Sunday, November 24, 2019
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.
Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Publishers, 2016.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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 2 engage the imagination. 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!
However, for suggestions which do not fit so neatly into everyday reality, it is first necessary to accept the suggestion that one's conscious processes are operating differently in order to be able to make them believable enough to be accepted. For example, I once hypnotized a client who had been a talented gymnast in her teen years. She was in the middle of a divorce, preparing to take her U.S. citizenship test, getting fired from her job and getting kicked out of her apartment all at the same time. Under hypnosis, I suggested that she would experience winning an Olympic gold medal in a parallel universe, and bring those feelings of triumph back with her into this one. It provided just the kind of ego strengthening therapy that she needed in order to have the courage to overcome her multiple challenges.