in the Treatment of Addictions
by Dr. Sol
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– Unconscious urges
To understand how an addiction can be treated with hypnosis one
must appreciate the conscious and unconscious functioning of the
mind. It is easy to relate to the conscious part of the mind because
it is active and knowable. We can be completely aware of our conscious
choices and plans. We can consciously set about to do something
and we can have a map of what we want to accomplish. We can evaluate
and say whether or not the goal has been achieved. The unconscious
part of the mind is out of sight and its goals and motives come
to awareness unpredictably. The drives of the unconscious are
spoken of as an urge or an impulse or a craving. The presence
of the unconscious is manifest in instinctual behaviors and reflex
actions and the sudden rush of unexpected emotions. We have heard
people say," I don't know what got into me," when they
have acted in a manner contrary to their beliefs about themselves.
In fact, nothing got "in" but something came "out"
that was housed in the unconscious.
A mixture of conscious choices and unconscious demands shape the
activities and events in a person's life. When there is a disparity
between the two we recognize a struggle within the person. An
addiction is an example of a conscious-unconscious struggle. A
person may decide that a particular drug or other substance is
no longer desirable for any one of a number of reasons. The decision
having been made, all seems well until urges and cravings begin
to flood the individual. For the most part, the unconscious controls
the cravings and urges, the impulses and instinctive behaviors,
the reflexes and the emotions. When the individual refuses to
give in to the demands of the unconscious, withdrawal effects
set in. In a sense, the unconscious part of the mind blackmails
the individual to return to the well established pattern. These
effects can be minor as in a not-too-bad headache or be quite
pronounced. In the case of a powerful drug such as nicotine it
is difficult to be near the withdrawing individual who may be
irritable, short tempered and nervous.
As the unconscious is the source of the extreme discomfort that
leads to withdrawal symptoms, it is the unconscious that must
be influenced to escape pleasantly from the power of an addiction.
When we sleep our mental activity is virtually all controlled
by the unconscious, but it is hard to communicate with a sleeping
person. A hypnotized person enters a state which is somewhere
between awake and asleep. In this state, the unconscious part
of the mind is remarkably amenable to suggestion and communication
is possible. Many have witnessed demonstrations in which the hypnotized
person follows suggestions that a fully conscious person might
reject. There is somewhat of an art to formulating suggestions
for maximum effect. Given properly, an individual is convinced
by the suggestion that he or she no longer desires the addictive
substance and is thereby released from the addiction. Unfortunately,
once an addiction has set in, it leaves a permanent trace in the
neurological structure of the brain. It might be likened to a
memory which can be reactivated even when it has become dim. In
similar manner, an addiction will be reactivated by experimentation.
Even a very small dose of the addictive substance reawakens the
neurological pattern. Addictions are never cured, but can remain
in remission for a life time.
Sol Feldstein is a PEI Registered Psychologist & Certified
Hypno-therapist. He practices in Dunstaffange PE and can be reached
at (902) 628-1715.
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