Are we becoming an addictive society?

In my work I increasing see people who have some form of addictive attachment.

Typically these are conditioned responses arising from underlying anxiety or stress and can take many forms. In fact society offers many choices, obviously there is tobacco, and then there’s alcohol, food, gambling, pornography, mobile phones, computer and video games, the newer virtual reality, tattoos, shopping, drugs, medication, Facebook, Twitter and you can probably think of quite a few more. Through repetitive use or consumption we get hooked! Which is just what the purveyors of products and services intend in their business model. Get them hooked.

But such unconscious programming is worrying. Is our lifestyle being manipulated and modified in some way? Are there physical and mental health implications? What about the longer-term effects? Has technology a positive and negative double edge?

We used to think of addictions as purely physical, such as the damaging effect of smoking on health. But now with many attachments there are major mental and financial implications too. Drug use is an obvious one which ticks the boxes. We are generally becoming a more dependent society. Moving away from our natural needs.

Of course, fortunately Britain is a free society. Provided we keep within the law we can exercise the freedom to extend our boundaries. We might not understand the implications of this freedom, but freedom it is. Habits form. Weight goes on, money is lost, our behaviour changes, we become less motivated. spend more time checking our phones, hooked on computer games, less face to face communications, relationships deteriorate, our health might suffer, we spend too much, and so on.

Paraphrasing the words of Brexit: ‘it’s time to take control’. Just maybe enough is enough. We don’t want to be hooked any more. Instead we want to discover our true self. That’s a personal decision, of course. But it’s good to take stock from time to time and review where we are in the scheme of thingsaddiction-bet-betting-casino.jpg.



Role Models: do they matter?pexels-photo-415829.jpeg

We are all influenced by our interactions with other people. This is particularly true during the formative years when our maturity is developing. It is then we unconsciously seek out others to model ourself on, people we admire and wish to emulate in some way.

Role models, such as supportive and caring parents or grandparents, teachers or family friends can have a very positive influence on our personality and general development. Conversely the wrong conditioning from others can take us in a very different and negative direction.

Changing social standards and media influences, such as those portrayed on TV, internet content and other media can modify our moral, ethical and personality development. For example, the rapid growth of tattooing (love or loathe them) we now see among large swaths of society has been encourage by some high profile sports and media personalities. I admit to having one tattoo myself in a discrete position.

Media personalities or celebrities can set an example which some slavishly follow. Sometimes however such ‘role models’ can distort our self-interest and lead to a form of herd-following, even self-abuse. Not all in the public eye follow desirable lifestyles which those who lead ‘more normal’ lives should emulate. So why do we follow such fashions? The powerful influence of those we might aspire to be like must surely apply.

For the developing adult it is important to choose role model(s) with care. This will make a HUGE difference as you grow into an adult. Sometimes it is worrying that TV and the media generally doesn’t provide good role models and plays to a common negative denominator, rather to those that are aspirational.

Above all young people need encouragement to build their confidence and self-esteem. At the same time they need direction, self-discipline and motivation. Clearly too it is a time of discovery and expression. The unconscious is effectively being programmed to establish desirable principles and guidelines.

It is refreshing to see people that youngsters are able to successfully model themselves on which will have a positive effect on their personality and self-development.





Book by the Beach, Scarboroughpexels-photo-256455.jpeg

This excellent annual Scarborough Book Festival again took April centre stage in the town last week. My personal thanks to the organizers Heather French and Peter Guttridge for all their hard work in organising this brilliant and unique event! How do they do it,  attracting so many very talented people to our small town.

This year I found time to attend six varied and fascinating talks (from a total of 27) where authors present their new book. The line-up including the ever effervescent TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine. Power to the people.

The first talk was by Brian Smith a young man who overcame many of life’s challenges including seven years of bullying at public school, ill health, drug use and depression to eventually run 401 marathons in 401 days! Simply amazing. A world record. It shows what shear determination and mental focus can achieve.

The TV Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton followed with his many funny stories. He came over as a genuinely nice guy who loves his job. Our annual friends can teach us a lot. Look how dogs communicate. Great programme too.

The author Katie Nicholl has written about Prince Harry and Meghan and the soon to happen big royal wedding. Love or hate the royals they provide tradition and colour to an uncertain world.

Then in St Mary’s church a very well attended talk on the amazing author Anne Bronte, the brilliant younger sister of Charlotte who died aged just 29 from TB in Scarborough and now lies in the church yard close by. A true story of hardship, developing talent against adversity and meeting the many challenges of everyday life during the nineteenth century.

Apparently the average age of death in the village of Haworth in 1850 was under 30. At least some of this was due to a seriously contaminated water supply which was drawn from beneath the graveyard. Since then clean water, improved sanitation, better nutrition and antibiotics have probably been the major factors in extending our life span.

On Sunday morning the ever topical presentation of ‘What the Papers Say’ always creates interesting discussion. Also on Sunday the former director general of MI5, Stella Rimington talked about her fascinating life experiences. At 82 years of age she is writing her 10th spy novel and she has a razor sharp mind!

Incidentally, recent research has shown we still can replace our brain cells as we move into the senior years. Keeping your mind challenged is key.

In these many human stories there are themes which keep reappearing. Human potential is almost unlimited when clearly focused.

Accredited Complementary Practitioners

Recognized as an “Untapped Resource”pexels-photo-864990.jpeg

I’m delighted to report that the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has awarded me a Fellowship (the highest membership) in recognition of my contribution to health and well-being.

The Royal Society has also statethat practitioners registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) – of which I’ve been a member since hypnotherapists could join – represent an “untapped resource” in supporting public health, by encouraging their clients to make key lifestyle changes.

The adage: ‘prevention is better than cure’ comes to mind.

At a time when the NHS faces unprecedented demands on it’s limited resources, as individuals we do need to accept greater personal responsibility for our own health status. What we do each day can make a HUGE difference and does really matter.

Such lifestyle changes can include weight control, healthier eating and drinking, exercise, stopping smoking, reducing stress and anxiety, a sensible alcohol intake, sufficient sleep and, where appropriate, managing pain. I see clients for ALL of these issues and many conditions have a clear link with stress and anxiety.

Furthermore, the conventional ‘medical model’ division between mind and body, often taught in medical schools, is now being seriously questioned. It is realised that mind and body work in unison, reaching equilibrium in good health. Hypnotherapy is not just about the mind, it is about the heart or emotions too.

The RSPH has stated that practitioners on the CNHC register are well placed to offer brief interventions and ‘effective signposting’ for health concerns. They can build relations of trust with their clients and, compared with NHS health professions, have comparatively long consultations. Often too they can identify and resolve an issue that started as an emotional event and developed habitually.

Compared with a typical GP consultation in the NHS of just 6 – 10 minutes (which most doctors would admit as being insufficient) a clinical hypnotherapist can provide 60 minutes or more time in a session. This does not imply that the therapist is a substitute for the doctor.

Of course, most GPs do their very best with given time restrictions, but misdiagnosis and over use of medication are potential dangers. A more holistic approach is often needed. And the fundamental question WHY needs to be asked more often – establishing the TRUE cause of ‘dis-ease’ – which may well be stress or emotional issues; treating the past or present CAUSE, not simply the symptoms. All of which takes time. 

Depression is almost a universal ‘dis-ease’ of developed societies. More often than not only the symptoms are treated (typically with antidepressants) and the underlying cause is not explored in medical consultations. In fairness this is because doctors just don’t have enough time and mental health services are limited. A more humanistic and holistic approach to health generally across the nation Is needed. Too many people are dying too young and there are too many conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes and Depression, which are medicated rather than changed through a healthier lifestyle.

The NHS cost some £125 billion a year to run, an astronomical sum which represents around £2,000 a year for every man, woman and child in the UK. It is clearly not free – although we think of it as being free – when it’s free when visiting the doctor or hospital. Rather, as a nation we pay very substantially through taxation.

Despite this MASSIVE expenditure the health of the nation is abysmal! Obesity is commonly seen, alcoholism is spreading, in some areas drug use is out of control, over-medication – particularly of anti-depressants – is commonplace, poor eating habits are widespread – particular among lower income groups, Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem, gambling can lead to financial problems and mental problems and mental illness is often neglected or ignored – still being stigmatized. Like any insurance scheme those who use the NHS extract resources; frequently people who have followed an unhealthy lifestyle and, of course, an ageing population and their ills. And additionally, as a ‘business’  the NHS has high fixed costs (mainly staff costs) relative to total expenditure.

Staff working for the NHS and GPs contracted to provide services currently have stressful work schedules, due to the growing and complex needs of their patients.

Yet the same staff enjoy a much higher level of job security than many non-public sectors of the economy. The NHS is a virtual monopoly in healthcare and monopolies are rarely good at being user orientated – the main ‘competitive pressures’ being imposed by government policy and much less by the market. In fact, because the patient literally has ‘nowhere to go’ (there are few alternatives) this can place power in the hands of those who work in this public sector environment.

Fortunately the growing availability of more reliable information on the internet is eroding this ‘knowledge is power’ mentality and leading to a more collaborated relationship between doctor and patient. Old style doctors playing God are not unknown! Medicine is both art and science, rarely precise and there is still a lot that is not fully understood about both mind and body and the cause of some conditions and diseases. Over the years improvement in living conditions, provision of clean water, better nutrition, vaccination and antibiotics have been the main drivers in health improvement, rather than all the ‘wonder drugs’ marketed since. Present day there are more chronic physical and mental health issues to address.

In contrast, the NHS dental service fee structure provides ‘incentives’ to patients who look after their teeth. Those who don’t care for their teeth will pay more. Perhaps there should be similar ‘no-claim’ inducements to patients across healthcare generally. Dentists operate in a competitive environment. If they don’t see patients they don’t get paid! Hence they often enjoy a good relationship with their patients, even it is financially linked. However, one thing is clear: the ‘bottomless pit’ of healthcare expenditure needs to change in some way to encourage better public health.

Stanford University research have proved Brain Changes Occur during Hypnotic Trancepexels-photo.jpg

By scanning the brains of subjects while they were hypnotized, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine were able to see changes associated with hypnosis.

The power of hypnosis to alter your mind and body is all thanks to changes in a few specific areas of the brain, researchers at Stanford have discovered.

The scientists MRI scanned the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis sessions similar to those that might be used clinically to treat anxiety, pain or trauma.

Distinct sections of the brain have altered activity and connectivity while someone is hypnotized, they report in a study published in Cerebral Cortex.

Now that we know which brain regions are involved, we may be able to use this knowledge to alter someone’s capacity to be hypnotized or the effectiveness of hypnosis for problems like pain control,” said the study’s senior author, David Spiegel, MD, professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

For some people, hypnosis is associated with loss of control or stage tricks. But doctors like Spiegel know it to be a serious science, revealing the brain’s ability to heal medical and psychiatric conditions.



Anxiety and depression are widespread…

pexels-photo-736843.jpegAre you getting the right professional help?

A new international study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety suggests that 90% of people who suffer from anxiety or depression don’t receive proper treatment.

Commissioned by World Mental Health, the research described the treatment gap in anxiety disorders at an international level for the first time. Researchers examined the effectiveness of anxiety treatments around the world from a sample of 51,500 individuals from 21 different countries.

According to this research, in the UK around 20% of the population experiences anxiety or depression at any one time and of those people only 1-in-10 is receiving appropriate treatment.

This study was published at the same time as the UK government ordered a landmark review of prescription drug use, particularly amid concern over the rising number of medications being dispensed for anxiety and depression.

NHS prescriptions for anti-depressants have almost tripled since 2000 – a staggering 64 million annually! Which has made the UK the fourth highest user of anti-depressants in the developed world. We are becoming a dependent nation of pill poppers with their often associated unpleasant side-effects.

Various talking therapies are a non-chemical approach to addressing anxiety and depression. In particular, Clinical Hypnosis – which is a very natural process – can be of benefit when working with many mental health issues.

Working together the therapist and client establish realistic goals and challenge unhelpful thought patterns, creating a happy and more positive outlook.

Often after quite a limited number of sessions you can feel more confident and more relaxed in situations that had previously been stressful. Many people say that they are calmer and that they have improved clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily and above all begin to enjoy their life!


Do you find yourself worrying…?

About your health?

The number of people in the UK suffering from health anxiety is rising!

We can now Google our symptoms when we feel ‘under the weather’, or worry that a sore throat could be something more serious. But true health anxiety goes beyond ‘normal’ concerns to that of experiencing obsessive thoughts of major afflictions or illness, mental or physical.

Individuals frequently check themselves for adverse signs of change and ask others for comforting reassurance that all is actually well. Sometimes called the ‘worried well’ by doctors!

Of course, the negative impact that health anxiety can be very real to a person. Some may believe their GP may have even misdiagnosed their concerns. And quite clearly an level of anxiety can affect work performance, leisure enjoyment and personal relationships.

Anxiety is actually a very common human trait. It’s part of us for a reason, as a protective mechanism. And it can show itself in many different ways. But essentially anxiety can be described as ‘fear spread thinly’ – like margarine on bread – with a constant, or specific effect – such as in social situations, difficult relationships or unfamiliar circumstances. Some anxiety is normal, but if excessive will restrict our lifestyle and enjoyment.

Hypnotherapy helps you break free from worrying thought patterns. It facilitates the rebuilding of your self-confidence – so you gain that important stronger belief in yourself.