"It's a good thing," LInda said. "Boredom drives you to do something different." I have to admit that I am bored right now. I don't do much bodywork anymore, and most of the time I am wearing a baseball cap and Levis, and I drive a pickup. The other day I was wearing an army cap and a green t-shirt advertising a Bob Dylan concert. Scotty, who runs the shop for the paving contractor, was coming out when I was pulling in. "Is that your army drag?" he asked.

He thought it was funny that I call the Fann stuff Linda brings home to me "construction drag." But I have to admit I am without a look of my own right now, and so am hanging out in the local costuming. It's just as well. This is a conservative place and a man wouldn't really feel comfortable dressing as a canary. It's funny how these clothes are both familiar and not familiar. I came of age in these clothes. They were like a uniform: Levis, t-shirts and baseball caps.

I am looking back at some of the different things I have done when I was bored. I have been a writer in different capacities, a photographer, and the related fields of public relations and advertising. I've read a ton of books, mostly good literature but some with green covers and erotic depictions of forbidden pleasures, as well as countless genre books. I've studied hypnosis, but I don't care for the mainstream version of hypnosis.

The way hypnosis is practiced is a sort of imitation of allopathic medicine, with the focus on intervening in a negative process and reestablishing wellness. If you are a smoker the hypnotist can put you in a trance and install a suggestion that you will despise the taste of cigarettes. You might quit or you might keep smoking but be squinting and spitting a lot. If you are overweight suggestions can be given that you are empowered by the feeling of hunger. Perhaps substitution can be used, so that instead of falling on a fawn and devouring it in the meadow behind the house, you realize your hunger is not for food so much as for beauty. You close the drapes and dance naked to a drum and five hole flute

When my old friend, Brad, and I were investigating hypnosis twenty five years ago, his mentor had been Pierre Clement, who wrote some books and had a thriving practice in the Haight Ashbury at one time. Clement's mentor had been a French Canadian faith healer, whose only English was: "I can do this for you." It was all he needed. I was more traditional, going to a couple of schools to get certified as a hypnotherapist. Pierre, Brad related, said that most hypnotists bore you into a trance. They overload a sensory channel, usually auditory, having your eyes closed or fixated on an object.

I observed that because hypnotists imitate allopathic doctors, they tend to attract people who are looking for some magic bullet. Like doctors they are careful to "do no harm," and to not for example say, "depth," in describing the trance, because it sounds like, "death," and this can be disturbing. The idea is to make the person have this deep carefree surrender to that which is there when all else has departed, which if you backtrack and have a look at it, is the womb. So you want to float them in a saline solution in a timeless place. It's all diagnosing and dispensing the drugs.

Brad recalled a lot of what Pierre had to say, such as, "The best guarantee of success is getting the money up front." It sounds a little like he's a con man, and maybe he had some of that in him. But if you don't know the con man in yourself you're ripe for being conned, and that's a bad position to be in if you're the hypnotist. Pierre was observing the truth of the matter, which is that people will justify their behaviors. It's called cognitive dissonance. If you pay for hypnosis in advance you have already agreed to the trance at an unconscious level.

This kind of information was unknown in the licensed schools. They taught it as if it was a business, and they were a franchising operation. You learned what these hypnotists did and then you could go do it yourself with your own clientele. You could learn different kinds of inductions, deepening techniques, how to help people recover lost objects, inner child work, habit control, and so on. And because they were licensed, they above all were "respectable." They gave you a certificate to frame and put on the wall, and that respectability passed on to you.

William Faulkner said that the problem with contemporary man isn't that he is evil, but that he is paltry. He has abstracted himself out of existence, and the most abstracting force is respectability. I tend to agree with that.

Our point of view was that we were not putting people into trance, we were trying to bring them out of trance. So we looked for alternatives to the boring trance state, so closely associated with the New Age kind of romanticism, with the sacrament of vanilla wafers and herb tea. We more or less combined what I was learning from Milton Erickson and some other heavy hitters with what he had learned from Pierre and his reading. The result was moving away from the droning induction and deepening and toward faster induction and use, often just a sentence to make an opening and a sentence to drop in the suggestion.

At some point I realized that no matter how good you are at putting somebody into a trance, it's mostly entertainment if you don't have a grasp of psychology. The important thing about this isn't knowing the information so you can use it so much as knowing when you are making or taking on a projection, and most importantly, the knowledge that you really do not know the pattern in advance. The first education is knowing and the second is to realize you don't know and just thought you did. You have to wait and see. It isn't astrology where you can look into the stars and see the right answer.

Edmund's line in King Lear: "Such is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behavior, we blame for our misfortune the sun the moon the stars and all the heavenly orbs, as if we are fools by compulsion, knaves by spherical predominance."

Another problem is that no matter how much somebody tells you, and how much they think it is true, the mouth lies. It recognizes some things and not others because it is under the influence of respectability. The mouth lies unconsciously. This is what led Freud to reject hypnosis in favor of the analysis, during which the compensation of the unconscious can be seen by the analyst, in unconscious slips for example: Ice melt is also I smelt. It isn't what you think you did it's what you dodo. Context is everything.

But the hypnosis he rejected was not the hypnosis of Erickson. Freud was using something similar to Erickson, when, for example he asked about the parental relationships. This involves regression and time distortion and often stacked realities. He might see something which is being avoided and ask about it. This causes confusion and is trance producing. What Erickson did was point out that there are ways to use hypnosis without doing a formal induction and deepening process. Certain things tend to create trance and thus there is no need for formal trance. With some consciousness of what is trance producing and how suggestions are placed the hypnotist can practice a positive art or a negative art. Beware the dark side, Mr. Cheney.

Most people have an impression of hypnosis which involves submitting to someone else's will. They don't expect to not notice the moments when they are susceptible to suggestion. They expect to have their eyelids glued together and not be able to open their eyes, though they try with all their might, or the arms are too heavy to lift ... that sort of thing. This can be vastly entertaining and a wonderful way to teach deep relaxation techniques. But I like stories better as therapeutic tools.

A therapeutic story contains information that bypasses the conscious mind. This is how fairy tales work in the psyche. Through the story, the person can become more aware of the pattern being engaged in the psyche. As with dream material, the information comes up only as the conscious mind can accept it and integrate it. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Like dreams, good stories are amoral. They do not say what should happen, but look at what is actually happening in real time. The hidden behaviors and elements, rejected by the respectable mind, are included. Dreams also are amoral. It simply isn't part of that system of understanding. Morality comes down from above and divides. This knowledge comes from below. It is personified in fairy tales as the magical animal. Some fairy tales are far older than the earliest known written alphabet.

Because a fairy tale is amoral, there is no behavior which can be imposed on it to secure a good outcome. The same behavior which leads out of the woods in one story leads into the woods in another. Today's easy passage is tomorrow's death trap. There is nothing outside the protagonist which is bounced off of and imposed on the situation, which is the way a religion or ideological teaching works: The guiding reference is outside, and the process of reflecting off it requires time.

The fairy tales operates on instinctual and emotional resonance. There is only one thing in all fairy tales which consistently guides the viewpoint character through the seemingly impossible task or danger or journey at hand, is the advice of the magical animal. It is the knowledge which comes from the connection to the earth. It comes through the feet. I have read in some forgotten tome that the ritual of washing the feet among early Christians was a non verbal hypnosis, which acknowledged at the unconscious level the nature of the new energy coming through, which was in counterbalance to the excessive top down structure of Rome and thus of Rome's god. That guilty feeling you had in Rome was the black dog tracking your ass to Golgotha.

When I'm bored I just write for awhile to see what I think .... I could go on and on ... but I don't want to bore you into a trance ...

Posted: Sun - November 16, 2008 at 08:36 PM