Ian E. Wickramasekera II

In document 150348493 Deirdre Barrett Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy Volume 1-2-2010 (Page 163-179)

The tradition of hypnosis has reached a critical point in its history where educational and training efforts are now of extraordinary importance to its future. This chapter contains an historical review of a number of pedagogi-cal perspectives on teaching mental health professionals, medipedagogi-cal person-nel, scientists, and others about how to utilize hypnosis. Many different traditions of hypnosis and hypnotic-like practices have emerged over the past centuries of human history. Many of these traditions have often employed some strikingly different pedagogical methods of instruction and espoused radically different viewpoints on the nature of hypnotic phenom-ena. This chapter reviews them, starting with the hypnotic-like practices of various mystical traditions and ending with the modern training guidelines established by members of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how it is possible to draw together some of the best elements of each of these different pedagogical traditions into one training program for teaching hypnosis within a graduate school setting.

TEACHING HYPNOSIS IS THE CHALLENGE OF OUR TIMES We live within an extraordinary and exciting period of time within the overall history of hypnotism. Many of our forebears in the tradition of hypno-sis dedicated their lives to establish the scientific legitimacy of hypnohypno-sis in basic research, medical practice, and psychotherapy (Barabasz & Watkins, 2005; Forrest, 2001). We stand upon a mountain of evidence today about the value of hypnosis in basic science (as discussed in Chapters 1–6 of this volume and by Posner & Rothbart, 2010) and in clinical work (reviewed in Volume 2 of this book and in Barabasz & Watkins, 2005, and Rainville &

Price, 2003). We know that hypnosis is a very useful treatment for patients with pain (see Vol. 2, Ch. 5; Montgomery et al., 2002; Patterson & Jensen, 2003), and we even have a good initial understanding of the neurophysiology underlying hypnotic analgesia (Rainville et al., 1997). Hypnosis has also been shown to be useful in alleviating some of the most common psychologi-cal complaints such as depression (Vol. 2, Ch. 4; Kirsch, Montgomery, &

Sapirstein, 1995). In short, hypnosis has been shown to be helpful to many patients with the most common medical and psychologically oriented prob-lems seen by clinicians today. The scientific tradition of hypnosis has clearly succeeded in producing large amounts of the kinds of scientific data on the nature and utility of hypnosis that would surely have pleased our forbears such as Clark Hull (1933).

However, it has become painfully obvious that somehow the hypnosis community has not been growing much in recent years despite the great amount of progress that has been made in establishing the clinical and sci-entific legitimacy of hypnosis. In fact, recent membership trends in hypno-sis organizations such as the Society of Psychological Hypnohypno-sis (Division 30 of the American Psychological Association) suggest that the numbers of people seriously interested in using hypnosis is declining (Wickramasekera, 2008). Many of the most respected professional and scientific organizations that are dedicated to hypnosis have lower levels of membership than they did in the past. There also seems to be a significant “graying” of the field of hypnosis given that these organizations have far fewer students and younger-aged members than they did in the past. Ironically, there is a real danger that the community of hypnosis may continue to decline further even at a time when the scientific underpinnings of clinical hypnosis are stronger than ever.

Teaching hypnosis has become one of the real challenges of our times.

Educational and training efforts are now as important to our future as are the continuing efforts to establish the scientific and clinical legitimacy of hypnosis. This chapter is meant to help serve as an aid to those who would answer the call to help bring about growth in the hypnosis community through teaching hypnosis to others. We will first begin with an historical examination of the various pedagogical perspectives that have been employed to teach others about how to use hypnosis and hypnotic-like practices (Krippner, 2005) in the remote and recent past. A number of dif-ferent approaches have been advanced over the years to teaching about hypnotic phenomena, and we shall try to draw out some of the best ele-ments of each pedagogical perspective. Finally, we shall conclude with a brief look at how we can synthesize the best elements of the previous tradi-tions into one training program for use within a graduate school setting. I will endeavor to create an outline of a training model that I created for use in establishing a certificate program for teaching hypnosis within a graduate school of clinical psychology setting. It is my belief that we can Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy 146

learn about how to teach hypnosis from following the methods of our for-bears. My model is meant to be a synthesis of both ancient and relatively recent pedagogical perspectives on teaching hypnotic phenomena. So let us now begin with an examination of the historical perspectives on teach-ing hypnosis to begin buildteach-ing the foundations of my approach to teachteach-ing hypnosis.


The Western tradition of hypnosis may rightly be said to have started from the efforts of pioneering individuals like Franz Anton Mesmer, Jose Custodio de Faria (Abbe Faria), and James Braid over 200 years ago (Forrest, 2001).

The pedagogical methods of these early pioneers were quite different than those of our current modern training organizations such as the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) and the Society of Clinical and Experi-mental Hypnosis (SCEH). However, hypnotic-like practices, such as mindful-ness meditation, had been taught for thousands of years long before any of these individuals had established their doctrines and methods of pedagogy with hypnosis (Kvaerne, 1995; Rahula, 1974; Ray, 2002). In this section, we will examine some of the critical and unique pedagogical perspectives that teachers of hypnosis and hypnotic-like practices have employed from ancient to recent times.

Ancient Pedagogical Perspectives on Teaching Hypnotic-Like Practices

Human beings have been practicing and teaching others how to use hypnotic-like practices, such as mindfulness meditation, for thousands of years. Literally millions of people have been taught how to practice and teach others about meditation since the time of the early sages, such as Shakyamuni Buddha (Rahula, 1974) and Tonpa Shenrab (Kvaerne, 1995).

However, I do not wish in any way to equate hypnotic-like practices, such as mindfulness meditation, with actually being forms of hypnotism. Clearly there are very meaningful cultural, phenomenological, psychophysiologi-cal, and spiritual differences between hypnotic-like practices and hypnosis (Krippner, 2005). However, there is enough evidence to suggest that prac-tices like mindfulness meditation are very similar to hypnosis (see Chapter 2 of this volume and Holroyd, 2003) in their overall nature. I therefore assert that there is something that the tradition of hypnosis can learn from the ancient pedagogical perspectives on teaching meditation to others that we may use in reviving the tradition and community of hypnosis.

In this section, I will focus on the critical pedagogical perspectives of the meditative traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and B€on-Buddhism. I have selected Buddhism and B€on-Buddhism since I am personally familiar with

Pedagogical Perspectives on Teaching Hypnosis 147

them and I understand them far better than any of the other ancient tradi-tions of hypnotic-like meditative practices. The traditradi-tions of Buddhism and B€on-Buddhism are also comparatively well preserved today amongst the an-cient traditions. The reader will therefore be free and able to explore any-thing that they see reflected in these words if they wish to. I will leave it to others to write down their own observations of the similarly unique peda-gogical perspectives that come from appreciating the value of other ancient mystical traditions such as Gnosticism, Quaballah, Sufism, or Tantra.

The ancient Buddhist and B€on-Buddhist methods of pedagogy for teach-ing meditation are often quite different from the methods that we employ in hypnosis today. Meditation teachers in these schools employ a radically different epistemology in talking about how we can learn the truth about our mind’s potential and our personal psychology. Meditation teachers in Buddhist and B€on-Buddhist schools also typically employ a much closer relationship with their students. This relationship style could best be com-pared with the relationship between a therapist and their client in West-ern clinical psychotherapy (Wickramasekera, 2004). Let us now examine these two key areas of Buddhist and B€on-Buddhist pedagogy more closely regarding epistemology and the teacher-student relationship.

Curiously, Buddhist and B€on-Buddhist teachers have traditionally eschewed adopting a materialistic outlook on determining the nature of truth regarding our mind and our own unique psychology. Instead, an indi-vidual is supposed to seek out the nature of one’s own mind through a course of disciplined introspection within one’s practice of meditation. This is not to say that one is taught to trust one’s own psychological experience entirely at face value. In fact, a good deal of instruction is given to students regarding the nature of self-deception (Trungpa Rinpoche, 1973). One is supposed to work through one’s tendencies toward self-deception through encountering it directly in one’s meditation practice and in post-meditation experiences in everyday life. Consider the following quotes from the modern-day B€on-Buddhist teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (1998):

All of our experience, including dream, arises from ignorance. It is igno-rance of our true nature and the true nature of the world, and it results in entanglement with the delusions of the dualistic mind. (p. 24) If we are not careful, the teachings can be used to support our ignorance. That is why practice is necessary, in order to have direct experience rather than just developing another conceptual system to elaborate and defend. (p. 26)

The ancient traditions tell us that practicing meditation is really the only way to learn about its nature or to learn about how to teach it to others. The most revered teachers of meditation in Buddhism and Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy 148

B€on-Buddhism are usually people who have devoted many years to their meditation practice. These teachers have also commonly undertaken long, continuous retreats that may last as long as three years or more. A medita-tor who develops a good conceptual understanding of the meditation liter-ature, but who has not experienced these concepts directly in their own practice, would generally be considered a fraud in the Buddhist and B€on-Buddhist communities. We can see that an injunction to engage in personal practice is a clear-cut pedagogical method of the ancient tradi-tions of hypnotic-like practices. These teachers tend to be very skeptical of people who let either their conceptual understanding or their experiential understanding dominate their perception of phenomena.

All of this of course is the exact inverse of our Western tradition of experimental psychology. Western psychology has thrived on using material-istic and empirical methods of investigating the mind. Modern experimental psychologists traditionally have tended to characterize methods of introspec-tion and phenomenology as being inherently unscientific and unreliable. So perhaps it is not too surprising that the Western tradition of hypnosis has not usually employed personal practice as a pedagogical method that commonly.

The emphasis in most hypnosis training programs actually seems to be on learning about hypnosis through learning to hypnotize others rather than learning through cultivating a practice of self-hypnosis. The original critique of introspection in Western psychology came from the early Behav-iorists’ rejection of the experimental tradition of Gestalt psychology (Skinner, 1987). However, over time, modern researchers in psychology and clinical neuroscience have returned to being interested in using introspective and phenomenological data (Pekala, 1991; Rainville & Price, 2003).

“Mentalistic” terms like trance and consciousness that we use commonly in hypnosis are not nearly as criticized as they once were in science (Skinner, 1987). Our modern-day tradition of hypnosis may (twice in this sentence) benefit from following some of the ancient perspectives of Buddhism and B€on-Buddhism now that a respect for introspection and phenomenology are once again returning to psychology and science. We can therefore place more value on teaching our students about hypnosis through encouraging their practice of self-hypnosis. In this way, we can follow the pedagogical methods that the ancient meditative traditions have endorsed for thousands of years while also inviting our students to engage in a lifetime practice that will help them deal with the stresses of their own life.

The pedagogical methods of the ancient Buddhist and B€on-Buddhists can also be distinguished from the contemporary pedagogical methods of hypno-sis regarding how they develop a teacher-student relationship. Buddhist and B€on-Buddhist teachers of meditation are taught to establish a very close rela-tionship with their students. A great teacher is said to be a very special per-son who possesses at least three essential qualities, such as unlimited friendliness (maitri), empathy, and being completely authentic in their

Pedagogical Perspectives on Teaching Hypnosis 149

interactions with students and in their realization (Wickramskerea, 2004).

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1974) once wrote that a good teacher is:

Anyone who can reflect you as a mirror does, and with whom, at the same time, you have a relationship as a personal friend. (p. 171) Supposedly this person is such a spokesman (for the enlightened state

of mind), soaked in the awake state of being himself. (p. 23)

These three qualities of maitri, empathy, and authenticity are of course quite similar to the three core conditions that Carl Rogers (1957) named as positive regard, empathy, and congruence when establishing his ideas about the core elements of client-centered psychotherapy (Wickramasekera, 2004).

Furthermore, Rogers’s work on these three elements of the therapeutic rela-tionship have been almost universally adapted into all other forms of psycho-therapy (Horvath & Luborsky, 1993; Keijsers, Schaap, & Hoogduin, 2000). I refer the reader to my earlier article on this subject (Wickramasekera, 2004) where I discuss these striking similarities in more depth. However, suffice it to say that being with one’s meditation teacher should ideally be an experi-ence where one feels very comfortable and intimate.

I have no doubt that most people who are now practicing and using hypno-sis have at one time or another had a special relationship like this with a hyp-nosis instructor. This may commonly be a clinical supervisor or dissertation adviser who has been charged to provide them with supervision after they have received some initial training in hypnosis. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis has wisely created an approved consultant program to en-courage this kind of close mentorship between students and their teachers.

SCEH and the Society of Psychological Hypnosis have also attempted in the past to match mentors with mentees through various programs. A panel led by Dr. Michael Nash at the 2008 annual meeting of SCEH in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, elicited many spontaneous personal recollections from the audi-ence members about their treasured relationships with mentors. Many of the spontaneous recollections discussed the primary importance that such close personal relationships had played in introducing and sustaining their involve-ment with the hypnosis community. Sadly, there is a limited number of teach-ers who are actually capable of serving as mentors. The need for such teachteach-ers appears to exceed the current resources that we now have in the hypnosis community. Therefore, we should all look for ways in which we can personally serve as mentors to the new people coming into the community of hypnosis.

The Public Demonstration of Hypnosis:

An Early Pedagogical Method

Many of these early pioneers of hypnosis, such as Mesmer, Abbe Faria, and James Braid, utilized public demonstrations of hypnotic phenomena Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy 150

extensively as a critical element of their pedagogical methods. A close reading of many of these early hypnotists’ methods suggests that they did this for a variety of reasons involving the mass appeal of the phenomena to the public. One reason that the early hypnotists seemed to enjoy using public demonstrations was to reach as many people as possible to inform them about their views of hypnosis. Hypnosis and hypnotic phenomena became one of the top areas of fascination during the period of the early hypnotists (Forrest, 2001), and their demonstrations drew very large public audiences and inspired many dramatic works and newspaper articles. It may be said that some of these early pioneers may have held more prurient reasons for trying to reach as many people as possible (Forrest, 2001), how-ever, I will leave these ethical considerations to the side for now. Abbe Faria is a good example of one such early hypnotist who seems to have had a very genuine desire to use his public demonstrations to inform the public about the nature of hypnotic phenomena. It is said that Abbe Faria began all his public demonstrations of hypnosis with a half-hour lecture about the nature of the phenomena. His lecture was supposed to have emphasized a message that the real power of hypnosis lies within the abil-ities of the hypnotic subject rather than in himself as the hypnotizer (Car-rer, 2004). Abbe Faria was thus one of the first of the early hypnotists to try and use public demonstrations to counteract people’s misconceptions about the nature of hypnotic phenomena.

Unfortunately, most of the people putting on public demonstrations of hypnosis today seem to have no other purpose than entertainment in mind (Barber, 1986). However, there is still an undeniable appeal for public demonstrations of hypnosis, and that appeal can be used to reach new peo-ple in an ethical fashion. For exampeo-ple, a recent public demonstration of hypnosis put on by Dr. Guy Montgomery at the 2009 annual meeting of the APA in Toronto drew a very large audience that was much larger than that seen at any other session related to hypnosis that year (Wilmarth, 2009). A quick show of hands from the audience that day revealed that most of the participants had never received any prior formal introduction to hypnosis despite being psychologists or graduate students of psychology.

Many of the audience members reported afterwards that they came to the demonstration out of a simple desire to see a demonstration of hypnotic phenomena and to learn something about it from a reputable source.

Standards of Training for Hypnosis and the Spiral Curricula Method

The establishment of professional organizations devoted to hypnosis and hypnotic-like practices in the West began at the same time that the early hypnotists were giving their demonstrations. Mesmer formed a group that came to be known as the Society of Harmony (Forrest, 2001). The Society

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of Harmony employed a kind of graded series of initiations into Mesmer’s ideas about animal magnetism. The structure and content of these initia-tions were held in some secrecy so that overall the Society of Harmony somewhat resembled similar organizations of Freemasonry that were popu-lar at the time (Forrest, 2001). Many other organizations have continued to spring up in the 200 years since Mesmer’s Society of Harmony. These organizations have varied wildly in their commitment to science on one

of Harmony employed a kind of graded series of initiations into Mesmer’s ideas about animal magnetism. The structure and content of these initia-tions were held in some secrecy so that overall the Society of Harmony somewhat resembled similar organizations of Freemasonry that were popu-lar at the time (Forrest, 2001). Many other organizations have continued to spring up in the 200 years since Mesmer’s Society of Harmony. These organizations have varied wildly in their commitment to science on one

In document 150348493 Deirdre Barrett Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy Volume 1-2-2010 (Page 163-179)