A woman I know approached me the other day and asked me what I thought about entity possession. When I asked her why, she mentioned that a hypnotherapist had suggested to her she might be possessed by one.
It turns out she (the client) was feeling a little vulnerable and according to her, the first thing the hypnotherapist said was “Maybe you’re possessed by an entity.”
Now, I wasn’t there so I don’t know what actually happened. But here are my thoughts on the matter…
What Parts Therapy Teaches Us
If you’ve studied NLP much, you know about Parts Therapy. Sometimes we have internal conflict. Maybe we want to quit biting our nails, but it helps relax us. Maybe we want to stop smoking, but on some subconscious level, we think it’s cool. Maybe we get angrier than we should but on some level we feel threatened and the anger helps us feel stronger.
In short, an individual can have conflicting motivations happening in the same context.
It’s easy to label the part of us that wants to smoke, bite our nails or react in anger as “bad.” But it’s only the behavior we object to–we don’t have anything against the intention behind the behavior (relaxing, feeling cool or feeling strong). It’s much easier to bring about change when we involve that motivation into our change-work. Those who don’t are simply trying to repress a part of a client’s personality. That’s dumb.
Those motivations that are driving the behavior we want to stop are the most powerful allies in actually stopping the behavior….
… Once we include them in the process.
What Unconscious Responses Teach Us
If you’ve ever watched anyone in hypnosis have their arm float up (or experienced it yourself), it’s kind of creepy at first. If you’ve ever felt an ideomotor response such as a finger twitching in response to a question, it doesn’t seem like it’s you. It is you though. It’s the same you that takes care of all of the other unconscious things we do–like breathe all day without thinking about it. Like blink whenever something comes at our eyes unexpectedly. So, we have these responses that we generate and that seem to come from outside ourselves.
What Are Symptoms?
Symptoms, ladies and gentlemen, are our friends. Symptoms are communications. Symptoms let us know when we are on the right track and when we aren’t. Symptoms are often parts of a person that are out of rapport with other parts of a person. Looked at another way, they can be a sign of internal conflict. Get to the root of the conflict, resolve it–and symptoms often disappear.
The Thing About Parts, Unconscious Responses & Symptoms
Parts, unconscious responses and symptoms are all things that are easy to misunderstand. It’s easy to dislike a part of us that drives a behavior we don’t like. It’s easy to want a symptom to disappear (even though it may have valuable information for us). It is easy to think unconscious responses are driven from some outside force. But the more we disavow parts of ourselves, the further away we are from healing. You don’t heal by hating part of yourself, ripping it out, stomping on it and throwing it away.
That’s what happened (and worse) in the dark ages. Many unexplained things were thought to be of the devil.
Some People Are Still In The Dark Ages
Unfortunately, some people still live in the dark ages. And in the land of faeries, leprechauns and daemons, it’s easier for muddled thinkers to attribute a part, symptom or unconscious response to an entity. “Hey, I’ve got an idea… Let’s take a valid part of someone’s personality, demonize it, call it names and cast it out of the body!”
In my opinion, that’s damaging to a person in most cases. Not good.
This is why i like and respect you Keith. You are a no BS type of person. Thanks for that article. I am reading David Burns Feeling Good book. cognitive work. I think NLP will help me too. I have purchased some of your CDs and workbooks and find them very valuable. Thank You.
very thought provoking stuff, as a physician I am finding
self-destructive behaviour every day . Either smoking, alcohol or drug abuse or harmful behaviour to others. Quite often I find by digging that many people have been both physically and emotionally abused as children, are told they are bad. They often hate one of their parfents and at the same time will feel guilty, because it’s not the right thing to do (Judeo-Christian ethics preach honoring your parents). However once I find the source problem it is difficult to heal.
There is too much damage. I tell them not to use their friends or family as therapists as that can destroy the relationships.
It’s a real problem I see every day.
Dr Arlen Rosenberg
PS can you do me a favor and send my e-mail address to Ms Fedor. I dated a a young lady with same last name many years ago maybe she is a relative!
I think it’s useful to find the motivations, the positive intents behind ‘self-destructive’ behavior. The behavior can then be viewed as a misguided effort to do something good. We can help clients find better ways to achieve that good.
I personally admire many people who strive to live in harmony with their religious upbringing. Where it creates conflict for them, we can help them sort it out. For instance, it’s possible to honor one’s parents without accepting all of their behaviors. Hate (as another example) might be a protective mechanism against propagating the same type of behavior.
We’re all for the protection and perhaps we can help them find another, less personally destructive way to protect themselves.
PS: Though there have been those with whom I’ve failed, I don’t think I would classify any of them as having had “too much damage.”
I concur with Joanne Fedor’s assessment— you write very succinctly and with lots of pearls of wisdom!
As, a hypnotherapist, I can’t imagine telling a client such a thing…as I want to help them find positive resolution/healing, not something that would instill more fear and helplessness…
I agree, finding out what that symptom/emotional conflict/pain is wanting the client to know, is a much more powerful approach to resolution and healing than going down the deep dark tunnel of entities/demons, etc.
There seems to be too much “victimization” in our culture already…let’s focus on personal empowerment instead!
Good stuff! Thanks, for your work Keith,
Jackie Foskett, CH
Much of this string seems to me to relate to an essential struggle we all face, that is how we come to “know” and how we respond to otherness or difference from within our particular sense of how things “are.”
For those who have been possessed by demons, and I know two who “know” this to have happened to them, it’s a pretty powerful frame for pretty much everything they experience afterwards. Likewise, those who have survived cancer; divorce; family, pastoral or playground abuse; alien abduction; or my father’s home movies.
We all carry some baggage; we strive to unpack as much as possible in our roles helping to resolve “symptoms.” But there are plenty of times we fall short. Witness some of the horrible websites some of our bretheren and sisteren in the hypnosis space have up. I call this nonsense ‘unicorn and rainbows” and not in a good way. (My unicorn hates rainbows, BTW.)
As was well-discussed in an earlier blog post, there seems to be a serious lack of structural or systemic orientation among some of our peers. Lots of recipe card techniquess and scripted “inductions.” If we can’t keep one foot firmly planted in a workable (say, 90% reliably helpful) model for mind and behavior, we run risk of missing the goods when they make an apprearance, or much worse, laying on more confusion. If we keep finding the same problem or framework everywhere we look, maybe the problem is in the lenses we are using and no further. Just because it ‘feels’ like demonic possession doesn’t make that a helpful observation, unless it gives the client a framework for changing it.
If someone threw “demonic possession” at me, I expect I would respond pretty much like I would to “terminal cancer.” And vice versa.
One of my favorite terms from a previous life is “iatragenic” – caused by a doctor. Perhaps we need to coin one for our situation, perhaps “hypnogenic” fits the bill. Sadly, there are plenty of examples we might cite to flesh out a short paper. Okay, back to my horoscope…
Wonderfully said Bob.
a metaphoric afterthought: I am sure coaching t-ball to a bunch of five or six-year-olds can seem like pure torture after a particularly grueling day on the job. But I can’t, at the moment, imagine how telling the kids about torture, Hell, or my struggles to get a corner office is going to help their game. It seems to me that by focussing attention, lovingly and fiercely, on skillfully playing the game, as a team, while being good humans, we may add value. Otherwise, maybe coaching isn’t our best choice for being helpful…
This is an interesting topic that is veiled by a shroud of mysticism which is unbelievable by many and perhaps substantially validated only to a select few. Because all scientific knowledge is obtained by observation, I suggest conducting some experiments and verifying whether or not this can be proven true or not.
In my quest for understanding this deviation from the norm I have mixed reviews. The possibility for its veracity still exists with respect to my limited sampling, however key to making that determination is implementation of lucid scripting, consistency in communication and accuracy of reporting in addition to proper training and understanding of the elements comprising the drawing of any conclusions.
Since my training includes Spiritual Hypnotism and Metaphysical Hypnotherapy in addition to Traditional Hypnotism, I suggest further exploration into this topic before shunning it completely. At first I was somewhat skeptical myself, however some of my findings are rather extraordinary. Consider then remaining open-minded to the possibilities, for the unknown realm is truly beyond our immediate comprehension.
I am more concerned with what is healthy for clients than I am in what is “true.” The theories we have about what causes problems in people’s lives can be helpful to them–or harmful. It’s a good idea (I believe) to examine our pet theories and whether or not they are useful in getting clients where they want to go.
Of course, when we have a more accurate idea of what’s going on, we can make changes with a minimum of muss and fuss. From what I’ve seen though, entity possession is not generally much in the way of an accurate idea of what’s going on.
Also, there’s the fact that opposite motivations can easily occur in folks–and it’s easy for one part of a person to label another evil or an entity. That makes working in the entity framework dangerous (to the client) and mostly silly (IMO).
Certainly, there are things that exist in this world that are beyond my imagination. My guess about entities though? No. To sum up my attitude about it? “I could be wrong–but I’m not,” to quote The Eagles.
I’m not trying to prick anyone’s bubble, just observing that in my experience, most of what passes for metaphysical phenomena can just as easily, and with MUCH better outcomes be responded to as symptoms — natural, useful phenomena within a pretty well understood and reliable (and self-healing) system.
And just to be fair, I am equally suspicious of anything that sounds like it might match up to a diagnostic code that some “provider” put on a claim form somewhere. I believe it’s all about paying attention to what is going on in the room, right now. Not what we have studied at great expense and time commitment. The literature is filled with examples of sincere practicioners finding, falsely, phenomena they studied for their theses. This isn’t just bad hypnosis (of which there is plenty), it’s just plain bad practice. It further victimizes clients/patients, rather than helping develop generative choices.
And not to gore your ox, but I am having trouble getting my head around these “entities” putting up with basic standards of replicability, double-bind studies or peer-review in the context of legitimate research. But I really like the phrase “lucid scripting.” Good album title.
I invite my demons in for tea, from time to time…
I appreciate everyones sincerity with regards to their conceptualization of what is healthy and going on for their clients.
It is indeed an honor for me to work with individuals who harbor “dark forces”. This specialization is the most fascinating part of my work.
Upon completing unique and particular cases that I am addressing, it is my intention to publish my findings.
Look forward to that day!
Remember one thing, while sometimes dark, labeling anything evil brings more negativity than anything else. I’d say beware about sticking to old ideas of these things. I’ve dealt with some of these things that many believe to be fanciful but through that I’ve found that man of the old traditions are biased and taken through the cracked lenses of those who’ve seen them.
No such thing as darkness, only a lack of light. You cannot fight a shadow and win but you can light a candle.
The unconscious mind speaks to us through many languages, and in endless forms. Ultimately, all those forms are not true, but they stay true for some people at certain phase. People overcome the false to see the Real. Because the false is so deelply buried, and because people cannot access the deeper levels of their own minds, they come to hypnotists for help.
Maybe It is unwise for a hypnotist to tell any client that the client is possessed by a demon; On the other hand, to tell another client that he is possessed, and implant in their subconscious a more powerful symbol than the conceived demon, is the only way to help that client get free from the “demon”, as this clent did believe at the deepest level of his psyche that he was demon possessed. There is simply no logic at that level of the mind.
Ultimately, the demons are not real, but equally unreal are the motivations driving the behaviors. Ultimately there is only energy, but this energy is perceived as different forms according to the levels of people’s consciousness.
I know people are healed by all kinds of suggestions, the important thing is to find one that can really take away the client’s problem.
Thank you all.
I understand your objections completely. I’ve used parts therapy many times and found great success with it. Though my friend, there have been those times where I have found things that my rationality and past experiences had a hard time accepting. I have dealt with these things that some call attachments, as objectively and scientifically as I was taught both by the guild and other institutions of higher learning. I can tell you that while I may not believe in fairies or leprechauns, I have dealt with things that evade all parts therapy along with other conventional means. These have presented dark and sometimes vicious personalities which not only didn’t not fit in with the client in any way but also as I investigated them showed me separate pasts and truth be told scared the living daylights out of me with things they would mention about me or my past etc.
I have no need for you to understand or believe, just know that in a world where our best science is unable to locate 93 some odd percent of our own universe, know that we are far more ignorant to the things around us than we are wise.
After learning about the concepts of attachments I tried it and my clients made recoveries in both mind and body. This is not something which is needed for parts therapy and is ineffective for the most part unless it is needed. Yet every once in a while you will come across something which will only be dealt with by being released to the light.
The subconscious is a grand thing, an adventure yet to be understood on the most basic levels even if some of us hypnotists believe otherwise.
So in summary, I respectfully disagree, take it or leave it. We’ll all know truth on this side or the next.
“Knowing the truth” is completely beside the point and, at least to me, a silly rhetorical distraction. If a so-called practitioner of any paid service professes even a rhetorical 93% (I’m very curious about the math here) ignorance of their chosen field, this individual is coloring WAY outside ethical lines. Perhaps they should choose another line of work.
I drive a 13-year-old car. Sometimes it needs service. If the person I pay for service is limited in their scope of practice to wiggling wires and randomly flicking switches while reciting the mantra, “I wonder what this thing does,” I have paid a fake, a fraud and/or a charlatan. Or I am at Jiffy Lube. Now, if the “mechanic” were to tell me that my car was possessed by a demon, I would find this disconcerting, but I might want to watch how the auto-exocism was conducted. I love kooks.
But if I or a loved one were suffering the last thing I want is an allegation of mystical “expertise.” It is by definition oxymoronic. “Oh, I’ve seen all sorts of demons, I know all about them. I have friends that are smarter and more powerful than demons, if you know what I mean by ‘friends’. And I have technique and a NGH certificate.” Or worse, having encountered some phenomenon outside familiarity, for a practitioner to start improvising within a frame of being terrified and ego-involved is beyond incompetant. It is morally and often criminally wrong. Installing a frame that puts healing choices and power outside the client’s immediate realm (however THEY frame it) is ego-tripping at the client’s expense and that cost can be very very high.
You want to play angels and demons, go ahead. But do it on your own time. And if they keep coming up in your practice, quit practicing. You have no idea what you are doing.
Sorry to be blunt. But in this realm, hypnosis and hypnotherapy, where we have no legitimate established standards, no requirements for demonstration of competancy or legitimate continuing education, no scorecards, no reporting, no supervision, the barriers to entry are essentially non-existent. Those who depend heavily on first-person hallucination to practice are delusional and dangerous and need to find some other realm to find their places in the world. I hear Jiffy Lube has a good benefit package.
For me, the most important part is clean language. Since we don’t experience reality directly. Since we interpret all sensory inputs. Since we are governed essentially by our own unique model of reality. Since we use metaphor to grasp things we don’t understand, it’s important for the therapist to avoid imposing his/her model on the client. Enter into the client’s model and re-frame. If the client believes in entities, then I want to appear to believe in entities. If the client is a hard-headed rationalist who believes he sees the objective truth, then I want to appear to be equally scientific.
Oh! This cheerful and ever-uplifting positivism, so entrenched, so intransigent! What an unwavering belief in progress, explanation, ratio of all hues & stripes. Methinks that there are many things beyond pure phenomena.