Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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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, January 14, 2018

Virtual Reality for Changing People Inside and Out


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


"Thought will live when the stars grow cold
And mix with Deity" -- Emerson

Many people confuse virtual reality hypnosis with mechanically-inspired notions of viftual reality, ignoring the fact that suggestion has the piweer to change people both inside and out! Considering the variety of suggestions which may be accepted by sufficiently responsive individuals (Shor & Orne, 1962),  it may be hypothesized that suggestions will be actualized more easily if they are formulated in such a manner as to systematically and comprehensively involve several different modes of experience. The Best Me Technique of virtual reality hypnosis utilizes the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness. Taken together, the elements of this technique form the acronym, BEST ME, and may be summarized as follows (Gibbons, 2001; Gibbons & Lynn, 2008)..
Belief systems which orient an individual to person, place, time, and events may be suggested as being different, allowing the participant to mentally transcend present realities.

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

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

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

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

Expectations may be structured concerning the manner in which the participant will look forward to and remember suggested events which will occur in the future, and the manner in which suggested experiences will subsequently be recalled and interpreted in memory.
Hyperempiric suggestions may be administered in any order, each of the aforementioned categories may be employed as often as necessary, and each step in the procedure may incorporate elements of the others. In the latter case, the label applied to each step refers to the dimension of experience which is being given the greatest emphasis. For ease of illustration, the suggestions contained in this article have been provided in the B-E-S-T-M-E order. In actual use, hyperempiric suggestions may be administered in any order and repeated as often as necessary, with modifications which contribute to the total effect, much as one might repeat the verses and choruses of a song.

Mystical and Transcendental Experience Mediated by Suggestion

People of many different religious traditions have attested to the life‑changing potential of mystical and transcendental experiences involving contact with a consciousness beyond one's own. In one study of the Fundamentalist Christian experience of salvation, for example, subjects readily attested to both the personal reality of the experience and its subsequent influence upon their lives, although such experiences did not seem to be universally attainable and did appear to be related to the ability to respond to suggestion (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972; Gibbons, 1988).

Many clients approach life from a primarily religious point of view. Such believers -- particularly those who are elderly, infirm, or who have experienced a number of personal tragedies -- may experience a "dark night of the soul" (Peers, 1990) as they struggle to deal with the stresses of life without access to sources of experiential spiritual support for their beliefs.However, Glasner (1955) refers to several purported uses of suggestion and hypnosis in Scripture to encourage and inspire the faithful, concluding, "Although it is impossible to state with any definiteness that hypnosis is referred to in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and in the Talmud, there would seem to be considerable evidence that the authors of these works were indeed familiar with phenomena which we today should call hypnotic or which we should explain in terms of suggestion" (p. 39).

From the standpoint of the therapist who is well-versed in the techniques of hypnosis, experiences of this type may easily be made available to clients who desire them and are sufficiently responsive to suggestion. Such experiences should be determined by the needs and expressed preferences of the client, with the goal of providing reassurance, strength, and encouragement. It should be of little consequence whether the religious and metaphysical beliefs of the client are shared by the therapist or are in conflict with those of the therapist, or whether the therapist has no theological or metaphysical beliefs at all.

The following BMT suggestions for facilitating meditation and prayer describe a visit to a cathedral. They are not intended to be used as a script, but rather as an illustration of how the Best Me Technique may be used as a template for constructing multimodal suggestions for a variety of similar purposes. They may easily be modified to refer to a visit to a temple, a mosque, an ashram, a shrine, or any site or event which the client may find personally meaningful.

Because of the nature of the experiences to be undergone, an expressly hyperempiric induction, based upon specific suggestions of increased awareness and responsiveness (Gibbons, 1975), may be preferable to a more traditional hypnotic induction based upon expressed of implied suggestions of diminished awareness (Bányai & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1976), although either type of induction may be presented using a multimodal or Best Me format facilitate involvement with the experiences which follow.

After the therapist has become sufficiently aware of the client's needs and preferences through preliminary discussion, and the client understands and fully consents to the experiences in which he or she is about to participate, suggestions may be given in the following manner.

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.

At the conclusion of the experience, the client may be re‑oriented to the present and the induction terminated in the usual manner.

Discussion

Although most of us routinely provide a considerable amount of detail with the experiences we suggest in order to make them more realistic, the Best Me Technique of hyperempiric suggestion provides a systematic framework for incorporating sufficient detail into several major types of experience, in order to make sure that the suggested experiences are sufficiently comprehensive for maximum effectiveness.

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

Lawrence (M. A. Lawrence, personal communication, June 27, 2003) reports the successful application of the Best Me Technique with nursing home residents who are dealing with end-of-life issues.  



Recently, Kelley Woods and I (Gibbons & Woods, 2016) have been suggesting to hypnotized clients that they are being transported to an alternate universe where time and space do not exist. After orienting them to this universe and inducing emotions which are as pleasant as possible -- i.e., "dissolving  into an ocean of infinite, unbounded, and everlasting love," and returning them to the present with the lessons of this experience back with them, to enhance their prevailing mood and pave over the emotional effects of all the bad things that have ever happened to them..  

Clients have been saying things like, "I can't thank you enough!" and, "I'm at a point in my life now where I think I can accomplish anything!" The changes which they are reporting in their lives seem to bear this out.  It's too early for any hard data, as we have just begun to use these techniques. But we would like to invite you to join us in exploring these fascinating new realms of experience, and sharing with us in the thrill of discovery!

References

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

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


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

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

Gibbons, D. (2001). Experience as an art form: Hypnosis, hyperempiria, and the best metechnique. San Jose, CA: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2003, July). The best me technique for constructing hypnotic suggestions Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Societies of Medical, Clinical, Dental, and Experimental Hypnosis, London.



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


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.) 

Glasner, S. (1955). A note on allusions to hypnosis in the Bible and Talmud. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 3(1), 34-39.

Hammond, D. C. (1990). Hypnotic suggestions and metaphors. New York: Norton.

Heap, M. & Aravind, K. K. (2001). Hartland's Medical & Dental Hypnosis, 4th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone.


Lazarus, A. A. (1989). The practice of multimodal therapy. Baltimore, MD: Johns HopkinsUniversity Press.

Lazarus, A. A. (1997). Brief comprehensive psychotherapy: The multimodal way. New York:Springer.

Peers, E. A. (1990). Dark Night of the Soul. New York: Doubleday.

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

Shor, R. E. & Orne, E. C. (1962) Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.


Yapko, M. D. (2003). Trancework: An introduction to the practice of clinical hypnosis (3rded.). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner-Routledge.


 


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Suggestibility Testing: The Snark was a Boojum



But O! Beamish nephew, beware of ter 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

If something exists, you can measure it, at least potentially, I was taught in my experimental psychology courses. And if you cannot measure it in some way, then it doesn't exist. So. By the middle of the Twentieth Century, a number of hypnotic suggestibility, susceptibility, and depth scales had been developed, culminating with the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, which even today remains the gold standard of such measurements. But what does it really teach us about hypnosis and how to use it?

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, and I have collected some of it myself. 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, imagine 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 using the Harvard Group Scale, 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 can change dramatically, or even disappear.

Many practicing hypnotists will assure you that in clinical settings, these measured differences are less than reliable, because the measurements were collected in a narrow setting which did not sufficiently represent  the real world.. 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).

The “Snark” of the hypnotic trance was merely a “Boojum” of the active imagination. Regardless of whether or not you  experience a trance during a hypnotic  procedure, you're hypnotized if you think you are!  


Far from "vanishing away," mental health professionals have been employing hypnosis with an ever-expanding number of clients, and are continually finding new applications for it. Once our clients have accepted the suggestion that their consciousness is functioning differently, as long as they call it hypnosis, we can provide them with a wide array of additional suggestions to enhance the ongoing narrative of their daily lives (de Rivera & Sarbin, 1998).

But why do we need the services  a hypnotist  in the first place? Evolution did  not come to a screeching halt with the first hairless bipeds who could definitely be labeled homo sapiens were born. We have been learning to use 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 often different from the usual patterns in which we customarily think. Kreskin, a performer who brings about hypnotic responses in his audience without an induction,  is an "enabler" just as a hypnotic induction is an "enabler." it's as simple as that.

I do not hesitate to share this idea with my hypnotically gifted clients,  because it provides an oft-needed boost to their self-esteem to realize that they are on the cutting edge of evolution, and it also enhances the professional image of hypnosis itself

As I was discussing this idea with one of my more hypnotically-gifted clients the other day, he added, "And the next breakthrough is going to be spiritual."  Roy Hunter is currently working on a second book on hypnosis and spirituality, and many others are preparing workshops on blending the two.

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).


References

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.) Gibbons, D. E. (2001).
Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Auths 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.

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

Gibbons, D. E. (2003, July). The best me technique for constructing hypnotic suggestions Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Societies of Medical, Clinical, Dental, and Experimental Hypnosis, London.


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.