Recently I attended a speaker’s bootcamp hosted by James Malinchak. One thing James is known for is over-delivering on what he promises. James frequently mixes with celebrities and sports figures, but I was thrilled to get the opportunity to meet (and be photographed with) Stedman Graham. Very cool.
Comedians around the world know that to make a really good joke it has to rely on so-called universals. Some old favorites come to mind: food on airplanes, mothers-in-law, (lack of) domestic bliss. Another “war horse” of the comedian is the dentist. There are lots of reasons for that. Toothache, jaw pain, the high-pitch whine of the drill, the resonance of the drill through the jawbone. These bring with them a certain amount of anxiety and fear.
The fear of the physical side of dentistry is compounded by “thought viruses” (a term coined by Robert Dilts that means a belief that is based on someone else’s – not your own – experience). For example, if I’m a young child and my older brother had a bad experience before I ever went to the dentist in my life, it’s a pretty safe bet that his experience will figure prominently in my mind as preparations are made for my first trip. The familial, tribal and cultural mythologies around dentists and dentistry are largely thought viruses. They press heavily on our little minds long before we’ve had an actual experience, and they shape our mental expectancy.
In fact, because mental expectancy is a major component of hypnosis, it can easily be argued that the cultural mystique around dentists (as being sadists – as in the movie Little Shop of Horrors) is largely bad hypnosis. There’s a basic axiom in hypnosis that what the mind expects to happen tends to be realized. If we’re told from early on that we are going to suffer at the hands of a DDS, we’re going to find it challenging to let the experience be received in its objective fullness.
One of the things that first intrigued me about hypnosis was its applicability to manage pain. Back in the early- to mid-19th Century, doctors were doing amazing surgeries using only hypnosis for pain management. Dr. James Esdaile published a book in 1846 detailing hundreds of operations he’d performed in India (including amputations, tumor removal, abscess drainage, and other abdominal surgeries) all with hypnosis alone. These surgeries pre-date chemical anesthesia.
With the advent of chemical anesthesia, interest in research in hypnosis as an anesthetic dropped off considerably and it’s only been in recent times that it has come to life. Today there are a number of avenues for the application of hypnosis in the dental arena.
Pain control is an obvious area. Hypnosis can allow the dental patient incredible degrees of control. Hypnosis can numb the jaw, the side of the face or just a single tooth. There’s no need for xylocain or novocain. The patient can be instructed to go deeper and deeper into hypnosis as the procedure progresses. With this kind of suggestion, the longer the procedure, the more relaxed the patient. Truly, a win-win!
Hypnosis can also be used to quell and root out that thought virus mentioned above. By providing specific instructions, a good hypnotist can undo the effects of the “bad hypnosis” that even well-meaning mothers and siblings instill in children. And we can innoculate them from on-going “bad hypnosis” after the fact.
Imagine how good it will feel to step out of the dentist’s chair even more relaxed than when you sat down — and without the after-effects of chemical anesthesia. No more “droopy lip”. No more “cheek chewing”. No more swollen tongue.
I can foresee a time in the future when comedians will have to drop dentists as easy targets.
I stated on my FAQ page that hypnosis is an ordinary, commonplace occurrence for people. We go in and out of hypnosis all day long. There’s no “formal induction” to take us there. We just “go there” on our own. Countless examples abound in everyday life. For example, “Highway hypnosis.” You’re driving down a long stretch of open highway and suddenly you become aware that you’re miles further along than you thought — usually as you come up to your desired offramp (and sometimes as you pass it). “Did I pass my exit?” “Where do I get off?” These are questions that often rattle around inside the head of a driver who is just emerging from a highway trance.
Another example happens in an elevator. People get in, turn and face the numbers. They track the numbers as they move from one floor to another. Suddenly the door opens and there’s a second’s hesitation as the trance ends. People fidget trying to figure out if this is their floor. They should know, after all, they’ve been watching the numbers!
It’s a given that hypnotists use this technique routinely. A hypnotist in the clinical arena leverages this form of hypnosis for therapeutic effect. He or she will begin talking to a client using a particular tone of voice and gently begin to weave suggestions for change in with the more obvious commands for relaxation.
Other less obvious forms of waking hypnosis abound. Remember that hypnosis is nothing more than the bypass of the critical factor (your conscious mind’s judging ability) and the establishment of suggestibility. A doctor creates hypnosis in a patient by virtue of his medical authority. That white coat uniform of the doctor is the agent of critical factor bypass and his/her words are the hypnotic suggestions. Thus, all a doctor has to do is declare the wellness or illness of the patient and the patient will respond according to the words. That’s why it is essential for doctors to be precise in their pre-surgical language. A surgeon who says, “You’ll probably be all right” has significantly lowered the prospect of a successful recovery compared to one who say, “You’re going to be fine.”
Dentists bask in same sun as doctors. Their very authority bypasses the critical factor of their patients such that they need to be phenomenally careful with their language. Just the mention of word p-a-i-n will suggestively increase the pain response in the patient.
Parental authority likewise gives adults hypnotic power over their kids. Again, bear in mind that this doesn’t mean automatic compliance on the part of the children. It just means heightened suggestibility.
Waking hypnosis is the tool of choice for politicians and con men, advertisers and teachers, church and military. Where there is authority, expertise, consensus, hypnosis is right around the corner. If you’re not using waking hypnosis, someone is using waking hypnosis on you.
Okay. It’s Sunday January 18th. I’m over the shock of having been laid off from my day job, effective last Friday. So far over it, in fact, that I’m viewing it as a life-changing opportunity. I had been thinking, in a moderately “someday” kind of fashion that “one day” I’d quit the day job and establish a robust, enjoyable and profitable Hypnotherapy-cum-Coaching business.
Well, that “someday” is now. Lord knows, I have the training for it. I took my first hypnosis course a couple of years ago. In 2007 I took NLP Practitioner training, Time Line Therapy™ training, and Hypnotherapy training. Last year I took Master NLP Training, Master Time Line Therapy™ training and Master Hypnotherapy training. I have so many certificates I don’t know what color my office wall is. Additionally, I got a county business license, established my LLC and still sat around waiting for “someday.”
Well, the Fates are funny, I think. When I look at it objectively, there is nothing happening here that wasn’t already in my timeline. Being laid off from my day job is really an acceleration of my future, neither an abrupt change nor a derailment. Profitability is the next step, and after that abundance.