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 (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.

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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Hypnosis for Lasting Change

A few years ago, at a hypnosis conference at the Royal Society of Medicine 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 mix.
  
Before we continue to expend more time, energy, and money in developing fancier and ever more persuasive hypnotic language and induction patterns, I would like to respectfully point out that while individual techniques may vary in duration and effectiveness, experimental research has shown that the true permanence of a particular suggestion lies in the meaning it has for the client in terms of his or her own individual life narrative (de Rivera & Sarbin, 1998), rather than the linguistic style with which it is composed or the induction within which it is framed.

I am fond of quoting a well-known story about a Russian lad who had become shy and withdrawn and did not even want to go to school  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 marry, have a family, and 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 or any fancy wording, fit in so neatly with his life narrative that it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When I was in graduate school, I was astonished to learn that there were over five hundred different types of psychotherapy, some of which were mutualy exclusive and mutually contradictory in their assumptions. But they all  led their followers to the conclusion that they knew what was wrong in their lives and how to go about fixing it; and the support and encouragement provided by the therapist provided the necessary catalyst for therapeutic change to take place. If this change successfully altered the ongoing narrative of the client's life story, as happened to the Russian lad with the birthmark, then the 
Improvement was likely to be a lasting one. Unfortunately, however, this was not always the case. And so, therapists are inclined to redouble their efforts in whatever directions they had originally taken, rather than seeking a biographically based solution which was rooted in the personality and unique characteristics of each individual client they encounter (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010, p. 289).

If you want to enploy elaborately worded and ever more persuasive language patterns in the suggestions you employ, that's all well and good -- but don't forget to make sure that your suggestions alter the ongoing narrative of the client's life story! Here is a case example:

"Jacob," a 58 year-old Israeli immigrant with three grown, children, was experiencing a great deal of trepidation in dealing with the stresses of life in general: but especially with regard to his State civil service job working with distressed families and in preparing for the Fderal civil service test. I saw him weekly for about a year, during which time we practiced weekly sessions of Multiversal hypnotic meditation which involved experiencing suggested feelings of happiness in repeated voyages to the Multiverse which were so intense that with repeated exposure they would have the power to overlay the effect of every bad thing that had ever happened to him in his entire life. 

He gradually developed an air of confidence in dealing with his superiors and coworkers, and placed highly on his 
civil service test. When he could no longer continue our weekly sessions due to a change in his insurance coverage, he was awaiting the results of several interviews for promotion. He was now confident that these suggested changes had been sufficiently effective that he was able to proceed on his own.

Was his success due in part to the fact that I served as an authority figure who conveyed to him my conviction that he had the power to succeed? This was surely helpful; but the suggested changes were retained due to their alterations in the ongoing narrative of his life story, which still persist long after his formal therapy has been discontinued.

References

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

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, &  I. Kirsch (Eds.) (2010). Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hyperempiria: Speed-Walking the Path to Enlightenment

Evolution did not come to a screeching halt when the first bipeds who could accurately be  labeled "human" joined the ranks of  the other primates. 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 used to in everyday life  . 

In the hypnoverse, everything that can be imagined  can be called into consciousness and experienced as a real event, at least as far as the client's perceptions are concerned. If the number of possible parallel universe is unlimited, as many physicists now believe, you can selectively sample from the best experiences of every parallel lifetime you can possibly imagine, speed-walking on the path to enlightenment;  and you can directly explore the joys and wonders of the Multiverse  itself -- the universe of all possible universes.

If some of these parallel universes are ahead us in time, 
we are talking about pre-incarnation. If they are on approximately the same time line, we have co-incarnation. If they are behind us, we have re-incarnation. If we share a body with another personality in a parallel universe, we have co-incarnation; and if we simultaneously share  the same body with several individuals, we have multi-carnation.

 Kelley Woods recently e-maied me: "I'm reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Liberation Through Understanding in the Between, by Robert Thurman, The Dalai Lama, Karma Lingpa, Padma Sambhava and wanted to share this quote with you." 
So, the Tibetan lamas who can consciously pass through the dissolution process, whose minds can detach from the gross physical body and use a magic body to travel to other universes, these “psychonauts” are the Tibetans’ ultimate heroes and heroines."'
In the Hypnoverse, we are able to choose between a theoretically unlimited number of situations in an unlimited number of lifetimes and experience them as actual events, regardless of whether these events are objectively "real" or not; for by experiencing them as real, we are also calling them into existence, at least as their potential for causing real change is concerned. The possibilities for growth and improvement are limited only by the imagination, personality, and unique characteristics of each individual who makes use of them. (Gibbons & Lynn, 2008, p. 289 ).

In the words of Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, "Come Watson, Come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!

 Induction and Deepening (optional)

The following scripts should be used as general guides, with considerable repetition and elaboration in accordance with the client's body language, much as one might repeat the verses and choruses of a song  
 After the participant has assumed a comfortable position and closed his or her eyes, the suggestions may proceed as follows, in a soothing, "hypnotic" tone of voice.
-------------------------

Just imagine that it’s a nice, spring day, and that you’re lying on a soft woolen blanket, on a sandy beach, by the side of the ocean. 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.

I’m going to count from one to ten, and by the time I get to the count of ten, you’ll be resting comfortably in a deep, sound, peaceful state of hypnosis. So just relax and listen to my voice, as I begin the count from one to ten

One . You can feel the warm sand beneath the blanket on which you're lying, and you can feel the gentle breeze blowing across your body, cooling you to just the right temperature, so that all you want to do is just keep drifting, and dreaming . . . and floating . . . on . . and on . . . and on into a deep, sound, beautiful state of hypnosis.

Two . You  can hear the sound of the waves gently crashing upon the ocean shore. You can hear the sound of the gulls in the distance, and you can savor the freshness of the pure salt air, as you feel a heavy, relaxed feeling coming over you. You can feel your arms relaxing, you can feel your legs relaxing, and you can feel your entirely body relaxing completely. As I continue to count and continue to talk, every word that I utter will carry you faster and deeper, faster and deeper, down and down, into a deep, sound, peaceful state of hypnosis.

Three .  You can feel your entire body relaxing now . . . relaxing deeper and faster, and deeper and faster, all of the time.

Four . Sinking down, and shutting down . . . sinking down, and shutting down . . . sinking down, and shutting down . . shutting down completely. And the deeper you go, the deeper you are able to go. And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go, and the more peaceful, and the more relaxing, and the more beautiful the experience becomes.

Five. Sinking and relaxing, and sinking and relaxing, deeper and faster, deeper and faster, all of the time. Relaxing so very deeply now that you can just let yourself go completely, as you continue drifting down and down, into a deep, sound, beautiful, blissful state of hypnosis.

Every word that I utter is carrying you faster and deeper, faster and deeper, down, and down, and down. And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go; and the deeper you go, the deeper you're able to go, and the more peaceful, and the more beautiful, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

Six . Relaxing so very deeply now, as you continue drifting on and on, into a deep, sound sleep, a deep, sound sleep.

Seven. Sinking down and shutting down. Sinking down and shutting down. Sinking down and shutting down, shutting down completely.

Eight . And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go. And the deeper you go, the deeper you're able to go. And the deeper you go, the more peaceful the more relaxing, the more beautiful, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

Nine. Sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down. Shutting down completely.

Ten. Very deeply drifting, in a deep, sound state of hypnosis. And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go. And the deeper you go, the deeper you are able to go. And the deeper you go, the stronger the effects of my words become.

Deepening (optional)

Now, as you continue sinking deeper with every word that I speak, and with every second that passes, you can imagine, or picture in your mind, a clock dial, with no second hand and no minute hand on the clock, just an hour hand. And the hour hand is set at twelve.

I’m going to move that hour hand back, one hour at a time, until it’s all the way back to one. And with each hour that I move the hand back, you’ll go twice as deep as you are right now, and you’ll feel twice as good as you do right now.

There is no end to the depth of experience you can have in deep hypnosis.There is no limit to how good you can feel, and to the benefits you can obtain from it. And the deeper you go, the deeper you're able to go . And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go, and the more peaceful and the more beautiful, and the more wonderful, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes. So just let yourself go completely now, as I move the hour hand back, one hour at a time. ,

And now I’ve moved the hour hand back from 12 to 11, and you’re sinking down twice as deep as you were before. And the deeper you go, the more easily you are able to become aware of your Best Me -- of the person you are becoming.

And now I’ve moved it down to 10, and you feel twice as deep and you feel twice as good. But there’s never any sense of strain or overload, for the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go, and the deeper you go, the deeper you’re able to go. And the deeper you go, the more beautiful, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

And now I’ve moved it down to 9. Twice as deep, and feeling twice as good

.As I lead you deeper and deeper into hypnosis, your Best Me, -- your Future Self, -- the person that you are becoming -- will provide you with all the guidance and support that you need, in order to free yourself from the problems and limitations that have been holding you back. This guidance will enable these problems to be solved in just the right way, and at just the right time, for you to keep whatever is of value to the person that you will become and to release and eliminate whatever needs to be released.

8. Twice as deep, sinking down and down, and feeling twice as good, as you allow your Best Me to handle all of your problems in the outside world in the healing, caring light of your future.

7. Twice as deep yet again, and feeling twice as good yet again.

6. Deeper yet. Notice what that does, and notice how good you feel. And imagine how good you're going to feel, when we get all the way down to one

5. Twice as deep, yet again, and feeling twice as good yet again . . . . deeper . . . and deeper . . .And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go . . . and the deeper you go, the deeper you are able to go . . . and the more beautiful, and the more wonderful, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

4. Deeper . . . deeper . . . deeper . . .

3. Twice as deep, and feeling twice as good . . .

2. Deeper . . . deeper . . . deeper . . .

1. Infinitely, and unbelievably deep, and continuing to go deeper with every word that I speak. Deeper and deeper, down, and down, and down.

Hyperempiric Induction

Hyperempiria literally means enhanced experience. A hyperempiric induction utilizes suggestions of increased awareness, mind expansion, and enhanced alertness and sensitivity, in contrast to traditional hypnotic inductions based on expressed or implied suggestions of decreased awareness, lethargy and sleep. 

Here is the hyperempiric induction that I have come to use in lieu of a traditional induction and deepening.  It is basically a set of emotional calisthenics which help people to more easily access a range of positive emotions that are all too easily ignored in our daily lives, which often seem like an endless list of things that simply have to be done. 

Of course, a traditional induction and deepening is always available for those who expect it. But in many cases, I am able to proceed directly to the imagination training described below. It is not intended to be used as an actual script, but the induction is presented here in script form in order to provide a description of the types of suggestions which I actually use.
------------------------------

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 explore the joys and wonders of the Multiverse itself.

First, we are entering the red band of the rainbow. Red is the color of strength. Feel this strength 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]

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 before.

Orange is the color of happiness. 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 mindful 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 less than the energy of the Multiverse 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 mindful 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 t inhat are becoming yours in ever-increasing amounts, as your consciousness drifts higher. 

It's a wonderful feeling of release and liberation which you are experiencing now, as all of your vast, untapped potentials are becoming freed for their fullest possible functioning. And this feeling is going to continue growing and growing, like a snowball rolling downhill, until we return to the universe from which we left.

You are a child of the Multiverse, 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. Scoop 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.

The Multiverse: Becoming  Part of Infinite Reality

As with the previous experience, the goal of this exercise is to change a person by direct experience. If they can FEEL themselves dissolving into the infinite love of the Multiverse, and  FEEL that this is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to them  in order to overlay their fear, depression, and anxiety, the results can iften be dramatic, especially when the experience is repeated regularly as a form of meditation. Nothing works with everyone, of course, but it works well enough that I have come to use it every day in my clinical psychology practice.
--------------------------

Now, as we step out of the final band of the rainbow and into the Multiverse, the Universe of all possible Universes, the beauty and the intensity of everything you experience is multiplied many times over. You have more senses than your usual five, and you can directly experience all the 11 dimensions of reality with a beauty and an intensity which is infinitely greater than anything that can be imagined in the universe from which we came.

All of the bands of the rainbow which brought us here have blended into one boundless ocean of perfect, infinite love which contains them all: strength, happiness, healing, renewal, peace, power, and serenity, more beautiful than anything you have ever dreamed of, hoped for, longed for, or imagined, and far, far beyond the power of the human imagination by itself to even begin to comprehend.

In the center of this infinite ocean of unbounded love, you are completely dissolving into the infinite love of the Multiverse itself (or the Creator Himself). And all of the happiness, all of the love,all of the joy, and all of the rapture that have ever been felt by all of the people who ever walked the face of the Earth, put together, have become a part of you, now, in these golden moments of delight -- infinite beyond infinity, and eternal beyond all measure of eternity: Infinite, boundless, eternal and everlasting, yours to enjoy and yours to be, now, in these golden moments, torn from the pages of time and space.

This is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you, greater than anything you have ever dreamed of., hoped for, longed for, or imagined, and far, far beyond the limits of anything that you ever thought was even possible. It is the complete and total fulfillment of your existence: everything you ever were, everything you are right now, and everything you will be in the future, put together and endlessly multiplied over and over -- infinite beyond infinity, and eternal beyond all measure of eternity. Revel in it, glory in it, and enjoy the experience to the.fullest. (Pause.)

Here in the Multiverse, where you will spend Eternity, the total fulfillment of your existence is already an accomplished fact. And as we continue to return here to this, your home beyond the stars, it will change your life forever and turn each new day into a thing of wondrous beauty. -- in many different ways, and on many different levels, some of which you may already know and some of which you may not yet realize until they actually begin to occur.

You will not be able to bring the full intensity of this experience back with you, because it would be more than you could possibly bear in the universe from which we came.. But its healing effects will remain with you, turning each new day into a thing of joy, and paving over the effect of every bad thing that has ever happened to you in your entire life.

Because time does not exist in the Multiverse, it will seem like we have been gone for an entire lifetime, and the benefits of each journey will be increased in direct proportion to the time that it feels like we have been away together.

Return

Now we are ready to return to the everyday state of consciousness, by riding through the rainbow of delight that brought us here, in reverse order from the inside out. You will remain in deep hypnosis until we emerge together from the final band.

Just as before, each band of color will present you with a priceless gift which you will be able to take back with you, to make it easier for you to withstand stress and pain of every kind, and to counteract the effects of every bad thing that has ever happened to you.

These changes will provide you with a source of deep Inner strength which will enable you to cope much more effectively with all of life's stresses and all of life's problems.

First, we are beginning to retrace our steps through the band of violet, the color of serenity. It's only the separation from this infinite ocean of boundless rapture, wonder, ecstasy and delight -- it’s only the separation from this 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 you have ever dreamed of, longed for, hoped for, or imagined, and far, far beyond the power of human words to describe -- infinite, boundless, eternal, and everlasting. Yours to enjoy and yours to be, now, in these golden moments of delight, torn from the pages of time and space.

Next, we move back into the purple band which contains the indwelling mental and spiritual powers that are becoming yours in ever increasing amounts, as we continue to explore these alternate and parallel universes.

You love being hypnotized. And as you continue to regularly practice this mindful hypnotic meditation, it will continue to change your entire existence into a thing of wondrous beauty.

This is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you. When youfind a goal that you deeply desire, you will be able to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail. For even if that particular goal is not achieved, whatever may appear to be a failure is merely a temporary setback on the glorious road to the complete and total fulfillment of your existence, which is already an accomplished fact in the Multiverse from which we  came.

Now we are traveling back through the band of blue, which is the color of Heaven, and the color of eternity. This is the true reality, and the.world from which we came is merely an illusion.

Regardless of how much or how little you actually remember these experiences, 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. You will treasure the effects of these experiences as they add meaning and purpose to your life; and each time that we return, you will be able to derive new benefits from them which will meet your needs even more effectively.

Now we are entering the green band of light. Green is the color of renewal: and each time that you return to this mindful hypnotic meditation, you will obtain even more happiness and more fulfillment from the journey than you did before.

Next, we are traveling through the band of yellow light,. Yellow is the color of healing. You can feel the healing warmth of this yellow light, flooding once more into every muscle, and every fiber, and nerve and cell of your body, penetrating to the very core of your being -- body, heart, mind, and soul. . .body, heart, mind, and soul.

Now, we are entering the orange band of the rainbow. Orange is the color of happiness. Feel the happiness flooding through you once more, filling and flooding every muscle and nerve and cell of your body with after wave of infinite happiness and boundless joy. -- Infinite happiness, and boundless joy.

Each time we repeat this mindful hypnotic meditation, you go deeper, each time you go faster; and each time, you experience this happiness more beautifully and more intensely than you did before.

Finally, 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 stress, overcoming worry, overcoming depression and care, and filling and flooding every muscle and nerve and cell of your being with wave after wave of infinite, boundless strength, and love, and confidence, and power.

You will obtain 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; for your Best Me is always with you, guiding your path in the way that it should go.

Now, as we prepare to return to the everyday life from which we came, all of the dimensions of the world
from which we originally left will reassert themselves, and all your sensations and perceptions will be exactly as they were before our journey began. Your mind will be clear and alert, and you will easily be able to concentrate on anything you have to do. But the benefits and the good feelings of these experiences, will remain with you, adding meaning and purpose to your life, making it so much easier to resist stresses of every kind, and filling your life with zest and joy. Know who you really are. Be who you really are.

By the time I get to the count of five, you will open your eyes, beaming with happiness and radiant with joy.

One. Getting ready to open your eyes now. Two. . .Three.. . . Four. . . Five. You can open your eyes now, wide awake and feeling wonderful!



(For case examples, enter the words "mindful hypnotic meditation" in the search engine of this Blog and scroll down. The cases will appear at the bottom, just below this entry. For additional information on exploring the Multiverse, see Gibbons & Woods, 2016).


References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). 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: Exploring alternate and parallel universes. Amazon Books, 2016. (Both print and Kindle editions are available.)












Sunday, November 24, 2019

Eckhartian Therapy: Becoming Filled with the Spirit of God

Martha was a 50 year old insurance executive with three grown children. "In my large Irish family," she told me," "disagreements were handled in one of two ways, either by laughing at them or by ignoring them."  She dreaded the coming holidays and the rancorous family quarrels that would inevitably ensue around the dinner table.

Martha had recently celebrated her 15th year of sobriety, and had chosen to make Alcoholics Anonymous her substitute family.  She had come to view her husband, a Texas police official whom she saw only infrequently, as a confirmed narcissist. She had not seen him since he had demanded several months previously that she fly a set of business papers  directly to him instead of mailing them. 

She prayed frequently, and stated that this gave her some relief. In my clinical psychology practice, she  responded well to hypnotic voyages to the Multiverse, the Universe of all possible Universes (Gibbons & Woods, 2016), where she could feel herself herself dissolving ito the infinite love of the Multiverse itself as a means of overcoming the effect of previous environmental stressors. 
When I asked her about what this experience felt like, she commented afterwards that she thought that it was God. I asked if she would like to hypnotically experience an actual union with God Himself, and she unhesitatingly agreed. 

When we got to this portion of her Multiversal journey, I gave special emphasis to the suggestions that this was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her; and that it was as if all of the love, and all of the rapture that had ever been felt by all of the people who ever walked the face of the Earth were hers to enjoy and hers to be, now in these golden moments of delight. I usied suggestions for time distortion to further heighten their effectiveness, suggesting that even though she may actually have been hypnotized for only a few minutes, it would seem as if she had been away for an entire lifetime, and the benefits of herv hypnotic journey would be correspondingly increased  After the induction was completed, I emphatically observed "Well, I'll bet that family arguments can't bother you now!" She smiled blissfully, and nodded in agreement.

Meister Eckhart was a preacher in the 12th century who  taught that we should see ourselves as empty vessels waiting to be filled with the love of God. He was charged with heresy, since this would imply that there was another way to feel the love of God in addition to the sacraments; but he died before his trial could be completed. His work lived on, however; and his writings were praised by recent Popes. 

Since my training is in general experimental psychology, I have no way of knowing whether Martha was really in communication with the Divine. However, this is  the reality of her own personal experience and  this experience is having a positive effect upon her life, which is the goal of all successful psychotherapy. 

Reference

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What GOOD is an Induction Procedure?

If, with no prior induction, I asked a highly suggestible person to close his eyes, and suggested that when he opened them he would see me dressed in a Santa Claus suit, he would surely think that. I was crazy. And if such a suggestion should happen to work, he would think that HE was crazy! But if I plausibly suggested that he was going into hypnosis, and THEN I suggested that when he opened his eyes he would see me wearing a Santa Claus suit, such a suggestion could be actualized much more easily because it has now been made much more credible. 

An induction procedure provides both the opportunity and the occasion for those who have the ability to use their imagination in ways which are dramatically at variance with everyday experience to go ahead and do so. Are there other ways to do this? Yes, by patient leading.  But permanent change, as we all know, is brought about by the degree to which the suggested changes are more effective in serving as a catalyst for change, and not by a particular induction 

There is an old Russian folk take about a boy who was afraid to go to school because  he had a large, ugly birthmark on his cheek. One day, his grandmother told him that this was a sign from God that he was destined for greatness. His fear vanished, and with his new-found confidence, he grew up, married, and had a family. He never achieved greatness, but he did live
 a happy life. And no induction was necessary!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

What does a Hypnotic Induction Accomplish?

In the early years of the 20th century, adherents of the school of psychology known as structuralism were attempting to discover the basic elements of consciousness by employing a method called introspection. This "looking inward" to identify the basic components of one's own thoughts and feelings led to a widespread disagreement among various investigators regarding just how many such elements of consciousness there actually were. The difficulty, of course, lay in the fact that consciousness, like a mirror, tends to reflect back what is put into it; and if one's reading and speculation have led a person to surmise that a particular element exists in consciousness, as soon as one begins musingly to look inward to discover such an element, that element is likely to be found. The process is somewhat reminiscent of the game which Tolstoy and his brother used to play when they were children, which involved seeing how long they both could go without thinking of a white bear.

 Since the perception of one's own awareness is, by definition, a subjective phenomenon, what is true regarding the elements of consciousness is also true regarding the experience of one's consciousness as a whole. In other words, the number of altered states -- or more accurately, altered experiences -- of consciousness which may be induced by suggestion is probably equal to the number of such states or experiences which it is possible to conceive or to imagine; for each of these imagined definitions may be presented in the form of an "induction procedure" or similar ritual containing explicit or implicit suggestions which will bring about such an experience in subjects who are sufficiently responsive and willing to comply. Thus, the suggestor is free to define the dimensions or experiential properties of a suggestion-induced trance state in virtually any manner he or she desires. In recent years, we have frequently heard of meditation, mind control, autogenic training, suggestology, Dianetics, and a host of other techniques too numerous to mention. Rather than concluding that these techniques are all variations of hypnosis, It is more accurate to describe them as changes in perceived awareness which are brought about by means of suggestion and which differ from hypnosis in the same way that they differ from each other: in the specific phenomenological content of the suggested changes in perceived awareness which are either directly suggested or implied by the procedure which is utilized to bring about such as changes, and hence, in the form of the resulting subjective experience of trance, and in the effect of that experience upon the subsequent thought and behavior of the subject to undergoes it. 

Highly responsive hypnotic subjects may feel as if they have been unconscious, for example, and report that they remember nothing of the events which have transpired while supposedly under the influence of the trance unless they have been previously told that they were not supposed to feel that way in hypnosis or it has been specifically suggested to them that they will remember everything, whereas a student undergoing an advanced form of yogic training may feel as if he or she is merging with infinite reality!.

An "Induction procedure," then, is not some sort of mechanical process which one person "uses on" another to render the subject more compliant with the will of the suggestor, as laymen occasionally tend to perceive it: and neither does it operate in some ,mysterious manner to open up a direct channel of communication with the "unconscious mind."  It is rather a method of providing both the opportunity and the rationale for those who are able and willing to utilize their imagination in an ''Alice-in-wonderland* fashion to go ahead and do so. Modern-day practitioners of the ancient art of suggestion are finding an ever-growing range of application for such techniques, in part because their essential nature is now more clearly understood. If imagination is responsible for what is often referred to as hypnotic phenomena, then it should be clear to all that the true potential of the human imagination has scarcely been tapped. Rather than inquiring how many alterations in perceived awareness it is possible to induce by means of suggestion, or how one might go about measuring their relative depth -- which is after all, pointless when one is dealing with subjective experiences for which new phenomenological dimensions can be invented, suggested, and consequently experienced by sufficiently responsive subjects virtually at will -- it is more appropriate to inquire how such experiences may best be modified and guided to fulfill their primary purpose, which is to assist the participant to develop an increasd measure of awareness and self-control.

It is this shift from an active rational to a receptive imaginative orientation, legitimised by the acceptance of explicitly or implicitly communicated suggestions to the effect that one is now in an altered state of consciousness which is responsible for both the development of incongruous thought patterns and the phenomenon of rapport, or the tendency of subjects to focus their attention on the voice of the suggestor and on the phenomena the suggestion describes, often to the exclusion of other sensations -- including pain, if anesthesia is suggested or implied. If a dentist were merely to suggest to a patient that he or she would not experience any pain during a tooth extraction, for instance, with no anesthesia administered beforehand, it is not likely that such a suggestion would be effective by itself, regardless of how responsive to suggestion the patient happened to be. But if the dentist were first to suggest that the patient was entering a trance, and then he suggested that the patient would not feel pain, the latter suggestion could be actualized much more easily because then it would be much more credible.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

How to Deal With Passive-Aggressive Behavior


Is a Toxic Person Driving You Crazy?

  

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, October 13, 2019

Hypnosis as Compounded Conviction

A Suggestion is an Induction -- E. R. Hilgard

It is often said that the two organisms most frequently experimented upon are the laboratory rat and the college sophomore, because of their easy availability to researchers. For example, the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Suggestibility (Shor &. Orne, 1962) has been used with college classes in literally hundreds of studies to  investigate individual differences in responsiveness to suggestion.

In a typical class of about thirty students who are being administered this suggestibility measure, two or three will just be sitting there with their eyes open, looking around at the others with a mixture of boredom and curiosity, two or three will appear to be experiencing a trance, and the rest will be bunched up in the middle, responding to the suggestions to some extent.

Now let's perform a thought experiment. Imagine that  the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Suggestibility is being given to a class of students in a politically sensitive part of the world, when someone dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room shouting that there is an active shooter in the building, and orders everybody to take immediate cover under their desks and await further instructions. Everyone, including the instructor, promptly cowers under their desks in a high state of emotion for an indeterminate time, until it gradually becomes clear that this was a hoax, i.e., a cleverly designed suggestion on the part of a dissident student group in order to disrupt the smooth operation of the school. 

What happened to the individual differences in suggestibility that the Harvard Group Scale was supposed to measure, and what happened to the individual differences in hypnotic depth that had been achieved? They disappeared! Under the right conditions, everybody is highly suggestible, because what we commonly regard as the trait of suggestibility is in reality the effect compounded conviction rather than a back door to the "unconscious mind."

Here's an experiment you can perform yourself. Call up a college or university near you and ask to speak to somebody who teachers in the psychology department. Ask them about the existence of the "unconscious mind" in light of current research on brain structure and see what they respond. If you prefer, you could call up the biology department and ask them the same thing. Both of these resources will tell you that in view of our current understanding of the structure of the brain, the notion of a separate "unconscious mind" is at best a crude approximation. It only sounds logical because it is circular. If we see two people fighting, we say that it's because they're angry. Why are they angry?  Because they're fighting! Why do hypnotized people so frequently experience a trance? Because hypnotic suggestions bypass the censor of the conscious mind. Why does the conscious mind have such a censor? Because this is how people  become hypnotized! 

Wouldn't it  be easier to say that you can reframe the perception of reality using the power of suggestion, without having to infer the existence of two separate minds, one conscious and the other unconscious, each one operating according to different principles and constantly scheming against each other? What kind of a contraption would that be, and how and why could we possibly have developed it, either by creation or by evolution?

Of course, we are able to do a number of things without the direct supervision of our conscious awareness. We do have ithe ability to make some actions as automatic and habitual as possible without having to attend to each separate detail, as is the case when we are able to drive from one end of town to the other, stopping at each red light and alternately braking and accelerating to keep up with the flow of traffic without consciously planning each movement in advance. In extreme cases, this can take the form of dissociative reactions such as amnesia, fugue, or dissociative identity disorder, in which  conflicts are split off from conscious awareness because they have become too painful to bear. But the reasons for this splitting can be readily understood in terms of a person's ongoing conflicts, without reference to a separate "unconscious mind" lurking beyond the bounds of our everyday awareness.

What, then, is hypnosis? There are so many ways to hypnotize people that entire books have been written on this subject, and more ways are being devised all the time -- so many, in fact, that it is easy to see that the only thing which they have in common is the actualization of the suggestion that one's conscious processes are beginning to operate differently, as defined by the suggestions of the hypnotist and the prevailing expectations of the culture, filtered through the imagination of the participants and their ability and  willingness to comply with the instructions and suggestions which they are given. 

 Reference

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