Whole-Being Hypnotherapy

Article by Lucy Kellaway

Published in the Financial Times newspaper, 2nd January 1996.

The Financial Times' web site is www.ft.com.]

I have not been myself recently. Not since I filled my body with a strange orange liquid at the start of the festive season. The incident was quite out of character and the memory of it leaves me feeling sheepish and puzzled even now. Let you conclude that I went wild on the mandarin liqueur, I should assure you that my liquid was imaginary and that it has made me calmer, unflappable, ready for the new year.

The bizarre story began when a lady named Deborah Marshall-Warren offered me a free trial of something called Orange Liquid Therapy. She said this was a "mental de-tox" session that involved hypnotism, deep relaxation and direct suggestion to sooth all my stresses away. Halfway round the bend with pre-Christmas strain at the time, I felt willing to try anything. When she told me her practice was in Regent Street, that clinched it: I could sort myself out and do some Christmas shopping as well.

Yet when I arrived at her office, I started to feel uneasy. There was an unnatural calm about Ms Marshall-Warren. ... We sat in a tiny cubicle as hot as the sahara and lit by a large bright globe. "I'm going to put you under quickly", she said. Obediently, I sat on the chair and tried to relax. I looked at the spot on her hand. I closed my eyes. "Feel your calves filling with a warm, orange liquid. It is soothing, tingling. It is moving, up, up, into your thighs ..." You get the picture.

When I was full to the brim with orange liquid, I had to imagine it scrubbing out my cares, fears, anxieties, fizzing and dissolving them in much the same way that Domestos gets to work with stubborn household stains. Then, when there was no more work for it to do, I was told to picture it slowly draining out and through my fingers and toes. Clean and emptied, I was informed that I was feeling lighter, more confident, better able to cope and happier.

Set down in black and white, orange liquid therapy sounds daft as a brush. I am constitutionally opposed to New Age nonsense. I do not believe in trendy miracle cures for complex problems. The sort of stress relief that makes sense to me is to work less, drink less or to go on holiday.

So imagine my bewilderment to find myself feeling much better after 45 minutes of semi-conscious sloshing around in make-believe coloured fluid. Before entering the cubicle I felt tense, on the verge of hysteria. Afterwards I was cheerful, unbothered even by Oxford Circus in the rain at rush hour, and more or less equal to Christmas.

Yet when I tell my friends and colleagues my wonderful hypnotherapy story they give me a wary look. As far as they are concerned, I've started on a slippery slope, and soon I will be pushing all kinds of dubious management gimmicks. I insist I am still the same person. They are not so sure. We shall see.

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