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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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hypnosis and the Fundanentalist Experience of "Salvation"



If you don't respond well to suggestion,
then you won't have a "Salvation" experience.
And if you don't have a "Salvation" experience,
then no matter what ELSE you do, you won't get into Heaven!

Carrollton, Georgia, is a small to medium-sized city located approximately fifty-five miles west of Atlanta. It is regarded by both students and townspeople as being part of the "Bible belt," and most (though certainly not all) of the churches in the area have a Fundamentalist Christian orientation. Fundamentalists take quite literally the scriptural statement, "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2: 8-9). The "salvation sermon" first leads the prospective convert to feel the tremendous burden of guilt which one bears for one's past misdeeds and failure to repent; and this is followed by a great wave of joy as the convert feels his or her sins being "washed away" and is "born again" as a "new creature in Christ."

This salvation experience, however, is not considered to be voluntarily attainable, since it is the result of  "grace," or the unmerited favor of God. Should an individual seek to join a  Fundamentalist congregation merely because one is convinced of the truth of Christian teachings, many members would be inclined to doubt that he or she is truly a member of the "elect of God" and, not being able to have such an experience, is probably fore-ordained to burn in Hell regardless of what kind of life they may be leading.


From a scientific point of view, it may be postulated that the degree to which an individual is able to have a salvation experience such as the one described is a function of the degree to which that person is suggestible, and therefore there is a direct relationship between the ability to be "saved" and the ability to be hypnotized. After giving a questionnaire to high and low responders on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (Shor & Orne, 1962) concerning the nature of their personal religious experiences, De Jarnette and I (Gibbons & De Jarnette, 1972) found  that there was no significant relationship between hypnotic susceptibility and a previous change in denominational preference, or between susceptibility and the perceived religiousness of one's father. However, the low-susceptible subjects were less likely to perceive their mother as being moderately religious or deeply religious. Comparing high- and low-susceptible "saved" Protestants with high- and low-susceptible "unsaved" Protestants, the "saved" group contained significantly more subjects who were highly susceptible to hypnosis. 
In follow-up interviews, the reasons for the differences between high and low-suggestible subjects became glaringly apparent. The high susceptibles said things like, "I began to feel a warm tingling glow inside of me. The next thing I knew, I was down in front of the altar, and I was crying," or, "It was like the Hand of God came down and touched me. I felt so happy. I never felt joy like I felt it that day." But when the few low-susceptibles who indicated that they had been "saved" were asked about their experience, they said things like, "I had been going to that church for about six months, mainly because my girl friend went there, but I never 'went forward.' Then one day the preacher invited all those who had accepted the Lord to put up our hands, and we both put our hands up and that was it." 

If relatively enduring changes in personality and behavior can result from the suggestions contained in a "salvation sermon," then people who respond well to suggestion should also be able to experience such changes in response to strongly worded suggestions of a therapeutic nature. This research has provided the foundation for the development of the script for multiversal healing meditation presented elsewhere in this Blog  After first taking my clients "down" into hypnosis and then :up" into hyperempiria (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010) and dissolving them into the infinite love of the Multiverse, the universe of all possible universes (Gibbons & Woods, 2016), fundamental changes in deep-seated beliefs concerning the self, the world, and the future which are the professed aim of cognitive psychology (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979) can sometimes occur in a single session, occasionally accompanied by tears of joy, as was the case with a high school senior whom I hypnotized a few days ago.  after taking her in hypnosis to the multiverse, I told her with considerable elaboration that she was dissolving into the infinite love of the multiverse itself  When she emerged from hypnosis, she expressed surprise that she found herself wiping tears from her eyes. The next time I  saw her, she told me that she wanted to pursue a college degree in hypnosis; and after I told her that no such program existed and we had discussed the situation she decided to major in social work instead.

 In summary, it would appear that people who respond well to suggestion and are ready for a meaningful life change which is in accordance with their preexisting beliefs and values may find that either  a salvation sermon or a hypnotic trip to the Multiverse can provide the catalyst for such a transformational change to take place. I now routinely use the script for
Multiversal Healing Meditation for the alleviation of many forms of anxiety, depression, and stress-related ailments.

References

Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.


Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11I2), pp. 152-156. 

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., 
Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

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

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


  

Thursday, July 9, 2020

False Perceptions that are Driving You Crazy

Most of us have one or more habits of perceiving things which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of life..

All-or-nothing thinking: Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If your opponent is not perfect, then he or she is completely evil..

Over generalization: A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. "My opponent didn't support the bill I wanted. My opponent is never going to do anything right."

Mental filter: One single negative thing about your opponent colors everything else. When you're depressed about this, it sometimes feels like you're "looking at the world through mud-colored glasses."

Disqualifying the positive: If somebody says something good about your opponent, it doesn't count. But if somebody says something bad about your opponent, you "knew it all along."

Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation of your opponent's claims, even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

Mind reading: You think that your political opponent is thinking negative things about one your favorite programs and don't bother to check it out. You just assume that this is true.

The Fortune Teller Error: You think that things are going to turn out badly if your opponent is elected to office, and when it happens you convince yourself that it's the end of the world.
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Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: Imagine that you're looking at the opposition candidates through a pair of binoculars. You might think that any mistake they made or is more important than it really is. Now imagine that you've turned the binoculars around and you're looking through them backwards. Something a candidate you favor has done might look less important than it really is,

Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

Should statements: You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You"should" have done this, you "must" do this, you "ought" to do this to do your part to influence the outcome of the election, and so on. This doesn't make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of over generalization. When the other candidate makes a mistake,you give him or her a label, such as, "a loser" or "He's an ass." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

Personalization: You believe that your vote was the cause of something bad that happened, when, among all the millions of votes cast, your own vote really didn't have very much to do with it.


False Beliefs that are Diving You Crazy


In ancient Greece, if you were anxious, fearful, or depressed, you would consult a philosopher. The philosopher would probably begin by asking you what you believe about life. When you came to an idea which appeared to be incorrect, he would debate with you until you had cast out this irrational belief. When this was done correctly, your depression, fears, and anxieties would also vanish. 

Just as the Greek philosophers did, you can get rid of these kinds of ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out. The psychologist Albert Ellis has put together a list of ten commonly-held irrational ideas which prevent us from experiencing life to the fullest, because they set us up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us have are inclined to believe them, at least occasionally. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them!



I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Many people are haunted by the nagging fear that "something is wrong with them." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance.
If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away: "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"
It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as bases for learning and future growth.
Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!
It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.  Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as pathways to further growth.
Of course, this list does not cover all the negative beliefs which hold us back from becoming the best that we can be. But you can't get very far in life if there is some idea which is preventing you from performing at your best, such as the belief deep down inside that you going to fail, or that you are incapable of success. When we are faced with a daunting challenge, most of us, at one time or another, have the nagging suspicion that we are not up to the task. Whenever you feel a change in mood and you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, depressed, or fearful, you can use a table like this one to write down what was going through your mind at the time, and to figure out how you might be able to see things differently. You can use the print command on your computer to print off as many copies as you need, and keep them handy to change your moods by re-examining and changing the beliefs that got you there.


Additional Links Which May Be Helpful:

A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." Here is a link to a list of false  Perceptions that are dragging You Down, which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. After the link has taken you to the Blog entry, scroll down and it will be the first entry that comes to view.  See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world, by causing you to look at life "through mud-colored glasses." If you are inclined to look at things this way yourself, once you recognize that they are not accurate, you can get rid of them as well..


Frequently the negative beliefs and perceptions that are dragging yu down are held by others. The same apprach can be applied to a friend or family member that is driving you crazy.  Here are a few additional tips to use with  a boss that is driving you crazy. 

Sometimes a friend, family member, or boss is difficult to change because they have a personality disorder, or what is populatly referred to as a toxic person, or an energy vampire. Unlesss they can be persuaded to seek psychological help, the best thing to do is iften to stay away from them or at least to recognize them for who they are so that you do not blame yourself for their problems. 

Finally, what you think is also strongly influenced by what you do -- or by what you don't do! In addition to buiilding up youf resistance to stress by getting plenty of sleep, a good diet, and regular exercise, here is a link to a list of activities which can also help you to get escape from the cycle of anxiety, anger, depression, and despair. They can also strengthen the bond between you and your friends or romantic partner when you do them together. If at all possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people as you undertake them. 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

"First they ignore you. Then they disagree with you. Then they fight you. Then you win." -- Ghandi

The progress of scientific revolutions is less violent, but sometimes no less heated, than political ones. I highly recommend the excellent outline and study guide  for Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Kuhn, 2012),  which has recently been published in its fiftieth anniversary edition. (In my opinion, the outline reads better than the original!) Of particular relevance are Pajares' notes on Chapter V, X, and the chapters which follow it.

As Shakespeare said in his play, The Tempest, "The past is prologue" -- or, as a New York cab driver reportedly phrased it, "Brother, you ain't seen nothin' yet!"

Reference

Kuhn, T. S. (2012). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 4th ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press