Panic, a form of naturally occurring hypnosis
Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state. Common experiences include day dreaming, concentration which excludes other external stimuli, or driving to your destination without a recollection of the journey and so on. This state is normally a positive experience. Our brain simply goes offline and drifts off into a positive experience.
However, under certain circumstances, the hypnosis can become negative and produce a frightening fear filled experience. A good example of this, is a panic or anxiety attack. In these circumstances, the subconscious brain reconnects with a range of negative feelings or beliefs from early childhood. Consequently those early uncontrollable feelings are triggered again and because they overloaded the brain in childhood where no means have been developed to mitigate against their impact.
An example could be observing an extremely heated or violent exchange between your parents as a very young child. The lack of capacity, maturity and objectivity to fully understand and deal with the exchange can result in a range of very negative responses such as, blaming yourself for causing the exchange, seeing yourself as “not good enough” etc. In addition the young child may be burdened with detrimental physical responses such as, churning stomach, tightness in the chest, “legs like jelly” etc. These become established as the hallmarks the individual’s panic or anxiety.
Panic and anxiety attacks generally appear to develop during the period 18 - 30 years of age, when individuals encounter increasing levels of responsibility or can be triggered at any time by major events that can occur in our lives e.g. becoming a parent, the death of a parent, trauma etc. At this point, the early childhood experience becomes fused with the current experience and the individual’s vulnerability and physical responses become that of the young child. Whilst there are exceptions to this, my intensive experience highlight this process over and over again.
Once panic or anxiety is established, individuals seek to “push it away” or attempt to ignore it. In my view this is a major error because it becomes like shadow boxing, in that it will always mirror your feelings. An individual needs to embrace the panic and anxiety and recognise that your subconscious is attempting to assist you and keep you safe. Taking this approach potentially allows you to change and manage the condition.
The critical role of hypnosis in the development of panic and anxiety attacks, means that hypnotherapy is an invaluable tool when it comes to understanding, resolving and teaching new approaches to deal with what is a very frightening and disabling condition. It allows you to re-examine the initial experience and slightly change the individual’s perception of the initial event. You can then explore the motivations behind the physical responses and negotiate with the subconscious less intrusive ways to operate in future. Finally self-hypnosis can be taught as a means to tackle the thought processes that attempt to create panic and anxiety and to start a positive dialogue with the subconscious mind, so that both the conscious and subconscious can operate together in harmony.
About the author
David Owen, is a hypnotherapist and coach with over 11 years experience in Herts. He runs a diploma in hypnotherapy & NLP (validated by the GHR and CNHC) and provides supervision & specialist training events for other therapists. He has published, The Discovery Technique, for individuals & therapists and regularly speaks to groups and businesses.
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