Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 15:34, March 28 2017.
A client recently told me of an experience a friend of hers had with hypnotherapy that was a classic situation where a concept I call “The Gift” would have come in handy.
The concept of “The Gift” is simple and can best be illustrated by something that most of us have experienced. Have you ever greeted a friend whose response did not seem right? Something in the tone of their voice or expression told you that something was wrong. The “something” that is different gives us information that we might follow up on with a more specific question about their wellbeing.
To understand the sense that something is wrong, it is helpful to use a model of the mind that is fairly standard among hypnotherapists. This is just a model and not fact but it serves to explain in a simple way how the mind seems to work. At the top level, we have the conscious mind which are the thoughts that we are aware of and below that is the subconscious mind that holds our feelings, instincts and memories. The feeling we get that tells us all is not right with our friend is a communication from our subconscious. We might also call it instinct or gut reaction.
Trapped in Hypnosis
Communications from ones subconscious do not stop just because one is hypnotised. The experience my client told me about was of a particularly powerful communication from someone’s subconscious that was received and ignored. The friend’s daughter had apparently become trapped in hypnosis.
Despite popular belief, exploited by the stage hypnotist, hypnosis is a process under the control of the person being hypnotised, not the hypnotist - it is, therefore, impossible to become trapped in hypnosis. The friend’s daughter had felt unable to open her eyes at the end of the hypnosis and when the hypnotherapist did not handle the situation particularly well, the young lady had panicked.
What Really Happened?
Eye locking is a “hypnotic phenomena” and appears on most scales of hypnotic depth. I use eye locking frequently as part of a hypnotic induction. Experiencing the feeling of difficulty opening one’s eyes after a session of hypnosis has about the same seriousness as not wanting to get up when the alarm goes off! However, the extent to which the young lady had reacted could be described as abnormal and therefore she experienced what is termed as an “abreaction”.
Using “The Gift”
Anything that a person may feel whilst hypnotised that can be described as an interruption – like not being able to open their eyes at the end of the hypnotic session, might be regarded as an attempt by the subconscious to communicate something. If the subconscious feels it necessary to intervene and effectively say “hold on a minute, I have something to say” then that is a real gift and should be responded to appropriately.
The hypnotherapist, even though they apparently had many years of experience, did not know how to handle his client’s inability to open her eyes and not only missed out on a valuable subconscious comment (a gift) but also succeeded in instilling a fear of hypnosis in to at least two people.
Communicating with the Subconscious
There is an interesting colloquialism: “I was in two minds about it”. This occurs when one’s logic (conscious mind) says one thing but one’s feelings (subconscious mind) says the opposite. Creating a dialogue between a client’s “conscious” and “subconscious” minds can sometimes bring clarity to a client’s problem. If this communication occurs spontaneously, it truly is a gift and any decent hypnotherapist should know how to exploit this to the greater benefit of their client.