Please Don't Make Me Cluck Like A Chicken" - Hypnosis In Dentistry. By @DentistGoneBadd
Stick with this. There IS a point.
Last week, The Supreme Court decreed that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. Supreme Court president Lady Hale, like a character from Monty Python’s ‘The Life Of Brian,’ all but called Boris ‘a very naughty boy’ after the court ruled it was impossible to conclude there had been any reason, "let alone a good reason - to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks.”
I don’t know if you’re as avid a student of Donald J. Trump as I am, but over the past three years, he appears to have been single-handedly responsible for introducing into American households, the term ‘gaslighting.’ If you’re not familiar with the term, gaslighting is defined as the manipulation of someone by psychological means, into doubting their own sanity. In other words, it’s big fibs. Donald Trump is the Fibber-in-Chief in the USA. Boris Johnson is the Lord Pedlar-of-Porkies in the UK.
I don’t know if you’ve been following the events leading up to the decision by Nancy Pelosi to impeach the President, but there was a glorious attempt by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to obfuscate details about the President’s phone call with the Ukrainian president, in which he appeared to apply inappropriate pressure on him to investigate corruption allegations against Joe Biden’s son. This was revealed by a whistleblower.
At one point during a television interview, CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Giuliani if he (personally) had asked the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Giuliani replied “No, actually I didn’t.” A few seconds later, Cuomo said "So you DID ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?" "Of course I did," said Giuliani, true to his past attempts to confuse the issues he has been protecting Trump from, for the past couple years.
Then, Trump was seen with the Ukrainian president at a press conference and he remarked that he had learned a lot about the Ukraine because there had been a Ukrainian winner of the Miss Universe pageant (which was owned by Donald Trump until 2015). Of course, there has NEVER been a Ukrainian winner of the Miss Universe competition and this lie escaped press and media scrutiny apart from on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show. The media, like the rest of the world, is now becoming numb to Trump’s lies.
Trump’s technique, which I have little doubt he stumbled on and didn’t actually think through initially, is to mesmerise with total BS. I believe the Brexit ‘Leave’ campaign did exactly the same thing.
By accident, Trump is using advanced hypnotic distraction techniques that experienced hypnotists can utilise to induce trance. Those techniques involve the use of confusion for so long, the subject jumps at the next suggestion that makes any sort of sense.
And this got me thinking about my own amateurish dabblings in hypnosis and in turn, the use of hypnosis in dentistry.
My view on hypnosis and the inevitable psychological and psychotherapeutic implications that are essential in order to practice it effectively and safely, are DON’T DO HYPNOSIS unless you have completed a fully integrated course with psychotherapy. I feel strongly that mental health, like dentistry, is not something that ought to be ‘dabbled in.’ For the record, until a few years ago I was on the General Hypnotherapy Register.
Having said that, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that my first steps into hypnosis were by dabbling.
As I’ve admitted in previous blogs, I was a mature student. I entered dental school just before my 30th birthday and by the time I had escaped the shackles of the pre-clinical years (it was two for me since I was a thicko and I had to do 1st BDS), my late wife was expecting our first child. In March of 1987, my wife was heavily pregnant again with our second child. It was eight months before finals. I was on clinic when a tannoy announcement beckoned me to reception. My wife was on the phone and she declared that she thought she was in labour. I explained to the lecturers on duty at the time that I had to go. They were nonplussed and confused, mainly because at no point did any of them previously have any interest at all in me (or any of the other students unless they played rugby) and the fact that I was even married had passed them by. It was St Patrick’s Day. To their credit, the lecturers told me not to worry and they would sort out my next patient – a slightly inebriated Irishman who was equally confused when I ran past him in the waiting room with my coat in my hand.
Now this is where the dabbling came in. Despite the fact that she had given birth to our daughter a month prematurely and by virtue of her size was reasonably easy and quick to deliver, my wife didn’t enjoy the experience at all. So a few months before my son was born, I spent a few hours in the dental school library one day, looking through journals to find stuff on hypnosis. The main aim was to train myself up enough to deliver self-hypnosis training to my wife to help with pain control. The few weeks before my middle child was born, we had sessions where I managed to get my wife into what seemed a reasonably deep trance, leaving her feeling calm and relaxed.
By the time I arrived home from the university, my wife was packed and she appeared relaxed and was in no major discomfort. I sat her down quickly and went through a hypnotic routine where I reinforced that she would experience no pain during the birth. We got into the maternity unit and my wife was examined. She was having contractions every couple of minutes or so, but the midwife wasn’t convinced my missus was in labour. She summoned a house office and he also said she wasn’t in labour and to go home. At this point I was absolutely bricking it. We both knew that I couldn’t admit what I had done because although I wasn’t sure, I thought there MUST be some rule against a dental student practising hypnosis for a medical reason that could see you de-scrubbed before you even got on the dental register. So, we brazened it out and insisted my wife was in labour.
After a few hours, the spell of my hypnotic trance broke and the pain broke through. At that point, the maternity unit realised they were on to a winner and the little one was born thirty minutes or so later. I say ‘little one’ - he was a big brute.
After that experience, which convinced me of the power of hypnosis, I was determined to study it further.
Within a year of qualification, I had joined the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis (BSCAH). I must have been really keen because the branch closest to me met every month early on a Sunday morning a ninety-minute drive away. Here I met medics and dentists who were all similarly minded into giving their patients a comfortable experience. Here I learned lots of ways of inducing a trance and countless techniques for helping people with patients who retched, experienced TMJ through bruxing and dental phobia.
I found the world of hypnosis magical. I was at a lecture given by a dentist one day and he did a demonstration of trance that was almost voodoo. The demonstration involved placing a coin on the back of a subject’s hand and getting the subject (a doctor) to transfer all the sensation in the skin under the coin, TO the coin. The hypnotist then removed the coin and took it to another part of the stage. With his back to the subject, he stuck a pin in the coin. At that same moment, the patient winced and sharply retracted his hand. Well, I was mesmerised, and needed to learn more than the BSCAH could offer me
So, around 2001, I decided to study for an advanced hypnotherapy qualification and started pursuing qualifications in hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and counselling. This led to me being able to register as a hypnotherapist with the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council and theoretically, I could treat clients for problems outside the dental restrictions placed by the BSCAH. In fact, I strayed little away from the dental field, fearing I’d get into trouble if the waters got too deep. Even with hypnosis, in the forefront of my mind was litigation and my first action after qualifying was to get good professional indemnity insurance.
Even after that, I still felt I needed to learn more, so in a couple of years I completed a practitioner and then a master practitioner’s course in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) with Paul McKenna and Richard Bandler. I always view NLP as hypnosis at speed, and it works beautifully. Some years ago, a friend of mine who ran a course for dental nurses, invited me to do a talk on hypnosis. I took a container with a large spider in it and asked if there was anyone in who hated spiders. Fortunately, there was. The nurse who volunteered to help me wouldn’t go anywhere near the spider. After a couple of minutes of talking to her and running her through an NLP routine, she approached the spider and picked up the container. It would have been brilliant if she’d taken the spider out and put it on her head, but it was a good demonstration of the power of hypnosis.
My son (whose birth I described above), was a particularly good subject. I could induce numbness in the back of his hand, pinch the skin, and pass a narrow bore local anaesthetic needle right through it without him feeling any pain. I wondered if he had imbibed my hypnosis while I was working on his mum.
The only problem I had, and it’s probably a testimony to the fact that I wasn’t a proficient hypnotist, is that it took me a long time to induce trance and so in the chair, it wasn’t terribly practical in inducing numbness in patients worried about needles. I was reasonably adept at inducing relaxation and giving post-hypnotic suggestions to help people attain some stress reduction and did use this in practice. I also used this for a couple of my patients when they were going through chemotherapy and painful procedures for malignancy and I ‘cured’ another patient of particularly severe TMJ symptoms by suggesting he ‘oiled’ his jaw joints in his mind, with WD40. It worked. I also ‘cured’ a lady who had a phobia of pigeons and couldn’t walk through her city’s high street, with NLP.
I never made a penny from my hypnosis, but I DID have fun, such as hypnotising a particularly irritating Moonie on the street in about thirty seconds through something called a ‘handshake interrupt’ – which I learned off Paul Mckenna. Yes, fair enough, he was probably already brainwashed anyway by Sun Myung Moon, so he was easy meat, but I was still pretty pleased. He stood with his hand in the air and I watched him for a few minutes from down the road. Eventually he shook his head, then his hand and he assumed his role of harrying busy shoppers to join his bizarre cult.
In the early days of my hypnotic dabblings I was working at a practice where one of the nurses kept on badgering me to hypnotise her – not for any particular reason, other than she wanted to be hypnotised. I did a deep induction while she was on the dental chair. As part of the process, I suggested her legs were very heavy. Halfway through, another nurse knocked on the door and interrupted us saying “Tracey, where’s the Alveogyl? Are you asleep Tracey?” Irritated, the nurse got up, or tried to get up. Her legs were still heavy. Later in the afternoon, she could hardly walk and I had to hypnotise her again to remove the feeling of heaviness. I daresay my wicked spell would have worn off after a while, but I was still chuffed by my hypnotic powers.
As if I needed any more proof that hypnosis is powerful medicine, this was one of the best examples. Some time ago, an actor acquaintance asked me to hypnotise his wife, also an actor. I went around to their apartment for the hypnosis session. I can’t honestly remember what she was being treated for, but I do remember that halfway through the session, my IBS kicked in and I needed the loo desperately. I deepened the trance and then went off to complete my urgent mission. When I came back, my client was still deep in a state of tranquillity, apparently oblivious to me having been away for ten minutes. If you’re ever on a hot date and you need to answer a call of nature and want your date to forget the episode, I’m your man!
And after all that, I’m not going to tell you any of the secrets of trance induction. You need to train. What have I told you?