In the forgoing, we have witnessed the part played by one powerful and necessary element, namely the normal and everyday propensity to be “drawn into” and “focused upon”. Here is another; namely, “suggestion”. (The term “suggestion” used within this context entails the process whereby a proposition or scenario is uncritically accepted as being credible and appealing). Such uncritical acceptance of ideas, propositions and scenarios, determines the level and degree of suggestibility in the absence of the deployment of an individual’s critical faculties. Once again, the simple truth is that all of us are being bombarded with suggestions of various kinds and degrees of intensity every day of our lives. Some of it comes to us via peer pressure and the need to conform domestically, socially, in the workplace, as well as in terms of a wide range of especially susceptible opinions and beliefs.
Politicians – national and local – also seek endlessly to woo us in search of support for their particular brand of political philosophies and dogmas. Advertising – whether on television and radio or being directed from poster hoardings, magazines, newspapers etc.- delivers an ongoing barrage of suggestion, tailored to target us where we are most vulnerable, i.e. subliminally and subconsciously. Nor (as is implicit in the above) is the power of suggestion only likely to impact on the weak willed or undecided. Indeed, the skill of designing a suggestion able to carry and transmit its powerful appeal to the maximum number of people is the ‘name of the game’ and a key element in that ‘game’ is sometimes labelled “latent learning”. The basis of this strategy is to subtly and even surreptitiously implant a congruent·, i.e. acceptable, germ of an idea or of doubt or whatever which hopefully might then take root. Thereafter, the skill is to tend and support it and allow “Anno Domini” to do the rest (as, according to Shakespeare, did the cunning insinuations of Iago on the mind of Othello).
This leads conveniently and directly to a salient observation about “suggestion”, namely that its power is maximised where it acts congruently upon the unconscious, rather than the conscious mind. Whatever colourful or flamboyant acts or procedures are arranged or timed to coincide with the instilling of any such suggestion (an example might be found in Mesmer’s contention that his “cures” relied upon iron rods or magnetic fluids etc.) it is the latter, i.e. the implicit belief, congruently, comfortably and effortlessly planted in the subject’s/patient’s mind that is successful. (It may well, of course, be that suggestibility can be further enhanced by ritual and ceremony).
Even the very basic kind of introduction to hypnosis and hypnotherapy here provided, requires some minimal level of understanding of terms such as the “conscious” and “unconscious” mind, as well as what is meant, in this context, by the term “suggestion”. As with previous blogs, you may well be interested to the point of reading on. Alternatively you may prefer to omit it, a choice that, as ever, is yours to make. My next blog will therefore attempt to provide a working knowledge of such terms referred to above, together with a brief look at commonly experienced problems and ways of overcoming them. (C) SB.