Monday, June 20, 2011

Hypnosis (Part 1/20)

Hypnosis currently enjoys widespread acceptance among the public and the scientific community. Hypnotherapy is generally believed to provide significant relief of both physical and psychological symptoms, and its use is on the rise. Of 1,000 psychotherapists surveyed in 1994, 97 percent considered hypnosis a worthwhile therapeutic tool.[1]

There is no question that hypnosis can be useful, particularly in the area of pain control. It is also widely used in treating the symptoms of neurosis including anxiety disorders, insomnia, and addictions, but with little permanent success. This might be explained because the state of hypnosis is similar to an extended but temporary case of neurosis. What I shall try to demonstrate in the following pages is that most of us who are neurotic are simply in a long-term hypnotic trance.

A permanent state of post-hypnotic suggestion can begin early in our lives when authority figures (parents) "suggest" certain behaviors based on the possibility or withdrawal of love. The suggestion is usually not consciously undertaken by the parent; it is simply the parent's unconscious needs translated into expectations and imposed on the child. The child, unaware of what’s happening, slips into the behavior without a scintilla of reflection. Part of him then is asleep or unconscious without his being aware of it.

In fact, you can use the concentrated and condensed neurotic state known as hypnosis to demonstrate the process of neurosis – that is, how neurosis comes into being. Hypnosis does not eliminate the sources of neurosis, nor does it integrate consciousness. Rather, it disintegrates consciousness, thereby achieving dissociation, in which two or three levels of consciousness act independently of one another. Hypnosis demonstrates the interactions of different levels of consciousness in both initiating and maintaining neurosis. Hypnosis and neurosis in fact utilize the same neurophysiological mechanisms. Hypnotic suggestibility is itself contingent upon a pre-existent neurotic state. So when psychotherapies use some form of hypnosis, they misapply the principles of consciousness and, as a result, actually reinforce the neurosis.

The use of hypnosis dates back to man's earliest history. Until recently, it has been shrouded in mystery, magic, and the supernatural, associated with everything from Druidic healers and high priests in ancient Greece to shamans, gods, witches, devils, and quacks. As a therapeutic technique, it predates psychoanalysis by at least a century. Freud used hypnosis therapeutically before discarding it in favor of psychoanalysis. Over time it has gained popular and scientific acceptance, been assimilated into a wide range of therapies, and been applied to most types of medical and psychological problems.

Today hypnosis is used to treat psychosomatic symptoms such as ulcers, migraines, and colitis. It is used to manage pain and in rehabilitation cases where organic damage has occurred. It is used to alter physiological functioning, such as to reduce blood pressure, relieve asthmatic symptoms, and alleviate gastrointestinal distress. It is also used in dentistry and obstetrics. It is used to treat addictions such as overeating, alcoholism, smoking, and drug abuse; to treat phobias and sexual problems; to enhance memory and studying abilities; and even to make warts disappear. It is also used to deal with varying emotional and psychological problems.

While hypnotherapy is now considered a treatment category of its own, it is almost always incorporated into the particular therapeutic orientation of each therapist. Thus it may be used by therapists from such diverse areas as psychoanalysis, behaviorism, ego psychology, gestalt, and even holistic transpersonal groups.


  1. AJ said >>> What I shall try to demonstrate in the following pages is that most of us who are neurotic are simply in a long-term hypnotic trance.<<

    So zombies are real, aren’t they? And with constant distraction, they are even more hypnotic, due to lack of concentration. I have always said they run on autopilot. Programming and conditioning are the tools of many authorities. That is what water-boarding is about. Conditioned Primal Pain. It can be cultivated if one was sadistic. Of course, that wouldn’t happen with authorities, right? ;-) I won’t mention the other tortures. Schools also condition kids. We might wonder about that as well. I won’t mention the media and their power to condition and program.

    AJ said >>> A permanent state of post-hypnotic suggestion can begin early in our lives when authority figures (parents) "suggest" certain behaviors based on the possibility or withdrawal of love. The suggestion is usually not consciously undertaken by the parent; it is simply the parent's unconscious needs translated into expectations and imposed on the child. The child, unaware of what’s happening, slips into the behavior without a scintilla of reflection. Part of him then is asleep or unconscious without his being aware of it.

    Now this sounds like what Orwell suggested, in that the policy or programming of the “orthodoxy “ is so subtle as to not be seen or known about . . . . unless you happen to step out of line. Is there an orthodoxy around? Are any of us in doubt? Believers? Could this orthodoxy, if it exists (and yes’em, I believes in orthodoxies, massah) be subtly promoting some conditioning and programming that is so subtle that even we do not detect it. Can people who are all primalled out still be hypnotized or unwittingly programmed? I would think it at least possible.

    Maybe a lot of that programming is not traumatic enough to register deep with trauma. Or maybe it just spolits after enough is accumulated. But maybe we might do well to explore just how much programming and conditioning has been carried on without our notice.

    To All: Of course, if we probe, we risk irritating those who make the programming. Ouch. But some have said in the past that: “no pain, no gain.” There are necessary casualties in any war, even propaganda and information wars. Who wants to be the first to throw themselves on the stakes fronting the enemies lines? Any volunteers? Listen, you might be surprised at what I have experienced just in one law suit. Got followed home twice, from different places. Attempted car run-over, which my hyper-vigilance helped me easily avoid. I could brag some more but only courage will be enough to help PT over the hump and reach into more acceptance. You got what it takes?

    We all gotta go sooner or later. But if I gotta go, I want it to be for something worth while. I’ll go down but it will be swinging not crying!

  2. Art,

    When you talk about ”The child, unaware of what’s happening, slips into the behavior without a scintilla of reflection. Part of him then is asleep or unconscious without his being aware of it." I think the moment the child's hypnotic state occurs is because the pain is so intense that there are no other possibilities. We may find it hard to imagine the sensitivity of a fetus… but the ration on a scale of what is painful may speak a different language?


  3. Art, I use hypnotherapy and I think there is a difference between regression and direct suggestion techniques. We have the answers inside us, hypnosis is one way of accessing what we know. If we can "chase" the first time someone felt a feeling, like for example, feeling unwanted, they can then feel that feeling and process it, and other significant events that have the same feeling might also need to be processed, but going back to the first time is essential. Creating a safe space where they can do that is crucial. Like all tools/techniques, it really depends on who is using them and how.

  4. Noreen, love, you cannot get well unconscicously. Well means consciousness, and nothing less. Why make the patient less conscious? We want frontal cortex connection and left brain connection. Before we decide on "who's doing them" we need to decide on the science of it. We can no longer do therapy "a la derive", "en vrac", in a touchy feely way. There is science now and in the 21st century we must strictly adhere to it. AJ

  5. Art, I agree that we need to be conscious and consciousness means being well, and having been hypnotised, I was conscious of all that was going on. I think hypnotherapy *accesses* the unconscious when regression is used, it doesn't make us unconscious, therein lies the opportunity. What I find interesting in science at the moment is the research into how important mindfulness, empathy and compassion are, like Daniel Siegel for eg. I agree touchy feely is out but there are not enough therapists who are compassionate and empathetic they're not willing "to go there" in my opinion, or put themselves into someone else's shoes. Many talk about safety but they don't create it. Many things are reframed in a completely polyannaish way and there is a temporary change in behaviour for a while until the effect wears off. As you said in a different post, many haven't felt their pain and they're petrified of others feeling theirs because it reminds them of their own pain which they want to avoid just because it's so painful. I also find how Antonio Damasio differentiates between emotions and feelings is fascinating. He says "A feeling is a conscious experience of having an emotion", so when we're feeling something we're healing it, we're experiencing it, instead of leaving it unprocessed causing havoc in our system. I think it's quite simple, we just need to *feel*. But it doesn't just take one or two sessions, it takes as long as it takes, it might be simple but it's not easy. Noreen

  6. Hi,

    Within weeks of fully feeling the traumatic loss and abandonment by my mum at boarding school and earlier (still getting there) and then consciously disolving in the expression of that grief I began to notice how certain dissociative states I could get into no longer had quite the hold over me that they did before.

    Nor did I feel so urgently the need to act out or project onto others. I could OWN MY OWN FEELINGS!

    I used to do Transcendental Meditation and noticed an amazing bliss state developing during and afterwards. This would not last, nor could it because the temprary bliss state had not even touched the original trauma. Now, after catharting (in short doses) I get so blissed out that the previous 'meditational' state of bliss pales by comparison.

    TM is a short cut and does not deal with the original traumas and Maharishi has got a lot to answer for, he should have known better than to advertise TM as a cure all.

    I would say the same thing is true of Hypnotism.

    OK, it is good to learn these techniques, when under stress it is important to know something that can help one deal with ones' unruly emotions in times of great need.


    Paul G.

  7. Noreen, do me a favor. Read all 21 articles on hypnosis that I wrote which will appear in the next many weeks and then write me and see if you still feel the same way. OK ? We are after full consciousness, not dampened csns. To say noting of trying to run the show with a patient when she is the seat of all knowledge. Patients are too used to being "done to." Don't participate in that. AJ

  8. I think it may pay to differentiate between "conscious of" and "consciousness". When we are hypnotised we are half asleep so we can never be fully 'awake' to a feeling. You might feel (be part conscious-of) part of a feeling, but you will only be so in an anaesthetised state. You need to be fully awake to the feeling to process it(?). If so, then a hypnotised state could never do it.

    To say:

    I think the 'great' hallmark of PT is the discovery that the brain actually heals itself.

    So, the primal is truly natural - 4 billion years of evolutions way, not some institutions in-vogue ideological way. Primal does not "do to" it only facilitates. The human brain "does to" itself, when only given the opportunity.

    From here we can know to be suspicious of any new method that, again, tries to believe it knows better than the authority of natures way, which is the authority of 4 billion years of evolutionary development.

  9. Noreen, I know, but you should listen carefully to what AJ says. You cannot feel again and incorporate that awareness of at last-feeling-again if you access the pain unconsciously (hypnotised).

  10. i often feel like i am holding on, and it would be quite easy to let go and start feeling whatever it is. the only thing stopping me from doing that is the knowledge that it could go wrong.
    what could be more natural than surrendering to your brain's natural flow? but if there's too much pain, we must opt for a less natural primal using tranquillisers to stop the feelings from breaking the dam so to speak.
    i guess primalling would be natural if we did it as soon as we were ready, instead of letting the pain accumulate over many years until it can't be released safely.

  11. Hi,

    I've been thinking about what value the psycho-analytical aspect of understanding really has to a patient. . . Or the value of certain palliatives. . . Like Shiatsu acupressure and so on.

    In the absences of really well trained therapists where we live (or enough money to get us to the clinic yet) future patients are compelled to "cope".


    AJ forbid we get stuck in a queue for something we can not afford nor find the will to commit to.

    Each person has to find a way through their difficulties and we have tried many things. Even after Primal Therapy there is a long road to tread. We can't say all paths are wrong paths till PT, or maybe we should? Nevertheless how ever to back track to get to the right entrance to the right way?

    There is an old saying:

    "Keep tight hold of nurse, for fear of something worse".

    Perhaps the first thing to do once realising we need to go to California for at least 3 weeks, preferably 3 to 6 months, is to accept the circumstances we're in and the coping strategies we have already developed.

    Then we might get a glimpse of living in two worlds simultaneously; the first: the hell we suffer with our repressions & neurosis, the second the freedom to feel every moment as it happens, free from the past.

    We have to live in two worlds. The unconsciously repressed live in only 1 world and it is flat. Flat-land. The other world is 3 dimensional and one can move around unrestricted by the rules of repression. In this world of three dimensions the flat-landers can not hurt us or distort our truth.

    So I think there is a value in really pondering our individual circumstances in the light of Primal and accepting the 'analysis' as part of the journey. Along the way we aught to receive the temporary relief of palliatives, even if that is all they are. Find the right ones for you but don't fall into a comfortable sleep believing the journey is the destination.

    With PT there is a destination and it is a cure, not a palliative.


  12. Hi Apollo,

    I agree with your observation about how subtle repressions can be put onto children by the unconscious withdrawal of 'love' as retribution for 'unacceptable behaviour'.

    It looks a lot like emotional distancing and is part of the way scape-goating begins in groups; family groups also. . . Parents often do not know how to cope with rivalry amongst siblings or ignore it because they them selves are defended against the pain, distanced from the potential divided loyalties, where the beginning of painful rebuffs start. So often one of the children begins to repress the family pattern as a model of 'dissociation' in themselves. . . They become what Yung called the shadow bearer for the group. This person necessarily has to become exiled as they can not bear to see in the people they love the things these family members cannot see in themselves. Often they are excellent performers and bright artists and academics.

    To an extent, where parents are not willing to explore their own "motives & fixations" the emotional distancing technique becomes automatic and inevitably (amongst the siblings) an authoritarian pecking order emerges in the place of a "community of interest".

    The course of family history can change if the parents open up and admit their faults. This so rarely happens though. As we siblings grow up we carry with us retarded development from parental emotional distancing, usually stuck at the co or counter-dependent stage eternally secumbing to the will of the more powerful (read fixated) or arguing and fighting and discarding for our rights, indignantly trying to find the real us. Repulsion, expulsion, dismissal,trashing out and scapegoating are all inevitable programmed re-actions. Look at the so called adult world around us. . .

    Sometimes parents can be an infuriating mixture of real love and attention followed by emotional distancing and punishment. . . A perfect re-enforcement of the manic depressive condition brought on by a tricky birth.

    Since I started really feeling the dreadful injustices of my childhood I have become acutely sensitive to the way "Authoritarianism" masquerades as "Clear Parental Care". . . Bullshit! That sort of thing is emotional blackmail but so few parents can see it. After all, some-one must control the children.

    Paul G.

  13. Richard: Primalling is natural but you need help. I have seen so many self-primallers go so wrong. art janov

  14. Paul: Don't make the mistake of thinking I am going on forever. This is my sixtieth year of practice. art janov

  15. Hi Art,

    If I had the money I'd be on the next flight.

    I nearly went bankrupt last year. To get to California in the next 6 months I will either have to rob a bank or apply for charitable funding from your wealthy donors. How do I do that?

    Sorry, either /or. No, I won't rob a bank.

    If you die before I get to California I'll stab myself in the face with a vanilla ice cream.

    Ted's looking after me in the meantime (remember? The soft furry one who doesn't argue, listens well and has no weird belief systems).

    I could ask some very wealthy people I know but they'll need too many answers to too many questions about the carpentry business they funded and bailed out, their daughter (the other director, my ex) and the losses the business made, she hasn't told her folks yet.

    So that's not gonna work is it?

    My bank are coaching me into the position of a very good credit rating by lending me money at a very high interest rate, this time next year they will lend me enough money to do all sorts of things but at the moment I should be on site snagging the mess the glazers left behind them, doing the drawings for the next carpentry project and also cutting 6 joints in the workshop twenty miles away, all before lunch, it's 10:20am.

    Is this what my birth was like?

    Paul G.

    Paul G.

  16. A facebook comment: "Hypnosis and neurosis in fact utilize the same neurophysiological mechanisms. *Hypnotic suggestibility is itself contingent upon a pre-existent neurotic state* (italics). So when psychotherapies use some form of hypnosis, they misapply the principles of consciousness and, as a result, actually reinforce the neurosis. --This is the guts of this piece. Why do practitioners not consider the effects (other than perceived or actual "benefit") of what they are doing???"


Review of "Beyond Belief"

This thought-provoking and important book shows how people are drawn toward dangerous beliefs.
“Belief can manifest itself in world-changing ways—and did, in some of history’s ugliest moments, from the rise of Adolf Hitler to the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979. Arthur Janov, a renowned psychologist who penned The Primal Scream, fearlessly tackles the subject of why and how strong believers willingly embrace even the most deranged leaders.
Beyond Belief begins with a lucid explanation of belief systems that, writes Janov, “are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively.” While belief systems are not presented as inherently bad, the author concentrates not just on why people adopt belief systems, but why “alienated individuals” in particular seek out “belief systems on the fringes.” The result is a book that is both illuminating and sobering. It explores, for example, how a strongly-held belief can lead radical Islamist jihadists to murder others in suicide acts. Janov writes, “I believe if people had more love in this life, they would not be so anxious to end it in favor of some imaginary existence.”
One of the most compelling aspects of Beyond Belief is the author’s liberal use of case studies, most of which are related in the first person by individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by their involvement in cults. These stories offer an exceptional perspective on the manner in which belief systems can take hold and shape one’s experiences. Joan’s tale, for instance, both engaging and disturbing, describes what it was like to join the Hare Krishnas. Even though she left the sect, observing that participants “are stunted in spiritual awareness,” Joan considers returning someday because “there’s a certain protection there.”
Janov’s great insight into cultish leaders is particularly interesting; he believes such people have had childhoods in which they were “rejected and unloved,” because “only unloved people want to become the wise man or woman (although it is usually male) imparting words of wisdom to others.” This is just one reason why Beyond Belief is such a thought-provoking, important book.”
Barry Silverstein, Freelance Writer

Quotes for "Life Before Birth"

“Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest.
He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”
Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.
Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
Washington State University

Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.
Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University

In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.
Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.
K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

A baby's brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child's life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.
Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

"I am enthralled.
Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate
PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any "New Age" pseudoscience,
this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and
downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche."
Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Baby's born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.
In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.
After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.
“Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.