Paradigms of Disease Formation
A culture’s approach to treating disease is based largely upon the belief system through which that culture regards the origin and meaning of illness. Whatever that belief system (or “paradigm”) is, there are some diseases that respond extremely well to the treatments dictated by the existing paradigm, and others which appear to defy the existing treatments, and thus call upon that society to create a new definition of the origins and purpose of disease. For example, pre-civilized native cultures frequently regarded illnesses as the curses of dark spirits, or the result of breaking some social taboo. The treatments based upon this model, including exorcism rituals, direct communication with spirits, aggrieved ancestors, and the angry Gods, were often sufficient (perhaps in conjunction with healing herbs that are the foundation of most modern medicines) to heal the diseases and infections usually encountered by the tribe. This paradigm breaks down, however, in the face of the mass infectious diseases (i.e. smallpox) of western civilization.
Modern allopathic medicine has its own paradigm of disease, based largely upon the treatment of these same diseases. This paradigm suggests that disease is the result of the “invasion” of the body by viruses, bacteria, and other parasitic organisms. This paradigm allows for highly successful treatment of infectious diseases, but provides very little help for a new generation of disease processes (including most commonly, cancer, but also multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases), which do not fit into the common paradigm.
Oriental medicine, whose paradigm of disease is that the patient suffers from an imbalance of energies in the body, or a blockage of such energies within the etheric pathways called “meridians” shows a remarkable agility in treating those very diseases for which the modern allopathic physician can do so little.
Naturopathic medicine has its own paradigm of disease, in which disease processes are regarded as the result of toxins and stress accumulating in the body and causing a breakdown of the bodily systems. Naturally, fasting, nutritional supplementation, herbs, and lifestyle changes are the recommended treatments.
It’s my belief that it is a mistake to assume that any one paradigm of illness is “correct” or “scientific” and others are “false” or “superstition”. All of the systems of healing have proven their worth over years (sometimes centuries) of successful application, thus proving that each paradigm of healing holds some measure of the truth.
The Hypnotist’s Paradigm
The question then becomes: What is the hypnotherapists belief system about disease, and what techniques, based upon that belief system, can help hypnotherapists to activate the healing power of the subconscious mind, as an adjunct to medical treatment?
Hypnotists assume that the operations of every part of the body, including digestive processes, respiration, and the activities of the immune system are under the direct control of the subconscious mind. We can therefore make the assumption that a client’s disease process is to some extent created, controlled, and ultimately eliminated, through the power of the subconscious mind. This refers not only to the so-called “psychosomatic” illnesses, but to all disease processes, including bacterial and viral conditions.
Illustrations of such a mind/body connection fill the literature. Changes in attitude and feeling have been reported by thousands of sufferers from AIDS, cancer, polio, etc. to have had profound effects on their physical condition. The fact is scientific research accepts that at least 35% of patients experience a “placebo effect”…that is, a completely ineffectual substance, when presented as a healing medicine, stimulates the patient’s subconscious mind to improve or eliminate the condition. Some research in fact indicates that this so-called “placebo effect” may affect up to 60% of research subjects…a success rate comparable to that of the most effective modern medicines. The “placebo effect” is nothing less than the power of post-hypnotic suggestion!
The Alchemist’s Paradigm
The Alchemical Hypnotherapist takes the “subconscious creation” paradigm of disease one step further: we suggest that the client’s subconscious mind creates a particular disease process in order to serve a unique purpose for the client’s internal world. Thus healing world consists of finding a new, healthier way of getting this purpose served or this need met. Once this goal is achieved, the immune system can be mobilized to eliminate the disease and restore the internal balance of the body. While this work is no substitute for appropriate medical treatment, we can vastly increase the immune system’s ability to create healing, by eliminating the subconscious processes of disease formation.
So how do we access these subconscious motivations for disease and eliminate them? First, we need to point out to all our clients that their conscious mind is not and has never been the source of disease. It is both bad psychology and bad medicine to say to an ill person: “I wonder how you created this disease?” The origins of the disease lie well beneath the patient’s conscious intentions and control, and cannot be accessed by laying a guilt trip upon the already suffering patient. Rather, what I say to them is this: “It’s possible that subconscious patterns of feeling and belief may be contributing to the disease you are suffering. To the extent that I can help you discover and alter such patterns through hypnotherapy, I can help you to accelerate the healing process, in conjunction with appropriate medical treatment.” Thus we lay the groundwork for healthy, guilt-free explorations.
The Alchemist’s Methods
The next essential step is to induce a hypnotic trance in order to access these subconscious motivations. The client’s subconscious disease-maintaining patterns are not easy to access, because of deep pain and denial. Therefore, I recommend a gentle, long induction in which we speak very softly and gently to the client. It may take a number of weekly sessions to access the deepest, most frightening, and most important motivations.
One can utilize trance to enter the affected body part as if it were a room, and then address the contents of the room as the symbolic content of the disease process.
William Reich’s research in the 1930’s suggested that the unexpressed pain and trauma of our past is stored in the musculature and connective tissue of our bodies, creating tension, blocks in circulation and ultimately pain and disease. Such memories can be stored in my experience in internal organs as well. By entering this “room of the illness” in hypnosis, we may be able to identify both the external persons who are connected to this stored pain and the specific memories in which the pain originated. We can then utilize emotional release and child rescue processes to alter the memories stored in the body and thus release the pain and tension contained therein.
The memories unlocked through this process are likely to be very traumatic in the case of serious diseases. One should not attempt this kind of uncovering without a thorough background in regression therapy, emotional release, and inner child healing.
For example, a client enters a fibroid tumor in her uterus and discovers there a fetus that she aborted years before. After she expresses her grief and remorse about the abortion to this child and receives the child’s forgiveness, the tumor disappears. Another client discovers in his chronically swollen knee a memory of childhood abuse. He needs to rescue his inner child from that abuse, including expression all of the feelings that remain unexpressed, and thus stored in his body, from the incident. This will help him release the trauma stored in the knee.
Another technique involves talking to the “disease entity” as if it were a person or an animal and finding out in what way it is serving the client. For example, the client’s hypnotic search for the cancer entity turns up a green monster that says: “I’m here to make you leave this miserable marriage…one way or the other!” Now the choice is no longer perceived as surgery vs. radiation, but more importantly as divorce/marriage counseling vs. death. This technique allows us to directly access the purpose which the disease is serving at a subconscious level for the client.
A related technique involves asking in the inner landscape of the client: “What part(s) of the client have hired this disease?” (“Or want this disease?”) We may, for example, discover that the client’s inner critic is punishing them for carnal “sins” with allergic reactions, or that an inner romantic has “hired” multiple sclerosis because it doesn’t want to live a lonely, loveless life any longer. The hypnotherapist who has a background in sub-personality work (sometimes called “voice dialogue”, “psycho-synthesis”, or “parts therapy”) can help clients through this labyrinth of self-destructive behavior by helping these parts of the client to get their needs met in other ways. For example, the critic can perhaps be persuaded that the client can achieve more to atone for his “sins” by loving others selflessly than he can by suffering allergies. Or the inner romantic can be persuaded to join other parts of the client in actively pursuing a lover rather than suffering a disease. While sub-personality work is sufficiently complex as to be beyond the range of this article, it remains a powerful and significant aspect of the healing process. It is often essential to discover and remove the “secondary gain” that often stops or slows recovery from illness.
A number of regressive strategies may be used to address the emotional causes of illness. One of them is asking the client to go back to the time that the disease entity was first “hired” at the subconscious level. This allows us to explore whatever incident triggered the onset of the disease process. It is important not to confuse the time the disease is hired with the onset of symptoms or the arrival at a diagnosis, as these things may occur a year or more after the disease process begins. The initial trigger event could be a major loss, a divorce, a period of unemployment, or any other major life change.
A different regressive strategy will take us deeper into this initial pain by asking when these feelings first began. This allows us to explore childhood and past life incidents, which set the stage in the subconscious mind for the client’s extreme reaction to this trigger event. For example: the client’s loss of a beloved wife may subconsciously re-stimulate the loss of the mother’s love in infancy and thus elicit a terminal illness as the result of a reactivated death wish from childhood.
One of the most powerful strategies for the advanced client is the exploration of karmic deeds, crimes we have committed against others in the past, which follow us to the present life seeking retribution. This karma may directly affect the client’s present health challenge. The instructions I give to the client are these: “Let’s go back to a time long ago when you did something that created this pain and suffering for yourself…” This process not only allows us to identify the reason for this suffering at the spiritual level, but allows us to establish an atonement which eliminates the need for further karmic retribution in the form of an illness. This process is especially valuable for clients who have a spiritual orientation to their therapy.
Another of the Alchemical strategies is to assist clients in contacting an inner healer. This resource state within the inner world is available to the client twenty four hours a day in addressing both the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual origins of the illness. The inner healer also provides daily meditations of healing which can be anchored directly through hypnotic suggestion to the pain and symptoms of the illness.
These are some of the many techniques used by the Alchemical Hypnotherapists to discover the underlying purpose of disease processes and help create alternative ways to meet that purpose. Thus we not only help restore the body’s health, but help our clients to experience that profound empowerment that comes when one has discovered the meaning of an illness, learned its lesson for us, and consciously and lovingly released it.
It would be a mistake to assume that the subconscious motivation model of disease and treatment modalities outlined in this article represents the only legitimate paradigm of disease, or even necessarily the best. As a health care professional, we are both ethically and legally required to refer our clients to both mainstream physicians and other alternative practitioners so that the illness can be addressed from as many perspectives as possible. Nevertheless, as hypnotherapists we offer an invaluable perspective to all other health professions by addressing the clients illness from the perspective of subconscious motivations…the perspective of the soul.
Contact David Quigley at the Alchemy Institute of Hypnosis by phone at 800 950-4984, or through the website: http://www.alchemyinstitute.com