Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Hypnosis Memes

Friday, 25 March 2016

Are Dreams Important? Is There A Physiological Function?

We all have them, we often discuss and think about them... but how important are dreams? Discussed on this blog before are different methods to remember and then analyse dreams or nightmares for the purpose of understanding our inner psych and interpreting the often seemingly baffling dreams we have. But what about a physiological function to dreaming? 

(PhysOrg.com) -- Dreams have long been assumed to have psychological functions such as consolidating emotional memories and processing experiences or problems, but according to a Harvard psychiatrist and sleep researcher the real function may actually be physiological.

According to Dr J. Allan Hobson, the major function of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep associated with dreams is physiological rather than psychological. During REM sleep the brain is activated and "warming its circuits" and is anticipating the sights, sounds and emotions of the waking state.

Dr Hobson said the idea explains a lot, and likened it to jogging. The body does not remember every step of a jog, but it knows it has exercised, and in the same way we do not remember many of our dreams, but our minds have been tuned for conscious awareness.

Hobson said dreams represent a parallel consciousness state that is running continuously, but which is normally suppressed while the person is awake. Dr Mark Mahowald, a neurologist from Hennepin County Medical Center, in Minneapolis, said most people studying dreams have started out with fixed ideas about the psychological functions of dreaming, and try to make dreaming fit these ideas, but the new study makes no such assumptions.

In evolutionary terms REM sleep seems to be relatively recent, and has been identified in humans, other warm-blooded animals, and birds. Earlier studies have suggested it appears early in life, in the third trimester in humans, and research has produced evidence the brain of the fetus may in a sense be "seeing" images long before its eyes are opened, so the REM state appears to help the brain build neural connections, especially in the visual areas.

This does not mean dreams have no psychological meaning, since they do at times reflect current problems, anxieties and hopes, but people can read almost anything into dreams. A recent study of more than one thousand people at Carnegie Mellon University in Harvard, showed that there were strong biases in how people interpreted dreams. So, for example, subjects attached more significance to negative dreams about people they disliked and to positive dreams about people they liked.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2009-11-important-physiological-function.html#jCp

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

VIDEO Hypnobirthing

Friday, 18 March 2016

Psychology Memes

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Shakespeare and Psychology

This is a wonderful article about the Psychology involved in the works of Shakespeare, and the grasp the man had upon human emotion and behaviour that helped make him such a master of his art. Shakespeare... a true father of Psychology then?

'All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players'
(As You Like It, Act 11 Scene V11)

An avid fan of all things Shakespeare, I went to see the RSC production of As You Like Itrecently in Stratford. I was gripped by the story and hoped that Orlando and Rosalind found the love they were searching for, and indeed they did. It was an uplifting performance by the central characters, Pippa Nixon as Rosalind and Alex Waldmann as Orlando. The production, directed by Maria Arbeg, and running until the 26th September, was often reminiscent of a Glastonbury of yesteryear. Camp fires burned and free love (and beer) were prevalent. I left the theatre totally overwhelmed by the feeling of love the central characters felt for each other, and the optimism of young love and opportunity of a life yet lived. Contrast that with my visit in June to see Hamlet. The story of treachery and treason became increasingly intense and the thought that there is a fine line between life and death was never so obvious as in the scene where, in the graveyard, Hamlet turns to Horatio and speaks of the court jester he knew as a child and utters those immortal words, “Alas poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio.” He speaks of a man that once entertained him who now was nothing more than a skull in his hand.

Shakespeare’s influence on psychology and literature

The stories I have witnessed unfold at the RSC over recent months have made me realise that Shakespeare, at a fundamental level, is a direct observer of human behaviour and this comes through strongly in all his work. He is a fabulous commentator about all that it is to exist on this earth. He explores the depths of the human condition, both conscious and unconscious, so much so that it has influenced the great and good ever since. Indeed Shakespeare’s work appears at the birth of modern psychology. Sigmund Freud himself directly observed Shakespeare in some of his work and the popularist view of Hamlet as created by Sir Lawrence Oliver in his 1948 film gave more than a nod to the Oedipus complex. In fact, if you look at Freud’s work, Shakespeare is littered throughout it. Freud called the Bard “the greatest of poets”. Even those that appear to dislike Shakespeare’s work are transfixed. There were notable intellectuals that did not feel great love for our national treasure. Leo Tolstoy was quoted as saying: “I remember the astonishment I felt when I first read Shakespeare. I expected to receive a powerful esthetic pleasure, but having read, one after the other, works regarded as his best: King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth, not only did I feel no delight, but I felt an irresistible repulsion and tedium…”

However, despite Tolstoy clearly stating his dislike of Shakespeare’s work, he is quoted as saying “I hate these plays, but I can’t stop reading them!” Is this a case of Tolstoy protesting too much? After all, why did he insist on revisiting the plays time and again if he found no value in them? Was it to support his opinion that there was indeed no value in Shakespeare’s work, or, as I suspect, was he learning much about observable human life from the plays in all their tedium?

Shakespearian inspiration

Shakespeare was a discursive writer looking at life in the complexity that he believed was required, drawing his characterisations from what he observed around him. Shakespeare often drew on his experiences of the people he knew in Stratford, indeed, it is rumoured that he fled to London when he had immortalised some of the local residents of this sleepy town in his works. Shakespeare even drew parallels, in his plays of the events which happened tragically to the previous occupants (the Cloptons) of New Place (the house he lived in until his death in 1616). Margaret Clopton was abandoned by her lover and threw herself into a well and drowned, just as Ophelia had drowned when she discovered Hamlet could not be hers. More tragedy struck when sadly Charlotte Clopton, during a highly infectious epidemic, appeared to die, and was immediately buried, however another Clopton died shortly after, seemingly of the same infection. They too were quickly buried for fear of the spread of the disease and the scandal that would be associated with these events (a family of good standing being associated with infectious diseases.) On arrival at the burial chamber they saw, to their horror, Charlotte Clopton in her grave-clothes, leaning against the wall. She wasn’t dead but sleeping when she was buried, however by now it was too late, she was dead; but in desperation and hunger she had bitten a piece from her own arm. This story of mistaken death was perhaps immortalised in Romeo and Juliet?

Shakespeare today

In Shakespeare’s plays there is angst and betrayal, misdirection, treachery and death (did you know that Shakespeare’s deaths are always gruesome and never straight forward – Brutus running onto his own sword in Julia Caesar, for example?) There is bravery and loyalty, there is fun, love and laughter, and there is madness, family rifts and reconciliation – I could go on. Shakespeare explores the human condition in all its sublime complexity, tackling issues that are as current today as they were 300 years ago. I recently read in a newspaper agony column, the dismay of a mother, whose son had chosen to marry his partner of 16 years (another man) and the rift that this had caused between the two families and the prejudicial behaviour of the mother who would not tolerate her son’s choices because, it would mean (in her eyes at least) no grandchildren for her, amongst other issues. Could this not come straight out of a Shakespearian play? A pair of star-cross’d lovers in fair Verona, or conversely the Daily Mail (my parent’s copy I assure you).

So what can we learn from Shakespeare that can help us today? The lesson here is that, put simply, for time immemorial, humans do not change. In my last blog, I talked about how our brains are hard wired, that we behave in certain ways that are almost pre-programmed and Shakespeare’s work helps to support this view, as I will illustrate. We repeat the mistakes of the past; why else do we continue to go to war? Not least because, although we hear others experiences of loss and depravation, we do not believe them. We are programmed to learn this for ourselves, to acquire knowledge for its own sake. It’s not until we are in the situation that we can truly understand the stories of others. Observing Shakespeare’s play, it is clear that we laugh at the comedies or cry at the tragedies because despite the language and often the grand royal settings, they reflect our lives, our motivations, our wants and desires. We are happy that it’s not happening to us, or we are laughing because we have been there, yet when we do find ourselves in these situations we repeat the mistakes of the past. Why is this?

Shakespeare and Personality

We have been trying to understand personality and what motivates people to behave in certain ways for centuries now. Hippocrates in 4000BC tried to understand behaviour using the Four Humours. Central to this theory is that the amount of fluid in your system will dictate your personality type. If you are phlegmatic you will be lazy and sluggish but loyal and reflective and if you are Choleric you will be a natural charismatic leader (perhaps Henry V “Once more unto the breach dear friends” Act III Scene 1), or even Julius Caesar before his fall from grace?) Carl Jung took this further, being influenced by literature such as Shakespeare; he crafted his theory of archetypes using Hippocrates philosophy. Unsurprisingly we are still using some of that work today to understand our personalities in the form of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) where we at tasked to consider the innate and unconscious behaviours that come from a predisposition for a certain preference. Rosalind could be seen in Jungian terms as an extroverted intuitor, a free spirit who finds herself happiest when released from Dukes Fredrick’s court to be banished to the forest of arden. Rosalind’s preference for the Jungian feeling (heart based decision making) preference is also obvious in her distress at being rebuffed by Orlando, but why would he acquiesce? Rosalind is disguised as Ganymede, eluding masculine charm.

Social psychologist and University of Kentucky Psychology Professor Richard Smith loves Shakespeare and is quoted as saying: “Shakespeare was wonderful at illustrating exactly what social psychology is, the study of how the everyday behaviour of the individual is affected by the presence of others.”

I think that if Shakespeare were writing plays today they would still resonate. People’s behaviour and motives would not have changed a great deal. Shakespeare was and is the greatest commentator on human life and if he were here today perhaps he would ask Romeo and Juliet to undertake their courting through text messaging and Facebook rather than from balconies and behind closed doors: “But soft, what backlight through yonder text window breaks?” Would they have accidentally fallen in love, be separated by rivalry and bitterness and be destined never to marry? I am sure they would.

So it seems that all the world’s a stage – with changing sets, but the players stay the same, bewildered, yet unquestioningly acting out their roles..”

So what else can we learn from Shakespeare? Your thoughts would be welcome.


For more information about MBTI go to http://www.opp.com

To find the article on Professor Richard Smith go to:

Friday, 11 March 2016

VIDEO Brain Science

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

What is Catharsis?

Catharsis has a key role to play in Hypnotherapy and the healing process we must go through before recovering fully, or cleansing highly emotional feelings from within. But what is it? This article explains it better than I could...

Read the full article here

In this lesson, learn about catharsis, a purging of feelings that occurs when audiences have strong emotional reactions to a work of literature. Explore examples of literary works which lead to catharsis, including tragedies.

What Is Catharsis

Confession: Sometimes I like to watch a movie or read a book that I know is going to make me cry. While often characterized as a particularly female type of behavior, I've had more than one male friend tell me they bawled their eyes out while watching the sappy, romantic film 'The Notebook.' It's a fact; moviegoers like to cry into their popcorn from time-to-time.

Why do we seek out literature and other entertainment that makes us so sad? It seems like crying is something we would like to avoid if we could, but instead we feel kind of good and refreshed afterwards.

Aristotle called this kind of experience catharsis - when literature provides strong emotional experiences that ultimately result in a sense of purification. Like a toddler playing quietly after a tantrum, tragedy (and comedy) can make us feel cleansed of emotions.

While Aristotle was speaking specifically about catharsis and theater, we know that all types of art can make us feel deeply, from Shakespeare's tragedies to blockbuster movies to the vivid paintings of Marc Rothko. We seek those feelings out because they make us feel good in the end, even if they make us feel sad first.
Catharsis and Tragedy

Aristotle defines a tragedy as a complete story featuring high-stakes situations. Tragedy must also be told through pleasing language and performed onstage rather than read. Finally, 'through pity and fear', the audience should leave feeling cleansed emotionally (catharsis). That's one tall order, Aristotle.

Aristotle considered 'Oedipus the King' by Greek playwright Sophocles to be a tragedy that had it all. First performed around 429 B.C., 'Oedipus the King' is as high stakes as it gets. King Oedipus seeks the advice of a prophet who says he must find the man who killed the previous king, King Laius, at a crossroads. Closer inspection into Laius' killing, though, reveals that - whoops! - Oedipus also killed a man at a crossroads.

Eventually, Oedipus figures out he was the one who killed Laius, and that Laius was his father. Since Oedipus' wife, Jocasta, is Laius' widow, it is revealed that she is both Oedipus' wife and his mom. High-stakes situation, indeed.

Then, if that wasn't enough, the audience watches as Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus pokes out his own eyes. It's enough to make you feel both pity and fear, especially as you watch these scenes performed onstage. It was the Ancient Greek equivalent of watching an Oscar-winning drama.

Classical Greek drama from Sophocles and other Ancient Greek and Roman playwrights set the stage, so to speak, for Shakespeare's tragedies of the Elizabethan era (1558-1603). 'Hamlet', 'King Lear', 'Macbeth', and 'Romeo and Juliet' are some of his best-known examples. Like 'Oedipus the King', they contain high-stakes plots, typically resulting in the deaths of at least four characters per play.

I'm always struck by how deeply I care about 'Romeo and Juliet' every time I see it performed, even though I already know how it is going to end (and that the characters aren't real people). Like me, by the end of a tragedy like 'Romeo and Juliet', the audience has been through an emotional journey that leaves them feeling different from when the play began.

Friday, 4 March 2016

VIDEO Science of Hypnotherapy BBC Documentary

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Primary School Uses Hypnotherapist

Does hypnotherapy have a place in schools? Personally if used in the right way I think it could have a fantastic effect on children for a wide range of different things. The following newspaper article is about what is currently happening in a UK school, where a certified Hypnotherapist works with children as young as four to reduce stress, depression and anxiety.

Read the full article here... 

St Mary's CE School in Rawtenstall, in Lancashire, has hired Anne Cartridge, 48, to run workshops with staff so they can pass on their anti-stress tips to the 194-primary school pupils. The mother-of-two, who runs a course called 'In Mind Therapies', has already run workshops with youth volunteers at the school.
Ms Cartridge said her courses reduce stress, anxiety and depression in children as young as four

The NHS does not currently recommend hypnotherapy for clinical practice, and while it is practised by some doctors, dentists, psychologists and counsellors, it's also offered by non-professionals with little training. This is because in the UK, hypnotherapists don't have to join any organisation or have any specific training by law.
Ms Cartridge explained: 'A lot of my work is dealing with anxiety, stress and depression.
'If those issues are dealt with in primary school, young people can cope better in high school and it helps them feel more in control as an adult.
'Recently I have had a number of young clients with depression and anxiety and they have been able to significantly improve their wellbeing after just a few sessions.
'I would like to see the time when all schools are forward thinking and provide proactive ways of supporting pupils' health and wellbeing.
'Too often the link between learning behaviour and emotional wellbeing is not understood.
'Schools are often not equipped to give pupils specialised help and that is where my programme offers solutions.'