Why Hypnosis is So Effective at Breaking the Smoking Habit

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For readers of this blog, it is certainly no secret that hypnotherapy is a highly effective tool for changing lives, enhancing health, and breaking bad habits.  That goes especially for the odious habit of smoking cigarettes.

In fact, when it comes to methods for stopping smoking, a study of 6,000 smokers found hypnosis to be the method with the highest success rate, according to an article in the Mirror, a British publication. But why is hypnotherapy more effective than nicotine gum or patches or drugs?

The key to answering this question lies in the idea that while many refer to smoking as an “addiction,” it is actually a habit.  According to the American Psychiatric Association, “People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life.” Smokers may certainly feel like their lives are ruled by a need for cigarettes at a certain time or in a certain situation, but the problem is not nearly as severe as for those who are truly addicted to alcohol, for example, which is known to cause delirium, tremors, hallucinations, liver disease, and possibly death.

On the other hand, a habit, in psychology, is “any regularly repeated behavior that requires little or no thought and is learned rather than innate. A habit—which can be part of any activity, ranging from eating and sleeping to thinking and reacting—is developed through reinforcement and repetition,” says the Encyclopedia Britannica.  . This certainly better describes what happens to smokers.

Consider some of the feedback I have gotten from literally hundreds of smokers with whom I have worked over the years.  Almost no one–even among long-term smokers–says they smoke because it “tastes good.”  Instead, they (mistakenly) believe that it will help reduce stress–while in fact in may actually aggravate such stress.  Most smokers will habitually reach for a cigarette at a particular time (in the morning, or after a meal), in a particular place (visiting a bar is often a trigger), or in a particular situation (at work, or while reading or having a glass of wine, for example).

These habits become ingrained to the point where there is a psychological need, especially if the smoker thinks having a cigarette is beneficial.  While some claim there is a physical addiction to nicotine taking place, others–including E-Cigarette Politics, point out that “No clinical trial specifically to examine the potential of nicotine to create dependence in people who have never consumed tobacco has ever been published.”

The truth is that hypnosis is highly effective for smoking cessation because it is highly effective in helping people to change their habits–or to substitute a new habit for the old one.  A number of my patients have substituted drinking a bottle of water for having a cigarette, for example.  One patient I worked with just wanted to have a cigarette burning next to him in the ash tray as he worked.  He rarely bothered to even take a drag.  Some are satisfied just to have a pencil between their fingers instead of a cigarette.

Hypnosis is also very effective at psychologically linking smoking to something the patient finds disgusting or distasteful, such as dog food or a “plate of hair.”  Obviously, this aversion is helpful in avoiding cigarettes.

Do you or does someone you know have a problem with the deadly habit of smoking?  If so, we invite you to try hypnotherapy.

Can Hypnosis Help You Find Lost Objects?

One of my favorite characterizations of hypnosis is as follows: “Hypnosis is not magic, but it looks like magic.”

Most of us have been conditioned by media to believe that amazing results are possible with the use of hypnosis–and in some cases that is true.  What is also true, however, is that allowing the public to think that hypnosis is some kind of supernatural voodoo is not helpful to hypnotherapy as a scientifically-proven mode of help and healing.

Yes, practitioners can sometimes achieve startling results with hypnosis, but the results are only startling because many observers don’t fully comprehend what they are seeing.  Take the example of using hypnosis to find a lost object.  A patient recently asked me if it was possible to do just that.  My answer was, “Yes, assuming that you already know where the object is, but you are for some reason unable to access that information in your conscious mind.  Your unconscious mind, however–the part of your mind that notices things that your everyday conscious mind may overlook–may well remember where that object resides.”

Proceeding on that assumption, I conducted a hypnosis session dedicated to this subject, giving the patient a post-hypnotic suggestion that while she did not consciously know where the object was (her family had searched the entire house), as soon as she walked in the door of her home she would instantly know where the object was and would go directly to that object and retrieve it.

Sure enough, the patient told me the following week, the minute she walked in the door she went to a bookcase, moved it away from the wall, and retrieved her lost object, which had apparently fallen on the floor behind the bookcase.  Her conscious mind had no idea that the object had fallen behind the bookcase, but her unconscious mind evidently had noticed it and had given up that information while she was under hypnosis.

So, is this magic?  Definitely not!  There was no psychic manifestation.  What happened was simply that the patient was able to tap into her subconscious mind and retrieve information that was not available in her conscious thinking.  She really “knew” all the time where the object was.

While this is a wonderful use of hypnotherapy, we must emphasize that nothing supernatural or occult took place here.  This is not to deny, however, that the supernatural is real–as most practicing adherents of religions would surely acknowledge.  To be sure, we still do not fully understand the workings of the subconscious mind, but we do understand that the mind has many wonders that we are just now discovering.

 

What is “Past Life Regression?”

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When it comes to hypnosis, the amount of misinformation that circulates on the World Wide Web is sometimes astounding.  For example, an article on a British web site for journalists tells about a reporter who tried hypnosis to rid himself of an allegedly disabling fear of spiders.

The hypnotist in this case uses the hypnotic state to reveal to the reporter that his real trouble is that he is so attached to his mother–who also has a morbid fear of spiders, and who passed that fear on to the boy earlier in life.  .

Says the reporter:“This technique of taking me back to when I was a child is known as ‘past life regression’ and it encouraged me to talk with my former self and tell the 10-year-old me that I didn’t need to be afraid.”  The only problem with this is that hypnotically taking someone back to a previous point in their current life is not a past life regression.

One wonders how a journalist–who is supposed to labor to get the facts straight–could make such an error.  Then again, the sorry state of journalism in this day and age is not the subject of this article.

So what exactly is “past life regression”?  Wikipedia correctly states: “Past life regression is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what practitioners believe are memories of past lives or incarnations, though others regard them as fantasies or delusions or a type of confabulation.”  This obviously presupposes a belief in reincarnation of some kind–the idea that we have all lived previous lives and keep having to live additional lives until some deity is satisfied with our spiritual maturity.

I don’t have the energy or the space to debate the validity of this concept, but I can point out that in the demonstrations of past life regression that I saw in my professional training, subjects typically were unable to describe details of their past lives without prompting from the hypnotist.  Such prompting–or suggestion–is obviously unethical.

That being said, proponents of reincarnation will doubtless be convinced by such demonstrations, despite the methodological errors.  My main point here is to encourage you to think twice about anything you hear in the consumer media about hypnosis.  Chances are, the information is flawed.

‘Fake News’ Gives Hypnosis a Bad Name

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If the sorry state of today’s mainstream media isn’t enough to convince you of the death of journalism and the rise of “fake news,” consider a story that appeared online in a publication called The Press.
The headline of this piece seems to say it all: “Former church leader who used hypnosis on boys faces jail for abuse.”  Since many people won’t even bother to read more than the headline of this alleged story, the message will be clear–church leaders are using hypnosis to lure young boys into who-knows-what-kind of awful acts.  And once again, hypnosis is cast as the villain (along with Christians, for good measure).
But let’s take a closer look at the alleged story.  It seems a retired Methodist minister will be jailed after he was convicted of using hypnosis on four boys in Great Britain and then sexually abusing them.  No matter what your opinion of hypnosis or Methodists, obviously such behavior cannot be condoned.
But wait!  There is a valuable piece of information that is not reflected in the headline, nor in the first nine paragraphs of this story.  To wit, buried in the 10th paragraph (in other words, way down there) is the statement that not one of the victims said they were actually hypnotized, “but they froze in surprise and horror at what the respected church leader was doing.”  .
So, there was no hypnosis here, at least no effective hypnosis.  This leads us to the startling conclusion that the boys were NOT hypnotized into committing deviant acts.  Yet if one reads only the headline and the first nine paragraphs of this smear job, one would get the mistaken impression that it was the evil influence of hypnosis that was to blame.
Why would any legitimate media outlet write a story in such an irresponsible way?  The answer is simple: without the bugaboo of hypnosis, there isn’t much of a story.  As it is, however, the fundamentally dishonest way in which this story is written (in order to achieve an agenda) is the very essence of “fake news.”
Don’t let the fear-mongering and dishonesty of such media outlets fool you.  Hypnosis continues to be a valuable clinical application that brings health and healing to millions.  .

Home-Based Hypnotherapy: A Good Idea?

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Today I ran across an interesting article entitled: “Home-Based Hypnotherapy Helps Kids. with IBS.” The subtitle reads: “Non-inferior to individualized hypnotherapy with a therapist.”
The gist of the piece is that a study was done in which kids treated via hypnosis for IBS and related problems using a CD at home were reported to do “as well” as those who actually visited the office of a hypnotherapist for their sessions.  While that may seem like hopeful news for those who would rather do their hypnosis at home, it begs a number of questions and omits a number of details.
First and foremost, what was on those CDs?  A reading of the fuller journal article tells us that kids used the CD to do “exercises” and that they did so five times per week for three months, but gives no clue as to the content of the CDs or what was involved in the exercises.  One would hope that the CDs were prepared by competent and certified hypnotherapists, but this is not stated.
Another issue is that the kids who got live hypnotherapy only received 6 sessions over the three months (versus the estimated 60 or more sessions on CD for the other group over the same period of time).  Thus, the CD treatment modality involved significantly more exposure to the presumably positive hypnosis suggestions that led to some success.
And success is yet another key factor here.  According to the study, “After 1-year follow-up, the 62.1% treatment success in the CD group was non-inferior to the 71.0% in the iHT group.”  Obviously 62 percent success IS inferior to the 71 percent success rate of the live hypnotherapy group, but statistically, it was judged to be “non-inferior.”  When we consider, however, that the CD group had many more exposures to what was ostensibly the same material, the CD success rate should, in fact, have been much higher than that of the live group.
If anything, this study demonstrates the far greater effectiveness of the live model. 
This is not to say, however, that listening to CDs at home is not helpful.  In fact, when we at 10:10 Hypnotherapy and Counseling do a hypnosis session, it is usually recorded and sent home with the patient on CD to allow listening in between sessions.  This amplifies the positive messages of the session and increases the chances of success.
The bottom line is that the best chance of success in your hypnotherapy is achieved when you are in session with a qualified professional who may or may not send home a CD with you in order to strengthen the already powerful positive suggestions in your live sessions.
Do you have an opinion on this topic?  If so, let us know!

Can Hypnosis Help Your Golf Swing?

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Much of what we do in clinical hypnotherapy involves making changes in order to bring health and healing to our clients, but hypnotherapy has another use that brings smiles to the faces of many–as an aid in enhancing sports performance.
Much of what goes on in playing any sport involves what is going on between your ears.  Golf is a perfect example of this.  It is not unusual for a professional golfer to be disturbed during his or her swing by a noise–however innocent–from the gallery.  With potentially millions of dollars riding on each swing of the club, such a disturbance (and the resulting mis-hit) may be significant indeed.  Even for the everyday golfer–or tennis player, swimmer, volleyball player, baseball player, footballer, etc.–the mental game is a key aspect of success.  The best players are not only physically gifted; they also have a handle on the mental side of things, knowing that having the right mindset is critical to success.
There are many things that can interfere with the mindset in sports performance.  Some of these are exterior to the individual–an inopportune noise, a stiff wind, rainy conditions, or anything that distracts the performer from her or his task.  Many more such factors are already inside the mind–negative thoughts, distracting thoughts, emotional upset, fears, and insecurities.  It is these distractions in particular that respond well to hypnotherapy by a trained and certified hypnotherapist.  In many cases the distracting thoughts are obvious, but in just as many the problem may not lie on the surface, but in the subconscious mind of the individual who must perform.  Again, the hypnotherapist is skilled at uncovering such thoughts.
Do you suffer from a performance difficulty?  Hypnotherapy is especially effective in dealing with distracting or disturbing thoughts that may hamper performance.  It can also help you sharpen focus for those times when intense focus is required.  If you’re stuck performance-wise–or you know someone who is–call us today for a free phone consultation.  We stand ready to help!  904-347-5677 or ara@10-10hypnosis.com.  

When Hypnotherapy DOESN’T Work

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Hypnotherapy is a psychological treatment modality that seeks to mobilize the patient’s own subconscious mind in order to accomplish a therapeutic goal that is agreed upon by patient and therapist.  Like any other treatment modality, however, it is not successful 100 percent of the time.
This is not surprising.  When you visit your physician and he or she writes a prescription, there is never a guarantee that said prescription will work as desired, even if it is effective for most people.  As physicians know very well, different treatments work for different people.  So, when hypnosis, a tried and true method of making behavioral and emotional changes, fails to deliver, what is the problem?
The best answer is that the hypnotherapy treatment does not work because the patient does not want it to work.  How can this be?  As an example, a patient came to me wanting to start eating healthy and losing weight.  Over our first few sessions, he seemed to do very well, reporting modest weight loss each week, along with increased relaxation and a general feeling of good health.  Then the weight loss suddenly stopped, and the other benefits were lost as well.  What caused the change?  It seems that the man’s wife, who did all the cooking, was offended that her husband was eating less at every meal and even leaving food on the plate.  So, in order to spare his wife’s feelings, the man reverted to his former unhealthy eating patterns, which resulted in a halt to his progress.
We see this reluctance to allow the hypnotherapy process to work in habitual smokers as well.  While they profess to want to quit this deadly habit, sometimes they are only going through hypnotherapy in order to prove that it won’t work, which will allow them to continue.  Again, they do not want the hypnotherapy to be successful. 
In my clinical experience, this lack of desire for success accounts for most of the cases in which hypnosis fails or is not as effective as hoped.  That said, there are also some individuals who, for whatever reason, are not responsive to hypnotherapy as a treatment–just as they might not be responsive to a particular drug prescribed by their physician.  There will always be individual differences.
The good news is that for such patients, more straightforward counseling may accomplish what hypnosis cannot.  The mind is a wonderful instrument, but each mind is different in terms of how it responds to a treatment.  We may never know exactly why this is so.  Only our Creator has the final answers.

Hypnosis and the Bible

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Much has been said about the practice of hypnosis as it relates to spirituality, but very little of it has been positive.  Based on fear and superstition–and a healthy dose of mischaracterization from movies and other media–some have even come to regard hypnosis as a “tool of the devil.” Yet the Bible tells quite a different story.

While the word “hypnosis” did not exist in ancient times, the Bible does make reference to a “trance.”  In fact, the word is used several times, most notably in the following text from Acts.

On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the [f]sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he *saw the [g]sky opened up, and an [h]object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and [i]crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the [j]air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, [k]kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything [l]unholy and unclean.” 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider [m]unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the [n]object was taken up into the [o]sky. [NASB]

In this context, clearly it is God himself who puts Peter into a trance in order to reassure him about what is permitted to eat.  No one would suggest there is anything demonic in this.  Next we have another quotation from ACTS.

17 “It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, 18 and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ [NASB]

Again, we see the Lord using a trance to pass on vital knowledge.  In fact, nowhere in Scripture is the trance associated with evil.  So, the next time someone questions the value of hypnosis on a spiritual basis, feel free to direct them to the Book of Acts!

Hypnosis Q&A: Can Hypnosis Really Recover Lost Memories?

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The answer to this question depends on what kinds of memories we are talking about.
For example, one of the most controversial uses of hypnosis has been in the so-called recovery of “suppressed memories” of traumatic events.
There was a time not so long ago when it was believed that the subconscious mind records an exact record of everything that happens to a person, and that if hypnosis could tap this record, even long-lost memories could be recovered.  This technique has been famously used to allegedly help victims of psychological and physical trauma to recover memories of what was done to them long in the past, and by whom it was done.  The idea is that the memory has been suppressed by the unconscious mind because it is too painful for the conscious mind to deal with.
Unfortunately, this way of recovering “memories” rests on a false premise: namely that what the unconscious mind records is an exact record of what went on–similar to a video recording.  Research has shown, however, that this is simply not so.  What the mind remembers is its own “story” of what happened, and this story–told by an individual to himself or herself–has many contributing factors, such as the emotional state of the individual at the time of the event, the ability of the individual at that time to understand what was happening, the influence of those attempting to recover the memory, and the desire of the individual to change the story to make himself or herself appear more heroic or blameless.  Readers interested in this subject should consult Elizabeth Loftus’ groundbreaking work “The Myth of Repressed Memory.”
The key point is that what is “recovered” could certainly be tainted by a number of factors to the point that it is far from a factual representation of any situation remembered.  I have yet to see any convincing evidence that exact memories of past events can be extracted by hypnosis, but I have seen that an individual’s feelings about such events can be uncovered by reliving the the events under hypnotherapy.  This can be highly useful in therapy.
Other memories, such as the location of a lost object, can indeed be recovered, but this is more a case of the individual concentrating on the object–aided by hypnosis–and simply accessing information already contained in the mind.  This information is usually not of a traumatic nature, so suppression for that reason is not a factor.
To be sure, this is a very complicated subject, and we have barely scratched the surface here.  It is worth remembering, however, that hypnosis–while it may look like magic–is not.  Helping the mind to relax and focus is sometimes all that is needed to retrieve the “lost” information sought.
Please keep your questions and comments coming!

Hypnosis Q&A: Undue Influence?

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Q: Isn’t hypnosis just a way to take over a person’s free will and make him or her do whatever the hypnotist wants?
A.  Fortunately for all of us, the answer is no.  People who are given hypnotic suggestions that are contrary to their deeply held beliefs and desires will simply reject such suggestions.  In our clinical setting, of course, patients are only given positive, healing suggestions–many of which are agreed upon by the patients in advance of the hypnotherapy session.  Not surprisingly, such suggestions are almost always welcomed.
Hypnosis, then, acts as a magnifier of these positive suggestions, as the patient is able to focus clearly on the positive changes desired, while ignoring other thoughts that could interfere with such healing.
Yet almost every media and cinema representation of hypnosis involves some nefarious individual bent on bending the will of some poor victim through hypnosis. This perception has become ingrained in our public consciousness over the years to the point that the average person assumes it is true.  This is most unfortunate, because most clinical hypnotists–like others who practice healing arts and sciences–are interested only in helping individuals to marshal their own subconscious resources to affect positive change and healing.
This is not to be confused with stage hypnosis, whose end is to entertain an audience.  I will have much more to say on that in answer to future questions.
Meanwhile, please rest assured that hypnosis cannot subvert the strong will of the individual.  In fact, it is primarily because hypnotherapy patients have such a strong will to change and heal that hypnosis is such a wonderful and effective treatment modality!
Keep those questions coming!