Hypnosis to Forget a Memory
Hypnosis to forget a memory or erase certain thoughts from your mind is always an interesting topic. If you are a hypnotherapist you will look at this from one angle and if you are a client from a completely different viewpoint. Most hypnotherapists are interested because there are certain hypnotic techniques that can be used on people to make them forget to say certain numbers. This is a great skill which is often used by stage hypnotists. Private clients want something totally different. They have experienced a bad situation with a partner or been in a traumatic situation and they want someone to come along and totally wipe those thoughts from their memory. They want what I would call forget bad memories hypnosis. So can this be done?
Hypnosis to Forget Memories
Let’s start with hypnosis to forget unhappy memories involving certain individuals or situations that you may have experienced. A typical one that I get asked is whether hypnosis to forget an ex works?
You may have spent a few years with a partner and for whatever reason, the relationship went wrong and you can’t stop thinking about that person. You may have painful memories associated with that person or the breakup is giving you negative feelings. You worry that you will never find another relationship like that again. Or alternatively, your current and future relationships are being negatively impacted by your unhelpful dwelling on the past.
So you are crying or upset every day because you either miss them so much or you know that you should move on but you can’t. Some people feel this pain and experience negative physical reactions associated with the older memories sometimes years after a break-up. So what do you do? Well from my experience a number of people ring a clinical hypnotherapist and ask them for help to move on with their life. They want the painful memories to be erased and they want their personal trauma to stop.
Can you Use Hypnosis to Forget Someone?
In reality, traumatic memories can’t selectively be erased when it comes to situations like ex-partners or friends.
When you think about how memories and made and linked together it makes sense that this can’t happen. For example, your ex-partner would regularly meet you for a coffee at a certain cafe. If the partner was to be erased from your memory in this case so would the cafe chain dates and any people that you met at that location with them. If your ex would go to Sunday dinner at your parent’s house every week if your memories of that person were erased what happens to your memories of your parents and the dinners? An old memory of a person is not something that stands alone because it is linked with many other events or people.
Memories are far more complex than we realize. They don’t just involve the person that we are having a problem with but hundreds of other people that you both may have come into contact with. Hypnosis to forget a memory is therefore not possible because our lives are intertwined with so many others. You can’t just erase someone from your memory because if that were possible you would have huge gaps of missing information and that is not how the brain works.
Hypnosis to Forget Trauma
So can you be hypnotized to forget trauma or erase memories? Well, hypnotherapy to forget trauma is equally problematic. Many people have experienced horrific events in their life which may haunt them for years after the event. A traumatic memory can cause negative physical reactions and can psychological distress.
Many of our clients have traumatic memories that have caused problems such as anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and PTSD. Some of these feelings surface years after the event and are held deep in the subconscious mind. Others are well remembered by our clients and are a recent painful memory that they would like to remove.
Arianna Grande is an example of a famous person who has opened up about her mental health following the Manchester Arena Bombing. She is still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and distressing flashbacks because of what she experienced that day. That mental discomfort related to those past events is still very much in her conscious mind.
I am sure that if it were possible she would love to get rid of the memory and the negative emotional response to that horrible event but yet again memory does not work like that. Removing the painful memory of the bombing would also involve erasing memories of Manchester, her singing, the stage crew and so on which is just not possible. So what can be done to help someone with unwanted memories?
Hypnotherapy for Painful Memories
When our clients ask us to help with removing memories of a certain person or an event we have to tell them no we can’t do that but we can do something else for you. Memory hypnosis can be used to help take away some of the negative associations surrounding that person or event so the thoughts because hazier and are neutralized.
In the case of hypnosis to forget a person then it makes sense to understand why they are unable to get them out of their mind. In the majority of cases, it is not because they were the love of their life but because they had another problem. As an example, they may have a fear of not being good enough so when someone showed them some affection they clung to them even if they knew that they weren’t right for them.
Or they may lack confidence and worry about being alone. When a person has this fear they will continue to frantically stay with a partner because they don’t know how they could cope on their own. Hypnosis to forget a memory in these cases doesn’t involve changing events or the ex but instead revolves around building the client’s self-worth and low self-esteem. When you do this the need for the old partner disappears away. There isn’t therefore a need to erase bad memories but to instead help the client to resolve the root cause of their issues which in turn help to extinguish the unhelpful thoughts and feelings. When this is done in therapy it helps to give a new perspective to events and that has a knock-on emotional benefit of addressing unresolved emotions that were previously hidden to the client.
Hypnosis to forget a trauma works slightly differently. This is because PTSD and other anxieties related to traumas are not always directly linked to the traumatic event itself. It is well known that many people who experience post-traumatic stress will have already had issues with anxiety. A part of their mind was already on high alert and worrying or thinking negatively. Regression hypnosis can help to determine what the underlying anxiety is and if that is resolved the PTSD can also stop or be better managed.
If hypnosis is unable to resolve the trauma then another therapy called EMDR works to neutralize these traumatic events. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is often used by the military and police to help with PTSD. When a person has undergone a program of EMDR they report that they are able to remember what happened to them but they no longer feel the same intensity of negative emotion. Again this method does not erase bad memories but instead helps to take the sting out of them so that your memory recall is more neutral instead of upsetting.
Hypnosis to Forget Something
In the world of hypnosis, it is possible to create temporary amnesia depending on the depth of trance a hypnotherapist achieves. For amnesia to occur a stage hypnotist needs to achieve what is called somnambulism. When a person is in somnambulism it is possible for them to temporarily forget numbers, names or even their address. Usually, a hypnotist is using this either to amuse the audience in stage hypnosis or to assess the depth of the trance they have achieved in clinical work. This memory-erasing trick looks good on stage but is not permanent.
Suggestion Hypnosis or the art of helping someone to change their thoughts or behaviors through positive suggestion works better when the mind is in this deep state of trance. It, therefore, makes sense for a hypnotherapist to check where their subject’s depth of trance is before commencing any therapeutic work as it will be more effective. Typically these memories will reappear when the person returns to their conscious state. Hypnosis to forget a memory, in this case, is just temporary and does not stand the test of time.
As this form of stage hypnosis is reasonably well known to the general public it has led to misconceptions about hypnosis and its capabilities regarding bad memories. The reality is that it is not possible to erase memories for any sufficient length of time.
Hypnosis for Memory Retrieval
Finally, when we are talking about hypnosis to forget a memory it is also useful to talk about another possibility and that is hypnosis for memory retrieval. It is not unusual for hypnotherapists to get a call from someone who has lost or forgotten something incredibly important. I have had people lose the deeds of their house, large quantities of money and other important paperwork. No matter how hard they try they are unable to remember where these important items are.
Regression hypnosis is the art of hypnotizing someone to go back and recover old memories that are held in the subconscious mind. Usually, this is used in clinical hypnosis to help discover the underlying reasons why someone may have a problem but it can also be used to trace back your steps to discover what you did with the thing of importance. To make this work well a hypnotherapist needs to make sure that their subject is as calm as possible so they can think back to what they did before they lost the item. This can somethings be difficult if the subject is in a high state of anxiety because of what they lost.
I have also used this method in a TV pilot for a program called The One That Got Away. The premise of the show was that a person had met the love of their life on holiday a few years previously and didn’t take their phone number when the trip ended. A few years later a TV crew used a hypnotherapist (me), a detective and their own tracing methods to try and find the person. Through hypnosis, I was able to extract the surname of the person which had long been forgotten which enabled the film crew to find her in Sweden!
Hypnotherapy For Memory
Therapy for bad memories or partners you want to forget does work but as I have explained not in the way that you probably expected. Taking the sting out of a bad memory should however never be underestimated and can be incredibly helpful in reducing anxiety or depression. As for true amnesia hypnosis head to see some hypnotic stage shows to watch it in action.
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