"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things.
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."
-- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass.
In graduate school, I was taught that as long as you define your terms so that other people know what you mean by them, you can use a word any way you want to, or even make up a new one if it suits your purpose. So, when I found out that alert inductions worked as well as traditional hypnotic, or "sleeping" inductions, I coined the term "hyperempiria" from the ancient Greek, experience, and added the prefix --hyper to denote a greater or an enhanced quality (Gibbons, 1973, 1974), and set about doing research to see whether or not hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, is more appropriate for use in certain contexts than is the term hypnosis. (Bányai & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1975,1976; Gibbons, Kilbourne, Saunders, & Castles, 1970; Gibbons, 2000.)
As stated in the heading to this Blog, it is widely agreed among educators and therapists that people learn most effectively by experience. Regardless of the type of induction which is used, the total involvement which results from the systematic, comprehensive application of multimodal or "Best Me" suggestions can be regarded as a form of hyperempiria, as +Brian David Phillips (2007) has stated, or suggestion-enhanced experience. In the fullest sense of the term, hyperempiria refers not to a particular type of induction, but to an entirely new way of working with experience. I now like to think of hyperempiria in terms of a new paradigm in which suggestion is an artistic medium, and human experience itself is a new (and perhaps the ultimate) art form (Gibbons, 2001).
With our adult ability to conceptualize, we can experience a vast number of suggested alterations of daily life. When cognitive-behaviorists use a thought record to replace an automatic thought woth a more adaptive one, they are using a form of suggestion, which is usually defined as presenting an idea in such a manner that it is likely to be accepted as literally true, and therfore, "real." Hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, plays a major role in experiences as varied as falling in love, having an orgasm, coming under the sway of a totalitarian dictator, being saved in a revival meeting or exploring an alternate universe. or turning into an animal (transmogrification) as practiced in Native American culture.
Indeed, when suggestion is used to change one's experience of consciousness itself, as is done in a suggested visit to an alternate universe, the possibilities are even greater. In the words of the mystical poet, William Blake, the imaginatively gifted are able
Exploring the mystical dimensions of consciousness also has its practical side. For example, we all long to return to the safety and security of a little infant tenderly nestled in its mother’s arms. At the opposite extreme, it has been said that all phobias are basically rooted in a fear of not being, which is actually a fear of death. If the number of parallel universes is theoretically without limit, there is – somewhere – an alternate universe where we can bathe in an ocean of infinite, unbounded, and everlasting love, freed from the limitations of space and time, to satisfy these deepest longings, enhance our self-esteem, and overcome all our feelings of unhappiness, loneliness, anger, and despair. Using our hypnotic imagination, high-responders are able to create such experiences with relative ease.
Recently, Lenny Cavallaro and I have been suggesting to hypnotized clients that they are being transported to an alternate universe where time and space do not exist. (Gibbons & Cavallaro, 2013). After orienting them to this alternate universe and inducing emotions which are as pleasant as possible -- i.e., "dissolving into an ocean of infinite, unbounded, and everlasting love," we provide suggestions such as these:
With practice, you will be able to feel this kind of fulfillment whenever you put your whole self into working towards a goal you have chosen.. As you think about achieving a goal ahead of rime, you can believe it will happen, expect it to happen, feel it happening, and savor in advance the fruits of your success. And with practice, you will be able to to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail!How is it possible to even consider the possibility of failure when there is an alternate universe in which you have already succeeded at a given task? How is it possible to be discouraged when you are already able to use the rewards of this success now, in the present, to provide yourself with the motivation to pursue any long-term goal, no matter how distant or difficult that goal may presently appear?
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. I
Now that's hyperempiria!