Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E Manahawkin, NJ 08050. Telephone us at(609)709-2043 and (609) 709-0009.Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72, on the road to Beach Haven West.After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Greater Coastal Realty. Then turn right and go past the Lyceum Gyn. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building. We. are the last office at the end. We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.Weekend and evening office hours are avalable.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

How to Fall Out of Love

Many of the clients we see daily in our psychology practice have  a broken heart somewhere in their past as one of their stressors. Sometimes (though not always), you may be able to fix it yourself. Here's how.



Thursday, May 17, 2018

How to Train Yourself Not to Be Anxious

With 99% of the same genes as our closest monkey cousins, the chimpanzees, it's no wonder that under the pressures of modern life, the tendency to become anxious can sometimes spiral out of control! This brief posting is not intended to serve as a substitute for counseling or therapy. If anxiety has begun to affect your personal or work relationships, you should definitely seek the services of a duly licensed mental health professional. However,for many everyday situations, the following information may be helpful in correcting the habits that can sometimes get us into trouble.

It is generally agreed that cognitive-behavioral psychology is the fastest-growing oreintation within the profession. There is also a rapidly-accumulating body of evidence that it actually works! Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, may be summarized as the study of the relationship between thinking, feeling, and behavior.  Just as physical therapists can provide you with exercises to improve physical functioning, cognitive-behavioral therapists provide exercises to develop more effective psychological adjustments.


The information below was garnered from several different sources, and provides you with a variety of useful forms and worksheets so that you can use whatever combination of these CBT tools you find most helpful for training yourself not to be anxious The information referred to in any of the links below can be downloaded from your computer by clicking on the link and using the print command on your computer. 


Cognitive-behavioral therapists frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on when we keep making those angry responses that keep getting us into trouble. Here is what one looks like, courtesy of www.getselfhelp.co.uk. They also provide a summary of the STOPP technique, which they describe as "CBT in a nutshell," and which can be summed up in one sentence: "Try not to act merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view; compose yourself." Following is a hypothetical example of how the anxiety thought record form might be used to see a situation from a different perspective, using the example of being suddenly cut off in traffic by another car, with the column headings in italics and one set of possible responses in standard type. You can practice using these forms for a number of other hypothetical situations, or situations that have actually made you angry in the past, in order to be prepared for a variety of possible situations in the future. 

Situation: A car suddenly swerves in front of you and slows down, causing you to slam on your brakes in order to avoid hitting it.


Feelings, Emotions,:  An increase in heartbeat and blood pressure, clenched jaw, faster brething.


Emotions/Moods (rate 0-100%):  Anxiety


Physical Sensations & Reactions: Swearing, gripping the steering wheel


Unhelpful Thoughts/Images:  Urge to speed up and pass the car in front of you, honk at the driver, make an angry gesture, and cut back in front of him.


What I Did/What I Could Do/What's the Best Response? (Re-Rate Emotion 0-100%)  Realize that the emotion will pass in a few moments, but if you act on it the situation could escalate and possibly lead to serious complications.



The ABC Worksheet from www.smartrecovery.org, which is downloadable as an Adobe pdf file, can become your daily companion for taking control of your life in matters large and small! You can use it to make motivational and behavioral adjustments not only for controlling anxiety, but also for everything from paying your bills on time, to stopping smoking, or deciding on which career path to follow. 

It first asks you about the causes of something you would like to change in your life, and then asks about the emotional consequences which were the result, your beliefs about what happened, what beliefs could be substituted for the ones which brought about the unpleasant results, and how those changed beliefs make you feel. You can write on the form itself, clearing and changing it as often as you like. Then, when you are finished, you can either print it out or save it as a text file, using a different form for each problem you would like to work on. To re-examine it or re-do each form that you have completed, just call up that particular file and continue to modify it as you progress. It could prove to be extremely helpful if you are willing put enough thought into it to give it a try!


Finally, the folks at www.smartrecovery.org have a tool chest of resources which is a treasure-trove for people who want to alter hard-to-change behaviors of every type.They have prepared a selection of tips and tricks for managing anxiety in such a manner that in many instances you can not merely control it, you can get rid of it!  Here is a partial list of some of the other materials which they have to offer. The information may be downloaded free of charge by using the print command on your computer, although donations are encouraged. Here is a partial list of some of the materials which they have to offer:

Of course, training yourself not to be anxious is going to take time and patience. However, once you get the hang of it, if you continue to do these mental workouts as regularly as you would exercise physically in a gymnasium, you will  be able to think, feel, and act in a calm and confident manner in almost any situation. On the other hand, if you do not use the CBT Thought Record to identify your triggers and the other choices that you have, you might very well continue to feel anxiety when you know you it could continue to get you into trouble, but never do much about it. 

Just as reading a book on surgery will not make you into a surgeon, and reading an exercise manual will not build muscles, merely reading a Blog posting on how to train yourself to avoid anxuety will not be enough to enable you to get rid of it. People who practice meditation, for example, do not hope to attain enlightenment merely by reading about it!  Regular practice using the thought record for a variety of situations is the key to success. 


Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." But once you have taken that step, you have to keep going. The two rules for success in any self-improvement program are: 1) Begin, and 2) Don't stop!  If you frequently experience problems with anger, you should have plenty of motivation to follow both of these rules. No matter how long the journey, cognitive-behavioral psychology, especially when undertaken with professional guidance, can be of great assistance in successfully reaching your destination!

See also: 
How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy
How to Recognize a Personality Disorder

 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Trump and Hitler: The Psychology Behind the Myth

In view of the recent indictments of  an organized Russian group working to influence U.S. elections in favor of Donald Trump, and the disclosures of his recent affairs with Playboy and porn stars, many of my psychology clients have been asking whether or not Trump's success might be due to his using  hyperempiria, or NLP, especially because his major sources of support seem to be Fundamentalist Christians. Whenever you use "alternative facts" in place of the real ones, as his advisor Kellyann Conway admitted, it is an attempt to harness the power of suggestion. But if no induction is used and if the situation is not defined as hypnosis, why is it still sometimes effective?

A recent article in Psychology Today stated that half of all Americans couldn't come up with a sudden demand for $450 in a crisis. Although Trump may be unwittingly using some techniques which are commonly referred to in lay hypnosis circles as NLP or neuro-linguistic programming, almost everyone now agrees that there are a lot of angry voters out there. on both the right and the left, who supported Trump because they feel that the system has failed them (see below).



My wife grew up in New Jersey, and I have lived here for 25 years. We have read the first-hand newspaper accounts of how Trump has bankrupted several casinos and walked away with millions, paid his workers sub-standard wages, and stiffed his contractors by paying them much less than they were actually owed. Beneath his outward bluster lies a narcissistic personality disorder with antisocial traits, but don't just take my word for it. Here's a link to a story in The Independent which bears the headline, "Donald Trump has Dangerous Mental Illness, say Psychiatry Experts at Yale Conference." (His recent psychiatric examination was not a test for personality disorders.)

The biggest tragedy of all is that people often tend to make up their minds based on emotions rather than  facts, and hear what they want to hear. Trump's base has shrunken only slightly, but all we have to do in order to set things right is to stop ignoring the problems that are making people "mad as Hell." This is not as difficult as it may appear. There are a lot of people who stayed home last time because they didn't like either candidate and are now as energized as a space probe. It will become increasingly difficult for special interest groups to persuade them either not to vote at all, or to vote against their own best interests. 

Is President Trump using hypnosis, hyperempiria, or NLP, then? No, but he has his NRA backers, his Russian data miners, and his dog-whistle racism. Hitler, on the other hand, limited his "alternative facts" to only two: the alleged superiority or the German race and the allegation that all the difficulties the Germans had suffered were due to a "world Jewish conspiracy" to hold them down. If Hitler were living in twenty-first century America, these beliefs would probably be categorized under the diagnostic categories of delusional disorder grandiose type and delusional disorder persecutory type. 

Hitler also taught that a big lie would be believed easier than a little one if it were repeated often enough, so he w restricted his big lies to only these two alternative facts. Nevertheless, the most important reason that Trump does not pose as much of a danger as Hitler did is obvious. Hitler was a much better speaker! He even made use of lighting, symbols, and audience involvement to drive home his points. Here, with English subtitles, is one of his classic speeches. Judge for yourself.















  
  

Virtual Reality Hypnosis: Changing People Inside and Out


(An earlier version of this article appeared in HYPNOS, 2003, 31(2), pp. 89-93, under the title, "Multimodal Suggestion for Facilitating Meditation and Prayer." Reprinted by permission.)


"Thought will live when the stars grow cold
And mix with Deity" -- Emerson

Many people confuse virtual reality hypnosis with mechanically-inspired notions of virtual reality, ignoring the fact that suggestion has the power to change people both inside and out! Considering the variety of suggestions which may be accepted by sufficiently responsive individuals (Shor & Orne, 1962),  it may be hypothesized that suggestions will be actualized more easily if they are formulated in such a manner as to systematically and comprehensively involve several different modes of experience. The Best Me Technique of virtual reality hypnosis utilizes the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness. Taken together, the elements of this technique form the acronym, BEST ME, and may be summarized as follows (Gibbons, 2001; Gibbons & Lynn, 2008)..
Belief systems which orient an individual to person, place, time, and events may be suggested as being different, allowing the participant to mentally transcend present realities.

Emotions may be enriched, intensified, weakened, or combined with others.

Ssensations and physical perceptions may be suggested and experienced with an intensity approaching those of real events.

Thoughts and images may be created and guided in response to explicit or indirect suggestions.

Motives may either be suggested directly or implied as a consequence of other events.

Expectations may be structured concerning the manner in which the participant will look forward to and remember suggested events which will occur in the future, and the manner in which suggested experiences will subsequently be recalled and interpreted in memory.
Hyperempiric suggestions may be administered in any order, each of the aforementioned categories may be employed as often as necessary, and each step in the procedure may incorporate elements of the others. In the latter case, the label applied to each step refers to the dimension of experience which is being given the greatest emphasis. For ease of illustration, the suggestions contained in this article have been provided in the B-E-S-T-M-E order. In actual use, hyperempiric suggestions may be administered in any order and repeated as often as necessary, with modifications which contribute to the total effect, much as one might repeat the verses and choruses of a song.

Mystical and Transcendental Experience Mediated by Suggestion

People of many different religious traditions have attested to the life‑changing potential of mystical and transcendental experiences involving contact with a consciousness beyond one's own. In one study of the Fundamentalist Christian experience of salvation, for example, subjects readily attested to both the personal reality of the experience and its subsequent influence upon their lives, although such experiences did not seem to be universally attainable and did appear to be related to the ability to respond to suggestion (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972; Gibbons, 1988).

Many clients approach life from a primarily religious point of view. Such believers -- particularly those who are elderly, infirm, or who have experienced a number of personal tragedies -- may experience a "dark night of the soul" (Peers, 1990) as they struggle to deal with the stresses of life without access to sources of experiential spiritual support for their beliefs.However, Glasner (1955) refers to several purported uses of suggestion and hypnosis in Scripture to encourage and inspire the faithful, concluding, "Although it is impossible to state with any definiteness that hypnosis is referred to in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and in the Talmud, there would seem to be considerable evidence that the authors of these works were indeed familiar with phenomena which we today should call hypnotic or which we should explain in terms of suggestion" (p. 39).

From the standpoint of the therapist who is well-versed in the techniques of hypnosis, experiences of this type may easily be made available to clients who desire them and are sufficiently responsive to suggestion. Such experiences should be determined by the needs and expressed preferences of the client, with the goal of providing reassurance, strength, and encouragement. It should be of little consequence whether the religious and metaphysical beliefs of the client are shared by the therapist or are in conflict with those of the therapist, or whether the therapist has no theological or metaphysical beliefs at all.

The following BMT suggestions for facilitating meditation and prayer describe a visit to a cathedral. They are not intended to be used as a script, but rather as an illustration of how the Best Me Technique may be used as a template for constructing multimodal suggestions for a variety of similar purposes. They may easily be modified to refer to a visit to a temple, a mosque, an ashram, a shrine, or any site or event which the client may find personally meaningful.

Because of the nature of the experiences to be undergone, an expressly hyperempiric induction, based upon specific suggestions of increased awareness and responsiveness (Gibbons, 1975), may be preferable to a more traditional hypnotic induction based upon expressed of implied suggestions of diminished awareness (Bányai & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1976), although either type of induction may be presented using a multimodal or Best Me format facilitate involvement with the experiences which follow.

After the therapist has become sufficiently aware of the client's needs and preferences through preliminary discussion, and the client understands and fully consents to the experiences in which he or she is about to participate, suggestions may be given in the following manner.

Belief systems. Now, as I continue to speak, you can gradually become aware of yourself standing in front of a pair of large wooden doors, which are the doors of a great cathedral. If you accept each detail of the scene as I describe it, without trying to think critically, your imagination can be free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there.So just let yourself stand there a moment, gazing at the carved wooded doors, as you prepare to enter. [Brief pause.]

Now, as the doors swing open, you first traverse a small area paved with stone, stopping at the font if you desire, and pause before a second pair of doors which leads inside.

Emotions. You can feel a surge of happiness and anticipation as you pass through a second pair of doors and into the dimly lit interior. As your eyes gradually become accustomed to the dimmer light from the stained glass windows, take a moment to look around in wonder at the magnificence of all you see.

Sensations and perceptions. Let yourself breathe slowly and deeply, as you inhale the faint aroma of incense, and listen to the gentle tones of music floating upon the quiet air.

Some distance away from you stands the High Altar, bordered by banks of gently glowing candles. You select a pew and, after pausing to genuflect if you wish, you enter the pew and take your seat or kneel once more.

Thoughts and images. Let your mind flow with the experience, and allow it to fill you to the very core of your being, until you feel as if you are able to hold within your own consciousness an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty. As it does, you can feel yourself gradually becoming aware of the presence of a Consciousness other than your own.

As this Consciousness begins to merge with yours, you can feel the power of an infinite healing energy filling and flooding every muscle, and every fiber, and every nerve of your entire body. And it's as if all of the worry, and all of the tension, and all of the care that you have ever felt are being driven out and replaced by the power of this infinite, unbounded, healing love.

As your own consciousness merges ever more completely with this Infinite Awareness, you feel as if you are able to hold within your own mind an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty ‑‑ infinite, beyond infinity, and eternal beyond all measure of eternity. And in this sense of total oneness, you are able to freely communicate all your deepest thoughts and needs.

Motives. The experience, as it continues, is providing you with all that you had hoped to obtain from it. The serenity and the peace which you find here will remain with you, as a source of deep inner strength which will enable you to cope much more effectively with all of life's problems.

Expectations. You will treasure the memory of this experience as it meets your needs in the future; and each time you return, you will be able to derive new benefits which will meet your needs even more effectively.

At the conclusion of the experience, the client may be re‑oriented to the present and the induction terminated in the usual manner.

Discussion

Although most of us routinely provide a considerable amount of detail with the experiences we suggest in order to make them more realistic, the Best Me Technique of hyperempiric suggestion provides a systematic framework for incorporating sufficient detail into several major types of experience, in order to make sure that the suggested experiences are sufficiently comprehensive for maximum effectiveness.

Suggestion has previously been found to facilitate the Fundamentalist experience of "salvation" (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972). Similar types of "believed-in imaginings" (Sarbin, 1998) may be involved in hypnotically-induced experiences of reincarnation, pre-incarnation, and co-incarnation, which, like religious sacraments, as well as hypnosis itself, may be conceptualized as a form of experiential theater. 

Lawrence (M. A. Lawrence, personal communication, June 27, 2003) reports the successful application of the Best Me Technique with nursing home residents who are dealing with end-of-life issues.  



Recently, Kelley Woods and I (Gibbons & Woods, 2016) have been suggesting to hypnotized clients that they are being transported to an alternate universe where time and space do not exist. After orienting them to this universe and inducing emotions which are as pleasant as possible -- i.e., "dissolving  into an ocean of infinite, unbounded, and everlasting love," and returning them to the present with the lessons of this experience back with them, to enhance their prevailing mood and pave over the emotional effects of all the bad things that have ever happened to them..  

Clients have been saying things like, "I can't thank you enough!" and, "I'm at a point in my life now where I think I can accomplish anything!" The changes which they are reporting in their lives seem to bear this out.  It's too early for any hard data, as we have just begun to use these techniques. But we would like to invite you to join us in exploring these fascinating new realms of experience, and sharing with us in the thrill of discovery!

References

Bányai, E. I., & Hilgard, E. R. (1976). A comparison of active-alert hypnotic induction with traditional relaxation induction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 218-224.

Gibbons, D. (1975, August). Hypnotic vs. hyperempiric induction: An experimental comparison. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Chicago.


Gibbons, D. (1976). Hypnotic vs. hyperempiric induction: An experimental comparison.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 42, 834.

Gibbons, D. (1988). Were you saved or were you hypnotized? The Humanist, 48, 17‑18.

Gibbons, D. (2001). Experience as an art form: Hypnosis, hyperempiria, and the best metechnique. San Jose, CA: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2003, July). The best me technique for constructing hypnotic suggestions Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Societies of Medical, Clinical, Dental, and Experimental Hypnosis, London.



Gibbons, D., & DeJarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, 152‑166.


Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hyonotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016) Virtual reality hypnosis: Exploring alternate and parallel universes. Amazon Books, 2016. (Both print and Kindle editions are available.) 

Glasner, S. (1955). A note on allusions to hypnosis in the Bible and Talmud. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 3(1), 34-39.

Hammond, D. C. (1990). Hypnotic suggestions and metaphors. New York: Norton.

Heap, M. & Aravind, K. K. (2001). Hartland's Medical & Dental Hypnosis, 4th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone.


Lazarus, A. A. (1989). The practice of multimodal therapy. Baltimore, MD: Johns HopkinsUniversity Press.

Lazarus, A. A. (1997). Brief comprehensive psychotherapy: The multimodal way. New York:Springer.

Peers, E. A. (1990). Dark Night of the Soul. New York: Doubleday.

Sarbin, T. R. (1998). Believed-in Imaginings. New York: Barnes & Noble.

Shor, R. E. & Orne, E. C. (1962) Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.


Yapko, M. D. (2003). Trancework: An introduction to the practice of clinical hypnosis (3rded.). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner-Routledge.