This book is written with three classes of readers in mind. The central class consists of students: people who are learning the skills of Hypnotherapy. There are increasing numbers of these as this form of therapy becomes more popular. They can expect to find this book a unique aid to understanding what it is that they are learning to do.
On one side of these are individuals who already have an extensive understanding of Hypnotherapy, whether as practitioners or as experimentalists. For these individuals this book may be seen as a codification of ideas that are floating in the pool of common consciousness of Hypnotherapists in this day and age: it crystallises these ideas; it makes them more definite and clear; it unites them in a common pattern. Some of the ideas presented here have already been published in journals read by professionals and found a ready response. The paradigm shift involved does not involve the shattering of existing ideas for most professionals. It is more a matter of drawing together all that we know and do in a systematic way and then building on that foundation a strong new understanding.
On the other side of the centre is the group of intelligent readers who want to know what Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy are all about, though with no intention of using them in person. This will include students of psychology and medicine, but also many of the millions of people who like to know "how things work", and in particular "how people work". Hypnotherapy is intimately involved with the ways in which people's minds and bodies work: arguably the most fascinating subject for everyone outside their own speciality.
With this readership in mind the language has been kept comparatively simple. A minimum level of specialised vocabulary is used, and a minimum amount of prior knowledge assumed.
Having said that, it has been my experience that the concepts are grasped most readily by men and women who are working at the higher levels of many fields such as management, education or consultancy. They seem naturally to think in terms of systems and processes: an ability that I suppose is correlated with degree of intelligence. It may well be then that a certain level of intelligence is a prerequisite to grasping the ideas in their abstract form. However, I have supplied many concrete examples to minimise this problem.
The theoretical framework described here, although proposed as a basis for understanding Hypnotherapy, is in fact rich and powerful enough also to provide a fresh perspective on a very much wider arena of human behaviour, whether individual or in groups such as families or organisations. It is hoped that it will open up new ways of thinking to others as it has to the author.
It will seem to outsiders that the Hypnotherapist does not hold a central position in the world of ideas: I certainly thought so myself at one time. But I have gradually come to realise that in terms of understanding how people work it is a position second to none.
This is because it combines the maximum opportunity for observation with the maximum opportunity for making changes and seeing the results.
The Hypnotherapist sees people from all ranks of life. People open up and disclose their innermost feelings and thoughts to the Hypnotherapist, so that a full picture emerges of the entire course of people's lives.
The Hypnotherapist is not restricted to working with people in whom there is a severe mental malfunction as are Psychiatrists for the most part. He or she is instead often working with healthy and typical people who want help with a single problem in an otherwise satisfactory life or to improve their performance in some way. Consequently the Hypnotherapist can form a clear idea of the range of ways that people normally deal with life: there is not the Psychiatrist's exclusive emphasis on severe malfunction.
Compared with many other related fields such as counselling or psychoanalysis, the Hypnotherapist is expected to a far greater degree actively to change things: a variety of things in a variety of people. This seems to me to be of far-reaching importance. The scientific revolution which began around the seventeenth century was a result of men who were not, in the Greek tradition, restricted to contemplation and reflection in the pursuit of truth, but who had hands-on experience.
There is nothing like trying to make a change and failing, to drive home the fact that you do not understand what you are doing. When your livelihood depends on making successful changes it concentrates the mind still better. If, on the other hand, it is possible to take an ivory-tower approach and to build a theory on the basis of what has been merely read, then there is little chance of any immediate feedback to prove the theory wrong.
Later on in this book we will find much on the importance of feedback loops. In the present context I will observe that improvement in any skill or ability depends on a feedback loop in which execution is followed by an assessment of how successful that execution has been, which is followed by an appropriate modification and further executions. That is how the Wright brothers learned to fly. That is how anyone learns to play golf. That is how babies learn to co-ordinate their limbs. That is how science has grown.
The Hypnotherapist is in the position of having immediate feedback, perhaps within minutes, quite usually within an hour and always within days to test how successful he or she has been in effecting a change.
As a matter of contrast, many Psychoanalysts work over periods of years with a Client. The feedback is so slow, I wonder it can ever have any effect on practice. Research Psychologists are disciplined to work with a very small area of human psychology; each experiment can take months or years, and can lead only to knowing a lot about very little. Psychologists who build theories on the results of the work of such painstaking research inevitably spend most of their lives in libraries and laboratories: they have little chance to get any feedback by putting their ideas into any kind of practice. Many counsellors are constrained by present conventions to be non-directive: that is to say they are supposed NOT to make direct changes, but rather to somehow create an environment in which the Clients will make changes for themselves. Since there is so little action, there is limited scope for feedback also.
In addition, many such professionals are working in salaried positions: which has two drawbacks. One is that they involve extensive costs in terms of the time that has to be spent on the organisation - the committees, the paperwork, the administration, etc. - which reduces either or both of the time available for original thought and the time spent dealing with clients or patients. The second is that since the salary cheque is only very, very loosely connected with success at helping people as contrasted with making a good impression on the System, there is not the same direct and immediate incentive to improve at the cutting edge of the work.
The Professional Hypnotherapist - by which I mean an intelligent man or woman who devotes his or her whole life to the field, not someone who is a professional in some other field like medicine and does a little Hypnosis on the side - is, by contrast, in a perfect position to devote ALL his or her time to studying and changing the functioning of other people with ample and immediate feedback available. This is the optimum position to be in in any field. I, personally, have adopted and then discarded because they failed me in practice, hundreds of different partial theoretical structures before finally evolving that which is presented in this book, which has passed the hard test of day-to-day work and also exposure to my professional peers.
My initial training and doctorate were in Mathematics with a strong leaning to Theoretical Physics. These force you to think clearly and deeply and honestly about the structures and dynamics of things. Ideas must be as crisp as possible: woolliness of thought is a sin. When I plunged into the world of Hypnotherapy, I found none of the precision of thought I was used to, no systematic approach, no theory worthy of the name. I also found my ego very badly hit every time I failed to help someone. Furthermore I had no salary: Clients are not reimbursed by Health Insurance Policies for Hypnotherapy as yet; neither can they get it free on the National Health Service. When Clients are paying with their own money, they require evidence that the service is worth it. And this is even more true in Yorkshire. The fact that if you make no progress then you make no money concentrates the mind wonderfully, I find. If an idea does not work you reject it at once. Those that survive and evolve in this tough environment are fit and strong and lean and healthy. I hope you will find these qualities throughout this book.
Finally I come to a small matter of how to refer to the approach to Hypnotherapy which has evolved in this way. In my first articles for the European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, I referred to it as a "Systems-oriented Paradigm for Hypnotic Phenomena". This is a bit of a mouthful, and the Journal used, as a more useful label, the phrase, "the Morgan Proposition". Neither of these lends itself to the formation of a useful adjective: "systematic" is a possible one, but this is too general a word.
As you read the book, you will find that central to the approach is the notion of the functioning of complex organic systems. An alternative adjective could therefore be "organic", but this again is too general. Finally I stumbled on an adjective which is concise, reminds us of this aspect of the theory, is specific and easily memorable: "Morganic". So when, from time to time, it is necessary to distinguish between the approach of this book and other approaches I will use this coined word as a convenient shorthand.
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Principles of Hypnosis: Chapter 1
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For anyone concerned that this is a report designed to teach readers how to convince crowds of people to act like chickens or dance to an unheard song just with a carefully placed keyword - relax. While hypnosis is often paraded in that form with large crowds visiting celebrity hypnosis experts to see what wonders they can perform, the majority of hypnosis used is to aid people seeking a solution to a problem they cannot resolve easily with any other method.