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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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.

We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Helpful Links for Life Management

Here, in no particular order, is a list of links to some of the Blog entries which are most frequently used by my psychology clients. When you clck on a link and it takes you ro rhe Blog, just scroll down and the post that you have clicked on will come up first.. Then you can repeat this process for each additional link.

I hope you find them useful!

Google keeps a running tally of the most frequently read posts on my Blog, and the following one has usually been close to the top of the list for several years:

Family systems theorists have long been aware that the person who comes to therapy is often not the one who needs it the most. There may be another family member whose toxic personality is driving them into therapy. Here's how to recognize and hopefully begin to deal with such a problem. While an actual diagnosis can only be made by a trained mental health professional, here is how to spot a friend, co-worker, or family member might have a personality disorder:

Is a Toxic Person Driving You  Crazy?

Cognitive-behavioral psychology teaches that it is not what happens to you, but what you think about what happens to you, that makes you angry, depressed, or upset. Here are three ways of dealing with these thoughts:

Activities which Help You Get Off the Merry-Go-Round

When cognitive-behavioral therapy first became popular, the British National Health Service decided to make it available to all it's citizens by putting it up on the Internet for everyone to use. Since the Internet does not recognize national borders, you can use it too!

Cognitive Behavioral Downloads for Clients and Therapists

Viktor Frankl was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II. He discovered that the most important reason that people were dying all around him was not the cold and the starvation, but giving up hope. When he resumed his practice at the end of the war, he concentrated on helping his patients to find meaning in their lives as the way back to health. Here's a link to his audiobook:

ALL of us have struggled with  problems of addiction to negative thinking! The folks at, have developed a method for changing the beliefs which guide our lives which is based on Albert Ellis's Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.
There are several helpful aids to life management in their tools and homework and articles and essays section, which apply not only to recovery from addiction but also to life in general

A philosophical attitude is a good way to respond to many stressors which might otherwise appear to be unbearable The following YouTube video seals with some stoic teachings of Marcus Aurelius, one of the few "good" Roman emperors.  YouTube contains many other examples of the stoic approach, which vary considerably in quality but if the subject interests you it is well worth pursuing further..

Here is my favorite inspirational
Poem: "If," by Rudyard Kipling.  I hope you like it too!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Kicking it Up a Notch: Multimodal Hyperempiria

An earlier version of this posting was presented at the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Charleston, SC, October, 2005.  
The following YouTube video demonstrates advanced virtual reality techniques to reproduce the experience of an arial battle, using sight and sound.

Now, imagine what the practical applications might be if people were able to experience such phenomena inside and out, with their entire being!

 In contrast to a traditional hypnotic induction, which is based on expressed or implied suggestions of relaxation, a hyperempiric induction is based on suggestions of mind expansion, increased awareness, and enhanced responsiveness and sensitivity – i.e., “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” (Gibbons, 2000, p. 32). The term itself is derived from the ancient Greek empiria, or “experience,” with the prefix “hyper” added to denote a greater or an enhanced quality (Gibbons, 1975). Hyperempiria was found to be as effective as traditional hypnosis in facilitating post-induction responsiveness to suggestion (Gibbons, 1975, 1976), as measured by the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (Shor & Orne, 1962); and shortly thereafter, Bányai and Hilgard (1976) provided further documentation of the validity of alert inductions by demonstrating their effectiveness with subjects who were pedaling a stationary bicycle.

Multimodal hyperempiria is modeled after the multimodal therapy of Arnold Lazarus, who has amassed a considerable amount of empirical evidence in support of his hypothesis that therapeutic change can be brought about more rapidly and more effectively by working simultaneously with several different modes of experience. His multimodal approach to therapy employs behavior, affective responses, sensations, cognitions, interpersonal relationships; and drugs, biological functions, nutrition, and exercise. He refers to these categories using the acronym, BASIC ID (Lazarus, 1989, 1997). Hypnosis may be employed any of the aforementioned modes of experience as a method of increasing client expectations of success, and as a means enhancing patient compliance and treatment adherence. (Lazarus, 1999).

Suggestion itself, however, is inherently multimodal in nature. Therefore, multimodal suggestion may be employed to define the experiential dimensions of hypnotic experience itself, for maximum involvement and effectiveness in therapy. The present adaptation of Lazarus’ experiential categories for use in hypnotic settings may be summarized as follows, and may be collectively referred to using the acronym, BEST ME (Gibbons, 2001, 2004; Gibbons & Schreiber, 2005).

Belief systems which orient an individual to person, place, time, and events may be suggested as being different, allowing the participant to mentally transcend present realities.

Emotions may be enriched, intensified, weakened, or combined with others to add to the uniqueness of the experience.

Sensations and physical perceptions may be suggested and experienced with an intensity approaching, and occasionally exceeding, those of real events.

Thoughts and images may be created and guided in response to explicit or indirect suggestions.

Motives may either be suggested directly or implied as a consequence of other events.

Expectations may be structured in such a manner as to determine both how an event will be experienced in the future, and later recalled and interpreted in memory.

Suggestions using the Best Me Technique may be employed in the induction procedure, in the conduct of the trance session, and in the conclusion of the hypnotic experience. Best Me suggestions may be administered in any order, each of the aforementioned categories may be employed as often as necessary, and each step in the procedure may incorporate elements of the others.

While most of us routinely attempt to include as much detail as possible in our suggestions, the Best Me technique provides a systematic, comprehensive method of including the major dimensions of experience, for maximum involvement and effectiveness in therapy.

In actual use, the choice of imagery and the content of the suggestions used will depend upon the responsiveness of the client, the client’s personal style and preferences, and the purpose for which the induction is being administered. The essential question is, what kind of experiences should be provided in this experiential theater in order to be most useful?

Most of us can think of several themes from history, mythology (Brink, 2001-2002), literature, the mass media, or even from the sports world, which we have found to be personally meaningful and inspirational in the conduct of our own lives – or else we make up our own (McAdams, 1993). Hyperempiric vivification of such themes, therapeutically augmented by means of multimodal suggestion, can potentially serve as a means of overcoming many personal challenges, as illustrated by the following two cases.

Case One

A 60 year old retired biology teacher had recently completed a one-year training course in medical technology because she desired to remain productively employed. She accepted employment at a local hospital laboratory in order to be able to work near her home. She had previously been able to improve her confidence and reduce test anxiety in her hematology course by means of multimodal hypnosis. However, as she began her new career as a laboratory technician, she began to experience subjective feelings of stress at having to compete on the job with younger workers.

In the course of our discussion, she mentioned that she was a lover of horses, that she had found the story of Sea Biscuit to be personally inspiring, and that she had seen the recent motion picture of that title several times. I asked her if she would like to experience what it must have felt like to ride Sea Biscuit to victory, in order to use this experience as a further source of inspiration in her own life, and she readily agreed.

She preferred to experience the second race depicted in the motion picture. After an initial defeat, a new jockey whispers in the horse’s ear, “Okay, boy, are you ready to go?” and the ensuing bond between horse and rider is depicted as leading to a string of victories culminating in lasting renown. After a multimodal hyperempiric induction, she was guided through the experience of riding Sea Biscuit to victory in this particular race, as I repeated the elements of the Best Me Technique with appropriate variations as the race progressed. I then suggested that whenever she watched her videotape of the movie, Sea Biscuit, although she would not go back into hyperempiria, it would re-charge her motivation anew.

She was taught to use multimodal autosuggestions in the following manner. “Whenever you have a carefully-chosen goal which you deeply believe in, you will be able to act, think, and feel as if it is a reality, just as you did today First, find a quiet place where you are not likely to be disturbed, close your eyes, and picture clearly in your mind something about the goal which you most deeply desire. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, will it to happen, feel it happening, and savor in your mind the fruits of your success.

The multimodal hyperempiric session was concluded, and she was given a card to take with her with the foregoing suggestions, which contain all the elements of the Best Me Technique. She was told to repeat this exercise as often as necessary, using whatever images appealed to her most strongly at the moment. If she ever had trouble “getting into it,” she was instructed to go back and re-examine the goal itself, to see if there was something about her formulation of the goal that was troubling her, or which kept her from believing in it wholeheartedly, and to make whatever corrections were necessary before proceeding further.

Six months later, she told me that she had typed up the suggestions contained in the foregoing paragraph, and that she carries it with her wherever she goes. She stated that it had not only helped her with adjusting to her classmates, but with other aspects of her life as well.

Case Two

A married woman in her mid-forties sought my help in order to lose weight. She had obtained clearance from her physician to proceed with a weight loss program, along with a recommend diet; and she was not currently taking any medication. She described her relationship with her husband and children as warm and affectionate, and told me that her life was fundamentally happy, with no major stressors which might serve to distract her from her weight loss goal.

Her anniversary was some eight months away, and she had already thought of how she would like to celebrate it. She was going to surprise her husband by arranging a getaway weekend at a hotel in New York. Her plans included dinner at a stylish restaurant where she would like to be be able to once more wear a treasured dress which she had saved from her honeymoon.

I taught her how to to place herself in hyperempiria by means of multimodal suggestion, and how to use the Best Me Technique to pre-experience the attainment of her weight loss goal, using the anniversary restaurant dinner as a setting in which she could enjoy the many dimensions of its fulfillment. Since her plans also included renting a hotel room for the evening, once she had mastered the technique, she was able to devise multi-modal scenarios for the remainder of the evening on her own. Follow-up sessions were scheduled at progressively greater intervals as her self-imposed deadline drew near, to make sure that her progress continued and that her goal was satisfactorily reached, which it was.


The experiential dimensions of the Best Me Technique are very similar to the integrative model of hypnosis set forth by Lynn and Ruhe (1991). They state, “. . .hypnotic action and experience are the end results of what subjects think and believe about hypnosis, what they imagine or fail to imagine, what they attend to or do not attend to, what they wish to do or not to do, and how they perceive hypnotic communications and evaluate their experience” ( p. 308). Indeed, 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 given a name, written up in the form of an induction procedure, and presented to a person who is sufficiently responsive to suggestion for the induction to be effective. The experience which results from such an induction is likely to be some inner representation of the instructions and suggestions which have been given, as this person understands them and is willing to comply – and my evidence for that assertion is hyperempiria (Gibbons, 1975, 1976). It did not come about because of an accidental misunderstanding of the nature of magnetism, as Mesmerism did, and neither did it result from the behavior of people who were imitating the retardate who went to sleep because he was too stupid to know that he was "supposed" to go into convulsions, as was the case with traditional hypnosis. I simply made it up!

If the results obtained by procedures involving expressed or implied suggestions of alertness, mind expansion, and enhanced responsiveness are similar to those obtained by more traditional methods, then shouldn’t we continue to refer to these procedures as “alert inductions,” instead of using another name such as hyperempiria?

Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” However, modern-day English many objects have been re-named in order to alter the manner in which they are perceived and experienced. A house trailer is a mobile home, an old person is a senior citizen, a used car is a pre-owned car, and a rest room (also the result of an earlier name change) is now occasionally referred to by signs in public places as a “comfort station.” Shakespeare notwithstanding, a rose by any other name is not a rose, especially when the subject matter with which we are working is suggestion itself.

Traditional induction procedures involving direct or implied suggestions of diminished awareness, are clearly associated with the term hypnosis by the general public. Attempts to refer to them by another name, such as visualization, or to simply avoid the use of the term “hypnosis” altogether, are likely to meet with rather limited acceptance by some people, and may even be perceived as vaguely deceptive, because they “know” how a hypnotized person is supposed to behave. But the emergence of alternative induction methods provides us with an opportunity to refer to these latter procedures, at least, by a new name which is not only etymologically more accurate, but which provides us with an opportunity to finally escape from the outmoded, Nineteenth-Century, Svengali-like stereotypes associated with the concept of hypnosis.

Given the complexity of existing differences among researchers concerning the nature of suggestion-related phenomena, any perception of such phenomena among the general public is inevitably going to involve the use of stereotypes. The use of a new term such as hyperempiria enables us to break with the past, and to re-direct our educational efforts in directions will result in the creation of more favorable and more accurate stereotypes, instead of endlessly combating the old pejorative ones.

Applications of the Best Me Technique may not be limited to its use in multimodal hyperempiria. Amigó (1998) has developed a procedure called emotional self-regulation therapy (ESRT) which involves the learned ability to reproduce various kinds of sensations, such as the taste of lemon juice, by associating them with a word or an image until these sensations, or a close approximation of them, can be called up at will. He then provides the suggestion that the client’s brain has become sufficiently sensitized to accept therapeutic suggestions, which permits clients to accept such suggestions while their eyes are open, and able to move about and interact with the therapist. Capafons (1998) has found that ESRT is effective for a wide variety of problems with many clients who are normally not responsive to hypnosis, including many who are either skeptical or fearful of hypnosis itself.

Perhaps the comprehensiveness of the Best Me Technique may prove to be useful in structuring the types and sequence of training suggestions which are employed in such an approach, and in facilitating responsiveness to subsequently-administered therapeutic suggestions by making them multimodal. There are certain types of suggested situations, however, such as riding the racehorse, Sea Biscuit, to victory in the race of his life, in which a change in the perception of one’s own awareness (i.e., an induction, whether expressed or implied) constitutes an essential part of the experience and the preparation for it.

Considering the wide variety of suggestions which may be accepted by sufficiently responsive individuals (Shor & Orne, 1962; Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1967; Barber & Wilson, 1978), multimodal hyperempiria has some intriguing implications for our choice of paradigm if the procedure can be shown to be valid by additional research. Aldous Huxley, in his book, Brave new world revisited, predicted that motion picture technology would advance to the point where it included not only the senses of sight and hearing, but all of the other senses as well, in a totally new and engrossing artistic medium which he referred to as the "feelies." Following a similar line of reasoning, a multimodal approach to suggestion provides us with a highly versatile artistic medium which enables us to work much more effectively with the ultimate art form, human experience itself (Gibbons, 2001).

Thinking of ourselves as artists working with a new medium makes it easier, I believe, to draw upon such areas as classical mythology, history, literature, the mass media, or even sports events, as in the present example, for a wide variety of applications to help give meaning and direction to our clients’ lives (McAdams, 1993). But we need not give up our basic identity as therapists in order to do so; for ultimately, the goals of art and the goals of therapy are the same: the facilitation of personal growth, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the enrichment of human existence. 


See also the following print Sources

Gibbons, D. E. (2001). Experience as an art form. .New York, NY: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press (originally published 1979 by Plenum Press).

Gibbons, D. E., & Cavallaro, L (2013).. Exploring alternate universes: And learning what they can teach us. Amazon Kindle E-Books. (Note: It is not necessary to own a Kindle reader to download this e-book, as the Kindle app may be downloaded free of charge to a standard desktop or laptop computer and to most cell phones.)

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. 267-291.

The Best Me Technique of Multimodal Suggestion

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. Here are the multimodal suggestions which I used, which taken. together form the acronym best me.

Belief systems. Now, as I continue to speak, you can gradually become aware of yourself standing in front of a pair of large wooden doors, which are the doors of a great cathedral. If you accept each detail of the scene as I describe it, without trying to think critically, your imagination can be free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there.So just let yourself stand there a moment, gazing at the carved wooded doors, as you prepare to enter. [Brief pause.]

Now, as the doors swing open, you first traverse a small area paved with stone, stopping at the font if you desire, and pause before a second pair of doors which leads inside.

Emotions. You can feel a surge of happiness and anticipation as you pass through a second pair of doors and into the dimly lit interior. As your eyes gradually become accustomed to the dimmer light from the stained glass windows, take a moment to look around in wonder at the magnificence of all you see.

Sensations and perceptions. Let yourself breathe slowly and deeply, as you inhale the faint aroma of incense, and listen to the gentle tones of music floating upon the quiet air.

Some distance away from you stands the High Altar, bordered by banks of gently glowing candles. You select a pew and, after pausing to genuflect if you wish, you enter the pew and take your seat or kneel once more.

Thoughts and images. Let your mind flow with the experience, and allow it to fill you to the very core of your being, until you feel as if you are able to hold within your own consciousness an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty. As it does, you can feel yourself gradually becoming aware of the presence of a Consciousness other than your own.

As this Consciousness begins to merge with yours, you can feel the power of an infinite healing energy filling and flooding every muscle, and every fiber, and every nerve of your entire body. And it's as if all of the worry, and all of the tension, and all of the care that you have ever felt are being driven out and replaced by the power of this infinite, unbounded, healing love.

As your own consciousness merges ever more completely with this Infinite Awareness, you feel as if you are able to hold within your own mind an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty ‑‑ infinite, beyond infinity, and eternal beyond all measure of eternity. And in this sense of total oneness, you are able to freely communicate all your deepest thoughts and needs.

Motives. The experience, as it continues, is providing you with all that you had hoped to obtain from it. The serenity and the peace which you find here will remain with you, as a source of deep inner strength which will enable you to cope much more effectively with all of life's problems.

Expectations. You will treasure the memory of this experience as it meets your needs in the future; and each time you return, you will be able to derive new benefits which will meet your needs even more effectively.


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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Becoming Your Power Animal: Hypnosis in Native American Culture

is the hypnotic ability

to turn oneself into an animal.
Many imaginatively gifted people freely change the imagery and content of a hypnotic experience to suit themselves as they go along, in a style which often reflects their own needs and preferences. For example, I once had a client of Native American ancestry who was seeking a source of strength while she was going through a rough divorce. After I hypnotized her using imagery of relaxing on the beach, she told me, “The beach imagery was working, but I decided to change it. Instead of lying on the beach, I saw myself as a little girl, lying between the roots of a large tree that I used to play under.”

I asked her if she would like to feel herself becoming part of the tree and absorbing strength from the earth beneath her, instead of from her own untapped potential, and she agreed. She agreed, and suggestions were provided as follows:
Now I would like you to imagine yourself as a little girl again, playing beneath the roots of that large tree, If you accept each detail of the scene as you describe it to yourself, your imagination will be completely free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there. So just allow all your awareness of the present to grow dim now, as you feel yourself transported backwards in time. You are drifting backwards now, all the way back to the time when you were a little girl, playing between the roots of that large tree.

Now, you are becoming fully aware of yourself as a little girl again, resting between the roots of that large tree. Imagine yourself beginning to cuddle up beneath the roots of the tree, and feel how pleasant it would be just to become part of the tree, feeling as safe and as secure if it was your mother. Feel yourself merging with the tree now, and drifting off to sleep beneath it. As you do, you can feel yourself becoming part of the tree, reaching down through the roots to draw into yourself feelings of peace and calm. Great waves of perfect, infinite, boundless peace and calm are flowing into you from the innermost depths of the Earth.
“That was better,” she told me later. “But while I was beneath the tree, and before I joined it, I turned into a series of animals first. There was a wolf, and a mouse, and a moose, and a crow, and I think there were one or two others.”

At the start of our next session, I asked her if she would like to use the tree imagery again, and she agreed. “Don’t go through all the animals, though. I’m not sure what I’m going to do.” She completed the induction procedure, after first mentally turning into a crow (which was her personal power animal) on her own before merging with the tree.

If hypnosis is viewed as a form of experiential theater, turning into a tree or an animal (transmogrification) need only be suggested  in order for sufficiently imaginative people to develop a sense of strength and empowerment as an eagle soaring over valleys and mountaintops, or to de-stress by cavorting among a school of dolphins as if they were one of them. Numerous other applications, using imagery derived from the animal kingdom or from other aspects of nature, are also possible.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

What We Can Learn from Turning a Hypnotized Person into a Chicken

"Help! m a student in Dr. Gibbons' Psychology class!"

When I opened my psychology practice in New Jersey, my first hypnosis client asked me, "You aren't going to turn me into a chicken, are you?"

"No," I replied with a smile,  "That's for stage hypnotists." But I did once. And this experience has taught me more about the true nature of hypnosis than I have learned from any other single source!

Several years previously
, when I was discussing the topic of hypnosis in an Introductory psychology class, I asked a student who had previously shown herself to be adept at hypnosis if she would be willing to help me illustrate how easy it was to turn a hypnotized person into a chicken. She readily agreed (perhaps because I was pointedly looking in her direction when I asked the question!). 

After hypnotizing her, I told her that I would count backwards from ten to one, and that at the count of one she would have been turned into a chicken.

"You will always be able to hear and respond to my voice," I continued, "and I will return you to your normal state in a few minutes, before I bring you out of hypnosis. But until I do, you will experience the world exactly as if you had been turned into a chicken. You will remember everything I have said, and it will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Okay?"

She nodded in agreement, and I counted slowly backwards from ten to one, providing suggestions along the way that she could feel herself changing into a chicken; and at the count of one, I announced that she had become a chicken. "Would you like to open your eyes and walk around a bit?" I asked. She did so, walking slowly as I took hold of her elbow. "Why are you walking like that?" I asked.

"I'm a chicken," she answered in a high, cackly voice, much to the amusement of the class.

I guided her back to her desk, counted from one to ten to restore her usual perceptions, and then concluded the hypnotic demonstration. I then asked her if she had really felt like she was a chicken, and she 
thoughtfully nodded in agreement. 

If she had really believed that she was a chicken, why didn't she scurry away in fear as soon as I approached her? Why did she allow me to slowly walk her around the room, limping slightly instead of struggling to get away, as a real chicken would surely do? Why was she able to understand my spoken question? How was she able to answer it by saying, "I'm a chicken?" And why were the suggestions so easy to undo, as if she understood English as well as she ever did?

We could talk about a "hidden observer" that always knows what's going on and maintains control, no how matter deeply a person is hypnotized, as Hilgard (1974) did. We could talk about "trance logic," which is similar to the logic which is found in dreams, as Martin Orne (1959) did. But why should we infer the presence of extra mental processes such as these when they are not needed?

What she had actually believed and responded to was the narrative of what had taken place (Sarbin & de Rivera, 1998). She knew that she was a student in my class, and she knew that she had consented for me to hypnotize her. She was what Hilgard often referred to as a "hypnotic virtuoso." She still had the kind of "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination which we all have as children, but most of us lose access to as we become adults. Therefore, she was able to act, think, and feel as if she were a chicken for the purpose of my demonstration when she volunteered to do so.  

The demonstration was undertaken in the spirit of fun, and everyone understood that. But the transformational effects of believed-in  imaginings can be powerful indeed if they are meaningful enough to alter the ongoing  narrative of a person's life story., as illustrated by the changed lives of many Fundamentalists who report an experience of having been "saved" (Gibbons & deJarnette, 1972).

If you can safely suggest that you are turning a hypnotized person into a chicken, why can't you safely tell hypnotized people that they are dissolving into the infinite love of the Multiverse, or the Creator Himself, and that this is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to them, so that they can get some good out of it?  You can --often with dramatic results, as I have  been doing for several years now.

Richard Nongard was right when he said that the future of hypnosis was so bright that he  needed shades. And I would like to respectfully suggest that perhaps he could aso use some sunscreen!


Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11(2), pp. 152-156. 

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

Hilgard, E. R. (1974), Toward a neo-dissociation theory: Multiple cognitive controls in human functioning. Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, 17(3), pp, 301-316. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Orne, M. T,  (1959), The nature of hypnosis: Artifact and essence. Journal of abnormal and social psychology,

Sarbin, T. R., & De Rivera, J. (1998),  Believed-in imaginings: The Narrative Construction of Reality (Memory, Trauma, Dissociation, and Hypnosis) . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Hypnosis for Lovers

When you're ninety, you probably won’t be thinking about your best day at the office. But most people, if they are fortunate enough, will recall a few treasured memories of special, loving moments spent with a loved one which warm the heart and live in the mind forever. Now, imagine how these memories will look, and what kind of lives you will have led, after you and your spouse or partner have learned to create such special moments almost at will, and in practically any form you wish.

Couples are able to use suggestions in the context of multiversal meditatiobn (Gibbons & Woods, 2016) to enhance the setting for lovemaking, evoke the proper mood, maximize both responsiveness and desire, and increase the length, depth, and frequency of climax, blending together all the elements of physical intimacy to create whatever masterpiece of fulfillment the loving couple may wish. When the lovers' ability to mutually satisfy each other has been interfered with by age or disability, or when their desires are not equally matched for other reasons, mulltiversal suggestion can provide a full measure of gratification for both partners by restoring the needed balance. And for those whose closeness would appear to be incapable of further improvement, the greatest surprises of all may be in store; for it is those who have the greatest abilities who also possess the greatest potential.

Of course,no form of sugggested enhancement cannot be expected to persist indefinitely without  environmental support.. Anthropologists frequently point out that after a few years, people who marry for romantic love are just about as happy or unhappy as a couple in a culture in which arranged marriages are the norm. If you and your loved one have come to share culturally suggested experiences of rapture, ecstasy, wonder, and delight, only to face a daily  life of bills to pay, appointments to keep, and an endless list of other things which simply have to be done, the strength of your affection will eventually begin to wane, regardless of how intense your attraction  might have been initially. If, on the other hand, you return to an environment in which romance comes ahead of everything else, and the first priority is the quality time you spend with each other, then the joys which you share together as lovers can take on near-sacramental qualities you routinely consecrate yourselves to one another anew, and the honeymoon becomes a permanent way of life.


Romantic Love and the Power of Suggestion


They certainly make use of the power of suggestion. Professor Irving Singer, in a free online MIT course entitled, Philosophy of Love in the Western world, states that romantic love as we know it today was practically unheard of in Western culture until it became popularized by wandering French troubadours eight hundred years ago, and further amplified by the invention of the printing press, which publicized the great works of romantic literature such as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra ("Hark! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the Sun!" or,"Shall I abide in this dull world which , in thy absence, is no better than a stye?*).

With this model held up for all to see, the prevailing expectations of what it feels like to be "in love" evolved in an ever more extreme direction. For many years, one way to write a new hit song was to describe the experience of being in love in more glowing terms than the songs which were popular at the moment. The reviewer of the 1955 movie, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, writing in The Independent on February 8, 2010, stated: "Remember the lyric: 'Once, on a high and windy hill, two lovers kissed, and the world22 stood still. . . .' It still makes my knees weak."  Today, as products of a culture which glorifies romantic love, we tend to view human experience through these cultural lenses, and choose bits from history which confirm these stereotypes.  

The power of suggestion can do more than simply make you feel weak in the knees. In Victorian times, women were considered to be such delicate creatures that they were expected to faint if the air in a room suddenly became stuffy, or if they were suddenly and unexpectedly kissed by someone to whom they had become attracted -- and many did! 

The effect of suggestion and imitation in producing such a high degree of organismic involvement became more dramatically evident shortly after World War II, when the young crooner Frank Sinatra caused legions of teen-age "bobby-soxers" to swoon when he hit his high notes. It is therefore possible to conclude that the experience of "falling in love" as we know it today, and all that goes with it, is also an effect of social modeling and the power of suggestion. 

Suggestion has the power to teach behavior as well as to change it. In 1933, Herbert Blumer found that when moviegoing reached its height, many people said that they first learned how to kiss by watching motion pictures. Many people probably still pick up  a few pointers occasionally, both from motion pictures themselves and from many YouTube compilations.

Remember Romeo and Juliet, and Antony and Cleopatra? Srarchable data bases of Internet pornography now contain literally millions of submissions, and almost anyone in the world can upload their own contributions to them. The entries are frequently ranked in terms of popularity, so that those which are viewed most often rise to the top. Some of these data bases require no fees, passwords, or proof of age, and are supported entirely by advertising. Will
 today's teen-agers and young adults learn sexual behavior by watching pornography, in much the same manner that people of earlier generations learned how to kiss by watching motion pictures? 

Will traditional notions of romantic love be supplanted by the model of sexual fulfillment which these sources are now holding up for all to see? If the past is any guide, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the almost unlimited access to free Internet pornography in the twenty-first century will enable imitation and the power of suggestion to modify the way couples both engage in and experience sexual behavior, in much the same way that the invention of the printing press centuries before influenced the manner in which people engage in and experience romantic love as we know it today.

How to Construct Hypnotic Suggestions and Autosuggestions Scientifically!

Most of us wouldn't quarrel with a definition of suggestion as "presenting an idea in such a manner that a person is likely to accept it as literally true, and therefore 'real.'" But hypnotists aren't the only ones whose work centers around making changes in the perception of reality!

Cognitive-behaviorial psychology works with automatic thoughts, which tell us how to respond to what is going on around us. Challenging people's automatic thoughts and substituting more adaptive ones is one way to produce a more efective adjustment to life. And, according to the definition just presented, these new ideas also qualify as suggestions. 

When the environment is pretty much the same for everyone, as it is in a standardized test such as the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Suggestibility, well-documented individual differences in suggestibility do exist. However, if you vary the environment enough, these individual differences disappear. Imagine, for example. that the Harvard Group Scale is being given to a class of introductory psychology students at the American University of Beirut, let us say, when a person dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room and says in a loud, commanding voice, "The city is under biological attack, and a germ cloud is headed this way. Take refuge in the basement immediately and await further instructions!" Even if such an announcement is a hoax (i.e., a cleverly-designed suggestion) thought up by a dissident student organization to disrupt the orderly running of campus activities, if it were to be carried out in a sufficiently convincing manner, everyone in the class -- including the instructor -- would probably dash for the exits and head for the nearest underground shelter, manifesting a variety of emotional and cognitive responses to this suggestion without the necessity of a hypnotic induction!

Another way to vary the suggestions enough so that individual differences disappear is to customize them to fit the needs of each person to whom they are given, as cognitive-behavioral therapists do. It is generally acknowledged that the cognitive-behavioral approach is the fastest-growing orientation in psychology, with an ever-growing body of research behind it. Since both high and low-suggestible people respond better to any treatment if you first convince them that they have been hypnotized (Robertson, 2013), if the cognitive-behavioral way of constructing suggestions is more scientific, and therefore more effective, than suggestions generated by other means, then perhaps this method should also be adopted by more people who use hypnosis.

Contrary to what cognitive-behaviorists sometimes advocate, not all clients are suited for working with thought records themselves. As hypnotists, however, thought records can be of great help to us in helping us to analyze a client's problem in scientific terms, in explaining a situation to a client, and in deciding what suggestions to provide and what autosuggestions to teach the client to use.  For this reason, I am including more information in this posting to illustrate how cognitive-behavioral therapy may be utilized in a variety of ways. (I routinely use them both in my clinical psychology practice, sometimes individually and sometimes together.)    

This free downloadable ABC Worksheet from can become your daily companion for taking control of your life in matters large and small. You can use it to make motivational and behavioral adjustments on everything from paying your bills on time, to stopping smoking, or deciding on which career path to follow. (If you don't have the necessary Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can also download it free of charge.)

It first asks you about the causes of something you would like to change in your life, and then asks about the emotional consequences which were the result, your beliefs about what happened, what beliefs could be substituted for the ones which brought about the unpleasant results, and how those changed beliefs make you feel. You can write on the form itself, clearing and changing it as often as you like. Then, when you are finished, you can either print it out or save it as a text file, using a different form for each problem you would like to work on. No induction is needed, and there are no individual differences in suggestibility to take into account, because each suggestion is individually customized to fit the circumstances and thought patterns of the individual to whom it is given.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists also frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on in the mind when we make those habitual decisions that keep getting us into trouble . . . Here is what one looks like, and here is what it looks like all filled out, courtesy of  (A slightly longer, seven-column version of the same form is also available.)  Here are other free versions of the thought record form, adapted for special purposes:
You can make as many copies as you want for your own use by using the print command on your computer, and you can also obtain different versions for a host of other purposes. In addition, there is a free online self-help course and other materials on how to use them. Naturally, I cannot be responsible for the accuracy or the effectiveness of self-help materials downloaded from the Internet. Moreover,as a psychologist, I am a little more conservative than they are about what can legitimately be included within the rubric of "self-help."  But in any event, it works, and no induction is necessary -- although, of course, it helps!.


Robertson, D. J. (2013). The practice of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy. London: Karnac Books, Ltd.

This Blog contains many other examples of experience as an art form, for the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.

See also the following print sources:

Gibbons, D. E. (2001). Experience as an art form. .New York, NY: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press (originally published 1979 by Plenum Press).

Gibbons, D. E., & Cavallaro, L (2013).. Exploring alternate universes: And learning what they can teach us. Amazon Kindle E-Books. (Note: It is not necessary to own a Kindle reader to download this e-book, as the Kindle app may be downloaded free of charge to a standard desktop or laptop computer and to most cell phones.)

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. 267-291.