Do We Unknowingly Hypnotize Ourselves Into a Depression?
Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Don't Ask for My Credentials -- Just Keep an Open Mind
Books and books have been written on the theme of depression, each either paraphrasing the other, or using some different approach. That would depend on the specialization of the author, which somewhat comically reminds of that adage:
"When hammer is the only tool you have, everything looks like a nail".
So, an orthomolecular psychiatrist is likely to see depression as a lack of nutrients feeding brain. A neurologist is bound to talk about lower levels of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid, norepinephrine, dopamine, or endorphin. An endocrinologist's concern will be a hormonal imbalance. And a classical shrink will see traumatic experiences in formative years, marital or job issues, as a cause for depression. Sorry if I missed any, but these are the ones that come to mind.
Now, I am not a hypnotherapist, so in this article I am about to "borrow" someone else's tool for my little elaboration on the theme of depression. Nothing literary ambitious, but who knows -- even bartenders have been known to offer their casual opinion on someone's issue which opened their eyes a bit.
Well, I am not exactly what one would call a "medical intuitive", but you may call me empathetic, just for sake of calling me something other than a lay man -- until you have heard me out, when you can call me any other name, lol.
Now, why, of all those other approaches, about which I know a thing or two, did I choose hypnosis, or better yet, self-hypnosis?
For one thing, beside being a very useful tool, self-hypnosis, when spontaneous, can really mess us up. And let me tell you the news -- most of the people are all the time in that spontaneous self-hypnosis, which will be easier to accept for a fact when we see what hypnosis really boils down to.
The power of suggestion. Maybe everything human ended up being subjective, and nothing could be known for sure.
-- Peter Abrahams
When "Life Sucks" Describes It Best
For our purposes, self-hypnosis is a mental state of being switched on automatic pilot consisting of our belief system, or our programmed life-strategies we are living by. Being mostly lazy thinkers, we are not assessing each situation consciously, but we scan over our inner beliefs to match that situation to anything in there.
And then we think, and emote, and display an attitude from that picked belief, even if the situation matches only in some details -- relevant or not. Like, we may dislike a person with a kind of moustache that our grade school teacher had, the one that made fun of us in front of the whole class.
While switched on automatic pilot, we don't really have a very alert censor, that one which discriminates real from imagined, so any strong impression may sneak beside it straight into our unconscious pool of beliefs.
And now we are talking about a single, or a string of experiences carrying an emotional charge best defined by words: Life sucks!
What happens internally is a snowballing of such experiences, until they reach a critical mass which then deserves to be called a depression. So many times we can't put a finger on a concrete event which might have caused it, because the whole process was going on below the threshold of our awareness.
With that happening, we have hypnotized ourselves into depression, because we can't consciously justify all that emotional crappiness, just like, as volunteers on a hypnotist's stage we can't understand why we obeyed him to bark like a dog and act like one, for the entertainment of all the audience.
What happens next is the process of reaffirming, because now we are emotionally stuck in a vicious cycle of depression, which is actively seeking proofs to justify itself, which feeds back the feeling itself.
We are almost in a mission to prove to ourselves that life really sucks and that we are victims of countless unfavorable forces. From our memory bank emerge all kinds of bad memories, people around us don't look supportive, and future looks just as gloomy.
So, how do we snap out of that trance without booze, drugs, shrinks, and avoiding our mother-in-law?
The truth will set you free...but first it will piss you off.
-- Gloria Steinem
It Takes So Little to Snap Out of It -- Once We Know We Can
Let me give you an example of how really ready are our nervous and endocrine systems to instantly switch off depression. Most of depressives are under a strong impression that only a prolonged therapy may produce some happy emotions in them.
But look. Imagine you are in that crappy disposition, and now you are casually checking your lottery ticket -- knowing in advance that it was, as always, just a waste of money.
But BINGO! Your numbers are the match with all the drawn ones. What happens next? Do you say to yourself: "Shit, too bad I am depressed, I wish I could really enjoy this winning!"
Of course not. Out of nowhere come these bright and happy feelings, and now you are only all torn between ideas how to spend your new fortune. You see, what happened was simply a shift of hypnotic beliefs. Just like a hypnotist can snap his fingers and stop you from salivating and barking on the stage, that ticket stopped your depression.
There is nothing rational about hypnosis, folks. From a casual remark of your mother that you are so clumsy kid -- after you knocked that vase with flowers -- your unconscious, suggestible self, built a self-defeating self-image for years to come. A teenage girl dumped by her lover boy for a red-haired class beauty, can't stand red-haired people for the rest of her life.
And so it is with depression. We unconsciously amplify the significance of an experience, which keeps haunting us like some inner phantoms, against our best conscious understanding of life.
The problem is not that we cannot snap out of it, but we cannot because we don't know that we can. Just like in the above example with lottery, where in one moment we could swear that nothing could cheer us up -- and then we are jumping around not knowing what to do with all that joy.
Let me repeat it, because it's important:
We are depressed because we don't know that we can snap out of it.
Just like a non-swimmer shies away from a deep end of the pool, our hypnotic belief makes it look impossible for us to be free of depression.
I keep calling it a "hypnotic belief" because, again, hypnosis is all about belief. Look, if some dude in the Middle East is so deeply hypnotized into hating "infidels" that he will gladly get his ass blown up, let it illustrate for you how convincing a hypnotic belief can be.
So we go from a shrink to a nutritionist, to a priest, unaware that it will ultimately take our own waking up from the dark trance. If you happen to be one, I don't want you hate me -- but I am totally tempted to say that nothing stands in the way between your depression and your happiness, but your own conscious resolve.
Of course, did I forget to say that some unfortunate folks, like paranoid schizophrenics, or other really serious psychiatric cases, need to be medicated and receive some special treatments.
But most of the folks who are depressed are in the category of self-hypnotized individuals who just don't know that they are, and don't know that they can snap out of it.
Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.
-- Immanuel Kant
"Nothing Succeeds Like Success"
Do we have to learn self-hypnosis to de-hypnotize ourselves from depression?
Try to see some good correlation between depression and impression. Just like depression is messing up our impressions about ourselves, our life, and the world we live in, so the opposite is true -- our impressions, those hypnotic ones, are at the cause of depression.
But then, that's where also lies our solution. We have to start impressing ourselves consciously -- which translates to becoming actors. Everybody can act, we don't need an audition in front of a Hollywood impresario to be labeled a promising star.
Our new hypnotic belief about our being a happy person doesn't happen by our telling ourselves that we are one. If you are depressed you can repeat to yourself all you want that you are happy -- all in vain.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Nothing succeeds like success". Meaning that we have to act as if we already are happy. I know, I know, not easy. But, the point here is to understand that the inner resistance is not coming from a "carved in stone" biological verdict, but from a changeable belief.
So, I would say to a depressed person -- put a smile on your face, and if you are alone at house -- laugh, laugh without a reason, act it out, dance around your living room like Fred Astaire or a female equivalent, listen to some good music, call some friends and joke, play with your dog, go to the beauty salon and change your hair color, change your posture, dress into something better. Go creative, and don't forget to feel silly in the process, it's about time you stop taking yourself so seriously.
Will that automatically make you a happy person? It might as well -- only if you are doing it with an open mind and spirit, not if you sabotage it with a mountain of doubts. Remember, it's about beliefs, and acting is supposed to be a raw material in forming a new belief, not the belief itself.
So, that would be my take on depression. Like it or leave it, don't tell me I got it all wrong, just like you wouldn't tell a store-keeper that his stuff is not good, before going to another store. And hey, I am not even "selling" anything here -- it's free, while a shrink will charge you for hearing about your childhood.
Let's all cheer up a little more -- depressed or not.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Val Karas