2011 Blogs

When Cancer Disappears: The Curious Phenomenon of "Unexpected Remission" – 10 December 2011
Click on the link below for a very informative and thought provoking article published in the Noetics Now Journal by Kelly A Turner PhD, who is doing brilliant work as a researcher, lecturer and consultant in the field of Integrative Oncology. Her specialized research focus is the “unexpected remission” of cancer a remission that occurs either in the absence of Western medicine or after Western medicine has failed to achieve remission. Kelly is currently working on a book for cancer patients, which summarizes her research findings, as well as a website that will continue to collect cases of unexpected remission. She also provides one-on-one Integrative Cancer Consultations and guided meditation instruction to cancer patients.

Noetic Now Journal - December 2011

The Psychology of Rioting – 9 August 2011
The on-going riots in Britain have taken current international centre stage and who knows where it will lead, or whether the violence will spread to additional cities around the world, sparking bubbles of anarchy in other western global hotspots.

Irrespective of what is causing people to riot in the current circumstances, whether a feeling of social injustice or sheer thuggery, or even both, what is it that lies within the mental framework of such individuals to move way beyond their normal daily activities and attitudes? This has given me cause to reflect on the subject today and come up with the following thoughts and observations. These theories are not cast in stone but are put forward through my professional experience as a personal development consultant and, as always, I welcome all constructive viewpoints and comments.

One of the first things to understand is that many of the perpetrators are children and most have deserted their educational opportunities. Their acceptance of a moral code is unformed (especially in the very young), limited or even fundamentally different to that of the main fabric of society. Many, alongside the families they live with, have been excluded and disenfranchised from their social structure. They have very little currently going for them and even less by way of future hopes or aspirations.

In their minds, many of the rioters who are teenagers have nothing. They are marginalised, angry and believe they have nothing to lose. Therefore they feel absolutely no sense of loss in destroying their own back yard and their potential future.

Moreover property, wealth and order symbolise every barrier between them and a constructive life, therefore destruction, the taking of possessions and disorder has a cathartic energy and feels like dismantling all that stands in their way. These people generally do not have good communication skills to express their needs effectively. Instead they resort to force to make a point.

The liberal disciplinarian and judicial attitudes of a modern society that have exponentially extended themselves over the past 30 years have created diminished repercussions for most wrongdoings. As a result, a stronger anarchic mindset has been generated in unruly or borderline lawless people, buoyed by less severe consequences concerning their actions. This allows them to act with increasing impunity which has led the United Kingdom, and perhaps other similar countries, to where it is today. I do not believe we should go back to Victorian values, or those of harsh regimes around the world, but I do think the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

Adolescents have now become used to adults and authority figures spouting empty words over reprisals for inappropriate behaviour, which then fails to materialise when they do something wrong. Every time this occurs the bar is pushed up another notch and the misconduct is allowed to increase to a new level until authority is deemed as powerless. It then only becomes a small step to major civil disobedience.

One person on their own causing strife does not have as much impact as a collective force. Thus the coming together of large numbers of youths creates a sense of control and bravado. The police up till now seemingly do little by way of response, probably out fear of criticism for heavy handedness; this allows the growing notion of lawless control to become stronger along with the impunity that goes with it.

So while these rioters in the past may have occasionally caused commonplace trouble, as individuals they have by and large been powerless. However their increasing sense of control, together with their mob anarchical behaviour and unopposed looting creates a sudden heady sense of euphoria that escalates the power even further both within the individual’s mind and within the energy of the crowd as a whole.

At such a point, whatever limited sense of morality people possess gets stripped away inside this large group. The principles of social compassion and guilt that usually prevent antisocial behaviour then collapse. Normal rules cease to apply.

Some of those present may initially be spectators and simply go there out of curiosity or for the buzz. After this it becomes easy to get carried away by the crowd you are caught up in, which then exerts a moral code of its own that overrides an individual’s personal standards.

Jason Nier, Associate Professor of Psychology at Connecticut College talks about the ‘Emergent Norm’ theory. He states most of these people have probably never been in a riot like this one before. They are unsure of what the appropriate behaviour is. So they look at what other people are doing. And if other people are doing this, it suggests it's normal. Or at least maybe it is something that I can get away with.

Dr James Thompson, Honorary Senior Lecturer in Psychology at University College London says, "Morality is inversely proportional to the number of observers. When you have a large group that's relatively anonymous, you can essentially do anything you like. Part of that is down to safety in numbers. There may only be 20 or 30 people who are leading the trouble but the presence of several hundred onlookers makes it far less likely they'll get caught." Interestingly he rejects the concept that some of the looters are passively going with the flow once the violence has taken place, insisting there is always a choice to be made.

“Watching people getting away with it can act as a motivation for others to start looting”, says psychologist Dr Lance Workman. "Humans are the best on the planet at imitating. And we tend to imitate what is successful. If you see that people are walking out of a shop with a widescreen TV and trainers, a certain kind of person thinks why shouldn't I do that?" Workman also argues that some of those taking part may adopt an ad hoc moral code in their minds - "these rich people have things I don't have, so it's only right that I take it".

Irrespective of the psychological reasons behind each rioter going on the rampage, I believe the immediate and imperative priority is to operate effective policing that stops it dead in its tracks. Once this has been achieved we need to look ahead to the future.

If a country is disempowered by a relatively small band of its own citizens, some as young as 7 years old, who dictate the law on the streets and theoretically put us at the same level of social upheaval that can be generated by an attacking enemy or a terrorist group, then we need to not just look at the minds of the culprits but also the outlooks and mindset of society in general. Our approach to discipline and education needs to change, as does the integration of every class of people into society’s fabric. I am a great believer in that fact that society breeds its own problems and that it reaps what it sows.

Overcoming Rejection:– Cheryl Cole kicked off X Factor USA – 28 May 2011
So Cheryl Cole, for whatever reason it transpires, has been kicked off X Factor USA.

Rejection is something we all get in life, some more than others, but its impact can vary from person to person.

Fundamentally rejection is part of loss and thus subject to the grieving process that goes with it. Many people consider grief simply to be connected to major life changing events such as death, but loss can come at us in many ways and to varying levels of degree.

Typical instances of loss, in addition to bereavement, can be a relationship break up, losing your job, failing to get a job for which you were interviewed, change in financial circumstances, moving to live in a new location, changing schools, not being accepted for a university, having a business proposition or piece of work turned down, not succeeding with a goal, or even lifestyle adjustments through things such as health or injury. Loss can also occur when we willingly invite a change to our life such as moving to a bigger or better home. As much as we might enjoy where we are going to, there can still be a sense of sadness for what we are leaving behind.

Several of the above situations encompass or can be translated as rejection. Irrespective of the specifics of rejection there are some necessary steps or outlooks that are vital in negating or minimising its effects.

AVOID TAKING IT PERSONALLY
Focusing on the idea that it is your fault or you are deficient in some way is not helpful. Also it is probably untrue and places you on a back step to unduly judge yourself and potentially dents your self-esteem. It is often bad enough experiencing rejection in the first place without having to deal with these additional negative emotions.

IT MIGHT NOT BE YOU
Additionally it’s important to consider that sometimes the reason for the rejection may have been totally beyond your control and have had absolutely nothing to do with you, or what you did, or the value you possess.

FOCUS EXTERNALLY AT WHAT YOU CAN HAVE
Dust yourself down and look at all the new possibilities available to you. Some people are excellent at doing this and looking at the brighter side. They are the ones who tend to say, “When one door closes another one opens” and it generally does. There is nothing magical in this. Anyone can do it. Opportunities abound all around us. If you focus on yourself and your hurt you won’t see them. Instead you need to look beyond to all that is available to you in the outside world. It’s up to you – either you can do this and grab the new opportunities more quickly, or immerse yourself in your bubble of trouble where you will probably miss any prospects and take longer to emerge from your upset.

APPRECIATE THE UPSET WILL END
As an extension to the previous point, it is worth noting that how you feel is determined to a great deal by how you view life. Therefore if your attention is on the rejection and you constantly revisit and review the upsetting emotions arising from it, you will spend longer living with the hurt. Upset is a natural reaction and shouldn’t be blocked as it can resurface at a later date in a more unhealthy way. It is part of the grieving process and allows you to move on but you don’t have to spend an unnecessary amount of time living in turmoil. So even though it may be difficult, if you try as soon as possible to concentrate on the fact that the pain will end, then it will start to lead you down that path and you will return to feeling upbeat more quickly. Regularly repeating positive affirmations to this affect will aid this process.

LEARN FROM IT
Even though you may have an excellent ability at being positive and moving on, you will have wasted a valuable experience if you avoided spending at least a little time reviewing the situation and seeing if there is some learning you can take from it to stand you in good stead for the future. In this sense, rejection can be an important chance to build character and knowledge, which will ultimately further develop your life skills. Ensure you don’t lose this opportunity.

STAND TALL
However bad you consider the circumstances to be and however painful it makes you feel, try your utmost to walk away with your head held high. Even though rejection means the situation didn’t go your way, at least you will be judged highly for your ability to deal with it, which in itself may even open some of those new doors.

Positivity: The Case for being Negative! – 5 May 2011
Below is an interesting angle on positivity/negativity written by a guy called Joey Weber who heads up a great site www.findyourdamnpurpose.com and I found it through another really good site www.pickthebrain.com

We’ve all heard it. “Be positive” they say. “Focus on the good in life” they explain. “Think, you could be in a much worse situation so you should be thankful for what you have” they command. Well, screw that. I say, forget being positive… being negative has its own virtues.

Honestly, I’m not some weirdo who’s all depressed all the time. Nope, I’m not going to tell you that you should be always pessimistic and pissed off with the world. But I am going to tell you that it is absolutely ridiculous to focus 100% on being positive in your life. Being super incredibly uber-positive is detrimental to your health (much like eating lead paint). You see, optimism is a good thing… but blind positivity will keep you from actually changing your life or making a meaningful impact to this world.

LET ME EXPLAIN
The common thought is that being positive means being right, happy and good. Why wouldn’t it, right? Positivity = good. Negativity = bad. Isn’t that obvious? Well, the short answer is “no.” There is an annoyingly long answer… but I don’t like long answers…

When you’re 100% focused on being positive, you miss room for growth. You see, every important thing that’s ever been accomplished is because someone was pissed off or frustrated at something. They saw something that was wrong, or evil, or broken, or just annoying, and they found a way to fix it. Every person who’s ever quit an awful job, every person who’s left an abusive relationship, and every person who’s ever blocked “Glee” on their Direct TV so their wife wouldn’t make them watch it were driven to do so because they were rightfully being negative. They didn’t discount the negative in the world. They acknowledged it and worked to do something about it.

In many cases that negativity is what will drive you to succeed and change your life. That burning sense of being unsatisfied with your current situation will often be what drives you to achieve.

NEGATIVITY ISN'T NECESSARILY PESSIMISM
Just because you acknowledge the crappy parts of life doesn’t mean you need to be pessimistic about life. Nope, you should be optimistic, but it shouldn’t be some sort of blind optimism. Don’t tie your optimism to a vague sense of positive thought; instead, tie it to your plans, your goals, and your abilities. Be optimistic about your future because of what you will be doing to shape it. Be optimistic because you know that you’ll be working your ass off to make it better.

Your optimism should be your celebration of overcoming or improving the negative crap that you see around you. Give yourself your reason for optimism.

POSITIVE ACTION
Great people attach their happiness to taking positive action and achieving real results. The act of moving forward is satisfying and a lack of process is unbearable. Those who are successful only feel like they are truly living if they are moving forward and that’s why they achieve. It is out of that action that they become positive not some magical affirmation, mission statement, or force of will.

To focus 100% on positivity, to try to trick your brain into thinking everything is great, is to prevent yourself from making an impact in your life and in the world. When you turn a blind eye to what’s wrong in the world and what’s wrong in your life, you’ll never be able to do anything to fix it.

So, let yourself be negative every once in a while… but when you do make sure to take real action to make it better.

Written by Joey Weber

Eating Disorders Discussion Transcript (original can be found on www.hypnothoughts.com) – 9 April 2011
ROBERT RUSSELL
Having dealt with a few eating disorder clients recently and in the past, I thought I'd share my views and hopefully benefit from other members thoughts and experiences regarding this problem.

Eating disorders are certainly a very challenging and specialist subject. One of the main things I have discovered is the emphasis on what you are dealing with is more towards addictive behaviour, as opposed simply a maladaptive outlook.

Many therapists I know try and help people resolve this condition through working on the latter stance, since from an outsider’s perspective maladaptive thinking can appear to be the driver. As a result, relying solely on utilising such an approach may fail to make a constructive and lasting impact. Therefore I believe basic hypnotherapy offering positive outlook and affirmations to change thought processes is not really the core intervention, yet it can prove beneficial as a support therapy.

History and many case studies have invariably pointed to CBT as being the best success route for eating disorders, and it is often stated while other therapeutic applications can be very helpful, they should generally be underpinned by a behavioural model. Of course nothing is 100% certain and you will hear many anecdotal successes through other approaches, but what I am saying is the majority of the time CBT, or a very similar therapy, seems to be the order of the day, and indeed most of the eating disorder support groups advocate CBT to their members as the ‘prima facie’ intervention.

I view addiction as split into two parts: substance addiction and process addiction. The former arises from the physiological urge holding you to something - ie the body’s reaction and physical craving for a substance, such as heroin for example. In eating disorder situations I believe there is usually no physical addiction to food but there is process addiction, which is psychological dependence towards that pattern of behaviour. So when I use the term 'addiction' for eating disorders, it is to emphasise the behavioural aspect of it.

Because physical addiction leads to emotional dependence, this creates a strong argument for dealing with eating disorders using a similar approach to addictions such as drug habits. While drugs like alcohol, heroin or cigarettes, certainly create physiological addiction, such substances also create a psychological dependence due to that physical addiction. Bulimics, anorexics, binge eaters and insulin withholders (yes, that's an approach used by some diabetics to curb weight) all have a strong emotional and behavioural dependence element attached to their disorder. Therefore I have found an effective resolution to eating disorders by focusing on the issues surrounding the dependence caused by process addiction.

So to underline my earlier thoughts, soothing and reassuring hypnotherapy scripts, might be supportive, positive and even create some gains but usually don’t tend to get the client to challenge, deal with and permanently move on from all the patterns surrounding their syndrome. What seems to work best for me is a mix of cognitive and behavioural interventions that tackle the associative dependence surrounding eating disorders. Of course many hypnotherapists practise cognitive hypnotherapy, which can blend the behavioural element with hypnosis and using this can prove very fruitful.

MARY WINSTANLEY
Lots of really helpful information here, and a lot of things to think about. I agree that the cause needs to be addressed and patterns reframed and broken as well as work on the surrounding issues.

The eating disorder clients I have had have talked about the addiction element, along with issues such as guilt, low self-esteem and a lack of love in their lives. I have used various approaches, but as I often use the Swish technique for addictions such as smoking, gambling, drinking (depending on a number of things) and habits like nail-biting, I wondered if you would consider swish effective for bulimia/anorexia, as long as work was done on the self-esteem and underlying issues, too. Perhaps parts therapy would also be helpful?

I would be very interested to hear how you mix the cognitive and behavioural interventions.

ROBERT RUSSELL
You are right in that there are many other aspects involved in the treatment plan for eating disorders but my fundamental point is that I have experienced high levels of resolution when treating the condition as an addiction, as opposed to straightforward maladaptive thinking. Of course maladaptive thinking can be part of addictive behaviour but my core starting point for eating disorders has always been to take on each case as an addiction and from there work on all aspects associated with the addictive element.

As I stated, this does not mean people have not had success with other approaches but it has mostly worked with me. I don’t win every one and, if therapists are honest, I don’t think anyone does. However I am always keen to hear of other success stories and the routes to them, as we can all learn.

Yes I agree with you that invariably there are issues such as guilt, low self-esteem and lack of love underlying the problem and indeed there can be many more. I come across a lack of control much of the time, where the eating disorder becomes the client’s way of achieving control. All of the above fuels the addiction and allows it to become a secondary gain, so each one needs to be worked on.

By focusing on the fact that the disorder is addictive, it reduces the chance of relapse because you are dealing with every strand that is attached to that addiction. Break the strands and you should break the addiction and thus the disorder.

Where relevant, I have used Swish in some sessions and also Parts Integration has proved beneficial. Another thing I teach is the STOPP technique. I am trained in EMDR and if there has been a traumatic event that has triggered the eating disorder I will often use it as one of the therapeutic interventions. I sometimes blend EMDR with Eye Accessing Cues associated to their thoughts on the behaviour, then Swishing from the negative to Eye Accessing Cues connected with positive thoughts.

Eating diaries can prove useful, as of course will hypnotherapy scripts to support moving on from some of the underlying issues – ie building on confidence, self-esteem or self-belief that they can achieve the desired outcome. Sometimes work on healing the Child Within provides gains. I have also created my own Goal Setting exercise, which I integrate with their desired targets and use alongside the many CBT worksheets available.

Each case is unique, so I tailor therapy to the individual, although my starting point is always to deal with aspects creating the addiction to the behaviour rather than beginning with the irrational thinking that leads to the behaviour.

It’s a subtle point and some would say it’s just semantics, but doing it this way tends to work for me.

I hope this helps

MARY WINSTANLEY
Thanks for this, very informative. So, it seems the way to go very much is working on the addictive element of it and breaking each trigger/association with that as you do it. Very interested in the EMDR, I don't know much about it, but from what I do know, it seems as if it would be a very powerful addition.

Much appreciated
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