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super visualizer

Are you a super visualizer?

Are you a super visualizer?

This month's edition of Scientific American Mind deals with something which might be of interest to hypnotherapists. Recent research has shown that about 2% of the population are unable to visualize anything. When you ask them to recall say, what they had for breakfast this morning, they are incapable of picturing it in their mind's eye.

They are also unable to imagine the face of their children, or their kitchen, or the school they went to. Hypnotists have long known that some people do not respond well to hypnotic inductions that require them to visualise.

You don't have to be a super visualizer to go into trance

Hypnotists have also learned that you don't have to be able to visualise in order to be able to go into trance. Avoiding visualization words allows people to understand things in their own terms. You do not need to be able to see a picture of a staircase in order to imagine going deeper by going down one.

The new research has shown that people who cannot visualise are not handicapped. Many of these people have successful careers in design, programming and the arts. It appears that they have invented other ways of experiencing the world to make up for the fact that they cannot create a mental image.

In one test people were asked whether the grass was a darker or lighter green and a pine tree. Non-visualizes insisted that they were not seeing a pine tree grass, somehow they just knew that the pine tree was darker.

How to spot a Super Visualizer

The researchers developed a questionnaire which reliably classifies people who have aphantasia. MRI scans have shown that the brains of these people react differently when asked to visualize. The normal visual part of the brain shows almost no activity, but parts of the brain to do with decision-making and error prediction were busy.

It turns out that aphantasia has been known for more than 100 years but no one had ever bothered to look into it closely. Once it began to become widely known, hundreds of people came forward to say that they also could not visualise.

They had all assumed either that no one could, or that there were oddities. Most of them felt a great relief to know that there were actually thousands of people just like them.

Interestingly enough, at the other end of the scale there are people who are superbly good at visualising. This group has not been studied scientifically either.

Maybe this is something you should look out for in your clients?

 

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taste hallucinations

Why don’t you have Taste Hallucinations

Why don't you have taste hallucinations?

I had a client yesterday who told me that she cannot go to sleep without a radio playing or the TV on. This is a common behavior. Many people use music to drown out the sound of the voices in their head. Or more correctly, the feelings that they experience as if there were voices in their head.

And that got me thinking. Hearing sounds, words, or voices is very common. Visual hallucinations, seeing things or people who aren't there is the most common. They are not necessarily an indicator of a  serious mental condition.

But I have never come across an Oral hallucination. Why do people not get hallucinations of having a taste of banana in their mouth? Or curry, or any other taste? If the mind can produce the other types of hallucinations why not the taste one? In dreams we think we see and hear things, but I personally have never had a dream where I tasted something.

There is a condition called synesthesia where colors are experienced as smells, and noises as tastes. The various sensory pathways get switched over, but that is not really a hallucination. Tinnitus is an imagined roaring in your ears, but that also is not really a hallucination.

People with schizophrenia sometimes believe that they have an unpleasant smell in their nose, or a bad taste in their mouth. It seems never to be an actual food or a specific smell. These types of taste hallucinations are clearly associated with mental illness.

Can you hallucinate a strawberry?

I wonder if there has been any attempt to hypnotize people to experience tastes and smells? When stage hypnotists persuade people to eat an onion, is the subject just ignoring the taste of the onion? Could the hypnotist persuade the eater that the onion actually tastes of strawberry?

I personally can vividly picture a strawberry. I suppose I could imagine the sound of the food processor making a strawberry smoothie. But I cannot summon up a memory of what a strawberry smoothie tastes like. I recognize the taste, but I cannot recall it in advance.

Can other people summon up tastes on demand?

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website engaging

Is your website engaging?

Is your website engaging?

Telemedicine has been around for many years. But has not really been accepted by mainstream providers, or patients. We are actually behind developing countries, where it is sometimes the only thing available.

The problems are social, not technical. Providers are often not willing to invest in it. This is not just due to personal resistance. There are also problems with unfamiliarity, training, finding time, hardware and software needed. And structural constraints: liability, insurer regulations, professional body restraints of competition, problems with jurisdiction.

Patients have similar problems: access to suitable hardware and software, fear of the unknown, privacy issues, lack of support from insurers.

Making your website engaging

There is now an irresistible move  to connect caring professionals to their patients through online means. But before this can get started you have to have enough clients to make it worthwhile investing in the necessary infrastructure. This is not just having a computer and internet connection. Everyone has got that. You also need scheduling software, booking and payment methods. Many traditional doctors' methods are not easy to convert to something suitable for online intimacy.

Therefore, it is a chicken and egg thing. You need patients ready to sign up, but you need everything in place first before you can sign them up, and they won't sign up until they know you have everything ready for them.

Creating and engaging online presence

So the first move is for the providers to create an online presence, something that lets potential clients test the water so to speak. Each provider is setting out a welcome page designed to reassure the patient. This features a video profile of each health provider explaining who they are, their qualifications and outlining the sort oft thing they do. The patient can then shop around for someone they feel comfortable with, test out the connection quality and then make contact online when they are ready. At a minimum, every therapist should have a Skype or Zoom service.

For hypnotherapists the hardware and software already exists and is easy to use. Some hypnotists already use it, but few integrate it into their marketing plan. Maybe it is time for us to start to focus on creating a front page not as an internet business card, but as a website engaging with clients electronically?

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wearing your metaphor

Wearing your metaphor to hide your fears

Wearing your metaphor

It was a cold day earlier this week, and I had the heating in the office going full blast. I thought it was nice and warm, but my client came in and sat down in my big chair with a bulky coat on.

I invited her to hang it up, but she refused, saying she was feeling cold. It clearly wasn't cold and there was no logical reason to sit and get hypnotized wearing an overcoat.

But this client just sat there, all wrapped up. As we talked,  I asked her what she needed. She punctuated all her remarks by slapping the side of the chair as if batting away my inquiries.

I noticed from time to time she was swung her leg up as if kicking away some uncomfortable idea. She was pretty much refusing to reveal anything personal.

Signalling with clothes

Fortunately I had seen this before and I knew what to do. I have seen it at a dinner party in my house. One guest insisted she was cold and sat at the table eating dinner with her outside coat on.

She was later invited to other dinners with us. The next time did take her coat off, but wore a dress that came right up to her neck and covered her legs and arms completely.

At later dinners the dress became less severe. Her next dress had no arms, and then at the next dinner the dress was a bit shorter. Finally, she wore a dress that showed her shoulders but with a scarf there, just in case.

I am sure she was totally unaware of her own unconscious behavior. She was signalling that she was keeping all wrapped up in the presence of strangers, and only gradually let her guard down.

This was exactly what my client was doing: coming for help but keeping everything wrapped up, and slapping and kicking away all efforts to get her reveal anything. The metaphor couldn't have been more clear.

I was able to hypnotize her despite her reservations, and the session ended successfully.

But she still hadn't taken the coat off.

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yoga, meditation and hypnosis

Yoga, meditation and hypnosis

Yoga, meditation and hypnosis

The link between yoga, meditation and hypnosis is evident. All of these practices can make you feel better, quiet your mind, and improve your quality of life. Why they make you feel that way is a matter of belief.

Yoga and meditation are passive techniques. The basic intention, according to Buddhist beliefs, is to empty to your mind, to think of nothing, to experience a complete loss of self. The idea is that you just open yourself, the essence of who you are, to the universe. By connecting to the universe, you become one with it. You become aware of just how small and insignificant you are in comparison. In theory, this quiets the ego-self, and turns off all feelings of your own importance.

How does Yoga, meditation and hypnosis work

However, recent research shows quite the opposite. It has been known for more than a century than getting skilled at anything makes you more proud of yourself. This is the exact opposite of what yoga and meditation are supposed to do. Ironically, it seems that the better you get at meditation, the more impressed you are with yourself. This actually makes you focus more on yourself rather than less.

Researchers found that people who had done yoga in the previous hour felt higher self-esteem than equivalent people who had not. Similar results were found with meditation. Regular meditators who had meditated in the previous 24 hours scored more highly on measures of self-esteem than people who had not meditated.

Ego-quieting doesn't 

Ego-quieting is offered as the reason why yoga and meditation work. By quieting the chattering ego, by diminishing it, you make yourself feel better. But this study has shown a different mechanism. The study suggests that by being successful in your yoga meditation practice you actually boost your ego. It is the ego boost, not the lack of it, which increases well-being.

Presumably this is why self-hypnosis produces the same result?

 

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Psychology and hypnosis

Psychology and Hypnosis

Psychology and Hypnosis

Psychology and Hypnosis sit together very uneasily. Everything that hypnotists do is based on a theory of how the mind works. Some of this theory is very old and based on therapy room experience. Some of it can barely be counted as theory since it is based on notions of cosmic influence which cannot be tested. And some of it is based on laboratory-based psychology studies.

The theory which is based on public psychology is thought to be more reliable than the other parts. There is a great deal of criticism of hypnosis and hypnotherapy simply because there is no concrete explanation of how and why it works. So wherever possible hypnotherapists build on findings from University psychology studies in order to validate what they are doing.

Psychology and Hypnosis bias

All academic studies and social science are subject to bias and error and psychology has come in for increasing criticism in the last few years. Most published psychology studies only feature positive results. Psychology studies which failed I just ignored, and do not get published.

This is known as publication bias. Another common bias is to do the studies on your own students. Something like 80% of public psychology articles are actually based on surveying first and second year students. These are definitely not representative of the whole population.

However, recently a much more worrying criticism has emerged. Two of the most famous psychology experiments have been found to be deeply flawed and possibly fraudulent. One is the famous Stanford prison experiment. In this experiment students were randomly allocated to act as warders or prisoners. As the experiment progressed warders got more and more cruel, and prisoners got more and more desperate to get out.

The lesson from the experiment was that giving people a role influences how they behave. It now turns out, 40 years later, that some of the prisoners and guards are admitting that they were acting. They were pretending to the emotions that they displayed. In fact, the students have admitted to doing what they thought the researchers wanted them to do.

A new psychology paradigm?

As a student study this really doesn't seem too surprising or too important. However, this experiment has influenced two generations of psychologists and has generated much follow-up research. The other famous research, Milgram's electrocution experiment has come in for similar criticism. Later researchers have claimed that the students delivering the electric shocks were encouraged to go on beyond the point that they wanted to.

The point is not that these experiments were deliberately fraudulent. They were not. The point is that for almost 50 years there have been accepted as examples of good practice. The reality is that these and many other psychological experiments have later been found to be defective. They just do not stand up to scrutiny and practice.

Maybe there is something to be said for basing your therapy room practice on your own practical experience, rather than try to incorporate something that may or may not be valid?

Should hypnosis be theory based? Leave a comment below.

 

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Stage Hypnosis Inductions

Stage Hypnosis Inductions

Stage Hypnosis Inductions

I got an email today:

I recently purchased the "Best Hypnosis Induction Scripts" package instant download version and I really love it. I've bought a lot of hypnosis scripts from your site. I am a young hypnotist (19 years-old) and this has provided the best of assistance to me so I want to say thank you as I am seriously considering becoming a stage hypnotist and I might just book my first gig at a corporate event party at my company soon despite me being so young.

Getting to the point now... although every single induction is very useful within the hypnosis scripts' package, the Instant and Rapid Inductions are personally the best of service to me because I am going to do hypnosis for stage performing/entertainment and demonstration purposes. Instant Inductions are short, quick, and instant and will work well for me in my field of work.

That leads me to my question: is there, by any chance, a way for you to personally provide me some more instant and rapid induction scripts via email? The ones you provided are great! It's just that I would love to have more in my arsenal as a hypnotist. It would mean the world to me if you could personally develop some for me in the same organized step-by-step format you used in the hypnosis scripts package. You know, with the organized tables that explained what to do when?

I know it sounds like a lot to ask but I am a loyal customer after all and I need help more than ever. My boss could set me up with my first stage hypnosis gig at the company party. It'd really be cool if you could hook me up with some more instant and rapid inductions via email since that seems to be the simple route. Anyway, let me know. Thanks!

Stage Hypnosis Inductions

My reply was:
Good to hear from you. And thank you for those kind words about my scripts.

I am not a stage hypnotist myself, but I have been to many, many stage hypnosis shows.

I can understand why you think you need more inductions, but I think you are looking at the wrong part of a stage show. The key skill in a smooth stage show lies in selecting the right participants. Everyone can be hypnotised. Hypnotic induction is actually fairly simple. So it's not the induction that is critical. What is absolutely, totally crucial is including the top 5% of hypnotisable people in your audience.

Suppose you have a group of 50 people. You would not want more than five people upon stage. Therefore all you have to do is to find the top 10% of the audience and that will give you your five people. Stage shows on Youtube always miss out this part of the show. But it is the most important part.

Stage Hypnosis is entertainment, not science

You need to spend five or 10 minutes warming up your audience before anyone gets to the stage. Then you get the whole audience involved by inviting everyone to close their eyes and imagine a weight on one hand and a balloon on the other hand. Take note of the people whose hands rise and fall. The ones whose hands rise and fall a bit are hypnotised. The ones whose hands are way up and down are faking it. But that's okay. You're not there to demonstrate hypnosis.

Your job is to entertain people. The people who are faking it are all exhibitionists who want people to look at them. They will go along with whatever you suggest as long as they can show off. They want to get up on stage and act silly and do everything else you want. You want to get a mixture of the easily hypnotised and the exhibitionists.

If you end up with too many potential participants, then you need to refine the group. Do another test for hypnotisability. The easiest tests are Magnetic Hands and Hands Stuck To Your Thighs. This is a much stronger test of hypnotisability, especially the Hands Stuck to Your Thighs test. The people who naturally can do this are your ideal participants.

While you are doing the testing you're actually entertaining the audience. They are trying it themselves, and they are also seeing the people around them who are responding. You are setting up the expectation for both the participants and the audience for the rest of the show. Make the selection process one of the funniest parts of your show.

Stage Hypnosis Induction safety on stage

Invite the fakers and the highly susceptible up on stage. Then you do a group induction. Do not do an instant or rapid induction. Your chances of getting an abreaction with an instant induction are very high. No one wants to see someone lying unconscious on the stage thrashing around  as if they are in an epileptic fit. That is definitely not good for business. You can expect to get one person in 200 to go into an abreaction. You need to avoid that until you have a lot more experience, and know how to deal with it.

Abreactions is the main reason why there are so few stage hypnotists. Hypnotising people in public is easy. Getting people to do stupid things on stage is easy. Dealing with someone in the grip of a full-on psychological terror is not.

Stage Hypnosis Induction safety for you

After you have done the group induction you will find that some people are actually not in trance and not amongst the exhibitionist group either. Get them off the stage immediately. Also, get rid of the drunks.

Then, turn to the audience at that point, and say something to make sure that anyone in the audience who was also induced snaps out of it. Use a bit of audience participation and get them to poke each other or something like that. Get every to say aloud that they are not in trance.  You do not want anyone coincidentally crashing their car on the way home and saying it's your fault.

Keep your Stage Hypnosis inductions simple

My advice is for you to leave out the Standing Inductions and the Handshake Inductions until you have perfected your basic show. All those polished performers that you see in Las Vegas or on that television show have had 15 or 20 years experience before getting to that point.

Good luck with your next show. You can be a star.

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freud and hypnosis

Freud and Hypnosis

I keep meeting people who are in awe of Sigmund Freud. I am not one of them. At university, I studied Freud and the more I learn of his ideas, the more I dislike them and everything about them. Many people now regard him as little more than a self publicist.

Most people know nothing of the connection between Freud and hypnosis. It comes as a surprise that Freud was originally a hypnotist. He learned the medical use of hypnosis from Charcot, the founder of modern clinical hypnotism.

Charcot was famous for running what was practically a circus of hysteria, using hypnosis to showcase the symptoms. Charcot was internationally famous while he was head of his clinic. But after his death most of his work was debunked and hypnosis was avoided by mainstream medical professionals for decades.

Freud and Hypnosis

Freud used hypnosis until it fell out of favor and then gradually developed his theory of psychology. The theory of primitive sexual drives made Freud one of the leading figures in the 20th Century. He was hugely influential for a whole generation of psychologists and educators.

However, nowadays researchers tend to question his methods and cases. Freud actually worked with very few clients. Most of his fame rests on a handful of cases. It is not that these few cases were the peak of his output, the fact is that these were practically the only cases he had.

He died in 1939 and started analytical therapy just before 1900, so he had about forty years of practice. He typically saw each client every day for an hour. That means that he could not have had more than eight clients a week. But each client was treated for about five years. So he could only have had about eight clients every five years.

Over forty years he would have treated at most sixty four individuals. Many of those were in fact students who had to undergo years of analysis before they could practice as psychoanalysts themselves. Plus he spent much of his life writing, travelling and lecturing. His whole theory is actually based on a very small sample.

A modern hypnotherapist will see more clients in a month than Freud did in his entire lifetime.

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smoking procrastination

Smoking Procrastination Fear of doing it wrong

You never stop learning in this business. My smoking client today said she loved smoking but had to give up because it was affecting her health. I asked what she loved about it and she told me that it calmed her down. It turned out that she had anxiety all the time. Smoking was how she self medicated. She actually had smoking procrastination.

Smoking Procrastination

I discovered that she came from an alcoholic family. This led me to suspect that she would have some form of depression and I started probing gently about that. When we got to the questions about Black and White thinking she said that she was a procrastinator. She would stay in bed in the morning and her husband would bring her cups of tea. And with every cup she would have a cigarette. She said that sometimes she would stand in front of her clothes closet and not know what to put on, so she would have a cigarette and think about it.

I traced this to the perfectionism associated with B & W thinking. She agreed that rather than take a decision that might be wrong she would put it off: smoking gave her an excuse to drag it out by another ten minutes. I think that she was fearing the wrath of her parent and wanted not to commit to anything in case it was the wrong action. In childhood when she got things wrong  she would get shouted at, and an argument would ensue.

It seemed that she was mainly smoking to avoid taking action. If she didn't do anything then there was no danger of anything that would trigger those old feelings of fear. This fear of doing things wrong was also the source of her ongoing lifelong anxiety.

Have you dealt with procrastination? How can it be overcome? Share your ideas below.

 

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attract luck

Can you learn to attract luck?

Are some people just naturally born 'lucky'? Or is luck actually the outcome of hard work and natural talent? Suppose you are one of the 'unlucky' ones. Does that mean that you don't work hard, and have no talent? Clearly not.

And yet, some people just seem to be in the right place at the right time. Lucky people just seem to have some sort of magic attraction. What is it that lucky people have that others don't?

Can you learn to attract luck?

This question has actually been researched. It turns out that lucky people actually have a set of specific skills that make 'luck' happen to them. They have learned to maximize life's opportunities.

Obviously, there is more to success than luck. People living in extremely poor countries are not simply unlucky. But even within poor communities there are people who somehow get ahead.

Are you lucky?

Psychologists have run simple experiments to see if they can tell "lucky people" from "unlucky people". In one experiment, the researchers left a $20 note in the street. They discovered that those people who define themselves as lucky noticed it. People who said they were unlucky didn't notice it.

Similar results were found in other experiments. Another study asked volunteers to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. On the second page there was a large plain advertisement saying "stop counting now – there are 58 photographs". The advertisement did not have a photograph in it. Just the words. The "lucky" people noticed it and stop counting. The "unlucky" people scanned right past it, and kept counting.

The differences seems to be that lucky people are always open to opportunities. Unlucky people worried about the task and didn't even notice.

Principles of attracting luck

From these and other experiments four basic principles of "luck" are:

  1. Maximize your chance of opportunities
  2. Listen to your intuition
  3. Expect good things to happen
  4. Find ways to turn your bad luck into good luck

The strategies for learning how to attract luck will be familiar to every hypnotherapist. They include: meditation and self-hypnosis to increase intuition. Relaxation to reduce anxiety. Visualization of success and luck. And Socialisation, making a point of making one new friend or acquaintance every week.

It seems that being lucky is closely associated with good social skills. Other researchers have taught people how to be open to new experiences, relaxation techniques, conversational skills, and interpersonal skills. The key seems to be making yourself open to what is going on around you, and how you feel about yourself.

Bad luck linked to anxiety

What these skills are really doing is reducing anxiety. If you are totally wound up inside, if you're afraid of meeting new people then you are less likely to notice opportunities around you. It is not that lucky people attract more opportunities. Lucky people are just open to seeing opportunities when they arise. Anxious, introverted people are not.

If you are searching for a new job, and you are so anxious that there won't be one there, then you actually will not see what is right in front of you. When you're anxious you lose your peripheral vision. Your body goes into fight or flight mode and creates tunnel vision. You literally do not see the opportunity.

People who are anxious are caught in a circular trap. Because you're anxious, your unconscious mind focuses on threats, and excludes everything else. Anxious people are less likely to talk to strangers, and less likely to develop new friendships. The more people you know, the more supported you feel, and the more likely it is that you will hear about opportunities.

Teaching clients to attract luck

Being lucky is something that can be learned. Once you realize that there opportunities everywhere, you begin to see them.

This means that hypnotherapists really can help their clients achieve and become "lucky". A lot of what we do is called reframing. Reframing is simply seeing the good in bad situations. Once you enable your client to reinterpret their circumstances you are opening the door to them becoming "lucky".

Do you personally attract luck? Leave your comment below.

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