..The Intuitive Times
Healing the Heart


Hypnosis in the Treatment of Addictions

by Dr. Sol Feldstein

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Choices – 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.

Influencing the Unconscious
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.

Dr. 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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