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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Friday, February 28, 2020

A Speaker's Treasury of Wit and Wisdom

If you have a talk to give, here is a recording of a presentation by Dr. Murray Banks, who was one of the most sought-after speakers in the United States for many years, which can serve as a treasury of wit and wisdom for almost any occasion. (I used to love to Incorporate it into my class lectures!)


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Multimodal Meditation as Your "Higher Power"

Lucille was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. She had just celebrated a major  anniversary of being alcohol free when she came to see me for her regular appointment, angry because her husband, a retired police officer who "never took his badge off," had insisted that she personally deliver a set of legal papers to him in another State rather than entrusting them to be delivered by mail. As she usually did, she responded very well to multiversal hypnotic meditation, and left with an expression of blissful happiness.

When I mentioned at her next appointment how much her suggested trip to the Multiverse had changed her mood, she replied, "I thought that it was God."

"I can provide that kind of an experience too," I told her, "but I don't like to push that on anyone unless they ask for it. She nodded in agreement. Since she had grown up as a Roman Catholic, I told her about the teachings of Meister Eckhard a thousand years ago, who preached that a person was like an empty bowl waiting to be filled with the glory of God. He was charged with heresy, but he died before his trial could be completed. Recent Popes, however,  have praised his work; and today, there is even a Facebook page dedicated to the study of his teachings.

I asked her if she would like to feel like she was dissolving into the infinite love of God instead of dissolving into the Multiverse itself, and she replied that she would.  In her next session of Multiversal Meditation, I incorporàted the following suggestion, using the Best Me Technique:

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 God Himself 

As this Consciousness begins to merge with yours, you can feel the power of His 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 His 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.

We continued to use this format for her weekly visits and she reports that her faith has been greatly strengthened as a result. She is also much more tolerant of the demands of her husband.

if Lucille really believed that she was being absorbed into the mind of God, why didn't this type of sanctification experience turn her into a saint? Regardless of the content of whatever is suggested to you, how you process that content depends upon the backstory that you bring to it. Not every Roman Catholic who believes that they are literally ingesting the body and blood of Christ as they partake of Holy Communion is totally sanctified by the experience. What you do with a suggested experience depends upon both your hereditary potential and what that experience means to you when it is integrated into the total narrative of your life story. 


 

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 www.smart recovery.org, 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.


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: The BEST ME Technique of Multimodal Suggestion

An earlier version of this posting was presented at the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Charleston, SC, October, 2005. 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.

Discussion

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.



Multimodal Suggestion and the Healing Power of Love

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 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.

Reference

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



Transmogrification
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

Lessons 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 taught me more about hypnosis than I have learned from any other source.


Several years ago
, 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.

After hypnotizing her, I told her that I would count backwards from ten to one, and that by 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 as I gently took her by the elbow . She did so, walking slowly with a pronounced limp.

"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 and counted from one to ten, interspersed with suggestios to restore her usual perceptions, and then concluded the hypnotic demonstration. I 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 --  and I it works!. See the posting on this Blog entitled, "Multiversal Hypnosis,  Your Superpower."

References

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,  psychnet.apa.org.


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.



Wednesday, February 5, 2020

How Not to Let Life's Difficulties Get You Down



Do the important things -- and then take time to enjoy life!
The following list is adapted from a posting on  www.smartrecovery.org. The difference between these statements and other types of "positive thinking" affirmations is that these statements are all true, we just don't always realize that they are! You don't get the feeling that you are merely lying to yourself, as you might if you were to try to accept a different type of affirmation such as, "I am effective and serene in social situations," when you know very well that you are not.

You simply need to go over them a few times each day in your mind until they become part of your everyday reality, much as you might repeat a set of physical exercises until you have reached the level of comfort you desire.

If your perfectionism is more than the "everyday garden variety" which we all experience at times, you may need to explore the possibility of talk therapy and/or psychotropic medication in order to obtain a satisfactory resolution.
  • No one can be totally perfect.
  • I'm not perfect and I never will be — tough!
  • It's okay to want to do my best. Doing well does not necessarily mean being the best.
  • I perform in many different roles and it is highly unlikely that I will excel in every role at all times.
  • Just because I make a mistake does not mean I am a mistake.
  • To be human is to err.
  • The pressure I put on myself to perform perfectly is an unrealistic pressure that can actually cause me to perform worse because I will be worried and nervous.
  • The pressure I put on myself to perform perfectly creates an extra source of stress that can affect me emotionally and physically.
  • Trying to do my best is a reasonable goal, but it will not always be achieved.
  • Few things in life are exact. Things can be done in a variety of ways and have many different solutions.
  • People do not always agree on what is correct or right. Judgments are often subjective.
  • I will try to set my own realistic goals, please myself, and have the strength to be creative and different in the face of others' potential disapproval.
  • Our whole society is geared to expect that people will make mistakes and errors. Examples are traffic tickets, prison, consumer recalls, consumer complaints, refunds, legal suits, etc.
  • True friends accept imperfection.
  • Mistakes do not equal incompetence. Mistakes are just mistakes —period!