She sounds like a heroine from a 1980’s Victoria Wood sketch, a plain-jane daughter that no-one remembers. You know the line, “Has anyone seen Amnesia? I’m sure I left her here somewhere” and all that slightly too slapstick Young Ones-esque hilarity that I loved at the time. Mind you, of all the alternative comedy from that era, a phrase which makes it sound like it was decades away, (which actually it was – damn I’ve aged), the sketches that survive the test of time best were the ones that relied on clever scripting rather than shock-humour . Blackadder was probably best of all, which now I think about it, rather neatly did both. Ah well.
So where am I going to whisk you off to on this week’s journey of discovery. Well, I’m still managing to avoid working on my Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma, (what, there are only 3 weeks left?), by pretending that improving my media presence will be beneficial when I get my website up and running in the New Year, thanks for helping me by the way, so that when I start my practice next year, there won’t just be me and my new website. The theory is, if prospective clients Google me, (other good search engines are available), then they’ll find a whole host of relevant and beneficial guidance about me which should instil at least some degree of confidence that I’m not a complete novice. So read on dear boys and girls, secure in the knowledge that you’re assisting my future and pleasantly keeping me from the real task at hand which is to actually get my qualification. And if you’ve been here before, you might remember that I’ve already done it. Sort of.
Anyway, all distractions over, we’re off on a whistle-stop journey through hypnotic trance phenomena. It’ll be good practice for the diploma I’m about to get and I’m pretty sure you’ll find you enjoy it and if you happen to be one of those people who are currently studying for that self-same qualification, how many phenomena were hidden in those first two sentences? There are actually nine trance phenomena in hypnosis and which are used for therapeutic effect. Ask any student of hypnotherapy to name them all and they’ll usually recall 7 or so. They always forget at least one in the pressure of the moment.
Strangely, they’ll always remember Amnesia.
Weird isn’t it. It’s almost as though Amnesia is its own Post Hypnotic Suggestion, which as it turns out is the one most easily confused with Age Progression. In normal-speak that’s the difference between a happy-trap that’s designed to make you to trip over it sometime in the future in a ‘Wow, I didn’t realise it was that good’ kind of way and good old-fashioned daydreaming, that is, if you’re walking on the good side of life’s highway. Alternatively they become self-fulfilling prophecies or anxiety, if you’re veering off into the arena populated by those whose phenomena are conspiring against them.
Somehow, as if by magic, Amnesia comes tagged with, ‘just remember, you won’t forget’!
It’s that blue tree syndrome all over again. You know, whatever you do, don’t think of a blue tree. And what happens? Your unconscious rams an image of a blue tree right into the forefront of your mind so that you have something to compare not thinking of a blue tree with. Otherwise, so the unconscious logic goes, how the hell would you know whether you’re achieving not thinking of a blue tree correctly? It lives for pattern matching. After all that’s what it’s there for. It’s how the unconscious mind keeps us safe. But you know all that already.
‘So what?’, you shout, as you’re so fond of interjecting into my posts. You do, you know. Look, if you don’t believe me , just check back.
What? You’ve checked and it’s only once? Are you sure? It feels like its way more than that. Well, that does surprise me! I must be seeing things. This is starting to sound like a Positive Hallucination. I’ll just have to accept your word for it, I don’t have time to check right now because there’s way too much to do and there’s none spare unless you know how to slow things down, which as I’m sure you’ve guessed would be time-distortion. With all this disruption, I feel as though my mind’s not my own any more. And I don’t like dissociation, so that’s enough!
When I looked back at my career last year after my redundancy, I thought back in age-regression style, over the many occasions I’d found myself on holiday wondering if there wasn’t indeed a better way to earn a living. One which would let me find people as confused about their future as I was and help them point themselves in the direction they truly wanted to go. Many times, I found myself considering training in counselling or personal coaching but over the years the timing or the directions I was considering never came together.
Suddenly timing was on my side and my prompt towards hypnotherapy appeared as a matter of chance and both of them turned up simply because I was made redundant. Whilst I knew my mind was made up about the route I was taking in my Financial Services role, I was still offered redundancy counselling. It was actually really useful, so if you do ever get made redundant and have the chance of redundancy counselling, I’d recommend taking it up. We discussed lots of potential avenues but it always came back to the route I’d already chosen. Financial Services. It was only later in the year that I started to look for ways to help develop others. So was it chance that I found hypnotherapy, or simply that I was primed to see the opportunity when it came? I just didn’t notice any options unless they fitted in with my unconscious view of my future. Now that’s a powerful negative hallucination for you.
So this leaves us towards the end of this post with one phenomenon left to uncover. I told you we students always forget at least one. This one’s mine. It may take a bit of exploration to find it, so here goes.
You might have noticed that this is a slightly shorter missive than most of my previous posts. This is partly because at some point there has to be shorter one, otherwise logic suggests that I’d end up posting an entire book but also partly because this particular post is being written through a mildly post-viral fog. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Now, as I’ve intimated before, most people use trance phenomena as part of everyday life just to help them get through and most people have their favourites. I don’t mean that they like them, more that they’re good at doing them. My speciality is amnesia, which is why she ended up as the title of this post. I thought you might like to know what reminded me. One of the downsides of doing amnesia well is that you don’t remember that you’re good at it. Unless it comes and bites you in the bottom and makes you feel like a fool.
Gill and the world-renowned Peterborough Peace Campaign have organised a talk in the city library’s John Clare Theatre, (named after a famous local poet, look him up if you like). The talk is on 17th November at 2 o’clock if you fancy turning up. It’s called ‘The Reality of War’ and has a couple of speakers coming in from other cities. One is an ex SAS soldier, Ben Griffin, who founded Veterans for Peace (UK) and Chris Cole who set up the Drone Wars UK blog and who appeared on BBC Radio 4 The Moral Maze last week. Gill met Ben outside the Ecuador Embassy a few months ago and asked him to come to Peterborough as part of the talk the Peace Campaign were organising, so she’s obviously concerned that it goes off well.
Imagine her surprise when, as we were chatting over a cup of coffee in the kitchen last week I very convincingly told her that all her planning was wrong.
She happened to mention that she had arranged to meet someone next Thursday and I asked her, slightly smugly as I do every now and then, how she intended to be in two places at once because, in my amnesiac style, I was absolutely certain that her Reality of War talk was booked on that very same Thursday afternoon. At the moment of our kitchen conversation, I honestly remembered wondering, right back at the start of their planning, why it was being arranged on a Thursday afternoon. Surely no-one would come? I was convinced that I’d said so at the time.
And yet, when I checked my diary, which I’d updated only two days earlier, the talk was booked in on the Saturday. It had always been booked in on the Saturday. I had helped with some of the arrangements – for the Saturday. Interestingly, not only did I forget the correct day, which I do quite often much to Gill’s despair, I had also temporarily invented an entire suite of memories which backed up my mistake. My unconscious was so determined to maintain a congruent reality that it installed fake events to make sense of my incorrectness.
Looking back at it now, I think my capacity for amnesiac tendency was perhaps enhanced by my as yet asymptomatic weekend virus. It’s first indication was my feeling extremely tired on Friday, although as I didn’t feel unwell I still went to the 8th Quest training weekend as planned. We were focussing on the techniques of good old Milton Erickson, he of the gravelly voiced artful vagueness and purple jumpsuit fame, followed by a mild bout of arm levitation, stress and anxiety treatment and assisting with weight loss and an overview of dealing with eating disorders.
It only took fifteen minutes of Trevor’s training and an unfortunate reference to one of the students feeling sick on the previous weekend for my body to recognise that it was indeed unwell and that it was high time for me to experience proper symptoms instead of just a vague and disquieted constitution. Either that or my breakfast was disagreeing with me. Anyway, I must have looked pretty grey because even though I had my back to them, Bex and Chloe, (love you both, thanks for noticing), came and checked I was OK.
Chloe suggested that I try an adapted version of the headache cure we’d learned on that very first weekend back in April to reduce the discomfort, (although in my mind it was called pain not discomfort). It’s a great technique and basically uses submodality manipulation to create a complex equivalence between the sensory difficulty, (headache, pain, itching etc.), and an appropriate metaphor, usually a coloured shape. Done correctly, your body automatically links changes in the shape, (which you simply imagine into being and manipulate at will), and the sensory issue you’re experiencing. In essence, you dissolve the shape and the pain dissolves with it. It works well and, if you’re astute, you’ll have noticed it brings us neatly to Sensory Distortion, that elusive and concluding ninth of the trance phenomenon.
And so ends our tour. I hope you liked it and if so, do tell everyone.
But before you go, here’s something to try. Without reading back over the post, see how many trance phenomena you can name.
If it’s 7 or so, maybe you should study hypnotherapy.
Look into my eyes…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012