Episode 4 – Featuring Martin S Taylor

This week we welcome Martin S Taylor

Interview with Martin S Taylor, and Adam gets to ask him about his involvement with those big Derren Brown shows – Hypnosis in the news sees Adam turn into the hypnotherapy police and turn on the NHS – Adam opens the mailbag this week and refutes the existence of an unconscious mind, talks about critical thinking in hypnosis and why we should not always rely on gut feelings – The fact of the week looks at the origins of self-hypnosis.

References from this week’s episode:

Hypnotism without hypnosis, the website of Martin S Taylor: www.hypnotism.co.uk

Hypnosis in the news articles:

The NHS and it’s inconsistent stance on hypnotherapy

How A Hypnotherapy Success Story In The Daily Mail Shows How Little The Public Know About Hypnotherapy

The CBS New York offered up a recent clip entitled “Seen at 11: Hypnotizing the Pain Away”

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
4 comments on “Episode 4 – Featuring Martin S Taylor
  1. Will says:

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for this podcast. I had one little query about something you mentioned in a news article, regarding someone’s anecdote about a relative losing weight with hypnotherapy, then keeping the weight off by listening to Paul McKenna CDs whilst she slept.

    You make a valid point about the fact that such a CD “couldn’t work” as someone slept – awareness and learning don’t work in the same way when a person is asleep.

    Yes the intended mechanism of how a CD might “work” isn’t going to be useful when a person’s asleep. But who’s to say what the mechanism is? In this scenario, its clearly a belief and expectancy that is allowing the person to stay motivated and believing that they will keep the weight off. The magic has essentially already been done the moment that “play” gets hit on their CD player.

    When I hear you critiquing the layperson’s anecdote as being inaccurate, I of course agree with you on a professional level, but I have to disagree with the implicit discouragement to a lay person’s belief and expectancy.

    I’ve thought about this since, and am not sure where to draw the line in accurate information, between accurate discouragement and maintenance of a placebo effect that someone is benefiting from.

    If a sugar pill was curing someone’s headaches, you would surely agree it would be mean to tell them that they are only sugar pills.

    However, if someone was finding benefit from homeopathy, I would feel inclined to explain the pseudoscience nonsense of such practices in the hope that the person seeks something more evidence based for longer lasting results.

    In between there is a strange grey area though, and I would be keen to hear how you balance your approach with this.

    I hope I managed to put that across clearly, I appreciate its a subtle issue.

    Best,
    Will

    • Adam Eason says:

      Hello Will, good to hear from you.

      I’ll reply to the points you make in turn:

      Re:You make a valid point about the fact that such a CD “couldn’t work” as someone slept

      It is a scientific fact that these audios do not work if we are sleeping, there is no evidence to support people being able to learn while they are fully asleep. They may pick up some small value as they are drifting off to sleep and for some small part of each sleep cycle, but it is not going to actually be having any use or benefit. Likewise, the evidence against the use of subliminal learning strategies is really damning. My aim is, as much as possible, to deal with facts and the most reliable evidence possible than just to give my opinion, though I’ll make it plain if something is my opinion.

      Re: “Yes the intended mechanism of how a CD might “work” isn’t going to be useful when a person’s asleep. But who’s to say what the mechanism is?”

      I think this is unusual logic. The CD’s per sé are not creating the benefit/effect.

      Re: “In this scenario, its clearly a belief and expectancy that is allowing the person to stay motivated and believing that they will keep the weight off.”

      Then “belief and expectancy” are creating the effect, not the CD’s. These results could not be (and have not been) replicated in a clinical trial.

      Perhaps “belief and expectancy” is what is helping the audio to be effective, though we do not know fir sure, it is speculation. If so though, why not teach clients positive expectation and to have quality beliefs instead of misleading them to think that the audio is doing something which it is not? For me, therapy involves being as ethical as possible and if I know something is fundamentally flawed, I choose not to use it.

      Re: “When I hear you critiquing the layperson’s anecdote as being inaccurate, I of course agree with you on a professional level, but I have to disagree with the implicit discouragement to a lay person’s belief and expectancy.”

      Maybe I did not communicate myself well then. Because on the contrary, my aim is to encourage and educate people to positively affect their belief and expectancy. I want to encourage them to seek out ways to develop what they do and to help develop this field that I love so much. I think there are better, more effective, more ethical ways of helping clients than prescribing Paul McKenna CDs to use when sleeping. This particular example worked well and it featured in the media, but I would not want people thinking that the effect is universal and hoping for the same effects as the featured individual, as they are likely to be rare. At least evidence would suggest as much.

      Re: “I’ve thought about this since, and am not sure where to draw the line in accurate information, between accurate discouragement and maintenance of a placebo effect that someone is benefiting from.”

      Firstly, I’d say many applications of hypnosis, self-hypnosis and related skills and interventions have been proven to outperform placebo, so I would not want to simply rely on placebo and am not entirely sure of the ethical position of that. When people are employing us and paying for our services, are we not professionally bound to tell them if we are using placebo?

      Re: “If a sugar pill was curing someone’s headaches, you would surely agree it would be mean to tell them that they are only sugar pills.”

      I think it would be mean for me as a hypnotherapist to give someone a sugar pill for their headache. More to the point, I would not do so. Rather, I’d apply whatever was the most appropriate methodology for that treatment plan. Whilst I think there is value in elements of the placebo effect enhancing what we do, I would not want to think it was the main driver or component of what we are doing. Hypnosis outperforms placebo regularly in clinical trials.

      Re: “However, if someone was finding benefit from homeopathy, I would feel inclined to explain the pseudoscience nonsense of such practices in the hope that the person seeks something more evidence based for longer lasting results.”

      Isn’t this the same kind of “discouragement” you condoned earlier in this post? 🙂

      Re: “In between there is a strange grey area though, and I would be keen to hear how you balance your approach with this.”

      I’m not sure there is much of a balancing act to be performed here. I’m inclined to tell people the truth (as far as I see it according to the best evidence available) and explain the underpinning rationale with what we are doing in therapy so they fully understand and know it – evidence suggests this advances the efficacy of treatment.

      It is a great discussion and debate, I hope I have verified my position on it.

      Good hearing from you Will, best wishes to you, A.

  2. Will says:

    Thank you Adam for such a thoughtful and detailed reply. Indeed, your own thoughtfulness highlighted my own pig-wiggle of a mess in terms of trying to explain what I was getting at. I hope you don’t mind me replying to your reply. Please just ignore it if so.

    Yes, indeed as mentioned I do of course agree with the evidence regarding CDs. I had been unclear in my bifuscation of “belief and expectancy” from the actual physical presence of a CD and indeed any audio material it might contain.

    RE: “Perhaps “belief and expectancy” is what is helping the audio to be effective, though we do not know for sure, it is speculation. If so though, why not teach clients positive expectation and to have quality beliefs instead of misleading them to think that the audio is doing something which it is not?

    There’s a crucial difference here though in acknowledging and even protecting the possible mechanism of something, and prescribing it or misleading a person. I think this is where I’ve been misunderstood. Please forgive me if I clarify a little.

    For example, when I asked “If a sugar pill was curing someone’s headaches, you would surely agree it would be mean to tell them that they are only sugar pills?”

    and you kindly answered with

    “I think it would be mean for me as a hypnotherapist to give someone a sugar pill for their headache. More to the point, I would not do so. Rather, I’d apply whatever was the most appropriate methodology for that treatment plan.”

    I hadn’t made myself clear enough here – I didn’t mean that you had or would prescribe such a pill, nor even be in a context where a person was seeking your assistance. I meant just generally, if something like that was working for someone, whether you would say “oh, but they’re just sugar pills!” and break the positive expectancy. Maybe you still would, I don’t know, and that would be fine of course.

    RE: “I would not want people thinking that the effect is universal and hoping for the same effects as the featured individual, as they are likely to be rare. At least evidence would suggest as much.”

    Yes, I absolutely agree.

    RE: Homeopathy – isn’t this the same kind of “discouragement” you condoned earlier in this post?

    I suppose so, and perhaps I’m making a mistake, but I think there’s a subtle difference of context here. I wouldn’t condone someone paying a practitioner for a placebo driven result, or seeking out a placebo driven therapy, especially for something that might be more serious – yes, more evidence based practice is a better way to go. However, if someone was telling me about a smaller stimuli (a CD is fairly trivial) that they’re benefiting from based on positive expectancy, I would probably say “glad that’s working out for you”. I see it as similar to someone having confidence “because” they’re wearing a lucky charm, or sleeping well because their great aunt sent them a dream-catcher, or finding solace in a Taylor Swift record. But of course, depending on the situation, I might suggest something more (evidence based, whilst not discouraging what’s already working for them).

    Just to be clear though (and perhaps I haven’t been), I do believe in evidence based practice.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful reply and excellent interviews, I really do enjoy them and am grateful for you doing them.

    Best,
    Will

    • Adam Eason says:

      Hi Will 🙂

      Re: “I hadn’t made myself clear enough here – I didn’t mean that you had or would prescribe such a pill, nor even be in a context where a person was seeking your assistance.”

      I think you did make yourself clear. I wasn’t suggesting that you were suggesting such a thing – Hahahaha…. Just that in reality, I would be offering up something different to a placebo as a central component of my tasking for the client.

      Re: “I meant just generally, if something like that was working for someone, whether you would say “oh, but they’re just sugar pills!” and break the positive expectancy. Maybe you still would, I don’t know, and that would be fine of course.”

      My point is simply that I would not have used something such as sugar pills or prescribed CDs to be used while sleeping. I would not be in that position to dispel any expectation being generated from something which is wholly placebo. The audio tracks I give clients require active participation and I am certain they offer elements of expectation, but that would not be wholly the mechanism which would be contributing to the gains made.

      Re: “I wouldn’t condone someone paying a practitioner for a placebo driven result, or seeking out a placebo driven therapy”

      Homeopathy is just that, isn’t it? You said you’d want to advise them away from homeopathy, didn’t you? 😉

      Re: “However, if someone was telling me about a smaller stimuli (a CD is fairly trivial) that they’re benefiting from based on positive expectancy, I would probably say “glad that’s working out for you”. I see it as similar to someone having confidence “because” they’re wearing a lucky charm, or sleeping well because their great aunt sent them a dream-catcher, or finding solace in a Taylor Swift record. But of course, depending on the situation, I might suggest something more (evidence based, whilst not discouraging what’s already working for them).”

      I would not prescribe any of those kinds of things. However, if a client was already doing that stuff or deriving gain from it of their own volition, I’m not going to tell them to stop it and I’m not going to try and tell them it is a mistaken route that they take – I’m not that much of a baddy! In this podcast I critique the application and implied acceptance that using a CD when asleep is actually of any use – i.e. I do not recommend professionals to use this with all their clients or to accept that this is universally efficacious for our clients, but if it is already providing some benefit, I’m not going to tell them to stop doing it, of course not. I think we are on the same page here.

      Re: “Just to be clear though (and perhaps I haven’t been), I do believe in evidence based practice.”

      I didn’t doubt it for a second.

      Best wishes Will, A

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*