Einstein’s definition of insanity has often been quoted: “Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. As many people who may engage in that exercise in futility, there are many others who simply give up. Of course a third option is to try something new. Something different that you may have been closed off to at some point, or was not aware of.
There are a myriad of symptoms and conditions, physical and mental, which may accompany cancer, and treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. In addition, caregivers are also under a tremendous amount of stress as well.
Hypnosis is a non-invasive, non-medicinal way to effectively resolve or manage many of these symptoms. It can be completely complimentary and doesn’t have to interfere with any other form of treatment.
My view of hypnosis is that it is a form of guided meditation. In this “meditation”, you can intentionally access a different area of the mind in a relaxed state. Examples of specific intentions while “under” hypnosis include: quitting smoking, pain reduction, or simply relaxing.
I think of this different area of the mind as the kitchen. If you want to change the way food turns out, it would be harder to change it from the living room no matter how hard you “willed” it. You need to be where the best tools are.
Another way to look at it is to think of this different area of the mind, the subconscious, as your control center. From the day you are born messages that you can’t always control, from family, friends, advertisers, the media, etc., get in to your control center and affect the way you think, feel, and react. With hypnosis you intentionally access your control center and take control. Decisions made here, by you while under hypnosis, can make change happen faster and feel more natural.
My first exposure to hypnosis came when I was a child in summer camp. A camp counselor taught a few others and myself. It wasn’t until many years later that I picked it up again and began serious study at the nationally accredited Hypnosis Motivation Institute (HMI) in Tarzana, CA.
I really enjoyed and learned from the program and saw example after example of it working first hand. Hypnosis is a great tool. One that I would suggest you adding to your tool box especially if you’ve been trying the same thing over and over again and are not getting results, or are ready to give up. Whether you want help with pain, anxiety, diet, quitting smoking, any fear or phobia, there are many ways hypnosis can potentially help.
Of course you don’t have to have cancer to reap the benefits of hypnosis.
I reached out to George Kappas, the Director of HMI College of Hypnotherapy and the Producer of the new Television Series, “HYPNOTIZED” to ask him some questions you might be interested in. At the end of the interview, I include some more links of interest for the use of hypnosis.
Jeff: I recall being in a lecture with you where you were talking about how people with issues will see their doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, astrologer, anyone and everyone, and then, when all else fails, they would see a hypnotherapist. Why do think there is such resistance to hypnosis when it can be so effective?
George: For the vast majority, the only exposure we have had to hypnosis is how the media has portrayed it in film. From Svengali forward it has not been an accurate or flattering portrayal.
I even consulted on a very popular movie last year called Trance, when the lead actor met with me to learn how to portray a hypnotherapist. When she relayed the storyline I told her, listen that’s not how hypnosis really works. But there was nothing I could do, the story wouldn’t be exciting enough if they were to use accurate information. So the result is we get intriguing story lines but a fearful view of hypnosis.
Jeff: Okay than, so what are the three biggest myths associated with hypnosis?
- Loss of control
- Uncontrolled revealing of secrets
Jeff: So people should not worry about losing control, revealing things they do not want to or forgetting what happened while they were “in a trance?”
George: These are common misconceptions that make people reluctant to try hypnotherapy. The fact is no one losses control or reveals anything they don’t want to and any mild amnesia is no different than not remembering the last few exits on the freeway when your driving while tired.
Editors note, while the phrase, “deep sleep” is often used in hypnosis; this does not refer to literal sleep, you are very relaxed but aware while in trance.
Jeff: For someone who has tried other methods to quit smoking or make diet changes how can hypnosis succeed where other methods have failed?
George: Hypnotherapy is not going to “make” you quit smoking, you have to really be motivated to achieve the goal. Hypnotherapy is going to help you overcome the belief that you “can’t quit.” Once you come to believe it is very possible to be successful and to do so without being completely miserable, you will find it was not as hard as you thought.
Jeff: When it is successful, how many sessions does it normally take to quit smoking or to make diet changes?
George: The number of sessions it takes to achieve any goal varies from individual to individual. The one session “cures” are another misconception about hypnotherapy. If you have had a certain habit or conditioning for 30 years you need to be realistic about the appropriate amount of time that should be invested to really change your beliefs and habits surrounding that conditioning. That’s the long answer. The short answer is that I recommend 4 to 8 weeks and then evaluate your progress.
Jeff: Is there such a thing as a good or bad candidate for hypnosis?
George: A good candidate is a person who really wants to change and is willing to listen, learn and do the homework. A bad candidate is someone who is dragged into therapy by someone else or really wants the therapy to fail so they can say, “see I told you so.”
Jeff: Is there anyone who can’t be hypnotized? OR, can you briefly talk about the HMI method of factoring in suggestability and why that is important?
George: Everyone can be hypnotized, it is a naturally occurring state that we all experience every night as we transition from wakefulness to sleep. Just as each person has a unique personality, each person has a unique suggestibility pattern and responses to language and suggestions in a unique way.
Selecting a graduate from a quality hypnotherapy school and internship program help assures that your hypnotherapist will be able to account for those differences.
We have heard so many times from new subjects that “they saw a hypnotist before and they could not be hypnotized.” This is more a reflection of the Hypnotherapist than the subject. The Hypnotherapist either did not account for individual personality differences or did not dispel common myths and expectations, like amnesia or loss of control.
If you define the experience of “hypnosis” by the occurrence of amnesia or loss of control, then “no, you can’t be hypnotized.”
Jeff: Right because if a person comes out of trance and says “hey I remember everything and I wasn’t asleep” they may incorrectly assume they weren’t hypnotized if that is all they are basing it on.
Talking about cancer now George. Someone undergoing cancer treatment may experience a lot of side effects that are physically based, such as: pain, nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite. What are realistic expectations with hypnosis as far as helping to alleviate symptoms as much as possible?
George: We created a great little documentary called www.HypnosisAndCancer.com
The cancer patients really did a great job of sharing their experiences and how hypnotherapy was helping them.
Jeff: Can’t wait to watch it. Can it help with anxiety or depression?
George: Yes. This is an area that the Hypnotherapist and client need a referral from their Physician or Psychotherapist. Keep in mind that those are vague words that can range from feeling mildly blue to having a crippling disorder. Hypnotherapy is going to have a greater impact on the lighter sides of the spectrum.
Jeff: Can a person effectively learn to do self-hypnosis to help themselves in these areas?
George: Sometimes yes, again for the lighter ranges of the spectrum. Like learning mediation, it is often helpful to be trained on the process.
Jeff: In the lead up to this interview I also mention there can also be issues for caregivers. Any recommendations for them?
George: The American Hypnosis Association has a training course called “Caring for the Caregiver”, because boy do they deserve some care too.
Jeff: I’ve read some who think hypnosis, the mind itself, can actually cure cancer. I do not believe there is scientific evidence to support this. Do you have any thoughts on this?
George: What the mind is capable of is a difficult thing to fully comprehend. I would be very cautious suggesting that to someone out of concern that they would be encouraged not to follow medical advice. I think a nice balanced approach between Western and Alternative medicine is a good strategy.
Jeff: Why do you think the mind/ collective consciousness latches on to certain forms of death or crisis, (like flying and guns versus driving and cancer) and doesn’t seem to see or grasp the extent of others?
George: Media coverage!
Jeff: Fair enough… Western and alternative medicines don’t agree on a lot of things. One thing they do agree on is the importance of diet. We know this and yet despite our survival instinct many refuse to eat their fruits and veggies. It is as simple as we like our comfort food?
What is the hypnotist’s answer to why we do too many things that are bad for us, and not enough that are good?
George: Culture and lack of information has a lot to do with it. Culture is how we were raised. That’s a pretty big thing. Most people lack proper information about diet and health. Then even when you do receive the information you need the encouragement of your friends and family to help with the motivation to take advantage of the information. If all our friends, family and role models starting wearing and praising red shoes, we might find ourselves attracted to red shoes as well.
Jeff: You refer to the subconscious as a powerful resource one that you can, “help get working for us on a daily basis”. Why isn’t it currently working for us and how do you get it to do so?
George: We have habits and beliefs that often work against our health, happiness and prosperity. Hypnotherapy is a wonderful tool for addressing when our habits and/or automatic behaviors are in conflict with our conscious desires.
Jeff: Well put! What should a person look for in finding a good hypnotherapist?
George: I of course would recommend someone who invested the most time and money into their education to become a Hypnotherapist and graduated from an accredited school. You can find them at www.HMIgrads.com
I want to thank George for answering my questions and echo the importance of working with someone who graduated from an accredited school like HMI, or comes referred to you by someone you trust. Regulations for hypnosis vary by state. For a summary of these state laws, click here.
Here is an online abstract about hypnosis from the Wiley Online Library: Hypnosis for Cancer Care.
From the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: Decreasing Cancer-Related Symptoms With Hypnosis.
From The Mayo Clinic reported on CNN Health: Alternative Cancer Treatments: 11 Options to Consider.
You can screen Kappas’ new TV show for free @ http://hypnosis.edu/Hypnotized
For people in the Los Angeles area, HMI offers free classes to help you get acquainted with hypnosis and the school. They offer some free on-line classes as well. For more information on the school, classes and their bookstore you can go to http://www.hypnosis.edu
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