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Friday, November 3, 2017

Hypnosis or Merely the Power of Suggestion?

George Joseph Kreske, better known as "The Amazing Kreskin," is apparently among those highly skeptical of hypnosis. He argues that what we identify as response to post-hypnotic suggestion is effectively little more than a manifestation of the power of suggestion itself. The following video certainly presents the case to some extent: However, Kreskin misses the point.

It is true that the power of suggestion does in fact have great influence on how people behave. One need only look at the advertisements for commercial products and political candidates! Nevertheless, when we seek the same "suggestions" to effect behavioral modification and changes in the way we respond to external stimuli, we inevitably find that hypnosis enhances our ability to respond positively.

That said, one must concede that Kreskin, who is now 82 years old, has had a wonderful career and is quite good at what he does. I merely feel he oversteps his bounds in his efforts to discredit the art and science of hypnosis.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sleep Loss -- and Possible Consequences

In a BBC interview with James Fletcher, neuroscientist Matt Walker raised many interesting points about the diminishing amount of sleep we seem to get these days. In the 1940s, people apparently slept a shade over four hours per night, where the average at present seems to be somewhere between 6.7 and 6.8 hours per night: a 20% drop.

Walker sounded even more alarms about potential consequences: “Every major disease that is killing us in the developed world: Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, suicidality. All of them have direct ... and very strong causal links to deficient sleep.”
The short article is worth reading in its entirety:

"Why We Lie" -- a fascinating article

“Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways,” by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, appeared in the June, 2017 issue of National Geographic. The article offers fascinating insights into this extremely common behavior so often observed in a great many people.

A complete synopsis of the article is beyond the scope of this entry, but I must mention one description I found particularly amusing. The issue cited is pseudologia fantastica, "a tendency to tell stories containing facts interwoven with fantasy." I wonder if the disorder appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Journaling by Hand: Strongly Recommended

I have long encouraged clients to journal, preferably by hand (rather than on computer screen). In fact, I believe that one may also benefit from writing at least one-third of the time with the non-dominant hand. Thus, I advise a right-handed client who journals fifteen minutes a day to write roughly five minutes per day with the left hand.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How Writing May Heal The Body

A recent article in BBC News summarized a small but significant body of investigation that has been done over the span of more than thirty years. "The Puzzling Way That Writing Heals the Body," by Claudia Hammond, cited evidence supporting the hypothetical conjecture, though it also mentioned numerous inconsistencies and flaws with the research to date.

When people write about pain, they may effectively weaken its grasp over them. This, in turn, may accelerate the healing process. Even if the effect is indeed no more than "short-lived but powerful," as one scientist suggested, that should nevertheless be deemed a very positive development -- and also sufficient to warrant further study.

The entire piece can be accessed at

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Surgery With Eyes And Ears Wid Open

Jan Hoffman's column, "Going Under the Knife, With Eyes and Ears Wide Open" (New York Times 25 March2017), discusses a growing trend. More and more patients prefer to avoid general anesthesia in favor of local anesthesia. This option saves time, considerable hospital costs, and (of course) the expense of another specialist.

Hypnosis has been used in lieu of anesthesia for over 170 years, beginning with the exploits of Dr. James Esdaile, a British surgeon working in India. Reuben Pecarve, a hypno-anesthetist still active in Montreal, has "talked" a  large number of clients through such procedures as intestinal surgery and tooth extraction. I have also seen videos of C-section childbirths performed under hypnosis.

My own experience is far more limited. However, I can report that I went through my last colonoscopy without any sedation, drank down the glass of orange juice I was offered afterward, got in my car, and drove home. 

The important point here should be the obvious. Hypnosis can help people feel more relaxed and less anxious about a forthcoming event or procedure. I would therefore suggest that anyone planning to "stay awake" during surgery -- even with local anesthesia -- will probably benefit from a session with a hypnotist!

The complete article can be accessed here:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Surgical Applications: "Virtual Reality" and Hypnosis

The BBC recently ran a fascinating story about Dr. Jose Luis Mosso Vazquez, a Mexican surgeon who has brought virtual reality (VR) into the operating theater. Many procedures seem to work better with just local anesthesia and VR than with general anesthesia, which is not always available, anyway.

My colleague, Dr. Don Gibbons, has worked extensively with hyperempiria and the BEST-ME technique, often achieving a "virtual reality" involving all of the senses at once. Perhaps these "new" techniques will find broader acceptance in medical settings. 

Of course, James Esdaile, a British surgeon, was using "Mesmerism" (i.e., hypnosis) on his patients as far back as the 1840s. Although success rates have varied, it seems clear that hypnosis and its sister-disciplines may often help the patient deal with pain. 

I have nothing particularly dramatic to report, although I got through my colonoscopy using self-hypnosis, drank the post-procedural glass of orange juice, and drove home! This was far better than losing the rest of the day in a drug-induced haze!

The complete article may be accessed here:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why Hypnosis May Fail (for Smoking and Weight Loss)

By far the most common applications -- indeed, the "bread-and-butter" of many practicing professionals -- involve the use of hypnosis to help people quit smoking and lose weight.  Sadly, the statistics are quite different than what many may believe.

It is a principle of hypnosis that one cannot be hypnotized to do something he/she does not wish to do. This is extremely valid with habits. Those who want to quit smoking will do so (generally with or without hypnosis), whereas those who merely wish they didn't smoke rarely succeed.

When I first read Trance and Treatment (by the Spiegels, a father-son duo, both psychiatrists), I was stunned to learn that they claimed a mere 26% success rate with smoking. The American Medical Association (AMA) has also noted that roughly three of four people who begin smoking will be unable to quit. However, I heard various hypnotists bragging about 50% all the way up to 94% success.

The discrepancy is explained by precisely when the follow-ups are done.  For some unknown reason, major regressions occur at three months and one year. The Spiegels' follow-ups were at the one-year mark, while some of my colleagues did follow-ups within as little as three days!

In those pre-Internet, pre-cell phone days, it was far too easy to lose touch, so I was unable to do follow-ups on all of my smokers.  Of those I reached twelve to thirteen months later, some 30% had kicked the habit, but given the limited numbers, my score still lies well within the parameters suggested by the Spiegels and the AMA.

Weight-loss is actually worse. A colleague told me years ago that he had never seen a person for weight-loss where the excess pounds were really the issue. In fact, there were almost always other problems related to the obesity. Various studies by the AMA invariably found that five years later, the overwhelming percentage of dieters had regained their pounds. The only encouraging sign was that people who lost weight gradually and began an integrated program of diet, exercise, and nutrition were more likely to succeed.

I didn't bother with five-year follow-ups, and at this point I almost never work with people for either of these purposes. Happily, other uses of hypnosis have proven most beneficial, and it may perhaps even more helpful when combined with reiki. Anxiety (including performance anxiety/test anxiety), cognition (helping people learn more quickly), pre-birth, and pre-surgical applications have shown marvelous results, and hypnosis (with reiki) also helps immensely with treatment of many psychological issues, including phobias and stress management. I am delighted to address all of these, as well as general "healing" (physical, emotional, chakric, and spiritual).