Greetings Hypolings. Welcome back to another installment of random anecdotes, recollections, and parables, unashamedly intended to manipulate you off your butt and get you back into the thick of the game. Because, when it comes to your life, this is it; you don’t get a dress rehearsal.
Yesterday was a holiday for many in the US. It used to be Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I (Back before we started numbering them), and then repurposed into Veterans Day as the last participants of the “The Great War” shuffled off into eternity.
On a personal note, I had an uncle-in-law who served in the Italian Army during WWI (we were on the same side during that one). After the war, he was a made a Knight of the Italian Empire after getting his ear shot off while single-handedly attacking a German machine gun emplacement. They just don’t make them like that anymore.
In any event, I had the day off from my government job, which allowed me to accept an invitation to address a class of clinicians in training. The professor is a former client who later became a good friend and trusted colleague. She, like so many other people in the ‘Head Mechanic Business’, knew about hypnosis, but never took it seriously until she came up against a problem that ‘mainstream’ psychology just couldn’t help her get her mind around. Three sessions later she said, “Thanks, I get it now. I’ll handle it from here,” She has since become a staunch supporter of hypnosis, especially my brand of Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy and she invites me to address her new cohort of bright young minds every year about this time.
Of all the speaking and writing I do, these presentations are my favorite because I get to introduce a skill about which I am beyond passionate to a new generation of budding practitioners and do it on a face-to-face basis.
Two years ago I was giving a similar presentation to a similar group of grad students at Western Michigan University’s Social Work Department. The Professor alerted me ahead of time that this would probably be a tough crowd as one of the students already had a Ph.D. in molecular biology and knew it all….don’t believe it? Just ask her and she would tell you that Psychology is a ‘fuzzy study’ and hypnosis is a bunch of anecdotal baloney (the fact that a casual internet search for ‘peer-reviewed evidence for the effectiveness of hypnotherapy’ yields nearly half a million hits was beside the point).
The lecture started as usual with a brief overview of what hypnosis is, how it works and the SCIENCE behind why we do what we do and the way we do it. Then came time for the Demo portion of the presentation. I ordinarily ask for volunteers, but this time I want straight to Ms. Know-it-all and ‘voluntold’ her she would be my subject.
To her credit, she played along but the first word out of her mouth was, “I can’t be hypnotized because I don’t believe in it.” Fighting words if ever I heard them! We chatted for a moment distracting her from her original purpose and then I said, “I’m sorry, I’m really bad with names. What’s yours again?’ holding out my hand in greeting. She was confused but extended her hand in greeting when I gently but firmly took hold of her wrist and proceeded to do an instant handshake induction. She went into trance like a gopher dropping down a hole!
I admit that I couldn’t help messing with her a little because of her initial ‘bad attitude’ but I did manage to keep it professional and on the fun side. As my parting point, I had her go into a deep trance and told her, “I want you to open your eyes while still remaining in trance and I want you to put this Queen of Hearts playing card somewhere on your body and then you will immediately forget that you have the card. I am then going to ask you to open your eyes again and think of a card; you will immediately pick the Queen of Hearts and no matter how hard I try to get you to change your mind, the more you will insist on the Queen of Hearts.”
We went through that whole exercise and then she opened her eyes. I asked her to think of a card and she immediately blurted out “Queen of Hearts!” I asked her, “Sure you don’t want the Ace of Spades? “No! I want the Queen of Hearts.”
I had her rifle through the deck looking for her card and when she couldn’t find it in the deck I told her to check her pockets, where she found the card she had secreted on her person. She was so confused and disoriented, she started to have an abreaction, but we squashed that very quickly.
After she ‘woke up’ she realized what had happened and…get this…apologized to me in front of the class for being an ‘ass’ and to thank me for showing her an incredibly useful skill. She went on the study with me and is now a practitioner in her own right…who regularly refers her toughest cases to me. Hey, a gig is a gig.
Ok my Hypnolings, I’m not going to tie this one up in a neat package for you. Let those who truly understand smile and nod; let those who are curious explore (contact me and I’ll help guide you), and the skeptics are welcome to continue to nurse their neuroses. After all…
The Choice is Always Yours,