Tongue in Cheek
A wife drove her husband to see me.
He was having panic attacks just looking at a train. Sadly this meant he was unable to commute from his home in leafy Norbiton, Surrey, to his office in grimy EC2, London.
He was South African. His dad was a millionaire and his son has spent six months in ‘a cross between The Priory and a boot camp’ to cure him of his gambling addiction. And it worked! (Sadly, however, they didn’t know he’d substituted a crack-cocaine addiction for the gambling.)
He really didn’t want to be here.
Eventually I got him on the couch, did an induction and was counting him down deeper when he shot bolt-upright; eyes wide open.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Well, you know, you don’t know what to think about this hypnosis lark. I mean did you see that programme last night?”
The previous night Channel 4 has broadcast ‘The Dark Side of Stage hypnosis’, featuring a tawdry bunch of northerners in shiny suits earning their crusts getting drunk girls in bars to fall in love with mops. Sheesh!
“Yes. I saw it,” I admitted.
“Well there you go,” he said. “You see an awful lot of dodgy hypnotists on the telly.”
“Yes,” I said. “And I’ve seen an awful lot of dodgy South Africans on the telly, too, but I’m not going to hold that against you. So what’s the real problem?”
“Err ... I could feel myself going and ... well ... I was scared.”
“Good. Well you’ve proved one thing. You have absolute control. And if at any time in the future you feel uncomfortable you know you can just snap yourself out of it again. But. Just one thing. Snapping yourself out like that isn’t clever. It’s like being jolted awake from a deep sleep. Not recommended. You can still do it but it would be better for you, if you start to feel uneasy, just poke your tongue out. If I see you poke out your tongue I’ll wake you up nicely and that will be better all round. Do you think you can do that? Can you poke your tongue out?”
Of course, he never did and the rest of the therapy proceeded serenely.