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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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Were You Saved or Were You Hypnotized -- and What's the Difference?



According to Fundamentalist teaching, if you don't respond well to suggestion,
then you won't have a "Salvation" experience.
And if you don't have a "Salvation" experience,
then no matter what ELSE you do, you won't get into Heaven!

Carrollton, Georgia, is a small to medium-sized city located approximately fifty-five miles west of Atlanta. It is regarded by both students and townspeople as being part of the "Bible belt," and most (though certainly not all) of the churches in the area have a Fundamentalist Christian orientation. Fundamentalists take quite literally the scriptural statement, "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2: 8-9). The "salvation sermon" first leads the prospective convert to feel the tremendous burden of guilt which one bears for one's past misdeeds and failure to repent; and this is followed by a great wave of joy as the convert feels his or her sins being "washed away" and is "born again" as a "new creature in Christ."

This salvation experience, however, is not considered to be voluntarily attainable, since it is the result of  "grace," or the unmerited favor of God. Should an individual seek to join a particular Fundamentalist congregation merely because one is convinced of the truth of Christian teachings, many members would be inclined to doubt that he or she is truly a member of the "elect of God" and, not being able to have such an experience, is probably fore-ordained to burn in Hell regardless of what kind of life one may be leading.


From a scientific point of view, it may be postulated that the degree to which an individual is able to have a salvation experience such as the one described is a function of the degree to which that person is suggestible, and that there is therefore a direct relationship between the ability to be "saved" and the ability to be hypnotized. After giving a questionnaire to high and low responders on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (Shor & Orne, 1962) concerning the nature of their personal religious experiences, De Jarnette and I (Gibbons & De Jarnette, 1972) found  that there was no significant relationship between hypnotic susceptibility and a previous change in denominational preference, or between susceptibility and the perceived religiousness of one's father. However, the low-susceptible subjects were less likely to perceive their mother as being moderately religious or deeply religious. Comparing high- and low-susceptible "saved" Protestants with high- and low-susceptible "unsaved" Protestants, the "saved" group contained significantly more subjects who were highly susceptible to hypnosis. 
In follow-up interviews, the reasons for the differences between high and low-suggestible subjects became glaringly apparent. The high susceptibles said things like, "I began to feel a warm tingling glow inside of me. The next thing I knew, I was down in front of the altar, and I was crying," or, "It was like the Hand of God came down and touched me. I felt so happy. I never felt joy like I felt it that day." But when the few low-susceptibles who indicated that they had been "saved" were asked about their experience, they said things like, "I had been going to that church for about six months, mainly because my girl friend went there, but I never 'went forward.' Then one day the preacher accepted all those who had accepted the Lord to put up our hands, and we both put our hands up and that was it." 

If relatively enduring changes in personality and behavior can result from the suggestions contained in a "salvation sermon," then people who respond well to suggestion should also be able to experience such changes in response to strongly worded suggestions in therapeutic settings. After taking my hypnosis clients "down" into hypnosis and then :up" into hyperempiria (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010) and dissolving them into the infinite love of the Multiverse, the universe of all possible universes (Gibbons & Woods, 2016), fundamental changes in deep-seated beliefs concerning the self, the world, and the future which are the professed aim of cognitive psychology (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979) can sometimes occur in a single session, occasionally accompanied by tears of joy, as was the case with a high school senior whom I hypnotized a few days ago.  after taking her in hypnosis to the multiverse, I told her with considerable elaboration that she was dissolving into the infinite love of the multiverse itself  When she emerged from hypnosis, she expressed surprise that she found herself wiping tears from her eyes. The next time I  saw her, she told me that she wanted to pursue a college degree in hypnosis; and after I told her that no such program existed and we had discussed the situation she decided to major in social work instead.

 In summary, people who respond well to suggestion and are ready for a meaningful life change which is in accordance with their preexisting beliefs and values may find that either  a salvation sermon or a hypnotic trip to the Multiverse can provide the catalyst for such a transformational change to take place.

References

Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.


Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11I2), pp. 152-156. 

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., 
Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

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

Shor, R. E. & Orne, E. C. (1962) Harvard group scale of hypnotic susceptibility, Form A. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.


  

Monday, August 26, 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 system, 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.

The most important thing keeping people awake at night is probably worrisome thoughts. The following video by Eckhard Tolle shows how to turn them off.




Here are some other things that will help.
  •  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.
  • Your body remembers what it feels like as you are falling asleep, but the memory is stored directly in your muscles. Get into a comfortable position and bring that memory back into conscious awareness. Hold  onto it, and let it fill your mind completely..
  • 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 or two cupsc of coffee or tea  is probably okay to get you going in the morning, but using coffee, 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 works 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, find  something boring to do until you get sleepy. This helps you to avoid a conditioned association between not sleeping and being in bed.
  • If it takes you a while to get back to sleep after getting up to use the bathroom, consider allowing yourself an extra hour or so in bed so that you can still get all the sleep that you need. 
  • You can tell your virtual assistant to play soothing music or background sounds such as ocean waves or falling rain to lull you to sleep -- or you can even ask it to tell you a bedtime story!


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sunday, August 11, 2019

How MANY ''Altered States' of Consciousness'' Are There?

In the early years of the Twentieth Century, many psychologists were inspired by the discovery in chemistry that all matter could be reduced to certain basic elements. Since the purpose of consciousness was to allow us to experience the real world, they reasoned that it should be possible analyze the contents of consciousness into its own basic elements. This "mental chemistry" was given the name structuralism; and various groups of structuralists began their research, using a method called introspection, or "looking inward," a trained analysis of one's own thoughts and feelings, to see just how many basic elements of awareness exist.. However, the various groups of researchers could not come to a general agreement regarding how many elements of consciousness there actually were. One group claimed that they could find fourteen, another forty-three, and so on. The problem lay in the fact that consciousness is like a mirror. It reflects back what is put into it. The entire process is reminiscent of the game that Tolstoy and his brothers used to play when they were children, which involved trying to see how long each one could go without thinking of a white bear. (Try it!) 

There are probably as many altered experiences of consciousness as it is possible to conceive or to imagine; for each of these imagined definitions may be written up in the form of an induction procedure and presented to a sufficiently imaginative hypnosis partner, and that is exactly how he or she is going to experience a change in the perception of his or her awareness.

My evidence for this assertion  is hyperempiria. I did not wait for another historical accident to come along, as was the case when mesmerism morphed into hypnotism in response to people imitating the behavior of the retarded Victor Emmanuel, who was too  stupid to know that he was supposed to go into hypnosis and went to sleep instead: I simply made it up! I gave the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility to of Hypnotic Susceptibility to two groups of introductory psychology students, one of which was first  given a standard hypnotic induction and the other was given a hyperempiric induction based upon suggestions of increased awareness. Both groups showed a significant increase in suggestibility, but the two groups did not significantly different from each other. (Gibbons, 197 ).I currently prefer to use both inductions in tandem, first taking clients "down" into hypnosis and then "up" into hyperempiria (Gibbons &Lynn, 2010) before providing meaningful experiences of life-changing intensity in the mulriverse (Gibbons & Woods, 2016).\\

If the number of suggestion-induced altered states of consciousness is indeed unlimited, as it appears to be, given the ease with which such suggested experiences may be constructed, the only question which we need to ask ourselves is how can we define these experiences in a manner which is the most useful for the task at hand, forr the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.

References
                                      
Gibbons, D. E. (1979). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. New York: Plenum Press.
  
 Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-29

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








Saturday, August 10, 2019

Multiversal Meditation for Re-Energizing a Previous Mystical Exprience

People of many different religious traditions have attested to the life changing potential of metaphysical experiences involving the experience of contact with a consciousness beyond one's own However, in this culture, people who have had this type of experience often don't talk about it because others may simply dismiss them as being a crackpot. When such a history is present, however, it can serve as a focus for completely re-framing one's view of the self, the world, and the future, which is the professed aim of cognitive-behavioral psychology and much easier to accomplish.

A 58 year old retired English teacher and mother of five grown children who recently had been divorced after a marriage of forty years came to me for help with depression. She was spending the greater part of each day in bed, with the blankets drawn up over her head. She was taking antidepressants, but they did not seem to help. She responded well to hypnosis; and early in the course of therapy, she mentioned that when she was about sixteen, she had a spontaneous mystical experience: "I could step beyond the ordinary world of reality, and I felt totally loved." I asked her if she would like to revisit this mystical experience as a way of getting over her depression, and she immediately agreed.

I told her that for best results, it would help if she were to recapture her mystical experience with the same life-changing intensity that she had experienced it the first time. She readily agreed to this also. Pulling out all the stops in order to evoke an experience of life-changing intensity, I hypnotically  guided her to the Multiverse  (Gibbons & Woods, 2016) and suggested suggested that we were reaching down into her vast, untapped potential for feeling happiness and joy. This potential for happiness and joy was flowing out from the innermost depths of her being in many different ways and on many different levels, like water from a hundred secret springs. As these feelings continued to flow without limit, they were healing and cleansing every muscle and fiber and nerve of her body, driving out all of the worry, and all of the stress, and all of the care that she had ever felt, and leaving her glowing from head to toe with such an intensity of happiness that she could not bear it if she were not hypnotized.

She remained outwardly impassive as I continued in this vein, emphasizing that this happiness was greater and more intense than anything she had ever hoped for, dreamed of, longed for, or imagined, I suggested that when she returned from hypnosis, she would not be able to bring all of this intensity back with her, because it would be more than she could bear in the everyday state of consciousness in which we live and move and have our being. But nevertheless, it would transform her life, and turn each new day into a thing of wondrous beauty.

Her depression lifted within two more sessions. Because she was a Buddhist, it was easy to frame her mystical experience as evidence that true happiness comes from within. She no longer remains in bed all day, and frequently goes out to go shopping, play cards or to visit with friends. Her demeanor is pleasant, relaxed, and cheerful. She is continuing to come in for monthly sessions in order to keep her orientation focused on the positive aspects of life, and as a means of continuing her personal and spiritual development.

The client's youngest daughter, who has had a great many personal difficulties of her own, has recently moved in with her. Even though she frequently serves as a lightning rod for her daughter's wrath, the client has remained impassive, and has managed to maintain a generally congenial relationship with her (when the daughter is on speaking terms!)

Reference