|"The Bully of the Neighborhood" John George Brown (1866)|
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Everybody wants to be able to put the bully in his place with one solid punch to the jaw, like John Wayne would. It just seems right, feels right...it's just so appealing on a gut level. Can't we solve everything like that? A problem pops up, so we hammer it down. Sometimes it is just that simple, but just as often that solution is temporary and the bully comes back, maybe in another way, stronger and more intimidating, or disguised.
It's also true with the bullies of the mind. Sometimes a simple, direct post-hypnotic suggestion, the hypno-equivalent of a punch to the jaw, commanding the client's psyche to "knock it off" is all that it takes for permanent change. I'm a pretty firm believer in the idea that you should always start with the simplest solution first, so I would never discount the direct suggestion. This is especially the case if the client has outgrown whatever is bullying him, and may just need an affirmation that it's time to change.
But it's important to have a clear appraisal of the client's problem. Very often, both hypnotist and client make too much of the healing powers of the hypnosis itself, and assume that a direct command issued to someone while in a trance is all it takes to do the trick. A simple, direct command can work, but it can be hit-or-miss. Think about it. How many people have "tried" hypnosis but didn't get the results they expected?
Since a direct command is an authoritarian approach, it's important to understand how most people's minds deal with authority. Some people like to think that authority can simply compel people to change their behavior, either in waking life or under trance. It often appears that it can, but the mechanics behind what's happening are a little more complex than it would appear. People also tend to categorize adherence to authority as "good" and simply dismiss non-adherent behaviors as "bad", without taking time to examine these alternatives.When faced with authority, people and bullies alike generally respond in one of 3 ways: They comply, rebel or surrender. You've probably observed some or all of them in school when you and the other kids in your class were faced with the authority of the teacher (remember the "teacher's pets", the "rebels", "trouble makers", and the "quiet ones" from school?)
Here how they break down:
-- When faced with an authoritarian command, many will comply. A lot of people consider this to be the "right" way things go. A teacher, a boss, or other figure says, "do it!" and (many) people do it. Here's the catch most people don't know: people, and people's minds, will obey authority as long as there's an advantage in it for them as well.
- So, if we apply the above to the construction of an hypnotic command, and to beating the bullies of the mind, we can see that a direct command will get the client's subconscious to comply IF it can be perceived to have some advantage to the client (albeit probably perceived by his subconscious mind). In other words, we have beaten the bully.
- The mind will likely rebel against the suggestion if it seems like an imposition that has no advantage to the client, or if it runs against the client's grain. In this case, we took the wrong approach, and the bully won.
- Finally, the client's mind may surrender to the given suggestion, and will, for a time, present signs of acceptance and compliance, but, feeling helpless, allow the problem to express itself in other ways. In this final scenario, the bully comes back for another fight at another time.
Of course this is a highly simplified examination, but hopefully one that is immediately practical. What do you think?