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supernatural ability

Everyone has a supernatural ability

Would you like to learn a supernatural ability? The hypnotist Milton Erickson was famous for his powers of observation. People believed he had some supernatural ability. He seemed to be able to tell what a person was thinking and feeling just by looking at them.

Forced to observe 

He explained that he got this power because he had polio as a child. After his illness he was almost totally paralyzed and could only observe. He was left in chair all day and his large family went about their daily business around him. After a while, since he didn't speak or move, they forgot he was there. Silently, day after day he passively observed. And then he began to notice that what his sisters said did not agree with their actions. Somehow, he could tell how they felt by how they dressed and moved. He realized his sisters were communicating by more than words.

This was the skill that he brought to his therapy sessions as a psychiatrist. For many years, people assumed that it was something that was unique to him because of the special circumstances of his upbringing.

Everyone can get a supernatural ability

However, a book by Oliver Sachs shows that this is not so. Sachs is neurologist who studies the effects of damage to the brain. Some damage knocks out  parts of the brain but leaves other parts working. In some cases it affects speech, or motor skills, or the ability to recall concepts but not words.

In the book, Sachs describes how strokes cause some people to lose the power of speech and writing but otherwise are completely lucid. Some of these people made a full recovery and were able to describe what was going on in their minds while they were partly disabled. What is interesting from a therapy point of view is how being unable to communicate affected the rest of their thinking.

Several patients reported that after some weeks of total frustration, to the point of wanting to scream but being unable to, they gradually began to acquire different skills. By being unable to talk, but being able to play cards, they began to notice facial expressions, body posture, clusters of movement. They knew what people coming towards them were going to say even before they got within talking distance. And they reported that as their isolation went on, they got better and better at it.

After recover the common message was 'I realized that I never really listened before'. The interesting thing to me is that apparently everyone can learn this skill.

Why wait until you have a stroke?

What do you think is the key to listening? Share it below.

 

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switching to vaping

Should smokers be switching to vaping?

Many smokers are switching to vaping. Most assume that the change will be beneficial. By switching to vaping they are trying to avoid the well-known health problems of smoking tobacco. But is vaping actually better for you? And how exactly?

A recent pilot study looked into what effects vaping has compared to smoking. It only investigated a small number of people but it is the first research into smokers versus vapers. It suggests that vaping actually is better for you. But for a very surprising reason.

Switching to vaping

The study looked at the bacteria living in the gut of people who used vaporizers and people who smoke tobacco. The study found that participants who used vaporizers have the same gut bacteria as non-smokers. But the tobacco smokers had a significantly altered gut biome.

The term "gut biome" refers to the total collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi living in your gut. We all have trillions of bacteria working away inside us. Most of them are harmless, some of them are potentially hazardous, and a very large proportion of them are actually essential for good health.

Scientists are realising more and more that we have a symbiotic relationship with all the critters that make their home in our intestines. It is becoming clear that the gut biome can have significant health effects. Gut bacteria have been shown to influence obesity, depression, confidence, and even some quite severe mental health issues. So a healthy biome is of critical importance to everyone.

More research will have to be done but the initial results are intriguing. Who knew that smoking could adversely affect the bacteria living inside you?

How many of your clients are switching to vaping? Share it below.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/nu-van042718.php

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weirdest reason for smoking

Weirdest reason for smoking

Today I had what I thought was a very ordinary, normal client. But she actually had the weirdest reason for smoking ever.

She wanted to stop smoking. Then she gave me a long list of all the things that were going wrong in her life. This was all delivered in a quiet monotonous voice. She sat there with her head down, avoiding eye contact and radiating unhappiness.

Smoking to respect grandma

She knows that she has depression but chooses to do nothing about it. Her mother died a few years ago. The issues she had with her mother were never resolved. She loved her grandmother. Her grandmother was the best and brightest thing in her life. And all her memories about her grandmother include her grandmother smoking. The client said that part of the reason why she smokes is to honor the memory of her grandmother. Somehow, if she stops smoking, this disrespects her grandmother.

She wants to have a child, so she thinks it would be best if she stopped smoking. On the other hand she fears that she might be too old to have a child. Overall, I felt this client's despair. I really wanted to help her.

There was no point in trying to address the depression, because she's already said that she is not going to do a thing about it. So I did what I could with standard stop smoking therapy. To my surprise, she went into trance quite easily. I later learned that she had done a lot of meditation in the past, which would explain it.

Different realities

I took her through a series of hypnotic metaphors and visualizations. In trance I got her to look at her own reflection in a pool of water. I encouraged her to look at the reflection as if she was someone else. I encouraged her mind to consider different perspectives, alternative realities and to re-evaluate her own role in life. She was taken to a place where all her friends and relatives were assembled. There she proclaimed that she was changing, that she was stopping smoking, improving her lifestyle. And she outlined what her goal was and how she was going to get there. Among the people gathered there were people who had been a bad influence on her life in various ways. She identified those and banished them from the place.

Ego strengthening

I then did a series of ego strengthening statements. I sought out her personal beliefs and tried to establish a connection between her body, and her soul, and her mind. By the end of it, I had really pulled out all the stops and done everything I could to get this woman to a good place.

I brought her out of trance, and asked her how she felt. She told me that she felt relaxed and clearheaded and was seeing everything differently. And that was a problem.

Weirdest reason for smoking

She then told me one of the most extraordinary reasons I've ever heard why someone smokes. She said that she smokes because it "fogs her mind". When she doesn't smoke, she has "a sharp mind". Having a sharp mind, seeing everything clearly, means that she sees all the faults of others. Noticing those faults makes her angry at them. So she becomes unpleasant, and unsocial. And that's why she smokes, so that she can get on with people.

So my work with her was the exact opposite of what she wanted!

 

What is the weirdest reason for smoking you have heard of? Share it below.

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smoking and mindfulness

Smoking and Mindfulness

I have been reading Alan Wells' excellent book on metacognition and depression.  It is perhaps a  bit hard for the lay person to follow. But with the academic jargon stripped out it makes a lot of sense.

He introduces the idea of Detached Mindfulness; a state of being able to observe thoughts without acting on them. He differentiates between able to experience a thought from the point of view of an observer, and experiencing a thought as some thing that fuses together reality, belief and behavior  into one unbreakable unit.

Smoking and Mindfulness

I was thinking about this in the context of how to use it to get people to stop smoking. Smoking and Mindfulness are not often linked but there may be a way to combine them in therapy. I got to wondering about how it fits into the classical psychology conditioning model. That model sees learned behavior as the result of conditioning: stimulus →  response → reward.

However all these studies were originally based on non-sentient being like clams and worms. Humans are different in that they don't have to respond instinctively to everything. If you blow a puff of air into a person's eye, they will  blink. No matter how often you do it, they never unlearn it, and they cannot not do it.

But many stimuli cause different responses in different people, so perhaps the model needs another element: stimulus → thought → response → reward.

If that is a better model of how people actually respond to stimulus then it suggests that intervention based on changing the thought should work just as well as intervention based on changing the reward.

What do you think? Share your ideas below.

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shape shifter

Shape shifter hypnotherapy technique

I had this enquiry from a therapist today:

I have a young man coming in who believes he’s a shape shifter and who has had a kind of paranormal experience with a green lizard/Shapeshifter. He wants me to regress him to that experience so that he can understand and remember more about it. He also has a lot of anger at this father, mother and grandfather. Today is the first session and I’ll simply be trying to understand more about this experience and having him experience hypnosis. I wonder if you have any suggestions that will help me at this point be the support he needs.

I replied:

It sounds like you have a very interesting client. It seems to me that he has two issues. He has fairly standard resentment and anger towards certain people, and he separately has experienced some sort of hallucination that he doesn't understand. The two may well be connected.

I would approach this by suggesting to your client that we treat it as an exploration. It would be useful to find out the exact circumstances of when he had this experience. He may have been having them for quite a long time. I suspect that if you put him into trance, and deepen him into somnambulism, he will spontaneously regress. When he is in the state of experiencing his shape shifting then you can guide him to a place in his mind where he can safely observe what is going on. The shape shifter imagery will most likely be a metaphor for his basic fears. You can use any of the metaphor transformation therapies as a way of getting rid of the shape shifter thing. Or if he wants to keep them, then you can suggest that he is able to transform them into a source of personal power.

I would go on with exploring his shape shifter experiences until he has either resolved them or come to some sort of understanding about what they mean for him.

I think you then have to address the issues of anger and resentment against his family. I'm sure you know how to deal with them so I won't comment further on that.

I think you have a very interesting case there. I wonder what will come out at future sessions?

 

How would you deal with this ? Share your ideas below.

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say nothing

Train yourself to say nothing

I got an email today from someone looking for help with their client.

I'm looking for a script that will help eliminate a person from using aahs and ands when he is speaking to groups. He strings his sentences together with and and when he is thinking what to say next he says aah. Do you have anything that would work or that I could tweak to help him?

My reply was:

I have been a university lecturer for over 40 years. Like most speakers, I too used to uummm and ahhhhh during lectures. I only became aware of it after I had to  transcribe some of my lectures. It was embarrassing the number of 'hesitation' noises I made when talking to my classes.

I set out to get rid of them and I have succeeded totally. The trick is to become aware of them. As soon as you become aware of them you can avoid standing there making noises just to fill in the gaps. I found that there are two methods you can use.

Make sure you have something to say.

The first one is to not start speaking without knowing what you're going to say. When you are a teacher or a lecturer you feel there is an intense pressure to talk all the time. You need to show that you have something to say. This in fact is not true. It is immensely freeing to be able to say "I don't know". You can then say "what do you think the answer might be?" Or you can say, "I'll do my best to find out and I will explain it in class next time we meet." Or  just say "let me think about that for a moment, talk amongst yourselves". Once you realize that that is no need to keep up the continuous flow of speech your speaking becomes much more natural.

Train yourself to say nothing.

The second thing you can do is when you don't know what to say next, say nothing. This is my preferred method. When I am searching for the next word, looking for the right phrase, or even when I got no idea whatsoever, I just pause. I make no sound whatsoever. And the great thing is, that most people don't even notice. And certainly, nobody cares.

That is by far the easiest way to get rid of the unnecessary Ummms, Ahhhhs, "youknow", 'like' and all the other fillers. So what I suggest you do with your client is to plant a post hypnotic suggestion that he will become acutely aware of every time he utters a filler noise. And that when he is about to say some pointless syllable he actually stops, pauses in silence, and gives his brain time to catch up with his lips.

I think that will be the easiest way to help your client.

 

How would you deal with this ? Share your ideas below.

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western philosophy

Western philosophy of psychotherapy

The town I live in has been getting more and more immigrants from various parts of Asia. They now make up a noticeable proportion of the local population. This means that I am getting more clients from an Asian background.

Most of these clients are in every way comparable to people who have lived here all their lives. But I do notice that there is a distinct cultural difference with some groups. Indian clients seem to be quite comfortable with standard methods, but it is different when dealing with clients from traditional Chinese or Taiwanese backgrounds.

Western philosophy of psychotherapy

The Western philosophy of psychotherapy is based on the idea that you are what you are because of how you were brought up. If you have a psychosocial problem then it came from your childhood, or at least most of it does. Western psychology does not accept that you are born with predestined problems. Nor do cosmic forces shape who you are, or the alignment of the planets, or anything else.

Blaming your parents is emphatically rejected by many clients from Chinese families. They are so set with the idea that parents have to be venerated and respected. The idea that their parents could have done something wrong is just unthinkable. If the client has a problem it can only be because of some fault that the client has. Even the possibility that you could think of tracing your personal problems back how your parents treated you is unacceptable.

I have tried linking to their beliefs in chi and other external forces with some success, but I feel it is not ideal. I am not at all sure of how to deal with this issue.

How do you deal with different cultural expectations? Share your ideas below.

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newsletter-materials

Newsletter materials available

I received this email the other day:

Dear Mr Mason,

A year or so ago I purchased your excellent book of scripts and have enjoyed studying them. I am at present engaged in writing a doctoral dissertation.  I would like your permission to quote and use a selection of your scripts in my paper, with proper acknowledgement of course. My committee needs proof that I have gained your permission even though you indicate that for educational purposes I would be free to do so.

I of course wrote back giving permission. I am always happy for people to use my scripts for education and training. In fact I have special offers for people who train others and hypnosis schools.

I also am always happy for the editors of newsletters to use any of my material. In the past I have supplied hypnotic metaphors and scripts for the journal of The Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists,  the Hypnotherapy Journal, and the journal of the National Council for Hypnotherapy in the UK.

Everybody wins when we share newsletter materials

Hypnotherapy is a sharing profession. Everyone can improve, and the easiest way to improve your own performance is to learn from others. If the whole profession became more open to sharing then we would all benefit. I subscribe to a lot of blogs from other hypnotherapists. Unfortunately, a great many of these use their blogs for self-promotion. Every blog entry it seems is trying to sell training or appointments of the authors book. For most of these blogs, this format defeats the point of a blog. The blog is supposed to be about sharing your personal opinions and communicating with other people about a particular topic. I guess the trouble is that producing original interesting material is actually quite difficult. On the other hand, genuinely held beliefs and observations are always interesting. That is why newsletters are so popular and such a good way of reaching your membership.

If you run a newsletter or a magazine feel free to contact me.

Should there be more sharing in the hypnotherapy community? Share your ideas below.

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betrayed wife

The case of the betrayed wife

On New Year's Day this client discovered that her husband of many years had been unfaithful. He had been seeing other women, and had been consorting with prostitutes. She felt devastated, despairing, and depressed. She felt worthless. As soon as she sat down I asked "what would you like to have happen?". She started weeping. It was obvious she was in great distress. She told me briefly that her husband had betrayed her with other women.

Visualising her emotional distress

Since she was clearly suffering emotional pain the obvious therapy approach was to change that pain into something else. I told her to close her eyes and focus on the feeling. This immediately brought floods of tears.

However she was very cooperative and when I asked her to focus on the feeling and forget about everything else, she did so. I told her to isolate the feeling and think about it as an object.

She told me that the feeling was like some round shape. I started to develop the metaphor. She told me it was big, greyish white, hard, solid. Then she said it's a rock a stone. She said it was heavy. And it was the same all the way round. I asked her what she wanted to have happen to it. She said "I want it shattered."

I said "And what can you do when it his shattered?" She said "I wouldn't have to look at it, it wouldn't be there". More crying. I then suggested "you want it gone shattered, gone forever?". "Yes, that's right." "And what would that mean for you?" "It would be gone, I wouldn't have to see it, it wouldn't be there. " I was unable to get the usual link between the desired outcome and the emotion, but I decided to press on anyway.

Metaphor transformation therapy

By this point her eye lids were trembling and she had clearly gone into trance. I then repeated all the attributes of grey, hard solid, et cetera. I asked her if she could imagine it a little bit different. She said "yes it smaller, and it is pink". We then quite quickly developed it down into a little stone.

I said, "and what would you like to have happen to that little pink stone?" She said " throw it away." I asked her "and where would you throw it?" She said "into the water." So I asked, "what kind of water would that be? The sea, river, lake?" She said, "a river." So I talked her through what happens to stones that end up in rivers. I suggested that it would get bashed against other rocks, chips and ground down until it was like sand. I then suggested that the sand would end up on a beach and get washed clean by the waves.

Hypnotherapy for the betrayed wife

She was still in trance I decided not to take her out of it and ask her how she felt about the betrayal now. Up to this point the whole process had taken four minutes. I suspected that, based on experience from other cases, much of her problem would be based on her imagination of what other people would think of her. She was probably mortified at the thought that other people might in fact have known about her husband's behavior before she did. There is always a great deal of guilt and embarrassment in this sort of situation.

So I did a short session designed to reinforce her feelings of friendship with other people. I suggested that she was surrounded by all the people who know and love her. I suggested all these people were reaching out to her. I told her to hear them talking. There were all saying "it is not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong."

Connecting to others

I suggested that she imagine hugging all these people together and feeling all the good feelings, all their support for her. Then I suggested that she would notice different behavior from her friends. Some of them would be openly supportive, someone would feel bad about it and not know what to do. She just had to accept that different people react differently.

I emphasised that there would be a difficult few weeks ahead. But deep inside she knows that she is okay. And I repeated the mantra "you have done nothing wrong."

To reinforce the feeling of having banished the distress from the betrayal. I did a metaphor technique of getting her to visualise her distress, and then drain it away. I got her to fill the bad place where it had been with good things.

A reframing metaphor for the betrayed wife

Then I used the metaphor of being in a dark room. That new strength in her allowed her to find the door, and open it, and to get out of that dark place. When she left a dark place, I reframed it as being a new beginning. That she could now choose for herself, be herself do what is best for her.

I then linked relaxation with accepting things as they are. The more she relaxed, the deeper she went, the less value she gave all the things that had happened recently. Then I did a finger move confirmation. I used that to tell her that her own unconscious mind had heard what she wanted. Moving that finger was her guarantee that she had changed. Then I got her to send a message of gratitude to her mind. The whole session took less than 20 minutes.

I asked her how she felt about the events of New Year's Day now. She looks a little puzzled. And then she said "it really doesn't matter now."

How would you approach this case? Share your ideas below.

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unconscious mind

Can you define the unconscious mind?

Hypnosis deals with the unconscious mind. Talk to any hypnotist and they will go on at great length about how they work with the unconscious mind. And yet not one of us can actually give a coherent, defensible definition of "unconscious mind".

How do you know you have an unconscious mind?

The only thing that you and I can say with certainty about the world is that we are conscious of our own thinking. Everything else is supposition. If you have seen the movie "The Matrix" you will know that there is no way of proving that you are not actually living inside a computer simulation. Everything in the world around you comes from your own personal interpretation of external stimuli.

But you have no way of knowing whether the same stimuli are being experienced in other people's brains. It is clear that dogs and cats can think and respond to stimuli. So can computers. But are they "conscious"?

How can you measure your unconscious mind?

It is extraordinarily difficult to define precisely what consciousness is. People have thought about this for centuries. Many philosophers believe that the question is unanswerable. So is the only thing we know for sure, that we personally are conscious, the biggest mystery in the world?

One of the main problems is measuring consciousness. Every year a few people in surgery, who appear totally unconscious under a general anaesthetic, report having felt the scalpels and can recall every word that was said. Is a newborn baby conscious? Can we create consciousness in machines? If we can, does that mean that the same machines might develop an unconscious mind?

Latest research into consciousness

Recently, researchers have attempted to measure consciousness by applying magnetic fields to the brain, and then analysing the subsequent responses. They have found a fairly reliable way of being able to tell if your brain is conscious or not. The test was applied to long-term patients who are totally unresponsive to any outside stimulus. Most showed no response. But 20% of them produced a reading that suggested that they are in fact conscious of what is going on. It is possible that they are completely unable to respond, but actually at some level of consciousness.

However, the test works by measuring how integrated information processing is. The more integration there is, the more confident you can be that consciousness is present. One problem with this approach, is that it means that nonliving things can be conscious. You could argue, as many do, that the universe processes information, and therefore has a "consciousness".

Another objection is that information processing may not be the same as "intelligence". A computer processes information at great speed, but is not by any normal definition intelligent.

But all of this leaves open the question of "what is the unconscious mind?" It appears that that question is no nearer to being answered.

How would you define the unconscious mind? Share your ideas below.

 

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/tricky-business-of-measuring-consciousness?

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