I had an interesting client this week, and a great result. The client was a young man with food aversion. He could only eat a limited range of foods, and hated trying anything new. The idea of eating something different raised powerful negative feelings and made him feel sick inside.
He had been like this for as long as he could remember. His mother told him that up to age two or thereabouts he would eat anything, but then one day he refused to eat something and it all got worse from there on. Now he is embarrassed to go out to a restaurant. If he does force himself to eat something new, even if he quietly spits it out, he feels sick for the rest of the meal and usually can't eat anything.
Indicators of Food Aversion
He had been dragged round nutritionists and doctors for most of his childhood, and nothing worked. He came to see me because his girlfriend was tired of uncomfortable social situations and thought that trying a hypnotist could not do any harm, and might possibly do some good.
When I saw him he was embarrassed and nervous, but open to new ideas and willing to give it a go. He described his condition to me and how he was trying to extend the range of things he could eat, with little success. He felt it was the texture in his mouth that he hated, rather than the flavor. I got him to describe in detail how he felt when he was faced with having to eat something different. He was a bit hesitant but said that he felt strong discomfort in his stomach at the thought of it.
I wanted to get as strong a feeling as possible for me to work with. My wife had been given a present of halva, a middle eastern dessert. I got a piece of that, and placed it in front of him. It was unlikely that he would have eaten it before and it looked like an unappetizing lump of greyish stodge. I asked him to look at it and then asked him to eat it. He looked panicked and wanting to get away. I used this feeling to get him to explore his own reactions to it.
Working with his feelings
I asked him to close his eyes. Then I got him to describe out loud what he was feeling inside. It took quite a bit of encouraging and cajoling to get him start describing what he was feeling. He overcome his reluctance and described his feelings about it first as a big, messy bundle. On further pressing he said it was "darky, purply, gray" in color. Then that it felt light and not heavy. And round like a big round ball. It was made of stringy stuff all tied up together.
This was perfect material for Metaphor Replacement, so I tried getting him to imagine it shrinking. He couldn't do that. Then I asked him to imagine holding it in his hands, and to bring to mind the image of a potter moulding clay. He could do this, but the original big messy bundle just kept coming back.
That obviously wasn't working so I switched to the Attribute Reversal. I got him to name the opposite of big, the opposite or messy, the opposite of "darky purply gray", and so on. In a few minutes he had reversed every aspect of his feeling.
Removing the Food Aversion
I then tested him and asked what feeling he was getting now when he thought of eating the halva. He said 'Nothing much'.
This was exactly what I was looking for, so I asked him to open his eyes again. I asked him to look at the halva. I said "what do you feel about eating that now?" He said, 'Nothing'. Then I asked him to take a bite of the halva. To his surprise he picked it and ate a bit. He said he didn't like it, and wouldn't be eating it again, but there was no phobic reaction whatsoever.
I then called his girlfriend into the office and got him to demonstrate his new ability. He took another bite of the halva - and got a great big hug from the girlfriend.
An excellent result, no formal hypnosis at all, and the whole thing took less than thirty minutes.
A few days later I got this:
I just want to thank you again for how you helped Bryan.
After the session we went out for lunch and he had venison and red wine sausages, and has tried something new every day! Its amazing what you do 🙂
It very gratifying to be able to help people get over their problems. What do you feel when you know that you have helped someone? Or when you can't help?
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.