Essays on Personal Growth
Most of us were taught that it is wrong to be selfish. That lesson is impressed upon us in many ways by parents, school and church. However, there is another way of thinking about selfishness. Perhaps it is neither wrong nor right; perhaps it is simply a fact of life, a fact that has not been clearly understood. With but a little thought, most would agree that we are selfish beings; it's the way we were created. And if that view is accurate, then either selfishness is good or we are fundamentally bad. Since we are apparently not fundamentally bad, selfishness must be good. It is good because it provides us with the motivation to do good things, things we would not do at all were we not selfishly motivated to do them. We must do things to satisfy our own needs, and many things we do for ourselves benefit others as well. In this view, selfishness is seen as a virtue.
We believe what we were conditioned to believe. We do what we were conditioned to do. And, we were not consulted about how we wanted to have been conditioned. The result is that we hold opinions and display attitudes and behaviors that are quite beyond our ability to change, even though we may wish to do so. Fortunately, at least on the surface, we usually seem able to accept ourselves as we are, and we may staunchly defend the way we are, and our right to be that way. At the same time, we may be critical of someone else for being as he is. In some situations we may want (and even expect) the other person to change, to conform to our values, or to satisfy our needs. Then we may be surprised and severely disappointed when the change we want is not forthcoming.
Acceptance means giving the other person room to be and do what he or she is going to be and do, whether or not we accept him. Neither they nor we can be other than what we are.
If we blame ourselves for something, we may experience guilt. If we blame another, we may experience bitterness. Either way, we lose. Guilt and bitterness are sources of a great deal of unhappiness. To experience either is to use mental energy in negative ways that prolong those negative feelings by excluding productive thought and by distorting reality. Forgiving, either one's self or others, is the way out of the traps of guilt and bitterness.
Essays on Relationships
We meet, we fall in love, and we marry. We honestly expect that marital bliss will go on just as it is, forever. It doesn't. The problem is that we change with time. Our values change. Our interests change. We meet new people and form new friendships. And unless we consciously and aggressively do things to maintain the marriage, we inevitably drift apart, both intellectually and emotionally. Of course, that doesn't mean we have to divorce; many problems can be solved or resolved, making it possible to stay together. Furthermore, many marriages remain intact even though one or both partners are unhappy. Usually, within each of us, there is a core of values and interests that do not change significantly over time. Many of those elements that drew us together are still there, just masked by today's concerns. These elements are important and worthy of acknowledgment and consideration.
Obviously, the fact of inevitable change doesn't mean that divorce is inevitable. It does mean, however, that life may not be as perfect and wonderful as we expected, and the thought of divorce may cross our minds. Many of us will seriously consider divorce at one time or another. Many of us will complete the process; some will do so unnecessarily.
Some of us are not free to divorce, regardless of the situation. Others, although not restrained by religious convictions, family pressures or other influences, may stay together "for the sake of the kids" or for other such reasons. If you are in such a situation, not free to leave or not choosing to leave, and yet not happy where you are - a re-consideration of your attitude is in order. After all, if you are going to stay in the marriage, you may as well be as happy as possible while you are there.
Marriage begins as a purely selfish step. We appraise the other, react in physical and emotional ways, and decide “that person is for me!” Then, with the passage of time, the romantic glow fades and, if the marriage is to remain happy, something must replace it.
Hopefully mature love, respect, and above all, friendship, evolve to fill the void.
During the course of life we meet many people, are attracted to a few, become acquainted with some of those, form friendships with selections from that group, grow close to a few of those and, as one out of many hundreds, we may bond in true, caring friendship.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that so many of those we have learned to care about go separate ways from ours.
It seems that only commitment keeps us together.
Punishment does not work. Imposing consequences does work. The difference lies in the impersonal nature of consequences; consequences are simply inevitable and unyielding. Imposing consequences permits the parent to assume the mantle of one who cares and can sympathize, rather than criticize. Thus, interpersonal stress is minimized.
Sex! The very word commands attention. It is the most intimate of human experiences, the favorite topic of low humor and of high, the subject most commonly occupying our thoughts, and the subject least likely to be discussed freely in our culture, though most
in need of discussion. It's almost as though taboos preclude discussion of those matters which warrant such discussion most. Sex is too important not to talk about! Ignorance and misinformation about sex produce much unnecessary guilt, fear and unhappiness!
Essays on Emotion
As an inevitable factor in life, stress has earned an undeserved bad reputation. Some of us thrive on it; others are defeated by it. So, what makes the difference? I believe the difference lies in our attitude about those things that cause undue stress. I believe also that we can change our attitudes, given the knowledge of how to change them and the motivation to do so. Your therapist can teach you how, but the motivation must come from you.
An influence that is a source of stress for one may not be for another. I have a colleague who thrives on working 70-hours per week. I doubt I could survive such a schedule. Yet he considers the meticulous woodwork I do as a hobby to be intolerable. Perhaps the simple, rational consideration of the source of stress as a fact of life, rather than as an insult to our integrity; as a conceivable source of value, rather than a burden to be borne, will provide the change in attitude that is required. Of course, such change in attitude must also be embraced at an unconscious level of awareness if it is to be effective, and engineering that change may require professional help.
To be bitter is to be unhappy. To experience bitterness is to occupy one's mind with imagery and feelings of repressed anger that prevent pleasurable experience and productive thoughts. To be bitter is to experience energy which is almost certainly exerted in the wrong direction, energy that does not affect the object of the bitterness, yet may be devastating to the one who is bitter. Bitterness is usually the consequence of taking personal offense at something someone has done, or has not done. If the "personal" element of the offense is taken away, only disagreement remains, and disagreement need not be destructive.
In its most basic form, guilt is the consequence of a past decision: a decision to do, or not to do, something that one now feels guilty about. That decision may have been made after reasoned consideration, or may have been made, as many decisions are made, in response to emotional influence, without appropriate, rational consideration. Even in spite of rational consideration, our (learned) values impose a great many "shoulds" and "should’nts" on our behavior. And while the values we hold can largely be traced to parental teachings, any source we then considered authoritative may have contributed. If we behave contrary to a value we learned as a child we may feel guilt, even if we no longer hold the particular value to be valid. Then too, guilt may be unconsciously experienced, manifesting in various unfortunate ways, requiring intervention at the unconscious level for elimination.
It is universally human to grieve. We may grieve over the loss of a loved one, the loss of a pet, or the loss of some material object. In all events, in grief, the mind is monopolized by awareness of loss to such an extent that the normal view of life becomes distorted. We may become incapable of reasoned judgment and rational decision. "Working through" grief is a process of re-establishing appropriate and realistic perspective about our values, and
of re-establishing the ability to reason. In essence, it is a process of transferring mental activity from an awareness of loss in the past, to an awareness of present reality, including strengths, abilities and assets.
Essays on Pain
Albert Schweitzer once called pain “a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself.”
Even so, pain is essential to life; we simply could not live without it. We would behave in self-destructive ways without being aware that we were doing so. Yet, pain can also be dysfunctional, inhibiting awareness of life’s values and meaning.
This article is addressed to the latter case.
• Pain is about perception, and perception can be modified.
• Pain is always real to the person in pain.
• Chronic pain always has unconscious purpose, in addition to conscious experience.
• Physical pain may be caused by either physical or emotional trauma.
Pain is the mind’s way of getting attention. It is a protective mechanism, regardless of the cause of the pain. Moreover, the purpose is rarely recognized consciously. In addition, once established as a pattern, the pain response can persist long after the original purpose ceases to have meaning. In this situation, the pain is maintained unconsciously for reasons that were real and valid in the past —when the pain began—but are no longer real or valid in current life. When both conscious and unconscious domains recognize that the pain no longer has valid purpose, direct hypnotic suggestions can take root and the sufferer can experience relief.
While direct or indirect hypnotic suggestions may relieve pain temporarily, or even possibly “permanently,” the use of hypnotic techniques to identify and resolve the unconscious purpose or cause of the pain will often be required to provide sustained relief. Resolve the cause and the pain can then be relieved. Subliminal Therapy is the treatment of choice for this task.
It is true almost without exception that a person can obtain some degree of relief from pain by changing perception in ways that can be understood as hypnotic, yet are not obviously hypnotic. Early in my treatment plan for pain, I may point out that: “If a large and ferocious dog were to come through that door right now, clearly about to attack you, you would not at that moment be aware of anything except the presence of the dog; you would be unaware of your pain. You would be experiencing the ability of your mind to direct your conscious attention away from the pain. This is an illustration of hypnotic phenomena, and as we work together, I will be teaching you how to utilize hypnotic phenomena to mitigate the pain you have been experiencing.” Note that I have not promised to eliminate the pain, only to mitigate it. In some cases it may be possible to entirely eliminate the pain, and if so it should be done; however, some level of discomfort, in some situations, may be desirable for some purpose, whether identified consciously or not. It is best to be conservative.
In some situations, the treatment goal can be to teach the patient to perceive the pain in a different way, as opposed to experiencing it. Perhaps a tickle, itch or sensation of an odor would serve to satisfy the need of the unconscious. This situation might apply where the pain has valued, identified purpose, such as avoiding a person or situation, and it is unconsciously okay not to suffer from it.
Acute pain is defined as pain having recent origin. Examples of causes include physical injury such as a broken arm, or an emotional shock such as losing something or someone of esteemed value. Grief can cause muscles to cramp resulting in acute pain, and that can become chronic.
Since acute pain, by definition, does not afford time for the person to incorporate unconscious benefits, or reasons to continue, direct hypnotic suggestions are apt to be effective, both for immediate and for longer term relief, although it does no harm to investigate the possibility that such a benefit has been incorporated.
Chronic pain is defined as prolonged pain. Typical examples include the pain associated with arthritis and spinal damage, yet even these pains can be managed with hypnotic techniques. During the course of the pain experience, benefits of feeling pain can accrue without conscious awareness that it is happening. Examples of such benefits include getting attention and avoiding undesired situations. We are talented at taking advantage of whatever life offers; we derive benefit where none is at first apparent. These benefits are seldom recognized consciously and can become the basis for maintaining the pain. To achieve relief, they must be identified and considered in the light of current knowledge, and, assuming the conclusion is reached that the benefit no longer applies, or that it is not worth the penalty (the pain), that unconscious conditioning can be reversed and the pain relieved. However, until all such unconscious benefits and purposes have been identified and resolved, direct hypnotic suggestion will likely provide only short-term benefit, if any at all.
Examples of cyclic pain are migraine and tension headaches, premenstrual pain and morning sickness. The fact that the pain is cyclic probably rules out the possibility of physical or organic cause; they are almost certainly psychogenic. For example, organically caused pain from a brain tumor does not present cyclically, nor does the pain associated with cancer, another organic pain source, although it can vary over time. Nevertheless, if it decreases to zero, it is most likely psychogenic. The cause of cyclic pain, just like the other classes of pain, must be identified and resolved before effective, lasting relief can occur. In the meantime, direct hypnotic suggestion may provide significant temporary relief, and the use of self-hypnosis can also be of real value in masking the pain.
Either medical or psychological causes can be at the root of severe pain, and either class can at least be alleviated with hypnotic techniques. Pain is always about perception, regardless of the cause and regardless of the severity. “Severe” can refer to acute or chronic pain and in unusual cases to both. An advantage of hypnosis in dealing with severe, as well as other pain experiences is that disassociation can be experienced more easily and disassociation provides for the alteration of perception.
The most common example of this class of pain is Phantom Limb Pain. Here, the pain is perceived to emanate from a location that no longer exists, e.g., an amputated arm. However, there are cases in which pain is reported to be experienced outside the body in some other “phantom” location, as though it has been disassociated. Often, the abrupt cessation of such pain in response to hypnotic suggestion is sufficient to bring about permanent relief; however, long-term relief can be better assured by resolving related influences that might cause it to continue. For example, if the patient has unconsciously learned that pain has the benefit of getting sympathy, it is apt to continue in spite of the conscious, rational opinion of the patient, until that unconscious belief has been reconditioned.
We speak of emotional pain in the same framework as physical pain, and in fact, it can evolve into actual physical pain through the action of smooth muscles reacting to the emotion. Also, verbal expressions of emotional pain parallel those of physical pain, perhaps constituting an unrecognized suggestion to experience physical pain.
Whether the pain is emotional or physical, treatment should begin the same way. Unconscious involvement should be explored, and since there is not conscious awareness of that involvement, treatment must address the unconscious domain directly. Any unconscious influence that might prolong the pain must be resolved and, again, Subliminal Therapy is the most effective and the most efficient way to do this.
Unconsciously inspired self-punishment is often involved in causing and sustaining pain; some long-forgotten act that was regretted then, and yet is now laughable, can cause such self-punishment. Relief from emotional pain can often be achieved by experiencing physical pain. There might be an unconscious belief that pain is deserved, inevitable, or is unavoidable. The pain could be a way to stay awake, or to avoid awareness. In short, any imaginable reason could be the cause, and our imaginations know no limits. As stated above, the task of relieving unconsciously inspired pain must include identifying and resolving the unconscious basis for the pain. With the use of Subliminal Therapy, a
significant number of my patients have succeeded in relieving severe, chronic pain from injuries and surgeries experienced years ago, injuries that have required morphine patches for relief until treated by Subliminal Therapy.
Essays on Career Development
If indeed you are being held back it could be due to most anything. The first step in resolving the problem is one of identifying the barrier.
• If it’s lack of knowledge, perhaps the boss is the best source of guidance about what to learn and how to learn it.
• If it’s your personality, your real friends are the best source of identification, with professionals to aid in accomplishing change.
• If it’s a matter of opportunity, broaden your horizon by joining groups of interest and network for new opportunity.
• If it’s your self-image, you will not likely be successful in changing it without professional help; friends don’t usually know how and the required insight is not available by self-examination (We lack perspective about ourselves, we get lost in the bias of wishful thinking and emotions).
1. Take responsibility for your status in life. Until you do so, you cannot change it.
2. Go to the boss with a solution, not just a problem.
3. Avoid closeting your ideas. Even though someone might steal one, expressing them opens the door to more of the same and you build that reputation.
5. Leave your personal problems at home.
6. Argue for your limitatio
Essays on Weight Control
Of all the problems treated by Subliminal Therapy, weight control is by far the most difficult to achieve. Once achieved, however, the transformation is dramatic, because the change encompasses not just reduction in weight, but improvements in personality, self-image and attitude as well
Yet, in spite of unprecedented success in controlling weight by Subliminal Therapy, the road to completion can be longer than expected, and can be bumpy.
The essential causes of weight problems are either compulsive eating or an unconscious mandate to be heavy. When the cause is resolved, loss of weight becomes possible with fewer traumas and, unlike the typical cyclic pattern in which weight is regained, the loss is maintained.
For a fortunate few, the benefits of using Subliminal Therapy for control of weight seem immediate; for most, however, the benefits accrue gradually, even subtly, as changes in character take place. Along with awareness of effortless behavior change, the patient may notice in retrospect that there is no longer a desire for some food, or find they are eating less, or drinking less of an inappropriate liquid than before. The rate of change is not predictable, and in any event is not likely to be as rapid as might be wished, but once achieved the new pattern of eating behavior will have become a lasting aspect of the patients nature, just as the previous pattern had been an aspect of previous nature.
Every experience in life has an effect on us. The effect may be minuscule or dramatic, but even if minuscule, if there are many and related, the accumulated influence can be significant. Achieving control of eating behavior requires that each of those “learned” influences (those that are causing the excess weight) must be identified and resolved. Since, in the case of eating behaviors, conditioned associations between eating and other good things begin at birth or before, the total number of such associations is many-fold. They are not consciously recognized and so cannot be addressed consciously. This is where the advantages of Subliminal Therapy manifest as the most efficient and effective way to identify, and then to resolve, those influences. When the psychological barriers to being thin – or to controlled eating, as the case may be – have been set aside, the rate and specific procedure for loss of weight can be accelerated by any number different programs if desired.
The treatment program for weight control using Subliminal Therapy will follow a predictable pattern. First, there will be an initial session of history-taking, evaluation and instruction. This will be followed by a series of sessions, occurring as frequently as possible, during which the bulk of influences that are causing the weight-producing behaviors will be identified and resolved. When this phase has been completed, and it is not possible to determine in advance when that will happen, the sessions will occur progressively less frequently and the benefits can be expected to have progressive impact.
It is not possible to warrant or predict the total number of treatment sessions that may be required in a given case; they may be few or they may be many in number, depending upon the patient’s life history. I have seen success in as few as seven total sessions, or in as many as forty. It can, however, be said with certainty that success in every case requires advanced, conscious commitment to complete the number of sessions required.
Although extra-conscious abilities have at times been recognized and acknowledged, largely by fringe groups, the potential of their pragmatic application in psychotherapy has not been recognized; this “higher level” of mental functioning is innate in all people and forms the core of Subliminal Therapy (ST).
The extra-conscious process that forms the core of ST is based on the concept that many problems, both physical and mental, derive from conditioning from prior experience. Resolution, therefore, is probably best accomplished by re-conditioning. ST is a logically applied procedure that employs these generally unrecognized, extra-conscious abilities to analyze data, draw conclusions, and make decisions to achieve the therapeutic purpose. Hypnotic phenomena are implicit in the procedure, as demonstrated by the fact that patients typically and spontaneously assume a trance state during treatment, and other hypnotic phenomena become evident.
Some years ago, there was a lot of public interest in subliminal suggestions. Not to be confused with such suggestions, ST is an analytical tool for uncovering and resolving the causes of presenting problems. Conceived in 1974 by the author, with the first peer-reviewed publication in 1987, ST has evolved to some extent; however, it has maintained the basic concepts. In the intervening years, ST has demonstrated a uniquely high rate of success in treating a wide range of presenting problems, both physical and mental. Beginning in 2008, objective data have been collected from the author’s patients to quantify its efficacy. This data is presented in the ST Success Rates table, affirming the author’s prior subjective judgment that the rate of success is uniquely high. Thus far, the data shows an overall Effect Size ratio of 0.858 and a general improvement of 81.5%. The average treatment time was three hours, following one hour of history taking and training in self-hypnosis.
Subliminal Therapy has features in common with other therapies; however, the distinct and outstanding difference lies in its use of extra-conscious mental capacities that are not usually recognized. These extra-conscious abilities are pragmatically enlisted to accomplish consciously desired changes, accomplished in a logical series of steps that are guided by the therapist.
Publications and Articles
■ Article – Rancho Santa Fe Review: Psychologist Makes It His Personal Mission To Tell The World About The Power and Effectiveness of 'Subliminal Therapy'■ Article – Carla Payne, Psy.D.: Subliminal Therapy for Addiction: An Interview with Ed Yager, Ph.D.■ Article – La Jolla Patch: UCSD Professor Teaches Subliminal Therapy at Athens Conference
■ Publication: Pain – Perception and Treatment
■ Publication: Utilizing Extra-Conscious Process in Psychotherapy