Excerpts from an article by James Harkin
Published in: The Independent on Sunday / The Sunday Review, 5th May 2002
Imagine your body filling up with a warm orange liquid. Lying on your bed with your body relaxed and your eyes shut, a soothing, tingling orange liquid trickles through special taps in your toes before emptying into your feet. The warm orange liquid slowly begins to fill your calves and then moves its way up to gently warm the base of your thighs. A soothing, tingling warmth, filling your legs and moving up, up into the pit of your stomach before moving onwards and up, up, up into your chest.
The orange-liquid detox is not for everyone. But those of you who were able to experience the warm orange liquid as emotional catharsis should feel content because the orange-liquid detox is a highly successful course of direct-suggestion hypnosis practised by a respected London therapist. And you have just taken the first step towards scrubbing sway your mental toxins and may soon be on the path to a full recovery.
It was in desperation, then, that I sought out the author of the orange-liquid detox. Talking at full-tilt in her cosy Hampstead practice, Deborah Marshall-Warren is defensive about the profile of hypnotherapy and evangelical about the value of mental detoxification. Detoxification, she argues, "is a perfect metaphor for the negative thoughts which contaminate our minds". They can simmer under the surface until they suddenly emerge to give rise to a panic attack or much worse. Through a process of "negotiational persuasion", she argues, hypnosis can bring the toxins to the surface and neutralise and eliminate what she calls the "rogues" or "root saboteurs".
Both on the tape which she sent me and again in the flesh, Marshall-Warren is a reassuring presence. With her brilliant white hair and a voice rich in sonorous nursery-rhyme cadences, it is easy to see how congenial it might be to fall under her spell. The book based around the orange-liquid detox is sold out, and the tape that I listened to has sold over 10,000 copies. She was especially proud, she tells me, to hear that some American teachers are using the orange-liquid detox to address problems of self-esteem among schoolchildren.
But why did it have to be orange? Being an Irish Catholic, I wondered aloud if it was the idea of being recoloured orange that had upset my concentration. While Marshall-Warren was prepared to be flexible -- green, she conceded, might work just as well -- she believes that orange is the best fit because "it is the colour of healing and creativity." She also likens the orange-liquid detox to using a household detergent. "Just as you may disinfect a kitchen before giving it a seriously good clean", she claims, "the orange-liquid detox will provide your mind with the tools to give it a serious cleanse." Sitting opposite her on the comfy chair, I began to ponder whether she might have been a redhead before she decided that the colour was toxic and had it bleached.
While Marshall-Warren recommends that the orange-liquid detox is taken once a week, she acknowledges that users will take it whenever they have the time and patience.
... But the urge to detox goes far beyond spring-cleaning our physical systems and the explanation must lie further back in the culture.
For [Marian] Salzman, detox represents "a momentary relief from an impure world. At the most extreme end of things, we detox to reclaim some control in an out of control life. All of us are overloaded -- information overload, emotional overload, professional overload, relationship overload, too much to do, too little time -- so detox is a moment to reclaim one's self."
... [I]t is tempting to think of the new detoxification programmes as a secular route to the cleansing of our souls.
See also the Independent web site,