Monday, 31 May 2010

Flight Fright

From Yahoo! Answers

I am looking for hypnotherapy for fear of flying?
Anyone knows someone good in London?
and not very expensive if that's possible, please..

My Answer:
Hi Maya

I've treated lots of people for fear of flying. (I won't use this to plug my own service, but you can watch me talk about a case here:)…

Instead, let me explain a few things.

1) For hypnotism to work it takes a good hypnotist and a good hypnotee
2) If you get that combination you can lose your fear of flying very quickly
3) If you are not a good hypnotee, it doesn't matter how good the hypnotist is
4) If the hypnotherapist is no good, it goesn't matter how good a hypnotee you are
5) There's no way of knowing whether you will be a good hypnotee until you get with a good hypnotist
6) You CAN tell whether a hypnotherapist is likely to be a good hypnotist by checking the FAQs on their website
7) If they say something like "Hypnosis is completely natural, you are in control all the time and you cannot be made to do anything you wouldn't usually do," they are not doing hypnotism and you are wasting your time

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Monday, 24 May 2010

Quick and Easy Hypnosis

From Yahoo! Answers
What kinds of hypnosis are there?
I'm doing a project to see what kinds of hypnosis works best for me. I've already practiced self-hypnosis, which was easy, but now I need to find a new form of hypnosis that doesn't require any special training. I just need a simple, easy technique. If you could send me a link or something, that would be great, thanks!

My Answer:
Hi Beebee

Hypnosis is brain surgery without knives. (And if it isn't brain surgery without knives, it isn't hypnosis.) Are you sure you want to do that on the basis of a 'link to a simple, easy technique'?

Perhaps you'd also like quick and easy links to general anaesthetics or DIY appendectomies.

If you want to find out about hypnosis, visit a hypnotist. Preferably one who has had special training.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist


Thursday, 20 May 2010

Hypnosis, Day Dreams and Sleep

From Yahoo! Answers

How is hypnosis different from the sleeping state?
and what is the relation between the two?

Attempting hypnosis, I once went into a state which is similar to dreaming in which my mind wanders rapidly without the guidance of my consciousness. I was wondering whether I was simply drifting off into sleep or whether I was actually in an effective state of hypnosis.

Surfing the web, I also discovered that many of the inductions for hypnosis are similar to those used for meditation and am wondering also how those differ as well.

My Answer:
Hi George

Day dreaming is day dreaming and hypnosis is hypnosis. I'm afraid anyone who thinks they are both the same doesn't have any idea what at least one of them is.

You cannot hypnotise yourself. I know 'self-hypnosis' is a well known phrase but so is 'snake oil'. And I say that as a clinical hypnotist with nearly two decades experience who works both privately and also for the National Health Service here in the UK.

You see, I can hypnotise you and make you for get your name, but I cannot hypnotise me and make me forget my name. And if I, having done some 17,000 hypnotic inductions, cannot do self-hypnosis, who can?

By and large, the people who peddle 'self-hypnosis' are peddling 'self-relaxation' and it looks like that is what you experienced. It's called the hypnogogic state and it's something we all pass through more or less as we shift from being awake to being asleep. It has nothing to do with hypnotism or hypnosis.

As for the difference between hypnosis and sleep, well, I hope you really want to know :)

If you think of consciousness as a spectrum from being fully awake and alert to being fast asleep, then relaxation is something one passes through on the way. The passage is characterised by a reduction in three elements of awareness; ‘vigilance’, ‘selectivity,’ and ‘responsivity’. As a person becomes increasingly drowsy they stop anticipating expected stimuli, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to attend to specific, actual stimuli, and stimuli have to be very much stronger to elicit a response. Deep relaxation is, therefore, characterised by diminished alertness, a lack of specific attention, and inhibited responsiveness. (I’m not making this up. Donald Lindsey calls it the ‘activation continuum’.)

How many hypnotists ask that their hypnotee ‘concentrate on the sound of my voice’, demanding constant vigilance. How many times have we read that hypnosis is a state of heightened concentration on a single point, or ‘a mind locked around a single idea’. That is, a state of heightened selectivity. And how often do we use hypnosis to produce instant responses, even if only as tests? Every day.

So whilst relaxation is a state of reduced vigilance, selectivity and responsivity, hypnosis is the exact opposite; a state of increased vigilance, selectivity and responsivity.

On the other hand, stress (or, more accurately, an exaggerated and inappropriate expression of the stress response) is the result of innervation of the parasympathetic nervous system from the limbic structures in response to a perceived (real or imaginary, acute or chronic) threat. Reducing that stress (by inhibiting the response or diminishing the stimuli) doesn’t necessarily mean having to make the subject drowsy. That’s one way of doing it, but not the only way. There are plenty of cool, wide awake people going about their lives.

I suspect inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system is conducive to hypnosis, and may well be manifested in a reduction of physical tension. Any relaxation, however, that diminishes selectivity and responsiveness would appear to be, by definition, counter-productive to hypnosis.

I doubt either inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system or relaxation of the muscular-skeletal system results in hypnosis, though either or both may or may not be contemporaneous with hypnosis.

Let's stick with the simplest characteristic shared by sleep and hypnosis; responsivity.

The organism runs a default state of responsivity (from the reptilian/inner/unc~ brain/mind) which fluctuates up and down the arousal continuum from next to nothing while fast asleep during the night, to full on while wide awake during the day.

When the organism wishes to vary from the norm, it will do so by changing postsynaptic currents. If you want to wake up and get with it at three in the morning, your alarm clock will trigger an increase in the Excitatory Post Synaptic Currents (EPSCs) sparking all sorts of processes, including responsivity, so that they overcome the default Inhibitory Post Synaptic Currents (IPSCs) and reach the axon threshold. Similarly, if there's nothing much doing at
14:00 and you decide to take advantage of some restorative, protein-building down-time, you'll increase the balance of IPSCs over EPSCs for the same variety of processes, including responsivity, and have a nap.

There is no natural continuum for hypnosis as far as I know. It is brought about deliberately, and is characterised by refined responsivity; that is an absence of responsivity to normally perceived stimuli and a heightened responsivity to the stimulus which is the hypnotist. That refinement is brought about by the different levels of EPSCs and IPSCs in various component systems of sleep and hypnosis.

The responsivity/selectivity/vigilance elements of the arousal continuum are not original thought on my part. They are taught components in the study of neuroscience, as are postsynaptic currents.

Hypnosis and day dreaming are neurologically different, having distinct characteristics in terms of responsivity, selectivity and vigilance. Day dreaming inhabits a specific location on the arousal continuum. Hypnosis is possible over a wide (and some would argue, the entire) span of the arousal continuum. You cannot be day-dreaming and fully alert, or fully asleep at the same time. You can be hypnotized and fully alert, or drowsy, or day dreaming. Day-dreaming is a degree of arousal. Hypnosis is not.

I'm sorry if that's more than you wanted to know.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Redesignating Sexuality

From Yahoo! Answers

I'm homosexual but afraid of gay people?
I'm a 19 year old male, and I'm attracted to men, but wish I was attracted to women instead.

Being gay seems so alien and disgusting to me - I've grown up in a small town and the only other gay person I met was this hugely feminine guy who was into all the stereotypes - fashion, pop music, art, shopping, hanging out with girls, etc. (I'm not like that at all).

I really want to have a relationship, but dating a man just doesn't seem to work with me. To me being gay seems like something temporary that people do when they're young before becoming permanently single or marrying someone from the opposite sex. I admit I watch too many shows on TV with stereotypical gay people, and I've developed a fear of gay men over 30. I'm afraid that I'm going to become a drag queen or pedophile some day if I stay gay.

Not to mention that being gay is a sin that I'll burn in Hell for if God turns out to be real.

Can homosexuality be cured through hypnosis or any other type of therapy?

My Answer:

What an interesting question.

Before I answer that I want to address all the comments along the lines of "You are born gay and that's that!"

If only it were that simple, but, frankly, that stance is almost as lazy an uninformed as "Gays can be cured." It just isn't so black and white.

In very simplistic terms it works like this.

We all start out as female templates. All of us.

If we are supposed to be male we get one burst of androgens that causes us to develop male genitalia, and then a second burst that determines our sexuality and makes us fancy girls. This all happens in the womb and is not a lifestyle choice.

If we don't get the first shot of androgens but do get the second, we end up basically male, fancying women but with female genitalia.

And if we get the first shot of androgens but not the second we are still basically male and have a penis, but fancy blokes.

Equally, if we are meant to be women but happen to get the first shot of androgens we manifest as women who fancy men but have dicks.

And if we are meant to be women and get the second burst of androgens we are women who have dicks and fancy girls.

Confusing, eh?

But it's worse than that.

You see, these androgen hits are not binary. It's not the case that you either get them or you don't. You might get no hit at all, a weak, hit, a regular hit or an overdose. In fact, of course, you might get any dose from nil to max and all points in between. And that means anyone can find themselves on the cusp, not definitely feeling like they fit in one camp or another.

So it simply isn't the case that people are either hetero-,homo- or bi-sexual. The can be neither-sexual, or any-sexual, or mostly-this-but-vaguely-that-sexual. At which point you have to make a choice about what you feel most comfortable with, and you may have to do some research first before making that choice.

Now to answer some of the specifics of your question.

The bit of the Bible that rails against homosexuality most is the Old Testament Book of Leviticus and it's just as vitriolic about prawns and mildew. In this respect, at least, I think God is not your main concern.

I don't think you want hypnosis to cure you of homosexuality. I think you want to know whether hypnosis can make you more attracted to women, and that isn't the same thing at all. It CAN make you more attracted to women, without making you any less attracted to men, or it can make you less attracted to men too, BUT ... I have no idea how long it would last. It is certainly possible in the short term, but I've never left anyone with changed sexual orientation for more than a couple of hours.

But I don't think hypnosis is a viable option for you anyway. If your town is so small as to have only one or two homosexual men, the chances of it having a good enough clinical hypnotist to do what you want are very slim indeed.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hypnosis and Weight Control

From Yahoo! Answers

Can hypnosis really help with weight control.?
I like eating food, and when i eat i like eating a lot of food. I want to know if with hypnosis it will make my love for excessive amounts of food go away. i'm hoping that it makes dieting easier to keep.

My Answer:
Hi Brandon

Life is too short for diets. If the Kentucky Variety Meal is what tickles your taste buds, having to eat salad and fruit is just a form of torture. You may endure the torture until you achieve your target weight, but then you'll breathe a huge sigh of relief and celebrate with KFC. Before you know it, you'll be back where you started.

A good hypnotist will use hypnotism to change your reality so that you don't want unhealthy foods and do want (and like) healthy foods. When you actually DON'T want KFC and really, genuinely and naturally DO want to eat healthily then you don't have to diet. You can eat what you want because you only ever want to eat the right foods, in the right quantities, at the right times, for the right reasons, and you are totally content and satisfied with that.

For that to work, you need a good hypnotist and a good hypnotee. You either are a good hypnotee or you're not. As for the therapist, avoid all the ones who say you can't be made to do anything in hypnosis that you wouldn't normally do. They aren't hypnotists.

Good luck and best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Shrinking World

From the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis Message Board

I treated a surgeon recently who was a secret smoker. His treatment was unexceptional so I won't dwell on that, but he said something I found really interesting.

He wasn't the least bit interested in the physical damage smoking was doing to him. As a surgeon, he said, he dealt daily with much worse damage than smoking could cause. His concern was how smoking was shrinking his world.

I didn't understand what he meant and sought an explanation.

"Well," he said. "Before I smoked I wouldn't give a second thought to getting on a plane and flying to New Zealand or Australia, but now, I don't think I'd want to go that long without smoking. In fact, I was invited to a conference in Mexico and I thought ten hours without smoking was too much so I declined.

"I could probably still manage New York, but I don't know how long that will last. And soon I won't be able to get to parts of Europe, or even France. And before long I'll have difficulty getting to the shops under my own steam, and then I'll be stuck in front of my television, in a chair with an oxygen cylinder strapped to it, and a mask on my face.

"I hate knowing that chair will be my world."

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Revealing Deep Dark Secrets

From Yahoo! Answers
Is it possible to reveal deep, dark secrets under hypnosis?
I have the opportunity to be hypnotized by a stage hypnotist. From what I've read, a person under hypnosis is submissive to the hypnotists's suggestions but still has his or her morals and safety concerns. It sounds fun!

My concern is, under hypnosis, is one in danger of revealing his or her secrets, or are secrets still safe without the barrier of the conscious mind?

My Answer:
Hi Bob

The five answers you have had so far are all wrong. I say that, speaking as a clinical hypnotist of 16 years experience, having done nearly 20,000 hypnotic inductions for real. I work in private practice but also as a clinical hypnotist with the occupational health department of my local hospital.

The first rule of getting into hypnosis, whether for therapeutic reasons or as a volunteer for a stage show, is 'choose your hypnotist carefully'. If they are no good then it isn't going to be a very satisfactory experience for you. If they ARE good (and if you are a good hypnotee) then they can do whatever they want with you.

That's not such a big issue when you are dealing with a reputable hypnotherapist because they use their skills to make you feel better. It remains a big issue with good and reputable stage hypnotists, however, because their objective is precisely to exploit their volunteers in order to make themselves look good.

It simply is not the case that in hypnosis you are in control all the time and cannot be made to do anything against your will. That stuff is only ever said by people who have no experience of hypnotism, I'm afraid. Often they think they do know because they've studied hypnotherapy, and spent thousands of dollars on their training, but most hypno-schools teach that relaxation is hypnosis. It isn't. Relaxation is a state of relaxation and hypnosis is a state of hypnosis. When you are relaxed you are in control &c. When you are hypnotised you may not be in complete control.

My advice (if you wish to keep your secrets secret) is to not take the risk of something slipping out by volunteering as a subject for the amusement of other people. You might be all right but you might not and it probably isn't worth the gamble.

For some insight into what actually can and cannot be done with real hypnotism you might take a look at some video clips I have on You Tube. Click the link in the sources below.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Friday, 14 May 2010

More Myths and Misunderstandings

From the Archives

A year ago I asked `how does hypnotism work?’ Nobody here knew, me included. Over the last year I haven’t seen anything posted to suggest we are any the wiser. Whilst it is understandable that some hypnotherapists have no interest in the mechanics of hypnotism, so long as it works and they can do it, it seems wrong, to me, to stand idly by whilst very many hypnotherapists write and teach a good deal of tosh, purporting to be about hypnotism. It’s like botanists insisting, and teaching, that this (mushroom) is a rose (because they were taught the mushroom is a rose). So I’d like to have a look at what hypnosis is (and what it isn’t).

Here are four paragraphs from the web page of an hypnotherapist and trainer (with a PhD and MCH).

“Have you ever been lost in thought as you drive along a familiar route? If you drive you probably know what I am speaking of already. You begin by getting in your car and putting on your seat belt, starting the car and pulling out on the road, so far quite conscious of what you are doing. As you drive along a familiar road your mind switches from the conscious to the inner conscious or (subconscious) as you follow that daily route. This is in fact driving while under a light state of hypnosis! Your experience may go even further on this particular day as you drive past your turn off and come to realize it several miles out of your way. I bet you can relate to this quite easily, without any stretch of the imagination. This time you were in a deeper state of hypnosis. At least this is how we explain it. You may have stared into a fire place and found that you didn’t want to stop staring at the flames. You could have stopped at any time you wish, however, you didn’t because you were in a stated focused on concentration, which is another way of explaining hypnosis. This is no mystery about what hypnosis really is.

“Hypnosis is a heightened state of awareness. Yes, a heightened state of awareness! In fact your senses become more acute while in hypnosis especially the sense of hearing! Yes, you are quite aware of your surroundings. You may hear noises in another room or cars passing by outside. If you didn’t know you would hear passing cars or phones ringing and you did you would probably no believe you were hypnotized at all. Keeping in mind we can easily conclude that “Hypnosis certainly is not sleep!!” Even though the word hypnosis in Greek means sleep. The reason that this is ancient therapy was called sleep was again misconception of another man. His name was James Braid M.D. Yes, when he began to use this as a treatment, Braid truly believed that his subjects were indeed asleep. As he continued to use this technique however, Braid was astonished as he came to realize that his subjects were not sleeping at all. Well then, what part does the hypnotist play? The answer is quite simple, the hypnotist is merely a skilled guide or teacher.

“The hypnotist has no control over his or her subject at all. Just as you drove your car and missed your turn off while in a focused state of concentration, you were in complete control of your car! You stayed in your lane and obeyed all the traffic signals! Who then is in control when the subject is hypnotized? Well of course, the subject is in control!! No one can be made to do anything while in hypnosis that he or she would not normally do in a waking state. Yes, barking dogs and clucking chickens are for show business! Not in reality. No one can be made to bark or cluck unless they want to do it! Yes there are people who have nothing to do I guess, except bark and cluck for whatever reason they may have.

“In recent years some serious research has been done with hypnosis. As a result hypnosis is no longer looked on as a bizarre or strange phenomena. In fact hypnosis has gained momentum and acceptance in the evolution of our ever changing health care system.”

I suspect there might be some people here who broadly agree with the quoted author. I know there will be many fewer who agree with me when I say that those four paragraphs could only have been written by someone who has never hypnotised anyone.

According to our good doctor, hypnosis is a state of heightened awareness, where you have no awareness of what you just did. It is a state of complete control, where you accidentally miss your turning and drive for miles not realizing it. This is gibberish.

Spontaneous amnesia (as for a bit of routine driving) is often cited as evidence of hypnosis. It is true that people sometimes have spontaneous amnesia after being hypnotised. But often they don’t, and people often remember driving along motorways. Sometimes people sneeze whilst driving and sometimes they sneeze in or after hypnosis. That doesn’t mean that sneezing is proof of hypnotism.

Heightened awareness is possible in hypnosis, but a total lack of awareness is also possible. Relaxation and excitation are both available within hypnosis. Total control and no control are, also, both possible within hypnosis. None of these phenomena defines the state of hypnosis. A hypnotee’s muscles may be relaxed, or they may be contracted. Their eyes may be open or closed, moving or still, seeing or blind. They may be awake or asleep, sitting, standing or lying down.

The only phenomenon that defines hypnotism that I am aware of is the instant and uninhibited acceptance of the hypnotist’s suggestions by the hypnotee. Of course, the fact that someone barks, or clucks, or pokes their tongue out when you tell them to, doesn’t mean they are hypnotised either. If, however, you say “In a minute I’m going to tell you to poke your tongue out and I want you to make sure you don’t. Try really hard and make sure you don’t poke your tongue out. Do you understand me?” and they then poke their tongue out when you say “tongue,” you can be reasonably sure they are hypnotised. (Notice, this is not an Ericksonian ‘try to do something and find you cannot,’ where the ‘find you cannot’ is a direct suggestion, and the rest is misdirection. This is just an instruction to the hypnotee that they stop you making them do what you say. And notice also that you do not then have to say `poke your tongue out’ as the suggestion; “tongue” is sufficient. They already know what’s coming.)

I do not see any connection between the uninhibited and instant response of an hypnotee to suggestion, and being `lost in thought’. Hypnosis isn’t about daydreaming, any more than swimming is about taking a shower. 

Myths and Misunderstandings

From the Archives

I’m not sure what is abstract and ambiguous about “trance is natural; hypnosis is unnatural; therefore they are different,” but let me see if I can clarify the point.

Hartland’s Medical and Dental Hypnosis (3rd Edition), in discussing the nature of the unconscious mind, asserts that “ … it can also undertake most of the functions of the conscious mind, with one important exception – the power of criticism”. It goes on to say

“The important conclusions to be drawn … can be summarized in the following way.

1. The power of criticism is restricted largely to the conscious mind.

2. It is by virtue of this alone that the conscious mind possesses the ability to reject any suggestions that may be made.

3. When suggestions bypass the conscious mind, as they do under hypnosis, they penetrate directly into the unconscious mind which, being able to exercise little or no power of criticism, is quite unable to reject them, and the individual is bound to act upon them.”

You see? “… under hypnosis … quite unable to reject … bound to act …” What could be clearer than that?

This all happens over pages 22 and 23 in the paperback volume. On page 45, however, (and not for the first or last time) we find

5. “Assure the patient … that he can never be compelled to do or say anything to which he strongly objects.”

These two positions seem to me to be mutually exclusive.

Elman comes a similar cropper. He states that once the critical faculty has been bypassed and selective thinking has been established the suggestions are bound to be accepted … so long as they are ‘pleasing’.

In both cases we have very strong statements to the effect that `you can’t resist in hypnosis … unless you can’. What is going on here?

It’s called commercial expediency.

We are taught to trot out the ‘you can’t be made to …’ mantra, as to say the opposite (i.e., tell the truth: that ‘once I have you hypnotized you will do anything I suggest’) would be terminally rapport-inhibiting (other than with, perhaps, the most committed submissive fantasists) and not good for trade. It would probably also invite charges of voodoo, bad press and, eventually, legislation.

One could divide the world of hypnotherapists into two camps according to the contradictory statements of Waxman (in ‘Hartland’s’) and Elman above. In Camp A you would have those, the vast majority, who are signed up to the commercial expedient of ‘the patient is always in control’. In Camp B you would find the tiny minority of people who know that once the critical faculty is bypassed ‘under hypnosis,’ ‘the patient has no control’.

Camp A holds those people who have never done hypnosis (but almost certainly believe they have). If they ever do, they will pass into Camp B instantly. Camp A has no experience of hypnosis, has been told it can’t be done and doesn’t ever try to do it. In Camp B are those who, by accident or design, discovered the fact that someone who has been properly hypnotized is “ … quite unable to reject … bound to act …”

Camp A can do trance. Camp B do hypnosis. I acknowledge that these are not the commonly accepted usages of the terms ‘trance’ and ‘hypnosis’. What I’m saying is that to give both phenomena the same two, apparently synonymous, labels is misleading and unhelpful. I think it’s important to distinguish between the two states because they are different. They are not degrees of each other.

Trance does not necessarily lead to hypnosis. Hypnosis does not require trance. One (trance) is a state of altered consciousness. The other (hypnosis) has nothing to do with altering consciousness. That’s why I prefer, in my practice, to give one phenomenon one name and apply the other name to the other phenomenon. But I haven’t invented the usage. It isn’t my idiosyncratic eccentricity. Waxman uses the word hypnosis in exactly the same way in 3 above. I’m just agreeing with him.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Conscious Unconscious Confusion Unfusion

From Yahoo! Answers

For hypnosis volunteers: what happened when you went under?
I saw a hypnotist show recently and it was totally hilarious.

For the volunteers, was it bizarre to you? Would you do it again?

My Answer:
Hi Michael

I'm sorry I can't answer your question, but I have never been a volunteer for a stage hypnotist.

I'm replying because Chris said "when you're in hypnosis ... your unconscious mind has dominance over you conscious mind ... you are conscious, focused, in control ..."

And that just does not make any sense. Forget whether you know anything about hypnosis or not, one cannot argue the merits of being conscious AND that your unconscious mind is dominant at the same time. It's a logical fallacy.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

On Repressed Emotions

From Yahoo! Answers


how often "Repressed Anger" is the most often "repressed emotions" found in "Hypno therapy" sessions?

and how hypno therapy is said to "Releive" these repressed feelings and does the person often times become VERY angry during? how the person is asked to "releive" these emotions and how and why this is said to help them ?

which other emotions are often have found to have been "repressed" too under hypno therapy and how "bottling up" these negative emotions is said to affect them negatively?

how many people or which percenatage of people could use "hypnotherapy" too in your opnion and why?

please explain too if "hypno therapy" lasts more than one session usually and if so, how many or how long each? when is a person "cured" supposedly according to theorists on this issue?

thanks for your answers!

Additional Details

how is a person often "kept under control" during hypno therapy sessions too and how the hypnotists does this or is said to do this?

My Answer:
Hello !

I'm not surprised no one else has attempted to answer this. I AM surprised that I am about to try to answer it.

I don't think repressed anger is common at all. It is more likely that the person will be feeling the anger in real life today without knowing why. The event that causes the anger may be beyond conscious awareness (and thus might possibly be described as 'repressed') but that's not the same as the emotion itself being repressed. After all, if the emotion were repressed no one would know about it or be trying to treat it.

In fact, in 16 years of practice I have only come across one case of repressed anger, and that was in a boy who bit his nails. Briefly, his subconscious mind was angry that his dad had kicked him across the room when he was four because the boy accidentally blocked the dad's view of the TV. The anger came not from being kicked across the room but from the affront to the child's sense of natural justice. You see, his dad used to stand in front of the TV routinely so others could not see it, and thought it was funny when he did it. But when the boy did it accidentally ...

And that anger lie behind the nail biting, 13 year later.

All sorts of other emotions can lie beneath the surface. I recall a woman I treated earlier this year who claimed to have a rage inside her. When I tried to find out why, it was because her dad had left home when she was two, and she loved and missed her daddy. Consciously, she thought she had never known him and nothing about him made any difference to her. Subconsciously she thought he had abandoned her, and the prevalent emotion was one of sadness. (Of course, he had abandoned her mother, not her. She was collateral damage.) That 'repressed' sadness manifested itself in the present (more than 50 years later) as rage.

I would say that the most common emotion underlying present day problems is that affront to the child's natural sense of justice; when it really was an accident but they got blamed for it. Ot it wasn't their fault at all but they got caught up in it or in trouble over it.

There is no one way to treat any of this. I advise all therapists that I supervise to "Treat the person, not the problem." You have to find a good therapist (and that might be a hypnotherapist but it doesn't have to be) and let them use their skills and expertise to treat you.

Average stats for hypnotherapy do not mean anything. Hypnosis isn't a pill like aspirin, with relatively predictable results. To begin with you need to find a good hypnotist, and we are rare. Then you need to be a good hypnotee, and you might or might not be. If you're not, it does not matter that XX% of the population gets great results from hypnotherapy. Then how long it takes will depend on how good your therapist is, how they decide to treat you, how much stuff they have to deal with, and how quickly you can move.

It is rare that a therapist has to 'control' a patient during a session but when it is necessary, again, there is no one way. It depends on the behaviour that needs controlling. You really have to choose your therapist carefully and then rely on their knowing what they are doing.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Put Up Yer Dukes ...

From Yahoo! Answers
How effective is Hypnotism when it comes to ....?
Changing the way you act towards someone who deserves a slap, i mean when someone is bullying you and making you look small in front of your work colleagues and all it would take is to give them a couple of belts in the mouth but at the moment i'm just to chicken to fight anyone if someone stand up to me and approaches me with anger and a will to fight i just back down and chicken out. So would a few sessions of hypnotherapy make me be able to stand up and fight vile scum like this?

My Answer:
Hi John

I've done quite a lot of work with professional boxers so I can tell you for a fact that I can use hypnosis to make them fight better, which includes being more aggressive. But if you came to me and said you wanted me to give you the balls to smack you colleague in the chops, I'd decline to treat.

You might be right and the best answer to your problems might be to land one on your workmate but, frankly, I seriously doubt that is the best way to go and even if it was you really cannot ask or expect any professional therapist to become party to a criminal act.

Whatever your problems, I really doubt that fighting is the answer.

At Whom Are You Screaming?

From Facebook

REVOLUTION OF REAL WOMEN™ Sometimes, I get this urge to just scream to the world at the top of my lungs: "I AM beautiful, dammit!" ~REVOLUTION OF REAL WOMEN™~

So long as you know you are beautiful, that ought to be enough. Then, either everyone agrees with you, or they are wrong. Shouting at them won't change them, nor will it help you.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

On Giving Notes to The Police

From the National Council for Hypnotherapy discussion board

E~ Hi everyone.

I have been in practice for over 5 years. A recent client came to me to deal with a weight issue. During discussions, it transpired that she had recently found the courage to report sexual abuse that happened in her childhood. 

During a regression session, one of the SEE's related to the abuse. As always, I kept my language clean and made notes on what she experienced and my responses.

I have now been contacted by the police investiaging the abuse asking for my notes. the client has given her permission for the police to see them, so I will be handing them over. However, I wonder if anyone has any experience of this? What do I need to know? I would be really interested to hear other therapists' experiences.



Barry Thain Hi E~

This is not simply an issue of whether the patient grants you consent to hand your notes over and breach your duty of confidentiality. They are your notes and there are many reasons why you may not wish to hand them over willingly.

You may not want to prejudice the on-going treatment of your patient. What happens to notes about anything else that comes out in future? Does the same consent exist by default? Do you need to check on a session by session or detail by detail basis?

You may not want to get involved in a case against against a potentially innocent defendant. 

You may not want not want people who were not involved in the therapeutic process questioning your methods of work: like why you were doing a regression to infancy for adult weight loss?

You may not want to unwittingly undermine your patient's case (by throwing regression into the ring and opening the door to all manner of defence protestations about leading questions and implanted memories. (Of course the language was 'clean' but do you really want to have to go and defend that?)

You must also consider whether you can remain the patient's therapist once you are involved in her case.

I have faced this situation twice. I decided that my job was to be a therapist and that I would not become part of a patient's legal process unless I was compelled to (by subpoena). 

I'm not sure that helps but, as ever, I hope so.

How Many Sessions?

From Yahoo! Answers

On average, how many hypnosis sessions till it works?
How many? Lets say average.

My Answer:
Hi Adam

Hmmm, you know that's a bit like asking how long it will take to fix your car without telling the mechanic whether it won't start or it's been totalled in a head on collision.

You should know in the first session whether you can be hypnotised or not. Not everyone is a good hypnotee. That said, a few people don't go until the second session - I don't know why. So in my practice if I haven't been able to hypnotise the patient in the first session I won't have them back unless they really insist. If I don't get them in the second session I draw the line.

As soon as you get hypnotised you ought to start getting benefits. Maybe not a whole cure, but benefits. If there's a lot of psychological stuff driving your issues then that's going to have to be worked through. There's no point taking away someone's crutch without healing the lameness - they'll only find another crutch, or fall over.

And, then, how long it takes will be down to how quickly your mind is ready to go. I've seen patients whose subconscious mind held out until the eighth session when they could have taken their fix in the first.

I'm sorry there's no x-sessions answer.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Amnesia as Therapy

Can hypnotherapy be used to forget something?
Does anybody know if hypnotherapy can be used to help you forget something? I have some images in my head of certain people that I would like to totally forget about.

My Answer:
Hi Tessa

If you search on hypnotherapy (and) forget, you'll find this question has been asked and answered many times.

The short answer is, yes hypnosis can induce the amnesia you want given that you are a good hypnotee and you find a good hypnotist to do it, but it's bad therapy so no good hypnotherapist is going to do it for you.

Forgive me for saying so but you are going about this the wrong way.

OK. You have a problem. I don't know what it is, but you do.

Now, instead of going to a therapist and saying "Solve this problem for me," you're saying, "I've decided this problem is down to images I have in my head and I've decided the best treatment for that is amnesia."

You might be qualified to diagnose your problems and determine an appropriate treatment plan, maybe. But you wouldn't do that for an injured arm and no one should do it for an injured mind.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Sunday, 9 May 2010

More Videos

I've added some more clips at

They are mostly about the nature of hypnosis, how it differs from relaxation, and why hypnotherapists who believe the patient is always in control and will remember everything are mistaken.

Incidentally, these clips are all 16:9 here so I've no idea why they are appearing as 4:3. Any thoughts appreciated.

Squirreling - The Effective Alternative to 'Self-Hypnosis'

From, "taxidriver90" wrote:
> Hi barry. Thanks for replying.
> You said..........I taught her to Squirrel (my effective alternative to self-hypnosis)
and built in another level which I called hibernation.........
> This sounds fascinating, would you mind elaborating a little on this please?
> Thanks again.
> TD

Re: Anaesthesia


I don't think there is any such thing as self-hypnosis. Self-relaxation, yes, but self-hypnosis, no. After all, I can hypnotise you and make you forget your name, but I can't hypnotise me and make me forget my name.

So instead of teaching my patients self-relaxation, I set them up for Squirreling. Squirreling is my effective alternative to self-hypnosis.

Essentially, I help a hypnotized patient get into a state they want to be able to replicate on their own, and then set triggers so they can launch the state for themselves, and come out of it again. It is hypnosis by post-hypnosis command.

I call it Squirreling because the in-word is usually Squirrel and the out-word is usually Rabbit. (I used to be less prescriptive but patients would faff around for ages trying to decide on their triggers so (unless they have a problem with small, furry creatures) I took the choice away. Squirrel and Rabbit were the triggers chosen by the first person I ever did it with, so I stuck with them.)

Hibernating (which I have only done once and which I thought had not worked) was a case of setting another trigger to be fired inside the squirrel state in order to achieve another experience - one of the equivalent of a general anaesthetic. I explained it to the patient while they were squirreled and used Hibernate and Emerge as the triggers.

In principle I don't see why there should be a limit to how many layers one might construct within squirreling.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Friday, 7 May 2010

Hypnosis as Anaesthesia

From the Yahoo! Derren Brown Group

> Hi barry
> Hope you won't mind a tenuously linked question (there's not much traffic at the moment). Do you have any opinion or other on using hypnosis instead of general anaesthesia during surgical operations?
> I will be grateful for any reply.
> TD


I have never used hypnosis as a substitute for a general anaesthetic, so only have peripheral experience on which my opinions are based.

Hypnosis is a lot less dependable than a general anaesthetic. There are medical exceptions (obesity, heart problems and so on) that make general anaesthetics unavailable to some people, but aside from that general anaesthetics are known to work for the vast majority of the population. On the other hand, I suspect very few people are good enough hypnotees to be able to use hypnosis in place of a general anaesthetic.

I'd suggest that anyone who has a choice between a general anaesthetic and hypnosis should go with the general anaesthetic.

Sometimes, however, there isn't a choice.

On the very same day I treated the woman for the frog phobia I mentioned previously, I saw another lady for a dental phobia. She had a horror of dentists but had to have a procedure which on the face of it sounded like she was pretty much having the roof of her mouth replaced. She needed three appointments with various specialists, including at the hospital, one after another on the same day and was so distressed she could not make the appointments.

She had a heart condition, so she could not have a general anaesthetic. She had coagulation problems so there was going to be a lot of blood (indeed, I was recommended to her by a coagulent nurse at the hospital). She could have a local anaesthetic so it would't hurt, but she was going to be aware of everything and she was petrified.

And I couldn't hypnotise her.

I did my best but she just wasn't a great hypnotee. In fact, she wasn't any hypnotee at all.

The first session was really disappointing. She played along, and so did I. I taught her to Squirrel (my effective alternative to self-hypnosis) and built in another level which I called hibernation. I'd never done that before. Hibernation was supposed to be the equivalent of the general anaesthetic she couldn't have. But I really didn't think she was hypnotised and she wasn't. I wasn't surprised, therefore, when her attempts to Squirrel after I 'woke her up' produced incomprehension and nothing else.

Occasionally I get someone in the second session that I didn't get in the first, so I agreed to see her again. She told me she'd tried to squirrel many times but, nothing. She didn't get hypnotised in S2 either but begged me to see her a third time. You see, she had decided I was her only hope. Either I made her cool about the dental surgery, and she had it, or her mouth was going to disintegrate.

She arrived at the third session, depressed. She didn't get hypnotised then either. At the end of S3 I said I was sorry I hadn't been able to make it easier for her but she had to make the appointments and have the surgery anyway because, as she had told me, her mouth was going to fall apart in any case.

Two weeks later she called me on a Thursday and asked me to go over squirreling again with her. I talker her through squirreling and hibernation, and then asked why she wanted to know.

"I'm having the operation tomorrow," she said. Apparently she had made the appointments after she left S3. I asked her how she was. "Well, it's funny, but since I made the appointments I've really been very relaxed about it, and sleeping so much better." I wished her good luck.

I thought about calling her on the Monday, but I thought she might not be able to speak, so I didn't. And that was that. Until a week ago.

She phoned me last Friday and left a message (I was busy) saying she wanted to tell me about her experience and would call me on Monday as she was going away for the weekend. On Monday, I called her.

She told me she had slept well and gone to the hospital quite relaxed, which surprised her. Once in the dentist's chair she'd tried to squirrel, but nothing happened. Once she'd been prepared and the dentist started work, however, she drifted off into lala-land. She said she knew what was going on but it didn't matter. And then she 'blacked-out'. She 'came-to' again as she was being transported from the first to the second appointment and was 'vaguely aware of all the blood' and then she 'blacked-out' again. And so it went on.

After that day there were lots of complications which meant return visits to A&E, and more surgery which made the whole procedure 'horrendous'. "But," she said "Everything you did worked perfectly."

I still haven't quite figured out how, or why.

Best wishes


Thursday, 6 May 2010

Post Synaptic Currents (and Phobias)

From The Archives

You may want to refer to this diagram in conjunction with the following

Functionally most large nerve cells are divided in two parts, each of which performs a different task. The axon and telodendria form a communications unit. Their job is to carry information from the part of the nervous system in which the soma is located, to some distant part where postsynaptic cells will use the information. So while a cell might have its body (soma) in the thalamus, its axon might reach out of the thalamus to make contact with another cell whose soma lies inches away in the cerebral cortex. The axon is like a cable connecting two computers. It delivers the output of the first computer to the second computer for use in its own calculations.

If communication is the function of the axon of the neuron, computing is the task of the other half, the cell body and dendrites. Each soma/dendrite unit receives inputs from thousands of terminals scattered over its surface. These terminals come from hundreds of presynaptic cells, each of whose soma could be located in any one of a dozen or more places dotted around the nervous system. Second by second, floods of information arrive at each postsynaptic cell in the form of an ever-changing pattern of presynaptic impulses.

Maybe you can imagine thousands of twinkling lights pulsing over the surface of the dendrites and soma, the pattern changing every millisecond, always in flux. All across the surface of the cell, vesicles are pouring transmitter into synaptic clefts while ion channels open and close. Dozens of EPSCs flash into existence each moment, spreading their effects across the cell membrane towards the axon hillock.

The excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC) is a tiny transmembrane current of inward-flowing sodium ions and outward-flowing potassium ions which occurs at the postsynaptic membrane. Just like transmembrane currents that constitute a nerve impulse, it is accompanied by electronic currents that spread across the surrounding cell membrane. These electronic currents can spread all the way from the tip of a dendrite branch, through the soma to the axon hillock (initial segment). If it is strong enough to depolarize the initial segment the sodium gates there will open, initiating a nerve impulse. EPSCs are, therefore, the triggers for nerve impulses.

The main difference between EPSCs and impulses is in the nature of the channels they flow through. The gates on the sodium channels of the axon are held closed by a voltage between the inside and the outside of the membrane. When depolarization occurs, the gates open and the transmembrane currents flow. So the channels of the nerve impulse are voltage regulated. The ion channels in the membrane of the dendrites and soma, on the other hand, are not opened by a drop in voltage but by a neurotransmitter. So the channels responsible for EPSCs are transmitter regulated.

It is at the hillock that our microscopic biological computer does its most important adding and subtracting. Because each individual EPSC is too small to reach the axon threshold and trigger a nerve impulse by itself, the firing of an impulse has to wait until enough EPSCs arise at the same time. The electronic currents from various EPSCs amass in a process called summation. Only if there is sufficient summation is the axon threshold achieved and the sodium gates there open to produce a nerve impulse.

When an impulse does eventually happen in the axon of the postsynaptic cell it is a signal that the soma has received a particular pattern of presynaptic impulses. It is into patterns of this nature that information is coded in the nervous system. Thoughts, perceptions, and emotions all seem to be patterns of nerve impulses in the multi-billion neurons of the nervous system.

When a nerve impulse arrives at a synapse, one of two things can happen. This impulse may simply add its EPSC to the existing summated current without providing the additional voltage necessary to exceed the axon’s threshold (facilitation), or the impulse may be the last one needed to boost the summated current over the threshold and fire the axon (excitation).

Not all receptors open sodium channels and produce EPSCs associated with facilitation and excitation. Some create an inhibitory postsynaptic current (IPSC). For instance, a neuron junctions with striate muscles. Acetylcholine (Ach) opens sodium channels and created an excitatory current. But in the heart muscle, Ach binds with a receptor type that controls potassium channels, and the result is inhibition. The EPSC/IPSC mechanism allows the organism to perform decision-making and choice. (Whether these decisions are conscious, subconscious or unconscious will depend on where, within the brain, they are being made.) Without that mechanism we should all be simple robots, utterly at the mercy of our stimulus-response circuits. Each cell body in the nervous system is a choice maker, totting up the information it receives in the form of EPSCs and IPSCs from various sources, and producing sequences of impulses in its axon representing all these sources, rather than just one.

The combined summation of excitatory and inhibitory inputs is called integration. If the integration is sufficient to cause the axon to fire, it sends a signal to other parts of the brain saying that it is responding to some condition which exists, either in the outside world, or within the brain itself.

At the neurobiological level the aim of all psychotherapy, including hypnosis and NLP, and much non-therapeutic human behaviour, is to influence EPSCs and IPSCs so that their summation and integration produces different decisions in the face of real or imagined aversive stimuli, so that instead of “Spider –> Eek,” one gets “Spider –> So what”.

Depictions of Hypnosis

From Yahoo! Answers


How accurate are the depictions of hypnosis?

Your Answer:
Hi Jo

Well that depends on the depictions you've seen. If you mean, can a hypnotist make someone fall in love with a mop and stuff like that, yes, they can.

I enjoyed Toby's reply as it covers quite a few misconceptions about hypnosis. I don't know what Toby's experience is of hypnosis but I'm a clinical hypnotist, I have been doing clinical hypnotism for 16 years and I work as a clinical hypnotist in a National Health Service hospital here in the
UK. I'm going to paste part of Toby's answer below and indicate which bits are correct or otherwise.

Toby said

In reality
Although the eyes can be used as place to stare at, they are no more hypnotic than the elbow.
TRUE. And, in fact, staring at any spot is not necessary to induce hypnosis, although it is commonly used.

A hypnotized person is fully in control at all times.
FALSE. This is only ever said by people who know nothing about hypnotism. That includes thousands of hypnotherapists who have been taught, and believe that relaxation is hypnosis - which it isn't.

(Stage hypnotists never mention this and act as they do have control, tricking the person being hypnotized.)
FALSE. Not being a stage hypnotist I can't say why they don't mention it. My guess would be they know it isn't true and that's why they don't say it.

Anything significantly against what a person is happy with doing would end the hypnosis.
HARD TO SAY. The only way you'd know that is if you tried to get people to do stuff they really weren't happy with in hypnosis, and what kind of clown would want to do that? You know, they say you couldn't make someone jump off a tall building, and it might be true, but who is ever going to do the research? If you try and it works, you just killed someone. And if it doesn't work it only proves you couldn't do it with this person. 

Hypnosis is not like sleep, the person being hypnotized is able to think and is aware of everything around them
TRUE and FALSE. Hypnosis is not like bedtime sleep. Some people do spontaneously go into a gaga state but it isn't necessary and hypnotists would not set out to achieve that unless they had a specific reason for doing so. But plenty of people do trip right out spontaneously and have no conscious awareness of anything that happens in the session. And I have lost count of the number of times people have said things like "I knew I wasn't hypnotised so I decided to open my eyes, pick my hand up and scratch my nose. And I tried. I really tried but nothing moved."

Only a relatively small proportion of the population can have hallucinations in hypnosis and it would take a while to work up to that degree of suggestibility
FALSE. If you are hypnotised you can experience hallucinations, and that can happen in the first session, within seconds of the beginning of an induction.

People rarely spontaneously forget things and even if directly suggested for most people it doesn't last very long.
CONFUSED. if it has been directly suggested then it is not spontaneous. People are often spontaneously un-conscious of what happens in a session. Amnesia is rarely used in therapy, however, and most hypno-amnesia IS spontaneous - but it has more to do with never consciously knowing than consciously forgetting.

Hypnosis isn't magic and can't allow someone to do something outside the capabilities of their body b/ mind. (Though those capabilities are broader than many people realize.)
TRUISH. But it can certainly be used to make people think they are doing the physically impossible, and experience it just as if it were really happening.

And finally although a swinging watch can be used as something for a person to stare at while entering hypnosis, it is very rare these days.
TRUE. And, in fact, I've never used one.

I'm going to put some video clips in the sources so you can see me doing some of what I have said above. It's all real. None of it is acted or rehearsed.

The first clip is a tactile hallucination used as an induction.
Second is a combination of visual hallucination and instant amnesia
Third is experiencing the physically impossible

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist
Mindsci Clinic and
Kingston Hospital (NHS) Trust