Naming Illnesses/Conditions and the problems it causes

It looks like this will be the second of a trilogy, inspired by me taking a break from reading hypnosis books and switching to reading Ozzy Osbourne’s “I am Ozzy” autobiography. I have really enjoyed reading the book but I am still in hypnotherapist mode and there were occasional parts which I found really interesting.

In this article I would like to talk about naming illnesses and conditions and the effects it has on us. In the book “Ozzy” writes:

“The shrink said my dyslexia had given me a terrible insecurity complex, so I could not take rejection or failure or pressure of any sort which is why I was self medicating with booze.”


“The shrink also told me that I have an addictive personality which means that I do everything addictively. And on top of that I have Obsessive-Compulsive disorder which makes it all ten times worse. I am like a walking dictionary of psychiatric disorders, I am. It blew my mind. And it took me a long time to accept any of it.”

When we first notice something is wrong we start looking for solutions. One of the best places for health issues is of course a doctor. The doctor listens to us and we give a set of symptoms and then he perhaps runs a few tests and then hopefully at the end of it we get a diagnosis. A label. “Well Mr xxx you have xxxx”. This tends to give us some relief. We are no longer alone or weird or making it up. It is an illness or condition and others have it too.

After the initial relief you then want to know what they can do about it. If you are lucky they say “Blah blah blah” and off you go and get cured. Quite often though there is no direct solution or cure. 15 years ago I got my illness identified as “Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome” and was told it would sort itself out eventually and in the mean time there was nothing to be done. Later when I had researched this and others had mentioned “yuppie flu” “M.E” and “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. I saw an “M.E.” specialist and I was confirmed as meeting the criteria for “M.E.” and I was advised on how to manage the illness but not how to recover.

I stayed stuck as I was for 14 years.

Over the first couple of years I read all I could on “M.E” and how to manage it. I learnt of others experiences. I learnt of the problems of living with M.E.

From my point of view as a hypnotherapist I almost certainly learnt how to have “M.E” and how to maintain that M.E.

That is a bit strong isn’t it? I would certainly have complained that was not how it was. But as a hypnotherapist I do think that is likely to have been the case. If you know that you feel tired walking before you start walking you will be thinking “I don’t want to walk it will make me tired” You are probably seeing and feeling yourself being tired from walking. This is a kind of programming. You almost certainly will feel tired from walking but now the anticipation of walking and feeling tired is being added to the problem. You of course are also remembering the last times you walked and how you felt tired. So again this too is being added to the actual condition. You therefore have three factors, the real problem, the anticipated problem and the remembered problem. These all combine to give you your current problem. The longer the condition persists the harder it is to know what the “real” symptoms are and what the predicted and remembered symptoms are and this is why Hypnotherapists can help people overcome things “like magic”.

Getting back to Ozzy an expert has told him his dyslexia caused him an insecurity complex. To Ozzy the dyslexia is a given unalterable condition in his life (it was when he was a child but a lot can be done to improve it now) and therefore his insecurity complex in a given unalterable condition. He now has a label, a shortcut name for how to feel, and why he feels it and no hope of change.

I would hope that Ozzy’s “shrink” would explain all this to him but since this was back in 1985 and Ozzy still seems to hold the view it would seem the “shrinks” message didn’t get through.

Ozzy was also told he had an addictive personality. What a great label. If you are told you have an addictive personality and are addicted to everything you. What does that mean to you? Are you able to find experiences in your life where that might apply? Can you look at your current life and start matching patterns that meet that statement?

Some people will and some people won’t. Ozzy with his behaviours clearly will really identify with it all and now perhaps discover more even ways to be addictive. Then he won’t be surprised because an expert has told him this is what will happen.

The fact Ozzy took a long time to accept any of it is a big concern to me, as read what was written now. The last thing I would want for my clients is for them to accept anything. Most of the time I am looking to break down all the descriptive names a client gives me. I am looking for detail on how a client knows what to do before they do it. I am looking to interrupt the patterns that are causing problems.

I will never know what happened with Ozzy and his experience with “shrinks” but I would certainly have loved to help one of my musical heroes. It is impossible to know if Ozzy could be helped because of his lifestyle and occupation. Perhaps Ozzy would feel he would lose his creativity if he was too “Normal” every client has secondary benefits for keeping things as they are. A key to helping people is to help them maintain the benefits while changing the symptoms.

If you wish to discuss anything in this article please phone, e-mail or leave a comment. Your feedback is always appreciated.