The Process of Hypnotherapy Stage 2 Consequences of Symptom Reduction

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The next step in diagnosis involves looking at the question of what would happen if the problem symptom were to be removed. The importance of this comes from the observation that the problem may well only remain in existence because of a negative feedback loop which ensures that any reduction in the problem leads to consequences which start it up again. It is essential in successful therapy that such situations be recognised.

IN CHAPTER 10 we considered the first step in the process of analysing the problem in terms of the various processes involved. The consequence of looking for precursors and resultants by means of various questions then led to one or more causal chains involving the problem symptom. A particularly important form of such a chain was then called a vicious circle, but now that we have analysed loops in more detail it will be called a positive feedback loop.

We may note that in some cases the above diagnostic process is, in itself, therapeutic. Three reasons for this are as follows. First, it provides the client with an opportunity to talk about the problem to a sympathetic person. Now whether it is an instinct, or a pattern from childhood, it is certainly the case that for many people (though not, of course, all) the following process is deeply ingrained: /Distress > /Talk > \Distress. [For meaning of symbols see Symbols.]In fact studies have shown that there is no measurable difference in the improvement of patients who have been through a process of psychoanalysis and comparable patients who have simply talked to a sympathetic listener (Shapiro & Shapiro (1982)Bib).

A second reason is that the very questions asked in Stage 1 will have forced the client to think more clearly about the problem, and in many cases this will in itself make it seem less intractable.

The third reason is that the process of diagnosis will often provide an answer to the question, "Why? -Why is this happening?" For many people a greater part of the distress which arises when something feels wrong results from not knowing the answer to this question. In such people there exists an internal process of the following form: /{Discomfort} > /{Search for cause}. Now if no cause can be found the search continues, and continues and continues, often turning up wilder and wilder ideas as to what can be wrong, and creating increasing levels of unease. Such people have often been helped enormously in a medical context by a doctor who will simply give a name to what is wrong: "You are simply suffering from Interrogitis." "Thank you, Doctor. You have set my mind at rest - I thought it was far worse." The point is that even if the name is meaningless, this pseudo-answer can be enough to stop an endless search which was in itself a prime cause of distress.

People who understand what is happening are generally able to cope far better that those who don't. This even applies in situations like operations, in which the patient has no control over the situation. Studies have shown that those who are told what is going to happen seem to feel less pain post-operatively, need less medication and on average leave hospital three days earlier! (Egbert et al. (1964)Bib)

However, in general we will not find that the process of obtaining a clear picture of the dynamics of the problem will in itself solve the problem. We must next focus on the question of the removal of the symptom. But it is a cardinal rule of good therapy that symptoms must not be treated in isolation. This is easy to say, but you will seek in vain if you seek any other book which will explain exactly how this rule can be carried out. This is not to say that good modern therapists DO treat symptoms in isolation, simply that the absence of a good theoretical foundation for Hypnosis has made it impossible for their practice to be codified. We have already done a lot of the work of seeing a symptom in context by establishing the chains which feature an increase in the activity of the symptom. But, as we started to see in the previous chapter, it can be as important, if not more so, to examine chains which involve a decrease in the activity of the symptomatic system.

This chapter then will focus on the question, "What will happen if a symptom is reduced?"

Notice that this is NOT a question that comes all that naturally to the mind. If we have a "problem" we do not naturally look beyond its removal. It takes quite a lot of mental discipline to think, "What would happen if these headaches went?" because they seem so obviously a problem. It does not naturally occur to us to think that their removal might lead to worse things. But our notation and approach automatically train us to think in this new way.

Some of the relevant questions to the Client which can be used are the following:

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Hypnosis Plain and Simple

Hypnosis Plain and Simple

These techniques will work for stage hypnosis or hypnotherapy, however, they are taught here for information purposes only. After reading this book you will have the knowledge and ability necessary to hypnotise people, but please do not practice hypnosis without first undergoing more intensive study.

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