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Boxes inside boxes

Boxes inside boxes: a metaphor therapy case

I had another very interesting client today. This client allowed me to get an insight into how the human mind works, and gave very clear metaphors of how she saw her problem.

 This client was a woman in late middle age who had suffered from anxiety most of her life. She came to see me because she is having trouble playing the card game Bridge. She is actually a good and skilled player. But whenever she has to partner with someone she does not know, her game falls apart. She is sure that her new bridge partner will be better than her. My client gets anxious at the thought of what the other person might think about her play. She then worries about this until by the time she gets to the card table she is a nervous wreck, and she plays terribly badly. This therefore fulfils her own prophecy and the whole cycle repeats with the next new player.

Metaphor therapy

 I decided to use metaphor therapy. I got her to take some deep breaths to calm herself. Then I asked her to think about the last bridge game she had when she felt she just could not deal with it. I got her to associate into the feeling. "Think about the shape of the feeling," I told her. "What shape is that feeling?"

She is one of those clients who fidgets a lot, and moves around in the chair. I began to wonder if this method was going to work. Then she surprised me by saying "it's ovalish.". So I asked, "How  big is it?" She guested with her hands to indicate that it was about the size of a dustbin lid. I asked some more clarifying questions and she told me "it's a big piece of coal."

I then started developing the metaphor of the "big piece of coal". She describes in detail has been black and shiny and heavy with lots of sharp angles. I then asked "can you make it a little bit bigger?" "Yes," she said. "And a little bit bigger still?" "Yes," she said. This told me that she actually had some control over it.

I then asked "can you make it a little smaller?" "And a little smaller still?" There was a period of silence until she said "no, it won't get any smaller. It is just getting more dense."

Changing the first mental block

She had now found her subconscious blockage. When a client says they cannot change a metaphor it means that there is something in their unconscious mind which is defending that. This is usually a fear of being unable to handle the change that might come afterwards.

So I changed my approach. I started to suggest to her ways that this thing could change. The idea was to keep suggesting things until I suggested something that her mind would accept. I tried suggesting hammers, drills, crushers, anything that would break up that "piece of coal".

Nothing seemed to work. She steadfastly refused to think of anything that could affect this "piece of coal". I was running out of ideas until remembered that it was actually a piece of coal. Coal burns! So I suggested it might go on fire. She immediately said "No. No, that can't happen."

I wasn't sure what to do next and just waited for her to say something else. And then she said "it could be heated, and give off gas." Somehow, this was acceptable to her mind. I told her to go ahead and heat it.

I then asked her "what is it like now?"

She said "it is grey and porous and quite weak."

I then went back to suggesting hammers, drills et cetera. And while I was going through the list of possible tools she said "It is all dust now."

And I thought to myself "Job done."

So I asked her to think back to the bridge game and the feeling she had about not being good enough for her partner. "How does that seem to you now?"

"Just the same," she said.

Changing the second mental block

Okay… I had seen this behaviour before. Her unconscious mind would not let me anywhere near the real problem. Instead it had offered me some minor metaphor and allowed her to work through that. Her unconscious mind knew that it was safe to change that.  But, it also means that her mind is now receptive to change, because it had experienced some change without any psychological kickback.

So I started the whole process again. I got her to associate back into the original problem, to imagine being in that situation where she was sure that she was going to disappoint the other person and feel embarrassed.

This time I had to work a lot harder to get past her defences. Eventually she told me "there is a big wooden box." Once again I got her to describe the object in detail. She told me that it was "very old, and very strong."

I then set about trying to find ways I could get her to destroy the box. Nothing seemed to work. I sensed that this time was up against a major piece of resistance. I suggested it might go transparent, that it might get wet and rot, it could get eaten by worms and fall apart. None of these produced any response.  

Boxes inside boxes

So I asked "what do you think might be in the box?"

After a long period she said "more boxes. There are more boxes inside."

"How many boxes?"

"There are five boxes", she said. I then got her to describe each of the boxes. She told me "the big one is made of cardboard. Then there's another one made of metal. And one made of glass. And another cardboard one. And a wooden one." It was now obvious from her demeanour, that she had gone deep into trance, and was actually experiencing these things directly.

And then she said "and there are papers, and files scattered around." I did not know quite what to make of that, so I decided to explore the five boxes.

"And what do you think is in those boxes?"

And one by one she began to tell me about the contents of each box. The wooden box contains soil. The glass box contained a red light. The small cardboard box contained a wooden puzzle. The metal box took a long time to uncover. It turned out to be in two sections. The top section has five compartments, and each compartment was filled with a liquid colour. Each colour was different. I asked, "what do you think the are for?" She said, "I don't know."

So I suggested, "perhaps you can make something out of those things?"

She said, "yes, I think I might."

She then said "those papers have all the things I have done wrong in my life written on them. They are all neatly organised into files."

Burning her old anxieties

I took a while to appreciate the startling development.

So I asked her "what would you like to have happen to those papers and files?"

She said "I suppose I could get rid of them?"

I asked her "what would you use to get rid of them?"

She said, " I could use the red light to burn them."

So I encouraged her, "and you can use the red light to burn them all up."

And a lovely smile came over her face. I asked "what's happening in that place now?"

She said, "they are all getting burned up, and I'm putting the ashes in the soil."

The time between her responses got longer and longer. And the smile on her face got broader and broader. She was clearly enjoying burning up all her old mistakes.

The time between responses got so long, that I went off and made a cup of tea.

When I came back she was sitting there with her eyes open, smiling.

She said, "I didn't want to come back. I was having such a good time playing with the red light and I can still feel it swirling around me."

I asked her, "And what about that old feeling of not being good enough?"

And she said, "well, actually I think it's gone."

 

I finished the session then. I felt that she had undergone a profound change

And on the way out she said, "I'm looking forward to finding what's in the other compartment of that metal box."

 

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not who you think you are

You are not who you think you are

We can all remember ourselves as children. Most of us think that we are still essentially the same as we were then. This is part of a basic belief that we all stay pretty much the same person all through life.

Not who you think you are: different beliefs

There are other beliefs which disagree with this view. Buddhists in particular, believe that the "personality is an illusion." The Buddhist philosophy believes that we all change constantly, and that our belief that things stay the same is wrong.
It is well known that our body replaces all of its cells many many times in our life time. Some cells are replaced in a matter of days, some cells survive for years before finally being replaced. Even if you stay the same weight and height, there is a constant turnover of the physical matter that makes you up.

Science is now beginning to discover that is not just your body that changes. Your mind, your thoughts, your ideas, your beliefs, – they all change too. How you think can be changed by meditation. The basic functioning of your own unconscious mind can also be changed.

The evidence

A recent study compared the personality of a set of schoolchildren measured in 1950 with those same schoolchildren 63 years later. The study found no correlation between how teachers assessed the children's personality at the time, and how close friends assess their personality now. It appears that every one of these children had changed their personality over their lifetime. Other studies have suggested that for shorter periods, tens of years, your personality stays pretty constant. But this study shows exactly the opposite.

I'm sure that we are all familiar with meeting an old school friend after many years, and being amazed at how much they had changed. Well, it seems that the same applies to you.

Source:
Harris, et al. Personality Stability From Age 14 to Age 77 Years. Psychology and Aging. 2016 Dec; 31(8): 862–874. doi: 10.1037/pag0000133

 

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dealing with death

How to help someone dealing with death

Most people just don't know what to do around death.

Dealing with death is difficult. You want to help, but don't know what to do. Many people feel very uncomfortable when someone they know has a close friend or relative die. It is hard to know what to do or say. You don't want to make things worse by bringing it up, and at the same time you don't want them to think you're insensitive. The trouble is that no one ever tells you how to deal with it. It's something that we just don't talk about.

The first thing to realise is that the person involved already knows. You cannot make it worse by mentioning it. You cannot help them without acknowledging their loss. What you need to do, in every case, is to let the person know that you share their loss. Empathy, not sympathy.

Let them know you care

It can be very tempting to just pretend that it didn't happen. To just not talk to the person. This is the worst thing that you can do. What the grieving person needs is for lots of people to reach out to them. You don't have to be highly skilled are particularly empathetic. You just need to let them know that the person they lost was also important to other people.

The best thing you can do is to listen. Let them talk, and just listen. Do not offer advice. Don't tell them "it will pass". Do not tell them stories about how it also happened to you. Really listen. Hear their grief and acknowledge it. Many people are too busy thinking about what they are going to say in return to really hear what's being said. Talk about your memories of the dead person, share what you have in common. And don't sanitize the dead person. Talk about their faults as well as their virtues. Let the listener know they were a real person in your life.

Do something practical

It is always better to do something than to do nothing. The second best thing you can do is to help the person in practical ways. If they are not coping well, offer to cook a meal. Or to look after the kids for a night. Ask if you can do the ironing. Maybe suggest you go out for a walk at the weekend. Show the person you care by doing something useful for them.

The third thing to do is to be there for them. Even if you feel deeply embarrassed, do not just disappear. How are you going to rebuild a friendship, if you just dropped out of sight the moment they really needed some help? Call the person, visit the person, let them know that you are there if they want to call you day or night. Let them know that you are a resource, a friend.

Invest in a long-term friendship

And be a continuing friend. If you know they're still grieving long after the event, then don't be afraid to reach out on the anniversary. Being person may feel very down at that point, and your offer of friendship and company can make a difference.

But whatever you do, just be there for them.

 

 

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Hypnosis marketing

Hypnosis marketing – packaging or contents?

I was looking at some really slick hypnosis marketing recently on the Internet. It is a hypnosis based service to stop smoking. It looks very professionally done and is franchised through many local hypnotists. The benefits to the hypnotist are obvious. A small local hypnotist is able to on-sell a professionally made stop smoking service. And presumably they get a commission from hosting the advert or recommending it to their clients.

I have no doubt that it works for some people. I have no doubt that doing it this way is much cheaper than going to a professional hypnotherapist. And it is a good thing that smokers are able to get some cut-price help.

What I do wonder about however, is whether the marketing gets more thought than the therapy. This particular service offers a ten step program. The smoker downloads ten audio hypnosis recordings and listens to them over a period of weeks.

Why a ten step program? Why not six or eleven or some other number? What is so special about ten?

It seems to me highly unlikely that purely by chance stopping smoking requires ten separate stages. Or ten separate things to address. And yet, it is very common for all sorts of therapies to be packaged in this way. I think it is much more likely that the people selling such therapy packages are looking for something catchy to use in their marketing. The number of steps has absolutely nothing to do with what is needed to produce the result.

To me, this suggests that the therapy is being twisted to fit the marketing, and not the other way round. If the therapy actually requires six steps or nine steps or some other number, then the package must contain unnecessary padding. Or the actual requirements are being thinned out and possibly are less effective.

I am always suspicious of any over-neat package of anything to do with human psychology. Human beings just don’t fit into nice square boxes.

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Smoking blindness

Smoking blindness

My local health district has proudly announced a new smoke-free effort to help people to cut down smoking. It is the result of years of planning and the combined efforts of seven area health boards. The initiative is "employing expert staff dedicated to helping people across the regions to become Smokefree".

The new service offers face-to-face coaching and 24-hour phone support. "The quick coaches will support you through a six-week program and provide free nicotine patches, lozenges and/or gum."
The service is embracing all the latest in technology. As well as weekly face-to-face meetings, they are using texting, videoing, Skyping, and emails to keep constantly in touch with the smokers. And it costs nothing. People wanting to quit get any combination of nicotine replacement therapy patches, nicotine gum, and lozenges free and unlimited.
The government has said publicly that it intends to make the whole country smoke-free by 2025. This initiative is part of that policy. And I applaud anything that is being done to help people stop smoking.

Smoking Blindness

However, this looks like another case of smoking blindness. Everything in this new initiative is based on a model of smoking which regards smoking as a purely physical or biomedical affliction. This reflects the widespread view in medicine that smoking is the result of physical addiction. If you believe that smoking is the result of addiction to tobacco then of course the correct response is to help eliminate the addiction. This is done with pharmaceuticals and encouragement. In my view this is just official smoking blindness.

It is surprising to me that this entire multimillion dollar initiative seems to give no weight at all to the psychological side of smoking. Hypnotherapy is very successful at stopping smoking. It does not use pharmaceuticals, and does not offer ongoing multiweek support. This is because you don't need them.

Smoking is at least as much about the psychology of the smoker as it is about the physical side. In fact I believe that smoking is almost entirely a psychological issue. It is rather disheartening to see yet another instance of smoking blindness by the medical profession. I wish the initiative well, but I really think that they are working on a flawed model.

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anxiety making ill

Is anxiety making you ill?

Anxiety doesn’t just affect the mind

Does worry cause physical illness?

Is anxiety making you ill? Anxiety is linked to physical illness. Recent research has shown that anxiety doesn’t just affect the mind, it may also make you physically ill. To be specific, anxiety is associated more than would be expected with a wide range of physical health problems.

The DSM lists several common types of anxiety disorder: general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic attacks, simple phobias, OCD and PTSD. It is not surprising that anxiety is the most common problem presented to hypnotherapists.

A recently published review of 48 high-quality academic research articles has confirmed that anxiety is the most common psychological problem. Around 4% of people experience some sort of anxiety disorder. Women are twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder than men. Surprisingly, young people are more affected than older groups.

Common anxiety types

The most common form of anxiety reported was generalised anxiety order (GAD). Other common forms found were simple phobias, and the least common was full panic disorder. People with long-term health conditions such as cancer, heart problems, heart and lung diseases all show a consistently high level of anxiety. It is not clear which one causes the other, but anxiety is almost always present.

Anxiety is also very common with some mental health conditions, particularly bipolar depression and schizophrenia. Anxiety is also commonly found with various types of addictions, such as substance abuse, uncontrollable gambling and various types of obsessions.

The review found that people with an anxiety disorder are at increased risk for the development of other anxiety and mood disorders. Anxiety is also a predictor of addictive behaviour.

This backs up the assertions by many hypnotherapists that teaching people how to reduce their own  anxiety by self-hypnosis can have a positive effect on the quality of life.

 

Source:

O. Remes, C. Brayne, R. van der Linde, L. Lafortune. A systematic review of reviews on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in adult populations, Brain and Behavior, 2016; 6(7). doi: 10.1002/brb3.497

 

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Surprise Easter egg

A surprise Easter egg

I had a client today who reminded me of the deep and complex psychology that our clients bring to us. When I went looking for the origin of this client's problems, I had no idea what I would find. This one brought me a surprise Easter egg.

This client came to me several months ago, and at that time I treated her for the anxiety she felt during meetings at work. She felt unable to speak up and was afraid of conflict. She said that she felt a tremendous change after the last session and felt it was time to change some more.

I asked what her problem was today, and she said that she has a knot of anxiety in her stomach all the time. Her constant anxiety means she overeats and drinks too much to deal with the stress inside her. She also eats too much when she is "bored".

Visualising the problem

The problem seemed simple enough. I got her to close her eyes and become aware of the feeling inside her body. She identified it quite easily and said that it was located in her abdomen. I asked to describe what it seemed like. To my surprise he said it is like a huge oblong egg. I asked her to describe it and she told me that it had a shell, with a mottled black and dusky gold surface.

When I asked her to describe it in more detail it told me that it was womblike, that there was something like a foetus inside it. This really surprised me. I have never come across anything like this before. It clearly had deep significance to her. It is not often that a client gives you such a powerful and direct metaphor.

Chair therapy

I decided that the best therapeutic technique would be to use the Chair method. I told her to imagine a chair in front of her. Then I told her to imagine taking that egg and placing it in the chair. She said she had done that:that was the most critical part of the therapy done.

I then told her to just regard it. Look at it, be curious about it, to think about what she felt about it. She said there was something inside it. I asked her what she thought it was, and she told me that the thing inside was the true essence of her. She felt that this thing inside the egg shell had been trying to get out for a very long time.

Breaking open the surprise Easter egg

The next job than for me was to help get this thing out of the shell. I told her to imagine leaning forward and putting her hands on the shell. Then I suggested that the contact of her hands would begin to transmit heat into the egg. I asked her what the thing inside the egg wanted. She told me that it wanted to come out.

I then asked what was happening in the egg, and she said that it was now warm inside. Then I told her to move her hands around on the surface of the egg to see if thing inside would begin to follow the movement. After some time she said that it was moving and that it was ready. I told her to move her hands closer together at one point in the egg and to leave a space between them. I suggested that between her hands she would begin to feel bumps and tremors and little cracks begin. Quite quickly she said that yes it's happening. Then with out any more input from me she said "it's out".

Keep the change

At this point there were tears in her eyes, so I decided to consolidate the experience. I told her to take this thing (and at no point did I ask her to describe it) and hold it the way she would hold a new baby. I told her to love this thing and allow it to love her, to open herself up to it, to allow it into her body.

This brought more tears, and I spent some time getting her to take it into her body, to feel it spreading to every part of her.

She needed to have this change impressed into her unconscious mind so I did a kinaesthetic confirmation. This consisted of suggesting to her that she send a message of gratitude to her own mind for having allowed this to happen.  I suggested that she might get a message back. I told her to focus attention on her hands, and that she might feel a need, a compulsion to move a finger or perhaps the hand would move. She got a motor response in her hand. I told her that that was her guarantee that her mind had heard and would be applying the changes.

Visualise the outcome

I finished the session with lots of suggestions of her new ability to stand up for herself in meetings, ( the original thing she came for) and that she would no longer have any problems with eating or drinking.

She came out of the session saying that she felt completely changed. She said "I feel like I can do anything today".

I gently suggested that she would feel like that every day from now on.

 

 

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black and white thinking dogs

Black and white thinking dogs

Over the last 15 years I have been trying to figure out exactly what is going on in other people's heads. And in my own. I'm beginning to suspect that a great many things that clients come to therapy for have to do with black and white thinking.

As I get more experienced in hypnotherapy, my ideas about what causes common problems has continually changed. When I came out of my hypnosis course many years ago my head was filled with NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis and other good things. The approach to therapy was simple, obvious, and there was a solution to every problem.
Right from my first client, I discovered that this just was not true. Almost everything I had been taught in my course turned out to be simplistic and/or over-hyped. 

Black and white thinking

I was reminded of this by a post on another forum that I occasionally visit. A woman there posted a story of how she had many years ago moved to a house near the beach. On her first night there she found it delightful to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves and a distant foghorn. On the second night she couldn't get to sleep because of the incessant barking of many dogs. She tried to sleep but the barking went on and on and annoyed her so much that she got up out of bed, got into her car and drove towards where she thought the noise was coming from. These noisy neighbors had to be sorted out once and for all. She was just not gonna stand for this.

Then she found the source of the noise. There was a colony of seals on the beach. They were all doing the things seals do, and barking at each other in the dark. It wasn't dogs at all. Sounded just like dogs, but it wasn't dogs. So she went home satisfied that wasn't dogs and went to sleep. The seals barked on many nights, but none of that barking bothered her at all. She just added it to the list of pleasant noises you get when you live by the beach.

Theories about perception

The story illustrated a point about how her feelings changed when her perceptions changed. She was wondering how it is that our perceptions affect our emotions. If we can find a way to change our perceptions, then perhaps that technique could be used in hypnotherapy. There then followed a discussion by many contributors about the nature of perception and how everything is perception. 

I thought about this story. And I came to a different conclusion. I don't think her behavior, her ability to sleep after she knew the barking was seals and not dogs, had anything to do with perception. It is actually to do with black and white thinking. It is not that perception affects emotions, it is that emotions influence perceptions.

Personal Beliefs

The starting point for me, is asking why do barking dogs annoy her in the first place? Some people get annoyed by dogs barking, some people just ignore it. It's got nothing to do with the barking, and everything to do with our beliefs about barking. If you believe that dogs barking is just what dogs do, and it's meaningless, that a barking dog is just an unhappy dog, then it doesn't bother you.

If you have a personal belief that dogs should be controlled, that uncontrolled dogs are an indicator of bad training, and caused by inconsiderate people, then those people should be made to change. It is the compulsion, the call to action, that causes the emotions. The emotion is there to make sure you do something about it.  

I believe that a great many people, who would be horrified to learn it, actually have black and white thinking. When I discuss it people often say "Oh no. I can see things in shades of grey." But what they don't realize is that they have many rigid internal rules about right and wrong. And those rules are tied to emotion. The woman in the story was so annoyed about the dogs that she got up in the middle of the night to go and sort out the people allowing the dogs to bark. This is classic black and white thinking.

Consequences of black and white thinking

The essence is: "This is wrong. I am allowed to get annoyed about this. I have the right to punish people who don't behave the way I expect them to". My theory is, that for this woman, this was one of her personal beliefs. She has a black-and-white rule about dogs barking. It mustn't be allowed, and it fires off anger inside her when someone contravenes that rule. Anger makes her act. It seems irrational, but it is in complete accordance with her internal rule. And every time it happens she reacts the same way.

She has a different rule about waves on the beach, and foghorns, and for all I know, seagulls and rainstorms and many other things. I would speculate that she has a rule that natural things might be annoying, but they are things that must be accepted, welcomed even.

Reframing the perceptions

Therefore when she discovered that the source of the noise was seals barking, she realised that her rule was not being contravened. There were no grounds for getting angry, and she could sleep through it. It wasn't her perception that changed, the noise was just the same as it had been. What had  changed was the realisation that the rule didn't apply in this situation.

Probably, in that town, there were people who also believed that the barking of the seals was barking of dogs. But those people didn't get up in the middle of the night to do something about it. They have a different rule about barking dogs. So it is not about perception, it is beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of other people's behavior.

The woman in the story went on to ask about what she could do to alter her perceptions to stop her getting angry about various things. If she came to see me I would advise her instead to start searching her memory about what it was that created the rule in the first place. Change the rule, and you change the emotional response.

 

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yips

Hypnosis for the Yips

I had a client come in this week with the yips. It is what happens when the golfer is about to take an important putt. The pressure is on, and everything falls apart. A simple putt that can be done nine times out of ten on the practice tee just goes horribly wrong.

It doesn't just happen in golf, but golf is the best known example of it.  It's what happens when the player just chokes. Tennis players do it, footballers do it on penalty shoots, and darts players do it when they need a winning throw.

There are lots of folk remedies that are supposed to help. If you are right handed, supposedly, squeezing your left hand will help avoid it. Or you can try visualizing the shot before you take it. They don't help much.

Origin of the yips

I talked to my client about when and how it happens. She said it never happens on the practice course. She can sink all the putts all the time: she is actually a very good golfer. And that is the problem. She has become so bad at putting that her friends are now reluctant to play with her. Her yips are just embarrassing everybody. It only happens when she's about to take a shot and all her friends are looking at her.

And that is the key to the problem. The yips are a manifestation of a simple psychological mechanism. When my client goes up to address the putt, in her mind she is aware that her friends are watching, and she is aware that she could fail again. And that is where the yips set in. What is happening, psychologically, is that that a little tremor of uncertainty is triggering a childhood fear. It is triggering a childhood fear that was never resolved. The childhood fear was about being embarrassed, feeling stupid, feeling inadequate and wanting to run away. That memory comes out of the past and takes over. All the player wants to do is to get out of that situation, and the unconscious mind obliges by ruining the play.

Treatment for the yips

When I explored the situation with my client, she confirmed that it all started after she had made a very bad putt, and she did feel stupid and embarrassed. That single incident is what linked back to the childhood fear. And every time she got the same situation, that little bit of uncertainty linked to the childhood fear, and brought it to the fore again. The more times it was triggered the stronger the fear got. My client confirmed that her yips had got more and more intrusive to the point now where she was feeling like giving up the game altogether.

The treatment for the yips, is not to deal with the yips, but to deal with the childhood fear. I put her into trance, and did a simple regression. I used an Affect Bridge from her golfing feeling and got her to find the original embarrassment that it was linked to. This turned out to be a childhood humiliation that I fixed by empowering her to take control and change it.

Getting rid of the childhood issue means that when she next gets onto the green, she will simply be battling physics, and not her own past.

 

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Hypnosis depth scale

Hypnosis depth scale

The first hypnosis depth scale was developed by Theodore Sabin.  He was a social psychologist who developed a theory called role theory. The basic idea is that we all live out a number of well-defined roles. These roles are socially constructed. That means that we learn them from other people and we behave in certain ways depending upon what other people expect us to do. Each of these roles comprises of a consistent and repeatable cluster of behaviors, ideas, beliefs and attitudes.  Who we want the world to believe we are is the result of the learned roles we choose to play.

Each person has family roles, social roles, business roles, public roles and private roles. For example, I may have a father role, a husband role, a different role when interacting with my dog, another set of behaviors when I’m in the pub, and another role in the cinema. The role may be automatic, or I may be putting it on, pretending to be angry with a late employee. In all of these situations I behave according to a set of unwritten rules.  And so does everyone else. As long as we all play our roles, and we all do what’s expected of us, everything is fine. There are policeman roles, teacher roles, pastor roles, etc., which are actually different from the private values of the people carrying out those roles.

Role-playing and role taking are two different things. Role taking is where you knowingly take on another role and act it out. It is done deliberately in order to influence other people, usually so they will approve of you. Teenagers do it all the time. Go to any concert and you will see people taking on the role of a fan of a particular type of music and trying to behave as they believe real dedicated fan would. The difference is that the real fans are not acting.

The hypnosis depth scale

Most students of hypnosis will recognise something called the hypnotic depth scale, although few will know the origin of it. This was published by Friedlander and Sabin in 1938. It used a standard text that was delivered in a standard way under standard conditions. The idea was that some people would be hypnotised some people would not, and by using a standard text the only difference would be the susceptibility of the people being hypnotised.

People were classified according to whether hearing the suggestions in the text would induce eye catalepsy, muscle paralysis, finger lock, post hypnotic suggestions and so on. The more things that you showed under hypnosis was a measure of the depth to which you were hypnotised. This scale was later further developed into the Stanford scale.

Sabin believed that everyone acted out roles, consciously or unconsciously. His theory of hypnosis was that every person who was being hypnotized was actually choosing a role. You could choose the role of being highly susceptible, or you could choose the role of being unhypnotizable. Neither were true: they were both roles. So a person on stage being hypnotized would react in the way that they imagined someone on stage being hypnotized would act, and they would act accordingly. This became known as the Role Theory of hypnosis.

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