Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 3/20)

During World War I, hypnosis was used to treat victims of shell-shock. This once again brought it to the attention of the scientific community. The experimental psychologist Clark Hull finally established hypnosis as an object worthy of controlled and methodical laboratory studies. In 1933 Hull endorsed Bernheim's view that hypnosis might be the result of suggestion and suggestibility. Both World War II and the Korean War contributed to renewed interest in hypnosis. Societies for research and training in clinical and experimental hypnosis were founded. Hypnosis journals published research findings and case materials. Specialty boards licensed practitioners and disseminated information to the public.

The 1970s saw a curious development in the use of hypnosis. The spread of hypnotic "past-life regression" (which had been practiced since the 1860s, if not earlier, in Europe) sparked a new controversy in the field. Adherents of this practice (most of whom lack degrees in psychology or medicine) believe that events and problems in past lives can generate neurosis and other problems in this life. Thus, through hypnosis, one can gain access to past identities, relive past traumas, and eliminate their negative effects on one's present functioning. Although professional hypnosis organizations have condemned past-life regression, it has made its way into Ericksonian hypnotherapy, the school based on the work of Milton Erickson (1902-1980), the pre-eminent hypnotist in recent decades. Some hypnotists have even been able to induce "age progression," in which patients conjure up themselves in the future for ostensible therapeutic benefit.[1]

Today, hypnosis appears to be increasing in acceptability in the scientific community. Erickson's influence has extended beyond traditional hypnotherapy to family therapy and other clinical areas. Nonetheless, there remains no cohesive or compelling theory on the nature of hypnosis. Most agree that hypnotic phenomena are real: People are able to dissociate from pain in their bodies, regress to earlier events in their lives, relive traumatic events and forget them moments later, and experience significant alterations in perception. But what causes these changes? Is hypnosis an altered state of consciousness? Or does it merely active and channel normal processes, skills, and response preferences? This is considered the considered the state-nonstate controversy, and it leads us to the core problem of the nature of hypnosis.

The Nature of Hypnosis

Hypnotic trance: a state in which perceptions are altered either spontaneously or as the result of suggestion and in which there is a detachment from the external world.[2]

The elements of a hypnotic trance are well-known. Ernest R. Hilgard (1904-2001), long-time experimental psychologist at Stanford University and a prominent researcher on hypnotic analgesia, developed a profile of a hypnotized individual with characteristics that he felt was "sufficiently consistent" to serve as a definition. Specifically, if instructed, a hypnotized person:

*waits passively for information as to how to behave;

*pays attention only to the hypnotist;

*accepts distortions as reality;

*is highly susceptible to the hypnotist's suggestions;

*will readily adopt a role of being someone else, and

*may forget the hypnotic experience.[3]

Let's assume that these are all aspects of a hypnotic trance. Is there really something special about this state, something that distinguishes it from everyday consciousness (while one is awake or asleep)? Various researchers have given conflicting answers to this question.

[1]See, for example, Jonathan Venn, Hypnosis and the Reincarnation Hypothesis: A Critical Review and Intensive Case Study, The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research Vol. 80, October 1986, pp. 409-425; Robert A. Baker, The Effect of Suggestion on Past-Lives Regression, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Volume 25, Number 1, July 1982, pp. 71-76; Peter B. Bloom, Some General Comments About Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Volume 33, Number 4, April 1991, pp. 221-224.
[2]See Heap, Michael and Dryden, Windy, Eds., Hypnotherapy: A Handbook. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1991.
[3]See Ernest R. Hilgard, Richard Atkinson, and Rita Atkinson, Introduction to Psychology (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1971, fifth edition), p. 173.


  1. Hi Art,

    Yes I have a clear perception of this issue, put me right if I'm being glib:

    When we're young we havn't got all the faculties to relate with our outside experience that our potential growth is programmed to provide. We model on our parents and carers and as co-dependent (merged) entities we do this most of all whilst falling asleep and waking up because every day as little ones at those times, we need those big Gods & Godesses to regulate our inner relationship, we need them to help us be ourselves when the brain connections de-integrate, or re-integrate.

    There are conflicts between the sleep hormones and the waking hormones which are well known for producing what we call 'dream states' or 'dissociation'. Coffee helps some get out of it in the morning whilst camomile tea helps others get through it at night. That's a digression.

    That's why so many of the dreams we remember are in those 'twilight zones'. . . In this hypnotic trance we have a susceptibility to suggestion from our folks, carers etc who are either trying to get us to sleep (!) or wake us up. Snake brain, limbic and then neo-cortex. . . or reverse order.

    These conflicts of hormones produce a paralysis of brain centre into which we can fixate an idea. . . I can wake up wanting to murder the builder on site but later make him a cup of tea and resolve the issue. . .

    Art has talked about the symbolising processes and a few of us have questioned Yungs' system.

    Hypnotists are trying to operate a cheap hijack on the outer boundaries of brain connections, where mergence and re-emergence are happening.

    It's a cheap con but fun for entertainment, after all, we all love a good story at bed time but it's not ever going to offer a cure to engrained trauma, it's a bedtime distraction or a waking fantasy whilst full consciousness (connected) is kicking in (or fading into needed sleep).

    Paul G.

  2. Art,

    I want you to put out an account number for us to deposit money into for the purpose of a legal process. I will do everything in my "power" to make it successful. What do you think the cost can land on?
    The account number should also be available on the blog's front page.
    There is nothing what so ever to lose.


  3. Art,

    As I see it... we are in a hypnotized state all the time and when hypnosis loosens its grip we fall into pain from yesterday ... pain we can not relate to in our waking state... but well known to our history... history we are being withheld for lack of knowledge what this story really means.
    We need to "virtually" only through our "knowledge"... embrace this phenomenon in order to advance. I mean... we just need start thinking differently and this fact will become available.


  4. Frank: Listen better to put money into an account via our foundation so poor people can get our therapy. A legal procedure starts at $100.000. art janov

  5. Art,

    A legal process can lead to so much more than 100,000 ever can achive in the case of be helpful to some patients. I know that the poor people should get help but there is alot of them. The primal therapeutic process can have a recognition that probably will surprise us. Art you should know what you hold in your hand.


  6. Excuse me Frank, I agree with your passion to promote and defend PT but from my own experience I can say the legal process is so adversarial and rancorous only really unfeeling types can cope with it.

    It would be like a peace riot, (excuse the ironic humour).

    Paul G.

  7. Paul, next time you and your partner experience an orgasm that sends giant mind-blowing waves through your body and brain which causes everything to disappear as you surrender to the overpowering torrent of ecstasy, and then drag your limp quivering body over to the computer to write your next intellectual comment, then you and all the other blog readers can claim some kind of higher ground over the unfeeling people. until then, i would consider myself to be very unfeeling, unloving, and more than capable of doing all the things that non-primal people do. we are informed, but we are neurotic, some more than others, but who cares about exact measurements. harness your neurosis. work towards you goals while you still have all that false energy.

    Jack, avoiding or denouncing all non-feelingful things in your life will not bring you closer to your feelings. Knowing about feelings and their importance will not bring you closer to your feelings. when people criticise your ideas, don't assume those people are completely unfeelingful. don't dismiss their ideas as merely intellectual. there are many neurotic people out there who are more feelingful than you and me. they have never primalled and never will, but their opinions are smart and helpful and somewhat feelingful.

    Sieglinde, you asked "Am I a loving person" and then you answered your own question. Your brain stem is asking a question too; "Am I getting what I need?" If you don't have proper access to your brain stem, you cannot know what you are missing. But you can try to be honest with yourself as much as possible. Are you satisfied? How often do you feel satisfied? Has your life been a satisfying one? every time you expected to feel satisfied, how long did the satisfaction last? do you want to resolve the dissatisfaction?

    Richard, stop trying to push everyone into your dark world. You are alone and nothing will change that. people are fragile. don't forget that. try to be more understanding and try to listen when people are answering your questions. You are similar to the other blog readers who are trying to claim some higher ground - trying to keep their heads above water.

  8. I understand that you do not know what primal therapy can do for you Paul,
    The scientific facts are targets for the legal process… it’s all about ... do we have the right to be healthy or not. I regret the pesemism about what the primal therapy can accomplish during a legal process.
    Obviously is the frustration about what primal therapy can achieve in a legal process… a case of ignorance. We do not know what we can accomplish in a process and that is inoff to start.
    It is criminal to engage in an activity-enforcement task that more can be compared with quackery... that is part of the right to become healthy. It is criminal to use psychotropic drugs to silent symptoms which in itself is a sign of opportunity to become healthy .. It is criminal to pursue therapies that cause even more suffering. That is for the world's practitioners of psychiatry and psychology to know

    People must have the right to get closer to primal therapy... I mean they have a right to become healthy if the possibility exists. If we don’t have that in focus I think we start at the wrong end.
    We are afraid ... cowardly and incapable of what symptoms tells about suffering… but that is part of our symtoms... so pleas let us get on with what we suppose to do.
    It's time with a legal process.


  9. This may sound improbable to you, but I have used hypnosis on a friend (buddy) who would drop straight from third-line stuff into semi-unconnected first-line pain (he was born by C-section, and had some "abandoned in the crib" baby stuff too.) He knew he needed to go to second-line (childhood) stuff, but seemed unable.

    So I would put him into light trance and tell him a few things: (a) he would have "expanded consciousness" (b) would not accept any suggestions if they didn't feel right, (c) remember everything afterwards, (d) be free to move if he was uncomfortable, talk back to me, etc.

    Once he was in light trance I would give him the suggestion that if there was any second-line pain (childhood) hurts involved from what he had been dealing with, and if it was the right time to remember it, and safe to do so, he would be able to remember the feelings and primal them now.

    Invariably, he started taking about the childhood component of what he had just been crying about on the third-line, would have the primal, and then "came out of it" by himself. i.e. I never told him, "You can wake up now" or anything like that. He would sit up and talk about how the third, second and first line feelings connected.

    e.g. I remember one that was "stuck in here and can't get out" on the third line (job) stuck in boarding school on the second line, and stuck in the birth canal on the first line.

    I know that is not the way hypnosis is normally used, and take your points about the way it normally is used.

  10. Pat: The problem I have with this is that anything anyone does from the outside interferes with the natural evolutionary order of when the patient is ready to feel something. We have never found outside interference to be necessary. Why not trust evolutiion and readiness? art janov

  11. Richard,

    Thank you, you are my guru, I havn't had my ears go so red since the builder sent me his complaints and the client snubbed me by putting my contract out to tender to some-one else.

    This morning.

    Then you made me laugh and forgive myself.

    Paul G.


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.
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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.