unless we develop the habit of taking all three of these into account, in the same way that thin people habitually do, we will continue living on a perpetual yo-yo of dieting to lose weight and then gaining it back to the level that our body has become used to. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapists often use a form called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on in the mind when we make those habitual decisions that keep getting us into trouble by eating the wrong things. You can obtain them at www.getselfhelp.co.uk. You can make copies of their sample form for your own use by using the print command on your computer, and you can also obtain different versions of the thought record for a host of other purposes. In addition, they have a free online self-help course and other materials on how to use the thought record effectively.


Here's an example of one way that a thought record might be used to counteract one common stressful situation which causes people to consume too much food. Let's suppose you are putting in long hours and having to do more than your fair share at work because other people have been laid off, and your boss is driving you crazy. You start to gain weight because you have gotten into the habit of consoling yourself by eating too much, and then you cannot keep the weight off for the reasons just mentioned. The thought record first asks you a series of simple questions about the thoughts that occurred when you gave in to the temptation to overeat, asks you how appealing those thoughts were, and helps you to think of more appealing thoughts, as illustrated below.  


  • Where were you?   Watching television on the couch at home.
  • Emotion or feeling.  Fatigue. Lethargy. Craving for a snack.
  • Negative automatic thought.  I want to go to the kitchen and get some pretzels and beer.
  • Evidence that supports the thought.  I will enjoy them after a long hard day at work.
  • Evidence that does not support the thought.  I'm becoming a couch potato.
  • Alternative thought or autosuggestion. "I'll find other activities to enjoy.
  • Emotion or feeling. Relief (rating:60%); discomfort at having to get up (rating: 40%).  

  • Of course, you don't have to chronicle every decision this way in order to learn to think like a thin person. It only takes a few such exercises to the hang of it. But it is necessary to make a good beginning for cognitive-behavioral psychology to help you to keep your feet on the right path As Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!" 

     Print Sources


    Barlow, D. H. (2008). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders: A Step-by-Step Treatment Manual, 5th ed. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Beck, J. S. (2008).  The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House.  (Judith Beck is the daughter of Aaron T. Beck, the founder of cognitive-behavioral therapy, and one of its most widely respected leaders in her own right.) 

    Moss, M. (2013). Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.  New York, NY: Random House.


     

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    Monday, June 25, 2018

    What is Hyperempiria?

    Evolution did not come to a screeching halt with the first bipeds who could accurately be labeled homo sapiens. We have been developing the powers of the mind in new and exciting ways ever since. However, the more highly evolved among us frequently need the services of a hypnotist to function as an enabler, coach, or personal trainer to show us how to use these emerging abilities with confidence, because they are so different from the current patterns of thought which we are used to in everyday life

    Confucius said, “Tell me and I may not remember. Show me and I may forget. Involve me and I will understand.” This type of stress can best be counteracted by the type of hypnotic involvement which allows us to experience first-hand a reality in which all the negative things that ever happened have been paved over with joy, and bring the lessons of these experiences back with us.

    There are many altered experiences of consciousness which are induced by procedures designed to increase tension, alertness, and physical activity rather than by expressed or implied suggestions of diminished awareness which are commonly grouped under the term hypnosis. Banyai and Hilgard (1976) specifically mention the 'spontaneous' trance states occurring during certain religious gatherings among the Holy Rollers, Snake Charmers, and other revivalist groups (Sargant, 1957, Williams, 1958). Comparable results are found during tribal ceremonies (Field, 1960; Murphy, 1964), in the famous trance-dances in Bali (Sargant, 1957), the fire-walkers trance (Thomas, 1934), and the ecstatic trance of the "howling or "whirling" dervishes (Williams, 1958). In the more advanced cultures highly suggestible mental states have been produced by grilling or brainwashing (Sargant, 1957), and a hyper kinetic trance appears to be associated with the emotional contagion encountered in a group or mob setting (LaBarre, 1962).


    Banyai and Hilgard went on to describe a now-classic experiment in which 50 subjects rode a bicycle ergometer under load, keeping their eyes open while exercising and receiving suggestions of alertness. This was randomly alternated with a standard hypnotic induction procedure using eye fixation and relaxation, and the results were measured by eight tests of responses to suggestion. Both conditions, on average, produced about the same increase in responsiveness to suggestion, and the highly susceptible subjects reported that in both cases altered states were achieved. The authors concluded,"The results obtained in the experiment suggest that by our completely active-alert hypnotic induction procedure it is possible to induce a state in which all the important characteristics of hypnosis occur, except the resemblance to sleep .. . .Although the subjective alterations differed between the two kinds of induction, the highly susceptible reported that in both cases altered states were achieved" (p, 221).

    When the Hare Krishna movement was at its height in the United States, we invited the group to present at our graduate psychology colloquium at West Georgia College. Their presentation included a group chant, which began calmly enough; but after a few moments, the room seemed to explode with emotion as their chant reached a crescendo which continued for several minutes. It was obvious that the participants had entered an experiential trance which, according to their own statements, was both the focus and the energizing force which empowered their movement.


    Most of us are also familiar with the details of the Mesmeric "crises," and how they resulted in either temporary or permanent "cures" of many ailments which today we would refer to as psychosomatic or hysterical in nature.

    I conducted some research which links being exponentially gifted with the ability to experience the Fundamentalist experience of "salvation", which many people describe as a life-changing event (Gibbons, 1988; Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972). Hyperempiria,or suggestion-enhanced experience, has also been found to be helpful in facilitating meditation and prayer, and for such diverse experiences as the alleviation of depression and the enhancement of personal intimacy through experiences of mystical intensity (Gibbons & Woods, 2016).


    References


    Banyai, E. I., & Hilgard, E. R. (1976). A comparison of active-alert hypnotic induction with traditional relaxation induction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85,pp. 218-224
    .
    Field, M.Search for security: An ethnopsychialric study of rural Ghana.Evanston, Il: Northwestern University Press, 1960.


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

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

    Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016). Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Books.

    LaBarre, W. They shall take up serpents. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1 9 6 2.


    Murphy, J. Psychotherapeutic aspects of shamanism on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. in A. Kiev (Ed.),Magic, Faith, and Healing.New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1964.


    Sargent, W.Battle for the Mind.Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957.
    Thomas, E. The fire walk. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research,1934.42,292-309.

    Williams, G. W. Hypnosis in perspective. In L. M. LeCron (Ed.), Experimental Hypnosis. New York: Macmillan, 1958.