Why Is Hypnotherapy Becoming Mainstream?

by Hervé Boisdé


In the years that I’ve been practicing hypnotherapy I’ve noticed a shift in the way that hypnotherapy is being perceived, not just by new clients, but also by the medical and psychotherapy community. Previously I sensed a skepticism from many traditional therapists, most didn’t have a good idea of what it was and some were reluctant to encourage their patients to seek out hypnotherapy except for maybe smoking cessation or weight management. Today things are different.

I think the main thing is that there has been a shift in popular culture as to the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Years ago only a small percentage of New Yorkers would take time to meditate regularly. More recently it seems like everyone meditates. First came yoga and doing poses to balance their body and minds, now people are turning to mindfulness through quiet meditation.

The scientific research is overwhelmingly positive about meditation. The medical community accepts that stress and anxiety are huge factors that affect health, and the mind-body connection is recognized as a reality. Doctors who previously would have written prescriptions for everything are now recommending therapy and/or meditation to their patients.

And while physicians and most licensed mental health professionals don’t learn about hypnotherapy in their schooling, they are reading the articles and studies about it’s benefits. They are also hearing about their patients’ experiences with hypnotherapy, so they have more second-hand knowledge than in the past. But it’s the scientific studies about hypnosis that have really created the real change in how hypnotherapy is viewed as a legitimate and beneficial alternative to traditional methods.

Studies that are mentioned in articles such as this one in New York Magazine, (Nov. 21 2016) “Has Hypnosis Finally Been Vindicated By Neuroscience?” , indicate that the brain goes through measurable shifts and changes while in hypnosis, just like meditation. Neuroscience has been the cutting edge of biology science for the past few decades so any advances in neuroscience generates a lot of publicity and becomes a hot topic.

Even back in 2005, The NY Times published an article titled “This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis” which stated in the first sentence “Hypnosis, with its long and checkered history in medicine and entertainment, is receiving some new respect from neuroscientists. “ It’s my belief that stage hypnosis set clinical hypnotherapy back for decades, if not over a hundred years, by associating hypnosis with entertainment and foolish behavior. Fortunately that is now in the past when respected publications print evidence from scientific studies that show that clinical hypnosis can heal the mind and the body. That same NY Times article acknowledged that hypnosis was being used effectively for many years, even if science didn’t understand how or why it worked:

Even with little understanding of how it works, hypnosis has been used in medicine since the 1950's to treat pain and, more recently, as a treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma, irritable bowel syndrome and eating disorders.

Back in 2010, Psychology Today published an article entitled “Hypnosis: An Underused Technique” that encouraged psychiatrists to become trained in hypnosis for therapeutic use. The author (an M.D. and psychotherapist ) stated that:

Hypnosis can help patients working on issues such as smoking cessation, weight control, nail biting, phobia mastery, insomnia, anxiety, including PTSD, poor sexual function, obsessive thinking, and stress-related problems that might be rooted in such physical problems as hypertension, headache, or chronic pain problems. Hypnosis can be an effective aid in treating these problems. But not enough psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists use hypnosis or understand what it can and cannot do.

It’s clear that clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy have become more mainstream, and with good reason. The scientific community, backed by neuroscience, has come to recognize the clinical uses for it’s use to benefit the mind and the body. And further research will probably become even more common as communities seek alternatives to expensive and addictive treatments for pain management, rather than opioids, and less invasive medical procedures. .

You're Not a Slave to Your Genes

by Hervé Boisdé


Ever since Darwin revolutionized science with his seminal work “The Origin of the Species”, humans have understood that much of who we are is down to our DNA and our genes. But more recent science, called epigenetics, has revised Darwin’s theories to a degree. It turns out that we are much more influenced by the environment than previously believed. According to recent studies, as reported in this 2011 article, “Why Your Genes Don’t Determine Your Health” in the Huffington Post, 70-90 percent of disease risk comes from the environment, and not genetics:

“In October 2010 Science magazine(ii) published an important paper that reviewed the notion of the “exposome”—the idea that the environment in which your genes live is more important than your genes themselves. What this suggests is that applying genomics to treat disease is misguided because 70-90 percent of your disease risk is related to your environment exposures and the resultant alterations in molecules that wash over your genes.”

In fact, our genes are influenced not just by our environment, but also our perception of our environment. In a nutshell what this means is that our thoughts influence our genes. So we actually have the power to control our genetic makeup and our health, by changing our thoughts.

I’ll let Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of 2005’s “The Biology of Belief”, explain in his own words:,

He’s effectively saying that whereby previously we thought we were victims of the health defects of our ancestors, now we know that it’s not true. We are not slaves to genetics, we are the masters of our bodies and our health.

But how do we control our thoughts and our perceptions of our environment? As it turns out, many holistic practices are excellent for this. Meditation and hypnotherapy can calm our minds and remove limiting beliefs from the subconscious part of our mind. Much of our programmed thought patterns come from the traumas that we’ve been subjected to throughout our lives, but especially in childhood. By removing those blocks, we can have more positive thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Quantum Physics has been changing science’s view on what makes up reality. It’s now understood that everything is made up of energy. Even thoughts are basically energy. And so while the current medical model uses chemicals to create changes in the body, now it’s being understood that anything that affects energy can also affect the body. And while traditional invasive and chemistry-based medicine has been very effective at treating acute health conditions like emergencies from trauma and infectious diseases, it has struggled with chronic illnesses and health problems, like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, and cancer.

Part of the problem is that medical science, for a long time, viewed the body like a machine, and didn’t take a holistic approach to healing the body, mind and spirit of the patient. Now modern medicine recognizes the mind-body connection and the need to treat root causes not just the symptoms in the physical body. But since the medical establishment is still dominated by the profit-making industries of the pharmaceutical companies and insurance-subsidized invasive procedures, healthcare has become increasingly expensive and with numerous side-effects. Recent studies have shown that medical errors are now the 3rd leading cause of death.

Preventative medicine and enhanced self-care can go a long way to helping the situation and help to lower costs as well. Psychologists tell us that 70% of our thoughts are negative and/or redundant. The subconscious mind is where most of our habits are stored, so in order to change our negative emotional habits and thoughts, we need to affect changes in the subconscious as well as the conscious mind. Working with energy medicine also holds promise for the future, such as Reiki, Healing Touch, sound therapy and Qigong. Nutrition, stress management, and therapies that improve emotional states are also important. And while talk therapy has it’s value, it is increasingly understood that simply revisiting old hurts and pains without changing our thought patterns and subconscious programming is not as positive a form of change as is necessary.

Meditation, mindfulness, and increasingly, hypnotherapy is receiving attention for it’s ability to change the subconscious habits and old, negative thought patterns into more productive ones. In addition to situational stress, caused by factors in our living situation, we also have the stress caused by our history, traumas, and subconscious programming. Healing traumas can improve our emotions, our thoughts and our physical health. When we becoming triggered by our traumas and go into fight or flight mode, our body actually prioritizes immediate survival over healing the body. We can naturally heal ourselves by getting out of fight/flight and into a more relaxed state, or parasympathetic mode.

Other modalities, such as yoga, massage and acupuncture are also very effective for calming the nervous system and promoting natural healing in the body, but what’s important is to create long term change in our thoughts, emotions and our environment.

Stress vs Fight or Flight?

by Hervé Boisdé


While I was on my way to work today I witnessed the perfect example of Fight or Flight. I was walking towards a deli to buy some juice when I heard someone behind me speaking very loudly in a very agitated voice. I looked back and saw a young woman holding hands with her boyfriend and almost screaming as she spoke. I heard something like “I would rather be homeless than be in that situation!”. She was clearly very upset. When I was in the deli she came around the corner facing me and instinctively raised her arm as if to punch. I must have had a stunned expression because she immediately said “excuse me” and walked by. This all happened in less than a second. This woman was obviously in crisis mode and on full alert. Her stress hormones had kicked in producing adrenaline and cortozol and preparing her body to fight or flee at any moment.

Fight or Flight is acute stress and it’s a survival instinct. If you’ve ever experienced a sense of panic or heightened anxiety with rapid breathing or fast heart-rate then you’ve experienced Fight or Flight. It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing it at some point since our brains are very sensitive to threats. These can be physical threats to our body or emotional threats to our sense of balance. Even something as innocuous as a sour expression on another person’s face while we are talking to them can be perceived as a threat. “What did I say that was wrong?” “Do they not like me?” or another similar thought can flash through our minds and cause us to feel out of balance. And although we might not go into panic mode we are still experiencing a stress response that can take a while to calm down from.

Fight or Flight isn’t supposed to last a long time. Originally it was designed to allow humans to escape mortal threats like wild animals or a dangerous caveman. So you would flee or fight off the threat and then go back to feeling safe again relatively quickly. But in modern human life things aren’t so simple. Sometime we feel threatened or unsafe by a situation that can’t be resolved quickly and we can get stuck in Fight or Flight for long periods of time. Our ancient nervous systems simply aren’t well adapted to modern living.

That’s why it’s important to manage stress and use techniques to get out of panic mode. Exercise, meditation, breathing techniques, yoga and hypnosis are all great at calming the nervous system and getting back to the ‘safety response’ - the opposite of Fight or Flight. When we do that our body stops producing stress hormones and instead produces feel-good chemicals like serotonin or endorphins. Our body can also regulate our immune, digestive and metabolic systems which get temporarily taken off the priority list when we go into acute stress.

It’s especially important to manage stress when we have a tendency to be anxious since Fight or Flight is a habitual response and we can get triggered more easily if we tend to panic easily. But the good news is like all habits, we can change and develop a healthier response to our environment. Being dedicated to self-care and actually reminding ourselves that we are safe can go a long way to changing these patterns, and being more adapted to the modern world.

Medical Hypnotherapy and the Future of Healing

by Hervé Boisdé


When I previously wrote a blog about the Mind/Body Connection, I talked about how the subconscious mind is responsible for much of the body’s processes and we can influence the body, both positively or negatively, with our thoughts. Neuroscience is at the very forefront of medical science and we are continuously being stunned at how powerful the mind is for everything that we do and experience. A report available in the US Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (published in 2006) claims that while only a recent phenomenon, research has shifted to studying the mind/body connection effects in medicine and has become a much more mainstream and accepted view of healing the body.

Although the understanding that emotions affect physical health dates as far back as the second-century physician Galen and the medieval physician and philosopher Moses Maimonides, modern medicine has largely continued to treat the mind and body as two separate entities. In the past 30 years, however, research into the link between health and emotions, behaviour, social and economic status and personality has moved both research and treatment from the fringe of biomedical science into the mainstream.

That being said, most of the medical techniques still used today were developed when the body was being treated separately from the mind. It’s really still only “holistic medicine” that has developed a radically different approach to treatment. Modern medicine that employs either invasive treatments or that relies on pharmaceutical drugs still has it’s place and can be very effective but perhaps even strictly body-oriented approaches can be enhanced with techniques that focus on the mind. It has been estimated that between 75 - 90% of all visits to the doctor’s office are for stress-related symptoms. Just by reducing stress, the average person can greatly improve their health and well-being. This probably comes as no big surprise. But what could be surprising is how the mind can actually be used to help heal the body from illnesses in ways that traditional medicine can not.

Traditional medicine excels at treating acute illness. Acute conditions are severe and come on suddenly, like a broken bone or appendicitis. Most visits to the ER deal with these kind of medical problems. Where traditional medicine struggles is with chronic conditions. A chronic condition, by contrast is a long-developing syndrome, such as osteoporosis, diabetes or asthma. In most cases chronic conditions are managed, usually with prescription drugs, rather than cured.

A study published November 2018 found that hypnotherapy is effective for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). They used a sample size of close to 500 patients in 11 hospitals to do the study and found that “Hypnotherapy should be considered as a possible treatment for patients with IBS in primary and secondary care. Furthermore, group therapy could allow many more patients to be treated for the same cost. “

There have been other studies that showed that hypnosis could speed up the healing of bone fractures, help relieve chronic neck pain, improve chronic and severe asthma symptoms, and 2 meta-analyses even found that hypnosis could effectively control cancer symptoms. It’s clear that when more studies are conducted and the research money is spent, many more effective treatments will be found.

As healthcare costs are spiraling out of control, anything that helps to speed up healing and cut costs will be valuable to the medical community. One study on the effects of hypnosis on breast cancer biopsy surgery found that patients experienced 53% less pain, 74% less nausea, 46% less fatique, and 74% less emotional upset from the surgery. The benefits to the hospital included: less drugs needed, less analgesia needed, shorter surgery time, and an average cost savings of $772 per patient! All this from one single hypnosis session before the surgery. Imagine the benefits for other types of medical procedures and surgery, or if included to heal other illnesses that require hospital stays. Self-hypnosis for pain management instead of dangerously addictive opioids is also being proposed by a Stanford researcher.

We are just beginning to scrape the surface in terms of the possibilities of using the mind to treat the body. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are already showing huge benefits for medical support and allowing the body to heal itself. In the meantime it’s important to fund research that will help convince the people in charge of our institutions that hypnotherapy should be covered by medical insurance and included in employers’ health-plans to manage stress and provide greater well-being.

Don't be scared! Of hypnosis.

By Hervé Boisdé

‘Get Out’ actor  Daniel Kaluuya

‘Get Out’ actor Daniel Kaluuya

Since I’m writing this blog on Halloween I want to address something that we can all relate to. Fear. Fear is so universal that Hollywood has been able to capitalize on the horror movie genre since the beginning of movie making. One of the most successful scary movies in recent years was ‘Get Out’ starring Daniel Kaluuya. He plays the lead character “Chris” who is a black man dating a white woman (Rose). The couple visit Rose’s parents and things start to get creepy. One night when Chris is having trouble sleeping, Rose’s mother, who is a therapist offers to hypnotize Chris to cure him of his smoking addiction. He has a horrifying experience while in hypnosis and appears to be stuck in the “sunken place” which is kind of his personal hell and is powerless to escape. After Chris comes out of hypnosis things go from bad to worse and it seems like he’s being groomed to be part of cult where other black people are being mind-controlled through hypnosis to have no free will and do the bidding of the white family.

Pretty spooky stuff.

Except that like most Hollywood movies involving hypnosis, it’s complete nonsense. You would probably note that almost all pop references to hypnosis in movies and TV are based on goofy stereotypes about hypnosis. The script writers know that most people don’t know much about hypnosis and have never tried it in real life. And since we are naturally afraid of the unknown its very easy and convenient to use an evil hypnotist as a character to add drama and fear to any plot.

So what’s the reality? Should people be scared of trying hypnosis? In a word: no.

Let’s break down all the stereotypes that are usually depicted in Hollywood.

1) Hypnosis is mind control

2) You can get stuck in hypnosis

3) You’re unconscious and won’t remember what happened afterwards

4) Hypnosis is like a truth serum. You’ll reveal all your secrets

5) Hypnosis is dangerous

All of these stereotypes are false. These are the common misconceptions about hypnosis that the writers exploit to create the fear factor. Hypnosis isn’t dangerous. Just like meditation hypnosis is a natural altered state that is actual very beneficial to the body and nervous system, as well as the mind. Hypnosis is naturally relaxing and because of the mind/body connection, when you are physically more relaxed, your mind also benefits from that by becoming more relaxed.

And no, hypnosis is not mind control. You can never be forced to do something that goes against your personal beliefs and moral code while in hypnosis. In fact, you cant even be hypnotized against your will. So in a sense all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. And don’t worry about the sunken place. No one has ever been “stuck” in hypnosis. All you need to do to come out of a trance state is to simply open your eyes. Easy peasy.

When someone is hypnotized they are in a relaxed altered state but they are not asleep or unconscious. Most people remember everything that happened after they come out of hypnosis. The exception is if they go deep into a somnambulistic state. That’s a very deep state of hypnosis that could actually be used for anesthesia to perform surgery without drugs. It’s super rare that someone will go that deep without an extended amount of effort and the person would also want to achieve that state voluntarily.

And finally, hypnosis isn’t a truth serum. You'd be more likely to say something embarassing the next time you go out drinking.

So to sum up, don’t believe all the myths about hypnosis. Hypnotherapy can be extremely beneficial for a large variety of issues such as phobias, anxiety, behavior modification and medical problems. The only thing to fear is fear itself.

Happy Halloween!

The Mind/Body Connection and Hypnotherapy

by Hervé Boisdé


With every new client I always do a quick exercise in the first session that's meant to demonstrate the "power of the subconscious mind". I hand the client a small pendulum, the kind you can find in New Age shops with a stone or crystal at the end, and tell them to hold it up in front of them, at eye level. Then I say "Without consciously moving the pendulum with your hand, just look at the pendulum and imagine it swinging back and forth...just like a clock pendulum. See a clock pendulum in your mind's eye....like a grandfather clock...swinging back and forth".

And then invariably, within a few seconds, the pendulum will start swinging back and forth. Then I ask the client to imagine it changing direction and going in a circle. And then usually it will start shifting almost immediately and go into a circle. After the demo the client is generally stunned, and will say something like "Did I do that?" or "That's so weird!".  Then I say, 'Yes, you did that. Or rather your subconscious mind did it for you.' This is because the subconscious mind controls certain muscles in the body: the heartbeat, breathing, reflex motor response, and tiny imperceptible muscle movements called 'micro-muscle movements'. The swinging of the pendulum is created by those micro-muscle movements, which are controlled not by the conscious mind, but the subconscious mind.

This quick exercise is a great way to demonstrate the mind/body connection. But it also demonstrates hypnosis. When the person is using his/her imagination to visualize the clock pendulum and is causing the actual pendulum to start swinging this is actually an altered state. It's trance, a form of hypnosis. The client's eyes are still open but they are experiencing relaxed, focused, concentration.  That's all hypnosis is. Just like meditation, the brainwaves slow down and the person experiences some relaxation in the body while, simultaneously, they are able to focus and concentrate more easily. When a person has their eyes closed, the hypnotic trance can be even easier, and deeper.

So why is this even important to someone other than a hypnosis geek like me? Because most emotions and issues have a corresponding feeling in the body. Stress can cause headaches, digestive issues, sexual dysfunction...just to mention the tip of the iceberg. But many issues are not necessarily caused by accumulated stress in the mind/body. Insomnia for example might be caused by an emotional block in the subconscious mind that was formed in childhood by a negative event (trauma) that is getting triggered again in adulthood. Anxiety triggered by public speaking might be a symptom of a limiting belief created in elementary school. In fact, most "blocks" are formed in childhood, before age 8. This is because the critical factor (the gatekeeper between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind) has not yet formed in early childhood, making young children more vulnerable to negative events that can leave a lasting impression.

Hypnotherapy is, in effect, about healing these blocks, or limiting beliefs, and replacing them with more positive beliefs. One of the techniques available to hypnotherapists is to use regression to trace the issue back to the source. We are in fact going back to the memory of the negative event/trauma that created the block. One of the best ways to locate that memory is to use the body. The client's problem creates an emotion, a negative emotion, or else they wouldn't be coming to me to get help. We can locate that negative emotion in the body....maybe it's a feeling of a knot in the stomach....or tightness in the chest...or perhaps a feeling of heaviness in the heart. We use the body to go back in time to when they first had that feeling. The subconscious mind will remember when that feeling was first felt and bingo!...that's the "initial sensitizing event", when the block was formed. Then the hypnotherapist can do a trauma reversal on the memory to help heal the block.

The great thing about hypnosis is that the mind/body connection goes both ways. When a person goes into hypnosis they experience the healing effects of being in parasympathetic mode. This is the opposite of the stress response, when the nervous system is in 'fight or flight' mode. Parasympathetic mode is naturally healing to the body and to the mind. Because when the body is relaxing, so does the mind, and vice versa. Parasympathetic mode allows the body processes to function more optimally. Digestion, metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, and the body's hormone levels are regulated to healthy levels. Just going into hypnosis not only helps with stress levels, but it's actually healing to the body as well. That's why I teach many of my clients self-hypnosis to manage stress and to allow their bodies to heal more efficiently.

As more and more studies emerge about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for medical issues, we shouldn't be surprised. Modern science now recognizes the mind/body connection. Now it's up to the medical establishment to see the full potential for hypnosis to heal the body as well as the mind.

Common Misconceptions About Hypnosis

By Hervé Boisdé


Ever since I began doing hypnotherapy professionally almost 3 years ago I was aware that many people are bit nervous about trying hypnosis for the first time. I usually always insist on doing a free phone consultation before booking the appointment so that the client can ask me any questions about my background or my approach to hypnotherapy and just let me know what's on their mind. And then I usually ask them "so what do you know about hypnosis?"  Most people will say something to the effect, well I haven't formally researched it but I assume it will be different from what the stage hypnotists do and I don't have to worry about clucking like a chicken...haha. And I will usually join in on the joke and let them know that it's ok to make fun of stuff like that.

But even if people pretty much know that clinical hypnotherapy is different from hypnosis for entertainment I always feel like it's necessary to have a pre-talk about the reality of hypnosis during the first session. In that pre-talk I try to hit on the following 4 points:

  1. Hypnosis isn't mind control - No one can hypnotize you against your will or make you do anything that goes against your personal beliefs. In fact you can always come out of hypnosis voluntarily just by opening your eyes, and you can never get "stuck" in hypnosis.
  2. Hypnosis isn't sleep - You aren't unconscious when you go into hypnosis. That's why I will never use the expression "going under" - instead I say going "into" hypnosis. It's a comfortable altered state, similar to meditation, but you are always aware and present. You know that you are sitting in a chair in my office and that I am talking to you the whole time.
  3. Hypnosis isn't scary - In fact for most people it's deeply relaxing and calming to be in hypnosis. One of the benefits of hypnosis is that your nervous system automatically goes into parasympathetic mode, which is a fancy way of saying that you experience the "safety response". It's the opposite of your stress response and fight-or-flight.
  4. Hypnosis isn't what you see in pop culture - Almost every movie or TV show that uses hypnosis in the plot is trying to make hypnosis seem like magic or dangerous. That's because it's an effective means of making stories more exciting, because most people haven't experienced the real thing first hand. The truth is that hypnosis is safe and natural, especially when being conducted by a qualified professional.

So what is hypnosis then?

Here's what I tell my clients: Hypnosis is a natural altered state that we experience all the time without even realizing it. It's simply relaxed, focused concentration. Whenever we are working on an interesting project and we become completely focused on that task, to the point that we lose track of time, we are experiencing hypnosis. It can also happen when we become sucked into a movie or tv show. Have you even become so engrossed in something that someone will say something to you and you don't even hear them? That's hypnosis. So if we do it all the time, and it's natural, why are we so nervous about it? Well for one thing, it's a fear of loss of control. But since hypnosis is NOT mind control, that's not something to be fearful of. In fact, like meditation, hypnosis can allow you to be more focused and "in control". Which is why I like to teach my clients self-hypnosis, so that they can get the benefits of meditation but without the hang-ups of sitting in a pretzel position and trying to be like a buddhist monk.


Is Hypnosis An Alternative To Opioids?

by Hervé Boisdé


By now most Americans have heard of the "opioid crisis". News reports regularly bombard readers with scary stats and stories about an ever increasing US dependency on prescription pain medicines and the "epidemic" abuse of those drugs. Opioids are largely blamed for rising drug-related deaths and the fact that overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

While healthcare administrators and politicians struggle with the ramifications of this national problem, Americans are left wondering; what are the options for pain management?

One often-overlooked safe alternative is hypnosis.

A quick search on WebMD reveals the following: "When researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York analyzed 18 studies, they found moderate to large pain-relieving effects from hypnosis, supporting its use for pain management."

Hypnosis is being increasingly used for medical procedures as an alternative for anesthesia for patients that don't handle either general or local anesthetic drugs well, or for lowering the doses of those drugs. When I was doing my hypnotherapy training for medical support hypnosis, we watched videos of surgery being done on patients who were neither unconscious or drugged, with no pain, thanks to a deep hypnotic trance. In fact the lead teacher at my school shot a video of himself getting a crown replacement at the dentist after he did self-hypnosis to make himself numb to the pain of that dental procedure. He didn't do it simply to impress his students, although it did do that as well; he is one of many people that simply can't comfortably tolerate the pain-numbing agents that dentists typically use on their patients.

I've also heard from friends and relatives in France that have tried hypnosis for other medical procedures offered in the hospitals there. One female relative explained to my mother that she had undergone cataract surgery painlessly with nothing more than hypnosis to make her feel comfortable. It appears that in Europe these approaches to pain-management are becoming more and more common. So it stands to reason the US could be following suit.

But besides surgery and a visit to the dentist, hypnosis could also be an option for managing chronic pain. With little to no side-effects, hypnotherapy is safe and can have other healthy benefits, such as a way for patients to manage stress on their own, with self-hypnosis and hypnosis recordings.


Tapping Into The Power Of Dreams

by Hervé Boisdé

Salvador Dali 'The Persistence of Memory'

Salvador Dali 'The Persistence of Memory'

We're all a bit fascinated by dreams even if we don't actively analyze them like Freud did. I mean...where do they come from? Do they have a deeper significance? I think we've all wondered about that. While we can't really be sure of the purpose of dreams, what we can agree on is that some amazing ideas have been born from them.

Salvador Dali's most famous painting was inspired by a dream, and he called many of his paintings "hand painted dream photographs". He also had a painting named 'Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate One Minute Before Awakening' (1944).

This video about the Beatles' Yesterday explains that Paul McCartney came up with the song in a dream and was fearful that he had unknowingly plagiarized it from somewhere he couldn't remember.

John Lennon also claimed that one of his songs, "#9 Dream", also came to him in a dream.

Niels Bohr, known as the father of Quantum Mechanics, had been struggling with the correct structure of the atom when a dream helped him with the discovery. In his dream he saw the nucleus in the center with electrons spinning around it much like planets orbiting the sun. When he awoke he became certain that the image he saw in his dream was correct.

On a less scientific note, director James Cameron credits the idea for his blockbuster film Terminator on a fever dream he had when he got sick. The ambitious director was little known at the time having only directed Piranha II: The Spawning up until that point. But when he had the fever he dreamt of a robot, cut in half, pulling itself along using a kitchen knife and dragging a broken arm, as it chased after a fleeing girl. He said it was "a really horrific image" and when he woke up, despite his illness, he forced himself to make a sketch of the robot which became the inspiration for the movie.

So we can see that dreams can be a source of creativity and ideas. But how do you tap into that?

Some people claim that they don't remember their dreams. It's been proven that we all dream, even if we don't seem to remember them later on. Many people have been able to improve their dream recollection by keeping a dream journal close to the bed. Often-times when we awake after we've experienced a dream we are still in a semi-asleep state and then we fall back into sleep and the dream disappears. If you can train yourself to jot down the dream in a journal immediately after you wake up then you will be able to get better at recalling your dreams more easily, even if you don't write them down every time.

People have also been able to train themselves to have lucid dreams, where they are asleep but aware that they are dreaming, and thus able to control what is happening in the dream. This is a bit like being a director in your own mind movie and there are inspirational possibilities with that also.

Meditation and hypnosis tap into the alpha and theta brainwave cycles known for accessing the subconscious mind, which is the seat of imagination and emotion. Similarly, hypnagogia is an altered state that everyone experiences when we are between sleep and being awake. We can have dream-like visions and this is a very creative brain-state to be in. Many people have had moments of clarity, epiphanies, or the spark of idea...an "Aha!" moment where they have come up with the solution to a problem that that has been troubling them for a long time.

On a more spiritual level, some people believe that there are dreams that are memory fragments of a past lifetime, especially if they are extremely vivid and seem to be set in a distant time. This has led some adventurous souls to look into Past Life Regression hypnosis to explore the possibilities of past lives. Dr Brian Weiss, author of 'Many Lives, Many Masters' (who trained me in Past Life Regression Therapy), advises people to look down at their feet and notice if they are wearing antique footwear if they suspect they are having a past life dream or past life experience in trance.


Why Do We Self-Sabotage Ourselves?

By Hervé Boisdé


You may not realize it, but most of your negative behavior is influenced by your "inner child." All behavior is influenced by the subconscious mind, because that's where emotions reside, and emotions drive behavior (more than the logical conscious mind). But when we trip ourselves up as adults, it's usually because of a block that's been living in the subconscious for a long time. From very early childhood up until about age 8, kids are sort of living in a state of permanent hypnosis. This is because the critical factor, the gatekeeper that separates the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, has not yet been formed. This is also why kids are so creative and imaginative,  love to play make-believe and can absorb information so quickly. Their brains are like sponges and all that information just goes directly into the fertile depths of their mind. This has huge benefits for kids' development, but it also makes children more vulnerable to negative ideas. The subconscious mind cannot form it's own ideas, but it is very good at storing them....for a long time.

As an example, let's say a small child of 6 years old is in Second Grade at school and eagerly raises her hand to answer a question in class. The teacher asks the little girl to go to the front of the class and spell the word Cat on the chalkboard (let's assume this was back in the days when classrooms still had chalk and blackboards). The child confidently approaches the board, picks up the chalk and spells the 3 letter word....but instead writes K...A...T. The classroom immediately erupts into laughter. The little girl hears someone in the back of the room say the word "dummy!" so she begins to cry and returns to her seat in shame. In this somewhat dramatic example, there has been a clear traumatic event for the child. But even if she had not been crying she may have internalized an idea such as "If I do things publicly, I will get embarrassed" or something similar like "People think I'm stupid".  Fast-forward several decades and the now adult person might have a fear of speaking up in work meetings, or going back to school to get a higher degree.

Now that's a pretty straightforward example of an adult fear provoked by a childhood experience. But sometimes it's not so straightforward. Because chances are that an adult would remember that event when they spelled Cat using the letters "k-a-t" and try to look back on that episode with compassion for the child version of themselves by saying "I was just a kid...we all make mistakes" which would help to heal any lingering fears stemming from being embarrassed in school settings etc.

But what if the little girl in that example is now a teenager, but doesn't have fears related to being embarrassed in school or in front of groups of people? Maybe she is instead having difficulty driving a car confidently when someone is in the passenger seat. When she is driving alone she is confident and alert, but as soon as someone else is in the car she become distracted and nervous, and drives badly.  Maybe she beats herself up a little by repeating stereotypes about women drivers. And then maybe she begins to limit herself in other ways.  So later on as an older adult woman she has decided to take the "backseat" to others at work, in relationships, and in other situations having nothing to do with driving.

Perhaps that woman works hard to get a promotion and becomes manager of a department at her place of work, but 6 months later, she is struggling to do the things required of the position and gets demoted back to her previous role. She's returned to the "backseat" where she feels more comfortable. Consciously she may really want to have the managerial role, but underneath she is acting on the emotions still put into place by her inner child. Subconsciously she fears the attention. And because there isn't a straightforward connection between misspelling the word cat back in second grade and having more of a "driver-seat" role at work, it's more difficult to become aware of the event or events that created the mental block.

Hypnotherapists can uncover those initial sensitizing events or ISEs with regression therapy to help heal those past minor (or not so minor) traumas that create blocks and self-sabotaging behavior in adulthood. Sometimes there are are 2 or more "minor" events that create enough emotional stress to create an issue such as fear of flying where the subconscious mind is really saying "I fear a loss of control". The fear of flying might instead be a metaphor for the gradual loss of control in that person's life and it manifests itself only in situations where it's impossible to be in control (unless you are the pilot of the plane).

If you find yourself taking two steps back for every step forward in a certain area of your life, ask yourself "Am I perhaps sabotaging myself?"  Maybe then you can help yourself to find the cause of your behavior and heal the inner child that's still just trying to avoid pain in the only way he or she knows how.


Creativity, Intuition, (and getting out of your own way...)

By Herve Boisde

Albert Einstein once famously said "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Supposedly, we live in the Information Age and one of the buzz-words that people use is that this or that is "data-driven" and that seems to correlate to efficiency. But does society also value intuition? 

Maybe more and more. As Einstein also once said to a colleague "When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge." Elaborating, he added, "All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration.... At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason."

Geniuses like Einstein might be naturally intuitive and also creative because they use their intuition in very productive ways. Intuition and creativity are closely linked, and while the Information Age has gotten us to where we are today, some are speculating that the next phase of civilization will depend on BIG creative ideas, high-concept thinking and looking at the big picture rather than just the details. After all, problems such as Climate Change, income inequality, limited resources with an ever-growing population were created, in part, by thinking from a past era. The solutions will come from a new way of thinking and seeing the world.

Another way of talking about this is to compare Linear Thinking versus Holistic Thinking. Linear Thinking refers to cause and effect and a rational, logical order to the way everything is connected. Analytical people tend to think in linear terms. More intuitive people tend to think more Holistically. The thoughts of a linear thinker tend to form a line (i.e. one thought leads to the next, then to the next, and so on). It is more ordered and organized if thoughts can have an linear formula. A non-linear or Holistic thinker might have thoughts that are more abstract or circular. In other words, a person who thinks holistically can jump around as if the thoughts are flowing across the middle of a circle rather that having to go across a line (A to B to C to D could instead be A to F to M to C). From a visual perspective the thinking become holistic because rather that move along a 2 dimensional line, the thoughts can move into a 3rd dimension across the plane of the circle.

Ok, so if creativity and intuition are almost the same thing, and abstract, creative thinking comes from less-analytical non-linear ideas, how do you train your mind to be more intuitive? Einstein said that all his breakthrough ideas came to him in the form of pictures or images in his mind, rather than words or math equations. He would then translate those images into language or math. That might explain why he thought that all scientists were artists as well.

Einstein first described his intuitive thought processes at a physics conference in Kyoto in 1922, when he indicated that he used images to solve his problems and found words later (Pais, 1982). Einstein explicated this bold idea at length to one scholar of creativity in 1959, telling Max Wertheimer that he never thought in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings, and even musical architectures (Wertheimer, 1959, 213-228).

In other interviews, he attributed his scientific insight and intuition mainly to music. "If I were not a physicist," he once said, "I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.... I get most joy in life out of music" (Calaprice, 2000, 155). His son, Hans, amplified what Einstein meant by recounting that "[w]henever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties" (quoted in Clark, 1971, 106). After playing piano, his sister Maja said, he would get up saying, "There, now I've got it" (quoted in Sayen, 1985, 26). Something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.

It's also useful to note that the seat of imagination and intuition reside in the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the logical, analytical part of your mind but when you get really absorbed into a task or project, you go into a kind of trance and your subconscious mind will get more involved. This is a natural and normal form of hypnosis. Anytime you notice that you are in the "zone" or time seems to go by very quickly you are actually having a hypnotic experience. We also, through no coincidence, tend to be more creative and inspired in these states of mind. Many books and articles have been written about tapping into "flow" or these phases of inspired creativity. What it boils down to is letting your logical, analytical conscious mind get out of the way and letting your intuition take over.

To further illustrate this notion that the best creative work happens when the rational, self-editing mind gets out of the way of the intuitive inclination — something Ray Bradbury articulated beautifully in a 1974 interview — Picasso offers an illustrative example. Despite being both a professional admirer and a personal friend of Matisse’s, he cites the painter’s notoriously methodical creative process as a betrayal of this notion that an artist should honor his or her initial creative intuition:

Matisse does a drawing, then he recopies it. He recopies it five times, ten times, each time with cleaner lines. He is persuaded that the last one, the most spare, is the best, the purest, the definitive one; and yet, usually it’s the first. When it comes to drawing, nothing is better than the first sketch.

Is Hypnosis Suitable for Children?

By Hervé Boisdé

Beach Hypnosis - Imagination Games with Kids

Beach Hypnosis - Imagination Games with Kids

A recent survey showed that stress in America increased for the first time in 10 years.  "Americans' overall stress level, on a 10-point scale from "little or no stress" to "a great deal of stress," ticked up from 4.8 to 5.1 between August 2016 and January 2017." More Americans are reporting problems related to stress than ever before. In addition, according to WebMD, seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

Children and adolescents are not immune to stress and anxiety. In fact surveys show that stress is rising among US children and teens as well. Schools and universities are continually adding mental health services staff to keep up with the needs of the students. Anxiety is the number 1 concern among college students and at least 51 percent of kids in college who seek out counseling do so for anxiety.

Hypnosis for children and teens is also growing in popularity and acceptance. Where parents in the past may have consulted a hypnotherapist for behavioral problems such as bed-wetting, an increasing number are seeking out hypnosis for emotional issues, phobias, anxiety or stress.

This begs the question: Is hypnosis appropriate for young people?

The answer is that with a well-qualified, certified hypnosis practitioner, hypnosis with kids is easy, safe and can even be fun. Children go into hypnosis easily and naturally because it's similar to "playing pretend". The subconscious mind is the seat of imagination and kids are fundamentally imaginative. When a trained hypnotist guides a client to go into hypnosis, he or she will ask the client to visualize a calm, relaxing place, or to imagine taking a flight of steps downward into a place of tranquility. Because children are so good at visualizing, they often can come up with the perfect antidote to their issues by being guided to do so, with their imagination, and to reverse the blocks in their subconscious mind.

Hypnosis can even be used for chronic conditions and medical problems. Chronic symptoms tend to have an emotional root cause, or be at least aggravated by stress or anxiety. Children as young as 4 years old have benefited from hypnotherapy or pre-recorded hypnosis CDs. A recent study showed that hypnosis CDs could effectively aid children with IBS, Functional Abdominal Pain, or Functional Abdominal Pain Syndrome. Whereas 6 sessions with a hypnotherapist within a 3 month period successfully treated the control group (ages 8-18), another group of children of the same ages also benefited from hypnosis CDs. The CD group was instructed to perform exercises  5 times per week or more for 3 months. The benefits for both groups lasted for 1 year after the treatment ended.

Post-election blues is real, and it's OK to acknowledge it

by Hervé Boisdé

Days after the most intense and bitter election cycle in recent US memory was over it became clear that many were not coping too well. The initial shock of the result gave way to anxiety, hopelessness, and for some, depression, as denial or anger shifted into the knowledge that the unthinkable, for those voters, had happened. Some major publications like Psychology Today, Vogue, and the New York Times, put out articles about the "post-election blues" with tips from experts on how to more effectively deal with the very real problems that millions of Americans are experiencing. If you yourself are having trouble getting back to your normal self again as a result of the election, it's important to remember that you're not alone.

The Psychology Today article tells us that elections aren't just about our ideas or values. "Our partisan beliefs don’t only define us socially, but also influence us deeply, on an emotional level. When our candidate of choice loses, we feel that our very identity has been rejected or is under threat. Research even goes as far as to suggest that the emotional impact of national tragedies, such as mass shootings, is significantly less than the impact of a political loss." It does go on to state however that the negative symptoms don't usually last for too long and should begin to taper off after a week or so. 

If however the tips in the articles don't seem to be working and a deeper depression seems to be setting in, talking to a professional could be helpful. Stress management through exercise, yoga, mediation or self-hypnosis could also help to prevent a relapse. But acknowledging those emotions and realizing that it's normal to be upset after such an event is also good. Don't be afraid to experience things strongly or try to bury them away. We can learn to channel that energy in positive ways such as writing in a journal, or taking up creative projects. Many have discovered that out of darkness they can tap into new talents or discoveries. How will you move forward?

Is Past Life Regression real?

by Herve Boisde


Interest in past lives and ways of exploring possible past lives is growing. According to a 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Forum, 25% of Americans believe in reincarnation and a full 24% of US Christians do as well. In 2010 the New York Times published an article titled "Remembrances of Lives Past"  which talks about this expanding interest and how many people are trying Past Life Regression, through hypnosis, to try to remember these past lives. The article states that "The popular purveyors of reincarnation belief these days are not monks or theologians, but therapists — intermediaries between science and religion who authenticate irrational belief."

This is because many believe that Past Life therapy can heal traumas that affect us in our current lifetime. One of the therapists cited by the NY Times is Dr Brian Weiss, a physician and psychiatrist (and graduate of Yale and Columbia), who wrote one of the most famous books about Past Life Regression, 'Many Lives, Many Masters'. Dr Weiss was a traditional psychotherapist, that occasionally used hypnosis, who didn't believe in reincarnation until one of his patients spontaneously regressed to a past lifetime and started describing her experience in stark historical details. This patient was a simple woman with not a lot of formal education but this experience, as well as many other past life explorations, convinced Dr Weiss that her descriptions could not possibly be invention, fantasy, or an attempt to fool the therapist; especially after a historical discovery, following one of their sessions, confirmed some specific details she had described.  But what surprised Weiss the most was that his patient, Catherine, began to quickly heal her many phobias and emotional issues, even though long periods of traditional psychotherapy had failed.

I personally attended a week long training seminar with Dr Weiss for Past Life Regression therapy. As a certified hypnotherapist I was receiving requests from clients to explore past lives through hypnosis. I could have done a similar training earlier at the Hypnotherapy Academy of America, in New Mexico, where I got my hypnotherapy certification, but at the time I was skeptical, not to mention a bit creeped-out by going back in time to before I was born. Eventually I began to read more about the many people that had healed not only phobias and emotional issues, but medical ailments as well, simply by doing hypnosis regressions to explore their past lives. This made me consider that regardless of whether it was fact or fantasy, the healing potential alone is worth doing the training.

So away I went to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY and was able to listen to Brian Weiss tell innumerable fascinating stories about the many ways this type of therapy has changed him and his life. He described how he went from being an extremely Left-Brained, fairly close-minded individual, to a deeply spiritual man with a passion for life, dedicated to spreading hope through his books and speaking engagements. And of course I had an opportunity to have an experience of my own. In one of the very first group regressions that Weiss conducted, I had a vision of a past life where I was a traveling soldier in a barren hilly landscape among men appearing to wear viking clothing and helmets. I eventually saw myself alone and trying to cross a bridge (made out of 3 ropes) over a turbulent stream and then slip and fall into the water, to drown and see my body from above as if floating over the scene. Dr Weiss said that to review a death scene would cause no pain or discomfort and was perfectly safe while in hypnosis, since the subconscious mind will only review material that the subject is ready to handle. This appeared to be the case for me since I wasn't startled by what I was seeing, even less than if it had been a dream I was having at night.

Afterwards I kept wondering if what I had experienced was real or imaginary. I did notice connections between the events in the "memories" and my current life. Some were obvious and some were subtle but even though I had made no intention to explore these specific connections they had spontaneously appeared in the regression session. Could my subconscious mind have been looking to find closure or heal some lingering traumas? The drowning part was particularly interesting because though I don't remember it, I did fall into a swimming pool when I was 2 years old. Luckily, my older sister was there to fish me out, but up until I did my hypnotherapy training I never considered it a trauma or something that was affecting my adult life because I have never been afraid of water. Maybe this regression session to a "past life" was a safe way for me to acknowledge that I came close to drowning as a child. Or perhaps, as Dr Weiss suggested, we tend to repeat traumas in multiple lives, until we finally learn the lesson that enables us to grow.  As far as whether past life experiences are real or imaginary, this is up to the individual. But even a skeptic could be surprised and enlightened by exploring the possibilities.



I'm Looking At The Man In The Mirror...

By Herve Boisde

Crazy times in the world these days. Whether it's politics in America or strife around the globe it can be stressful to follow the news day to day. ISIS and extremism dominate the headlines and extremist politics seem to be taking hold here at home in the US.  When everyone appears to be looking for real leadership instead we seem to be getting mobs riled up by angry and fearful pseudo-leaders. Sometimes it's difficult to be hopeful for the future.

People wiser than me have said that in times like this it's better and easier to start at home...meaning ourselves. If we want healing and positivity in the world then we need to first look in the mirror. Gandhi might have said it best but for whatever reason today I had Michael Jackson's song stuck in my head today. "If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make the.....change"

It's natural and easy to react to problems with fear. With change comes uncertainty and with uncertainty comes stress and anxiety. On a global scale this translates into lots of distrust and negative politics and perhaps violence. As human organisms our natural primitive instinct is to go into 'fight or flight' mode. But fight or flight evolved as a survival mechanism to be used in short bursts when man was confronted by an imminent threat such as a dangerous animal. Once our ancestors either confronted or fled the threat, they would literally shake off the stress (like your pet dog does after it gets startled) and then calm down immediately, ready to resume the day in peace.

Nowadays we have been socially conditioned to "keep it together" so we don't tremble or shake off the stress when we endure a traumatic or scary event. This animation describing that process is the basis for TRE or Trauma Releasing Exercises which are meant to release pent-up traumatic stress in the body

In essence, modern humans are not in touch with their natural healing instincts and responses. But those instincts to heal are still there. And if the world is to become more...human, then it's our job to nurture those instincts again. Meditation, hypnosis and other healing modalities help us to reconnect with our true basic nature. In terms of the mind, those instincts are held in the subconscious.

In our current Information Age we have placed so much value on the linear, logical, analytical thinking of the conscious mind, that we are neglecting our instincts and intuition. As a hypnotherapist, it's my job to help my clients get into alignment on a mental, physical and spiritual level. That means that the conscious mind and the subconscious mind need to be on the same page, working together towards the same goals. If someone is unhappy or unfulfilled in life, it's usually because there's a conflict or disconnect between their conscious and subconscious thoughts. Buried or suppressed emotions can also lead to stress and anxiety.

Let's heal ourselves and the world. And rehumanize. And with that, I'll leave you with this other 80's reference. Peace.



Metaphors and the Language of the Subconscious Mind

By Herve Boisde


Your subconscious mind takes up over 80% of all of your mental activity. The subconscious is the seat of emotions, your imagination, your unconscious body processes, all of your memorized impressions and unconscious memories since the day you were born. It's also your internalized beliefs, habits, preferences, instincts and drives. In short, there's a lot going on under the surface. When we’re overtaken by strong emotions or in the grip of an unwanted habit, it’s our subconscious mind that’s pulling the strings.

But the subconscious isn't logical and analytical like the conscious mind. It doesn't distinguish between fantasy and reality. And it uses the language of symbols, pictures and metaphors to communicate ideas to your conscious mind. That's what dreams are. But you can also use metaphorical language to introduce ideas to your subconscious mind, since, like a computer program, the subconscious mind doesn't come up with beliefs or ideas on it's own. It just stores them.

A female client that is having problems with relationships might hint at the following metaphor.

Client: "I don't know why I have trouble with men. I guess my thorns are just too sharp."

Therapist: "Roses do have sharp thorns. Do you see yourself as a closed bud, or have you started to bloom now?"

Client: "I guess that I've been seeing myself closed up and that's why I needed the thorns, to protect me."

Therapist: "And that's been fine in the past, but now we need to nurture this bud to allow her to start blossoming, don't you think?"

Imagine you want to talk about an emotional experience. You might say something like,  ‘I’ve got a dark cloud hanging over me.’  and other people will instinctively understand because their subconscious mind knows that a cloud can be used as a symbol for feeling upset or unhappy. Since the subconscious mind doesn't distinguish between reality and fantasy, a hypnotherapist might guide the client into hypnosis and have them picture themselves with a dark cloud over their head, representing their problems and negative emotions. Then the client could be guided to visualize the cloud dissipating and turning into a rainbow, maybe some beautiful golden light surrounding the client or other healing imagery. The negative metaphor becomes transformed into a positive one, and this allows the client to have a shift in perspective, effectively tweaking the program in the subconscious mind that was tripping up the client.

Guided visualization like this can have benefits outside of hypnosis as well. Taking a few deep breaths and closing your eyes can allow the mind to relax enough to be receptive to imagery for goals and positive results. Just picturing yourself healed or successful can help the subconscious think that those things are real and achievable, and allow it to start working towards that reality.

It's also important to be mindful of critical self-thoughts and language. Saying things like "I'm dumb as a brick" or "This is a pain in my neck!" can be interpreted as commands to your subconscious mind with unintended consequences.

Do You Self-Medicate?

by Herve Boisde

Here in New York City everyone self-medicates to a degree. Or to a large degree. Whether it's after work drinks with coworkers, a glass of wine at home to unwind, or some other substances ranging from pot edibles to prescription drugs, we are a society that consumes to relax. Why do we feel that we need them? For one thing, they can be a social lubricant that seem to enhance the good times with friends. But on another level they help us to forget our problems. Or do they? Addictive substances are addictive because they help keep unpleasant emotions suppressed below the surface. That means that those negative thoughts and feelings are still there somewhere but just not as easily accessed by the conscious mind. And too much partying can lead to a general numbness, so even the good feelings aren't much there anymore. Comfortably Numb is a good Pink Floyd song but probably not the best approach to life.

Carl Jung once noted that modern Western culture tends to favor a driven attitude and suppression of emotion that comes at the expense of the intensity of living. This has resulted in people forcing down into their subconscious much that is real and life-giving. Jung was exploring the Sahara desert when he came upon a figure dressed all in white sitting on a black mule whose harness was studded with silver. The man rode past without saying a word but Jung noted his proud demeanor and sensed that this person was somehow wholly himself and this struck him in stark contrast to the average European with his “faint note of foolishness” and his illusions of grandeur due to modern advancements in technology and travel.

Contemporary medicine also recognizes that suppressing negative emotions can have long-term effects as well. Effects of consistent emotion suppression include increased physical stress on your body, including high blood pressure, increased incidence of diabetes and heart disease.

Research has also shown a connection between avoiding emotions and poor memory as well as more misunderstandings in conversations with others. This is because people who regularly suppress emotion are often less aware of the signals they are sending to others and also less aware of the social cues present in daily conversation. Finally, men and women who avoid emotions, especially negative ones, are more likely to experience high anxiety and depression in their lifetime.

So if self-medicating isn't the solution, what is? For one thing, channeling our negative emotions, such as anger, in a healthy way can have enormous benefits and lead to more satisfying lives. Taking a kickboxing class to get some exercise while letting off steam that you accumulate during the workweek is much better than blowing up at your boss or your spouse during a stressful period. Other people prefer to meditate to help calm their minds. And of course hypnosis is extremely useful for balancing out the subconscious and conscious mind. Especially if there are repressed traumatic events, or stuff that doesn't naturally come up to the surface, then a few hypnosis sessions can be very helpful. Some of us have a hard time expressing certain emotions because of the way we were raised. Anger doesn't feel acceptable to some people. Hypnosis can help to relieve the anger and to change the trigger thoughts, while also anchoring positive emotions to help in certain problematic situations. And no matter what the negative emotions are, hypnosis can help to boost self-esteem which will naturally lead to more positive perceptions of the world and the challenges that life brings.

Hypnosis for Pain and/or Suffering

by Herve Boisde

Pain equals suffering and suffering equals pain. Right? Actually no. They are different and one does not necessarily need to follow the other. Pain is a physical response to a stimulus. Suffering is emotional. We need to experience pain in certain situations in order to be safe. If there was no pain response we could burn ourselves and not even notice it. Or we might not be cautious when playing rough sports. Pain is important feedback for our health. Suffering on the other hand may linger after the physical pain has died away, because, like many emotions, it can be habit forming. When we expect to suffer we tend to help those expectations come true. Suffering is the emotional pain caused by the resistance to what is. Sometimes we suffer because we don't accept our situation. Sometimes when we get sick we fall into self-pity mode and think "why me?"  And that very attitude can cause us to neglect doing the things that would help us to get better. In those situations we're not only resisting 'what is' but we're actually making things worse.

With chronic pain or injuries people tend to tense up when they are in situations that usually cause pain. For example, if someone has back pain and they are dreading having to bend down to tie their shoes, they will usually brace themselves and tense up as they are bending down. Again, this is a form of resisting the pain and making things worse. Fear of pain leads to tensing up, which then leads to a cycle of suffering. You might be thinking: "It's impossible to NOT brace yourself for pain. Pain hurts!" Yes, pain can hurt and it's perfectly normal to want to avoid it but there are techniques that work to allow your mind and body to feel more comfortable in those situations. Hypnosis can be used to condition your body to relax in those 'trigger' situations and help break the fear-of-pain cycle. The hypnosis practitioner would actually deliver a post-hypnotic suggestion to the client's subconscious mind such as:

(Client’s name), when doing things like bending down to tie shoelaces, you are calm, confident, and relaxed. More and more now, your back muscles are flexible and comfortable when bending down and standing up. Because you expect to be comfortable, you are more comfortable when bending down and standing up.

One of the more impressive things that happened when I was at hypnotherapy school was when the class watched a video of a patient undergoing major leg surgery (with a bone saw and everything) with no anesthesia except for hypnosis. I felt like I was in more discomfort just watching the video than the patient. A close second was a video that our instructor shot of himself getting a crown replaced at the dentist. He doesn't like Novocaine so he instead used self-hypnosis to put himself into a comfortable trance where the dentist could do the procedure and he was awake and conscious, just feeling no pain.  I'm not sure that I would attempt that but he was well practiced enough with self-hypnosis that he was completely confident that it would be successful. Of course he had also instructed the dentist that if he put his hand up it meant that he was feeling pain and would receive the Novocaine. He never raised his hand.

The conscious mind can only focus on one thought at a time so hypnotherapy can direct the client to empty his mind of the experience of pain by filling it instead with pleasurable thoughts.  A person with a broken limb might visualize that they are on a beach in Hawaii and focus instead on the warm sun on their face, the cool breeze, the relaxing sounds of the ocean, and the feel of the fine sand next to their plush beach blanket. The hypnosis practitioner could either anchor that comfortable feeling so that it can summoned up whenever the client touches their thumb and forefinger together, or teach the client self-hypnosis so they can go back to Hawaii whenever they want. They might also record a self-hypnosis CD or audio file for the client to listen to as they are falling asleep at night, with added suggestions for a comfortable night's sleep!

These are just some examples of how hypnosis can be used for pain management. But all of us have the ability to look at pain and suffering in a different way.

The Emergence of Clinical Hypnosis

by Herve Boisde

Session of hypnosis, Richard Berg

Session of hypnosis, Richard Berg

The last few decades have seen hypnosis become much more accepted as a valid and effective means of treatment for medical and psychological issues than ever before. While it still has a ways to go in terms of public perception, hypnotherapy is beginning to replace "stage hypnosis" as the common reference in popular culture.

Although hypnotists have existed in the western world for over 200 years, since German physician Franz Mesmer induced trance states to treat patients and developed a theory he called "animal magnetism" that was later referred to as mesmerism, the scientific establishment has only recently begun to embrace hypnosis for clinical purposes. This is partly due to the misguided notion that hypnosis was more for entertainment and used by stage performers on gullible participants. These presumptions aside, there is a long history of clinical use of trance states.

The term "hypnosis" was coined by Scottish surgeon James Braid in 1842 when he wrote Practical Essay on the Curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism and then later simplified the name to "hypnotism". Braid used hypnotism to successfully treat a wide variety of conditions, such as that of a 45 year old man who had suffered four years of limited mobility in his upper body following a spinal injury. Braid used hypnosis to alleviate pain in the spinal cord and arms, and after two months of daily treatment, the man was able to return to work. In 1892 the British Medical Association unanimously endorsed the therapeutic use of hypnosis, however medical schools and universities largely ignored the subject.

Hypnosis was used by field doctors in the American Civil War and was one of the first extensive medical application of hypnosis. Although hypnosis seemed effective in the field, with the introduction of the hypodermic needle and the general chemical anesthetics of ether in 1846 and chloroform in 1847 to America, it was much easier for the war's medical community to use chemical anesthesia than hypnosis.

In the early 20th century, French psychologist and pharmacist Emile Coué treated groups of patients for free using the "Coué method" of auto-suggestion. When asked whether or not he thought of himself as healer, Coué often stated that "I have never cured anyone in my life. All I do is show people how they can cure themselves.

Thanks in large part to the work of Milton Erickson, who is known as the father of modern medical hypnosis, the field has enjoyed an increasing amount of scientific interest in the past 30 years, as well as widespread clinical application for an array of medical and psychological purposes. Around the same time as Erickson's rise to fame, psychologist Ernest Hilgard, Ph.D., a former president of the American Psychological Association, set up the Laboratory of Hypnosis Research at Stanford University.

As additional research into the applications and results of clinical hypnosis is published in the coming years, it's acceptance and usage should become even more widespread.

Among the leading researchers in the field is Guy H. Montgomery, PhD, a psychologist who has conducted extensive research on hypnosis and pain management at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he is director of the Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program.

In one study, Montgomery and colleagues tested the effectiveness of a 15-minute pre-surgery hypnosis session versus an empathic listening session in a clinical trial with 200 breast cancer patients. In a 2007 article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Vol. 99, No. 17), the team reported that patients who received hypnosis reported less post-surgical pain, nausea, fatigue and discomfort. The study also found that the hospital saved $772 per patient in the hypnosis group, mainly due to reduced surgical time. Patients who were hypnotized required less of the analgesic lidocaine and the sedative propofol during surgery.

"Hypnosis helps patients to reduce their distress and have positive expectations about the outcomes of surgery," Montgomery says. "I don’t think there is any magic or mind control."

Eric Willmarth, PhD, founder of Michigan Behavioral Consultants and past president of APA Div. 30 (Society of Psychological Hypnosis), says interest in clinical hypnosis is growing and more psychologists are learning how hypnosis can help their patients.

"It goes in waves," he says. "Right now, we’re on an upswing."

The Mindset That Multiplies Success With Hypnosis

originally posted on hypnosis101.com

The right mindset multiplies success with hypnosis. If you know what it is and put it to work for you, you can be oodles more effective. What’s the mindset, then?

Well, to understand how this mindset works and use it effectively, it’s good to understand how hypnosis works. One definition of hypnosis is bypassing the part of the mind that makes judgements and concentrating on a particular idea. Now, why would we need to bypass the part of the mind that makes judgements? Isn’t that dangerous? Don’t we want to be able to use our logical brains?

When we need to get something new into the mind, we may need to get around pre-existing judgements. They may be the problem. It’s that old chestnut about not being able to solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it

When Is Critical Factor Bypass Unsafe?

It’s good to realize that the part of the mind that makes judgements (the ‘critical factor’, or ‘critical faculty’) is regularly bypassed. When you’re watching a movie, you usually let yourself “pretend” that the movie is real. You know it’s not, but in order to enjoy the movie more, you allow yourself to think of the characters as real people and the situation as a real situation. That’s a critical factor bypass.

And yes, it can be dangerous. Children don’t have a fully developed critical factor. So, it’s dangerous when a kid grows up in a situation where a parent (or other authority figure), is constantly telling a child that the world is a bad place or that the child is not worth anything. As an adult, it’s best to have your critical factor up and running when you’re exposed to advertising or propaganda.

It’s when you don’t know a suggestion is being given (such as in an advertisement) that you’re in danger of taking on ideas you don’t want. Why do you think ads often show beautiful people having fun with the product? They do their best to plant the suggestion that you too will have fun and be surrounded with attractive people if you just drink that soft drink. It’s good to remind yourself that those specific, attractive people probably won’t appear in your mom’s basement, just because you pop open a can there.

When Is Critical Factor Bypass Safe?

But if you’re in the office of a hypnotist/hypnotherapist, you’re in just about the safest place you can be for letting go the judgmental mind.

Why? Because you know that you’re going to receive hypnotic suggestions! Look at it this way…

When you’re watching a movie, at any point, you can direct yourself to remember that it’s a movie. You can imagine where the cameras are, how the shot was set up and edited and wonder where the microphones are hidden. The same is true in an office, under hypnosis. At any point you can bring your critical factor back into play and reject any suggestion you don’t like.

While in hypnosis, you’re conscious, you can hear and you’re aware. If you’re working with a good hypnotist, they’ll work out any suggestions with you in advance. That way you already know what the suggestions are and agree with them. Plus, you can block suggestions you wish to block. Which brings up the point — your mindset has a great deal to do with how effective a suggestion is. You can block it, or you can have a mindset that multiplies the success, strength and effectiveness of an hypnotic suggestion.

So, What’s That ‘Success Attitude’?

I noticed an attitude of mine the other day in Yoga class (I started doing Yoga a few weeks ago). My goal, when I’ve given an instruction, is to follow the instruction as accurately and as completely as I can. And I do it right away. That got me thinking about all the other times I am focused on doing exactly what another person asks me to do, without question.

The best way I can describe it is if you have a coach you really trust. Let’s say it’s a baseball hitting coach. You’re standing at the plate, with a bat in your hands, ready for the pitch. The coach says, “lift your left elbow.” If you’re smart, you don’t question. You just do it. You accept it and do it immediately.

It’s the same way with the vocal lessons I take. My goal is to carry out instructions as best as I can — no questions.

Think about in what types of situations you act that same way. There’s an old quote, “No matter how tough you are, if a toddler hands you their ringing toy phone, you answer it.” Does that apply to you? When the dentist says, “Open your mouth,” do you do it instantly? When you hand your movie ticket to the ticket taker and she says, “It’s the 3rd door on the left,” do you automatically go where she pointed?

The point is, you can make a decision to follow suggestions in just that way. Your job is to think, “Yes!” when you hear a suggestion. Now, if you hear something you don’t like, you can always say “cancel that one” to yourself. You have that power.

So, a bypass of the critical factor (which should be in your induction) and this attitude will go a long way toward ensuring your suggestions have maximal impact. And if you’re a hypnotherapist working with clients, explain this to your clients and let them know their attitude plays an important role.