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?


Joy Eliz said...

I find hypnosis extremely interesting...I have not been to any class or demo but I have quite a few CD's that I listen to everyday. Mainly for positive mental attitude. I was under the impression that with hypnosis you are ultimately in control, that you will not do anything unless you truely want to.

and let me just say this...perhaps you resisted because of his ego to control...Why would anyone purposely pinch to bruise? Surely there is a better way demonstration that does not physically harm a person. Just because you can't feel it doesn't mean it's not harmful.

Caro...listen to your true self, it knows the way. I know you already know just seems like you need some positive affirmation.
I am sending healing vibes to you!


Caroline said...

Joy Eliz - thanks for the healing, hugs and nice thoughts.

I didn't resist the actual hypnosis at all it was afterwards I realised that most of my other comments during the rest of the course that day had been to strengthen my own sense of being able to resist... and that this came from the fact that he had physically hurt me... and what is more had intended to hurt me. I feel my trust has been crumpled.

I've talked to another hypnotherapy teacher since and she says that it is quite common for that demonstration to be used but that she doesn't use it herself as its too much like a stage act and too little like clinical hypnotherapy.

andrea said...

I'm glad you decided to post about it, and the illustration made me laugh out loud, so you made the 200th post both fun and informative!

Caroline said...

Thanks Andrea - I'm glad the image was amusing!

AscenderRisesAbove said...

Interesting illustration re: zebra discs. Agreed: don't give people the power to control you.

Caroline said...

Ascenderrisesabove - One of the reasons I wanted to learn more about hypnosis was to be able to avoid other people controlling me...

Dwayne said...

I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience with hypnosis. I have had a few myself, but nothing that made me turn my back on being a subject.

You can resist suggestions and there is nothing wrong with it. I was asked a question in a stage show and although I had done everything he asked and more all night, this one question I refused to go along with him (if you want to know what it was, let me know and I'll send you an email).

Anyway, for the most part, my hypnosis experiences have been just fine.

I do have a blog where I am slowly detailing all of them. If you like, check it out: and please do start at the first one and please do leave comments. I love to get reponses regardless of what they are.


carla said...

I really think the instructor was way out of line...he actually injured you to make a point! My experiences with hypnosis go back to the mid 70s when my best high school friend's father became a certified hypnotherapist. He taught me how to do self-hypnosis, and I used the same principles to hypnostise my younger brother. He was incredibly afraid of dogs, and I was actually able to give him suggestions that helped him get over his fear. I think that hypnosis can be an excellent tool to help people get past their subconscious blocks. I've been hypnotised by a therapist about food issues, and it was very beneficial. I would only get invloved in hypnosis with a reputable therapist in a rusting situation...never as a demonstration subject! opinion.
I love your "Under the Sea" illo:> Congratulations on #200!

melba said...

I found your post very interesting. I don't really understand why he used this method and then if you dropped the course didn't find out why. Are you taking a different course now?

I have never been hypnotised, but I would want to be. I want to understand myself more. I have been to therapy many times. I think the process is difficult because therapists bring their own stuff to the session. More and more I think it is hard to find a match...someone who is capable of helping. And then there is the whole cost issue...
Insurance doesn't give you the time to find the connection that would be the most helpful.
And too I find that I haved lied to therapists. Not intentionally at the time, but later when I think about it I realize that I with held alot of important information.
Blogging is kind of theraputic for me. Analizing, going deeper, creating...
I am interested in exploring alternative methods to keeping a peaceful heart and pure intentions.

Anonymous said...

I shook my head as I read about your experience. I actually had to read it twice becasue Icouldn't believe what I was reading. I agree the instructor was way out of line. There MUST be better ways to demonstrate. Hugs to you and I adored your illo. Congrats on your 200th post. I hope there are many, many more in the futre.

Dwayne said...

I think that the instructor should have asked if you wanted to do exactly what he was going to do first.

A friend of mine who was trying to get her hypnosis business off the ground asked if I would be her test subject for three dentists in town who were thinking about using it for their work. She did the pin under the skin test on me, but she told me she was going to do it first and asked me if it was ok.

It worked and I never bruised and even bled on the side of the pin entry she requested. But again, she asked me and gave me a chance to say no. That's the big difference.

Caroline said...

Dwayne - thanks for showing up! I'm happy with being able to resist inappropriate suggestions. I wasn't happy that physical pain was inflicted on me by someone who really ought to know better... I'll check out your blog though maybe not all of it!

Carla - thanks - I've had it confirmed by another instructor that

a) this is "standard practice" (as an early demonstration - wish I'd known)


b) something she never does as it verges on playing to the audience and might well lead to showmanship (which I felt it did)

I thought I was only there to demonstrate going in and out of trance... afterall it was a course not a show... and I have in the past tended to trust my teachers... but no longer...

Melba - I dropped the course by email afterwards - Saturday was the only day of the course over the weekend, there were four or five more days to come a month apart (this is not the course that was clashing with your get together). And I asked for them not to contact me again other than to confirm that I would get my money back - which they have emailled to state that they will do.

I'm not sure whether I will or will not sign up for another course so far as hypnosis is concerned. Maybe, maybe not. I like going on courses in general as I do like learning from other people.

I know what you mean about not having told the truth to therapists - or at least I can relate to it... but then that's all part of one's complex personality so don't worry about it - if they needed to know what ever it was it is up to them to find it out! (Hmm... I'm clearly exhibiting a less co-operative attitude than I would normally when faced with a faceless therapist ;-)

Andrea - Thank you very much - I do appreciate being sent the hugs. And also for confirming that it did go over the line.

Dwayne - hi again - and if I'd been asked to demo like this I'd have said no... I know that I have issues around pain... one's that hypnosis might help with but that have not yet been sorted!

Catma said...

I am so sorry this happened to you. I am not willing to allow myself to be hypnotized, it scares me to give someone control of my mind. It is fascinating and I have read a lot about it. I would almost be willing to try a past last regression session but I am just to leery.

The teacher should have warned you and let you decide if you were willing to be hurt. I am sure it was a powerful demonstration but ay your expense. Not fair to you.

I once had been ill, and a Reike I do not know how to spell it, therapist came up and started pushing points on my back and filling me with energy, unasked and unexpected. It made me really crazy and depressed for days. I thought that was not cool, so I can relate to your feelings.

Anonymous said...

They look like the salt water has gotten to them. I saw someone hypnotized onece. Scary enough to watch, can't imagine what's it like to actually experience it.

Janet said...

Congrats on the 200! Sorry about the pinch...that wasn't nice!

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of underwater nitrogen narcosis....uhm! funny illo.
(thanx for your comment and congratulations on the 200 posts)

Reluctant Nomad said...

Congratulations on turning 200!!

But sorry to hear about your unpleasant brush with hypnosis. You're lucky to have various means, including illustration, to help channel negativity and unpleasantness away.

Caroline said...

Catma - one of the scary things is if you read the web enough there are plenty of people out there that think its fine to do various types of hypnotic type things on you without your permission at all - just try searching for "covert hypnosis".

I have been attuned to Reiki and I don't like it when other people use it without asking on me. For instance several people who give massage think its absolutely fine to just switch on Reiki and give that too... as my response is often the opposite of relaxing that isn't funny and not what I was paying for... I'm sorry to hear someone was over-enthusiastic on you...

Janey - salt water hmm? Now that actually sounds like it ought to be rather healing... though obviously not if causes rotting to this level! And the actual experience of being in hypnosis is extremely pleasant its the pain that was inflicted on me without my permission that I'm objecting to.

Janet - thanks!

Aynaky - luckily I've never seen nitrogen narcosis... glad the picture amused you!

Reluctant Nomad - thank you - I'd entirely missed my 100th but for some reason had noticed that 200 was coming well in advance and had timed it to be that IF - but then I had also assumed I'd have time to complete the IF on Friday and not be combining it with my report of the course... and yes I am lucky and I've found something else that helps... which I'm about to blog about!

Anonymous said...

Wow- that is a crazy story.

Thank you for sharing it. I don't even know what to say, but I wanted you to know that it was fascinating to me and I read every word.

I wonder if you were showing expressions of resistence as a primal reaction to someone who had caused you physical pain. The mind is a crazy thing.

Caroline said...

Krista - yes you are right and the resitance that was coming through was to him as a person in the "normal" teaching situation was I'm sure because I resented him have given me pain.

Tony Sarrecchia said...

Cool art.

I've studied NLP for years--which is really just conversational hypnosis. In one seminar about 2 years back, one of the coaches was walking us through a process to address past issues and one of the students, a man in his 50s, just about a had breakdown during the process. Apparently, some bad things had transpired bewteen this man and his father. A few of the the other coaches intervened and, as far as I knew, helped the guy through these problems. I was concerned for the student, but also for the instructor--you could tell she felt over head when this guy started to snap. It's an interesting thing, this 'mind' of ours.

Caroline said...

Hi Tony - I've done NLP a little too... but not much, have you got a specific book you'd recommend? Minds are strange and the oddest thing is having one and not knowing what to do with it!

Roz Foster said...

Fascinating post. I wouldn't have liked that bruise later either. Your under the sea illustration is very cool; lots of angst bubbling to the surface of these guys.

Caroline said...

Roz - thanks - I know I'm over-sensitive to pain but its been a week now and I've still got marks... I suspect he was far rougher than he ought to have been.

harmonyinline said...

I don't think you were "over-sensitive" when I take a class it should be a given the teacher is not going to hurt me! You should not need to ask if participating in class is going to hurt! I volunteered for some acupuncture demonstration the teachers were always careful not to hurt me.
One of the teachers told the class about a treatment that would be good for my health problems, then she told them it would painful for me so she wouldn't demonstrate it. Instesd she demonstrated an alternative treatment

Caroline said...

Thanks harmonyline - as the marks are still with me (and I wish they weren't I'd rather not have any reminders!) I think he might have been rather rougher than necessary. And I agree that a good teacher would not have done this.

LDahl said...

Ye gods Caroline...this just gives me the creeps!!! How awful for you... I would give that guy some issues if I was around(I'm great at standing up for other people) I am so mad for you!!!!
Maybe it made you feel like if you're not "on guard" bad things will happen to you? You need to do some yelling in the bathroom to let that experience go. You are safe now, and you made the right choice to leave the class.
You are really a strong, wise person, the so-called teacher was a complete jerk!!

Caroline said...

Thanks Ldahl - its great to have the support. And yes I think he was a jerk. I'm feeling a lot better now but I'll be very cautious about letting strange men that close to me again!

Caroline said...

Ldahl - its great to have your support - thank you!