Hypnosis: Suppressed memories and past lives

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40lSince qualifying as a curative hypnotherapist in 2003, I have received a fair amount of enquiries from people looking to go back into their past to find out if something traumatic had occurred, whether that be their current life or a previous one. Two questions always arise from queries such as these; can you really recover forgotten memories and if so, what are the benefits and pitfalls in doing so?

Firstly, we have all had instances where we have tried to recall a forgotten piece of information. Perhaps hearing a song on the radio and trying to remember the artist’s name. Or recognising someone on the telly but struggling to remember where you know them from. It’s incredibly frustrating and the more you try to remember, the more it eludes you. But when you stop trying to think and move on to something else, that piece of information will often pop back into your mind hours, days or even weeks later. So clearly, we can recall forgotten information, but it’s easier to do so when the conscious, analytical part of the mind is distracted and thinking about something else.

Hypnosis is a tool used to distract the conscious mind. By being in a relaxed day-dreamy state, you can let your thoughts float off and wander elsewhere. As a consequence, your subconscious will become heightened and more receptive to suggestion. Subliminal ads were thought to increase sales of coca cola and popcorn, since moviegoers were in a transfixed, hypnotic-like state watching a film. But to what degree can you influence the subconscious and how might it be beneficial?

Identifying forgotten, out of date information relating to, for example, a phobia or self esteem issue, could help enable the sufferer to find a resolution to their problem. Or helping someone to recall when and where they last saw their watch, can help them to be reunited with it. So recovering forgotten memories in these instances could clearly be seen as beneficial. But are there any dangers with regression?

As hypnotherapy has not been regulated, I have a huge responsibility to help promote hypnosis as a credible, safe technique that when used professionally and appropriately, can provide effective relief from all manner of symptoms. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go and there are people out there in practice who have had no formal training. If you were to go into therapy with a belief or suspicion that something upsetting or traumatic happened to you, then it probably wouldn’t take much for someone to ‘lead’ you to find information to confirm that suspicion. This, however, does not mean that the information uncovered is real or accurate. The same applies to past life regression.  Personally, I do not believe in past lives, although I’m happy to be proved wrong. However, I know it would be possible for me to lead someone to a ‘past life’ if that’s what they were after. Any responsible, ethical hypnotherapist will work with you knowing that they do not have any of the answers. They will not lead you to confirm a theory or suspicion.

When working with clients, I never assume that the information retrieved is 100% accurate. I do a lot of checking and cross checking to allow for contradictory or alternative information. It is only by identifying and reinterpreting the true subconscious misinformation that a symptom can be completely disposed of.

I’ve just read an article about a sexual assault case in the US being thrown out of court because the accuser had received hypnotherapy prior to the charges. In the state of Washington, the supreme court strictly limits testimony from people who have been hypnotised. Clearly, there’s a long way to go before hypnosis will be recognised as a valuable, accurate technique but with better regulation and responsible, properly trained practitioners, this will hopefully become a reality. In the meantime, you can visit www.general-hypnotherapy-register.com to locate a qualified hypnotherapist in your area.

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