Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Hypnosis as a Pseudo-SEANCE.
In Victorian times, there was a great interest in contacting the spirits of departed loved ones by means of a "seance," in order to obtain reassurance and advice. The practice died out, however, when many of the supposed mediums who conducted these sessions we're exposed as frauds. Nevertheless, the widespread popularity of such practices revealed a deep yearning on the part of many people for this.type of experience, which may be put to constructive use in the practice of clinical hypnosis.
"Marianne" was the last of six children in a rigidly conservative Catholic family. All of her brothers and sisters had gone to Catholic school, and those who wanted to had gone to college. By the time Maryanne was born, there was no money left for private education. Consequently, she went to public grade school and graduated from high school with no prospects of going further.
Her mother had wanted to keep Maryanne by her side instead of leaving to get married as her other children had done, so she encouraged her to becone emotionally dependent upon her. When Maryanne finally did go to work, her boss was bullying and demanding. She lived close enough to her parents to go home for lunch, and her mother would hold her and soothe her to give her courage enough to return to her job every afternoon, until she finally was fired because she could not put up with her boss any longer and her work had begun to suffer.
On her first visit to my psychology practice, four years after her mother had died, she showed me a picture she had taken on her cell phone of household clothing piled inside her bathtub because she did not have the energy to put it away. Fortunately, her new husband liked to cook, and he did most of the grocery shopping. But the matter of household chores was clearly her responsibility.
Marianne responded very well to hypnosis and was amnesic for most of the sessions. However, no matter how much I tried, I was not able to help her to summon the energy to clean up her messy house.
One day, she was discussing her desire to go back to work in order to help with the family finances, adding that she would have to clean up her house first before she could ever consider doing that. She also mentioned how depressed she was and how much she missed her mother, who had died four years previously. Her father was also deceased.
It occurred to me that she might be unconsciously using the condition of her house as a wall to prevent her from having to look for a job. When I was about to hypnotize her, I told her confidently that this time we were going to give her all the energy she needed. "Are you going to take the place of my mother?" she asked, which tended to confirm my suspicions.
After hypnotically guiding her through a rainbow of pleasant emotions and coming to the pot of gold at the end of it, I suggested that this was the gateway to Paradise, where she could contact her mother and pour her heart out to her while being comforted and soothed, much as her as her mother had done while she was alive.
This type of ego strengthening appeared to be all that Marianne needed in order to regain her former self confidence to clean up her house and begin looking for a job.
I did not discuss the content of my suggestions with her because, in today's skeptical intellectual climate, I did not want her to attribute the results solely to hypnotic suggestion, which might destroy their effectiveness.
Was she really talking to her mother at the gateway to Paradise? I have no right to say that my experiences are any more "real" than hers. However, I am perfectly content to help my clients put together a set of beliefs which enables them to lead happier and more effective lives, without any concern as to whether or not I am using hypnosis as a pseudo-"seance."