The dangers of suppressing memories
It may be tempting to ask a hypnotherapist if it is possible to suppress a person's memory. Especially if the content is traumatic, or if there is a memory that causes a large amount of distress to someone.
Do not do it, it's not worth it. Like the body, the mind needs to be kept in a state of homeostasis (balance). If that balance is disrupted, this can potentially cause a number of issues and problems for someone psychologically. Even when a person is experiencing negative emotions or a psychological disorder, there will always be an underlying reason why that is.
Hypnosis is a powerful tool and is the equivalent of a surgeons knife. Clinically, the only time that you see suppressed memories naturally are in dissociative disorders and trauma as this is the mind's natural way of dealing with a situation. However, if you are forcing the mind through hypnosis to use an ego-defence mechanism of suppressing memories then you are disrupting that natural balance. This may lead to repercussions. For example, people that present with this will usually have feelings of low mood and symptoms of trauma, but the suppression of memories can often make this worse.
The suggestions placed under hypnosis to suppress memories will in time, naturally come undone as the brain will try to achieve the balance in someway. The brain may attempt to achieve this balance in many forms, such as:
- anxiety spells
- panic attacks
- feelings of unreality
- low mood
- increased risk of re-traumatising
If you already have these symptoms prior to having a memory suppressed, it may add to the feelings you already experience. You may initially feel nothing and you may even feel great for a short period, but you can not fool the mind and the backlash isn’t worth it.
Traumatic memories make us what we are. When the trauma has been resolved through therapy, it can actually be a source of strength. It is important to go through the process of processing memories in therapy and thankfully with hypnotherapy and other interventions, it makes the process easier. Still difficult, but easier. Therapies that work well with trauma include:
Hypnotherapy: it is a wonderful tool for trauma work and allows the processing of memories to be done in a safe and effective way.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy: some people slate CBT and its effectiveness, however there are a wide range of third wave therapies now available which may have been made to help compensate for CBT's original weaknesses.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing: an eight-phase approach to address the past, present, and future aspects of a stored memory.
Psychodynamic therapy: long-term therapies lack a lot of evidence base, but it is becoming more apparent as research is being done into the current trend. There is place for long-term therapies depending on the issues presented.
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