Specializations

War of the Psyche – 4 of 6

Hypnotherapy Helps the Warrior Heal

When dealing with combat stress and its follow-on disorders, hypnotherapy is an adjunct to treatment by licensed clinicians – both psychologists and medical doctors. Further information on hypnotherapy and combat stress reactions and PTSD is here. A perspective on the psychic battle against death concludes this series.

As a particle physicist trained to believe that time only flows forward, I wasn’t prepared to accept a fact known to many warriors: the brain is a time-travel device. Once I did, I developed a completely new understanding of trauma: in the event, the survivor reaches deep into themselves to find resources, and receives them from their own future.

Thus survivors of trauma relapse. As they develop strength, their past reaches out to claim what was necessary to survive. My counsel to those that survived personal trauma was to recognize the dynamic and respond to the need in an organized way. When the event crashes through the walls, don’t fight it, but offer to that earlier self:

I love you. We are strong enough. Come to me.

While effective, that advice was offered as an intuitive layperson.

Professionally, the gatekeepers for trauma recovery are licensed psychotherapists and psychologists. Their goal is simple: keep the sufferer in the here and now. The techniques used include stress inoculation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy. The strength thereby created is essential to recovery, but insufficient: it masks off the past rather than healing it.

Alternative healing modalities address the psychic process head-on. Methods such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy) broaden the perceptions of the mind-body to diminish the hold of trauma.

Hypnotherapy enhances all these techniques. The traumatized mind is wide open – the barrier of the critical mind has fallen, and so information is taken in as absolute truth. This victim is often susceptible to paranoia and conspiracy theories. By taking the client into deeper hypnotic states and then out into conscious dialog, the procedure of hypnosis rebuilds the barrier of the critical mind.

Secondly, hypnotherapists rely upon dreams to monitor the evolution of the subconscious landscape, and interpretation of dreams was always a central feature in therapy. Dreams occur in sequential episodes during the night, and until hypnotherapists learned how each episode affects the development of behavior, attempts to interpret dreams could heighten client anxiety. Once the episodes were understood, recurring dreams (such as flashbacks to traumatic experiences) could be passed and eventually expelled from the subconscious. This is valuable to trauma victims whose haunting dreams often wake them in the middle of the night.

As the strength of the critical mind is restored, hypnotherapy’s third goal picks up pace: rebuilding assurance that the client is safe, freeing the conscious mind to restore and reactivate the circuitry that suppresses the fight/flight response. In this stage, in transmitting insights directly to the subconscious, hypnotherapy is an amplifier for psychotherapy.


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Specializations

War of the Psyche – 1 of 6

When Alexander the Great set out to conquer Asia, he marched under the commission of the sages of Ancient Greece. They ordered him to spread Greek culture to the Pacific Ocean. To assist in the mission, one of their number marched with him. After his death in what is now Afghanistan, Alexander testified:

The seer won more battles ever than I.

Alexander was known for his uncanny intuition in combat, leading his mounted Companions in charge against the enemy lines at exactly the right moment to turn the field. His testimony reveals his reliance upon his advisor’s psychic skills to guide him.

A thousand years later, Central Asia was dominated by walled cities that resisted conquest. It was Ghengis Khan, considered by the Mongols to be not just a warrior but a great shaman, that brought an end to these empires, bringing gun powder from China to the battlefield. This innovation turned warfare into massacre. Men no longer fought face-to-face, but at increasingly great distances. Massed formations were marched zombie-like into artillery barrages. In a single day, losses of tens of thousands were not uncommon.

It was the will of their generals that sent men into slaughter – an indulgence only broken by World War I.

In the modern era, those with grievances against the state no longer dare to rebel openly – the lethality of state security services is overwhelming. The rebellious fight as insurgents, intimidating civilians and setting off bombs in public places.

Peace keepers must walk exposed through those spaces, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. These contradictory roles – peace keeper and warrior – create an internal psychic conflict that builds over days and years without cease. The modern warrior is always close to those that would cause harm – the enemy hides in plain sight until the moment of attack. In the field, there is no respite from the exhausting demands of fight and flight.

Part 2

Specializations

Hypnosis and Discomfort – 2 of 4

The Mind and Stress

Given the benefits of releasing muscle tension to promote healing and performance, we might wonder what happens if the tension isn’t released. When held at maximum strain, eventually muscles cramp, and if the cramp isn’t released, muscles harden to bone.

The subconscious knows better than to hold a muscle under such strain. It takes conscious will to sustain a cramp.

That extends to other kinds of strain. When faced with a threat, our subconscious promotes either the fight reaction (“I can eat that!”) or the flight reaction (“It can eat me!”). In nature, the outcome is usually resolved in a matter of seconds.

In society, however, those decisions are complicated by laws and social restrictions forced upon our conscious thinking. Confronted with a threat, we rarely can fight, so we transfer our reaction to another context (the gym) or stew in anxiety. At work, we cannot flee, so we either repress emotional expression or withdraw into depression. These are all decisions enforced by a conscious mind that understands the consequences of allowing our natural responses to run their course: social isolation or jail.

In neither case is the subconscious allowed to discharge the stress. In fact, it anticipates additional confrontation in the future, replaying the situation over and over in dreams seeking a resolution. That interferes with its ability to focus on other problems. As those problems degrade into conflict, stress spreads through our life like a cancer.

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