by David Mason
I wonder if you are the kind of Smoker who can give up quite easily but then starts again? You don't know why you start again and so make up all sorts of excuses for doing what you really don't want to do.
It would be useful to be able to predict which particular smokers this will be a problem for. One of the best indicators is whether or not when you think about quitting smoking, you worry about whether you are going to be a failure.
If you find that kind of thing going round your mind, you might be at a higher risk of re-starting than other smokers and you might need a bit of extra training.
by David Mason
Today I saw what is perhaps the most difficult cleint I have ever had. She was not being deliberately difficult but all the techniques I have just didn't seem to work. I first saw her last August. At that time I could not hypnotize her. She was was constantly internally challenging everything I said, analysing every word, doing everything except following the words the way I wanted her to. My policy in those cases is to send her home with some hypnotic CDs to listen to, and to come back when she has learned to let go enough to go into trance.
Today she said the CDs annoyed her, she could not believe the imagery, constantly analysing why I used certain words, and frankly the whole recording irritated her. She thought that they might have made her a little more physically relaxed but she was never hypnotized.
She clearly has anxiety and hypervigilance but shewas still unable to tell me what trauma she had. She said that there is nothing there to find. She has a fear of earthquakes in high buildings. The obvious approach is to use regression. I thought that she might have had some effect from the CDs so I tried to hypnotize her, going very slowly and carefully, but as I got to feeling the fear part she smugly told me that she wasn't feeling anything. But I saw clear signs of trance and it seemed to me that she actually was going into trance, but as soon as she felt herself losing control she popped right out again. She could not reduce the rate of her breathing during the induction. She was breathing very shallow. I put her on the floor to test for diaphragm breathing: seemed OK, but it was to me another indicator that she has some sort of chronic anxiety.
So I talked about options and how I didn't have any. I told her I really didn't know what else to do. I explained the theory of hypnosis and metapor. I said that the best I could do was to teach her self hypnosis, but there was a danger of an abreaction. She asked me how she would do that so I proceeded to show her. I told her that I was going to take her through the steps of self hypnosis and she should pay close attention because she needed to control the stages so that she would be able to do it herself when she gets home.
I therefore started on physical relaxation, then breathing focus, then finding a safe place, and then told her to empty her mind, stack any stray thoughts over to one side, treat them like puppies and shoo them out the do0r. Then I suggested that now her body was relaxed and her mind was empty she need to practice controlling her mind. I did a long speil about finding a color and shrining it down to a point of light and floating inside that light, and then her head started to nod and her eyes were moving under hey eyelids in response to my suggestions. She was clearly in trance.
I then led on a metaphoric journey with lots of symbolic interactions. Then I got her to count herself out. The moment I suggested that she opened eyes and told me she hadn't been in trance. Now she obviously had been, so I asked her to tell me what I had talked about, and she then realized that in fact large chunks were missing. What she had done was to go up and down in depth of trance and she was remembering only the times when she was lightly in trance, and totaly could not access the incidents when she was deep in trance. She finally agreed that she had indeed been in trance.
The technique with controlling clients is to let them think that they are in control. Telling her that I was going to teach her self hypnosis by passed all her defences and she went along with the instructions and down into trance.
All the same, I was very relieved when she finally did succumb.
by David Mason
Reports from the smoking research literature usually give comparisons of the various methods of stopping smoking, yet oddly, they never list one of the most effective. The one they never report on is the importance of reading. And yet Alan Carr's book on how to stop smoking has worked for millions of people.
You have to wonder how much academics actually know about people who want to stop smoking.
by David Mason
I have been reading Alan Wells' excellent book on metacognition and depression. It is perhaps a bit hard for the lay person to follow but with the academic circumlocutions stripped out it makes a lot of sense. He introduces the idea of Detached Mindfulness; a state of being able to observe thoughts without acting on them.
He differentiates between able to experience a thought from the point of view of an observer, and experiencing a thought in Object Mode as one thing that fused together reality, belief and behaviour into one unbreakable unit.
Thinking about this in the context of how to use it to get people to stop smoking, I got to wondering about hot it fits into the classical psychology conditioning model. That model sees learned behaviour as the result of conditioning: stimulus → response → reward. However all these studies were originally based on non-sentient being like clams and worms. Humans are different in that they don't have to respond instinctively to everything. If you blow a puff of air into a person's eye, they will blink. No matter how often you do it, they never unlearn it, and they cannot not do it.
But many stimuli cause different responses in different people, so perhaps the model needs another element: stimulus → thought → response → reward.
If that is a better model of how people actually respond to stimulus then it suggests that intervention based on changing the thought should work just as well as intervention based on changing the reward.
by David Mason
I had another interesting client who led me to a very different approach to stopping smoking. Every client is different. She said she had been able to give up in the past once for a year as a teenager, and another time for four years. She started again when her ex-husband left. She smokes as a way to deal with stress, but her real problem is smoking when she goes out to socialize and drinks.
Asked her the Question: What do you feel when I say 'you will never smoke another cigarette as long as you live'? said she would feel a bit disappointed, at not being able to socialize the way she used to. She said that when she starts drinking with friends it like something comes over her and she starts reaching for a cigarette.
I asked what this something was like. I suggested that some people feel it like a blanket, others like a teddy bear, some like a cloud. She said it was more like a cloud. A dark cloud, like a foggy dark night. I got her to develop this and she became aware that it come from the right, over her right shoulder.
She said she would like it to go away, because it made her want to smoke. She had identified her own metaphor. I developed that. I asked her to imagine something in the cloud that would change it, like a lantern or fireworks or something like a pin point of light. She came up with a bright light shining through it from the bottom. A blue light that was turning it white. She said that it was just sitting there, not threatening, doing nothing. Then I got her to examine it further and she said that it was full of voices of her friends urging her to stop, encouraging her to give up. I asked if she would like to move into that cloud, and she said it was like something wrapped around her supporting her. I then got her to imagine being in a bar with friends and she said she felt protected, that she didn't need to smoke to enjoy their company. She was sitting there with her eyes closed, smiling.
Then I finished with some direct suggestions and the Santa Claus belief story. Final finger lift as guarantee from her mind.
Lovely how some people just lead you into their metaphors and then change the metaphor themselves.
by David Mason
I was wondering if you have any scripts for childrens specifically? I have some inductions and wondering if you think the scripts are adaptable for children? I have a 9 year old boy to see me next week who is experiencing night terrors. He has no recollection of them himself and they are not very often. Think mum is more concerned as it is distressing for her.
I was thinking of a n anxiety release/ night time sleep script. Do you have any scripts in your collection that you think may be useful? Thanks.
No, I don't deal with children.
by David Mason
“Maybe it’s the cause of the dream that is making me feel shattered – resulting in both the dreams and the feeling?”
The purpose of dreams is to give you a way to resolve issues that were not resolved during the day. Most dreams are visual metaphors representing things that happened that day that for some reason did not get closure and left an emotional overhang. For example if during the day you had a run-in with someone and were left feeling upset in some way, the purpose of the dream is to restate the memory in metaphorical form, and to allow the unconscious mind to re-work the event metaphorically, to find some inner resources that will change the outcome of the metaphor, and by doing so resolve the residual emotional state. Otherwise we would all quickly fill up with unfinished emotional baggage and get too cluttered to function normally.
Some dreams are reflections of much deeper issues. This is usually where there is some situation and you cannot do anything about resolving it, or where you are prevented by something from doing what you know you can or should. This may be a real and obvious constraint that causes frustration or anger or despair, or it may be a personal fundamental belief that will not let you apply the resource you actually do have, that causes unconscious conflict and stress. Typically an adult might find the duty to look after an aged parent is onerous and taking up large amounts of time, but the person cannot not give support because it goes against self imposed internal value systems, and might be compounded by the belief that other people should be doing more but don't, but cannot be called to account about it because of internal beliefs about how to approach those people. This sort of intractable problem can be logically analysed to death, but will not be resolved because the constraints are personal and emotional and quite possibly not consciously recognised. This type of situation gives rise either to repetitive dreams, possibly over many years, if the situation has to do with parents and upbringing; or to multiple dreams which on the surface appear to be very different as to time and place and events, but which are in fact metaphorically identical in structure and rationale.
Now, if the dream is based on a real, current and unsolvable circumstance then that circumstance will be generating stress, frustration, anxiety, depressive thinking and other mental issues. These often lead to broken sleep because the desire to do something constantly spurs the person to action, but the reality of being unable to do anything about it prevents that action. Eventually you fall asleep exhausted, and the mind goes straight into REM sleep, which is where dreams are manifested. The dream mechanism goes over and over many different ways of representing that situation in a search for an insight into some sort of solution. If the circumstance is severe enough, just reaching the core issue in the metaphor can be enough to jolt the sleeper back awake in fear or anxiety.
This process can go on for days or years. For most people the situation eventually is resolved externally one way or another and ceases to be a problem, and the dreams cease.
So, yes, the dream and feeling have a common source.