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Afterwardsness Nachträglichkeit Deferred action

Afterwardsness and increased significance

When dealing with Fear of Flying, the fear is never really about the aircraft, or the actual flying. Most people with Fear of Flying only get the problem after they have flown many times. What happens is that something happens on a particular flight that frightens you. It might be sudden turbulence, or engine noise, or even something disturbing that you read on the flight. Whatever the cause, your unconscious mind searches for something like that feeling. You are searching for an older feeling so that your mind can know what to do immediately. But instead of finding a solution, your memory finds an old fear that was never dealt with. This intensifies the original fear, and links that original fear to flying. The psychology term for this is Afterwardsness.

Increasing that old fear

Seeking for a matching memory sometimes increases the perceived importance or intensity of that original memory. If you are afraid of flying, then every time you re-activate the memory trace, you also make the original memory more frightening. So your current fear of flying becomes more frightening. This process feeds on itself until it can become quite overwhelming.

This mechanism has been known for a long time. Sigmund Freud called it Nachträglichkeit. In English this becomes  'afterwardsness' or 'deferred action'. He refers to it many times when discussing the theory of psychoanalysis. He believed that memory traces are revised after the fact in response to fresh experiences. The second event gives extra meaning to original event. It becomes more meaningful than it originally was.

The problem of course is that you cannot consciously recall the original event. So you are left puzzling why something today is giving you severe anxiety. This explains the underlying cause of most phobias.

In a wider sense, every time you think about something it gets stronger.

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low fat diet mental health

Low Fat Diet Mental Health

Low Fat Diet Mental Health

About two thirds of your brain is actually made of fat. Ponder that for a moment. Is there  a Low Fat Diet Mental Health connection?  For more than 40 years scientists and dietitians have told us that eating fat is bad. The message has been that all animal fat is bad, and you should avoid it when you can. They urged us to eat light oils derived from plants, such as sunflower, safflower and soybean oil. Dietitians told us to replace butter with margarine.

The origin of  the low fat diet fad

And now it turns out that this advice was completely, totally, 100% wrong. This advice was based upon research done by a scientist called Ansel Keys. He found that there was less heart disease in countries where the population ate less saturated fat. He therefore concluded that saturated fat was the cause of heart disease. This message was accepted and promoted by US health agencies and became official policy of governments all round the world for decades.

At the time, many scientists challenged this thinking. However, those scientists were steamrolled out of the way, their funding was reduced, and they were publicly vilified. The result was that alternative theories quickly disappeared. The only acceptable research in nutrition was research that aimed to prove that saturated fat was bad. But it now looks like the Keys research method was flawed.

The role of sugar in mental health

Recent research is now pointing the finger at sugar. There is a movement gaining strength now that says sugar is the cause of heart disease. It also points the finger at other simple carbohydrates. These are things like wheat flour, cornflour, rice, and to a certain extent potatoes. More and more studies suggest that it is a combination of white flour and sugar that is causing the obesity epidemic.

I went into my local supermarket recently. I went searching for any food products that did not contain sugar, or wheat flour, or cornstarch, or rice starch. Only three products in five aisles of packaged foods had none. Makes you think,

This is of more than passing interest to therapists. The research into low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet has shown that as well causing physical diseases, it may well be responsible for a range of mental illnesses, and depression in particular.

Suggested reading on Low Fat Diet Mental Health

There is now more and more compelling evidence that changing your diet to high-fat, low carbohydrate can actually cure long-term mental illnesses.

It is very early days yet, and more research is needed. Maybe you need to look at your client's diet as part of your therapy approach?



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paranormal beliefs

Paranormal beliefs in hypnotherapy

Paranormal beliefs

What do you do when you meet a client with strong paranormal beliefs? My policy has always been to accept the client's beliefs as real and valid and work with them. For example, a client might come to me to me and say that they believe that their current problems are because of what they did in a past life. In that case I'm quite willing to accept their beliefs. And even tell them that I agree with the belief. I will then go on with past life regression. My job is to  help to identify whatever is bothering them, in a way that is acceptable to them.

A client who wants to find a lost object is entitled to get help if they believe that hypnosis will reveal its location. A client who believes that they have lost memories and want to recover them should not be prevented by my personal beliefs.

Similarly, a client might tell me that they have a close and personal relationship with Jesus.  And Jesus is telling them what to do. As long as it's not a danger to anyone else, I am happy to work within any psychological framework.

What is a delusion?

It seems to me that a great deal of what is presented to therapists as "delusions" are simply a metaphoric way of speaking about normal, real things. If someone tells me that they feel that they have a spiritual guide, I have no problem accepting that is being just a way of talking about intuition. The fact that this particular spiritual guide appears as an Indian chief, I don't think that changes the basic situation. If people tell me they get messages from the "other side", again I am happy to interpret this as their understanding of the messages from their own unconscious mind. An over rigid insistence on scientific, logical thinking can often get in the way of good therapy.

What is acceptable?

This is not to say that psychosis is not real. People do have schizophrenia, and paranoia, and all the other mental disorders that humans are subject to. I do not believe that joining people in their psychoses is going to help them at all. We all have to recognize our own limitations of competence. We should refer on as soon as we feel that there is something outside our own approved skill set.

I once had a client tell me that he was hearing voices. These voices were telling him to kill his girlfriend. In that instance I immediately stopped the session and referred him to a psychiatrist.

So I accept that other people do have paranormal beliefs. And I believe it is not up to me to decide what they should or should not believe. There is a very broad spectrum of what is acceptable in human thought and behavior. We owe it to our clients to work with whatever they bring to us.

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automatic drawing

Automatic drawing for hypnotherapy

Automatic drawing as hypnotherapy

This is an unusual way of using hypnosis to explore your own unconscious mind. Automatic drawing hypnotherapy is fun and creative. Sometimes you get nothing much from it. Oftentimes what  you draw will surprise you and give you an insight into what is happening in your unconscious mind.

The setup

Decide where you want to do the drawing. You will need something to draw with, a pencil, a ballpoint pen, a crayon – it really doesn't matter, whatever you feel comfortable with. And then you need something to draw on. This can be a notebook, some printer paper, a whiteboard, – again, whatever you feel comfortable with and is readily available.

Most people like to be sitting when you do the drawing, but you can also do standing up. I will assume you are sitting down. Get yourself comfortable in the seat. Get your paper on your lap or on the tabletop or whatever, ready to use.

First get yourself grounded

Now get yourself grounded. Take three breaths slowly and deeply. Consciously tense and release all of your muscles. Start with your facial muscles, then your neck muscles, then your shoulders, and then your arms. Just tense and release them and allow them to feel heavy and soft and relaxed. Do the same with all the other major muscle groups. Tense and release your chest, your waist, your hips, your legs.

When you feel that your body is heavy and relaxed in your breathing gently, focus your attention on your feet. Just imagine all that weight going into your feet. Imagine your own power and awareness going out through your feet into the ground, like the roots of a tree. Take a few moments and really become aware of the connection between your body and the ground beneath your feet.

Then imagine each of your problems, issues, worries, beginning to drain away. Draining out through your feet. Allow each one to let go from wherever they are and flow out of your body through your feet and into the earth below.

Start the automatic drawing hypnotherapy

When you feel you are really relaxed, when there is no noise in your mind, when it has all drained out of you, then you can start drawing. Allow your mind to choose where on the paper you want to place the pen or pencil. Don't force it, or think about it, just allow that you hand decide where to start.

Then, start moving the pencil in whatever way seems right to you. You're basically doodling thoughtlessly. Look at the paper, watching as the pen moves, and just being curious as to what it wants to do next. You might find yourself drawing straight lines like a fan, or drawing circles. You might find yourself shading in things, thickening lines, or filling spaces with dots. Some lines might just be tiny strokes, some will be long and sweeping.

All of these should be automatic, something produced by your mind. You might keep drawing continuously, or your mind might want to lift the pen and start doodling somewhere else. All you have to do is be curious about what your hand wants to do next. Just let it happen, and be an observer.

Using automatic drawing as hypnotherapy

As you watch the page will begin to fill up with your random doodles, circles, lines and curves, boxes or whatever. And even while your hand is drawing them you will begin to recognise in those doodles areas that look like faces or arms or sunsets or something else.

Don't try to interfere, just allow your hand to keep moving, making loops and lines, expressing whatever it wants to express.

At some point you will know that it's time to stop. Stay in your relaxed state and just absorb whatever your hand has created. Parts of the drawing will suggest things to you. Close your eyes and allow your mind to expand on those things. You can also turn the page on its side and see what that suggests. Keep doing that until you feel that you have extracted whatever meaning the automatic drawing might be trying to tell you.



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Misophonia Treatment and Anxiety 

Many people get enraged when other people chew loudly. This is called Misophonia. And it is not just chewing that sets them off. It also applies to drinking, slurping noisily.   Some people get angry when someone else makes a noise with objects, like clicking a pen. Or drumming their fingers, or even flicking from channel to channel on TV. Even just fidgeting in general will get some people aroused.

It is quite distressing. The sufferer gets aggressive for no real reason. You know your response is out of proportion to the offence, but you just can't stop. And then you feel stupid and embarrassed after. You feel awful, but you just can't let it go. Some people find that as time goes by more and more sounds set them off. Some people carry earplugs with them all the time, in case something unexpected sets them off.

Avoiding misophonia

Many people avoid it by choosing to eat alone. But of course that doesn't help if you must eat at a family table. The standard treatment is usually CBT. This often helps. CBT can help you understand the agitation you feel. It lets you realize that when a noise is bothering you don't have to project your feelings about it. It allows you to concentrate on challenging thoughts about the thing that is annoying you. But it doesn't do anything to prevent it.

I think the key to this behavior lies in the fact that he has a sudden onset, and an unreasonable aggressive response. 23andMe, the genetic testing company,   suggests that there is a genetic component to it. The most common psychological issue that is both genetic and  expresses as sudden irritation, is black and white thinking.

The real reason

Black and white thinking is an aspect of dysthymia, a common form of mild depression. Dysthymia is very prevalent in the general population. Various authorities suggest somewhere between one and eight and one in 12 people have dysthymia. The majority of dysthymia cases have never been diagnosed. They are just dismissed as unreasonable people. Dysthymia produces grumpiness, anger, irritation, isolation and circular thinking. These symptoms are so wide-ranging and confusing the dysthymia is often overlooked.

But black and white thinking is probably the most serious of the symptoms. Black and white thinking arises from expectations. You expect something to happen a certain way, and if it doesn't then you get irritated, possibly angry. When you feel that way you want to punish the person or thing causing your irritation.

I think that Misophonia is very misunderstood. In my opinion, it is basically an anxiety issue. People with Misophonia frequently have OCD as well or some other anxiety disorder. The answer is to treat the anxiety disorder and prevent getting irritated in the first place.



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