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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Logotherapy, Bokononism, and Other Notions

On July 6th, my colleague, Don Gibbons, published a fascinating post on his site (  He alluded to the work of Viktor Frankl, which ultimately gave rise to the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,” or logotherapy.  In a nutshell, where Freud felt that we are governed by the need to seek pleasure, and Adler believed we seek power, Frankl believed the most powerful motivating force in humans is the need to find meaning in life. 

This notion, in turn, somehow reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Cat’s Cradle.  Here is the passage of note (attributed to Bokonon, founder of Bokononism):

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

But do we ever really understand?  Is not our quest to "understand" simply a part of our quest for "meaning" in life?  Perhaps art, once again, imitates life here.  I also suspect we can find many other areas in which art, philosophy (including religion), and psychology overlap.  More anon!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Athletes, Visualization, and Sports Hypnosis

I read the New York Times article, "Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training," last weekend.  For some reason, this topic generated considerable interest, to which assertion similar postings on,, and readily attest.  There is even an entry for "creative visualization" on wikipedia.

Actually, we find nothing at all new in any of the above.  Though rarely discussed openly, sports hypnosis is well known and has been practiced for years.  In football, place-kickers are often encouraged to “visualize” a number of kicks from various parts of the field, against different wind conditions, and at specific periods during the game.  Golfers are known to use hypnotic techniques; no less a figure than Jack Nicklaus has done so.  Former top-ranked tennis star Stefan Edberg clearly alluded to hypnotic imagery when he won his first Wimbledon crown; he mentioned that “the ball looked very large,” and “it seemed to be moving very slowly” -- two generic suggestions given by almost every hypnotist who works with tennis players!  In baseball, hypnosis helped Nolan Ryan leave behind a litany of records, including the most no-hitters and the most strikeouts in a career.  Melio Bettina worked closely with a hypnotist before defeating Tiger Fox for the light heavyweight boxing championship.  Mike Tyson also retained the services of a hypnotist early in his career.  (Ironically, he fired that individual a few months before his fight with Buster Douglas -- his first loss, after which he was never been the same!)  And, among chess champions, it is widely believed that world champions Mikhail Tahl and Anatoly Karpov both worked with Soviet hypnotists.

Some prefer to use terms like "guided imagery" and "visualization," while others are comfortable with the "h-word" (hypnosis).  Either way, I find it encouraging that these techniques are becoming more "main-stream" and widely accepted.  

The Times article can be found at

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Overview of Alternate Universe Therapy

The idea of “alternate universes” became somewhat more accessible with when quantum physics began to bombard us with two different times, or masses, or lengths that appeared to co-exist concurrently.  From this point, it was simply a matter of time before theories of hyperspace developed.  “Hyperspace” refers to a somewhat theoretical space (or “place”) in which the three dimensions with which we are more or less comfortable are replaced by other dimensions, in which the basic laws of Newtonian physics are transcended.  And in this theoretical hyperspace, it is entirely plausible to postulate two objects occupying the same space in the same time.  And once we have done that, why not two – or more – universes! 
Clinical psychologists have belatedly acknowledged the potential therapeutic validity of past-life regression, at least for its metaphorical significance (if not anything more exciting).  Hypnotherapists have long engaged in work with past lives, and more recently they have even considered future lives as well as lives in between incarnations.  

The trail-blazing work of my colleague, Dr. Don Gibbons, goes far beyond anything yet conceived.  We now bring subjects into an alternate universe in which they can see themselves as they would like to be – or (more significantly) as they might have been without a given trauma in their lives.  His blog expresses this idea more succinctly:

            << If the number of alternate universes is truly infinite, then it is possible to use the higher powers of the imagination to experience any one of these possible Universes in hypnosis just as if we were really there. For example, we all long to return to the safety and security of a little infant tenderly nestled in its mother’s arms. At the opposite extreme, all phobias are basically rooted in a fear of not being, which is actually a fear of death. In a cosmos in which the number of parallel universes is theoretically without limit, there is – somewhere – an alternate universe where we can bathe in an ocean of infinite, unbounded, and everlasting love, freed from the limitations of space and time, to satisfy these deepest longings, enhance our self-esteem, and overcome all our feelings of unhappiness, loneliness, anger, and despair. 
            << Using our hypnotic imagination and the elements of the BEST ME technique . . . (we) can . . . experience now, in the present, the full rewards of future goals in order to provide ourselves with the vitality and motivation to achieve them, so that we can become truly free to want to do what we know we ought to do in order to develop our potential to the fullest. 
            << Regardless of whatever else may be going on in our lives, we can “get away” to an alternate universe and come back as refreshed as if we had been away for a week, a month, or even longer. Experiences can easily be included for withstanding the effects of stress, finding one's purpose in life, and enhancing feelings of self-esteem. >>

I should append that this technique also offers immense potential for resolving problems of motivation.  If one can already experience the results of the hard work, and if one can already know how good he/she will feel after achieving the objective, the “end result” will become far less abstract and far more tangible.  From there, all that remains is to “remember the future.”  
More about this exciting work can be gleaned from our Kindle text, Exploring Alternate Universes:  And Learning What They Can Teach Us,” available at: