Case study # 5**

You know that feeling when you just can’t sleep—the frustration, the jitters, the malaise?

Now imagine it goes on for over fifty years!

Doris, a 62 year old female, came to me recently at the request of her Health Care Provider. She was in a high level position with her company, but had been battling insomnia, sleep disruption and anxiety for as long as she could remember. Lately, it had become an issue in her job. Although her employer made accommodations because Doris was excellent at what she did, they began looking at other alternatives (like Hypnosis) in a final attempt to help her. Over the years, Doris had been prescribed sleeping pills, strong (and very addictive) anti-anxiety medications and herbal sleep aids. She even went so far as to have surgeries in a desperate bid for relief. Nothing really helped. Although she could go to sleep, she would wake up every single day at two am, in fight or flight mode. From there, she would toss and turn and struggle for the rest of the night, oftentimes giving up and starting her day at three or four in the morning.

This went on for FIFTY FIVE YEARS!

As time went by, although she remained in fairly good health, the sleep deprivation began to have a confounding effect on her, making her irritable, impatient, foggy brained and sometimes difficult to work with. She knew it was an issue, tried to make adjustments, but felt helpless to change.

During our first session, we discussed the situation, medical interventions and what approach to take. Because it was such a long term problem, I suspected that the issue stemmed from something deep-seated in the past; i.e., the cause of the problem. Why couldn’t Doris sleep? What kept waking her up?

With some trepidation, Doris agreed to a hypnotic regression, a process in which the subconscious mind is taken back in time, and instructed to provide a clear picture of where and when the problem began. One never knows what will be found during a regression, and sometimes the results come as a complete surprise. Looking at the strong, confident woman in front of me, I wondered what purpose the sleep disruption served. Did it give her added attention that met an unrealized need? Did she have an eating disorder and the extra activity kept her weight off? Was it a way to spend extra time with a loved one? What had happened to young Doris that gave her the idea that waking up at 2am was a good idea?

Doris was a good subject and entered a hypnotic sleep easily and deeply, and I watched as her eyes moved under her closed eyelids while she explored her inner psyche and as her arms and hands grasped, opened and the closed knobs, doors and other objects in her mind.

Perfect. She was ready.

Taking her further and further back in time, I asked her subconscious mind to reveal the origin of the sleep problem. Where did this begin? What happened?

As the image became sharper in Doris’ mind, I watched her body tense and her fists clench.

“I can see you!” she declares, accusingly.

“I see your face... I know your name... I will never forget!”

Doris is back in time with her seven year old self. She is simultaneously watching and experiencing everything.

“What’s happening?” I ask.

“I was sleeping,” she answers. “I was just sleeping and then she was there. I woke up and she was there, moving on top of me. On my chest and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get away.”

Doris awakened from a deep sleep to sexual abuse at the hands of a female babysitter. She was young. She felt scared, vulnerable and alone.

So what did Doris’ psyche decide she needed to do?

She needed to be vigilant, to be watchful. She needed to stay awake so she would be safe. And, in a way, it worked. She was never again startled from sleep to face a sexual predator. So, with that reinforcement, the cycle perpetuated and strengthened itself year after year after year after year after year after year.

I’d like to be able to say that we were able to overcome the fearful pattern in a single session, but saying so would be a lie. There was some work involved.

Doris’ inner child needed to know that she could relax and that she was safe—a realization that took time… but it happened. Doris began to sleep. The entire night! And if she awakened, she rolled over and immediately went back to dreamland!

I first met her in December of 2019. Our last session was in February, 2020. In six sessions, over three months, together, we overcame a lifelong debilitating issue! For fifty five years, a frightened inner child had been tortured with horrible insomnia, but now…

Now, Doris is sleeping through the night.

** Names, ages and other details may be changed to protect client privacy.

Case Study: Claustrophobia

Psychological studies tell us that human beings have only two innate fears: falling and loud noises. Those are the only fears with which a baby is born. You can read about it in an online article, entitled, The Science of Fear if you’re interested. Every other fear is acquired. Think about that. EVERY.OTHER.FEAR... is acquired. Isn’t that fascinating?

Claustrophobia, the fear of confined spaces, has ‘been acquired’ in a variety of ways for different clients of mine: one was trapped under grain in a silo, another was punished by being locked up in a closet under the stairs, and one, I’ll call him Ben, acquired his in the back of a van.

Ben, a professional mature adult had managed his fear very well for a number of years, by avoiding situations which would trigger attacks. He worked in a good job, for a local utility company, and although it could be boring, it was safe. Unfortunately, economics can turn unexpectedly and he was laid off during a large corporate restructure. He was not quite old enough or rich enough to retire and, after much effort, finally found work in big equipment sales. It was an interesting job, allowing him to use his previous technical knowledge to trouble shoot in unique on-site situations. He traveled from site to site, helping with installs and was called in if there were any problems. Everything was going extremely well, including the successful attainment of a new multi-million dollar account!

So… why did he come to see me?

The new account was with a national mining company,

which had installed one of Ben’s parts in a shaft thousands of meters underground. The site was only accessible via elevator, and although Ben had managed to get through the initial installation, he now had to revisit… and this time, at a slightly different location where the elevator would be even smaller and completely dark. He was absolutely panic-stricken. The thought of crowding into a tiny, metal can, shoulder to shoulder with as many other people as can fit and plunging down, down, down underground makes ME slightly anxious and I’m not claustrophobic. I could definitely relate to his discomfort, although not to his panic. Even as he explained the scenario, his breath quickened, sweat dripped from his face and I could see his pulse beating erratically at his temples.

He was terrified!

But… he needed the job. He needed to DO the job. The job was underground. And he was desperate.

Claustrophobia, or any deep fear, is really the result of an over-zealous mind. Your subconscious is always trying to keep you safe; even from perceived threats. Something happens, is thought to happen, or is imagined could possibly happen—something that the subconscious mind sees as mortally dangerous or out of its control—and BOOM!

In Ben’s case, the phobia had arisen in the blink of an eye. He had been in a tropical location, in the back of a hot, crowded vehicle and couldn’t breathe. In that moment, he felt threatened, he felt out of control and he panicked… Phobia ignited!

After that first day, the fear grew and grew:

  • Affecting airplane travel, and therefore his ability to travel for work or to relax with his family.

  • Affecting the type of work he could take on, and sometimes the amount of money he could make.

  • Affecting his self-confidence because of the limiting nature of his phobia.

It was definitely time to get rid of it!

In order to counteract the phobia, I took a tri-fold attack.

  1. Together, we re-wrote the scene in the van so that he felt safe and in control.

  2. I gave him access to a control panel for his body so he could adjust every switch, dial and lever-- turning off the phobia and turning up relaxation and serenity.

  3. I gave him a healing place where the phobia oozed out of him, like oil, from his pores. Once all the oil collected around him, I had it all transform into something wonderful.

He left our session feeling a bit odd, but much better. The hypnotic experience can be very intense and his response was common. As he was leaving, I suggested he go for a walk in a park nearby and breathe in the healing pine air until he felt ready to take on the day.

A month went by. I knew he was out of town and incommunicado.

Wondering how he was doing, I recently did a follow up to see how his mind had reacted to our session. His response? Brilliant!

Each and every aspect of phobia was gone-- including a fear of birds I wasn't even aware of! His business trip to the underground mine was successful and stress-free, and he’d even taken a holiday, via plane, with his wife. Not even a twitch.

He is a happy, serene, phobia-free man!

Case Study #3 of the Cool Hypnosis Files

Not that long ago, a super interesting man named Darcy* came for treatment because his life was falling apart—losing his children, his home, his wife, and everything else he valued because of 'memory lapses'. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Darcy's conscious mind would zone out, his subconscious mind would take over and Darcy would wake up three hours later with no memory of what had occurred in the interim. During the fugue state, he became physically and verbally abusive—to the point of throwing one of his children against a wall—and he had absolutely no recollection of any of it. He told me that, to his knowledge, the lapses had never happened previously and he had no idea of their trigger. Interestingly, he also had no recollection of his life before the age of sixteen. None. Nil. Nothing. Not one memory. Hearing this, alarm bells went off in my head. A complete lack of early memories is more common than you'd think and some psychologists speculate that it's the brain's way of protecting you-- a type of coping mechanism. You can investigate a bit further with these articles if you'd like to do more reading about traumatic amnesia: this one, this one, and this one.

Darcy's story particularly fascinated me because it involved hidden triggers, which necessitated a bit of digging. Nothing was at face value and I love a challenge! Following the intake interview, we began the hypnotic process with some relaxation exercises, followed by a quick induction and then began to ‘chase the feeling’. 'Chasing' is a quick and highly effective way to get to the root of issues while allowing the client to see how their subconscious mind has linked the feeling and the issue together. Sometimes this link makes sense to the client, sometimes it doesn’t-- kind of like how sometimes your dreams make sense and sometimes they don't.

In the beginning, Darcy was calm and everything progressed quickly. He was very relaxed and responded exceptionally well to suggestion. Once asleep**, I created a hallway of doors where he could travel back in time in his mind. As he walked down the corridor, he would go further and further back in time until he found the exact room where his subconscious mind had stored the feelings and the seeds of his issues. He would know when he arrived at the door, would recognize it immediately and would know that this was the door that he must open. Behind that door, within that room, he would be able to resolve everything and move forward in his life.

I waited. Time passed.

In his mind, he was walking down the corridor.

Everything was fine. Everything was calm. His breathing was deep and even.

And then… he literally sprang up out of the chair!

His body was rigid, his fists were clenched, he looked ready to KILL and because I was the only one in the room with him, I was the chosen target!

To say that I was startled would be an understatement, and to be honest, for a moment, I panicked, wondering if my mutilated corpse would be found resting comfortably in my office chair!

But, *deep breath*, it wasn’t about me. It was about helping Darcy and he was obviously very upset and... still asleep.

With a few well-placed suggestions, I calmed him by distracting his subconscious mind with details.

What does the door look like? How big is it? What kind of texture is it? Is it warm or cool to the touch?

(It was a huge, black door. He told me it felt icy cold and evil.)

As his mind began looking at the door with curiousity, his fists relaxed, the vein throbbing in his forehead disappeared and his body slumped down once more.

I’m right here, I assured him. I am with you and you are not alone. You are safe. When you open the door, you will merely be an observer. Anything and everything that you find in the room cannot touch you. It has no power over you anymore and cannot hurt you. We’re going to open the door to bring light to the shadows—so that you can heal. Are you ready?
Are you ready to see what’s in the room and ready to heal?
Go ahead and open the door.

I watched his hand reach out and twist as he turned the doorknob in his mind. As I observed his body move, react and respond, I thought once again how fascinating the hypnotic process is and how real it can be. Your mind creates your reality. Then, just as this thought entered my mind, it happened again!

He sprang up out of the chair a second time!

His skin was flushed, his eyes were huge, his breathing was laboured… and he looked like he was going to have a heart attack!!!

At this point, I realized that he may consciously want to deal with his issues, but his subconscious mind—trying to protect him-- had other ideas! Having no desire to torture him, I slowly, calmly and gently brought him back to full awareness. We agreed to another appointment where we could come at the issue from a different angle. His mind needed time to process if we were to move forward. We agreed to a date and time a few days hence.

Time passed.

On the day that our appointment arrived, he did not. I wasn't surprised. Not really. I had almost expected him to disappear-- having seen the absolute terror on his face. Still, I texted, I called, I emailed. Nothing.

Sometimes a person comes for healing, but, sadly, the subconscious mind has other ideas.

Periodically, I will try to check in. He never answers and I never hear back. I'm left wondering what was so terrifying, sitting hidden in that room in his mind.

*Not his real name. His identity and key identifiers have been changed to protect his privacy.

** HYPNOTIC SLEEP, not the sleep you experience at night.

Triumph Hypnosis

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