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Friday, 1 October 2010


A while ago I decided to train as a Hypnotherapist, as described in my previous post “Does this sound weird?

This was for two reasons:

1) It helped me deal with the sharp steel and porcelain of the medical establishment, offering a refuge, and a way to cultivate tools in my own mind to encounter the challenge.

2) I had a great desire to learn and practice something new and useful. I had been involved with film and video production for years, and I love that still. but I feel - as we surely all do - that there are many other areas and experiences to be had. In fact I have lived many of these already. But I was searching for something new.

So at last the time has come. Last Saturday I started on the journey. It’s a really fascinating experience both to be in a hypnotic trance and to put others into one. I think there is a great overlap here with meditation and some of the issues discussed in the blog “Mindfulness and Mortality” by Gloriamundi, which, as you can see from my blogroll (to the right of the screen), I’m following.

I had been put into a trance before, but not in a circumstance in which I analysed the trance itself. On the course we were all put into a trance using an induction that described a journey through a landscape. You may have experienced similar things in areas such as theatre training.

Anyway, afterwards we were asked how long this took, and my guess was four minutes (logically not really possible – but I think I was still slightly en-tranced) the truth was it was more than twenty minutes. I could hardly believe this.

It was also so odd to talk to someone, and watch them first of all relax, as you might expect, but then to start slumping slightly forwards and to one side, see their skin slacken, and the jaw become loose. Of course we are a self selecting group with good reasons to be compliant, but there was more going on than that.

Now I have to find about five people to do a relaxation induction with before the next session. At the moment that's all we are allowed to do. That is quite a daunting task when you think of it. I think it will be easier to work with people who are known to me, but not really close friends and family, as the fear is that they will just laugh at me because they know me too well. I think a certain distance would be helpful.

There were many other fascinating insights and experiences, and many more to come. I will keep you posted.

So that’s the way it is with me. Just wanted to keep you up to date.

Thanks as well to all the people who have donated so far to the Crohn’s & Colitis UK charity. (See the widget- top right)

I remain


  1. Ark, I'm already hooked, looking forward to more news. Sounds about right (from my extensive experience of hypnotherapy - Oh, no sorry, my mistake, that was just the experience of getting drunk when I was a student, the slack jaw etc.)that it would be easier with someone who was somewhere between first meeting and lifelong friend/family member.

    It would be interesting, in a theoretical sort of way, to know what the neuroscientists can tell us about the difference between meditation and hypnotic trance, in terms of brain activity. Maybe I'll look for that - I quite like getting a handle from both ends, i.e. the experiential "it feels like.." and the rational/analytical "that's demonstrably because .."

    But the most important question - can hypnotism and/or meditation help with UC? I feel both really could and should, but what do I know? Less than you, mon vieux. Explore on, please.

  2. Experiential + plus analytical. That's always a good idea.

    I don't think Hypnotherapy can cure the gut, but it certainly can reduce the anxiety of the procedures that you may face, and let you deal more positively with the whole experience.

    It's not clear whether the cause is genetic, or stress related, or psychological. There are many very hotly felt emotions and forcefully expressed words on this subject - just read the blogs . . .

    I wonder if in 1992 when this first raised its gory head, if Hypnotherapy could have helped? I'm sure it could have relieved tension and stress, and I think it could have strengthened psychological self.

    If UC is, as some would have you believe, psychosomatic it could certainly help with that.

    The idea of meditation and mindfulness certainly has overlaps here, and I believe they might even be congruent activities, if not the same.

    Even if it doesn't help, it is certainly worth getting de-stressed.

    I used to have an image of this wild animal in my guts with great big sharp horns that charged around the maze of my gut.

    As I sat in the sauna I would try and breathe and relax, and get really a bit "out of it". then I would talk to the animal

    I would say to it that we had to work together - because it was trapped and it was hurting me, that if it calmed down we could speak together .. . etc that used to help. It calmed the old gut.

    I don't subscribe to any of the theories, personally I think it is a collection of genetics, and psychological environment. If I could change a thing in my life I would change the schools I went to - because I think that for me is where the root of the problem is. And this came into acid reaction with my life / environment.

    That's what I think.


  3. Fascinating and enlightening, Arkeyeff. Imaging the wild animal and seeking to domesticate it, and seeing unresolved tensions and unhappiness (school etc) as an acid reaction - sound like real insights to me.
    I'm never really sure what people mean when they use "psychosomatic." I think sometimes they seek to dismiss something as "merely" psychosomatic. (Not you above.)i.e. it's all in the mind so it's not real, But the mind is a function of the brain which is part of the body, and hormones and their release are in that axis, so...

    The little I know of neuroscience (only from general reading) suggests to me that the interactions - interpenetrations, one might call them - between the external environment and the mind are more continual, subtle and powerful than we used to think; that certainly the immune system is affected by emotions and psychological states; and that belief is a powerful placebo.

    On the other hand, the danger of the "thinking yourself well/positive thinking" tendency (aside from the obviously absurd instances one could present) is something Susan Sontag nailed a long time ago - it can lead to us blaming ourselves for falling sick.

    Now, if you smoke, it is arguably to some degree your "fault" (i.e. you caused it) if you develop emphysemia, but in less obvious instances, it can be made to sound a little as though e.g. someone who does not respond to a cancer therapy is partly to blame for not being mindful, thinking positively etc. Thus pushing down the poor person's confidence and resistance to infection even further.

    Well, for a start, viruses don't make moral and personal choices, so viral illness (and viruses seem to be at the root of more and more illness) is out the whole "your fault" field. In fact, "fault" is a pretty useless concept anyway.

    A combination of mental anguish/nervous tension and environmental factors cannot be said to be the individual's fault, so undue polarisation is unhelpful here. It's not meditation or the surgeon, to put it crudely, it's meditation and the surgeon, perhaps.

    Periods of calm; fewer of certain hormones in the bloodstream; lowering of blood pressure and resting heart rate - surely all these things must help with UC, whatever its causes? Must help the body recover from attacks, must help with mental/physical resilience. Nothing mystical about this, seems increasingly plain.

    Anyway, if it works, it works. You're on a fascinating and potentially productive road I think.An understanding of the roots of your own particular suffering, and exploration of a therapy for dealing with associated mental states - bound to help, or I'll eat the proverbial.

  4. I find this interesting. I would volunteer to be hypnotized!

  5. me too, I'll volunteer to be a guinea pig over the phone or via skype .... :D .... I'll try anything :D, but honestly, I do believe this could be a big benefit to UC sufferers

  6. Well it certainly helped me; and whatever your place in life reducing tension is going to help reduce all sorts of stuff running round your bloodstream, let you feel happier and more able to cope with the shit.



  7. Hypnotherapy speeds up progress made by other approaches such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) by reducing the influence of the critical conscious so that suggestions are more easily absorbed and appropriate responses generated

  8. Hello Barnsley,

    I have only just seen your comment, and I thank you for it.

    I agree with you.


I'm always interested to hear any thoughts or stories of your own. Please do comment.