The ‘Horrors’ of Hypnosis: Part 1

bela lugosi as draculaHypnotherapy is a powerful and scientifically sound clinical modality that literally helps millions every year with problems ranging from smoking to obesity to anxiety, depression and more.  Unfortunately, many people are unaware of hypnosis and its benefits; in fact, they are more likely to be frightened by the idea of hypnosis than they are to be reassured by its record of success. 

Why all the fear?  In truth, there are many reasons, but for this posting, let’s take a look at a prime culprit–portrayals of hypnosis in popular media.  If you’re a fan of looking for needles in haystacks, then you will be overjoyed when you attempt to search for positive examples of hypnosis in movies and literature.  Check out this hypnosis scene from The Woman in Green, in which the famed detective Sherlock Holmes falls under the “spell” of a nefarious female who then uses hypnosis in an attempt to murder Holmes. 

First we see the evil hypnotress (my own invented word) plying Holmes with drugs to help achieve hypnosis.  Actually, early users of hypnosis did experiment with drugs to aid in  the hypnotic process, but that certainly doesn’t have to happen today, and to my knowledge it does not.  Hypnosis depends on simple suggestion, and the acceptance of that suggestion by the hypnotized individual.  The key element is not the “trance” state of the hypnotized, but rather the willingness of that individual to follow the instructions of the hypnotist.  That means there must be a deep level of trust in the hypnotist. 

Almost nothing in this entertaining film clip is accurate when it comes to the actual practice of hypnotherapy or hypnosis in general.  A hypnotized person will not respond to and obey the commands of just anyone who speaks to him or her (like Prof. Moriarty in the film), and the hypnotized individual won’t do anything that conflicts with his or her deeply held values and beliefs.  Hypnosis can be used to make one less sensitive to pain, but nowhere in the film do we hear the hypnotress suggesting that Holmes will not feel pain, or even the cold blade of the knife on his skin. 

Still, the average person seeing this and many other film portrayals will conclude the hypnosis is something that is used by evil and unscrupulous people for harmful purposes.  It would be surprising if anyone viewing this film–a classic in many ways–would permit themselves to be hypnotized under any circumstances. 

For a more enlightened view, please see my hypnosis web site and check out the Q&A in particular.  Next time, I’ll delve into some more reasons why some people are unnecessarily frightened of hypnosis, despite the fact that it is a positive, healing modality.  If you find yourself a bit frightened at the thought of hypnosis, share your concerns here and I’ll do my best to address them!

 

 

The Problem of Sleep

Rip Van Winkle

Sleeping is a natural and healthy human function, and if reported figures are to be trusted, we all spend about a third of our lives in this blissfully unconscious state.  Unfortunately, it seems that many of us are having problems getting to sleep and staying asleep, not to mention getting insufficient sleep or sleeping too long. 

As a result, a whole industry seems to have sprung up around the problem of sleep.  Witness the plethora of over-the-counter medications said to bring one into the arms of Morpheus, as well as the “energy drinks” and other methods of keeping us awake.  It seems we want to sleep only at certain times and for only so long, so we seek ways of controlling what would otherwise be quite natural cycles of rest and activity. 

The January 14 issue of the Wall Street Journal featured an interesting article that addresses the inability to fall asleep and some of the methods available to accomplish that end.  The author recounts her experiences with a music system, an iPhone app, a sleep “coach,” and a canned CD approach–none of which yielded spectacularly good results.  The final paragraph of the article, however, noted that the app included a hypnosis session which was effective. 

Of course, hypnosis by a qualified and certified practitioner is extremely effective in dealing with sleep problems, but that’s not the primary thing I want to address here.  Instead, I’d like to offer some free, practical measures you can take if falling asleep is a problem in your home. 

The key to falling asleep is winding down–that is, reducing stimulating activity and opting for more quiet pursuits that won’t raise your emotional arousal.  The best idea is to plan a “cool down” period at the end of the day, beginning 60 to 90 minutes prior to your projected bedtime.  If you don’t have a projected bedtime, that could be the problem, since the human body is not built to simply fall asleep on demand. 

The cool down or wind down period should be free from electronic interruptions like iPhones, computer games, and television, and from distractions like heated emotional discussions.  This period is designed to prepare your body and your mind for rest.  A cup of something warm and caffeine-free is always a good idea, as well as some light reading.  If you do any kind of meditation or deep relaxation, this is a great time to practice such things.  Dim any bright lights and find something relaxing to occupy your thoughts.  Whatever you choose, however, it must be with the idea in mind that, “I am preparing to go to sleep.” 

Practicing such rituals as bedtime approaches can be highly effective at putting your mind and body in the mood for sleep–and that is more than half the battle.  In many of the clients I treat, there is a complete lack of any sort of wind down time, which is understandable in a modern culture in which it is considered cool to be “connected” at all times. 

Content yourself with the thought that whatever Facebook message has come into your realm, it will still be there in the morning (when you awake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed).  If there really is an emergency, someone will be sure to call you. 

And perhaps you, readers, have some favorite ways of helping yourself to fall asleep.  Please share any and all ideas that are in good taste.  Thanks!

Does Mind Really Rule over Matter?

Floating Chair PK psychokinesis hypnosisThe ability to assert one’s mental powers over a physical or emotional problem or task is often referred to as “mind over matter,” and those of us who practice in mental health are great believers in the idea that our thoughts can and do have a significant effect on our lives.  In fact, we are told in Scripture that “as [ a person] thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7, NASB). 

Sometimes we may wonder, however, how far we can go in shaping our lives by shaping up our thought patterns via prayer, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, etc.  As a practitioner, I have seen impressive changes brought about by all these modalities, yet I must also admit that they don’t always work the way we hope they will.  That should come as no surprise to anyone.  Even in the more “scientifically grounded” area of medicine, it is well known that not every medication will work for every patient, nor will they always work the same way from patient to patient. 

When we assume that any therapy or intervention involving the mind will always be effective, we are making the mistake of presuming that all minds are exactly alike.  I have often had hypnosis clients tell me that when I suggested they relax by visualizing a beautiful beach, they called to mind a bubbling mountain stream instead.  These clients are not trying to be difficult; it’s just that when they think of a relaxing, pastoral setting, their mind goes to the mountains instead of the shore. 

This points to another mistaken notion about psychotherapy and about hypnosis in particular–the idea that we can actually control someone else’s mind and thoughts.  Certainly, we can make suggestions, and to the extent that our clients trust our guidance, those suggestions will be fulfilled.  It’s just that not everyone’s mind will fulfill a suggestion in the same way.   And despite what you’ve seen in the movies or on television, we can’t really force you to do anything that goes against your closely held moral beliefs. 

Yet when the therapist’s guidance intersects with the client’s wishes and desires, the results can be powerful and amazing.  I have often had clients who are trying to lose weight report that new, healthier eating habits have become second nature to them–because this is what they really wanted in the first place.  Minds working together on healing and health can do wonderful things–part of what makes our minds so wonderful. 

Have you had a healing or changing experience of mind over matter?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Hello world!

Welcome to the universe of the Your Wonderful Mind blog.  This blog is a service of 10:10 Hypnosis, LLC, the clinical hypnosis practice of Ara C. Trembly, MS, MA, ACHt, LPC, headquartered in Manasquan, NJ–at the fabulous Jersey Shore.  Ara is a licensed professional counselor and a board certified hypnotherapist offering a wide range of services designed to help produce and maintain a healthy and productive mind.  You can find out all about Ara and his professional services at www.10-10hypnosis.com

The purpose of this blog is to offer information and commentary on various aspects of mental health, emotional well-being, hypnosis, psychotherapy, brain science, and a host of other topics related to the wonderful instrument that is your mind.  It is our hope that you will find the entries interesting, inspirational, and useful in your own life–so we invite you to offer comments and suggestions for topics and discussions that will speak to your own desires and interests.  Over the next several weeks and months, we will be posting such information and commentary, but if there’s something about the mind you want to discuss, feel free to send along a comment or question at any time.  We’ll do our best to address your interests. 

Just a note on postings: We seek in all things to be respectful and helpful.  Flaming and other negative communications will not be a part of this blog.  Rather, we hope that a reasoned discourse among fans of our wonderful minds will elucidate and lift all of us to a higher level.  If we can accomplish that, we are confident that we are doing our job. 

Thanks very much for being here.  Please come back often!