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What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis: Fact and Fiction
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Deepening the Hypnotic Trance
Testing the Hypnotic Trance
Rules of the Mind
The Power of Creative Imagination
How to Set Realistic Goals
You Can Learn to Relax
Glossary of Terms
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The ringing of the bell alone could cause the dog to salivate. The sound of the bell had become the signal for food. In other experiments a square figure became the signal for a fear response or the flashing of a light became the signal for food. It was also discovered that these signals tend to generalize. For example, if a square paired with a shock produced a fear response, a rectangle would also produce the same response.
From a physiological point of view what was happening is this: If some signal -- food or a chemical -- is brought into contact with the mouth a nerve impulse is transmitted by afferent nerves to a receiving center in the brain and analyzed. From this analyzing center a nerve impulse is sent by way of an efferent nerve to the salivary glands causing them to salivate. If at the same time, or just before the above, some other sensory nerve is stimulated, the impulses are for some reason attracted also to the salivary center in the brain. In other words, from other excited regions of the body, neural pathways are opened up to the salivary center in the brain. However, these "accidental" stimulus-response arcs are unstable and will usually disappear if not reinforced. If the accidental or conditioned pathways are strengthened through repetition, or by some strong emotion, they can become permanent.
While Pavlov's experiment may sound simple, we have learned many things from it. We now know that it is through the process of conditioning that we learn. In order to better understand how the effects of conditioning responses lead to learning, lets take a hypothetical example. Lets see how a child might learn or be conditioned to avoid a painful or dangerous situation.
Perhaps somewhere in the child's environment there is a large black stove. Not having experienced the sensation of "hot" the child has not learned that to touch hot things may be painful. If he should touch the stove and it were hot, the painful stimulus may be so severe that he is conditioned, once and for all, to avoid touching it again. On the other hand, he may try touching it several times before the avoidance response becomes conditioned.
Lets see how this can lead to situations that affect the child in later life. Suppose the child accidentally falls against the stove and is severely burned. This may so strongly condition the child he cannot be made to go near the stove again. The big black stove signals pain, and the response is avoidance. The signal may become generalized to the extent that the child avoids anything big and black. Conditioning may also occur from other signals present at the time; the color of the walls, the sound of the teakettle, even people in the room. In later life the child may have grown into an adult who feels anxious upon seeing a big black automobile. This may be true even though the incident of the burn has long since been forgotten and the fear of stoves extinguished. An adult may dislike, or feel anxious, upon seeing a certain color or hearing a certain sound without being able to understand or explain why. Such responses are undoubtedly due to past conditioning that he can no longer recall. Such conditioned nerve pathways are not all negative or maladaptive; fortunately most are positive or constructive and make living much easier for us. The negative ones cause such human ailments as fear, anxiety, guilt, tension and pain. Sensory information reaching the nervous system as the result of objects that man and other animals can see or feel are the primary signals of reality. Through the process of conditioning we learn to respond to them in certain ways. The conditioned stimulus-response arcs that the primary signals trigger determine the behavior of man and animal alike. Habits are reactions and responses that we have learned to perform automatically without having to "think" or "decide." We are conditioned to carry them out by our stimulus-response (S-R) arcs. More than 95 percent of our behavior is habitual. The typist does not "decide" which finger to put where or what key to strike. The reaction is automatic and unthinking. In much the same way our attitudes, emotions and beliefs tend to become habitual. Most habits, can be modified, changed or reversed, simply by practicing or "acting out" the new response or behavior in our imagination. Decide what you would like to be and have, then picture yourself acting and feeling that way. Dwell upon them -- keep going over them in your mind. Generate enough emotion, or deep feeling and your new thoughts and ideas will form neural pathways. Once these new S-R arcs are formed these new ideas will be automatically carried out with out any conscious effort on your part. An inner speech stimulus is a statement you make to yourself. The statements that we will make to ourselves in order to change our behavior are called auto-suggestions. The words you say to yourself tend to make you act in certain ways, according to your words. Your auto-suggestions can and do form S-R arcs.
Try it for yourself. Start now. Every day, several times each hour say these words to yourself over and over: "Each day I will practice the Semantic Relaxation Exercise." Remember; just say these words over and over to yourself throughout the day. Also say the words to yourself as you go to sleep tonight, and as you awaken in the morning. Then see how you are inclined to carry out this suggestion. Don't assume it works, actually make the experiment. This is very important. You must get the "feel" of these methods.
|The instructions presented are from the personal collections and writing library of Mr. Robert E. Cutter, who died December 13, 2001, while in the process of completing the transfer of his work to the internet. These are offered as educational instruction only. The purpose of this instruction is the effective learning and use of hypnotic techniques for vocational or avocational self-improvement. This instruction is not offered as a substitute for, nor as a supplement to, any form of therapy concerned with physical, mental, nervous or emotional illness. Robert E. Cutter served as web consultant for American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association for three years. His hypnosis education came through the training he provided at a school he owned in the 1950's in Los Angeles, California, along with his wife who preceded him in death in 1980. Robert Cutter was not a psychologist and did not practice psychotherapy, but his interest in hypnosis motivated him to provide free resources materials for others who wanted to learn to use the power of their minds to improve well being and health-related issues.|
Michael A. Robinson, R.N.- BC Psychiatry
Licensed Texas State Nursing Board Registered Nurse
Texas State Nursing Board Certified in Psychiatry
In Honor and Memory of Robert E. Cutter, B.S. 1923-d.2001
From the Writings of Robert Cutter's Self Hypnosis Center
About Feelings Network
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