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home invasion anxiety

Home invasion anxiety removed

I had a client yesterday who told me she needed help with anxiety. She said she had been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She said she had been on anti-anxiety medication for five years. Five years ago her marriage was on the rocks, she was being made redundant at work, and a parent was seriously ill. In her own words 'she went into meltdown' and had to be put on anxiety medication. This is a fairly normal description of a cluster of life events that triggers anxiety. However, I wondered why she was still anxious five years later.

Home invasion anxiety

I asked her what she thought the cause was. She immediately said "it is all about a home invasion I had when I was a kid. I woke up to find some man sitting on my bed". She was convinced that she had dealt with that. However, her current anxiety focussed on night-time, on being left alone, and on a fear of someone harming her.

I recently read a book by Peter Levine 'In an unspoken voice'.  His belief is that almost all anxiety comes from being in a situation that you feel powerless to escape from. Not dealing with the situation properly at the time leaves you trapped in that feeling for ever. The symptoms of this client fitted that description completely.

I thought this might be an ideal opportunity to try out the therapy recommended by Levine. This treatment basically involves muscle memory. You get the client to remember the incident, if possible to get into the fear. Then you get the client to use their muscles as they would have if they had made their escape. His theory is that the fear is 'frozen' into the victim's muscles, and needs to be released.

Releasing the home invasion anxiety 

He does not mention hypnosis at all but his recommendations lend themselves ideally to application in trance. I therefore put her into trance used a modified form of regression. I took her back to the home invasion, but instead of getting her to relive it, I suggested that she focus on the feeling. Then I told her to tense and release the muscles in her shoulders, and then her chest, and so on down her body.

I then suggested that she focus on her hands, and to become aware of what her hands wanted to do. I encouraged her to make micromovements as she thought about what she wanted to do. Then I asked her to imagine what muscle movements she would do if she was to fight the intruder, or she quickly got out of the bed, or if she pushed an alarm button. I took her through various scenarios that I thought might be appropriate ways of dealing with the situation. I tried to get her to talk through what she might have done, but she was unwilling or unable to hold a conversation while in trance.

After that, I brought her out of trance, and showed her how to go back into trance by herself using self hypnosis. I did this to teach her a technique that would allow her to turn off her chronic anxiety by resetting her feelings back to a calm level.

Clearing the Home Invasion anxiety

At the end of the session I asked her what she felt about the micromovements. She told me that had felt a tingling all over her body as she tensed and relaxed. She then said that the feeling of 'waiting for something to happen' that she always had, was gone.

I wonder to what extent the 'cures' that are credited to hypnosis are actually the result of the induction that most therapists use, the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Induction? It may be that it is the progressive tensing and relaxing that are doing the work, and all the 'patter' is actually irrelevent. It is maybe something to think about?

 

What do you think of this technique? Do we hold fear in our muscles for years? Share your ideas 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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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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bulimia hypnotherapy

Bulimia Hypnotherapy

This client asked me for bulimia hypnotherapy. I really wasn't sure what to do. Bulimia is known for being extraordinarily difficult to treat. I asked her about her history. She was very open and happy to talk about her condition. She said that at its height she would vomit three times a day. Pretty much after every meal. She ended up dangerously thin.

Her life has been dominated by bulimia. It started in her teenage years. She managed to stop on her own when she left university and had to get a new job. She felt that she would now be in control. And it worked.  When she got her first job she realized that she couldn't keep doing this and keep a job. Then she changed jobs. She had a week in between. This allowed her mind to begin to ask "what if?" And she just fell apart. She left the new job after two days and had three months off.

Bulimia Hypnotherapy

Right now she is worried that she is going back into it and vomits twice a week. I couldn't really find any one thing that triggered it or that she was worried about. Her parents had always been helpful and supportive. She could not think of anything in her childhood that might have set it off. She said in it was all about anxiety.

This gave me the idea that I might be able to deal with the anxiety directly through metaphor replacement. I asked her to think about the anxiety and what it was like just before she feels she has to vomit. She said is a mixture of anxiety and fear. I told her to focus on the fear. I got her to concentrate on the fear to allow it to come out to be aware of it. Fortunately for me it was right at the surface and she was able to latch onto the fear immediately.

I asked her where the fear was in her body. She said it was in her chest and in her head. Previous experience has shown that I cannot do anything when the client says the feeling is in the head. So I focused on the feeling in her chest. I asked her what it was like. After a while she said, "it's like a square". I said, "is it a square or a cube?" "It's a cube."

I then got her to describe the cube in increasing levels of detail. She said it had sharp edges. When I asked "how big is it?", She said "it's about the size" and gestured with her hands indicating was about the same width as her body. It was hard, cold, solid, heavy, and grey. When I asked, "and what else to know about this cube?" She said, "I have to carry it about with me."

Metaphor Replacement for Bulimia

Having established the fear as an object, it was just the case then of getting her to change it. I asked "can you imagine making it a little bit bigger?" She immediately said "yes". I asked, "and can you make a little bit bigger still?" "Yes." "And even bigger?" "Yes." "And can you make it a little smaller?" "Yes." And she proceeded to demonstrate that she could make it a little smaller.

I encouraged her to make it smaller and smaller until at some point she said "it's in my hand I can hold it". I asked her, "and what is it look like now? How has that thing changed?" She said, "has rounded edges, like a die". I then asked her what she would like to have happen to this thing. She said, "I would like to throw it away". I asked, "And where would you throw it?". "Into the ocean." I needed to make sure that she got rid of the thing completely. So I asked, "and where would you throw it into the ocean?" She said "from a clifftop".

I then said "now imagine yourself on that hilltop. Imagine you have that die in your hand, and you are throwing it off the cliff". To my surprise, she picked up a hand and made a throwing motion. I said to her, "describe what is happening as that thing goes into the ocean." She said "it's gone into the water with a splash". I wanted to be sure that the object was totally destroyed. So I said to her "what happens to things that went to the ocean?". She said "they settle on the bottom".

I could not get her to give any more detail, so I prompted her to begin thinking of how to destroy the object. I suggested that saltwater might have an effect on it. She said "is beginning to rust the surface is now mottled". I then went on to suggest that the rust would continue, it would flake off, that thing would break up into small parts. I then got her to agree that the thing would get rolled around in the waves and broken up into tiny pieces like sand. They would just be dispersed out and gone forever.

Then  I asked her to take three deep breaths and relax even more.

In that state, I asked her to become aware of her own body. I told her, "now check on around your body. Check your knees and your knuckles in your nose and everywhere. See if there's anything left of that old fear that needs to be dealt with. Or has it all gone?"

After a moment she said "it's all gone".

Her Experience of bulimia therapies

We then spent some time talking about bulimia and how it affected her life. It really is a devastating disease. She was a lovely young woman, and yet had never had a boyfriend. We talked about the various therapies that she had been involved with.

I asked her "what did you find most useful to you in those therapies?" She said "I found a form of group therapy very helpful. I met a lot of people, very ordinary looking people, who also had the same illness. That allowed me to believe that I actually was normal. There wasn't something weird about me. That I wasn't the only person in the world to do this. I also found some of the CBT exercises that I was given were useful in turning off the thoughts".

Then I asked her to check again about the fear that she had been talking about. I wanted to be sure that I had actually made a difference to her. She said, "no, it's really gone. I can feel it. I know that is just not there now."

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

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developing vague therapy

Developing Vague Therapy

Sometimes you develop new routines by accident. In this case it was developing Vague Therapy A client came to me that I had seen the week before. I had worked with her to erase her feeling of inadequacy in group situations. I asked her about the results from our previous session.

She said she felt much better. "For example, at lunch on a training course I felt open and talked to everyone. I contributed all the way through. My previous problem of feeling shy in company and being unable to speak has just gone away completely."

She told me that she is now OK in groups, but she still feels inadequate on dealing with senior people one-on-one. It's like she is in awe of these people. "I hate being in the spotlight. I feel as though I'm been put on the spot and I don't know what to say."

She told another story. "I was in my office building waiting for the lift when this older man started speaking to me. He jokingly said he had ordered the lift for me. He asked me how I felt et cetera, et cetera. I chatted back very comfortably. Until I asked him if he was looking for someone in particular in the building."

He replied "No, I am a member of the Board".

"I immediately felt tongue-tied and embarrassed. It is this feeling I want to deal with."

Repeating the same therapy probably won't work

I was running out of time because I had a wedding to go to later on. I had to do something within the hour. So I opted for a parts therapy. I did a very short induction on her.

As soon as I started on the parts routine I got this horrible feeling that I had done exactly the same thing with her last week. Usually I consult my notes before a client, but in the rush getting ready for the wedding, I had forgotten. I started panicking. But there was no going back. I felt very nervous, I am sure you could hear it in my voice.

Developing Vague Therapy

I usually suggest a detailed intro to get to some specific place that represents her unconscious mind. Usually I lead the person into a magic cave. Then they meet someone who discusses at length what behavior to change. This time I didn't have time for any of that. I had come up with something different. This time I just suggested a very large space. There was no suggestion of caves or cathedrals or anything else. I told her she was sinking into a big chair. Instead of trying to address the specific behavior, I just told her that she was getting the feeling that she had when she was talking to the man outside the lift. Immediately it was clear that she was in the feeling. Her chin was wobbling, her face was moving, she was very distressed.

I was then committed to continuing some sort of parts therapy, so I just pressed on. I was sure that I had done the same routine  with her the previous week, and I was desperate not to duplicate it. So I did a very short version of the usual routine. Basically it was the same parts routine, but using as vague words and ideas as I could think up. I stripped out all the detail of what was happening and tried to avoid any imagery of the previous week's session. I had no idea what she would think of getting the same thing twice.

The outcome of developing Vague Therapy

When I got her to count herself out, she said that she was amazed at how vivid and real it was. She described in great detail what she saw and felt. "I felt really moved by all the forces I encountered." "I want to come back and do more of this!"

In fact, I had not done the parts therapy with this client. I had done it with a different client a few days before.  The two clients looked remarkably similar. That's why I thought that I had done the same routine with her previously.

What was interesting was that the vaguest instructions actually worked better that my usual, carefully constructed routine.

What do you think?

Have you ever had to make it up as go along? What were the results?

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Fear of Dating

Fear of Dating, not being good enough

A client wrote to me about a Fear of Dating:
 
Once again I'd like to thank you for your assistance with the hypnotherapy. I can honestly say I've noticed a difference in my confidence, not just public speaking, but in my everyday life.
 
I have another query, in which I may require your services if possible. I've been out of the dating game for quite some time. (mostly down to the confidence issue I had) along with a few other things. Its been quite some time now. I've recently met a lovely gentleman. Through a friend, we touched base with one another. I've been told he's great by most people I know that know him yet, I'm putting off going for coffee or catching up at all.
 
Part of me thinks its because its been so long since I last dated, but the more I think about it the more I think its to do with these 'expectation issues' I have always had. I know I definitely have an issue with trying to meet peoples expectations. I tend to thrive in situations where there is no expectation put on me (such as being on my current career path - as I have no experience its almost as if they don't expect anything of me so I can really fail) and also why I played rugby growing up, because the expectation of a female doing well in a 'mans' sport was so low I didn't feel any pressure to succeed.
 
If there is anything in life where there is some sort of expectation its a fight or flight response. I'll either not do it at all at the risk of failing, or aim far above the bar set.
 
And with the prospect of this date, because its an organized 'thing' to me, it feels contrived which I know is a weird for me to think this. I feel like not only do I need to live up to my expectation, but his as well. I'm at the point where Id rather just not go ahead with it at the risk of 'failing'
 
Which is even more strange because I'm 100% confident with who I am as a person and I don't really fear if he (or anyone) doesn't like me for who I am (which somewhat contradicts the 'expectations' issue.)
 
Do you think hypnosis would help alleviate or fix this issue, or do you have any thoughts on the matter?
 
Appreciate your advice.
 

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on the matter? What would you do for a Fear of Dating situation?

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Clean Language Opening Question

Clean Language Opening Question in hypnotherapy

I was re-reading Grove and Panzer's book Resolving Traumatic Memories recently. This got me thinking about the clean language opening question. David Grove invented Clean Language. I like to think I use clean language well. But it was good to be reminded of how Grove saw the need for clean language in absolutely everything.

He talks about the need to use clean language from the moment you meet your client.

Clean Language Opening Question

He says that the phrase 'How can I help you today?' is one of the least useful ways of starting a session. His core idea is that the therapist should become invisible, and allow the client to express their own feelings, memories, symbols and semantics without any interference. If you want to learn the exact contents of the client's inner experience, if you want to really know why they smoke, then you need to avoid putting your own assumptions in there. Asking how you can help implies that the client needs help, and forces the client to think about what kind of help they need from the therapist, and therefore is not clean language. In starting the therapist needs to 'slide in gently, to be unsure and undefined' (p15)

The first question to the client is important because 'it is like the first move in chess'. Everything flows on from that first move. Questions are used to shape the interaction between client and therapist. The first question should do as little as possible to influence the client's inner environment. By asking 'and what brings you here' you imply that there is problem driving them, and they will focus on identifying a problem for you. 'What can I do for you?' implies that they need something from you that they do not already have. 'What seems to be the matter?' implies that they do not know their own mind, and assumes the therapist must have some better insight than the client has. 'What is your problem?' assumes there is one problem. And so on.

Getting the Opening Question right

According to Groves, the correct way to begin a session is to ask 'What is it that you want?'. This focusses the client on the outcome they desire, and lets them respond with an abstraction that is located in the future.

I have fallen into the habit of asking 'What would you like to have happen?', which according to Groves is cleanish, but restricts the client. I am going to start with 'What it is that you want?' and see if it does lead me to a better understanding of the client's needs.

What do you think?

is clean language important to you? Do you think Groves was right about the first question? 

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simple tests to stop

Two Simple Tests to Stop Smokers Smoking

Do you want to give up smoking Test

Every smoker is different. Every smoker needs a therapy matched to their unique particular needs.  But knowing which therapy to use can be a problem. I start by using two simple tests to stop. I ask them to rate themselves on a scale of one to ten on how much they want to give up smoking. Then separately on a scale of one to ten on how much they think that they can give up smoking.

I find these two simple tests very effective sometimes. Most people give an eight or a nine to both. It is the ones who are at the extreme ends of the scales who are most interesting. People who are a ten on motivation to give up only need to be given hypnotic suggestions that they have the ability. Then they are pretty much done.

However, you also need to probe as to why they have not already given up. Usually you find they have a history of good intentions, but deep psychological problems about self esteem and self regard. People on the low end of the motivation need to be questioned about why they are in my office at all if they really don't want to give up. Their answers are always revealing. It may be that they have had a health scare, or they want to please somebody else. But it does let you know where to start probing and how to design your therapy.

Can you  give up Smoking Test 

The same applies to the can-you-give-up scale. People who score a ten are ready to give up on their own. They only need a little bit of hypnotic convincing. People who score low are telling you something very important. If they don't believe they can give up, but haven't really tried very hard, then you need to work on their belief system.

Other people have given up many times but always start again. I find this type of smoker needs the most attention, so this gives me an opening to talk about why they start again, what their motivation is, what is underlying their smoking behavior.

These two simple tests are an excellent way to get your stop smoking sessions going.

What do you think?

Have you used these tests? Do they give a good indication of how to deal with a smoker with hypnosis?

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