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, February 18, 2018

The Psychology Behind Donald Trump's Continuing Popularity

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 Donald 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 advisor Kellyann Conway recently 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 is it 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.)

The biggest tragedy of all is that people often tend to make up their minds based on emotions rather than  facts, and hear what they want to hear. Trump's base has shrunken only slightly, but All we have to do in order to set things right is to stop ignoring the problems that are making people "mad as Hell." This is not as difficult as it may appear. There are a lot of people who stayed home last time because they didn't like either candidate and are now as energized as a space probe. It will become increasingly difficult for special interest groups to persuade them either not to vote at all, or to vote against their own best interests. The following video, by former Republican columnist George F. Will, and the one which directly follows it after it has stopped playing, directly examines the question as to whether or not it is in the best interests of the Republicans who elected him to continue their support:




Is President Trump using hypnosis, hyperempi4ia, or NLP, then? In my opinion, he has a narcissistic personality disorder. But he still knows how to energize his base, or at least his extremely Conservative advisers do. The resulting backlash against this form of right-wing Republicanism may last for generations, but as a nation we have survived much worse. We survived the Civil War and the Great Depression, and we will survive Trump too, regardless of whether or not he is impeached and removed from office.  Our days of world leadership, however, have been dealt a severe blow  -- although many people overseas will say that this is not such a bad thing, as long as we don't all end up speaking Russian or Chinese.

Давайте, до свидания! 

再见 












  
  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

How Eistentiall Hypnosis Shaped My Life

I used to think that my interest in hypnosis sprang from the fact that I "hit it just right" in my mid teens with the first person I ever hypnotized, a skeptical seventh grader. But why had I already been reading books on hypnosis, and how did I know enough to hypnotize him in the first place?

Now, I recall that when I was four years old, I developed a potentially life-threatening throat and ear infection which, in those days before antibiotics, required me to remain in bed for six months. In order to quiet my restlessness, my mother read to me each day for several hours, until her throat was sore. At that age, it did not matter how often I had heard a particular story before, I was still clamoring to hear it again. Although my mother did notrealize it at the time, she was placing me in a trance-like state as she endlessly read to me from Grimm's Fairy Tales, A Child's Garden of Verse, and similar childhood classics to keep me quet.

By the time I rhad tecovered from my infection, I was acutely aware of the power of words to transcend reality, even if I was too young to verbalize it; and many decades were to pass before I could have a hand in relating it to others  (see Gibbons & Lynn, 2008).

As far as individuals are concerned, hypnosis is essentially an artistic medium which is dependent for its effectiveness upon the personality and circumstances of each client we encounter, exactly as it had been with me as a child. The narratives I was told in hypnosis, such as the parable of the hare and the tortoise, and the little engine that could, enabled me to complete the long trek to the Ph.D.(de Rivera & Sarbin, 1998) in spite of setbacks too numerous to mention 


                                                        References

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

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

What is Hypnosis?

Some people grow up never knowing that they are color blind. They have to take a test similar to the following samples from the Ishihara Color Blindness Test in order to find out. They are shown a series of plates which are carefully constructed so that regardless of what color they aree,  the same of amount of light is reflected from each of the tiles of which they are composed.  Some the tiles that are of different colors than the others are arranged in the form of numbers.  Between twelve and twenty percent of the white male population, and a tiny fraction of females will not be able to see any numbers in the plates reproduced below. Can you



Why is such a test necessary? Because color-blind people believe that they are no different than anybody else, this causes them to operate in a "cultural trance" in which they gloss over very real differences in their experiential abilities.

A hypnotic induction and deepening procedure may be thought of as  a "hypno-blindness test." A certain percentage of the population, more imaginatively gifted than the rest, is naturally capable of visual and auditory hallucinations, insensitivity to pain, and all of the other phenomena that we associate with high hypnotizability.  But, like those who grow up never knowing that they are color blind until they are tested for it, these experientially gifted individuals also operate in a cultural trance which causes them to feel that they are no different than anybody else, and which makes them gloss over real differences in their experiential abilities until they are tested.

What does hypnosis do to change things? A recent thread on a hypnosis discussion forum asked people to describe the most unique induction they knew, After the obviously humorous ones were removed, the only thing the remaining ones appeared to have in common was that they were all suggesting or implying that the subject's consciousness was beginning to function differently. And what does that accomplish? When a hypnotist suggests that someone's consciousness is beginning to function differently, this removes their cultural blinders and, if they are sufficiently able and willing, frees them up to use their imagination in what to the rest of us appears to be an "Alice-in-Wonderland" fashion.

Exceptions do occur, of course, when the cultural blinders are ineffetive, and people manifest hypnotic-like behavior without an induction. But, without social validation for our perceptions, we are usually quite hesitant about appearing to be very much different from those around us. As I have stated elsewhere, if I were to walk up to an imaginatively gifted person, ask him to close his eyes, and suggest, with no previous induction, that by the time I got to the count of five he could open his eyes and see me dressed in a Santa Claus suit and hat, he would usually think that I was crazy. And if such a suggestion should actually happen to work, he would probably think that he was crazy! But if I first suggested that he was "going into hypnosis," using some sort of an induction proxedure to make such a sufggestion sufficiently plausible,then he can use the power of his imagination to do whatever he or she is able and willing to do with these abilities until the session is concluded by suggesting that he is no longer hypnotized.

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 I have just referred to are reliably 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 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 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. (I have collected some of it myself.)

Now let's perform a thought experiment. I would like to ask you to imagine that the Harvard Group Scale is being given to a class of introductory psychology students at the American University of Beirut, let us say, when a person dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room and says in a loud, commanding voice, "The city is under biological attack, and a germ cloud is headed this way. Take refuge in the basement immediately and await further instructions!"


Even if such an announcement is 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 dash for the exits and head for the nearest underground shelter. What happeed to the individual differences in suggestibility which the Harvard Group Scale was supposed to measure? They simply vanished, as everyone took flight!


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. In human society, suggestion appears to be causally related to experiences as diverse as falling in love,coming under the sway of a totalitarian dictator,being saved in a revival meeting,or turning into an animal (transmogrification),as practiced in Native American culture. Individual differences in responsiveness, if they exist. do not seem to attract much attention.,




Hypnotizability, however, does seem to be related to suggestibility as it is measured on the Harvard Group Scale. But even here, if the standardized testing conditions are departed from. individual differences seem to vanish or be considerably diminished. Many practicing hypnotists will assure you that in clinical settings, these measured differences are less than reliable. Once their doubts and fears have been eliminated by an appropriate pre-hypnotic talk, some people respond to hypnosis poorly, most people respond to some extent, and a few others respond extremely well. A number of techniques have been developed to "hypnotize the un-hypnotizable" by convincing the low-responders that they too have been hypnotized.When this is done, they not only respond better on suggestibility tests then those who have not accepted this idea, but they also respond better in therapy (Lynn & Kirsch, 2006).

Regardless of whether the induction takes you up, down, or sideways, you're hypnotized if you think you are!  I use this kind of suggestion-enhanced experience in my psychology practice every day in order to facilitate the acceptance of subsequent therapeutic suggestions which are accepted more easily because the induction has made them more credible..
Print References
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.





Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What is Hyperempiria?


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."                                                                      --Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland



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 our imagination in new and exciting ways ever since. However, the imaginatively gifted 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 usedd to in everyday life

There are literally hundreds of ways to "hypnotize" people; and entire books have been written on this subject. New methods are being devised all the time -- so many, in fact, that it is easy to see that the only thing which they 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. 


When this is recognized, the manner in which an induction operates becomes equally clear. 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. 

Hypnosis, then, provides both the opportunity and the occasion for people who are able to use their imagination in an "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination to go ahead and do so. All the rest depends upon the ability and willingness of the hypnosis partner to comply with the instructions and suggestions he or she is given. When you are hypnotized, you are still you, with the added suggestion you are in now in hypnosis. In the modern workaday world of adult life, we need what Michael Ellner has called the "transformational magic" of an induction because the pull of conformity is so powerful that the we simply do not recognize that we can use our imagination in ways that other people might consider to be so bizarre! 

In order to realize how we can deny an ability that we have, let's consider how it is possible to deny an ability that some of us lack. Some people never realize that they are color blind. They grow up seeing various shades of gray, and learn to get along in a world in which abilities shared by the rest of their fellow human beings take for granted. Now let's consider the opposite. What if we are capable of mental feats that most of the population simply does not believe is possible? WE wouldn't believe it either. However, many examples could be cited of ways in which we use our imagination hypnotically in everyday life without recognizing that we are doing so. When you were a little child, did you sometimes get so absorbed in your play that you didn't hear your mother's voice calling you in for dinner? In hypnosis, that is termed a negative auditory hallucination., and is indicative of a very high level of suggestibility. Did you ever discover a bruise on your body and realize that you must have been so absorbed in something that you did not pay any attention to the injury when it occurred? In hypnosis, that is akin to suggestion-induced anesthesia; and entire surgical and dental procedures have been performed without the use of chemical anesthetics. 

With 99% of the same genetic makeup as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, there is little doubt that our evolutionary development has been lopsided. 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 destroy one another individually. For centuries, determinists have argued that human beings do not possess a free will because we are not free to choose our own motives. With experiential hypnosis, however, it becomes possible to pre-experience the rewards of distant goals now, in the present when they are most important for motivation, vastly expanding our range of choices regarding which motives to strengthen, and making it much easier to live up to the goals and ideals which evolution has enabled us to construct but has heretofore made it difficult to achieve. Experiential hypnosis, is nothing less than the next step upward in human evolution. And the challenge facing all of us is to make it possible for this experientially gifted elite who dwell among us, as well as most others who possess these gifts to a lesser extent, to make the fullest use of their abilities. 

Why do we Need Hypnosis?






There are literally hundreds of applications for hypnosis, and new ones are being found all the time. But why do we need to use hypnosis in the first place?

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

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. -- so many, in fact, that 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 indeed 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. We obviously have a long ways to go to be able to do all the things that our human brains have enabled us to want to do. It is indeed an honor to show people how to work more effectively with their emerging evolutionary potential, for they are truly "the bearers of the light" of future progress. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Don't Pay Good Money for Charisma-Based information!

In the words of +Michael Ellner, "The path that the people who beat the odds take does not seem to be as important as the way they walk the path that they have chosen. This is based on extensive experience assisting people with life-threatening diseases and conditions and assisting people living with medically unexplained syndromes and symptoms like chronic pain, FMS, IBS and CFS. What they do — does not seem to be as important as how they do what they do… The people who do what they do with a happy heart, peaceful mind and playful spirit seem to have the best outcomes regardless of what they are doing."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suppose, instead of using a language that was already fully developed, she had decided to experiment with the language patterns of highly successful hypnotists, and assembled a group of like-minded individuals to help her discover exactly which inductions, and which suggestion patterns, were the most effective. Sometimes the results would inevitably appear to be more powerful in comparison with the patterns which had been used before -- at least with the current sample. Over time, as these practitioners discovered that sometimes the results were more effective and sometimes they were less effective, we could expect a drift in the direction of ever more complex patterns as more and more elements were added to the mixture, much as the Native American rain dances evolved over the course of many centuries whenever they would dance as rain clouds appeared, because sometimes it did actually rain -- and heavily, too!  So, the obvious conclusion was not that the rain dance was ineffective when no rain was forthcoming,, but that it was necessary to keep working in order to make the dance more powerful


  

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



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

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

Reference

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

Virtual Reality Hypnosis: 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 hnosis 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 hypbnotic 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 hpperempiric 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). Hyonotic 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.