Friday, 30 December 2011

Hypnosis for Children and Teenagers

There are many ill informed opinions in circulation regarding hypnotherapy and hypnosis (read about some of them here) and for that reason hypnosis is not a common treatment for helping young people and children with their problems. However hypnotherapy with children has produced some fantastic results in incredibly rapid treatment times, partly because children have great imaginations and are very suggestible to new ideas meaning healthy and productive instructions can be taken on board both naturally and quickly. Ailsa Frank is a hypnotherapist experienced in working with children and the below post was taken from her excellent website For the full article click here

Hypnotherapy is a safe relaxation which allows children and teenagers to release deep rooted negative beliefs which may have been picked up from television, media, school or family.  These bad feelings can manifest in the child causing bad habits such as nail biting.  Often children worry about things from the news such a robberies and murder working it up in their minds to fear of it happening to them or their family.  Boys and girls from an early age are influenced by body images in the media and begin to aspire to looking a certain way.  This can mean they compare themselves to others often leaving them feeling insecure about themselves. Added to this is exam stress, peer pressure,  sibling rivalry and feeling they don’t fit within the family, this can really affect their performance and confidence.  Hypnosis is a great way to get children back on track with their thinking allowing them to feel good about themselves and the environment they live in.
Up to the age of 5 all children are in a kind of hypnotic state where they believe what they are told as the critical filter in their mind has not developed.  This means every time a child is told they are naughty it is forming part of their core belief system that will shape them for the rest of their lives.  Parents do their best to be positive but there will still be some things that negatively program their children.  Even older children and teens often accept what they are told as the truth. 


A granny can innocently say how a child is chubby which can set a belief of being fat in their mind that can start a life of yoyo diets or eating issues. A teacher may tell a child they are not good at a particular mathematical sum this can knock the child's confidence with mathematics for the rest of their school life and in the end the child may struggle with maths as their self belief is so low. A child that is constantly pushed to work harder or perform better by over keen parents can push the child into a life of never being happy or satisfied with themselves. Hypnotherapy allows these negative beliefs to be released allowing the child or teenager to get on with living a full and rewarding life.  Almost every child can benefit from hypnotherapy.
Many children or teenagers I see have begun to develop physical issues such as tummy pains, headaches, migraines or  fatigue.  Once these are checked by a doctor and no cause is found but the symptoms remain then the aches and pains will usually be stress or emotionally based. Often during a hypnotherapy session the root cause will not be discussed by the child but during the session I work through a series of exercises which will put everything back into prospective and back in place so they can feel comfortable being themselves. One little girl I saw had tummy pains and was off school feeling sick after investigation by the GP it was found she was physically fine. The girl came for hypnotherapy and after one session she was back at school and happy singing at home playing with her sister. The session allowed her to let go of the fears she had at her new school and feel as though she fitted within her class.  She was unaware before the session that this was even a problem but the worries had manifested physically in her body.

What can parents do?

Children pick up your fears and stresses so the first thing you can do is be aware that your words and actions  will be influencing them on a daily basis. Be selective in the material your children see on the television, newspapers, magazines, internet and the way you react to them. Children may appear to be unaffected by scary programmes but they may be lieing awake worrying about death, monsters, burglars or the world ending through global warming.  It is common for children to be troubled by nightmares which they keep secret from everyone. Children want to please parents and often do things they do not like just to make a parent happy, make sure you teach them to be themselves and have their own ideas about what activities they want to do. Learning to make a simple decision at an early age will teach them the skills they need to be able to make decisions as an adult and have confidence in their own opinions and choices. A simple decision on what to wear or which after school activity to do as a child will grow confidence in them to make the right decision on which property to buy and which job to take when they grow up. You learnt your parenting skills from your parents or carers some of which will have been good and other parts will not have been for your benefit so be aware not to pass on the negative traits to your children.
An 8 year old girl who came to me about anxiety turned out to be worried about burglars, when i asked her why she told me that her Mum was constantly checking the doors and windows were locked as she feared the house would be broken into. From the parents point of view checking the doors was a natural thing to do but from the childs point of view the mothers nervousness around the task had stressed the child who now no longer felt safe.  It is easy to see this from this example but in everyday busy lives it is not so easy to identify the problem.
Teach your children to cook.  I believe one of the most rewarding experiences for children is cooking and it is an important life skill for their good health.  If you can't cook yourself then join a class together. All children want is quality time with parents.  If you have more than one child make arrangements to spend time individually with each one this will bond your relationship forever.

Examples of what not to do:

"I was made to learn an instrument as a child so you will have to get on with it as I did"  You hated it so don't make them do things they hate it will cause resentment and will damage your relationship when they grow up.
"My son hates martial arts but it is good for his confidence."  This will knock his confidence as he needs to do something he believes in and do it for himself not for you. Learning to be hurt by knocks and be thrown to the floor is only confidence building if the child enjoys it otherwise it is just terrifying.
"You are so talented you must carry on"  Just because a child has a talent in something it is not right to push them if they really don't want to do the activity.  Find something they do want to do and you will see they have other talents.  Parents fears getting in the way of what is right for a child.  The childs instinct is the best judge of all.  Listen to your child and hear what they say. 
"I always use positive language with my children I told my daughter it is not a tumour in your tummy so you can stop worrying." The child never thought it could be a tumour but now she is worrying that it was a possibility, she may lie awake thinking she might get ill. I recommend parents have a hypnotherapy session for themselves to restore balance to their stress levels and get their mind working in a positive way to bring the best out of themselves and their children creating a harmonious home. The biggest influence on your child is yourself and how you interact with the world and respond to life.

Common reasons for children to seek help with hypnotherapy: 

  • Fears and Phobias
  • Loss of a loved one such as a Grandparent
  • Worries/stress (worries of the world, environment, news, safety of themselves and their family)
  • M.E./ Fatigue symdrome
  • Exam/Study  (Good exam memory recall and study focus)
  • Common entrance exam confidence
  • School entry exam confidence
  • Audition confidence
  • Confidence
  • Sports performance
  • Body image
  • Eating issues
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Bullying
  • Low self esteem
  • Peer pressure
  • Wanting to please parents
  • Sibling rivalry
  • Stuttering
  • Fears (thunderstorms)
  • Nail biting
  • Dentist fears
  • Bad dreams/ nightmares
  • Emotional issues
  • Anger

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Hypnobirthing Video: What is Hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is growing in popularity as a method of achieving near pain-free labour naturally without the use of potentially damaging drugs. For more information see:

Video from:

Monday, 26 December 2011

How To Hypnosis...Top 10 Self Hypnosis Tips

I have posted previously my guide into how to get started with self hypnosis (Part One, Part Two, Part Three plus Recording Your Own Hypnosis) as well as different tips / experiments that can help to ease yourself into the practice (here and here). have produced this great Top 10 list that I really liked the look of and puts things in a very concise order. Just remember practice really does make perfect, and if you want to reap the full benefits of self hypnosis it is going to take some time and consistency...

1. Try to do your self hypnosis exercises consistently at the same time each day (as much possible anyway) for 15-30 minutes per session.

2. For the first few times that you practice self hypnosis, it's recommended to only practice when you are in a somewhat relaxed condition to start with. So you may want to take a warm bath beforehand.

3. Do not force your mind when it is feeling fatigued or sleepy after a nerve-racking day. If you are very tired, then you'll have trouble concentrating. If you need to take some time out, then just have put your feet up and get back to doing self hypnosis another time.

4. Formulate suggestions properly. No matter how effectively you practice a bad idea, it is still a bad idea. Give yourself specific commands, and phrase your hypnotic suggestions carefully, so as to form them correctly or once again, you will only act surprised when you fail. Remember, your subconscious needs the right cues, if it's going to change your behaviours. Read more on formulating suggestions here

5. Ensure you're prepared. Ahead of your session know what suggestions you'll be using. Don't try to make them up on the fly. You want your conscious mind to relax and if you have to think too much, then your session won't be very effective.

6. Find a quiet spot to practice. It's best to minimise distractions while you are in the process of learning self hypnosis. Remember to turn off your phone and if anyone is in the area, ask them not to disrupt you.

7. Find a position where your body will be comfortable and you will find it a lot easier to enter the hypnotic state. If you have a recliner, that would be perfect. Then again, make certain that you're not so comfortable that you fall asleep - that defeats the purpose. A good position is to be sitting in a chair with your spine straight and your feet firmly planted on the floor.

8. Be patient. When learning a skill such as self-hypnosis, a lack of experience coupled with impatience equals all but guaranteed failure. So take your time, when dealing with your most potent and difficult-to-reach issues.

9. Make or buy a recording that guides you into hypnosis before you begin to apply suggestions. If you're making it yourself you can either just record an induction or you may want to record your whole session, including the positive suggestions that you'll be working with. If you would like a personalised recording Email me for details.

10. Practice putting yourself into a relaxed state as often as possible. Even if it's just a couple of minutes here and there throughout the day, you will be able to get into hypnosis more effortlessly when you do your self hypnosis work.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Woman Who Can SEE and TASTE Music: Synaesthesia Video

The UK Synaesthesia Association describes this remarkable and rare condition like this:

Synaesthesia is a truly fascinating condition. In its simplest form it is best described as a “union of the senses” whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together. Some synaesthetes experience colour when they hear sounds or read words. Others experience tastes, smells, shapes or touches in almost any combination. These sensations are automatic and cannot be turned on or off. Synaesthesia isn’t a disease or illness and is not at all harmful. In fact, the vast majority of synaesthetes couldn’t imagine life without it.

For more information click here

YouTube Link

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Psychology Behind Christmas

There is considerable debate surrounding the topic of Christmas and why the 25th December is celebrated. Christians would say it was the celebration of Jesus' birth and without disputing this, mid-winter festivals go back considerably earlier in time than Christianity in celebrating the winter solstice; the time of year when day is shortest and night longest. The celebration is not for the night, but instead for the turning point in winter, where the days would only get longer from that point on, and new life could be looked forward to. In bygone times this was obviously important as without electricity the sun was all the more important and completely dictated how we once lived. Read more here.

The Romans celebrated the winter solstice in a festival known as 'Saturnalia' between the 17th and 24th December, with the following day known as 'Juvenalia', an occasion where children were entertained through food and presents. The old darkness replaced by light and rebirth, and what better way to worship new beginnings than by celebrating children? Differing types of mid winter festivals are also associated with the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Pagans and Persians to name just a few; many of those celebrations based around the 'sun gods' and rebirth, in line with the winter solstice.

But is the turn of winter the only reason humans celebrate this widespread festival? It is known in countries that experience significant darkness in winter that levels of depression increase in line with death and suicide rate. One reason for this is that the lack of sunlight causes less serotonin to be released in the brain, causing depression. This is commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or fittingly SAD, and can cause a variety of depressive problems.

Winter traditionally represents sparsity as little can grow and to a large part supplies from a successful summer harvest would have to be relied upon to survive. People both in those times, as well as now, would be less active especially in the outdoors with sleep time also increasing, making socialising less frequent and increasing the feeling of isolation and loneliness.With little natural light or warmth to count on the winter months would be a tough and unenjoyable time to live through even without SAD affecting the body's hormones.

It seems to me as though there is no better time to lift spirits throughout a community than in the middle of winter. A festival reverses many of the effects listed above by bringing people together to socialise and share, even for a short space of time. Presents are exchanged giving another sure fire reason to be happy, both in giving and receiving. The festival also has the effect of giving people something to plan and look forward to in advance, giving the community a united occasion where everyone is involved and everyone has an event they can discuss and share together, both before, during and after.

To counter the darkness light is brought into the family home traditionally through special candles or fires, with a new atmosphere being brought about through song and dance. Today everything is lit up by extravagant lights both inside and outside the house, lifting the so called gloom and darkness of winter throughout the month of December. Songs are still sung throughout with a strong emphasis on music and parties, both in the workplace and in the family setting.

While food may have been scarce in olden times, the winter Xmas festival is traditionally one of gluttony, epitomised by a fat Santa Claus, where food and drink are taken in abundance meaning feelings of deprivation can be completely forgotten. The modern day Xmas is not far different, even poor families shower one another with gifts and food, forgetting any economic problems they might have for at least a few days of the year.

These attitudes of expenditure are naturally very good for the economy. Food and drink are sold in abundance everywhere while businesses prosper as the stock from the year is sold with sales happening between Xmas and January making room for the new lines to appear. It is another parallel of the death and rebirth celebration originally set aside for the sun and our natural environment, but is certainly applicable to modern day customs as well. The new year comes in only a week later and again represents a time of renewal and new beginnings with 'new years resolutions' a common theme; people wishing to improve themselves for the year ahead.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Quick and Easy Self Hypnosis Methods

Hypnosis can be a hard mental process to break into, and to some it is too daunting to learn and try. Luckily there are some very simple practices that can be carried out in only a couple of minutes to experience how beneficial self hypnosis can be. lists these 3 techniques to use for relaxation and stress relief: 

Self Hypnosis Technique #1: The Waterfall

This hypnosis technique takes only a minute or less and is a powerful stress reliever. Take a deep breath. Imagine a relaxing waterfall of energy either in front or behind you (whichever feels best to you). Imagine this waterfall is flowing with healing, relaxing energy. You might imagine it as cool or warm water, as a stream of air, or simply soft, relaxing energy. However you want to imagine it is perfect. You might see it in your mind's eye, or feel it, or simply know that it is there. Now imagine that you step into this beautiful flowing waterfall of relaxing energy and it flows from the top of your head all the way down your body, flowing over your shoulders, your back, your stomach, your legs, all the way down to the bottoms of your feet, and down to the center of the earth.
The Waterfall Technique is powerful and helpful if you need a quick pick-me-up. You can flesh out the background, too. For ultimate stress relief, maybe you imagine you're in a tropical forest or on a gorgeous beach. You can imagine lush surroundings that are relaxing and comforting to you to round out your refreshing hypnosis experience.

Self Hypnosis Technique #2: Breathing

Another super quick and easy hypnosis technique is (yes, you guessed it!) breathing. Simple deep breathing is one of the best starting points for any hypnosis technique (see technique #1). Begin by suggesting to yourself to just breathe. As soon as you give yourself this suggestion, you might notice that you take a deeper breath than your last one. Imagine that you can fill both lungs all the way to capacity, letting the air reach even the bottom region of your lungs. You can also imagine that you can breathe into remote body parts, like your feet or your hands. Imagine that you can breathe into a sore spot in your body and revitalize that spot with the cleansing fresh oxygen. This is the easiest hypnosis technique of them all, and the best stress buster in you only have a few seconds.

Self Hypnosis Technique #3: The Mini Power Nap

This hypnosis technique takes about 5 minutes or less, but the power in it is amazing. If you're feeling tired, run down, or generally lethargic, this is the technique for you! You'll need a quiet place to sit or lie down for just five minutes. If you're very tired, sitting might be better so that you don't fall asleep (hypnosis is so very relaxing!).
Start by taking a deep, cleansing breath, and notice any tension in your body. Give yourself the suggestion that any and all tension can simply let go, and in it's place, direct a relaxing flow of energy to ease and relax your body. Bring you attention to your breathing, and imagine that you can bring yourself to the center of your being. You might imagine a beautiful garden or a powerful guide at your side or a safe cave at the center of your being. Anything that makes you feel good, safe, and centered is perfect hypnosis setting.
Now give yourself the simple suggestion that you have five (or four or three) minutes for a super-charged hypnosis power nap. You might say to yourself, "I have this time here and now to allow myself a relaxing power nap to recharge and energize my mind, body, and spirit." Let your eyes close and keep following your breath down to the center of your being. Allow this self hypnosis technique to relax your eyes and your mind. Tell yourself that it's OK to let go and allow relaxation to flow through you for this short hypnosis power nap. Keep suggesting that this is a hypnosis power nap, and that when you are ready to open your eyes, you will feel refreshed, recharged and energized.

Monday, 19 December 2011

8 Things Everybody Should Know About Concentration

People all over the world struggle consistently with concentration and is a huge cause for frustration whether it be in school, at home or in the workplace. Just how can we put our minds into gear and make ourselves concentrate better to be more productive with our time? The 8 points below are taken from an excellent article written Scott Scheper, and can be read in full here.

1. You can’t start concentrating until you've stopped getting distracted

The phrase above is self-explanatory. Yet, it’s amazing how most people look for some crazy, obtuse solution for the reason why they can’t concentrate. They reason, “I just have ADD. I can’t concentrate.”  In the late 80′s, two researchers asked themselves a chicken-egg question. (“What came first the chicken or the egg?”). Their version centers on distraction and boredom. They asked themselves, “What came first, distraction or boredom.” What they found is rather subtle, yet it’s profoundly significant. They found that distraction leads to boredom (not the other way around). This displays that we must cut out distraction in order to get focused; or else, we’ll get bored.
2. Just do one important thing per day
Scientists also found that we can only focus on one thing at once. Nobody does that. We’ve always got something going on in the background of whatever we’re doing. We’ve always got two-dozen tasks on our to-do list. On top of this, we’ve got a handful of projects that we try and finish simultaneously. When you've got a mountain of paperwork on your desk, the best thing to do is clear it all off. Pick it all up and place it in a drawer. Do anything required to get it out of your sight. After this, kick your feet up and daydream. Yes, I'm serious. Daydream and ask yourself the following question: “What’s the most important thing I can do right now?” Once you've identified the item that will actually make a difference, do it. Try and make it a goal to do just one critical thing per day. This habit proves much more effective than living the routine everyone else lives: doing many insignificant things a day. They live on fooling themselves into thinking they've added value.
3. Chunk into three’s
Most of the time your one important thing that you can do per day takes more than just one action. Oftentimes it takes a series of smaller steps to accomplish. For this reason, it’s very helpful to chunk activities into sets of three. If you set out to accomplish one important item without a plan, you’ll be just as ineffective as the crack-berry work-a-holic running around the office making copies. Outline your three-step to-do list using an offline to-do planner (which we outline in another chapter); or if you’re working online, use a three-item FocusList to keep you focused on the task at hand. Click here for a simple, effective, downloadable To-Do List.
4. Questions that kill procrastination
The brain processes meaning before detail. This is where procrastination stems from. Your boss, professor or co-worker tells you that the task on your desk is important, but your brain doesn’t yet agree. If you push forth anyways, and embark on the task before understanding its meaning, you’ll end up frustrating yourself and wasting time because you may have to do it all over. For this reason ask yourself the following questions: 1. Does this really need to be done? 2. Can I delegate this?

5. Be Smart With Your Time

The Pareto principle is founded on a theory that 80% of effectiveness is driven by 20% of our activity (or causes). I argue that it’s more like 99%:1%. It’s amazing how many insignificant tasks we’re constantly filling our lives with. Don’t make it your goal to involve yourself with 20% of meaningful items during the day. It gets too confusing, and your untrained mind will still end up taking-on too much. As stated above, just do one important task per day. Say no to everything else–even your boss. Be humble, but be logical.

6. Mind Maps

Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s critical to allow the mind to disentangle itself by mapping out your thoughts on paper.

There’s two types of mind maps: (i) PS Map, and (ii) Fear Map

7. Blame something

Other times, sitting down to concentrate is as simple as blaming a simple object for your inability to concentrate. As we discussed above, lazy people are those that blame almost everything on their environment. You don’t want to do this, as it’s not a long-term, sustainable solution. However, in instances where you can’t get excited to actually pump blood to your prefrontal cortex (phase 1 of concentrating), a simple object can help you out. Such an object would be coffee, a drink, a Bonsai tree or a walk. You can reward your mind for concentrating by saying, “OK, mind, here’s the deal–it’s hard to concentrate on this right now, but I’ll pick up a bonsai tree, which will create a more compelling environment to concentrate.” You’ll find that this object-based motivator actually works.

8. Interest

Researchers found that concentration is not a gift. It’s not about intelligence. It’s not about being a prodigy with a gifted memory. It’s not about possessing the ability to recall an insane amount of facts (That’s what Google’s for). Researchers found that concentration is driven by interest, and interest is driven by attitude. If your attitude towards a specific project swells with interest, intrigue and passion, concentration is astonishingly easy.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Sleep Paralysis

I've blogged a few times recently about dreams/nightmares and what they mean, but sleep paralysis is something that affects us in our sleep that is quite different altogether. For anyone who has experienced sleep paralysis it can be quite unnerving, and having episodes of it myself in my later teenage years I certainly built up an interest in the subject. describe a sleep paralysis episode like this:
'You wake up, but you can’t move a muscle. Lying in bed, you’re totally conscious, and you realize that strange things are happening. There’s a crushing weight on your chest that’s humanoid. And it’s evil. You've awakened into the dream world'
Penn State Live Official News Source has an excellent article on the subject, which the following paragraphs are taken from:
Less than 8% of the general population experience sleep paralysis, but it is more frequent in two groups - students and psychiatric patients - according to a new study by psychologists at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania.
Sleep paralysis is defined as "a discrete period of time during which voluntary muscle movement is inhibited, yet ocular and respiratory movements are intact" the researchers state in the current issue of Sleep Medicine Reviews. Hallucinations may also be present in these transitions to or from sleep.
Alien abductions and incubi and succubi, as well as other demons that attack while people are asleep, are implicated as different cultural interpretations of sleep paralysis. The Salem witch trials are now thought possibly to involve the townspeople experiencing sleep paralysis. And in the 19th-century novel Moby Dick, the main character Ishmael experiences an episode of sleep paralysis in the form of a malevolent presence in the room.
Brian A. Sharpless, clinical assistant professor of psychology and assistant director of the psychological clinic at Penn State, noted that some people who experience these episodes may regularly try to avoid going to sleep because of the unpleasant sensations they experience. But other people enjoy the sensations they feel during sleep paralysis.
"I realized that there were no real sleep paralysis prevalence rates available that were based on large and diverse samples," Sharpless said. "So I combined data from my previous study with 34 other studies in order to determine how common it was in different groups."
He looked at a total of 35 published studies from the past 50 years to find lifetime sleep paralysis rates. These studies surveyed a total of 36,533 people. Overall he found that about one-fifth of these people experienced an episode at least once. Frequency of sleep paralysis ranged from once in a lifetime to every night.
When looking at specific groups, 28% of students reported experiencing sleep paralysis, while nearly 32% of psychiatric patients reported experiencing at least one episode. People with panic disorder were even more likely to experience sleep paralysis, and almost 35% of those surveyed reported experiencing these episodes. Sleep paralysis also appears to be more common in non-Caucasians.
"Sleep paralysis should be assessed more regularly and uniformly in order to determine its impact on individual functioning and better articulate its relation to other psychiatric and medical conditions," said Sharpless. He looked at a broad range of samples, and papers were included from many different countries.
People experience three basic types of hallucinations during sleep paralysis - the presence of an intruder, pressure on the chest sometimes accompanied by physical and/or sexual assault experiences and levitation or out-of-body experiences.
Wired Science documents another researcher in Sleep Paralysis, David McCarty from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s Sleep Medicine Program. He says the good news is that sleep paralysis experience is pretty standard but rarely persists or causes serious life damage. 
“It’s very common, way more common than people realize, but usually it doesn't recur,” he said. “It’s not frequent enough to make people come in and ask the doctor for help.”

Thursday, 15 December 2011

How To Quit Smoking With Hypnosis

Along with losing weight, quitting smoking is probably the biggest business for hypnotherapists because it is something so many people wish to do. But just why are there so many people out there who want to stop smoking but struggle to do so?

Everyone knows the long term damage smoking causes, there is evidence of it even on cigarette packets themselves nowadays. Cigarettes are a cocktail of more than 7000 chemicals that cause high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs, circulation problems to name but a few of main dangers (to both smokers and the people they smoke around), and in combination with causing poor oral hygiene these factors would surely put most people off, wouldn’t they?  (If you want to know more reasons to stop smoking click here) (Or here) (Or here)  

The cost is also frightening, in the UK cigarettes cost something in the region of 7 GBP (approx. 10 USD), so if a single pack are smoked daily you’re looking at around 50 GBP per week (75 USD), 2600 GBP per year (3900 USD) - and if someone did manage to survive 50 years of smoking your looking at a bill of 130,000 GBP (195,000 US) for the pleasure! And that's if prices stay at their current level which on current form they won't with taxes rising everywhere, not to mention the excess drinks that are bought to combine the smoke with as well as the time and cost of dashing out for cigarettes on a regular basis. Read more on the price of cigarettes.  I'm sure the average persons finances could do without such a burden to bear.  The smoking ban that has taken effect in many places around the world has also left smokers suffering often outside in the cold, huddled in groups together by doorways facing exclusion from numerous public places, because of the known effects that can be transferred lethally to others. To any non-smoker there seems little going for smoking… yet why do so many people continue with it despite wanting to stop?

True addiction is not to be underestimated. I’ve heard many people argue that they could stop eating something like cheese despite being addicted to it, so why couldn’t a smoker? Cheese for one thing does not have the addictive chemicals in it that cigarettes do. Physically the body craves the nicotine content it has become accustomed to over time. The mind also craves the relaxing sensation smoking brings, with many smokers claiming it is the only thing that allows them to ‘de-stress’. Despite the ‘anti-smoking ban’ smokers still see smoking as a very social pastime, and the ‘Let’s go for a smoke’ mentality bonds them together in a kind of exclusive club.

So where does hypnotherapy fit in? Hypnosis has been proved a successful method to help people quit smoking because it tackles at least a large segment of the problem at its root. Nicotine gum/patches may well prevent the body from craving the nicotine, but what about the habitual processes and the de-stressing factors that have little to do with the nicotine? Hypnotherapy tackles those very issues.

To understand hypnotherapy a basic knowledge of the two parts of the mind must be taken into consideration. On one side you have the conscious aspect of mind, the reasoning, critical ‘voice inside the head’ that is the voice of our thoughts and our decision maker. On the other side is the subconscious mind, the aspect we are not aware of but regulates all parts of ourselves we are not actively thinking about e.g. our breathing, regulation of hormones. The subconscious is also the seat of our emotions and our habitual behaviour, behaviour that has become so embedded we no longer think about it. Smoking addiction would fall into this category. Smokers light up a cigarette so frequently they no longer think about it and therefore we know this pattern of behaviour is controlled by the subconscious mind. Read more about the background of hypnosis and the subconscious here

The conscious mind of the smoker understands all the reasons stated above telling them they should not smoke. The conscious mind even agrees they should stop and actively attempts to stop smoking. But this decision has not transferred into the deeper subconscious that is still programmed to want cigarettes. The subconscious will send urges and cravings to the conscious mind continually for however long it takes until a cigarette is reached for, be it days, weeks, months or even years. The subconscious will always overcome the conscious in the end.

What hypnotherapy does is break the old unwanted thought patterns. Under hypnosis the conscious mind is bypassed leaving the subconscious open to manipulation as though it can be talked to directly. In this state the subconscious can be reprogrammed to behave in a different way, and so the hypnotherapist might reinforce the knowledge that smoking has so many drawbacks, giving smoking a negative association in the subconscious, while offering healthy new ways to de-stress and enjoy quiet moments. Using simple self-hypnosis/meditativemethods the individual can learn relaxation techniques that do not require smoking. They can also learn how to get rid of the urges that come to them so frequently without the need of a cigarette using visualisation and breathing techniques. After all, smoking is itself often a process of deep breathing and inner thoughts, so what better way to replace it than a like for like method?

Another key method in a hypnosis stop smoking program is to change the physical habits of smoking. Breaking the engrained habits even in small ways can help shift and eradicate the habits in the long term. For instance, if a smoker is used to a cigarette after lunch sitting in their favourite chair, smoking Marlboro reds with their right hand – that should be one of the first things altered. Change the brand to something different like Camel, smoke with the left hand and do not smoke after lunch or in your favourite chair – try a new less comfortable place at a different time. Of course going cold turkey is one way forward, but many find it easy to taper off and if you do so while breaking your old habits for many it is easier to give up for good in the long run.

Quitting smoking is not easy, and for a true addict will power alone is not always enough. Using hypnotic method hand in hand with strong will power makes stopping a lot easier, but it is very important to stress that the will power must be there and there must be a strong desire to quit smoking in the first place for hypnotherapy to work. Hypnosis can’t alter your opinion, so if people are urging you to stop and you don’t really want to, hypnosis just won't work for you. But if you do want to stop and are having trouble doing so under your own steam then hypnotherapy can certainly be a fantastic tool to quit permanently.

If you have a strong desire to be a non-smoker why not send me an email and let me know about it?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Top 10 'Crazy' Mental Disorders

After yesterdays blog post looking at the Stockholm Syndrome it got me wondering what the top 10 strangest mental disorders out there were considered to be. I found a few lists on the web but after some consideration I decided on this one, taken from the article at By Alexandria V. Resnica, which takes its information from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (the bible of mental disorders). Read the full article.

10. Type One Bipolar Disorder
What It Is
Bipolar disorder makes an individual switch between two main moods: mania (emotions like happiness and anger) and depression (emotions like sadness and guilt).  Unlike the media interpretation, Bipolar disorder’s mood swings actually take a long time.  Each swing lasts about a week on average, with a few days’ transition in between.  Bipolar has been known to cause psychosis in some patients, but for the most part it manifests in irrational actions, heightened emotions, and lack of sleep during mania; and tiredness, aches, and lethargy during depression.  Patients often have very little self control and are at the mercy of their moods.
How It Fits
2.6% of the adult population is bipolar.  The disorder is genetic, and is generally easy to treat with medications.  In some cases therapy isn’t needed.  The biggest risk is unmedicated patients, who are often a harm to themselves (unmedicated bipolar disorder has a 25% suicide rate) and sometimes to those around them.

9. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
What It Is
OCD is another widely known disorder, but few understand it.  Firstly, OCD isn’t an obsession with cleanliness.  It can manifest in being clean, but that’s only one aspect.  Obsessive-Compulsive patients are often plagued with recurring thoughts, worries, and fears that can only be relieved by repeating tasks (cleaning, touching surfaces, making noises, etc.)  Obsessive-Compulsive individuals can realize their fears are unreasonable, but the anxiety will keep mounting unless they relieve them by their repetitive tasks.
How It Fits
1% of adults have OCD.  Psychiatrists haven’t figured out the cause of OCD yet, some think it may be caused by environments, others by chemicals in the brain.  The treatment varies per patient, but is generally manageable through psychotherapy and certain medications.  OCD patients are not really dangerous to others, but their lives can be difficult and their behaviors may seem odd.

8. Factitious Disorder
What It Is
Factitious Disorder is an obsession with being sick.  Unlike hypochondria, in which patients actually think they are ill, individuals with Factitious Disorder intentionally make themselves sick or play sick for attention.  They often tell elaborate stories about medical complications, visit hospitals, tamper with their medications, and inflict harm upon themselves for attention.
How It Fits
Factitious Disorder is rare in adults, and occurs in less than .5% of the population.  The disorder stems from past trauma.  There is no cure or treatment for the disorder, though therapy can be effective in limiting the behavior.  Most individuals with the disorder are not receptive to treatment. (Linked to this would be Munchausen Syndrome where sometimes people will make their own children sick in order to receive sympathy).

7. Schizoaffective Disorder
What It Is
Schizoaffective Disorder is a bizarre combination of severe Bipolar Disorder and mild Schizophrenia.  Patients will have manic and depressive mood swings, and, as a third swing, will lose touch with reality.  Most often, Schizoaffective patients will experience low emotional responses in the third, psychotic phase.  They can become delusional, and sometimes may hallucinate.  The psychotic swing is mild in comparison to most psychotic disorders, however, and can often go unnoticed, leading to a misdiagnosis of severe Type One Bipolar.
How It Fits
.5% of Americans have Schizoaffective Disorder.  Psychiatrists believe the disorder is genetic and chemical.  The disorder is relatively easy to treat with combinations of medicines.  Most people with the disorder can function normally in society as long as they are medicated.  Like Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder has a very high suicide rate when untreated.

6. Depersonalization Disorder
What It Is
Depersonalization Disorder gives individuals a sense that they are not in their body.  Individuals will feel like they aren’t their physical self, or that their life is some sort of movie or dream.  They struggle to form connections with people because they don’t feel as if anything is real.  They have the ability to logically know they are ill, but cannot shake the feeling of detachment.
How It Fits
Depersonalization is also very rare, effecting less than .5% of the population.  It is caused by traumatic events.  The reason depersonalization is so “crazy” is because treatment appears to have little effect. Some people will feel detached from reality for the rest of their life after a traumatic event.

5. Trichotillomania
What It Is
Possibly one of the most physically disruptive disorders, Trichotillomania is an obsession with pulling out hair.  Individuals with this disorder will constantly pull out body hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.   Patients get overwhelming urges to pull at their hair, only reaching relief when they’ve done it.  Individuals will go to great lengths to hide their bald spots, but for some the disorder becomes too bad to cover up.
How It Fits
Trichotillomania is also very rare.  No one knows what causes it, but it is possible to overcome through therapy.  Some cases benefit from medication.  People who have the disorder may be feared because of their appearance, and it’s not uncommon for them to be featured on daytime talk shows.

4. Specific Phobia
What It Is
Most people think a phobia is just an unease or mild fear of an object; actually, a phobia is an unmanageable terror of everyday things.  There are many subcategories and specific names for different Phobias, but they all fall under the same disorder.  Phobic individuals will go to extreme lengths to avoid their unreasonable fears.  They can experience physical symptoms such as racing pulses and strained breathing if exposed to their fear.
How It Fits
Phobias are incredibly common, effecting 8.7% of people.  They are caused by traumatic childhood events- most of the time patients can’t remember the event.  The most common techniques for treating phobias are exposure therapy (in which the patient must confront their fear slowly and with the guidance of a psychiatric professional) and hypnotherapy (which helps patients to remember the cause of the fear).  Patients are able to recover, and even untreated patients may blend in to normal society.

3. Antisocial Behaviour Disorder
What It Is
Amongst the most basic, common, but dangerous disorders, antisocial disorder is also known as sociopathy and psychopathy.  Individuals with this disorder either have no empathy, leading to no morals, or no emotion at all.  The ones who have emotion, but no empathy, are extremely dangerous.  They make excellent liars, are often charismatic, and feel no remorse for any harm they cause anyone.  Their brains simply can’t make the connections to evoke empathy.  Because of this, they can do terrible things without a care.  As you might imagine, most Antisocial patients become involved in crime.  A majority of serial killers have been diagnosed with this disorder.   Some individuals, especially the emotionless ones, are able to fit in to society without causing any harm, but can never relate to people on the same level normal individuals can.
How It Fits
1% of Americans have Antisocial Personality Disorder, but only 50% are treated.  A majority of people with the disorder end up involved in crime (or politics!).  There is no cure for the disorder, and the only treatment for it is to teach the patients to act normal, although they’ll still never be able to grasp ethics or even emotion.

2. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
What It Is
DID, formerly Multiple Personality Disorder, is a very severe disorder caused by severe trauma.  An individual with this disorder will split his/her personality into two or three different identities (sometimes many more - 17 personalities has even been recorded) and cycle between them.  A 50 year old man may think he’s a 6 year old girl, and spend his time playing with dolls and wearing dresses.  This disorder has also had a lot of media coverage but is very misunderstood.  Persons with this disorder may switch identities at any point, sometimes staying an identity for years, sometimes for hours. (The film Sybil was based on this disorder).
How It Fits
This disorder is also very rare.  It can only be found in about .1% of Americans.  There are no medications to fix the disorder, but hypnotherapy can be useful in merging the identities.  Patients cannot live in normal society unless they have gone through extensive therapy and their identities have been merged.  Otherwise, they live in psychiatric institutions or they are constantly cared for by family and friends.

1. Schizophrenia
What It Is
Schizophrenia, in short, is a loss of reality.  Symptoms include inappropriate (or few) emotions, paranoia, obsession with media, false beliefs about the body, beliefs of being famous or powerful, auditory and visual hallucinations, and catatonia (a completely unaware and unresponsive state).  Unmedicated schizophrenics can’t tell what is in their head and what is real, leading them to act strangely.  There are different levels in the loss of reality, some are able to function normally for short periods of time.
How It Fits
For such a severe disorder, a giant 1% of Americans have it.  This means that for every 100 people, one is schizophrenic.  Schizophrenia is very genetic, and is often treatable with medication.  Most medicated Schizophrenics are able to function completely normally, as long as they take medication every day.  The disorder will never go away and skipping just one day of medication can jeopardize the patient’s sanity.  The crime rates of schizophrenics are actually not as high as other disorders, but the individuals are much more troubled and much farther from reality (although this could well be different for schizophrenics who abuse drugs/alcohol which reportedly makes their condition worsen severely).

So what do you think of this list? Is there something not included that should be in there?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Hostages and Captors: The Stockholm Syndrome

Between August 23rd and 28th 1973 four Kreditbanken employees were held hostage by bank robbers in Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden. Read more. Despite their ordeal the hostages came away from the experience not with feelings of anger towards their captors, but the exact opposite. Each refused to testify and even raised money for the robbers' legal defence, some reports suggest that one hostage even got engaged to one of the jailed captors! During the 6 days the hostages built up a strong emotional attachment to their captors, and one theory to explain this is  the 'Stockholm Syndrome' the term name given to such a phenomenon by criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot.

The Stockholm syndrome (also known as 'Helsinki syndrome') is not a one off case and has several famous examples, most notable perhaps the case of Patty Hearst who was kidnapped and tortured by the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army) only to later join them and actively take part in future robberies.  The sydrome also applies to battered wives, child abuse victims, victims of religious cults, prisoner of war cases and indeed any case where someone is trapped by an oppressor. Other famous cases of the syndrome include; Jayce Lee Dugard, Shawn HornbeckNatascha Kampusch and Mary McElroyThe 'Lima Syndrome' on the other hand is the opposite to Stockholm where abductors feel heightened sympathy for their hostages, although to me this would seem far more rational - after all the captors are the one's causing the problem and so should sympathise with their hostages' pain.

So what causes this syndrome to form? It could be assumed that in a similar situation people would feel hatred, anger or fear in relation to their captors, so how can the opposite be true even to a percentage? The FBI Hostage Barricade Database System shows that 27% of hostages show signs of the Stockholm syndrome, that's not far from 1 in 3 cases.

Research and theory indicates that one trigger for the syndrome's effect is emotional intensity. In a condition where we feel trapped and scared for our lives the emotional charge is exceptionally high, in effect altering the way our brains work. The excess state of emotion could be what causes people to attach at a greater speed and depth than in any normal circumstances, like strangers in a near death experience becoming drawn together very closely. Focus is heightened in such circumstances, and in the case of an abduction the focus would shift almost entirely onto the captor; their behaviour and thoughts becoming of the highest importance which can easily be misrepresented by the over stimulated brain as a relationship akin to something positive.

In a Stockholm situation the captors have complete power and control over their hostages, every aspect of the hostage's life is in the hands of the captor, from allowing them to live to allowing food, water and resources. Acts of kindness in this situation can become magnified, and like a young child or a pet, this dependency alone can lead to affection forming rapidly no matter what kind of negative behaviour is being displayed alongside it. School bullies rely on this control of power to terrorise not only their immediate victims, but the onlookers who watch their actions often find themselves idolising the bully because of this link between fear and power and is a large reason why bullying is rarely reported, much in the same way a wife will continually make excuses for her abusive husband.

In a hostage situation the hostages are stuck with the captor for days on end in these circumstances and must engage in coping strategies based around attempting to keep the captor content and in doing so keeping themselves alive. Over time this can lead to an obsession with the hostage's identity and wishes, and in combination with the reasons discussed above, a certain sympathy and affinity can soon form with the captor, often described as 'brainwash' or 'mind control' in the media.

Taking captives is seemingly a natural human trait, of which violence, murder and rape are all characteristics, especially with women and children as the victims. This must have happened in human history too, likely on a much larger scale. This tells us that humans have evolved under these conditions and so the coping strategy to stay alive and adapt fully into the captors world would perhaps make some kind of sense in explaining the the frequency of the Stockholm syndrome and how it could possibly affect any one of us.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

What Do Blind People See When They Dream?

Written By: Vicki Santillano From the Website:
I've heard people ask questions like, “Do blind people dream?” The simple answer is yes, of course they do. Most land mammalsincluding our pets - can dream, so why should a lack of sight affect someone’s ability to do the same? The way blind people dream is quite unique, but dream they do, just as frequently as anyone else. On the other hand, “Do blind people see in their dreams?” has a much more complex answer. 
When the Sightless See
In 1999, researchers at the University of Hartford set out to determine what, if anything, the blind can see while dreaming. They analyzed 372 dreams of fifteen blind individuals and found that the age of sight loss affected the visual quality of the subjects’ dreams. The study determined that people who go blind at age five or younger tend not to have visual dreams, whereas if blindness occurs at about age seven or older, chances are the blind will see some images. When people go blind between ages five and seven, their potential for dream sight could go either way. 
It all depends on how long a person experiences the world with sight, as opposed to without. Someone who goes blind later in life could experience visually intense dreams for years afterward; however, the more time that person spends without sight, the less frequent such visual dreams become. And people who are congenitally blind (born that way) or lose the ability to see at a very young age have completely nonvisual dreams from the beginning. 
It’s similar to the black-and-white dream phenomenon some older individuals experience. A 2008 study at the University of Dundee in the UK found that people who grew up when television was first invented sometimes have dreams in black-and-white, while those who have experienced only color television usually have colorful dreams.
Other Senses Take the Stage
Research has shown that blind people demonstrate very little to no rapid eye movement (REM) during the REM phase of sleep - the deep-sleep stage in which we have vivid dreams and the most brain activity during the night. As time progresses, the movements stop altogether. But that doesn’t mean that dreams aren’t happening - the eyes just aren’t involved in them. 
People with sight tend to have highly visual dreams with some auditory qualities. Very rarely are any other senses, such as taste or smell, part of the process. But the opposite is true for blind people. Studies like the aforementioned University of Hartford one suggest that their dreams activate the other senses - touch, taste, smell, and hearing—to an intense degree. Since our brains draw on real-life experiences to shape dreams, it makes sense that blind people dream the way they experience their environment. Because they rely on nonvisual cues to make their way through the world, the same heightened sensations come into play in their nighttime worlds, too. 
Regardless of how we see, almost all of our dreams have a narrative quality. Most of the ones we remember also have some sort of troubling aspect to them, which is why they stick out in our minds. What we’re worried about in our daily lives often becomes the subject of these types of dreams, usually via symbols that require interpretation. So it seems logical that blind people tend to dream more about issues related to traveling and transportation, since getting around safely and efficiently is one of their greatest obstacles. In the University of Hartford study, 60 and 61 percent of the male and female participants, respectively, had dreams revolving around such problems. Among the sighted people surveyed, only 31 percent of men and 28 percent of women had similarly themed dreams. 
We may never fully understand the way blind people dream, since they experience life in a totally different way than those of us with sight do. But we do know that their dreams can be just as vivid and intense as ours, perhaps even more so because they utilize four senses instead of one or two. Still, I wonder how one goes about applying dream-interpretation techniques to these types of dreams, since such analysis usually relies on visual symbols. The analyst would have to use other clues as a way to find the dreams’ hidden meanings, but what would those clues be and what would they imply? Who knows - more research on blind dreaming could bring about a whole new way of looking at dreams.
For more on dreams and dreaming visit: