Hypnosis Goes Straight To The Heart Of The Problem
The below article is about a client that I first dealt with in 1996 which was published in a magazine called ‘Natural Bloom” in 2004. I have named the client ‘Will’ [not his real name]. As with every therapy, it is the combination of general life skills and interaction of both the client and therapist that develops the outcomes in therapy. How Will approached his health problems has led to a long life despite the many health problems that have occurred in it. Unfortunately, the link that I had to the Natural Bloom article no longer exists and I am unable to pass this on to you. With slight changes the below shows the details of that first printed article.
Will’s heartbeat fluctuated from 30 beats per minute to 200 beats per minute. (A normal range is somewhere between 70-80 beats per minute.) His doctors had strongly advised him that he should have both a cardiac restrictor and a pacemaker inserted into his chest to control his arrhythmia because sometimes only the top half of his heart did the work, while at other times only the bottom part of his heart worked. However Will was a bit reluctant to do this.
Will’s cardiologist also suggested he needed to do more exercise so he started with gentle exercise and increased it slowly until he was able to do quite a lot of bike riding along with some other cross training such as walking and weights. After further questioning from his cardiologist Will also become aware that his eating habits were not helping his problems either – he used to skip breakfast and eat too much at night – so he changed his eating habits and followed his cardiologist’s diet to the letter.
However after a number of visits to the hospital when his heart had again been beating 200 beats a minute, Will’s cardiologist told him that “It was all in his head.” Well, in Will’s book that meant there was only one person that could deal with this type of problem, and that was a hypnotherapist. Hence his visit to me.
WILL’S INITIAL CONCERNS
During his first session with me Will explained he had a couple of concerns: that someone (me, as the hypnotherapist) might have total control over his mind, and that he could not be hypnotised.
Will felt completely at ease when I told him that it was not really possible for me to have complete control over his mind, and anyway I had no intention of doing any such thing. Just to reassure him, I mentioned that if I said anything that was against his ethics, his belief system, or his religious beliefs, his subconscious mind would simply ignore me. [I reinforced this in hypnosis].
His second concern was the result of another occasion when someone had attempted to hypnotise him, but he did not feel it had worked. So, could I give him some sort of proof that he was hypnotised? I did a simple susceptibility test by suggesting that as my hand was going down his right arm that it would feel heavy and at the same time, the left arm would become lighter and lighter. Both of which happened, and no further convincing was necessary.
WILL’S BELIEF SYSTEM
During his first visit Will explained that he had a heart attack but that the blockage had been cleared with angioplasty treatment. Although this proved to be successful, it was after that, that the arrhythmia started and that now made him a candidate for a stroke. He explained that as a preventative measure he now took tablets to thin the blood and to prevent it from clotting, however this had resulted in some unpleasant side effects.
Will explained, “When you have a heart attack you have to deeply consider why you had it. Bad luck doesn’t come into the equation. Let’s be honest, there has to be a reason. Hereditary factors could be part of it but is a long way from being the sole answer. Saturated fat in my diet, smoking and lack of exercise were possible other contributing factors”.
Between the hospital visit and coming to see me, and to get a better idea of his problem, Will studied up on electro-physiology and the result of catheter ablation. He learnt all about the hearts electrical circuit. Then during one of our hypnosis sessions Will believed that the subconscious was showing him that his heart’s electrical circuit was going haywire. This led him to further research, which then led him to believe that there were two things wrong with the electrical circuit of his heart – suprentricular tachycardia and an atria flutter.
The suprentricular tachycardia he felt was easy because he was able to control that after just one session. The atria flutter he explained he found much harder to get rid of because it interfered with many circuits. He felt that these two were the problem because, in hypnosis when he concentrated on the electrical circuits in his heart, that was what he felt. (It is important to state here, that whatever the client feels, that is what is dealt with. Whether it is accurate or not, that is their reality for the purpose of hypnotherapy.)
Will surmised that; when the heart beats faster it goes into red alert like you have just done a very exerting exercise, or you are having something life threatening happening to you. This made self-hypnosis a tough job for concentration because that anxiety attack would not go away until he had changed the electrical circuit.
During our first session Will found out that his breathing was very radical. He also found that he was bouncing his breath on the way in as well as on the way out. (When he breathed in, his breath would stop suddenly, then start again and the same would happen when he breathed out.) He also found it difficult to correct this, because a strong feeling of anxiety would come over him. This was due to a strong feeling when he breathed in that he needed to quickly breath out again. And when he breathed out, a strong feeling of anxiety came over him because he was scared he would not be able to breathe in fast enough.
So to counteract this I asked Will to work on breathing like an opera singer. This technique involves breathing in through the nose gently and taking the breath into the stomach (bypassing the chest), and then only when the stomach is full of air, continuing to gently breathe in until the chest is also full up, thus changing the dynamics of breathing. When the body was full of breath, he would gently release this by breathing out of his mouth, tightening the stomach muscles to release the air from the stomach and then continuing to release from the chest area. By practicing this during self-hypnosis at home between sessions, Will was able to get a gentle easy rhythm going.
Will saw this as a start to getting his heart to go on another electrical circuit that did not have that extra beat in it. However, Will felt that he had to still check his breathing on a regular basis. He checked it for being slow, smooth, and continuous as well as deep enough. He noted that as a rule his arrhythmia normally happened at a set time. We also instructed his subconscious to check his breathing whilst sleeping and to wake him up sufficiently to get his breathing back in order should that become necessary.
SELF HYPNOSIS OR SELF-TALKING
When the heart was beating in good rhythm Will repeatedly said to himself, “This is the electrical circuit I need to be on”. Then he would try to concentrate on the feeling of the electrical circuit in his heart. At other times when he felt the heart going out of rhythm, he would tell himself, “Find another circuit” and he would keep repeating this slowly until the heart found a good circuit to follow. Then he would say to himself, “That’s good, that is where you should be”.
Will felt that checking the breathing was something that requires 24/7 attention, to make sure these bad habits didn’t come creeping back. Will noted that by using self-talk and talking slowly and calmly (during self-hypnosis) telling himself that everything was all right, and that there was no threat, he managed to calm the breathing down. At other times just telling himself to change the circuit and repeating that instruction, and then thanking the subconscious for the good job done seemed to work as well. He would remind it to repair that bad circuit. He then coupled that with thinking of something like the clouds floating by, or other things that he found calming and peaceful to his mind. This all helped to stop the red alert and feelings of anxiety.
I once heard a psychologist on the Oprah show say, “Wherever your mind is, your butt follows!” I couldn’t say it more succinctly myself.
So without giving you Will’s whole story of the emotions, it suffices to say that there was a mind-body connection to many emotional happenings, one of the most significant being when Will was just a little fellow. From about four years old, his mother consistently embarrassed him in front of other people, by pointing out his problems in a loud clear voice. Each time he would become nervous and not breathe adequately and thus his red alert (or anxiety) would kick in just as it did now that he was an adult.
Will’s father had a bad habit of not talking to Will for days if he had done something wrong. Will felt that this had been worse than getting a spanking and caused him greater anxiety. There had also been numerous other traumas in Will’s life; birthing problems, broken bones, appendix, hepatitis, motor bike accident, haemorrhoids that required operating, gout, heart attack and, to finish it off. arrhythmia. Mathematically, Will saw it as: A lifetime of bad breathing habits + trauma = arrhythmia.
- Tracking – going back in time to the first time a particular emotion or feeling came into being, then working with this to a point where negative feelings no longer held anxiety and could be filed in the mind as not important.
- Ideo-motor questioning – using finger levitation for some of the work that is best done in trance at a deeper level without involving the conscious part of the mind.
- Anchoring, Reframing, and Metaphors were also used.
Additionally, some trauma therapies were used
In the original article I mentioned Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) (Shapiro 1995). This was not correct. I got the idea from EMDR but had simplified it to my own therapy.
Many years ago when I was in Melbourne, I gave an overview of this case and this was pointed out to me. I would like to thank who it was and correct that here. I feel that my variation is faster and simpler. Note* The client has already prior to this therapy been instructed of the procedure that will take place, and with that of course comes the expectancy of releasing the trauma. I call the therapy; ‘DISCONNECT NOW©’
- With eyes closed I ask the client to focus on the chosen traumatic incident and bring the feelings to the surface. When the feelings come to the surface to open the eyes. When the eyes are open, I use an object [pencil, or flashing light] and ask the client to follow that from left to right. At the same time, I touch the client on the shoulder several times during the side to side movement and say the words; “disconnect now”. The client has been instructed that when they feel the feelings start going back inside, to close their eyes and bring these back to the surface, and when that happens to again open their eyes and follow the object from left to right with the touching on the shoulder and instructions to “disconnect now”. Additional wording like; “this is no longer relevant to your life today and is no longer needed as part of who you are – disconnect now”.
- As therapist you will notice that the client after a short time takes longer to bring those feelings back to a stage where the eyes remain closed and you ask the client if they can no longer find the feelings. When you get an affirmative, I ask; “Would it be okay if we no longer have a need to bring this back into your life?” When you have a ‘yes’ that is what will happen, and you can close with some ego-strengthening suggestions.
- Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) (Gerbode, 1989)
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) (Craig & Fowley 1995).
Whilst all these individual therapies are valid in their own right without formal hypnosis, it is my observation, that when carried out during the deepened trance state of hypnosis they work much faster and get right to the crux of the matter, taking substantially less time to release trapped emotions.
SUMMARY AT THE TIME OF WRITING THE FIRST ARTICLE
- Heart attack, then arrhythmia.
Cure: Get rid of saturated fat from the diet. Stop smoking. Do gentle exercises and build on these.
- Heart beating too fast.
Cure: Self-hypnosis and slow deep breathing for 5 minutes, if still a problem take a tablet for slowing the heart.
- Heart beating too slow (shallow breathing).
Cure: Self-hypnosis and deep breathing.
- Bouncing breath or stopping before completely out.
Cure: Self-hypnosis and controlled deep breathing. Go for repetition rather than trying for too much control, otherwise anxiety will take over.
- The heart going excessively too fast or too slow can cause clotting (stroke).
Cure: Take ½ asprin or warfin (under the direction of his doctor).
- Panicky subconscious.
Cure: Self-hypnosis together with controlled breathing and concentrating on something, which is peaceful.
- Self-Talk to give instructions for change.
- Post trauma
Cure: Saw a hypnotherapist to get him through it.
We have had several contacts over the years. My last contact with Will was in June 2018. He had written an article about his achievements that he sent me.
However, there is more detail to Will’s story –
One of the lifesaving operations that Will mentioned he had, was when he had his appendix removed but no dates or details were given.
The severe case of Sweating Hands and Feet brought about when small due to his mother telling everyone that he suffers from this excessive sweating which made it worse. This has completely stopped through bringing in more oxygen into his body through his controlled breathing.
In 1965 when he was 18 years of age he had a motor bike accident where he sustained two broken legs: On the right leg, where he broke the shin bone, and on the left leg, where he broke off the bone around the ankle, which needed to be screwed back together. No details other than it was a very painful time for him.
In 1990 at the age of 43, Will contracted Hepatitis A.
The symptoms where; constantly feeling weak and having minor back pain. He went to several doctors about the problem and none of them took him seriously, because each one would offer him a work certificate and ask him how much time he needed to be taking off from work. This problem lasted for a few weeks and continued to keep getting worse. So, Will decided to visit a hospital. At the hospital he was given a blood test which from the result showed that he had a severe case of Hepatitis A which they told him was very contagious. This has caused him to become allergic to alcohol. One time having 3 cough lozenges that contained alcohol it had him on his back for 3 weeks in pain. He must watch the food that he eats to ensure it does not have alcohol in the recipe.
Spurs in both Heels: It wasn’t until Will was 55 years old, that his body started showing the adverse effects to eating potatoes that caused the spurs in his heels. He found this out by removing one food at a time and when removing potatoes it stopped the pain. He doesn’t know why his body has changed to having this adverse effect and suspects that the problem may be an extension of the Hepatitis A.
Heart Attack, Arrhythmia; (irregular heartbeat).
On Saturday 5/10/1996, (age 49) He had a heart attack and ending up in hospital for a few weeks. He had finished work and after having his meal he laid down on the couch and this time the pain did not go away instead it continue to get worse. His wife drove him to the hospital, and they took him into the operating theatre straight away.
Arrhythmia: Not everything went smoothly after he had his heart attack causing him to return to see his cardiologist in hospital five times with his irregular heart beat thinking that he was going to have another heart attack when his heart beat 200 beats per minute. One time he remembered the doctor telling him, that when someone has had a severe heart attack like the one that he had just had i.e. [90% blockage to the Right Coronary Artery] patients only last about 1 year. After Will got past that year, he then told Will; “Do you know what? Most people who have survived that first year, nearly all of them die within the second year.”
Will guessed that the cardiologist would have been about 30 years older than him at this time and that having now gone 24 years past his doctor’s prediction he said that he wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t outlived him.
Stroke: In 2006, sometime in September Will had a stroke. Will said that his stroke was caused by a blood clot in the brain. The way this affected him was by losing half of his vision on the right temple side and half of his vision on the left nasal side.
The doctor sent him to have a test on the return of which he was told that he had permanently lost half of his eyesight in both eyes without any suggestions that there was a treatment for correction. Will said; “Fortunately for me he was wrong, and I did not believe him”. Will had watched a program on Catalyst that spoke about the brain being able to remap itself. Per chance he found a good exercise which happened to be a workable thing that he could do.
When he got home, after having a rough ordeal that day and while waiting for his evening meal, Will said that he turned on the TV with the remote control and within a short period of time he sat down and decided that he needed to use it again and when he looked back at the table in order to pick it up again from the table where he had just put it, he was astonished by the fact that he could not see the remote control anywhere on the table. Being fully aware that he had just finished putting the remote there and that there was no obstruction that could prevent him from seeing the remote control from where he was sitting. It should have been easy to see and he knew for certain that it had not dropped off the table. This gave him the inspiration to use this situation as an exercise for the remapping of his brain. Will worked out that it was imperative that he find the remote control regardless of how long it would take him to find it. The first time that he started looking for the remote he said that it would have taken 10 – 15 minutes. Will continued; “I don’t really know how long it took but it was a long time before I found it. I also talked to my brain like it was a second person and kept on saying, that it is imperative to find it and that we must find a way of finding it. I played this little game 10 – 15 times a day, every day for the next three weeks until I could find the remote control straight away. I did not need to go and have a second field test to know that I had won the battle with the stroke, although I did go back to prove that I had got my sight back and had another full field test done, where it showed that I had got all of my sight back again”.
The only tablets Will takes even now are, one for thinning his blood and half of one tablet to slow the heart down each night. [Thinning the blood prevents the blood from easily clotting and the half tablet slows the heartbeat down as well as preventing the heart from beating irregularly]. These he says are safeguards against having another stroke.
During our time dealing with the Arrythmia, Will mentioned that he only found out when he got older that he had dyslexia. He felt ashamed that he never learnt how to read or write properly as a kid. He had trouble learning at school and when he got home had chores to do on the farm. I suggested that he get a word processor and type with 1.5 distance line spaces and larger letters. He could do a spell check and correct his spelling mistakes [apart from things like ‘to, too and two’]. He started writing poems and articles and even put together his own dictionary list of his most used words to make it easier to look up.
My story began with Will when he was 49 years old. Will is now 73 – one of his final thoughts.
I think attitude has everything to do with the success of your goals that you are trying to achieve. If you come through the role as a victim then you will end up in a poor situation, but if you enter through the role as a challenge to life then there is a mountain of things you can achieve.
Well, he has certainly proven that. I added the update as many of the skills he used came from the original therapy time we had together. Also, to motivate others to look for their own solutions if it seems that there aren’t any from the medical perspective. The cardiologist had given Will one year to live after his heart attack, two at most after he got past the one-year date. Without knowing the context of that we don’t know how that came about. But it stands to reason that someone in the victim position may have taken that as a nocebo and died on cue one or two years later.