Friday, June 01, 2007
Gina, I wanted to thank you for the kind words you posted. I wanted to update you on what I am doing. I am no longer with PCH, although they use my material and I am paid a royalty.
I have started a new company in California called NewReality.
You can check it out at http://www.newreality.com.
We are still in start-up mode, so the site is still a work in progress. I would love to talk to you about what we are doing. My goal is to get what we do into the mainstream. The response thus far has been beyond my wildest expectations. I hope you will give me a call so I can share this with you.
My phone number is 925-443-2254. We are now living in the Bay Area.
I hope to hear from you.
Posted by Patrick Porter at 3/23/2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
A few weeks ago I was watching Oprah’s show on De-cluttering when she aired a clip for the next day's show which was on: Learning The Secret to a great life. For example: making more money! Better health. Marrying the man of your dreams!
“When I heard that (about the secret) it brought tears to my eyes,” Oprah said.
Well, I was bummed because I wanted desperately to know the secret but would have to be at work when it aired. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would catch a cold that very night and choose to stay home from work the next day so as to not spread my germs…and so I got to watch the show after all.Turns out The Secret is a book/movie all about the Law of Attraction. This is what I got from the show, plus a little of my own understanding of it: Like attracts Like. Here is how we create what we are Like. Thoughts create pictures in our minds. What I mean is, if you think the word CAR, you don’t actually see the letters C-A-R, Rather you see a Volvo, or VW Bug, or Camaro, or whatever. For example: Think of the word Balloon. Close your eyes and think about a balloon. What color is it? What’s the setting - a park? Circus? Birthday party? Is it laying around, floating above in the air, attached to a string? You make a unique picture from what I’d make, or your friends would make. You have a distinct and different reality from mine or anyone else’s. Depending on your associations with various word they will have varying weights of emotion attached to it. Thoughts create emotion - or feelings. Check for any emotions that come up for the following words: 1. Rich. 2. Poor. 3. Alcoholic. 4. Healthy. 5. Crippled. 6. Loser. 7. Fat. 8. Idiot. 9. Svelte. 10. Mercedes. 11. Millionaire. 12. High Tech. Note which words carry a higher emotional effect than the others. Did 1,4,9,10,11,12 turn you on more than the other ones gave you a knot-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach reaction, or did the negative ones scare you more than the others turned you on? It’s important to know what drives you. In other words are you attracted towards prosperity? Or are you attracted away from poverty? When left to run amuck, feelings are more powerful than words. It’s important to know because it’s your unconscious that runs the show where feelings are concerned. In fact, we call the unconscious “the feeling mind.” Your unconscious doesn’t process negatives very well - so you may have answered ” Away from poverty” and what the unconscious hears is: “Blah, Blah Poverty.” So the picture it paints for the universe to MATCH (Like Attracts Like) is poverty. The good news is that feelings are alter-able. We change feelings like we change into comfortable shoes at the end of the day. For example, you’re driving down the road, feeling up and positive…then suddenly THAT song comes on - you know the one…the one that you related to when you broke up with your last boyfriend. And vaboom - those uplifted spirits come crashing down, and you can barely drive because the tears are flooding your eyes. Then you get home and have a big piece of triple-layer chocolate cake, and you start feeling better, stronger, powerful again, for the moment. Then when you lay your fork down you start feeling GUILT. Why did I eat that piece of cake? I’ll never lose this extra forty pounds…Arrgh. We can be the cause for our feelings to change. Our feelings aren’t necessarily doomed to be ruled by external stimuli. We can start by changing the internal chat we have with ourselves - the self-chats that are painting pictures of monsters holding us captive under swampy black lagoons - like that guy who dumped me may have been sent to me so I’d get to know myself in a more positive way? Could it be that I attracted insecure, self-serving morons because I was focused on the insecure, self-serving moron in myself. Now, I want to focus on my newfound strength, generosity, and nurturing qualities and attract guys who match that. It was a good show. I have friends who have seen The Secret, and they highly recommend it. The bottom line is we have to start loving who we are now and being thankful for what we have now! And exude health, a love of fitness, appreciation for living self-satisfied lives on the learning path. I’ll tell you my own secret as to how the Law of Attraction has become evident in my own life, in an “interesting” way. I have written a novel called, BODY FLUIDS (soon to be published) which deals with people who have HIV. The book took me 5 years to complete with research and editing and all. All my life I have been healthy - no illness. Then I write this book, and mysteriously develop an immune system problem myself. It isn’t HIV, but it’s a weakened immune system, just the same. In fact, every three weeks I have to go in and have IVIG infusions in order to support my immune function Are you thinking what I’m thinking??? I put it out there passionately and it’s come back around. I’m not the first writer to have this happen to them. Stephen King was nearly fatally struck by a vehicle on a desolate country road while he was out walking one day. In a moment before losing consciousness he saw the guy who’d hit him, and he thought, “Oh my God, I’ve been killed by one of my own characters!” And to think my next book was going to be about Vampires!! Not anymore. Now, I’m going to write a novel about a VERY beautiful, VERY very wealthy, extremely healthy, athletic girl who always gets what she wants, and everyone loves her! Luv ya, Gina
Turns out The Secret is a book/movie all about the Law of Attraction. This is what I got from the show, plus a little of my own understanding of it:
Like attracts Like.
Here is how we create what we are Like. Thoughts create pictures in our minds. What I mean is, if you think the word CAR, you don’t actually see the letters C-A-R, Rather you see a Volvo, or VW Bug, or Camaro, or whatever.
For example: Think of the word Balloon. Close your eyes and think about a balloon. What color is it? What’s the setting - a park? Circus? Birthday party? Is it laying around, floating above in the air, attached to a string? You make a unique picture from what I’d make, or your friends would make. You have a distinct and different reality from mine or anyone else’s.
Depending on your associations with various word they will have varying weights of emotion attached to it. Thoughts create emotion - or feelings. Check for any emotions that come up for the following words:
12. High Tech.
Note which words carry a higher emotional effect than the others. Did 1,4,9,10,11,12 turn you on more than the other ones gave you a knot-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach reaction, or did the negative ones scare you more than the others turned you on? It’s important to know what drives you. In other words are you attracted towards prosperity? Or are you attracted away from poverty?
When left to run amuck, feelings are more powerful than words. It’s important to know because it’s your unconscious that runs the show where feelings are concerned. In fact, we call the unconscious “the feeling mind.” Your unconscious doesn’t process negatives very well - so you may have answered ” Away from poverty” and what the unconscious hears is: “Blah, Blah Poverty.” So the picture it paints for the universe to MATCH (Like Attracts Like) is poverty.
The good news is that feelings are alter-able. We change feelings like we change into comfortable shoes at the end of the day. For example, you’re driving down the road, feeling up and positive…then suddenly THAT song comes on - you know the one…the one that you related to when you broke up with your last boyfriend. And vaboom - those uplifted spirits come crashing down, and you can barely drive because the tears are flooding your eyes. Then you get home and have a big piece of triple-layer chocolate cake, and you start feeling better, stronger, powerful again, for the moment. Then when you lay your fork down you start feeling GUILT. Why did I eat that piece of cake? I’ll never lose this extra forty pounds…Arrgh.
We can be the cause for our feelings to change. Our feelings aren’t necessarily doomed to be ruled by external stimuli. We can start by changing the internal chat we have with ourselves - the self-chats that are painting pictures of monsters holding us captive under swampy black lagoons - like that guy who dumped me may have been sent to me so I’d get to know myself in a more positive way? Could it be that I attracted insecure, self-serving morons because I was focused on the insecure, self-serving moron in myself. Now, I want to focus on my newfound strength, generosity, and nurturing qualities and attract guys who match that.
It was a good show. I have friends who have seen The Secret, and they highly recommend it. The bottom line is we have to start loving who we are now and being thankful for what we have now! And exude health, a love of fitness, appreciation for living self-satisfied lives on the learning path.
I’ll tell you my own secret as to how the Law of Attraction has become evident in my own life, in an “interesting” way. I have written a novel called, BODY FLUIDS (soon to be published) which deals with people who have HIV. The book took me 5 years to complete with research and editing and all. All my life I have been healthy - no illness. Then I write this book, and mysteriously develop an immune system problem myself. It isn’t HIV, but it’s a weakened immune system, just the same. In fact, every three weeks I have to go in and have IVIG infusions in order to support my immune function Are you thinking what I’m thinking??? I put it out there passionately and it’s come back around. I’m not the first writer to have this happen to them. Stephen King was nearly fatally struck by a vehicle on a desolate country road while he was out walking one day. In a moment before losing consciousness he saw the guy who’d hit him, and he thought, “Oh my God, I’ve been killed by one of my own characters!”
And to think my next book was going to be about Vampires!! Not anymore. Now, I’m going to write a novel about a VERY beautiful, VERY very wealthy, extremely healthy, athletic girl who always gets what she wants, and everyone loves her!
The 22nd Annual ACHE International Hypnotherapy Conference will be held from May 3rd through May 6th 2007.
Full details of presentations, workshops and pre/post conference programs at http://hypnotistexaminers.org./
I Hope To See You There -
Friday, October 20, 2006
GIL BOYNE Presents:
Upcoming 2006 Master Class
Prerequisite: training/experience in Hypnotherapy
Wednesday, November 8 - Sunday, November 12, 2006
9:00am - 6:00pm
Wyndham Garden - Dallas Park Central
8051 LBJ Freeway
Dallas, TX 75251
Tuition $595.--includes course materials.
Course materials include two video case histories packed with techniques to create transformation PLUS eight hours of course highlights on audio tapes/cd and 100 page course manual.
Room rate - $79 standard per night - single or double. Please contact the hotel for reservations - (972) 680.3000Details can be found at Gil's web site:
Sunday, July 30, 2006
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How Well Does Hypnosis work? A Comparison Study:
Psychoanalysis: 38% recovery after 600 sessions
Behavior Therapy: 72% recovery after 22 sessions
Hypnotherapy 93% recovery after 6 sessions
- American Health Magazine
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Hypnosis sessions: Tapes or Live Hypnotist?
There are different types of hypnosis sessions. I'll be talking about two types: Power Programming Sessions and Interactive Sessions. Because this blog is about weight loss, all my references will revolve around that particular topic.
Many hypnotists pooh-pooh the use of hypnosis tapes and CDs. I guess I am more open to them because I have used them personally with great empowerment.
Power Programming - This is where (mostly), the hypnotist does the talking. This can be done effectively via live session, over a telephone line, or through a CD. The goal of this type of session is to have the client be supercharged with powerful suggestions for changing core thinking systems, which obviously leads to a modification of behavior. Anyone who has listened to hypnotic weight loss tapes (or CDs) knows they are filled with positive suggestions for making healthy food choices, drinking sufficient water, getting exercise, reconnecting with the body, eating in a relaxed manner, chewing food thoroughly, portion management, etc.etc.etc. Sometimes (usually unbeknownst to the listener) they contain some type of NLP - NeuroLinguistic Programming - technique to facilitate the assimilation of these suggestions into the unconscious.
So, what is NLP, you might ask. The answer to that is rather complex, but suffice it here to say that back in the sixties two brilliant guys (Richard Bandler and John Grinder) got together and came up with the concept. One guy was a linguist (Grinder), and the other (Bandler) an information scientist. One thing they found was that there are basically “recipes” for success and that anyone could have the same success as another simply by following the recipe. Of course, sometimes getting the secret ingredients posed a challenge, but they also researched how to uncover pretty much any information they wanted. But that’s another story.
They also noticed that human brains and computers have a lot of similarities in how they use language to process, organize and categorize information, and thereby produce results. Anyway, these brilliant guys boiled it down to a science, and devised various techniques to help us upgrade our “bio-computers”, if you will, so we can live more efficiently, more effectively. Simple stuff really. In fact, it’s all common sense techniques - like role modeling after people close to us. What we're doing anyway. They just tied it up neatly, and labeled it, so we could do it on demand, instead of haphazardly.
A question I get a lot is, “Is listening to a CD as powerful as having a one on one session?” I’d have to say, “Possibly. It depends on the subject.” Listening to a tape or CD does several things.
1) Have you seen those commercials where the guy wakes up, and there’s a cheering section saying, “Thataboy Bobby, you are amazing. You are what makes the sun come up every morning. Even the moon hated having to retreat from your presence. You are awesome!…” Then he goes to the car and the cheering section is out there, “Bobby, we are so proud of you! You’re the best driver in the world…” Then he gets to work and the cheering section is there with more accolades. Well, listening to the CDs will create a cheering section for you, in your head. You’ll be at breakfast and the voice in your head will say, “Gee Mandy, you’ve been so great this week, choosing the right foods…You’ve lost three pounds…make sure to get some protein with that toast…you are so awesome staying on track…” Now that voice sounds like your hypnotist at first, but eventually it starts sounding like YOU, and You are proud of yourself…You are taking responsibility for making good choices…Then you’re at lunch and the voice in your head says, “Are you sure you want that Coke? Water would be better for you. You’d feel better if you drank water instead, whaddoya think?…” Then another voice in your head says, “Yeah, you’re right. I should have water.” And you order water and life is good.
2.) Listening daily to CDs will magnify your commitment, keep you focused, cement your self-confidence, raise your feelings of self-worth, reinforce and compound prior suggestions inside your unconscious mind, fortify your determination, and keep you solidly on track.
I always ask my clients, “Is there a noticeable difference between listening and not listening to your tapes?” Every single time the answer has been YES. My clients know that when they are being supported emotionally and mentally by their tapes that they make better choices, feel stronger, exercise more, and eat less. Isn’t it nice to know you can reduce feelings of stress, deprivation, and anxiety around weight reduction simply by LISTENING TO A THIRTY MINUTE CD OR TAPE! Stop reading this and GO put your headphones on.
Is listening to a CD as powerful as having a one-on-one session with a present therapist? Note the purposeful use of the word Present. There is nothing worse than having a session with a therapist whose mind is elsewhere. That said...today I'll talk about one-on-one, interactive sessions. That means that the hypnotherapist and subject are in intentional communication with the goal of resolving some obstacle holding the subject back somehow. Again, this post is focused on weight loss in particular, and does not especially apply outside of this category.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
(The following article can be found at this link of the American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/releases/hypnosis.html )
What is Clinical Hypnosis and What is it Used For?
While you may think of hypnosis as something you see only in the movies or novels, hypnosis is used in real life as part of the treatment plan for people with numerous health ailments ranging from depression to gastro-intestinal disorders. Based on research showing that hypnosis can help people manage – and in some cases recover from illness, hypnosis is becoming a more common part of many patients’ recommended health treatment.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA)’s Division of Psychological Hypnosis, hypnosis is a procedure during which a health professional or researcher suggests while treating someone that he or she experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behavior. Although some hypnosis is used to make people more alert, most hypnosis includes suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and well-being. Instructions to imagine or think about pleasant experiences are also commonly included during hypnosis. People respond to hypnosis in different ways. Some describe hypnosis as a state of focused attention, in which they feel very calm and relaxed. Most people describe the experience as pleasant.
Is there evidence that hypnosis works?
Yes. While there are plenty of examples in the scientific literature attesting to the usefulness of clinical hypnosis, a study published in the journal Gut is noteworthy. The study involved 204 people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Treatment consisted of 12 weekly sessions of hypnosis (lasting about one hour each). Fifty-eight percent of the men and 75 percent of the women reported significant symptom relief immediately after finishing treatment. More than 80 percent of those who reported initial relief were still improved up to six years later. Fewer than 10 percent of the participants tried other treatments after hypnotherapy. (Gut, November 2003).
Can everyone be hypnotized?
People differ in the degree to which they respond to hypnosis. A person's ability to experience hypnosis can be inhibited by fears and concerns arising from some common misconceptions. Contrary to some depictions of hypnosis in books, movies or television, people who have been hypnotized do not lose control over their behavior. Unless amnesia has specifically been suggested, people remain aware of who they are, where they are, and remember what transpired during hypnosis. Hypnosis makes it easier for people to experience suggestions, but it does not force them to have these experiences.
Is hypnosis therapy?
Hypnosis is not a type of psychotherapy. It also is not a treatment in and of itself; rather, it is a procedure that can be used to facilitate other types of therapies and treatments. Clinical hypnosis should be conducted only by properly trained and credentialed health care professionals (e.g. psychologists) who also have been trained in the use of hypnosis and who are working within the limits of their professional expertise.
Practical uses for hypnosis
Hypnosis has been used in the treatment of pain; depression; anxiety and phobias; stress; habit disorders; gastro-intestinal disorders; skin conditions; post-surgical recovery; relief from nausea and vomiting; childbirth; treatment of hemophilia; and many other conditions. However, it may not be useful for all psychological and/or medical problems or for all patients or clients. The decision to use hypnosis as an adjunct to treatment should only be made in consultation with a qualified health care provider who has been trained in the use and limitations of clinical hypnosis. In addition to its use in clinical settings, hypnosis is used in research and forensic settings. Researchers study the value of hypnosis in the treatment of physical and psychological problems and examine the impact of hypnosis on sensation, perception, learning, and memory.
New Definition: Hypnosis
The Division 30 Definition and Description of Hypnosis
Hypnosis typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestions for imaginative experiences will be presented. The hypnotic induction is an extended initial suggestion for using one's imagination, and may contain further elaborations of the introduction. A hypnotic procedure is used to encourage and evaluate responses to suggestions. When using hypnosis, one person (the subject) is guided by another (the hypnotist) to respond to suggestions for changes in subjective experience, alterations in perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. Persons can also learn self-hypnosis, which is the act of administering hypnotic procedures on one's own. If the subject responds to hypnotic suggestions, it is generally inferred that hypnosis has been induced. Many believe that hypnotic responses and experiences are characteristic of a hypnotic state. While some think that it is not necessary to use the word "hypnosis" as part of the hypnotic induction, others view it as essential.
Details of hypnotic procedures and suggestions will differ depending on the goals of the practitioner and the purposes of the clinical or research endeavor. Procedures traditionally involve suggestions to relax, though relaxation is not necessary for hypnosis and a wide variety of suggestions can be used including those to become more alert. Suggestions that permit the extent of hypnosis to be assessed by comparing responses to standardized scales can be used in both clinical and research settings. While the majority of individuals are responsive to at least some suggestions, scores on standardized scales range from high to negligible. Traditionally, scores are grouped into low, medium, and high categories. As is the case with other positively-scaled measures of psychological constructs such as attention and awareness, the salience of evidence for having achieved hypnosis increases with the individual's score.
(This definition and description of hypnosis was prepared by the Executive Committee of the American Psychological Association, Division of Psychological Hypnosis. Permission to reproduce this document is freely granted.)
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Poetry as Hypnosis:
An Ericksonian Approach to "Song of the Open Road"
By James Whitlark, Ph.D., and Lynn Whitlark
Although hypnosis is nominally recognized as both art and science, books on it regularly begin with Mesmer (i.e., its history as science). They content themselves with only the vaguest references to its history as art (e.g., as practiced by ancient Celtic poets). The only extended analysis of poetry as hypnosis has been Edward D. Snyder, Hypnotic Poetry: A Study of Trance-Inducing Technique in Certain Poems and it's Literary Significance, originally published in 1930 and thus radically out of date. A reason for recovering the artistic history of hypnosis is that it provides extensive models for induction techniques. One area where this is particularly needed is in NLP ventures to extend Ericksonian patterns into writings that both sound literate and communicate with the unconscious of the readers. Doing the two together is sufficiently difficult so that time-honored models should be welcome.
The following article has the modest purpose of beginning this process by calling attention to similarities between Ericksonian hypnosis and Whitman's poetry. Before Milton Erickson, hypnosis tended to be more authoritarian and stylized in its conspicuous, repetitive patter. In the history of poetry, a comparable figure was Walt Whitman, who broke from the stylized, regularly repetitive, fixed verse forms that had previously dominated poetry.
What was Whitmarn's purpose in this break? As he writes in an 1891 version of the poem "Spontaneous Me," his aim is:
To have the feeling to-day or any day I am sufficient as I am.
O something unprov'd! something in a trance!
To escape utterly from others' anchors and holds!
Whitman's metaphoric use of "anchors" (as holds on the mind) here partly anticipates the NLP sense of it. His fragmentary syntax displays various tricks later in the Milton Model, including Whitman's way of embedding the affirmation "I am sufficient as I am." By such techniques, he is moving the readers away from consciousness, which has to "prove" everything and into "trance," which accepts on faith or knows intuitively. Like Erickson, Whitman's ultimate purpose is to interrupt the audience's previous conditioning and thereby liberate them.
To demonstrate an Ericksonian analysis of poetry, we have chosen Whitman's "Song of the Open Road," because it well exemplifies this simultaneous opening of poetry and the mind by way of hypnotic techniques that have previously escaped notice. For instance, because of the limited awareness of hypnotic devices when Snyder was writing, that critic contends, "Whitman's best poems, despite their general neglect of some obvious hypnotic stimuli, contain, nevertheless, passages of peculiar interest to this study" ([italics mine] l. 82). Actually, not merely when he resembles pre-Ericksonian hypnotic patter of the sort Snyder knew, but pervasively, Whitman relies on hypnotic techniques.
Pacing Current Experience
Although Snyder does not mention it, already in the old hypnosis (and continued in Erickson's), the practitioner commonly would describe the subject's on-going experience, e.g., "You are sitting here in this rather soft chair listening to the sound of my voice…." Because the patient finds this true, s/he is more likely to accept the hypnotist's next remarks, which begin to lead rather than merely describe the patient's consciousness. Furthermore, in the whole process, the patient can only evaluate the truth of the remarks by introspecting, an activity that moves him or her inward to a slightly more withdrawn, dreamlike state.
Whitman is sometimes almost as blatant as this in his pacing of current experience. For instance, in the short poem "I Sit and Look Out," he begins "I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame…." The reader is likely to be in the same position, sitting, while thinking the sorrowful images that Whitman provides. Thus, Whitman establishes a bond or even a subconscious merger between them. His use of "I" (instead of "you)," anticipates Erickson's sometimes pretending to talk about himself or others as a less intrusive way of reflecting the patient's experiences.
"Song of the Open Road" constitutes a more advanced example of this. The trip where the readers join Whitman is in the free verse itself. He is willing to leave at any time the "public road," i.e., all routines, including the "ruts" of well-worn metrics-ruts he jumps incessantly, thereby creating his strident/striding rhythms. His "Song of the Open Road" celebrates this polyrhythmic voice in terms of a complex metaphor - Whitman's way of life, his poetry, and the poem itself as an asymmetric journey through and beyond "You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides." Although, as he later notes, this journey is larger than the individual poem, the irregularity of that poem is giving his readers an experience of one part of it. In its rhythm, the very line "You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides" is an iamb (or, since the meter is so very irregular, possibly a spondee) is a microcosm of the irregularity that pervades the poem and most of Whitman's oeuvre - the "roughness" to which he repeatedly refers in "Song of the Open Road," e.g., "I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them" and "I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes".
Being self-descriptive, this poem has self-similarity on various scales, like a fractal. What, though, is the function of this? Although popular at present, discussions of poetic self-reflexivity tend to sound as if self-referential poets were so locked in introspection that they had little to say about anything beyond their own art or - ultimately - themselves. Actually though, Whitman's personae as American or Everyman are used to increase reader identification in the manner of Ericksonian hypnosis. In "Song of the Open Road," Whitman calls his persona the "voice" of that road - a voice that forms the medium where the readers and he share a road. This harmonizing with subjects is an essential part of hypnosis, for without it, they would simply leave. What would drive them away is that the rest of Ericksonian hypnosis consists of the following patterns of disorientation (to prepare for suggestions that would not be accepted unless normal habits of thought were unsettled). Among the most pervasive of these are ambiguities.
In his Seven Types of Ambiguity, William Empson classifies ambiguities ranging from "a detail [that] is effective in several ways at once" to contradictions within the author's mind. He understands these as means to "beauty" through the resolutions of tensions into unity. This is certainly the aesthetic aspect of ambiguity, but ambiguity is also an agent of confusion, which Erickson used to induce trance and encode suggestions within it. Since ambiguity is such a familiar topic in poetic analysis (e.g., William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity), consider merely the first few lines of "Song of the Open Road."
AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune - I myself am good fortune….
The phrase "Healthy, free" may apply to the road, to "I" or "the world" (which obviously includes the readers). It thus relates all these together in a way that Ericksonian therapy would (to suggest that, like the speaker, patients can become healthy and freely in control of their lives if they follow the path into which the therapists is leading them). The clause "I ask not good-fortune" may mean either that he asks not for good fortune or that he does not ask something from a personified good fortune. The latter possibility prepares for good fortune to be a person - himself, as he posits after the dash. Identifying himself as their goal is a gesture to bind readers to him - a necessary part of hypnotic induction. Since the readers are to identify with him, they are being told that they too may be their own fortune-a notion that moves them toward the self-reliance and freedom that is Whitman's ideal (as well as that of effective therapy).
The "not" in "I ask not good-fortune" is itself a device of disorientation, both because of the odd word order and because it occurs among so many negations. Even if multiple negations are not syntactically ambiguous, they tend to daze readers. Particularly read aloud (as Whitman's poetry ought to be), they may exceed the powers of many hearers' attention. In its 231 lines, "Song of the Open Road" employs "not" forty times, "no" fourteen times, "never" four times, "nothing" twice, and "none" four times. Making their occurrence periodically very dense, they come in clusters, e.g., "Wisdom is not finally tested in schools; Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it, to another not having it; Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof". He is fond of negating verbs of negation, e.g., "not denied" or "none can be interdicted" or "cannot be countermanded" or "not detain'd!". The net effect of these frequent negations is more than confusion; it is also fusion:
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys;
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you-however long, but it stretches and waits for you;
To see no being, not God's or any, but you also go thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it-enjoying all without labor or purchase-abstracting the feast, yet not
abstracting one particle of it .
In the ambiguity of the syntax all and nothing merge, as the load of negations strip away all details ("no being…no possession") and convey a vague plenitude. Readers are in the midst of what lies below those surface details-the secret, repressed unconscious, which offers much potential but becomes dejected if left unexpressed:
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.
No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession;
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors...
Again and again, he evokes images only to cancel them, so that they linger in the memory as specters of what remains entirely potential : "Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf!/Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn'd!". This stylistic device-this positing and canceling removes the images from the logical, conscious meaning of the discourse and consigns them to unconscious processes, which are thus elicited and entered.
Universal Quantifiers and Nominalizations
A very similar effect to multiple negation comes from universals, e.g., "every part," "the kernel of every object", "every day … continually" , "every one" , "everywhere" and from Whitman's nominalizations, e.g., "fortune" , "Freedom", "realization", "adhesiveness", "Nature". The more abstract discourse becomes, the more likely that people can imagine they are agreeing about it. Admittedly, each reader brings private denotations and connotations to Whitman's universals and nominalizations but this simply makes more probable that they will find his words agreeable (because they are seeing their own meanings in them).
In contrast, Whitman's repetitive lists of non-universal details are the least entrancing portions of his poem (though they do not completely break state). They are only specific and disturbing enough to weaken trance, which abstractions and other disorienting techniques then restore. Their repetitions keep the reader from coming completely out of it, as does their listing partly abstract types, e.g., "the felon, the diseas'd, the illiterate person... As previously mentioned, decreasing trance and then reinstating it is a stylistic device of Ericksonian therapy, meant to deepen hypnosis. For instance, once the reader is reassured that, despite the negative connotations of the above list, Whitman does accept all these types-indeed, everyone-the poem has reinforced its all-inclusive abstractness.
Readjusting Sensory Systems
The essence of Ericksonian therapy is to teach patients to replace traumatic with supportive anchors-an activity that requires a readjustment of their habitual ways of processing sensory images. Comparably, Whitman deranges the senses. For instance, he writes "…the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;/Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the Soul.." Sight is rendered not fixed but floating to reveal the unchanging depths. For a more complex example, consider, "Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?" The pairing "large and melodious" makes parallel syntactically size (usually sensed visually) and sound (sensed auditorily). This synaesthesia is complicated further through the ambiguity of whether he always or never undergoes the kinesthetic experience of walking under the trees in order to think thus. Like Erickson's deliberately making symptoms worse preparatory to ameliorating them, Whitman renders sense and sensation vertiginous in order to help readers find the stable depths, the "kernels" of things, as he calls these.
Selectional Restriction Violation
On the foundation of its pacing current experience as well as on that of its creating an all-embracing vagueness and readjusting sensory systems, the poem can suspend wariness so effectively that the readers are willing to react with almost childlike trust. Consequently, they accept primitive even animistic thought patterns. The aforementioned line "You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides," for example, is but a small part of Whitman's long conversation with the road, i.e., a selectional restriction violation.
Because personification is further from businesslike consciousness than the previous devices, Whitman introduces it gradually. In the third line, for example, "The long brown path [is] before me, leading wherever I choose." Although the road's "leading" involves a personification, it is such a conventional one that it is very inconspicuous.
The second section of the poem starts with a clear-cut apostrophe to the path: "You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you are not all that is here;/ I believe that much unseen is also here." So large a departure from normal conscious as an apostrophe is appropriate to this suggestion that readers move beyond the conscious contents of the path to the "unseen," unconscious ones. His subsequent examples ("the felon, the diseas'd, the illiterate person") are not what cannot be seen but what society often avoids seeing, i.e., the repressed.
Claiming Clairvoyance and Embedding Presuppositions
Although Whitman sometimes uses personifications as a mask for delivering suggestions, he has other means including claims of clairvoyance and the embedding of presuppositions: "I know they [the constellations] are very well where they are;/I know they suffice for those who belong to them" . Instead of saying that he has heard or imagined these stellar situations, he alleges that he knows them. Thus, he implies that he has clairvoyant knowledge of how much of the universe functions. How detailed is this knowledge? His reference to "those who belong to them" presupposes that there are such beings. Moreover, the verb "suffice" implies that "those" are living beings (since it is seldom employed for inanimate objects). He would thus have magical knowledge about the health and welfare of otherwise unknown species. Although somewhat buried in a commonplace, these are large claims. If the readers accept them, they then have a relationship to him like a young child who takes for granted that parents simply know what they say they know and need not be questioned how they learned it. If the readers are willing to play at this, they thereby enter a childlike state of mind.
Paradoxically, Whitman deepens it by interspersing references to what he does not know-a charming modesty designed to endear him to readers so that they will be more willing to grant the large assertions that accompany his admissions of ignorance. For example, "They [souls] go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go;/But I know that they go toward the best-toward something great" . His denial of discerning where they go also has the effect of pushing aside the most controversial part of the matter: salvation and damnation. Instead, he vaguely sends them "toward the best." "[B]est," for whom? For God? For them? For us? We are not told.
At that abstract level, both this section and the previous one imply that all is well and progressing. They function on the same nebulous plane as the hypnotic dictum, "every day in every way, everything is getting better and better." That was a product of the openly repetitive old hypnosis, but its use of "every" (like all the cosmic generalizations of Whitman) anticipates Erickson's very conscious and skillful reliance on abstraction in hypnosis.
Perhaps sensing the net effect of all his generalizations and distortions, Whitman near the end of the poem feels so confident as to assert, "I know all" . This, of course, contradicts his previous modesty, but he is famous for the words, "Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself,/ (I am large, I contain multitudes). (Leaves of Grass, 48). One of the ways that readers can accept such contradictions is if trance has proceeded to considerable depth. This does not mean that they have simply become mindless but that that they are proceeding in terms of an unconscious logic such that double binds and other paradoxes can be resolved in very healthful manners.
Perhaps the most extreme disorientation comes from paradoxes. For instance,"The long brown path [is] before me, leading wherever I choose." Whitman's is led, yet chooses. This paradox is, of course, parallel to that of the readers' being led by Whitman's commands, yet brought into freedom-or the paradox of therapy that follows a similar course. Consciously, it can be resolved by thinking of the leading as an initial stage, the choosing as an advanced one (e.g., the progress from child to adult). The truth, however, is that we are always being led, as well as always choosing. The relationship of the two is so complex that, in being brought to consciousness, one or the other seems to dominate. The unconscious, though, is aware of their entire constellation of interactions.
Whitman makes this kind of complex, mutual dependence explicit in the lines:
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;
I carry them, men and women-I carry them with me wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them;
I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)
Beginning with the oxymoron (self-contradictory phrase) "delicious burdens," this ambiguously enmeshes "men and women" with the burdens, either as their contents or his addressee. In lines 11-14, the burdens may be people, the relationship of the genders, or practically anything else, since his preceding remarks are about knowing that the constellations are in their proper place. At any rate, he both fills and is filled by this pleasant yet burdensome something. Almost empty of clear meaning, lines 11-14 form a pattern into which the readers can place their own ambivalences. These lines can serve as generic expression of any situation where mental contents shape the thinkers yet are shaped by them in a feedback cycle.
Such complexity - associated by Whitman with the outdoors and nature - is presented as larger than logic and theology: "Now I re-examine philosophies and religions, They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents". In this larger context, he notes the necessity of change and adaptation: "Now understand me well - it is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary". His related paradoxes - that opposites are implicated in one another and that everything contains within itself its opposite - tend to undermine ordinary assumptions about each entity as a separate individual (i.e., undivided essence).
From his undermining of separateness comes recognition of "adhesiveness" - a feeling he wishes to promote. From internal contradiction comes acceptance of the unconscious, where contradictions co-exist. Both these insights are central to hypnosis: the "adhesiveness" of rapport, the unconscious that is foregrounded during trance. Consequently, his bardic/hypnotic method is absolutely congruent with his message of "adehesiveness" and paradoxical wisdom.
Hidden Suggestions (particularly in Quotations and Questions)
That message is delivered in a series of suggestions or commands. Commands, however, are structures people are particularly prone to find offensive - especially in a democracy - a political condition Whitman accepted wholeheartedly. In particular, there is a limit to the sheer number of times a reader can be commanded without becoming annoyed. Consequently, in addition to such open imperatives as "Listen!," or "Be not discouraged - keep on - there are divine things, well envelop'd…," Whitman mutes many of his commands, e.g., "Alons," an imperative, but in French. Also slightly cloaked are the lines, "You shall not heap up what is call'd riches, You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve…" . These hover between future tense and imperative (as do his 13 other uses of "shall"). Comparably, "we must not stop here!" gives an order without being an imperative per se (as do his six other employments of this modal).
Milton Erickson was particularly expert at disguising his commands. Usually, he buried them in non-imperative syntax. His trick was to pronounce each sentence with a command buried in it, not as the surface structure of the sentence required, but as if the embedded group of words was a separate command. He would speak them more emphatically and drop the pitch of his voice at the end. Whereas, for instance, questions are expected to end with a rise in pitch he would frequently lower his pitch at the conclusion; thus, he pronounced them as orders for the unconscious mind. His experience was that this had a subliminal effect on patients.
Although the printed word does not offer precisely this option, the poet's mastery of rhythm and sound can incline the reader toward such a delivery. Consider, for instance, "Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?" These are, at the very least, rhetorical questions, expecting the answer "yes." As rhetorical questions, they are already disguised commands, in that they expect agreement and adherence, despite politely asking for it. In these examples, however, Whitman comes even closer to the imperative than this in that the first two words of each question are unaccented, so that the accent emphatically falls on the verb, setting it off like a command.
Previously, in an even more elaborate wrapping, Whitman expressed this desire that the readers and he "stick with each other": "Do you say, I am already prepared - I am well - beaten and undenied - adhere to me?" Here, "adhere to me" is undeniably imperative, yet it wears more than one disguise. First, it ends in a question mark, which confuses the eye into thinking it an inquiry. Second it is a quotation of the supposed words of the road. Erickson found that embedding commands within ostensible quotation was a technique that delivered instructions effectively, yet kept the patients from thinking him blatantly authoritarian. Thus, Whitman here masks his demand that we adhere to him behind the persona of the road-a road that is ultimately his road, his paradoxical path for leading us into freedom. Nonetheless, he is pretending to disagree with it, in that he is saying that he will sometimes step beyond it, but, since it is the road to freedom, such transcendence is, in another sense, an adhering to it.
Ranging from the clearest imperative to these less evident examples, Whitman weaves orders into most of the poem's sentences. Rather than employing the indicative to describe an experience, he is leading the readers into one. It is through suggestion rather than logic that he convinces: "I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes; We convince by our presence. Listen! I will be honest with you…." Superficially considered, he may seem to be saying that, having been a wanderer, his body has shown its health by surviving the open road. Even if we accept this doubtful contention, it hardly will "convince" that he has been "honest" and knowledgeable about "divine things." (Do we trust vagabonds immediately as ministers?) But as he maintains, instead of employing "arguments," he relies on his "presence."
How, though, is he present in his poetry? Having abandoned "arguments, similes, and rhymes" (intrusive devices), he has fashioned the rhythms and sounds of his verse into evocation of a living voice - the voice to which we are to "Listen!". It is "the cheerful voice of the open road" - a voice that persuades not through the conscious means of logic but through an unintrusive induction comparable to Erickson's.
Inevitably, such induction will not be equally effective on everyone. Erickson had to fit his techniques to each patient, by calibrating their response to it and engaging in much trial and error. Sometimes he had to mutter for hours before the patient's slight change in breathing or some other physiological sign showed Erickson that he had succeeded. With equal persistence in "Song of the Open Road," Whitman is trying to suggest his lesson over and over, each time accompanied by a different arrangement of inductive devices. To succeed, he must establish rapport. In his day, his verse at first seemed abrasively rough and untraditional. Because of a revolution of tastes to which his work significantly contributed, he now seems the opposite. Nonetheless, in the Ericksonian tradition, a hypnotist will sometimes say to a patient, "Just pretend that you are under hypnosis." And the pretence will induce that state - not an old-style hypnosis with the victim a Mesmeric slave but with subject self-hypnotized and ultimately in control. We are suggesting - and you certainly do not have to accept the suggestion - that you pretend to let Whitman's suggestions permeate your consciousness. You might find the experience worthwhile.
Friday, June 30, 2006
1994. That's when I went through my training. That's 12 (count-em) 12 years ago. Let me recall the days. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I was working in social services Mon - Fri, pretty much nine to five. I liked my job, working with people with disabilities. Loved the clients, loved the independence as far as making my own schedule, loved being a positive and contributing employee of my company. Loved my company's directors and my co-workers. My company was known for hiring the creme de la creme - which says a lot about me - grin - as well as them. Our disabled clients led more fulfilling lives thanks to the lot of us. In a nutshell, we made sure our clients were healthy, managing their finances, making educated choices, and having some fun. Every Christmas we had a huge client Christmas party, every summer we had a huge beach party BBQ. Every Easter we had a huge egg-hunt for our clients' kids. On Fridays we had staff meetings, and meeting with clients throughout the week was generally something looked forward to by all parties. For me going to work was going to a happy place, most of the time...most of the time. The hard thing about my work though, was very hard on me. And that was having to work with certain other social workers (I won't mention names - Sybil, Dan, Mildred...) that held undue power in their hands to either empower or destroy families, and yes, MOST were there to empower, but there were a few whimsical types that well...it just depended on their mood as to what they would pull at any given moment. And yes, I have to give credit where credit is due, that many of the bad ones would eventually get...well let's just call it "moved on". Nonetheless, I guess I saw one abusive social worker too many. Having studied some psychology and finding out about hypnosis, well, I realized the population I needed to work with in order to REALLY make a difference were the unhappy, insecure people making the less fortunate people miserable.
Going to hypnosis class at the end of the work day (Thursday and Friday evenings) and on weekends (all day) was the highlight of my life! Listening to Jim and Patty teach about creating personal transformation was totally amazing. They taught us hypnosis techniques to move people beyond the day to day garbage chatter, you now, those inner voices of fear and doubt (you're not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, you're not worth it, no one really loves you - how could they...) We learned to use certain techniques for assisting people to stretch past their comfort zones, into bigger opportunities. We learned a variety of hypnotic measures to motivate, even drive people to persist in their loftiest goals. That's especially important in getting past a plateau - and I don't care what a human is striving for, in the quest for excellence - be it tennis, weight loss, salesmanship, whatever - there will always be plateaus to work through. Well, we learned and practiced many powerful, fascinating techniques in class. We learned how to, well to quote the master, Mr. Gil Boyne, we learned to, "Get into the ring with the Client, and help them fight the devil."
Utterly amazing. Utterly fascinating. I loved that class. And I love this work. My clients tell me since they are less stressed out, they are getting along much better with their families, friends, and co-workers. And hopefully their less fortunate clients as well!
Till later, Gina
Thursday, June 22, 2006
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Sunday, June 18, 2006
Greetings! It's Sunday AM, in glorious sunny San Diego, California. I'm at work today, doing some editing on a book I've written, and getting in very early (6:30am) on a Sunday morning I had a chance to see exactly how adorable and special the street I work on really, and truly is. So, I've chosen to write about the sweet little street I work on, here in Escondido. Grand Avenue.
Grand avenue has been here forever, it seems. I've seen historic, old photographs of Escondido (from 1888), and Grand ave. has always been the main thoroughfare. In the photos are horses, and horse drawn buggies, dirt roads, and women with long skirts and bonnets. In those old pictures the street is bustling with people, busy with activity.
Today, Grand avenue is as active as ever! This charming street runs through the center of our artistic community, Escondido. It's lined by pretty trees (with Christmas lights, for that enchanting touch), and flowers. The fortunate businesses with Grand Avenue addresses include progressive museums, elegant restaurants (including a delightful, authentic french bakery which makes the bestest almond croissants and greek salads), health & beauty spas, and cozy, perfume smelling boutiques. Up a block from my office is a reptile shop, where you can buy gorgeous lizards, turtles, frogs, and snakes, and across the street is a noisy bird shop where you can let a colorful, squaky parrot sit on your arm. (I have. Had a parrot sit on my arm, that is, not bought a lizard!) Deliciously, you can get all different flavors of non-fat frozen yogurt at the yogurt shop near the corner. Even Chocolate-Mint.Yummy!
There are street speakers that play holiday music during Christmastime, and on Friday evenings, it's Cruising Grand night, when a sidewalk DJ plays oldies music from the fifties, while classic car owners proudly exhibit their awesome, beloved chrome and steel buddies. Some of those cars belong to the original owners, while some are like grandfather-cars to the twenty-something year old boys holding the pinks. On Tuesdays, we have a farmer's market, on Grand, where local farmers bring their fresh avocados, apricots, berries, melons, oranges, and all, while we also have sellers with honey, sweet popcorn (I forget what it's called - Kettle Corn, I think it's called), home-baked bread, fresh roasted peanuts in the shell, fresh hummus and pita bread...and so much more.
In spite of the hustle and bustle, the people here are all-smiles friendly, and there's a cheery country town feeling in the air - whether summer, fall, winter, or spring. Besides being home to a major California performing arts center, Escondido is also an agricultural center, with lots of citrus and avocado growers. Lots of cowboys, too. I personally know a retired rodeo star that lives over yonder. The people here are special. Fashionable, art-appreciating, kind, earthy, down home people. Many of them natives - born and raised here in Escondido. Guess it's the kind of town you never want to leave. Why would anyone want to leave? We have the beach, mountains, lakes, desert - excellent climate. We have a very charming main street like Grand Avenue, and real French almond croissants. We have it all.
Well, there's much more. Me. I'm here, too. And I'll tell you honestly, I wouldn't want to work anywhere else. Except, maybe on the beach in Fiji. Yup. That would be good. Maybe 6 months here, and 6 months in Fiji! Well, got to get back to editing! Till later! Gina
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I respect dreams. Many people, most I imagine, take them for granted. And yet, dreams are so real. And come in different varieties. They can be in bright living color. Or black and white. The dreamer can be themselves in the dream, or someone else, yet recognize that they are another person. The dream can be filled with lots of detail, or simply a fleeting, vague image, like a corner of a photograph. A dreamer can be in the midst of friends they know in waking life, or hanging out with 'friends' they know in the dreamstate only. There are recurring dreams, fantasy dreams, prophetic dreams. There are scary dreams, that you can't wait to wake up from, and dreams so lovely and fulfilling you want to remain inside them forever. Some dreams are commonly occuring. There's the bathroom dream, where the dreamer needs to use the toilet and can't find a suitable one. Snakes are a common theme, as are swamps, quicksand, teeth falling out, falling, flying, being nude in public, being chased, trying unsuccessfully to call 911 emergency. Being with deceased people and realizing in the dream that uhm, "didn't this person die?" and that, "well, this must be happening before they die..." is also a common dream. By the way, when the dreamer realizes they are in a dream, and can have some influence on how that dream goes, it's called "lucid" dreaming.
Sometimes, when I have a client come to me with some hesitancy to tackle their problems, or maybe not even aware of where to start, I ask them about their dreams. If they are a good dreamer, and had one the night before our meeting, then we go about deciphering it. It's a good, non-threatening way to start uncovering what is going on with them presently. You see, this is how it goes: the client knows consciously they are coming to see me tomorrow. Their unconscious knows this is a good time to surface whatever needs to be worked on. The subconscious works in terms of pictures, symbols, and images. Hence, a dream occurs. That is, the amazing unconscious puts together a wonderful story in the form of a movie (pictures, symbols, and images) to get a message across. What we get to do is read, like hierogyphics, if you will, the symbols. The client is generally left in awe of his/her own mental workings - even when "asleep"!
I'll give a case history. I have a client who is losing weight. She has lost a lot of weight, and her body is changing. Well, she runs around her life pretending everything is fine and dandy, except lately she has found herself self-sabotaging her weight loss habits. She's been making some poor choices, and her knee has started hurting, so she can't get to the gym as much anymore...This is her dream: She's swimming in a canal, specifically for exercise, when she finds herself being pulled underneath. She makes it out of the water, and is then walking in a desert. She realizes she's wearing a pretty, billowing skirt, but something is hampering her stride. She's annoyed to find there's a snake underneath her skirt. (Though annoyed with the snake, she's not really scared of it.)
Well, you don't have to search deep. It's pretty clear. This is when I asked about her sex life. Come to find out, as a result of her body becoming more physically attractive, her husband wants more sex. However, all is not well between them. She harbors some resentment towards him, because of some issues they've had, and she would rather sleep on the couch than face his advances. She is not one to speak of her sex life, but her dreams were saying, "look you need to handle this sex thing because it's affecting your desire to lose weight and become more attractive.'" Since we uncovered the dream-counsel (I just made that up, but that's what our subconscious minds do when we dream, counsel us) she has been super-focused on her weight loss goals, and quite frankly, I've never seen her as committed to the process as she is now. Yippeee! Till later ~ Gina
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Before I post the interesting article about this study, I want to add my own interesting opinion. The article is about politically conservative people having more bad dreams than those more liberal.
My own values tend to be in more alignment with Democrats than Republicans, and I rarely have nightmares. My dreams are often of flying, meeting with and exploring "foreign" lands with people I don't know in waking life, sailing on luxury liners, walking through marvelous green forests...stuff like this. Really. I tend fall into the realm of left dreamers. What I want to address is this particular part of the article:
Scenario II:The dreams of people on the political right reveal them to be highly attuned to the actual dangers and threats of the waking world. These people are realistic, grounded, honest about the frailties of human nature in the face of danger, and appreciative of the good things in present-day life. By contrast, the dreams of people on the political left show them to be irrational, naďve, utopian, and deluded by their own fantasies. These people are out of touch with the real world, and they wish for powers they do not have in actuality. (Bulkeley, 2001)
First of all, as a "left dreamer" I want to say that I am VERY aware of the dangers of the world. I'd have to be deaf, blind, crippled, and insane to NOT know our personal liberties are endangered these days. In fact, the "lefter" the person, the more aware of big-picture danger they seem to be. Take abortion, for example. Left people are not particularly FOR mother's murdering their unborn, but they are against illegal, back- alley, clothes-hanger abortions, that put young, unthinking girls at risk for dying. They see the BIG-PICTURE of right to choose. Now don't get me wrong, I personally am against abortion - except in cases where a mother's life is at risk. But I'm not a lawmaker. Lawmakers have to see the big-pictures, and make laws based on the masses, not just their personal opinions. But that's another story. We left thinkers are in no way naive. But perhaps we are optimists. Perhaps we have earned the right to look for the gold, by overcoming our own personal challenges from within, and with a little help from family. Blood family, or friends that are as good as family. Do I long for powers I don't have in actuality? Like flying? Ha. I can fly. In fact, I recently returned from Europe. I "flew" there. What powers do we not have? We are very powerful, we humans. Do I want to see through walls? Climb buildings with a single bound? Well, metaphorically speaking, we do those things when we move out of the crud, and into more hopeful places. That's all I want to say. Here's the article.
Why do Conservatives have more Nightmares?
You may have seen the headline - "Republicans have more Nightmares than Democrats." The study by Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D. was presented at the conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams, held at the University of California, Santa Cruz in July of 2001. He didn't set out to study nightmares. His study simply looked at male and female college students who strongly identified themselves as either liberal (left) or conservative (right), and analyzed many different characteristics of their dreams.
Bulkeley collected "recent dream reports" from over 400 college students between 1996 and 2001. The students provided information about their political views as a part of a survey that asked several different questions about political beliefs. Most college students did not identify a strong affiliation with any political ideology, but some did. Bulkeley wanted to study the dreams of equal numbers of male conservatives, female conservatives, male liberals, and female liberals. Only 14 males identified themselves as conservatives, so 14 students from each of the other groups were randomly chosen for the study. Dreams were "coded using the Hall and Van de Castle content analysis categories for characters, social interactions, emotions, settings, misfortunes, and good fortunes." Bulkeley further notes that "each dream was coded by myself and one or two additional researchers who were blind to the political affiliation of the dreamers and the overall purpose of the study."
Here are some of the results that did not make the headlines:
- People on the left were more likely to have females as characters in their dreams, while people on the right dreamed twice as much about male characters as about female characters.
- People on the left had fewer familiar characters, fewer friends, more family members, and fewer animals; people on the right had more familiar characters, more friends, fewer family members, and more animals.
- People on the left were less often the initiator of aggressive interactions in their dreams, and their aggression was less physical in nature; people on the right were more often the aggressors in their dreams, and their aggression was more often physical.
- People on the left had a greater number of dreams involving friendliness and good fortune, and fewer dreams involving misfortune; people on the right had a greater number of dreams with misfortunes, and fewer dreams with friendliness and good fortune.
- Male rights had the lowest percentage of family members and instances of sexuality, and the highest percentage of animal characters and being the aggressor.
- Male lefts had the highest frequency of female characters, and the fewest instances of aggression.
- Female lefts had the lowest percentage of being the aggressor in their dreams, and the highest frequency of friendliness and good fortunes.
- Female rights had the highest frequency of sexual interactions and physical aggression. (Bulkeley, 2001)
Bulkeley goes on to summarize his results in the following manner:
People on the right had more nightmares and dreams in which they lacked power. They had a greater frequency of lifelike dreams. Female rights were especially anxious about family relationships, and male rights had dreams almost devoid of girlfriends. People on the left had fewer nightmares and more dreams in which they had power. They had a greater frequency of good fortunes and bizarre elements in their dreams. Female lefts had an especially high frequency of good fortunes, and male lefts had an unusually high percentage of female characters. (Bulkeley, 2001)
This is a pilot study that needs to be replicated with a larger sample before we can draw any real conclusions. Bulkeley was constrained by the small number of conservative males in his sample, and he presents his results without the benefit of statistics. He is cautious about trying to explain the results, and he acknowledges that his own political views may color his interpretation. He reports being surprised that party officials felt the need to comment on his study.
Bulkeley speculated on the reasons for his results in his original paper. He offered two very different scenarios that would both account for his data. He speculates that both interpretations probably have some merit.
Scenario I:The dreams of the people on the political right reveal them to be insecure, anxious, conflict-ridden, and emotionally repressed. When they are not terrified of imaginary threats they cling to the comforts of the status quo. They seek a kind of power through their political views that they lack within their deeper selves. By contrast, the dreams of people on the political left show them to be creative, progressive, and imaginative. They are confident in their abilities and willing to think beyond the boundaries of the present to envision new possibilities for the future. (Bulkeley, 2001)
Scenario II:The dreams of people on the political right reveal them to be highly attuned to the actual dangers and threats of the waking world. These people are realistic, grounded, honest about the frailties of human nature in the face of danger, and appreciative of the good things in present-day life. By contrast, the dreams of people on the political left show them to be irrational, naďve, utopian, and deluded by their own fantasies. These people are out of touch with the real world, and they wish for powers they do not have in actuality. (Bulkeley, 2001)
Since the press reported the 'nightmare' portion of the study many different people have reacted to the results. Bulkeley recently reported the following reactions to his study:
To my surprise and amusement, this little research factoid—“Republicans have more nightmares than Democrats”—was quickly seized by political partisans on both sides who did not hesitate to assert their interpretation of my findings. Terry McAuliffe, Democratic National Committee chairman [left], declared “If George W. Bush were the leader of my party, I’d have trouble sleeping at night, too.” Not to be outdone in the game of “dream spinning,” Kevin Sheridan of the Republican National Committee [right] quickly replied, “What do you expect after eight years of William Jefferson Clinton?” The reaction was not limited to politicians in the U.S.: Alexa McDonough, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (on the left side of the political spectrum), said she was not surprised by the findings of my study because true liberals follow their dreams to find creative solutions for problems: “The very essence of building a better world starts with dreaming…. Until we get politics being about chasing dreams again, we’re going to be causing people a lot of nightmares, and we’re mostly going to be implementing right-wing nightmares.” (Bulkeley, 2001, personal communication).
It's important that we see this study for what it is - an interesting pilot study that suggests some surprising relationships between political ideology and dreams. It makes some sense to me that the worldviews of conservatives and liberals would result in differences in their dreams. It is also possible that the findings of this study are random occurrences - that these only represent the odd dreams of this particular set of people. Until the appropriate statistics can be used on a larger sample, we can't interpret these results beyond these particular 56 people.
This past weekend I spent over an hour composing a massive, heartfelt blog to post here, but much to my dismay (much, much, much to my dismay and horror - causing me much pain and lament) it never showed up.
Well, I'm about to spend my precious time writing another blog now, and so this is a test to make sure it's going to show up. Wish me luck ~ Gina
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I got an email from a friend letting me know she also has started a blog. I suppose eventually everyone will have one. At least everyone who feels they want other people to hear their views on life.
I have an interesting thing going on in my life right now. Seems my childhood has come back to haunt me. It all started a few weeks ago when I found a website dedicated to keeping up on my old high school and old high school graduates. I got my email address added to their list. Since then, I have been contacted by two acquaintances from my childhood - one from elementary school, and one from jr. high. Hence, I find myself thinking about those old formative years. They say that our basic personality gets formed by the time we're eight or so. Both of these people have created successful lives for themselves, and I'm quite proud of them. One is a psychology professor, and the other owns a construction company.
I guess it's weird for me because even though I was someone who did very well in school, and was even on my high school newspaper, which I loved, I was so happy to not be in school that I refused to attend extracurricular activities. With the exception of a few basketball games, and the racquetball tournament - which I won first place in, my time was MY time, and I didn't want to spend it at school. I didn't even go to my high school graduation. (Nor college graduation for that matter.)
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE learning. I am the eternal student. I just didn't care for the boundaries high school life perpetuates. The "box" other students try to put you in. Popular, reject, retarded, nerd, beauty queen, jock, brainiac. I refused to put a mere label on myself, and I wasn't about to hang around enough to let others put theirs on me. Label-s perhaps, but not one big, fat, all-purpose label. I'm still like that. I guess I don't believe life is black-and-white. We are an infinite combination of characteristics. So darned if I was going to live six hours a day, monday thru friday inside someone elses limited perception of who I was. I guess I did to some extent, but it's like the saying goes, keep your mouth shut and you keep em guessing as to whether you're a fool, or a genius. Also, I'm into nonconformity. There's another saying in the world of writers, English professors make the most boring writers, unless they can learn to write outside of the rules.
Schools tend to stifle unique thinking. Here's an example. I have a cousin about to graduate with her four-year degree. She was prone to colds and flus. For awhile she was guzzling green tea by the gallon, which she swore stimulated her immune system. "I haven't had a cold since drinking green tea," she told me last Christmas. At Easter I asked her if she was still drinking green tea. "Nah," she grimaced. "The latest research shows that there is no evidence green tea is useful to the immune system." I was like, WHAT???? You're going to believe the "latest research" when in your own life experience green tea was obviously beneficial??? Even if it was just placebo-effect - it was working for her. I say, whatever works, works! Well, I didn't say this stuff to her because the university has taught her that people like me are vegetarian, non-scientific, tree-hugging, new agers...what could we non-scientific believers possibly know? Nevermind that they teach HYPNOTHERAPY at Yale and Harvard. She's still young. I HATE being labeled so narrowly. I hope someday she learns to think for herself.
Well, it's not scientifically proven, but they say everything happens for a reason, in it's perfect timing. Funny thing is, it's actually in high school when I decided I was going to work in the realm of psychology. That was when I took my first psych class with Dr. Graff - an excellent teacher. Interesting that I started my blog, which is a reflection of my career, and the ghost of my career choice has come around to haunt me...Life is fascinating, isn't it! Till later...Gina
Friday, May 26, 2006
Just in case anyone cares to visit my web site, you can at:
Thanks! Till next time!