Headscratcher #250: Are we nearly there yet? - From New Scientist #3467, 2nd December 2023 [link] [link] “How much further?”, asks my son Jack, from the back seat of the car. It’s a relief to have a var...
Thursday, May 04, 2006
200th post & IF: Under the Sea
For over 700 other illustrations of "Under the sea" see: Illustration Friday.
On Saturday I attended the first day of a class in clinical hypnosis. One of the images they used was that of an iceberg. Equating our conscious selves to the small portion that is above the water but the larger unseen bulk of the iceberg is of course "under the sea".
I did this picture on Saturday after the course but I did not post straight away because I was extremely unhappy. And I don't like to post when I am unhappy. What's more this is my 200th posting and I wanted it to be fun! You might notice that in fact what I've depicted are people entirely submerged... maybe that's a clue. The people were first drawn in my journal and I couldn't stop drawing them like that, all swirly eyes and entirely under the sea.
What is hypnosis?
Its easier to describe what isn't hypnosis... When you are asleep you are not hypnotised. So all the different states of sleep - REM (dreaming) etc. are not hypnosis.
However when one is awake how much of what goes on is actually conscious? You know that your breathing doesn't need you to be "doing" it - it just does itself. You know that's true for all the things looked after by our autonomic nervous system (e.g. blood flow, heart beat, digestion, hormone levels etc.). And you are probably also aware that there are things that come in and out of awareness - like the name of that actor... you know the one who was in all those chocolate movies... that's it Deep, I mean Depp... ;-)
Hypnosis seems to me to be a state where the not-conscious part of you is in control. You have some conscious awareness at the time though you may or may not actually recall what happened later.
A hypnotist actively engages with your not-conscious self. A clinical hypnotherapist does this to help you overcome some sort of block or problem. So for instance many people successfully stop smoking after seeing such a therapist. One reason I had for wishing to train was that I would like to help those who wish to stop smoking because my father died from lung cancer and it wasn't pretty.
Of course its not just hypnotists who are interested in influencing our not-conscious selves. All the advertising that we are bombarded with is hoping to influence us, all the groups to which we belong want us to have a certain mindset to act the way they want us to and we are all products of concerted efforts to educate us... we have all learnt a lot and the action of learning engages our not conscious selves far more than the conscious - how much of what you know is conscious?
Much of what we do is not actually rational, though we may give good reasons when we get there... okay that's what I do you may well have a different method. I studied Maths and the only way I could solve many things was by letting my not-conscious self come up with the answer (or a step along the way) and then working out how to get there logically... and sometimes it turned out to be the wrong answer... my not-conscious self wasn't always right but it was better at maths than my conscious self on its own. Together I had a pretty powerful combination.
Some of us have been labelled as having "irrational" fears or "psychosomatic" symptoms. I have. What is frustrating is that all too often you are given that label but then no help in undoing the problem. If it had been something you could sort out for yourself consciously you wouldn't have it as a problem would you? I've even been told after an unsuccessful course of psychotherapy that my problems were psychosomatic... as though that absolved them from helping! So where does one turn?
Well you go to the people who are actively working with the not-conscious.
Which brings me back to the course. I have already trained in several alternative therapies which work in ways that may or may not be magical but certainly are not just focused on the conscious self. I have done a lot of trance work too, I've already used self-hypnosis and shamanic trance to great effect. I thought that training in clinical hypnosis would give me more techniques for helping others and possibly more ways to help myself too.
Unfortunately I was too keen and I volunteered for the first demonstration, billed just as a demonstration to show "the power of the mind". I gave permission for him to touch my hand. I did not give permission for him to inflict pain on me. However what he was demonstrating was what he later called the "analgesic glove". This involves making one hand cold and for the time that one is in hypnosis much less able to feel pain.
The demonstration worked very well, he did a deep bruising pinch on my left hand that I only felt as a touch and then pinched sharply on the right hand (slightly tearing the skin) which I wasn't expecting and caused me to yelp. He finished off with some general positive suggestions and brought me out of trance.
Throughout the rest of the day I was more subdued than usual, though as no-one there knew me they would not have noticed this. When he mentioned that people could resist suggestions that they were not prepared to accept I piped up with instances where I had done so. In fact almost everything I said to him after that, I now realise, were expressions of resistance. It wasn't until I got home that I started to cry. And cry I did (as well as draw the heads with funny eyes in my illustration). I was actually not too worried about the first evenings crying - after all sometimes it helps to have a good cry and let it all out but the next day was much worse and I noticed my internal negative self-talk was extraordinary. And the pain in my hands was awful - even today, 5 days after the demonstration, I still have visible bruising.
By Monday afternoon I knew I needed help and I eventually rang one of the teachers I had trained with in the past. She helped a lot. But it has still taken until today for me to feel like blogging about it.
I have withdrawn from that course though I am still very interested in hypnosis. I am however now extremely wary of allowing anyone to actively put me into trance.
Does anyone have any positive experiences of hypnosis to share?