Caution: Psychology May be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

In his lecture on dream therapy on Monday, HMI director George Kappas opined that we should teach children about sleep when they are in junior high. The need seems obvious, when one stops to consider that we spend far less of our lives procreating than we do sleeping.

The problem, of course, is the same problem we have with religion: if you start kids talking about their dreams, you are going to have kids talking about abuse in the family, and somebody is going to have to confront the damage.

In professional terms, the front line in that trauma ward shouldn’t be teachers, it should be psychologists. But the psychologists confront the same problem that religious leaders do: they don’t have the strength to deal with the scope of the problem. There simply aren’t enough resources in society to treat all those in need.

In part, that’s because the psychologists have used licensing to restrict supply: becoming a practicing family therapist requires six years of schooling and 8000 hours of supervised practice – a total of ten years. But it’s also because psychotic behavior is both contagious and difficult to cure.

War, for example, creates deep and lasting scars on the mind as well as the body. Those scars are passed from warrior to child and take generations to heal. Even in non-combatants: female survivors of the Holocaust feared to bond with their children. Early maternal intimacy is essential to establishing the assumption of trust in human relations. In withholding it, mothers unwittingly raise sociopaths. This was a pattern observed by Judith Hermann in her treatment of Holocaust survivors and their children, but also in survivors of torture.

In the workplace, the metaphor of war creates the psychic damage without leaving physical scars. Lacking the exterior evidence, we tend to ignore the wounds.

The industrial scale of the problem has led psychology to seek industrial solutions – pharmacology. The belief is that healing can begin only when the patient’s behavior is stabilized. But the psychiatrists have created a culture of zombies based upon an erroneous model of the mind. It is obvious to those of us that understand spiritual experience that they are ceding the battlefield to the enemy.

Psychologists believe in a material model of the mind: they look at synapses firing and see logic networks like those in computers. When confronted with exceptional behavior (musical or mathematical savants), they look for explanations in structural differences in the brain: the density of synapses in certain regions, or increased blood flow. The difficulty is that none of their correlations hold up.

I am confident that this is because the seat of cognition is not the brain. The brain is, in fact, simply an interface to a complex intentional field shared with all living creatures (much like a modem is an interface to a network of computers). Our bodies are metaphors through which the elements of that field negotiate new relationships – relationships that often entail conflict.

That negotiation will take place in one context or another. So in medicating us, psychiatrists are simply displacing the problem – they are forcing the spiritual elements to seek another context in which their conflict can be resolved. Which creates another patient on medication, causing another displacement, and another patient, and another displacement…

At one point, psychologists (perhaps foremost among them Jung) sought to characterize and negotiate spiritual conflict. They quickly discovered that the forces at play are too vast for any single individual or subculture to manage. To succeed in disciplining the forces of conflict, we must distribute throughout society the competence to recognize and manage the symptoms of spiritual conflict.

Of course, this is religion. Religion is explicitly spiritual, and the religions that endure hold that there is a higher power that sustains us in the struggle for mental health – which is to say to exhibit behaviors that create mutually satisfying relationships. Those behaviors are known colloquially as “love.”

Psychology buys into the Golden Rule, but for some reason chooses to treat religion as a problem rather than an asset. The dominant rationale is materialism: in a material world, the soul doesn’t exist, and so all religion is a hoax. But the hidden rationale is economic: when you have a hammer for hire, every problem is a nail, and someone with a screwdriver is competition to be eliminated.

The dominant tool in this age is protection of the “public welfare.” This is the justification for onerous training requirements. The mind is a tangled web of influences, and treatment occurs in a constricted and artificial environment. The energies built in the psyche of a patient accumulate for decades (or millennia) before entering therapy. Here potent psychotic alchemies can evolve: bad ideas in the minds of the practitioner (such as the behavioral psychologists who promised the Catholic Church that their pedophiles could be cured) combine with bad ideas in the mind of the patient, and the outcome is uncertain and sometimes counter to the goal of creating mental health.

But the regulation doesn’t stop there. Psychiatrists would like priests and ministers to stop counseling parishioners and have fought strenuously to restrict the activities of lay hypnotherapists.

But psychology fails because it operates on an invalid model of the mind; because it relies upon rigorous categorizations of behavior that are stimulated by the treatment system; because it uses arcane language that disintermediates the individual from management of their own mind and the minds of those they love. The public is left only with the role of creating problems, not solving them.

In watching videos of John Kappas speak of the relationship between psychology and hypnotherapy, I have often been struck by the implied hostility of a licensed professional to his own discipline. Kappas believed in individual potential and was motivated by the joy evidenced by those that received healing. He understood that love was the most potent element in the spiritual realm, and so trusted that providing people with tools for healing would be beneficial, even if some mistakes were made that caused individual pain.

Kappas spent his life fighting for the right for people to care for one another.

Can psychology claim the same?

President on the Couch

It was obvious during the second Bush presidency that Jr was working out his father-figure-issues in the Oval Office. He was fortunate to have a mother and wife experienced in managing fragile men, and it wasn’t until retirement that he began to paint pictures of himself in the bath tub.

As we watch ethics and legal issues whittle down Trump’s inner circle, we are seeing a narcissist exposed to the world. Trump lacks the resources of the Bush clan. He’s going to have a psychotic break.

Heaven help us.

Hypnosis Works

When I interviewed at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, I felt like I had come home. After years of having my compassion treated as a threat by abusive managers, it was welcomed as an asset to be celebrated.

The program is a significant investment. Everybody thinks that as a software developer I should be rich, but after a tumultuous divorce, several brief stints of unemployment, and nearly $30,000 spent producing and marketing my message of healing, the $10,000 tuition was nearly a third of my net worth.

So while I enjoyed the first month of classes, I was still nervous about whether this was finally going to give me the avenue that I was seeking.

I am drawn frequently into healing experiences, most often on the floor when I am dancing. Those environments also produce hostility though, most often from men whose sexual aggression is rejected by women that are relieved to find their prayers for kindness answered in my presence.

As I explained it to HMI’s education director, I was seeking a modality that would allow me to bring people into that space of healing in a controlled fashion. He understood, affirming that “hypnosis is a framework on which you can build many kinds of practice.”

I found confirmation this Saturday under surprising circumstances.

I went in to get a hair cut before yoga, and found myself stranded on the bench at Supercuts as stylist after stylist took a break. I was called to the chair by a younger woman, dressed severely, her long, dark mop of hair punctuated by a blue splash over the right eye.

After she had gotten started, she asked what I had done with the beginning of my day. I related that I had been working on hypnotherapy classes. She followed up with “What’s that all about?”

While we were given scripted responses in the first series of classes, they weren’t possible in the context (sitting shrouded in a sheet). So I began to ad-lib, stating that hypnosis enabled the client to access the full capabilities of their mind when trying to modify behaviors.

She broke in “But what if someone doesn’t want to confront the past?”

“Well, they don’t have to; you can choose to move forward. Hypnosis establishes a state of relaxation and clarity that allows you to remember what it is like to feel well and in control. When you go back to life, you can then clearly perceive what is pleasant and unpleasant, no longer obscured by the anxieties and stress of your habitual life.”

She was skeptical, and concluded the conversation with a dismissive comment.

But as she continued her craft, trimming the right side of my head, I had this sudden thought “She’s really open to me right now.” Extending my focus toward her heart, I took it gently and poured love into it.

She didn’t react. But ten minutes later, she pulled out the steamed towel and began to clean the nape of my neck with a gratitude that penetrated deeply into the skin. After thanking her, I walked toward the register and one of her elder peers called out, “Thank you!”

And I realized that just knowledge of the theory of hypnosis had brought me the means I was looking for, even before mastery of the techniques of therapeutic practice.

I’m on the right path.

Resolution of Love

To be loved is to receive power. If you are loved, you should feel stronger every day.

Don’t fall in love.

To fall into love is to surrender to mutual emptiness.

Awaken to love.

Awaken to new perspectives. Awaken to new feelings. Awaken to new possibilities.

Eyes open, clear-headed, self-controlled.

But most importantly:

Awaken to JOY!

Fire From on High

Were the bullets like the angry fists that pummeled your growing body?

Was the scurrying below meaningless, like the gambling that you used to hide your pain?

…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.

[NIV Gen. 2:17]

Is that the only escape from the sorrows of this world? An escape into death?

Was that the truth you wished to communicate before you took your own life?

Oh, dear brother, why were you immune to the Lord’s promises? Did no one tell you?

I will give you a new heart and a new spirit. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

[NIV Ezek. 36:26]

For now you have fallen prey to the illusion of death. The savior reached out to you with a healing embrace, but instead of receiving that gift, you chose to bear arms.