Bombs and Germans or “Don’t Mention the War”
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 09:58, April 28 2015.

Many years ago when working for an international company, I was entertaining my opposite number from Germany. This was the first time I had met him and I had just finished telling him that our schedule had to be changed because an unexploded World War Two bomb had just been discovered while excavating for a building extension. Accepting the inconvenience he casually walked to the window and looked out in the direction of where it had been found. Quite casually he asked, “Is it one of ours or one of yours?”

Contrast this situation with another in another company. A German was visiting just before Remembrance Sunday. He asked why everyone was wearing poppies but no one felt able to give a straight answer. Nobody felt able to tell them it was to remember those who died fighting in the wars (fighting the Germans).

We live in a social mine field (I think that may be a pun) where it is so easy to become fearful of upsetting or offending others (due to their gender, race, colour, social position etc etc.) that we try to mind read. The second situation illustrates the dangers of mind reading: although done with the intention of not offending, in doing so the visiting German was virtually accused of being a Nazi in expecting them to feel responsibility or guilt for the war deaths.

There is no simple answer because we cannot mind read and do not know how any of our comments might be received. We can only be aware of how we receive comments from others and not be too eager to find offence where offence may not have been intended.

The Half Nelson
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 11:04, April 9 2015.

I cannot claim to be any good in sales but during my varied professional career I did spend some time as a salesman. There is a lot of thought manipulation that goes on during sales and certain techniques have specific names. The one I remember is the “Half Nelson”. Many people will recognise this as a wrestling term; a type of arm lock. In sales, this is how the Half Nelson works. The prospective customer states a preference: let us say they state they would prefer the item in yellow. The salesperson’s response is “if I had it in yellow, would you buy it?” If the customer says they would, then when the sales person can supply the item in yellow, the sale is made (or “closed” in sales terms). The technique can be extremely powerful because it creates an obligation in the customer to buy (whether they want to or not!). It is not difficult to see how this may be used in the “hard sell”.

The Therapeutic Bind

There is something similar in therapy called the “Therapeutic Bind”. Like the Half Nelson in sales it creates an obligation in ones client. It is manipulation so must be used with care, as with all manipulations it can be abused. One form of the Therapeutic Bind seemingly offers two options but is just a device to force the client down the pathway selected by the therapist. A classic Therapeutic Bind would be to ask ones client “do you want to be hypnotised quickly or slowly?” It does not matter whether the client answers quickly or slowly because either way they accept the suggestion “you want to be hypnotised”.

The Ethics of Manipulation

One has to be extremely careful with binds as they have the potential to create huge shifts in a person’s belief system and unless that shift is in the direction that the client desires the bind becomes an unethical manipulation.

Consider the following that happened to a hypnotherapist friend of mine. While out driving in a particularly out of the way country road he came upon a serious accident. It involved two cars. There was a police officer in attendance but no ambulance. The police officer was attending to the driver of one car (still in the wreckage of their car). My friend stopped to see if he could be of any assistance. The driver of the other car (a middle aged woman) was also trapped in the driving seat of her car and obviously in significant distress. Her injuries were superficial but emotionally she was in a “bit of a state”. My friend spoke to her and calmed her down. The police officer saw what he had done and asked if he might help with the other driver.

The driver of the other car (a young lady of about 19) was in significant pain and distress – having had her leg almost ripped off. The police officer had been able to do nothing to help. My friend did not need to ask if the lady was in pain (her screams told him that) so he told her “I am a hypnotherapist. I can help you if you want me to. If you want me to help, just listen to what I will tell you”. He then proceeded to hypnotise her and give her suggestion for pain management. When the ambulance arrived she was still fully conscious but now comfortable and did not need any drugs to help her with the pain. He explained what he had done to the paramedics and they took her to hospital. The next day he visited the young lady in hospital. When he arrived her parents were also in attendance. Understandably, both the accident victim and her parents were highly complementary of hypnosis and of its power to ease pain.

Believing Something Does Not Make It So

You may ask how this is an example of a bind? Hypnosis is scientifically proven to be useful in the management of pain so the accident victim and her parents’ new belief in its therapeutic power was fully justified.

However, consider this! What if my friend had done exactly the same but instead of saying he was a hypnotherapist had said he was a faith healer? Someone who is in pain is in a highly suggestible state so the removal of her pain would create a bind – what her therapist had said must be true. From that point on she would have to believe that my friend was a faith healer but more than this, that faith healing is a valid therapeutic intervention. Irrespective of the efficacy of faith healing this example illustrates the danger of how binds might be used to install incorrect belief systems and how they can be used unethically.

This explains why the first rule of therapy is to work within the belief system of ones client and why I state on my website that I do not use any “New Age” philosophy or “Mumbo Jumbo”. If your therapist ever asks you to accept a belief system that is foreign to you (such as the efficacy of tapping energy points, reincarnation or the use of some “alternative” therapy alongside hypnotherapy) my advice to you is to leave immediately and look for a therapist you can trust.