AFRAID OF HYPNOSIS: EXTRACTS
EXCERPTS FROM I'M AFRAID OF HYPNOSIS
Extracts from the book I'm Afraid of Hypnosis - but I Don't Know Why
book by Deborah Marshall-Warren.
From Chapter 3: Hypnotic Hype: Donít believe everything you read about hypnosis
It may seem fanciful to suppose that children's entertainment can engender widespread popular misconceptions about hypnosis among adults. So, let us look at one example of how the scaremongering is still taking hold today. An eleven-year-old boy arrived at my practice with his mother one day. Having introduced himself, he asked in a mock-menacing way "Where's your pocket watch?" Amused by his enchanting sense of drama, I informed him that I did not use a pocket watch. He took in the practice room with a sweeping look, glancing around for evidence of implements and said, "So what sinister method do you use to hypnotise people then?" Taken aback I asked him why he thought that hypnosis was 'sinister'. The answer lay with an extremely good storybook for children, The Demon Headmaster, written by Gillian Cross over twenty years ago.
The back cover of the current paperback edition features the demon headmaster's penetrating green luminescent eyes. The hypnotically governed school immediately strikes newcomers as unnatural:
"I hope you are not going to be a person who won't cooperate with me."
On the first day at her new school, Dinah realises something is horribly wrong. The children are strangely neat and well behaved; they even work during playtime. What makes them behave this way? What is the secret of the Headmaster's control?
The book's popularity was such that the BBC went on to dramatise this, and other books in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, on the level of entertainment, but with my professional hat on I was aware that, in capturing the imagination of the young reader in this way, it was hypnosis that was defined and understood to be the instrument of control, rather than the dysfunctional ego of the headmaster. Hypnosis is the excuse for bad behaviour. The same misconception is engendered by stage hypnosis, where hypnosis is used as the excuse for antics on stage, which is rather like blaming a football match for the rowdy behaviour of soccer hooligans. Hypnosis is a powerful and constructive instrument, which sometimes gets blamed for its misuse.
From Chapter 5: Under the influence: Hypnosis in society and culture
So you think hypnosis is dangerous? So you think that you will open yourself to the subtle suggestions of your hypnotherapist? And that hypnosis will mess with your mind? If so, then it is time to wake up to the many clandestine influences in our modern-day society, a barrage of subtle suggestions that really do mess with the mind day after day. Suggestions abound!
Richard Mowbray, when discussing the authoritarian nature of cults and cultish developments in society wrote in his book, The Case Against Psychotherapy Registration (1995)
"So with hypnosis, suggestion, and subliminal influence. These are not techniques confined to the 'therapy' room. Our culture is awash with appeals deliberately aimed to bypass conscious awareness. Our media are full of subliminal cues and emotive inducements and our politics full of 'feel-good factors'."
It can be difficult to have a mind of one's own, when one is surrounded and bombarded with many outside influences that suggest what we should say, think, do, eat, wear, and how we smell, and even how we might feel about our smells.
We sometimes describe ourselves as 'open to suggestion' - with respect to what kind of food to eat, which restaurant to go to, which film to see. And we think that our being open to suggestion stops there - within the bounds of our control.
The power of suggestion presses in upon us in every corner of our social life. Suggestion, without any preliminary hypnotising, is carried out on each and every one of us every day in differing ways, and to differing degrees of depth. Suggestion is packaged into the polemic of parents, teachers, politicians, spin doctors, advertisers and marketers, singers, rap artists, preachers, the medical profession and the legal profession, and reporters and news readers in sometimes similar and sometimes differing ways. Our consciousness is sucked into other peoples' creations, which condition and influence our thoughts and our ideas.
People who are good at selling are sometimes described as having 'the gift of the gab' - the gift of words to sell. Product demonstrators so skilled and effective at their craft, and their spiel, can quite dazzle the gathered audience into buying something that, on arriving home, they know they'll never use, or could well have done without.
People who take to the floor to speak to groups often adopt certain tones and modulations of the voice that appeal irresistibly to our hearing. This is the art of rhetoric, an art that has been taught to orators from Socrates' time onwards. And, as Socrates protested - the skill of leading people to believe this or that was often at variance with revealing the truth. So we may fear that the current day rhetorician holds a comparable enthusiasm for persuading their audiences by any means possible. Lawyers and barristers, summing up in court adopt an elegant eloquence, and a distinct way with words - sometimes seeming to argue rationally for the most irrational judgement on a case. Successful streetwise politicians adroitly mould and manipulate the beliefs and opinions of their crowd. And, most pervasive of all, the faceless masters of televisual advertising subtly shepherd consumers towards the checkout till.
In this chapter, we will touch on some ways in which we are collectively subjected to streams of systematic suggestions from various sources. This is a broad subject in its own right. Nevertheless, this quick tour helps to place interactive hypnotherapy in perspective, for the analytical and therapeutic use of hypnosis can help us to roll back the web of subtle suggestions that surrounds us on all sides. It can do so in two ways. First, by enabling us to be aware of what external suggestions we have already adopted, albeit unconsciously, as 'life sentences'. Second, by empowering us to set up internal suggestions of our own making to combat and transcend the ones that have come from sources outside ourselves.
From Chapter 11: The Wonderful Wizard of Us: Hypnotherapy shows you what you already have within yourself
There are many Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion characters amongst us, and many Dorothy characters too. Many of us experience a certain sense of lack of an emotional something. However, the words, the phrases, and the sentences that each one of us uses to explain our experience of 'lack' will be different in each and every case. Moreover, the words, the phrases, and the sentences that each one of us uses to describe how we want to experience the desired quality or behaviour will be different too. Invariably, people have virtues and qualities to different depths and degrees, and often in some, and less so in other different areas of our lives. Sometimes a person's wish for a quality, a virtue or a behaviour may be specific to a situation or an environment, or in relationship with a particular person.
Your language, your choice of vocabulary, and your special way of explaining, makes your session unique and tailored individually for you - the cut and the fit being shaped by how you choose to express yourself. As you will discover, language can be a revelation. Some of us are predisposed to use 'organ language' for example. We adopt expressions like 'knuckle under', 'breaking my heart', and the 'proverbial pain in the butt'. Often these expressions hold portent to a 'feeling' resonating at a deeper subconscious level. The conscious mind provides us with something like a print-out of what is going on 'downstairs' but, until we wake-up and recognise it, the print-out gets lost - as the next thought follows hot on the heels of the last. Potent revelations can easily get missed.
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