“Hypnosis” and Other Mythical Kingdoms of the Mind
Dave Dobson, PhD
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE a flower that does not exist? Better than that, how do you go about describing beautiful, artistic arrangements using those self-same, non-existent flowers? For years scholars have tried to define the phenomenon labeled “Hypnosis” as if this accomplishment would yield them more skill in its use. For those of you that may be reading this in an effort to better dissect the noun “Hypnosis”, you will be disappointed. This is not about the man-made label, “Hypnosis” but rather about the seemingly miraculous capacity of the human mind to utilize tremendously potent phenomenon that written history would indicate has survived five thousand years of use. Science cannot define “Electricity” as anything more than energy. Scientists are evidently comfortable enough with their not knowing about electricity, to spend their energies in developing more skill in the utilization of that phenomenon.
IT HAS TAKEN ME YEARS to become comfortable with the not knowing aspects of “Hypnosis” but in gaining that state of mind, it has given me the freedom to really explore the wondrous potentials of this magnificent phenomenon. Every clinician whether they recognize it or not, has developed their own unique model for therapy, their own concept of the “mythical kingdom” that works for them. This model for the most part, is a complex, inter-weaving of the results of their life experience and formal training. This then becomes the territory that they guide the client through in the process of therapy. It has always been this way, fragile man, fearing the unknown, constructing gods and demons to regulate the unexplained, to give them a sense of peace and security, while secretly knowing it is still out of their control. And in spite of everything, muddling through. It has only been in the last hundred years or so that we have developed a semblance of scientific language to deal with the subjective inner processes of the mind. For thousands of years persons manifesting aberrational behavior were either stoned, cast out, or shut away from society, not for their benefit, but because of the overwhelming fear of society.
THE NOT KNOWING, of how such a circumstance is possible and the unspoken, screeching fear that I too, could be infected. This condition has improved considerably now in the latter half of the twentieth century. We no longer stone them to death or cast them out to survive on their own, (our society is no longer nomadic) we do segregate some of them from us for our mutual protection, but most importantly we are making efforts to understand the structure and genesis of these aberrations, to learn about ourselves and with this knowledge intervene constructively and perhaps even repair the damage.
THE FIRST MODERN MAP-MAKER of the mind was Sigmund Freud. Regardless of the name you call the different psychological philosophies, traces of this mapmaker are evident in the language, if not in the concept. Less than a hundred years ago words like; unconscious, preconscious, ego, Id and super-ego had no meaning, they did not exist at all. They were the names Freud gave to the portions of the mind that he explored, by inference and deduction, labels that persist to this day, describing a process that is indescribable and having meaning only by collective agreement. Regardless of what one thinks of Freud’s concepts and discoveries, one has to admire his courage and determination to delve into an area of human behavior that at that time in history, out of fear, was ignored by society as a whole. In my mind, I liken him to Christopher Columbus.
HE TOO, WAS LITERALLY sailing into the face of popular (established) beliefs and fears. His concept of a round world defied their concept of a “flat” world, and their “reasonable” fear of falling off the edge of the world! It took great courage and much determination to organize and execute his exploration. He did prove the world to be round, but we have since learned that he made a grievous error. He discovered the West Indies, not the East Indies! It is important to note that in spite of his immense error, (omitting an entire ocean), that it has not deterred us from developing the eastern seaboard, or Miami Beach! It is when I began to recognize that no matter how society accepted or rejected the ideas of men such as Freud, Pavlov, Jung, Adler, Skinner, Berne, Perls or Janov, it really didn’t matter. Each in their own way were describing their own interpretation of this mythical kingdom of the mind. It was this recognition, that each were describing THEIR voyage, and only future knowledge alone will determine the accuracy of their navigation.
The above is the introduction to the book, which I am currently finishing, as Dave directed to me to do.
The book will be available 2017.
Copyright Barbara J Stepp
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