Hypnoanalysis – Locating the Root Cause

Illustration of hypnoanalysis

Hypnoanalysis is a form of regression therapy and is probably the most profound of therapeutic techniques.I like to think of it as ‘the cream of therapies’, for a very special reason – where ‘conventional’ techniques are undoubtedly effective for most people, they still tend to deal only with the presenting problem, most of the time.

Hypnoanalysis works in many ways and for many reasons, but the underlying concept is that we seek to find and remove the anxiety or other emotional state associated with a traumatic event from the past – usually from childhood. When we locate the root cause of a problem or symptom and resolve it in the mind, it can resolve many issues all at the same time, at a very deep level.

In case it is not obvious, hypnoanalysis is a form of therapy that cannot possibly be included within a self hypnosis recording. It is a very intricate discipline that can only be done in person, as it needs a great deal of care to use effectively and safely.

What can be achieved with hypnoanalysis?

Hypnoanalysis is often seen as a ‘one size fits all’ type of therapy and there are many proponents who will insist that this is so. But whilst it is true that you can use it for a great many psychological difficulties, it is sometimes a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If we decided to use hypnoanalysis to help someone stop smoking, for example, we would certainly not be able to complete the task in one session – yet we can with suggestion therapy. The chances are quite high, too, that we would not actually be successful at all.

Like all methodologies, hypnoanalysis is better at some things than others. It is impossible to list all the ailments that it is particularly suited for but the following list should give you the idea:

  1. Psycho-Sexual difficulties, random panic attacks, some depressions, unaccountable anxiety states, general stress, continual worrying, excessive timidity, fear of authority, alcoholism, sleeping difficulties, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, poor confidence/self worth, kleptomania, compulsive shopping, relationship difficulties, obsessive illnesses (though alleviation of symptoms is not always possible), and almost all true phobias.
  2. Most symptoms which have a physiological content that is likely to be of psychological origin, i.e. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, spontaneous vomiting, blackouts, fainting fits, hysteria, hysterical paralysis, hysterical blindness, failure to conceive, promiscuity…
  3. Some catastrophic illnesses, though this is a special area of expertise.

Most of those listed, in particular those in the second group, are recognised as hysterical illness and will frequently have been brought about by a psychological process known as hysterical conversion.

Not all problems have underlying issues

Many conditions have few, if any, underlying issues and do not need to be addressed with the use of hypnoanalysis. For this reason hypnoanalysis may not work well for most habits, pain control (unless the pain is of psychogenic or psychosomatic origin), goal achievement, or simple fears (as opposed to phobias), specific confidence problems like examination fears, or public speaking and so on. As a (non-golden) rule those problems will respond to suggestion and other advanced hypnotherapy techniques, if they are going to respond at all. Having said that, there are times when those very same situations will turn out to be a neurotic symptom after all, and then we may very well need to either probe a little, or carry out some form of analytical procedure.

The side effects of hypnoanalysis

You may be told that hypnoanalysis has no side effects, other than an improvement to general health and well-being, but this is not strictly the case. To be fair, it is not hypnoanalysis that causes the problem, exactly… I think I’d better explain. People get into all sorts of uncomfortable situations as a result of their neurosis. They marry the ‘wrong’ person and/or do the ‘wrong’ job, among other, perhaps less important things. Then they go through analysis. The neurosis is released and suddenly they are not prepared to put up with the overbearing boss or the bullying or manipulative partner; they do what they should have done a long time before they came to therapy – they leave, and seek a better life for themselves.

They usually find it, too, because their judgement is now far sounder than it was and they will not base choices and decisions on needs based around a deep seated anxiety state. So it is true that marriages sometimes break and careers sometimes get changed. But the fact is, nobody can or will be made to do anything directly as a result of going through hypnoanalysis. A person’s new-found confidence may very well allow them to make changes that are both necessary for their well-being and are long overdue.

The two most useful methods of hypnoanalysis

The most useful and approachable methods of this style of therapy are free association, a technique pioneered by Sigmund Freud and which is astonishingly powerful when coupled with the use of hypnosis, and direct regression, which, as its name suggests, is a more direct route through the jungle of the subconscious.

Free association

Free association is nothing more than allowing one memory to lead into another without any logical thought, interpretation, or intervention. Like daydreaming, almost. Just allowing thoughts to drift along from one concept to another without attempting to make any sense of it whatsoever. If you do this in your own mind, on your own, the subconscious resistance will see to it that you skip blithely past any trouble spots or unpleasantness.

But the very second you start to speak those thoughts aloud to another individual, as a client does to a therapist, then something different happens. An entirely different part of the mind and brain comes into play and the resistance is far less powerful, though it will still, even then, manage to stop therapy working properly from time to time. The hypnotherapist’s job is to help the client through that resistance to the truth. It sounds easy, and with the right client/therapist combination, it is easy and one of the most powerful forms of therapy.

Direct regression

Direct regression to cause, still seeks the same end result but attempts to get there via a more direct route. The individual will be asked to remember the most recent occasion when they felt their symptom or symptoms. They will then be asked to amplify the feelings as much they can or to a level which is as much as they can stand. The hypnotherapist will then use various techniques designed to access the originating cause, or at least a much earlier memory. From that memory, they go back further still, then further still, until the initial event has been accessed. We know when we are there, because the level of emotion will steadily fall away until there is nothing left and the individual can talk calmly and easily about the event.

Each system has its own particular strengths and weaknesses and a professional hypnotherapist should be familiar, practiced, and confident with both, and easily able to decide which is the best for any individual client.

Whichever method is used, the aim is to search for the Initial Sensitising Event, which is almost inevitably created during a person’s formative (childhood) years, when emotions are tender and easily stirred to a level worthy of repression. Although it is possible that sufficient trauma can be created as an adult to create a repression, which could be profound enough that the entire event, as well as the emotion, has been hidden from conscious memory.

How many sessions are needed?

As always, it will depend. However as a rough guide, direct regression may take one, two, or three sessions to achieve its objectives, whereas free association is a much slower process. It might take some six to twelve sessions. If there is resistance or a lot of material to deal with the process could take longer. And this is one of the major drawbacks to hypnoanalysis, in that it is a relatively slow therapy compared with most forms of hypnotherapy.

Is hypnoanalysis suitable for you?

Hypnoanalysis can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, but the emotional material that comes up can be difficult to deal with and some people will struggle to deal with what surfaces during the process, particularly with free association. Other people are immensely resistant to the treatment as they feel vulnerable or out of control. Then there are people who are simply better suited to other treatments due to personality type. Hypnoanalysis is certainly not suitable for everyone.

Remember, you do not always need to know the reason why you do something in order to change it. Whether you would benefit from hypnoanalysis, or not, is a matter to be discussed with a professional and ethical hypnotherapist, who is qualified to provide such treatment (please note, many hypnotherapists are not sufficiently trained for this type of therapy). If together with your therapist you decide that there is a need to discover the underlying cause of the presenting problem and it is in your best interests, then know this… the results of hypnoanalysis can often be profound and long lasting.