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 (609)709-2043 and (609) 494-0009.

Driving directions: Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72 E After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Mill Creek Commons.Then, immedately turn right again and go past the Lyceum II Gym. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building,which will be the only building on your right. We are the last office at the end.

We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.
We do not accept credit or debit cards.

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Sunday, June 2, 2019

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Don't just toss and turn in bed
when you are having trouble sleeping.
Get up and do something Boring!
When I was working in the New Jersey State Prison, each of us in the Psych Department had to meet with one group of prisoners per week to teach a class in "sleep hygiene," because as you might imagine, it's easy to get your days and nights mixed up in there. We were able to trade notes freely among each other, and over time we accumulated quite a bit of useful information which I'd like to share with you now. I've used it quite a bit myself, and it does seem to help much of the time.

  •  Make sure you get enough daylight so that your body will be able to establish a daily wake-sleep rhythm. 
    • Some people have found commercially-available light boxes to be helpful, especially if you live in a location where there is less sunlight during certain seasons of the year. This lack of sunlight can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder  (more popularly known as "cabin fever"), characterized by periods of depression and interference with regular sleep patterns.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Darkness causes the body to produce melatonin, a natural sleep-inducing agent.
  • Don't play on the smartphone, the computer, or watch television. They all give off light which suppresses the melatonin in your system and overstimulates the brain,    
  • Most people need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Trying to get by on less than this biologically-determined amount builds up a sleep debt which  cuts into your well-being and efficiency, and becomes harder and harder to repay.
  • Establish a consistent sleeping schedule. People tend to become sleepy 24 hours after they last went to sleep, and awaken 24 hours after they last woke up. Significant changes in either time -- especially shift work schedules which frequently change -- disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.
  • If your sleep is troubled by nightmares, or if you have personal problems which prevent you from getting the sleep you need, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance.
  • Have a set ritual before going to bed. 
  • Limit the amount of food you eat for the last two hours before you go to bed.
  • Limit your daily use of caffeine, or eliminate it entirely.  One cup of coffee or tea is probably okay to get you going in the morning, but using coffee or tea, or other drinks which are high in caffeine throughout the day only makes it harder to repay your sleep debt.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably in the morning. .
  • If possible, adopt a life style which reduces your total amount of stress.
  • While most of us prefer not to use prescribed sleep medications, millions of people do use them regularly without ill effects. Melatonin, the favorite of many, is available without prescription. Others prefer nutraceuticals such as St. John's Wort.
  • We frequently do not notice the "aches and pains" in our bodies because we have grown so used to them, but they can still interfere with our sleep.  Many prople find that taking a couple of aspirin, ibuprophin, or Tylenol work well, before going to bed, particularly when they do not wish to feel groggy from sleep medication the next day. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, use the bed only for sleeping and for sex. Instead of tossing and turning, get up and do something boring until you get sleepy. This helps you to avoid a conditioned association between not sleeping and being in bed.  
  • Finally, if you tend to lie awake at night worrying or re-living old memorries,, you can learn to stop over-thinking by learning to use mindful meditat;ion to shut down  your brain, as explained in the following video by Richard Nongard: 

False Beliefs that are Diving You Crazy


In ancient Greece, if you were anxious, fearful, or depressed, you would consult a philosopher. The philosopher would probably begin by asking you what you believe about life. When you came to an idea which appeared to be incorrect, he would debate with you until you had cast out this irrational belief. When this was done correctly, your depression, fears, and anxieties would also vanish. 

Just as the Greek philosophers did, you can get rid of these kinds of ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out. The psychologist Albert Ellis has put together a list of ten commonly-held irrational ideas which prevent us from experiencing life to the fullest, because they set us up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us have are inclined to believe them, at least occasionally. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them!



I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Many people are haunted by the nagging fear that "something is wrong with them." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance.
If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away: "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"
It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as bases for learning and future growth.
Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!
It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.  Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as pathways to further growth.
Of course, this list does not cover all the negative beliefs which hold us back from becoming the best that we can be. But you can't get very far in life if there is some idea which is preventing you from performing at your best, such as the belief deep down inside that you going to fail, or that you are incapable of success. When we are faced with a daunting challenge, most of us, at one time or another, have the nagging suspicion that we are not up to the task. Whenever you feel a change in mood and you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, depressed, or fearful, you can use a table like this one to write down what was going through your mind at the time, and to figure out how you might be able to see things differently. You can use the print command on your computer to print off as many copies as you need, and keep them handy to change your moods by re-examining and changing the beliefs that got you there.


Additional Links Which May Be Helpful:

A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." Here is a link to a list of false  Perceptions that are dragging You Down, which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. After the link has taken you to the Blog entry, scroll down and it will be the first entry that comes to view.  See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world, by causing you to look at life "through mud-colored glasses." If you are inclined to look at things this way yourself, once you recognize that they are not accurate, you can get rid of them as well..


Frequently the negative beliefs and perceptions that are dragging yu down are held by others. The same apprach can be applied to a friend or family member that is driving you crazy.  Here are a few additional tips to use with  a boss that is driving you crazy. 

Sometimes a friend, family member, or boss is difficult to change because they have a personality disorder, or what is populatly referred to as a toxic person, or an energy vampire. Unlesss they can be persuaded to seek psychological help, the best thing to do is iften to stay away from them or at least to recognize them for who they are so that you do not blame yourself for their problems. 

Finally, what you think is also strongly influenced by what you do -- or by what you don't do! In addition to buiilding up youf resistance to stress by getting plenty of sleep, a good diet, and regular exercise, here is a link to a list of activities which can also help you to get escape from the cycle of anxiety, anger, depression, and despair. They can also strengthen the bond between you and your friends or romantic partner when you do them together. If at all possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people as you undertake them. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Links


Here is a list of links to some of the Blog entries which refer to cognitive-behavioral therapy. When you click on a link and it takes you to the Blog, just scroll down and the post that you have clicked on will come up first.. Then you can repeat this process for each additional link. If the links do not work on your computer or handheld, 

I hope you find them useful!

How to Eliminate Late-Night Snacking

Being overweight can be caused by a number of factors. When it is simply due to the habit of making bad decisions concerning food, then a cognitive-behavioral approach such as the one described here may be useful. 

A client came to my office requesting hypnosis in order to eliminate his habit of waking up for two hours every night. He was retired, and simply slept later in the morning to make up for the two hours he had lost. We examined all the usual causes: he did not drink too much coffee or tea, there was nothing worrying him, and there did not seem to be any organic cause for his middle insomnia. Finally, he admitted that his real concern was that he was gaining about a pound a month because he would get up and have a snack of cheese and crackers before going back to sleep. Further discussion made it clear that this snacking habit was what was providing the primary reinforcement for his insomnia, and this was what we would have to work on.

Suggestion-enhanced experience does not always have to involve an induction, and experiences enhanced by suggestion need not always be positive ones. Since he did not seem to be a candidate for hypnosis, I instructed him on how to use the Best Me Technique to visualize, or picture in his mind, the cheese and crackers in the refrigerator having spoiled -- but to enhance this image in as many ways as he could imagine, using the grossest possible imagery, in order to totally destroy its incentive value. In cognitive-behavioral terms, this would be described as converting a positive reinforcement into an aversive stimulus. 

The best time to do this, of course, what just after he had awakened in the middle of the night, while he was still lying there before he had arisen to get his usual snack from the refrigerator. Using all six dimensions of the BEST ME Technique, he was instructed to mentally experience the previously-coveted food as having spoiled or become infected with fruit flies, drenched in urine, or floating in a pool of -- well, you get the idea. 

A follow-up telephone call one month later indicated that  practicing this exercise during his periods of middle insomnia seemed to be completely effective. He was no longer snacking, and, except for his usual bathroom breaks, he was sleeping through the night as well.  

You can apply this same technique to eliminate any food from your routine which will help you lose weight. Eating 3,500 calories more than you burn results in a one-pound weight gain. Pick one food that you like, find out how many calories per serving it contains, and do the math. See how many extra pounds that one food will add to your weight during the  course of a year. If you are like most of us, cutting out only two or three such foods using the cognitive-behavioral dieting procedure just described, combined with a little patience, should make your ideal weight goal easily attainable. 

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Ten Toxic People who can Wreck Your Life

  

Toxic, or personality-disordered people, can wreck your life when they are bosses, friends, or family members, As clients,they can cause you to doubt yourself because of their abrasive nature and the fact that they are often resistant to treatment.

If you search on Facebook or the Internet for "toxic people," you're going to get all kiinds of lists, but the following descriptions of personality disorders is based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. They 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 without 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, it might be worth your while to examine the reasons why you maintain a relationship with such a toxic person, with professional  help if necessary

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 adolescence, or the adolescence of someone you know well. With an incompletely developed sense of self, 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 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. 

The following video ex[lains how to spot the nine traits of a borderline personality disorder.




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.)

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 diagnosed 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. 

Of course, I am: not talking about people with just any mental illness. I am talking about the comparatively few people with a personality disorder, which is the subject of this post.

I often say to my clients that' the one who comes to therapy is frequently not really the one who needs it, and they agree. Family systems theorists refer to these clients as the "identified patient" who is usually the healthiest one in a sick family But in the majority of cases, they are unable  to leave, and they come to learn coping skills. 

We'd love to get personality disordered peoplle  into therapy, but most of the time they just won't go. (In fact, many of my colleagues now agree that we've got one in the Whte House!)


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. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Which Form of Trance Induction is the Most Beneficial?

It is often said that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, and this is particularly true in the history of hypnosis. Until comparatively recently, in Western culture the experience of trance was interpreted as due to demonic influences or, occasionally, the mark of holiness or sainthood, as it was in the case of Saint Teresa.


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

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

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


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


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

Today, we no longer need to rely upon the model of trance behavior which was accidentally provided to us by a sleeping mentally challenged individual over two hundred years ago, when much better models are available. A hyperempiric induction is based on suggestions of mind expansion, enhanced awareness, and increased responsiveness and sensitivity, in contrast to traditional hypnotic inductions based on expressed or implied suggestions of lethargy, drowsiness, and sleep. (Gibbons, 1976). Hyperempiric inductions, or "alert hypnosis," have been found to be just as effective as traditional hypnotic inductions in facilitating subsequent responsiveness to suggestion (Bányai, & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1976, 1979: Gibbons & Lynn, 2010). But this time, we didn't have to wait for another historical accident to come along to change our expectations of how a person is supposed to experience a trance. I simply made it up!
 

Given such a wide degree of latitude that an induction may take, the question then becomes, what kind of an induction is the most beneficial? In clinical settings, I prefer to use one that is comprised of suggestions which are in themselves the most beneficial to the client as he or she begins to experience the changes in perception which are characteristic of a trance experience. Specifically, I like to use an induction which is based on riding through the colors if a rainbow, with each color associated with a different pleasant emotion and further enhanced by suggestions of time distortion, with the pot of gold at the end signifying everything the client hoes to obtain from the induction, to insure comprehensiveness. This can be preceded by a more traditional induction if desired, with the client first going "down" into hypnosis, and then "up" into hyperempiria (GIbbons & Lynn, 2010)

Here are the hyperempiric suggestions I am currently using:

Now the scene is changing, and we are standing on the top of a large mountain which is covered with clouds after a sudden spring shower. If you accept each detail of the situation as I describe it, without trying to think critically, your imagination will be free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there.

One end of a large rainbow is touching the ground right in front of us. We walk up to this rainbow and prepare to enter the first band. As we go through each band one by one, each band will present you with a priceless gift, which you will be able to take back with you. And the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the treasure that your life is becoming as we continue to explore the joys and wonders of all that you can do with your imagination.

 First, we are entering the red band of the rainbow. Red is the color of strength and the color of love. Feel this strength and love flowing through you now, overcoming negative emotions, overcoming physical discomfort, paving over the effect of every bad thing that has ever happened to you, and filling and flooding every muscle, and nerve, and cell of your being with wave after wave of infinite, boundless strength, and confidence, and love, and power. [Brief Pause]

Next, we are entering the orange band of the rainbow. Each time that I lead you into hypnosis you go higher; each time you go faster, and each time you experience this happiness more beautifully and more intensely than you did the time you before.Feel the happiness flooding through you now, filling and flooding every muscle and nerve and cell of your body with wave after wave of infinite happiness and boundless joy. Infinite happiness, and boundless Joy [Brief Pause]

Yellow is the color of healing. Each time you repeat this hypnotic meditation, all of the healing processes throughout your body are considerably strengthened. As we travel through this band of yellow light, you can feel its healing warmth, flooding into every muscle, and every fiber, and nerve of your body, penetrating to the very core of your being.-- body, heart, mind, and spirit.[Brief Pause]

Now, we are entering the green band of light. Green is the color of renewal. The farther we go into the rainbow, the more your sense of the passing of time is slowing down. Regardless of the time we may actually have been away, it will seem as if we had been gone for an eternity. And the benefits of our journey will be increased in direct proportion to the time that it feels like we have been away together.

Now, we are traveling through the band of blue, which is the color of Heaven, and the color of Eternity. This is the true reality, and the universe from which we came is merely an illusion. This is your eternal home beyond the stars, and the spark of Divinity which is within you is nothing you less than the energy of the Universe itself 

You will always look back upon these journeys with fondness, even as you look forward to the next opportunity to return to them ,with ever-increasing anticipation; for each time that you embark upon these hypnotic meditations you will be able to obtain even more benefit and more growth from the experience as it continues to change your life forever into a thing of wondrous beauty.

Next, we move into the purple band which contains the heightened mental and spiritual powers that are becoming yours in ever-increasing amounts, as your consciousness drifts higher. You are a child of the Universe, more highly evolved than the rest. And this is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you. 

Now we are entering the band of violet, which is the color of serenity. It’s only the separation from this infinite ocean of perfect peace, and calm, and tranquility, that is the source of all unhappiness, all depression, all anxiety, all loneliness and all despair. And now that this separation has been removed, it has brought you an inner peace, which is greater than anything that you have ever dreamed of, longed for, hoped for, or imagined, and far, far beyond the power of.the human imagination by itself to even begin to comprehend.

Finally, we have come to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which holds the priceless treasure that your life is becoming as you continue to practice this mindful hypnotic meditation. Pick it up and take it with you; for it contains everything you wanted from this experience, regardless of whether or not it was specifically included in the suggestions that you were given, and regardless of whether or not you were even fully aware of them yourself at the time..

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. E. (1979). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. New York: Plenum Press.
  
Gibbons, D. E. (1976).. Hyperempiria, a new “altered state of consciousnes” induced by suggestion. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 39, 47-53.

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. 267-29

Sunday, May 12, 2019

How Mindful Meditation Can Change Your Life.

Imagine a rabbit on the edge of a field of grass, who happens to spot a fox looking at him from the other side of the field. The rabbit freezes, and a moment later the fox disappears from view. The rabbit calmly goes back to searching for the nearest tender blade of grass. But if that rabbit had the brain of a human being, he might well have been anxiously wondering, "What if that fox has a burrow in the next field? What if he comes back to get me?" But of course, there would be nothing that the rabbit could do about it.

Meditators, through regular practice practice, can learn to "switch their brains off" when anxiety  can serve no useful purpose. Similarly, they can learn how not to unduly depress themselves with regret over things which cannot now be changed, and to calm the fires of anger when rage can serve no constructive purpose.

The following video by Richard Nongard  provides an example of how to practice this technique.



How to Make Friends with your Inner Hypnotist

It is generally agreed that cognitive-behavioral psychology is the fastest-growing orientation within the profession. 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 referred to in any of the links below can be downloaded by clicking on the link and using the print command on your computer. 

We all carry an 'inner hypnotist" around with us in the form of deep-seated   beliefs about ourselves, the world, and the future, which psychologists refer to as out schemas. When these schemas tell us negative things  about ourselves, they can act like an "inner hypnotist" which keeps us from acting in accordance with our own best interests, and we are usually not even aware of  them until they are pointed out to us. 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, which can also serve as a guide for constructing appropriate hypnotic suggestions and autosuggestion's. 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." 

Here is a video in which the STOPP technique is humorously demonstrated by comedian Bob Newhart. Behind his humor there is more than a grain of truth!




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


 

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Power of Suggestion and the Power of Love

  


It wasn't always this beautiful! Professor Irving Singer, in a free online MIT course entitled, Philosophy of Love in the Western world, states that romantic love as we know it today was practically unheard of in Western culture until it became popularized by wandering French troubadors eight hundred years ago, and further amplified by the invention of the printing press, which publicized the great works of romantic literature such as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra ("Hark! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the Sun!" or,"Shall I abide in this dull world which , in thy absence, is no better than a stye?*).

With this model held up for all to see, the prevailing expectations of what it feels like to be "in love" evolved in an ever more extreme direction. For many years, one way to write a new hit song was to describe the experience of being in love in more glowing terms than the songs which were popular at the moment. The reviewer of the 1955 movie, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, writing in The Independent on February 8, 2010, stated: "Remember the lyric: 'Once, on a high and windy hill, two lovers kissed, and the world stood still. . . .' It still makes my knees weak."  Today, as products of a culture which glorifies romantic love, we tend to view human experience through these cultural lenses, and choose bits from history which confirm these stereotypes.  


The power of suggestion can do more than simply make you feel weak in the knees. In Victorian times, women were considered to be such delicate creatures that they were expected to faint if the air in a room suddenly became stuffy, or if they were suddenly and unexpectedly kissed by someone to whom they had become attracted -- and many did! 

The effect of suggestion and imitation in producing such a high degree of organismic involvement became more dramatically evident shortly after World War II, when the young crooner Frank Sinatra caused legions of teen-age "bobby-soxers" to swoon when he hit his high notes. It is therefore possible to conclude that the experience of "falling in love" as we know it today, and all that goes with it, is also an effect of social modeling and the power of suggestion. 





Suggestion has the power to teach behavior as well as to change it. In 1933, Herbert Blumer found that when moviegoing reached its height, many people said that they first learned how to kiss by watching motion pictures. Many people probably still pick up  a few pointers occasionally, both from motion pictures themselves and from many YouTube compilations.


Remember Romeo and Juliet, and Antony and Cleopatra? We now have searchable data bases of Internet pornography such as XNXX, YouPorn, and FetLife, which contain literally millions of items, and almost anyone in the world can upload to them. The entries are frequently ranked in terms of popularity, so that the submissions which are viewed most often rise to the top. Some of these data bases require no fees, passwords, or proof of age, and are supported entirely by advertising.


Will today's teen-agers and young adults learn sexual behavior by watching pornography, in much the same manner that people of earlier generations learned how to kiss by watching motion pictures? Will traditional notions of romantic love be supplanted by the "Big Bang" model of sexuality, which these sources are now holding up for all to see? If the past is any guide, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the almost unlimited access to free Internet pornography in the twenty-first century will enable imitation and the power of suggestion to modify the way couples both engage in and experience sexual behavior in much the same way that the invention of the printing press centuries before influenced the manner in which people engage in and experience romantic love as we know it today.


However, if romantic love is created by the power of suggestion, then suggestion also has the  power to maintain it. Just as a painter works with brush upon canvas and a sculptor works with chisel upon stone, experientially gifted couples are able to make use of suggestion hypnosis to bring about a total union of body, heart, mind and soul: to enhance the setting for lovemaking, evoke the proper mood, maximize both responsiveness and desire,and increase the length, depth, and frequency of climax, blending together all the elements of physical intimacy to create whatever masterpieces of fulfillment a loving couple might wish. When the lovers' ability to mutually satisfy each other has been interfered with by age or disability, or when their desires are not equally matched for other reasons, multimodal suggestion can provide a full measure of gratification for both partners by restoring the needed balance. And for those whose closeness would appear to be incapable of further improvement, the greatest surprises of all may be in store; for it is those who have the greatest abilities who also possess the greatest potential
.
Of course,no enhancement can be expected to persist indefinately without sustained cultivation. Anthropologists frequently point out that after a few years, people who marry for romantic love are just about as happy or unhappy as a couple in a culture in which arranged marriages are the norm. If you and your loved one have come to share culturally based experiences of rapture, ecstasy, wonder, and delight, only to face a daily  life of bills to pay, appointments to keep, and an endless list of other things which simply have to be done, the strength of your affection will eventually begin to wane, regardless of how intense your attraction  might have been initially. If, on the other hand, you return to an environment in which romance comes ahead of everything else, and the first priority is the quality time you spend with each other, then the joys you share together can take on near-sacramental qualities you consecrate yourselves to one another anew, and the honeymoon becomes a permanent way of life.





Reference

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