I am primarily a stage hypnotist. Mostly I do a comedy stage hypnosis show; however, I am clinically trained, I have a number of certifications in clinical hypnotherapy, and I am also continuing my education in Gestalt Therapy.
In January 2005, I received an email from a television script writer and we carried on a dialogue for two days. This was a dialogue on clinical hypnosis and he wanted to make sure his script was believable. You may find this interesting ...
I came across your site while doing research for a script I'm writing here in New York. I was hoping you might be able to answer a quick question for me?
I have a character who is under hypnosis at one point. He talks about bad childhood experiences he had with his father. At the end of the session the hypnotist, before bringing him out of this state says these lines:
Okay Wendell. When I count to three you will return to present day. On three, all of your fears and anxieties about your relationship with your father will be forgotten. All the emptiness and loneliness he has burdened you with will be erased from your thoughts forever. You will focus your attention toward bettering yourself, becoming a stronger, deeper more compassionate person.
When I finish counting to three, all negativity you have towards your father will be forgotten. His abuse, his unavailability, his cold-heartedness will be gone from your mind. You will start to become more confident with yourself, how you fit into society, and who you want to strive to be. All this new energy will be directed toward becoming a better Wendell. On three now you will become who you really are. One... Two... Three."
My question is of course does this sound real? Could a hypnotist actually make people forget bad memories? I know they can bring memories out into the open, but can they do this? I really appreciate your taking the time to give me a quick explanation.
John the Writer (alias as per his request)
First, you might want to go visit a hypnotherapist and experience first-hand what hypnosis is. Learn how it works, what the limitations are.
Or read the first three chapters of a book on hypnosis. You don't have to read an entire book on hypnosis to understand it. The beginning of the book would explain what hypnosis is and how it works, and then they get into chapters on specific subjects, such as "Quit smoking," "Eating Disorders," etc.
Now to answer your question: No one can make you forget anything permanently. No one can make you do anything you are not ready to do for yourself, with or without hypnosis.
It is your own mind, and hypnotherapy is an excellent means of therapy. Like Gestalt or cognitive types of therapy, it is another type of therapy. However, therapy does not "erase" anything.
Hypnosis can help you deal with your issues, come to a personal resolve with that issue, and move on. Hypnosis can help you discover what the real issues are, and then hypnosis can help you determine for yourself how much you want to deal with it, and it can help you prioritize what is important to you, i.e. moving on, or letting something obsess you more. Like most therapies, you often learn there are other issues that need to be dealt with before you get over the issue you first wanted to address.
If you write that script and it gets shown on TV, or in a movie, or on stage, it will further more myths and misnomer about hypnosis. But then we live in a world of myth and misnomer (i.e. religion, politics, the value of money, looking for true love, etc).
The script can be written correctly so it is factual. I will explain how in a moment.
A lot of hypnosis is metaphoric and a lot of the time we go around and around, and around, before the person sees what they are circling. They have to see it for themselves, decide they want to get over the issue, decide in what priority they choose to deal with that issue, and determine the best path for themselves to deal with it. As therapists, sometimes we can suggest options and let a person know what all the options are. However, the subject has to make the decisions for themselves.
Here is a good example: An adult woman finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy. She has choices. Others can share with her all the options to make sure she knows all the options. Some of the options the person will discard immediately; this leaves her fewer options. It is then her decision which exact path to take. No one can make the decision that will effect her heart for her; they are truly her own decisions.
Sometimes there is no perfect solution to a problem, but one can decide with proper guidance, counseling or therapy (all interchangeable) which option might be the best, given the choices and results one will achieve.
The true problem with your script that I see is this. It has two issues; one issue is the man's self confidence, the other issue is his relationship with his father. These need to be addressed separately.
You state that he has "fears and anxieties" AND that he has issues regarding his "relationship with [his] father." Only Wendell can decide if these issues will be "forgotten." Wendell feels "emptiness and loneliness," and he is "...burdened with the issues." Only Wendell can decide what will be "erased from his thoughts." You can't instruct him to erase the thoughts.
And there is also the big problem that you say he will "forget these things forever." Of course this means no follow-up visits, and therapists are business people. (JOKING)
You have the therapist telling Wendell, "You will focus your attention toward bettering yourself, becoming a stronger, deeper more compassionate person." All this is fine, this is standard stuff, we always help them see real goals of bettering themselves and feeling better. People like the "soft and good-feeling" stuff.
However, you cannot say, "All the negativity you have toward your father will be forgotten." Instead, how about saying, "All the negativity you have toward your father will be redirected towards improving yourself. You will stop wasting all that negative energy and redirect it..."
You currently have the therapist saying, "His abuse, his unavailability, his cold-heartedness will be gone from your mind." How about altering that to "...will motivate you when you think of negative thoughts and memories to create good thoughts and positive memories."
Therapists will usually find what the client wishes they could be doing with all that wasted time and they help the client redirect the time and energy toward their positive goal. Your therapist says to Wendell, "You will start to become more confident with yourself, how you fit into society, and who you want to strive to be. All this new energy will be directed toward becoming a better Wendell."
However, a subject's goal is usually specific, something they have chosen for themselves as their new focus of energy. This is one of the things a good therapist will do, to help a client find a specific priority and refocus the negative energy toward positive change.
Here is another example, (hypnotists love metaphors): When a person is trying to do one thing and they get distracted by something else, they need to refocus, right? Negative thought processes are the same, as are depression, anxiety, hate, etc. If you redirect the energy, then you will achieve change.
You are amazing! For you to take the time to explain things in terms I can really understand is beyond appreciated. I especially thank you for writing exactly how YOU would phrase things. It really helps to just hear straight-out how things are said. I was getting advice from a doctor a while back on how he tells a family that a loved one has died. It took forever just to get him to say straight-out how he does it. You caught that right away and really broke it down for me. Wow.
I thank you so much for cutting to the chase and giving me answers I can plug in. If and WHEN this script gets made I will then delve further into hypnosis to get a better understanding of what goes on in order to help better direct the actors involved. All the best.
Just thought you might want to see what your comments spawned off... If you want to use the changes on your site, feel free. By the way, if they still sound a bit off please be blunt...
Okay Wendell. Now when I count to three you will return to present day. On three, all of your fears and anxieties about your relationship with your father will be directed toward improving yourself as a human being today. All the emptiness and loneliness he has burdened you with will be used as a vehicle to help you project the exact opposite feelings toward others. His abuse, his unavailability, his cold-heartedness are character traits that you will strive to be rid of.
Negative will become positive, Wendell, as you begin to focus on becoming a stronger, deeper, and more compassionate person. When I finishing counting to three, you will start to become more confident with yourself—confident in how you fit into society, confident about who you want to become. Your new focus will center on finding your soul mate and being optimistic about developing new relationships. All this new energy will be directed toward becoming a better Wendell. On three this new transformation will begin. One... Two... Three."
Excellent. The only thing I might add is this (if this were an actual session):
You can now let go of what has happened in the past. Take it and throw it away. It is still there, but it is past. You have shed it and it is no longer your burden. It sits there, but you have the strength to ignore it, to turn it away, to no longer let it obsess you. It is now your power. As long as it exists, it gives you power to do exactly everything opposite of what it stood for in the past; shame becomes pride.
Is that okay with you, Wendell? Yes? Good.
Humility allows you to be humble when you feel fear or anxiety, it gives you adrenalin to go forward, to harness that energy and use it in a positive way. The emptiness and loneliness now fills you with the strength to give others love, attention and compassion, and it fills you up. Feel yourself full at this moment, full to the top, filled with love, compassion, and the ability to share and empower others.
When you remember abuse you will want to share love and tolerance. Is that OK with you Wendell? Are you comfortable with that? It is your choice now. No one is forcing you. You can be the old Wendell or move to becoming the new Wendell.
When you think of your father being unavailable, you will take that moment to reach out and let someone know you can and will be there for them. It may take effort, Wendell. Are you willing to make the effort? Yes? Excellent. I'm already proud of you." When you find you are repeating your father's patterns of being cold-hearted ... you will stop. You will breathe. Breathe deeply. Take the moment to think and act and share warmth... with or without immediate reward. Let the new Wendell grow, nurture the new Wendell. Give the new Wendell time to mature into the what Wendell wants to be. The pattern is already broken; now give it the time to make it's full transformation.
And when you fail, as accidents will happen and ingrained instincts will surface ... stop, breath, think. Retrace your steps and apologize, humble yourself. Forget pride. Pride is in the corner with all those ill feelings you had for your father. Forget your father, forget pride, and breathe -- and then ask yourself, 'If I was in the other seat and Wendell just said or did that to me, what would I want Wendell to do now to heal the moment?' Say out loud what you want Wendell to say to you when he does these old bad habits, then take the appropriate action to heal the small wound. Do not let it fester. Clean the wound and share love, companionship, and friendship.
It all takes time, but you can see your new path clearly, and the old path is now very obscured. Walk the new path, and see the reaping of your harvest down the path. It is not a short path, but it is not a long path either. Most important, it is a good path, the right path. It is the path Wendell wants to take, the path Wendell has blazed for himself.
Feel the energy, see the path. Negatives all become positives, empowered to correct any wrongs... One, slowly awakening... feel the energy, see the path... negatives all becoming positives, empowered to correct any wrongs... Two, feeling full of vim, vigor and vitality, and the new Wendell emerges... Three, slowly coming to full consciousness...
(NOTE: taking the other seat, standing in the other person's shoes, is a Gestalt technique not used by a lot of hypnotherapists, but it is VERY powerful)
I forgot to ask you... Do you think I am bringing Wendell out of hypnosis the right way?
By saying," When I count to three..." or things like, "On three you will start to..."
You have made this character sound much more professional with your comments. I would hate to ruin it by not getting the ending technique correct. Counting out is always the way, or one of the most common ways, but one leaves them with affirmations as you count them out.
Updated last March 30th, 2011 sitting in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada