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.
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.