There are now several fully formed psychological systems that have branched from the original psychoanalytical movement started by Sigmund Freud in the early part of the 20th Century. Naturally the fundamental tenets of these systems have much in common, especially regarding the importance of the unconscious mind. Freud did not actually discover the idea of the unconscious as the concept was already present in the literature of his day but he did recognize and champion it's relevance until it has become almost universally accepted.
The basis of modern psychoanalysis is the exploration of the unconscious mind to reveal the dynamic causation of psychological and functional problems. Most will be familiar with the methodology of psychoanalysis, at least as it is presented in the popular media and will understand that the process is rarely a short term solution to any difficulty. It's not uncommon for patients to remain in psychoanalysis for several years before significant changes are realized.
Perhaps the great service that Freud did by impressing on us the importance of the unconscious mind was, to a certain extent, counter balanced by his mis-handling of the technique of hypnosis. Even today, because Freud did not understand hypnosis (there is no blame here as few at the time grasped its relevance and Freud's teacher Charcot insisted that only hysterical patients could be hypnotized) the technique is underrated by psychologists and held in mild contempt by classical psychoanalysts.
This is quite unfortunate, not only for the practice of psychology but for the many patients who's treatment could be much briefer and less financially demanding if hypnosis was rightfully employed. In my private practice over the past decade I have proved to myself the validity of the idea that many problems have a psychogenic origin. This is often due to emotional energy repressed into the unconscious as a result of some trauma in the patient's past. By exploring the patients unconscious mind with skillful analysis these charged memories can be uncovered and the symptoms relieved.
Unlike Freud I have found that analysis in hypnosis (hypnoanalysis) is an excellent technique for quickly locating and releasing repressed material. So much so that on many occasions presenting problems that have proved resistant to orthodox treatment have been treated in one or two sessions. Surely more research must be devoted to this therapeutic approach.
What follows is an excerpt from a recording titled "Helen, a case of Psoriasis" and is part of the transcript of a hypnoanalysis session I conducted in the autumn of 1998. The patient was a woman of 32 years, who had for most of her life suffered from psoriasis. Her psoriasis had resisted the onslaught of a great number of orthodox and unorthodox treatments throughout her life and when she arrived at my office she was covered in inflammations from head to toe. Even her face was mildly affected, this was disguised by makeup. The part of the transcript I give here starts after the induction has taken place and the patient is in deep hypnosis."
Transcript of the session
Therapist: And in just a moment, I'm going to pick up your arm, and drop it gently into your lap, and when I do, you're going to find that you'll go right the way back to that very first classroom that you went to when you started school. And you'll find that your memory is now so good that when I drop your hand into your lap, you'll find yourself back in that classroom and in your mind it will be very, very clear. You'll find you'll be able to look around and see what used to be in the classroom, the desks and the chairs or benches. You'll be able to see the things that used to be on the wall, usually pictures and decorations and things like that. You'll see the teacher, and the other children in this class, because when I drop your hand into your lap, as I said your memory will be so good that it will actually be like your right the way back in that first classroom. Now stay relaxed, and watch that happen. Here we go, 1,2,3. There we are Helen, now your right the back. And this is your very first classroom. You just look around and tell me what you see there first of all.
Patient:....Tables and chairs. Therapist: And what about the walls, see things on the walls there? Patient:..Paintings. Therapist: And what are you doing in the class at the moment? Patient: Writing. Therapist: You're writing. You have a good look down you can see what you'rewriting, you tell me what you're writing... that's it, you look downyou'll know what you're writing there. Patient: Can't see anything. Therapist: Alright, stay relaxed, not that it matters, but I'll drop your handinto your lap and you'll find that your memory will get so much better thatyou can actually see and know what you're writing there. Here we go, 1,2,3,there we are, now you can see what you're writing. Now you know what it is.What is it? Patient: It's about chicks. Therapist: About chicks? Patient: Hm hm Therapist: OK. Alright. And is it a little story you are writing or something, isit? Patient: No, a poem. Therapist: A poem, that's good. Now this is your very first classroom, and inyour mind's eye, I'm just sort of there with you. And let me ask you, Helen,you're about 5 now? Patient: Hm hm Therapist: Do you ever have any problems with your skin, any rashes come up onyour skin at all? Patient:.........No Therapist: No? Does mum have to do anything to your skin at any time? Anythingspecial, any creams or ointments? Patient: No.
Therapist: No? Alright that's fine. Let me ask you Helen, you're just 5 years ofage, you're in your classroom there, do you celebrate your birthday? Patient: Hm hm. Therapist: Yes? You have a little party or something? Patient: Hm Therapist: Alright. Well in a moment, I'm going to pick up your arm and drop itdown into your lap again, and when I do, this is going to be the day your were7. Your 7th birthday. You'll see where you are, and you'll see everything that is going on. And if you had a little party, a little tea on the day you were7, that's where you will be, attending that tea and that party again. Now stayrelaxed, when your hand touches your lap, it's the day you're 7. Here we go,1,2,3. here you are Helen, now you're 7 today, it's your 7th birthday. Andyou just look around, tell me where you find yourself first of all. Patient: At London Zoo. Therapist: London Zoo? And is this a treat for your birthday or something? Patient: Hm Therapist: And who's with you at the zoo? Patient: Mum and dad and brothers and my mums best friend. Therapist: Are you having a good time? Patient: Hm Therapist: You like London Zoo? Patient: Hm Therapist: Alright. Now let me ask you Helen, you're 7 today, your 7th birthdayat London Zoo, how's your skin now you are 7? Ever have any problems with yourskin, any rashes or anything like that, that trouble you? Patient: Mm, no Therapist: No? never troubled like that? Patient: No Therapist: Alright. Mum doesn't put any special creams or ointments on your skinor anything? Patient: No.
Therapist: No? Alright, fine. Well, when I drop your hand into your lap next timeit's going to be the day you were 8. This will be your 8th birthday. You'llknow where you are and you'll see it even clearer than when you were 7,because with every breath you take, this incredible memory of yours is evengetting better and better. So stay relaxed. When I drop your hand into yourlap you're 8, it's your birthday and let's see where you are. 1,2,3, there weare Helen, now you're 8 today, It's your 8th birthday and where do you findyourself now? Patient: At home. Therapist: At home? Having a party or something? Patient: Hmm Therapist: And you've got some friends round? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Yes? Mummy there? Patient: Hmm Therapist: And Daddy there? Patient: No. Therapist: Having a good time? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Great. Now, you're 8 today, let me ask you again, do you ever have anyproblems with your skin, any rashes or anything on your skin there? Anythinglike that ever given you any trouble or concern? Patient: Mm, yes. Therapist: Yes? Something troubles you about your skin does it? You have a rashor something? Patient: On my shin. Therapist: On your shin? Patient: Hm Therapist: Does mum put ointment or anything on it for you? Patient: Hm, yes, and in my hair. Therapist: And in your hair as well? Patient: Hm Therapist: Alright. So you've got a sort of rash on your shin and in your hair? Patient: Hm Therapist: Alright, now you're 8 today, but when you were 7 you didn't have thatproblem, did you? Patient: No
Therapist: So something happened between the day you were 7 and the day you were 8 to cause that rash to come along. Now what I'm going to do in a moment, I'm going to pick your hand up and drop it into your lap again, and you're goingto find that your memory is going to be so good when your hand touches yourlap that you're going to go back and remember, almost reexperience the veryfirst time you ever become aware of that rash appearing on your body. Andwe'll see where you are, and what's happening to make you become aware of that rash. Stay relaxed, see where you find yourself. 1,2,3. There we are Helen,now this is the first time you're becoming aware of a rash. And whereaboutsare you? Where do you find yourself now? Patient: ..... in the bath. Therapist: In the bath? Bath at home? Patient: Hm hm Therapist: And how have you become aware of that rash? Have you found it, or has mum seen it? Patient:......Don't remember.....erm..... Therapist: Alright, that doesn't matter. But you're in the bath and you've justbecome aware of this rash. Patient: Mm
Therapist: Now I'm going to pick up your hand and drop it into your lap again,and in your mind there, you're going to be that little girl in the bath again.Because I'm going to ask you some questions, and you're going to find thatyou'll know all the answers to those questions, because in your mind you'regoing to be that little girl back in the bath again. Stay relaxed. Watch thathappen. Here we go, 1,2,3. There we are Helen, now you're in the bath, andyou've just become aware that you've got a rash on your skin there. Now thattells me that not long ago, something must have happened to worry you or upsetyou in some way. To cause that rash to start coming up. Because you never hadit when you were 7 or on your 7th birthday. So something has happened to causethat. Let me ask you, how's everything at home? How's mum? Do you get alongwith mum alright? Patient: Hm hm Therapist: And how about dad? Getting along with dad alright? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Yes? And what about brothers? Getting along with your brothersalright? Patient: Not really Therapist: Not really? Is there anything about your brothers that worry you atall? Anything different about them? Anything different they've been doing at all? Patient: No, just picking on me. Therapist: Just picking on you? Patient: Mm Therapist: Alright. What about other members of your family, anything about othermembers of your family worrying you at all?... What about grandparents,anything about grandparents trouble you? Patient:.....Don't see them very often. Therapist: You don't see them very often? Patient: No. Therapist: Are they OK? Patient:........ My grandad isn't. Therapist: What's wrong with your grandad then? Patient: He's got cancer. Therapist: He's got cancer? Patient: Mm Therapist: Does that worry you? Has mum told you that it's something to worryover? Patient: ....... Ehm..... no...... it's very sudden. Therapist: It's very sudden? Patient: Hm
Therapist: Alright. Now you're in the bath there, you've just become aware of this rash coming up. And you've discovered that grandad's got cancer. But you're only 7, so I'm not quite sure whether that really is enough to worryyou or not. But something is troubling you. Something perhaps just a day or two before this rash first appeared that's in your mind. And it's a big worry, it's a worry that you've carried for many years, even to adulthood. So I'm going to pick up your hand and drop it into your lap, and whatever that worry is will come very clearly in your mind, but you'll still be in that bath in your mind. Stay relaxed, watch that happen. 1,2,3. Now what is it that's troubling you Helen? Patient: They didn't tell me, I heard them. [Patient starts to cry, andcontinues throughout the remainder of the session.] Therapist: You heard them? Now who did you hear? Who did you hear? That'salright, you can let those feelings come out. Who did you hear then? Patient: Mum and dad. Therapist: And what did you hear them say? Patient: That he was dying of cancer. Therapist: Is that grandad? Patient: Hm Therapist: So you knew that he was dying? Patient: I don't think I was meant to know. Therapist: No, but you overheard them? Patient: Hm Therapist: Alright. Obviously I can see that it worried you a lot because youknew what that meant didn't you? Patient: Hm Therapist: Alright. Now was that just a short while before that rash come up onyour skin?...... Your memory's so good now, you can see that very clearly, inyour mind. Because I think that we've got to the cause of this skin rash now. Patient:.... Yes....... Therapist: Did this rash just come along perhaps a day or two after you overheard mum and dad talking? Patient: No, I banged my leg. Therapist: You banged your leg? Patient: Mm Therapist: And what happened when you banged your leg? Patient: I banged my shin, and it was a cut there or a graze, I don't know, Ican't remember. Therapist: That's alright. So there was a cut or a graze on your shin? Patient: Hm and that's where it started. Therapist: Alright. So did you have any unpleasant thoughts about that bang onthe shin, or anything like that? Patient: No. Therapist: Alright. See I can [Patient interrupts] Patient: I was running. Therapist: You were running? And were you running just in fun, or? Patient: Yes. I was trying to get to the room first. Therapist: In front of whom? Patient: Oh, just friends and just messing about. Running about. Therapist: Alright. Now why it should start on your shin when you bang it, I'mnot quite sure. But just prior to this rash is when you overheard mum and dadtalking about grandad dying, wasn't it? Patient:Hm Therapist: Is that right? There is no doubt about that in your mind? Patient: No Therapist: Alright. Because this skin rash has got to be caused by an upsetinside you of some form, and it certainly looks like it's to do with youdiscovering that grandad's going to die. Does that seem right? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Alright. Now you stay relaxed, because I'm going to pick up your armand drop it into your lap, and when I do it's just going to be a week afteryour grandad died, did your grandad die a while after that, while you werestill young? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Alright. Well, when I drop your hand into your lap it will be about aweek after your grandad died. And let's see how your skin is then. Stayrelaxed and watch that happen. 1,2,3. Now its about a week since grandad diedand where do you find yourself at the moment? Patient:.... at home. Therapist: At home? Alright. And how's your skin now? How's that rash? Is itstill in the same place or has it got bigger or less, or? Patient: Bigger and on my knee. Therapist: Now I'm going to ask you a question and you'll know the answer to thisbeyond all doubt. It's been about a week since your grandad died, has it gotworse since he died? Patient: Yes. Therapist: It has? In other words, this skin rash represents your grandad dyingand passing away, is that right? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Your upset. Patient: Yes. Therapist: Alright. Now what I'm going to do to make sure we get all this upsetout of your system, I'm going to drop your hand into your lap and I'm going totake you back to when you realised that your grandad had passed away. Now stay relaxed and you just see where you are and how you're finding that out. 1,2,3. Now where do you find yourself? Patient: At home. Therapist: And what's happening? How are you discovering that grandad has died? Patient: ..... Dad's talking to us. Therapist: And whereabouts are you? Patient: In the lounge. Therapist: You're in the lounge, and what's he saying? You can hear his wordsagain. Patient:..... Just that he'd been very ill, and died very suddenly........ that'sall I can remember.
Therapist: That's OK. Stay relaxed. If there's anything else important that dadsays that worried you or troubled you in any way at all, when I drop your handinto your lap, it will all come back. 1,2,3. Now is there anything else there? Patient: No. I asked him where mum was? Therapist: And what did he say? Patient: That she was with nan, looking after her. Therapist: Did you want mum at that point? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Alright. Now, with what you can see, are you clear in your mind thatthis rash is a result of your grandad getting ill and dying? Can you see that? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Because I want you to be sure that's the main thing We've got to make sure that we get all the cause of this rash out. See at the age of 7 we could see that you weren't troubled by any skin problems at all and then we see that you overhear that grandad's ill and he'll probably die and we see the firstsign of your skin rash coming along. That's right, isn't it? Patient: Yes Therapist: And then we see, about a week after he's actually passed away thatyour skin rash starts to get worse, doesn't it? Patient: Hm Therapist: Now, what is it, why is it that this problem with losing your grandadhas caused you to have a skin rash? Is it a way of trying to remind you ofhim, or anything like that?........... What is it? Why is it that in yourunconscious mind Patient: I couldn't imagine not seeing him again. Therapist: You couldn't imagine not seeing him again? Patient: No. Therapist: Its an upsetting thing for a young girl, isn't it? That's it, you stayrelaxed, you let those tears flow, you can wipe them up in a while. Patient: He used to make me laugh. Therapist: Did he? Patient: Yes. Therapist: You were very close to him then in that case, were you? Patient: Yes. Therapist: And that's why this loss of him upset you so much? Now if we've gotall the concern and all the worry to do with your grandad out of your system,then this rash is very quickly going to clear up and disappear away. But firstof all we have to make sure that we get all the upset out the way. So what I'mgoing to do is pick up your hand and drop it into your lap, and if there is anything else at all in your mind which is still responsible for causing youto have this skin rash, anything to do with your grandad that's not out ofyour system, or anything that's unresolved or anything later in life which had a significant impact in you having this skin problem. When I drop your handinto your lap anything else there will come into mind that you need to know todo with this skin rash. Stay relaxed and see if anything is there. 1,2,3.......Now is there anything else there in your mind that's troubling you?
Patient: Just people taking the mickey out of me. Therapist: Because of your skin? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Well, you're not going to have that anymore. You're not going to havethat problem anymore at all.Now that you know what's caused your skin problem,is there any reason that you have to hang onto it? Patient: No Therapist: There isn't, is there? After all your grandad wouldn't want you tohave it, would he? Patient: No Therapist: And it doesn't serve any purpose, does it? Patient: No Therapist: So you can get rid of that skin rash now, can't you? Patient: Yes. Therapist: Because I know you'd like that, that's for sure, isn't it? Patient: Yes.
Therapist: Now, if there's anything else in your mind about yourGrandad and losing him that still worries you or troubles you then you'll findthat it will soon settle itself down.If there's anything left, anything we haven't cleared out you'll find that when you get home today then you'll find all those tears and upsets coming out.So it might just take a little while to adjust to the loss of your grandad. But that's OK because that will soon happen. You're going to find now, Helen,now that this upset, now that the cause of your skin problem, of your psoriasis, is out the way, then already - even as I am speaking - your skin is starting to heal itself.Those marks, those blisters, or whatever you call them, are now rapidly disappearing and fading away. Your skin is healing up. On every part of your body where you have that problem with your skin (which I know is just about every part of your body) it's going to clear up. It's going to disappear away.
Your skin is already healing itself.There is no emotion sort of boiling away, bubbling away inside you to affect your skin or, in fact, to affect you in any way at all. So, in a moment, I'm going to get you to open your eyes. But you are going to find, as I've said, already your skin is clearing up. It's healing itself. And when it's completely cleared up, you will find it will never come back again.Any problems or upsets that you may have later in life will never affect your skin in any way at all. You won't need any creams anymore to make your skin clear of those blisters. You can still use make-up and creams to make your skin look nice and soft. But the trouble with your skin, your psoriasis there, you will find is going to clear up and disappear away. See, after all, we can see for the first 7 or so years of your life your skin was fine, wasn't it? No problems, no worries, was there? Patient: No.
Therapist: Then you discovered that your grandad was seriously ill and was probably going to die and there's a sign of that rash starting to appear. Then, when he dies we can see that rash gets even larger. That's because you never really got over the loss of your grandad. That's what those tears are that you've been feeling and are feeling at the moment. Those feelings are things left over from years ago. But very, very quickly now, you are going to come to terms with the loss of your grandad. And because of that, that's why your skin is going to become soft and clear. Your skin is going to be wonderful. It's going to be the way that for many years, undoubtedly, you've always wished and dreamed it would be. Do you know what I mean by that? Patient: Hm Therapist: Alright. Now, in a moment, I'm going to get you to open your eyes. When you open your eyes you'll remember everything that's been going through your thoughts there. And when you open your eyes, you're going to be calm. You're going to be relaxed, and you will be feeling really good within yourself. And above all else, the best thing of all, is that you're skin is very soon going to clear up those blisters on your skin. That sort of 'upset' on your skin, if you want from your grandad. And you have beautiful, soft and supple skin from the top of your head, all the way down to the tips of your fingers and the tips of your toes. Never again will that loss of your grandad upset you or worry you in any way at all. Never again will you have this psoriasis, this problem with your skin any more. So, when you're ready, open your eyes, and notice how really good you feel within yourself......"
End of session.
The student should note that it is important to observe the patient closely as many non-verbal clues are given when the patient is in the proximity of sensitive emotional material. It is also important when 'interrogating' to select questions with care to avoid 'leading' the patient or even worse, creating illusory memories.
In following up this case some months later it was found that Helen is now free of inflammation. All that remains are minor red blemishes on certain areas of her body that had been particularly badly affected and we can anticipate that these too will disappear in time.