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Behaving “badly” for a good reason: is this true?

The other day I saw a Facebook post by a well known Hypnotherapy trainer that stated, “remember: No matter how bad or damaging someone’s behavior might be, the intention behind it is always positive”.hypnotherapy in barcelona_ryan jenkins_trauma_positive_nlp_hypnosis This is one of the main presuppositions from the field of NLP and  Ericksonian Hypnosis and is used as foundation for the therapeutic protocols and  within these related disciplines .

Not surprisingly many fellow colleagues commented and a discussion began as to the veracity of this statement, as although used as a staple in the profession, many have an issue with this.

Comments such as “I didn’t realize rapists and paedos were just trying to be positive … silly me”

I get this entirely.  As a therapist seeing people who have suffered deep trauma and abuse at the hands of another, it’s extremely hard to rationally believe that somewhere behind these behaviors the person is shooting for a positive outcome.

This deserves a deeper understanding in my opinion and comes down fundamentally to the issue of ethics and free will.  The issue is that the offender had a choice to do the right thing and instead chose out free will to commit a horrendous crime.

Coincidentally the same day I was listening to a podcasts “The Joe Rogan Experience” where the interviewer was discussing this exact matter with famed Neuroscientist Sam Harris. Harris mentioned the case of mass murderer Charles Whitman who in 1966 murdered his mother and wife in their homes, then went to the University of Texas at Austin where he shot and killed three people inside the university’s tower. He then went to the tower’s 28th-floor observation deck, where he fired at random for some 95 minutes, killing fourteen people and wounding thirty-one before being shot and killed by police

Later, a suicide note was found by Whitman who stated that he had uncontrollable rage and was compelled to do these acts even though he loved his wife and mother and suggested that an autopsy should be done on him afterwards  as he knew something was not right with him. When the autopsy was performed, a “pecan-sized” brain tumor was discovered in the area of the amygdala, an area associated with emotional control. Harris suggested that knowing what we know about the Brain and it´s effect on behavior, Whitman (had he survived would not be considered as wholly responsible for his actions  as his very ability to control the were impaired, therefore he could not will himself not to do them).

Harris also stated that, knowing what we know about the phenomenon of Neuroplasticity , our own Neurological environment, the very topography of our brain is similarly responsible for our behavior out of our conscious control.

brain_neuroplasticity_hypnosis_nlp_barcelona_hypnotherapyinbarcelona_therapy_ryankenkinsSo from simply a scientific, rational mindset a murderer or pedophile may have anomalies in their Neurology causing them to do things to seek relief in some way. Is this a behavior seeking a positive outcome? Indeed, recent studies using MRI scans have shown that Pedophiles  who act on their impulses are different from those that do not . Are there other anomalies that science has yet to find out?

While it is totally understandable to respond to such behaviour with disgust and horror, it is also a common impulse to then retributory punishment. I remember while living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, groups of British “Lads” scouring the city looking to beat up infamous paedophile Gary Glitter , who was rumoured to be in the country at the time. This behaviour is normal, human emotional, non-rational AND has a positive intention (to remove a child abuser from circulation).

The ethical waters I am treading in now is likely to fire up some people, but as Sam Harris suggested, perhaps these people are not in full control of their behavior.  This is why Chemical castration is often practiced on offenders; in the thinking that they will never be able to be reformed or have the will to never reoffend.

In another personal case, when my other (a Medical Anthropologist) worked with a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea, there was the case of a man who killed his family (his wife and several children) except for one whom he named “Andacori” (death adder). As custom in the Hagahai tribe, when this man died, his remains  were put on display for the elements to “do their thing” and afterwards his bones were put into a tree, the traditional cemetery. My Mother and a another doctor were able to examine his skull  (in depth) and they found many lesions that were indicative that his had suffered from Yaws and that it had eaten into his brain. Yaws is a chronic infection that affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage. The disease occurs mainly in poor communities in warm, humid, tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Was this man responsible for his actions? Was he responsible for the bacteria that had invaded his system and most probably caused him to do those behaviors? What could have he been thinging, believing, feeling o lead him t do that?hypnosis_barcelona_dilema_positive thinking_hypnotherapyinbarcelona

As Clinical Hypnotherapists, we are well aware of the power that thoughts, beliefs and perceptions have on behaviors. What if his behaviors sought to address these in some way? Could they have had a positive intention?

The truth is seldom black and white and our responses as therapists have to be nuanced and take in the whole picture as much as possible.

Does every behavior have a positive intention? I’m not totally sure about that , but it seems to me that to act AS IF this true yields the best results in therapy because it opens to possibility that it just might be.

By | 2017-10-15T19:38:07+00:00 May 15th, 2017|General, Hypnosis/Hypnotherapy, NLP, Unwanted behaviour|0 Comments

Changing your Inner blueprint, changing your life

hypnosis_barcelona_quitsmoking_nlp_coaching_hypnotherapy_therapyI am often asked to define what I do as a change worker. I generally answer something like ¨I help people make positive and lasting changes in their behaviour using advanced hypnotherapy¨.

Even though it is becoming much more mainstream these days with so many more people working wih hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners and coaches of various sorts to help them change unwanted behaviour patterns, to some people the concept of rapid and instant change in their behaviour is extremely alien (especially if they have been in traditional talk therapy). The idea that someone can guide them through processes that can rapidly change even longstanding habit patterns is sometimes met with credulity.

How does this work? Well I generally get two types of clients:

  • People with ¨acute¨ problems: that is problems that are taking up the majority of their mental and physical resources at the moment. These are commonly things like getting over a relationship breakup, non-chronic physical pain issues, exam stress or being able to focus on tasks at work. Pretty straightforward stuff actually.
  • The other type of client is one with certain patterns of behaviour that stem from, what I call ¨blueprint¨ issues. These are negative ways of acting in the world have been learned and programmed at the deepest level of their minds. Non-conscious strategies for dealing with life that are hurting them and those around them, but they are not actively aware of except when they surface.

For example people that are afraid of commitment in relationships often have problems committing to other things in their life. They enthusiastically start new projects or goals and soon ¨lose steam¨, opting instead to move on to the next new thing. They have big highs in life and search for new experiences, but then find it difficult to stay rooted in any situation for long enough to have a significant positive effect on their lives. Long-term job opportunities become annoyances and these people often self-sabotage with passive aggressive type behaviour, destroying professional relationships, but seemingly creating an opportunity to start the whole process again.

Some have deeply ingrained beliefs about money and wealth that stop them from being able to hold on to and grow their personal finances. Ideas such as ¨money is the root of evil¨ or perhaps that ¨money is dirty¨ form the basis of their unconscious beliefs systems and identity around wealth. A lack of genuine self-esteem (a blueprint issue around self value) might lead to believe that to feel wealthy, they have to spend money.

This is an unconscious ¨projection¨ that they have of wealthy people coming from their inner blueprint of what a wealthy person looks like. Their ego desires to appear as the happy, successful person because it gets a little boost, which feels good in the moment, but even though they might be making good money in their careers, these people find themselves spending even more than they earn on frivolous items at expense of their long-term security. This is certainly not the kind of behaviour that truly wealthy people have, by the way. Negative emotional states created by a lack of true self-esteem result in a closet full of clothes that they never wear and credit card bills that they cannot begin to pay.

Many of the deepest blueprints (such as for relationships and survival) are learned in the formative years of our lives and it’s safe to say that we all have them. We learn patterns unconsciously from our parents, peers and society in general and you can be sure that on some level it’s a good thing that we pick up on how certain things work. The unconscious mind wants to generalise experiences so we can enjoy our lives consciously and we go on ¨autopilot¨ so we don’t have to think about every single thing.

How do you identify if you have a ¨blueprint¨ issue?

Do you find yourself acting in ways that you might describe as ¨out of character¨? When you find yourself in stressful situations, do you behave in ways the others might describe as very inappropriate? Do you distract or numb yourself with alcohol, food, work or social media? Do you exhibit passive aggressive behavior in work or relationships’?

There are many ways these can show up and the problem is that they are not conscious. We do them totally unconsciously! Also when the problem behavior seems to go away and we go on autopilot again, it´s highly likely that the behaviour pattern will show up again in a new (and sometimes more destructive) way. When these come back, they often come back with force because you are not meeting these needs at the level at which they are created.

These are very difficult to change without going deep into the structures that hold them up. This is why traditional talk therapies take so long; it’s like trying to work on the engine of your car without even opening the hood!

Fortunately with hypnosis one can work directly with the level of mind that these patterns are created. The part of the mind that is beyond the conscious sense of ¨me ¨ that is experiencing your life and even beyond the cognitions just below the surface of your awareness (the many thoughts that create your experience of life). Working with a skilled hypnotherapist, you can get to those structures that come before everything else, and change your deeply held beliefs and identity around specific issues. The positive changes in behaviour naturally occur when you change your inner blueprint and these ¨feed forward¨ into your life, generalizing and becoming your new normal way of being in the world.

When you realise that you can affect profound change at this level, achieving long lasting change becomes not only an inevitable reality but also an enjoyable journey of discovery and growth.