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The Power of the Mind and The Healing Mind: Books by Joe Keeton
By Alan Scott D.Hyp (Distinction), MBSCH

Among the works I have been reading these past twelve months, I would draw particular attention to a pair of books by the late hypnotherapist Joe Keeton – The Power of the Mind (written in conjunction with Simon Petherick) and The Healing Mind (in conjunction with his wife, Monica O’Hara).

Joe Keeton was a successful Liverpudlian hypnotherapist whose regression work attracted the attention of the Universities of that city and Manchester, whose resident psychotherapist provided the forward for the first publication referred to. In addition, many of his clients were as the result of referral by the medical profession (a not insignificant point, since many of his ideas were (still are?) most decidedly un-mainstream). A portion of his work was documented on national television and is freely available to watch, courtesy of YouTube.

Regression as practised by Keeton was not some peripheral activity, but rather occupied a central role in his approach to healing, whether dealing with repressed trauma from an earlier time of a client’s life or from sometime other. It is his willingness, indeed insistence, that we maintain an open mind as to what that other time might refer to, that makes his writings so refreshing and insightful.

When dealing with what is a highly contentious and hotly disputed area not only of hypnosis, but of philosophy, psychology, theology, indeed of every conceivable branch of science, Keeton is at pains to define his terms, and to lay out some of the plethora of explanations before setting forth his own conviction.

When discussing reincarnation, he mentions the number of clients he has encountered who believed themselves to have been Napoleon or some equally prominent historical figure. Clearly, they could not all have been right! (I once had a heated discussion with a Buddhist, in which I drew attention to an article, written in the early 70s, which referred to the number of women in America who believed they had been Cleopatra in a previous life. (Perhaps they had seen the movie!) The Buddhist’s explanation was that a figure of such historical import would have generated an amount of karma such as would be more than any single individual could absorb. Needless to say, I was decidedly unconvinced!) Joe Keeton goes on to point out that, notwithstanding the popular press, there is but little, if any, evidence to substantiate the work on reincarnation undertaken by Professor Ian Stevenson and his cohorts. (Having read several of Stevenson’s books, it is a viewpoint with which I would readily concur.)

As an interesting aside, it behoves me to point out that Keeton’s wife and helpmeet – Monica O’Hara – was not only sympathetic to the idea of past lives, but actually believed she had been a passenger fated to die aboard RMS Titanic. Indeed, she wrote a book entitled I Died on Titanic. (Well worth a read.) Keeton, for his part, did not dispute the events recalled but regarded reincarnation per se as a simplistic explanation.

Reincarnation, as a theory, gives way to a more plausible explanation, that of cosmic mind. (Readers should be aware of similar ideas from evolutionary biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who has been arguing in favour of morphic resonance, and his seminal work contains much that is to be recommended. In such a theory, our thoughts and behaviour stretch out into space in a manner analogous to a radio transmission, which can be picked-up by others of the same species, either simultaneously or at some future period of time. A catastrophic event, such as the loss of Titanic would generate behaviour reinforced many hundreds of times owing to the number of desperate souls, who lost their lives.)

Another explanation which Keeton discusses is Parallel Universes. Here, we are on much more solid ground than we were with bog-standard reincarnation. (I have read extensively on this topic and, as a starting point, would draw the reader’s attention to the writings of Air Vice-Marshall Victor Goddard, whose (documented) experience flying over Drem Aerodrome, prior to World War II, is a classic in this sphere of endeavour. A fully documented account of this, and other similar occurrences, may be found in his book Flight Towards Reality. The work of J B Priestley, is also a sine qua non for those wishing to become conversant with this particular discipline.)

Timeslips were the expression given prior to Parallel Universes or the Multiverse gaining currency. We can use this in regression therapy as an equally effective alternative to “going backwards” or “entering a tunnel” by suggesting to the client that he or she “gently steps to the side.” (The ‘tunnel’ approach, however, has the advantage that we can give the suggestion to the client that “all tunnels come out into the light. And NOWwww, as you step out into the light, etc.”)

Joe Keeton also mentions Spiritualism, which is often proffered as an explanation for what some would claim to be reincarnation. In this approach – and it not one to be dismissed lightly – hypnosis is employed as a means of contacting the spirits of those who have passed into another realm. It can be argued that those who claim to have lived before are, in fact, contacting the spirit of one who is deceased. (We must be careful to draw a distinction between those who are desirous of using hypnosis to contact the spirit of a departed loved one, from those who, believing they have gone back in time to a previous life, have, in fact, made contact with the spirit of another, long deceased.)

Also discussed are the Collective Unconscious as posited by Jung, and the psychological topic of Cryptomnesia. Both are valuable psychological tools to have in the hypnotherapist’s arsenal, but clients experiencing having lived in another period of time will often display knowledge of which they could not have gained in their current lifetime, while exploring the archetypes of the collective unconscious is more the domain of long-term analysis than that of a single, or several, hypnotherapeutic sessions.

Keeton’s own preference is for what he describes as Inherited Genetic Memory. In this theory, when we inherit our parents’ genes we also inherit the memories not only of our parents, but of our grandparents, all the way back into pre-history, and it is these memories to which one may become attuned by way of hypnosis.

It is necessary to describe these various theories of hypnotic regression because regression is at the core of Joe Keeton’s healing work. He states, and this a highly contentious position with which many would take issue: “No one has to explain the cause of a trauma if they prefer to keep it to themselves. But they do have to relive it, if they are to rid themselves of its influence.” I would take issue with this position because (as Graham Wagstaff and others have demonstrated) it is often impossible to pin-point what is the cause of a particular trauma. Indeed, for those who are desirous of taking this route in therapy, it is often the case that as long as the unconscious can provide a cause acceptable to ego-consciousness, then the symptoms will dissipate. To use a simple (biblical) analogy, should the goal of hypnotherapy be to say to a client “take up your bed and walk” or, “remain a cripple while we (attempt to) unearth what made you bed-ridden in the first place?” And to this, there is no easy answer. “Dig” if you deem it necessary, but to rid a client of a presenting problem quickly is no mean feat either. Keeton further muddies the waters when he writes: “Sometimes, instead of blocking off all the events that cause a problem, the unconscious substitutes a memory which, although frightening, is more acceptable to consciousness than the truth.” But what is the truth? That is the unanswered (and perhaps unanswerable) question. It is also the reason why evidence obtained under hypnosis is not permitted to be given as testimony in court.

My own not inconsiderable experience with regression has not been in the realm of healing, although some may have occurred as a by-product in that the majority of clients regressed reported feeling better at the close of the session. All of my clientele who wished to undergo regression did so out of mere curiosity, or because they “felt something” (for example, when visiting a historical place) which they wished to explore further. To date, I have not used regression as a therapeutic tool. This would be an interesting new avenue to explore, in the event of a client desirous of going down this route.

When asked my views on reincarnation, I reply that there most certainly exists a “phenomenon,” but that the past life hypothesis is by no means proved, or likely ever to be proved, owing to (more provable) alternative explanations.  I remain unconvinced that a client’s current problem is the result of something which occurred to him or her in a previous existence, although should they believe it to be the case, then it is probable that a satisfactory resolution of the issue will be attained. (The most heinous current example, however, of the expounding of what I consider to be a pernicious doctrine is that of the former national England football manager Glenn Hoddle, who opined that mentally and physically handicapped people were rendered thus as punishment for indiscretions committed in a past life. It goes without saying that there is zero proof for such a hypothesis.) If one accepts Keeton’s premise of inherited genetic memory then the idea of revisiting the past, or a past can have a credible underpinning. It goes without saying, however, that this approach does not view present disabilities as punishment and moreover, with Keeton the objective is cure, not sufferance.

In conclusion, I would thoroughly recommend Joe Keeton’s writings as a stimulus for further study and understanding of what I consider to be one of life’s most thrilling avenues in need of further exploration.

After this dissertation about theory, I will let Marjorie Bunyard have the final word, lest we lose sight of a fundamental truth: “It is not necessary to know the reason or explanation for hypnosis to take advantage of it, just as we can use an aspirin as a painkiller without knowing how it works.”

Alan Scott D.Hyp (Distinction), MBSCH
Alan has a Hypnotherapy practice based in York, Yorkshire. tel: 01904 651234

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