Archive for category M.E./C.F.S

Extreme OCD Camp

I have just watched a news segment on BBC Breakfast for Extreme OCD Camp. Some sufferers had gone to USA to learn to manage their OCD. The clip showed the sufferer having to face her fear in direct confrontation. I don’t know if this was typical of the whole treatment but I get very frustrated watching TV like this as I don’t think it is necessary to put someone through such fear. Also the sufferers they had in the studio didn’t seem to have moved forwards too much. One said he used to take 13 mins to wash his hands and now his record was 5mins 1 second. This is great but the very act of timing himself is saying “I have a problem”. It is very difficult to overcome a problem when you are so focused it.

As a hypnotherapist I get very frustrated with direct confrontation of fear. It is not pleasant for a sufferer and it is not necessary. So much can be done to reduce the fear before that stage is necessary.

Hypnosis is a wonderful way to overcome fears and anxieties because you are in a relaxed state and therefore training your mind to cope with a situation and feel relaxed.

A good analogy of this is my own story of wanting to be a runner again. I had used a mobility scooter for 15 years because of ME/CFS/PVFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome). I tried using graduated exercises to build up my walking ability. I was told to walk 50 meters a day and then 60m, 70m etc. I was able to build up to 2 minutes walk a day but then my body would shut down again under the pressure and I would go into a crash state. I would reduce the walks and build up again hit the same barrier. It was like hitting a glass ceiling. I was the first failure of the physiotherapist that was helping me.  I had only had the illness about 3 years at this point but over the years I didn’t move forward. Then I learnt the principles behind hypnosis and started applying them to myself. One of the key changes for me was I wanted to be a runner. It used to really frustrate me seeing people run. I didn’t care about walking, I want to run. I therefore decided to sit down and go into a trance and go for a run.

Our brains are completely isolated inside our bodies. The only way we know the world is out there is because of the information sent to our brains from our senses. If we imagine the information from our senses there is little difference to the brain.  Therefore going for a run in a trance the brain thinks it is going for a run for real. It can barely tell the difference. What it can tell however is that the body is not getting tired. I would probably spend 3 mins a day going for a 3 mile run around my old cross country route at school. After 6 weeks of daily “runs” I had reason to test a cross trainer machine and I did about 0.3 of its miles. I thought nothing of it which I thought was curious. I decided to do it the next day and the next day. Then I did 0.4 miles and followed it by 0.2 miles but faster the day after. Soon I found myself building up and up to the point I eventually did start running and eventually got to complete a half marathon.

What happened after 15 years that didn’t after 3? Well clearly nothing can be known from my isolated cases but I think scientific studies when pieced together with my own insights lead to the following theory.

When I tried walking and building up I got instant physical reactions and by body could not cope. I was already tired and the walking was a pointless exercise with no benefit only fatigue.

With the trance run the brain thought it was running. Scientific studies have shown that muscle mass can increase by mentally weight lifting each day. So my body probably started adapting to running over the six week period. And the massive difference was there was no fatigue. My brain therefore thought it was healthier and that my body could run. So when I did some light exercise it thought “Why should this be a problem. You have run for 6 weeks now”.

Breaking the link between the physical and the reality was a crucial step here and it is my belief that it is the best way to move anyone forward on a fear issue. If you get comfortable with doing something mentally first then it will be easier in reality.

The sufferers in the program all knew logically they should not have the problem. To me the unconscious mind has got some settings slightly out of sync and these need adjusting. This can be done without the stress of direct confrontation.

If you have any questions for me or a different point of view please get in touch I am always looking to expand my knowledge of how the human mind works so that I can move more people forward.

One final point to think about. If you were told that your OCD would be gone in a year as long as you focused on what you would be able to do in a years time would you focus on that for one year? What if you saw no change in that time?

It took me 2-3 years to run that half marathon. I expected I would get there in a year. All the delays were important information for me and my body. I did it. You can make massive leaps forward with your life too.


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Conversation with a client working on a long term problem

Today I would like you share with you a conversation I had with a client. This client currently holds my record for the most sessions. I have had 7 sessions with them . I rarely get above 4 sessions with anyone so this is case is quite unusual for me. The client is a blind Swiss ME/CFS/PVFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome) sufferer that also has sleep trouble.  I have been helping this client via Skype sessions and in general they have made good progress but so far sleep is still a problem.  I always ask my clients to ask me questions and today we have a text conversation which I feel is worth sharing.

Client: Hi Jon! How things with you? I am doing pretty good, being optimistic and curious about the future. You mentioned something interesting, namely, that Milton Erickson’s was often led into dead ends by his unconscious. But…. That isn’t a bad thing in itself and should not stop one from using intuition the way Erickson did?

Jon Hinchliffe: Absolutely not. This is why I have the analogy of the captain of the ship being the conscious and the unconscious being the rest of the ship. Sometimes the worker gets it wrong and need guidance from the manager as to how to proceed. Sometimes, of course, the captain gets it wrong and needs to trust his workers to get there. It is all give and take.

Client: Thanks for reminding me of that analogy of yours! I have been reading C.G. Jung – thinking I might get some inspiration as to how to steer and activate my unconscious mind in the direction I want it to work. Can’t however make much of Jung’s archetypes so far. I thought that there might be something like the ‘healer archetype’ in Jung. Haven’t found that however. Do you have any opinion on archetypes and if and how they could be used for the healing process?

Jon Hinchliffe: I have to say I don’t know what they are but given they are a man-made breaking down of us, I don’t really see them need for them. We are whole and the where we want to b is what I believe we should focus on. Do you think your unconscious might have a reason for not letting you sleep?

Client: I don’t see that my unconscious would have any reason not to let me sleep – except …. if is getting the wrong  orders from the captain…. But I must say that the captain has learned quite a bit in the past year. However, I still find it difficult to tap into my unconscious mind – I am sure it is happening but I am not consciously aware of it – and this is something I’d like to be consciously aware of – like the captain of a ship ought to consciously know what the crew is doing, thinking, and suggesting….

Jon Hinchliffe: How would a captain ever know what his crew are thinking? He can’t become them.

Client: Well, a captain has his officers that will inform him, give him advice, give him an idea of how the crew is doing and so forth….. Maybe I was thinking that the archetypes could function something like the officers of a ship to the captain of the ship…..

Jon Hinchliffe: You can’t consciously think like your unconscious and you can’t necessarily be aware of it. When I feel my unconscious has given me something, I am still thinking it consciously. How am I selecting the words I am typing or the words I when I speak?

The officers still have limited views. I prefer the idea of the whole being united and I have found nothing that has convinced me otherwise.

Client: Well, I get your point. However…. In some shamanistic traditions and other mind-based traditions as well, I guess one could argue that the unconscious becomes the mode in which the world – both inner and outer world – is experienced…. Is this thinking too far out your thinking?

Jon Hinchliffe: I only like the conscious and unconscious because I can kind of prove there is something that isn’t conscious but is still there. I still think of us a whole being working towards common goals

I might incorrectly try to argue that the conscious is how we notice and represent the inner. The crew send the messages (the feelings) but the captain is the one judging them.

Client: I just feel that the border between the conscious and unconscious mind might not be as sharp as you make it look with your analogy of a ship and its captain and crew. Maybe what you mean by ‘the conscious mind’ being the captain is more like a ‘meta-conscious mind’. This at least is how one could think of it when one grants that the line between conscious and unconscious mind is blurry. By the way, I have gotten this idea from neuroscience as well as from my own experience – dreams being a good example of the blurry line between conscious and unconscious.

However, I do like your concept of the mind as a whole working towards common goals.

Jon Hinchliffe: I agree the line is very blurry and this is why we have to remember we are a whole and why we have to remember I can’t talk without my unconscious selecting my words for me. I try and rationalise the conscious and unconscious mind but I have no real idea of how the unconscious mind “ticks” all can do is give it problems and ask it to help solve them. This is why I go with my flow in sessions rather than have a strict forced structure. As I am working I often note bits I want to include in the hypnosis session but once I am working unconsciously I can ignore my notes completely. My unconscious is aware of what I have thought but is suggesting other ideas to me. I am normally more happy with what I achieved that if I had stuck to my plan. If I still feel my ideas worth doing another time I will make a note to myself.

There are problems I have thrown to my unconscious for months and sometimes the answer comes from nowhere all by itself. I feel I am still being taught by my unconscious.

Perhaps my unconscious is still learning. I encourage everyone to look at all areas of life and see where the cross links come from. It is something I am constantly doing. Perhaps my unconscious is therefore learning to communicate with me consciously better. You have to remember it is less than 5 years ago I had no concept of my unconscious mind. During that time I have changed and improved so much. My understanding of the world is constantly developing.

Client: That is a fascinating point: That your unconscious is maybe learning how to communicate with you better. I do believe that learning happens all the time and the way that the unconscious mind implements what it has learned into our life remains opaque as whatever we act out is already given to us consciously. However, going back to the topic of dreams…. Dreams might be one of those areas where the conscious mind and the unconscious mind meet in a way that is observable to the self….. I have found over time that I there are subtle changes in which my dream world presents certain common themes to me – when those themes have to do with my recovery, I find that I now have more options to choose from within the dream – it used to be only two options: Escaping from the scene and waking up or trying to ‘disbelieve’ what is happening. These days, I find I have the power to attend to any issue that comes up in the dream and try to be creative about it. Maybe your hypnosis work is based on similar principles….

Jon Hinchliffe: I certainly think the way you describe dreams there is very like the way clients describe the trance they have just had. I am one of those people that is rarely aware of my own dreams so it is not an area I have played with. I would hope the older you get the more you discover that there are always so many choices about how we move forward. It is two-choice thinking that is the cause of so many of my clients coming to see me. So often both choices are both right and wrong depending on the perspective you are looking from. This is why I like to tell clients that as soon as I believe I know something I know I am almost certainly wrong. And even that statement can be wrong!

Jon Hinchliffe: There seems a good point to let you carry on thinking and focusing on your improved health. Trust your unconscious!

Client: I like  what you said about what you believe when you have come to believe something…smiley. It is almost a Quinean poing in philosophy: There are no analytical truths. You also seem to refer to what one could call ‘fluid intelligence’ as opposed to ‘rigid intelligence’, i.e. collecting data and thinking the data itself is objective….. If I understand you correctly, even the data must never be regarded as objective and written in stone. I also feel that the notion of the unconscious mind you use is closely linked to what I would call ‘intuition’. And I would say that most people trust their intuition as a default. Trusting their unconscious mind seems to be more daring and unsafe…. as most people will think of their unconscious mind as having this dark, destructive side.

Jon Hinchliffe:  When I ran my first half marathon after 15 years of ME/CFS/PVFS I felt that is would prove I didn’t have ME. I spent two years expecting this. I ran the half marathon and instantly realised all it meant was on that day I had ran a half marathon. It meant nothing more and trying to put my interpretation on it was wrong.

I agree with your description as intuition and I very much like the idea of fluid thinking. The dark destructive side is not something I accept. I think that is the result of Freud and the like. I think that was a way forward that appeared to work but I see no need for it and I think it is a cause of problems. If the unconscious is dark and bad how is that useful to mankind as a species? I have often spoken to clients after therapist have left them thinking there is a something blocking them etc. I have not yet been convinced this is the case. Just talking to the client has normally left them a different perspective on this point.

Client: Oh, now you just raised a fascinating point, i.e. that you are not convinced about the dark, destructive side of the mind. I think – completely neglecting Freud -, there are some good points in favour of the dark, destructive side of the mind…. I think this would make for a longer discussion and I am all for it. Would you like to discuss that at a later time?

[15:16:02] Jon Hinchliffe: We can or we can carry on now

Client: Sorry, Jon, would like to carry on but a friend came over. Will really like to discuss this with you!

Thank you, Jon, for this conversation! I would like to take this up at another time! I feel our little exchange had a positive impact on me! Cheers to both our unconscious minds. smiley

Jon Hinchliffe: Ok another time 🙂

Client: Great! Warmest wishes from Switzerland!

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The missing link between ME sufferers perceptions and “PACE” suggestions of CBT

As a former member of the 25% ME Group I recently received their Press Release. The 25% group is quite rightly concerned that CBT is not the answer for many ME sufferers. In my time I have seen therapists that believe CBT is the way. I have experienced their short comings and yet I have moved forward with my illness and I believe I am now in the process of finding the missing link between an ME sufferers perceptions and the CBT therapists believe that it should work.

I first became ill with ME/CFS or Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) as it was first call in January 1994. I am still not 100% recovered from my ME/CFS but I am so far forward I that I have most of my life back. My only concerns as of Jan 2011 are that I still need the extra sleeps in order to remove the brain “fog”. I can work through the fog when I need to (short term) but as soon when there is no pressure I find I still need to “recharge” as I view it. I am currently writing this at 10am having woken at 6am and been fully alert for a couple of hours but was in need of sleep by 8.30am. The dilemma was do I push on and try and achieve work without sleeping or do I recharge my batteries allow my body to feel good so I then have a clear head for jobs? Today I chose the sleep. Other days I have continued and struggled until I finally gave in.  As I write this I am seeing many arguments for and against giving in to sleep but I will allow them to formulate more as I continue to work on regaining 100% health.

In 1997 I did a form of graduated exercise. I would love to hear details of what others have been put through on this so if you could share you experience with me please do. My experience was that I was asked to walk 50m a day. Then move up to 60m. Then 70m, 80m, 90m, eventually I was being asked to do a 2 minute walk a day. I could not manage the 2minute walk without debilitating myself so much the rest of the day was unbearable. I was taken back down and asked to build up again. I failed again. I was taken back done again and then the therapist dismissed me as her “first failure”.

I dismissed the label and still believed I would be able to build up and improve my life. I focused on doing things I enjoyed expecting the activity to move me forward so that I gradually discovered I was able to do more and more. I focused on being busy in my bedroom and only really went out to go to concerts. As can be seen from my records of concerts I have been too. I gradually increased the rate of going out. Each concert was a “one off special” event which was worth the suffering over the next 3-4 days. I know I took extra painkillers to go out but I have long since forgotten how I handled the “crash” periods. In 2000 I saw over 40 concerns and reading my own webpage on ME it appears I felt going to so many concerts in a year meant I had to cut back. I started looking for more solutions and decided perhaps I had not given Anti-depressants long enough on my first trial so I decided to try and have a longer trial. I still only managed 15 days apparently.

I knew how ME should operate. I knew what I was attempting. I knew ME was a physical illness. I knew Psychiatrists thoughts ME sufferers could move forward by exercise and I knew it wasn’t working for me. I was stuck. I had hope I would recover but I just didn’t know what that recovering would look like.

Jumping forward a few years I had found a new partner. Started taking my concert level of painkiller permanently as I now had a family life again and carried on with my life goal of “being happy but never at anyone else’s expense”. I felt a drain on society and I was constantly looking out for ways to give back to the world despite my condition. A particular set of circumstances meant I discover a course on Hypnotherapy and this fascinated me to the level of going to a concert. The presenter on the tapes I found seemed to work from the same principles as me. I somehow took the crazy decision of training as a hypnotherapist despite not know how I would cope. I did find a way of coping then I was qualified. I did a course on how to help ME sufferers improve their condition. I didn’t expect it to be of use to me personally. I was still stuck.

As a qualified hypnotherapist I knew I would I could deal with Pain. So I decided to work on my own pain. I was off my painkillers in 2 days. My main training had really taught me to challenge my views and perceptions and showed me that most clients go to a therapist because they are stuck in their thinking. I knew I had to think in a new way and I was experimenting with what my unconscious mind could do for me all the time.

Whilst not walking was frustrating it didn’t annoy me. What really annoyed me was seeing my neighbour going for a runner. I wanted to be a runner.  On my website site I had a picture of me running so I decided to combine a couple of principles I knew and focus on becoming

A key image in my improvement from ME/CFS. Running in Aug 89

A key image in my improvement from ME/CFS. Running in Aug 89

this runner from 1989. I set about going into trance and going for a run. I did it everyday for 6 weeks or so. I focused on being that healthy person. I visualised the runs and the feelings in as much detail as I could remember. I decided I was going to become that 23 years old again. I am already aware this article is getting too long and rambling so I will leave the effects I noticed for another time.

After this period I then had reason to test a cross trainer exercise machine. I did a really small distance but felt OK. I repeated it. I used my hypnotherapy skills to play with my experiences and the result is I can now happily run for 1hr.

I am still building up a picture of what was key in my story for the recovery of others, but what I believe is the key missing link is the mental rehearsal before embarking on exercise. CBT and graduated exercise are moving in the right direction but they are trying to exercise a body before it is ready to be built up.

When you visualise something your brain processes it as if it is really happening. My brain therefore felt it had be going for runs. It felt I was a runner and it started to make the necessary adjustments in my body. That is how I view it. There could be many more explanations such as thinking of being a runner running 3-4miles a day why would such a small distance on a cross trainer make much difference to my body? I no longer needed to feel the anxiety over the exercise.

The key is I have now helped several ME sufferers. They are not being forced to exercise. They are not doing something before they are ready mentally or physically. When I am given enough time to work with them they are understanding the process and they too are chipping away at the symptoms and regaining their lives. They are doing it because they can and they naturally discover they can not because they are being told to do a pointless task that drains them of their “limited” energy.

I need more ME patients to work on. I need to get a fuller picture on cases stories. I need to see what kind of blocks need to be worked around and I need to see what really does work and what is misconception.

If you have ME or you know someone with ME please get them to get in touch with me. I believe a lot of what I do can be taught over the internet with video links. I believe ME sufferers can get better and that there is hope. I hope I am someone that because of my experience as a sufferer and also as a professional can help make a difference.

If you disagree with what I write please do make your points to me. I welcome all views both good and bad I am interested in finding solutions not protecting ideas that don’t work.

I also have the requirement to do some basic research in 2012. If I can find enough cases of ME to work with I can do the research on ME. If I can’t I will have to do the work on something I am less passionate about.

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Let’s Talk Coverage of My ME/CFS

In August 2010 Let’s Talk Magazine covered my continuing ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) improvements. I am still not 100% but my life has changed significantly since I started using the principles of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy on myself. I have always been a positive person, or so I thought but I didn’t realise I could be so much more positive.

If you want to find out more about how I can help ME Sufferers please call me on 01857 600708. Don’t suffer unnecessarily for years like I did. Read the rest of this entry »

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Examples of thinking changes

At the time of writing I am 80% over my ME.
One of the key ways I have over come the illness is to change my thinking patterns.
Today I played with Essex Samba Band. I have no rythmn and very little sense of tone and I am therefore not an ideal member of the band but my wife loves it and since I have started I have loved playing too. Today was my first public performance on bottom surdo (drum). We played at an open air venue and I was really surprised how different the surdo sounded. Normally we practice in a hall and earplugs are essential due to the volume!
Since we were in the open air I made an extra effort to hit the surdo hard. I have my right hand in a plaster cast after being knocked off my motorbike so I had to do the whole performance with my left hand and I was very aware how tired it was. When I got home I tried to drink a glass of water and I was amazed at how badly it was shaking and at one point I felt in danger of dropping it.
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Help for ME Sufferers

I suffered from ME/CFS/PVFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome) for 15 years and while at the date of writing I am not 100% I think ME is 80% in my past.

I believe I made an important break-through in helping myself and I believe the techniques I was taught in my hypnotherapy training were important in helping me recover.

The thought of other people suffering with ME because they lack of the knowledge of how to recover is something I would like to help correct so I am looking for ME sufferers to help.

If you know someone who suffers with ME in the North Essex area and they are keen to recover but unable to find the right help please pass on my name and website and get them to give me a call.

Let’s start helping people recover today.

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M.E./C.F.S. – Why can hypnosis help?

What is ME/CFS/PVFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome)?

ME is a very physical illness. It leaves the sufferer feeling like they have a cold all the time and can often debilitate them to the point they need to lay down most of the day.

Most ME sufferers have normally been tested for other illnesses and then when nothing shows up been classified as suffering from ME or one of it’s various other names.

Read the rest of this entry »

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