[Written around 2004.]
Hypnotherapy demands passivity on the part of patients. Patients go into the hypnotherapist’s office, sit or lie down, and become unconscious, which is the requirement for entering a hypnotic state, i.e. a trance. And then they don’t consciously do anything. Instead the therapist does the “work,” meaning, he probes around inside their psyche, decides what’s wrong, and then proceeds to fix it…supposedly.
But from a deeper perspective he fixes only symptoms – that is, shifts them around, cuts them out, or buries them. This does a patient a terrible disservice, because it fails to hear the anguished message his soul has bottled in the symptom. Take away his symptom before you understand its message and you block the channel to his soul – and only guarantee that his soul will find another way to express itself. And this new way will likely be more intractable and destructive.
Hypnotherapy (and other manipulative forms of therapy) allows patients no deeply active role in healing themselves. It recasts them in the role of the dependent child who hopes the authoritative parent – the hypnotherapist – will heal him. This is impossible. But not in the mind of the hypnotherapist. In his ignorance and arrogance – or gently put, his denial – he welcomes this dynamic. If he didn’t he would have gone into a more patient-respecting branch of the healing profession. But first he would have healed himself.
True therapists do not heal patients. They catalyze healing. Patients ultimately have to do the true healing work themselves. Patients must consciously identify their fears, trace them to their traumas dating back to childhood, feel the terrors and horrors surrounding them – and the ugliness of their externalized manifestations – and have the strength and willingness to move forward through them anyhow. Patients provide the engine, the gasoline, and the driving, and the therapist, an expert of the inner terrain, just helps to read the map. And when the road gets rough and rocky, which it invariably does, there’s nothing like a good map reader.
People who want to be hypnotized for the purpose of growth are trying to avoid their feelings – and their deeper truth. Therapists who oblige them in this degree of self-deception are trying to do the same.