Depth Hypnosis: An Approach to Eating Disorders
Isa Gucciardi MA, CHTEating disorders are surprisingly common. Western therapeutic techniques try to categorize different types of eating disorders by the way the underlying patterns involved in an eating disorder manifest: for instance, western medicine distinguishes between bulimia where there is a binging and purging aspect and anorexia where is a withdrawing or withholding aspect demonstrated in relationship to food. This approach demonstrates an understanding about the underlying energetic processes involved in these types of disorders, but this understanding is not followed down to roots of origination of the disorder within the person's psyche.
It is difficult to make generalizations about the causes of any disorder because every person has his or her own unique path to the origination of the disorder. To resolve the imbalance, it is important to find what that path is and unravel the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical threads that create the particular pattern.
If we look at our relationship with food we can learn a lot about our relationship with our source of life energy. Both nurture us. One is seen and one is unseen. Our relationship with food provides us with information about the way we allow ourselves to be fed or nurtured at deeper levels: on a spiritual, emotional or mental level. If we do not take the opportunity to listen to what our relationship with food is telling us about processes happening at these deeper levels and about which we may be unconscious, it is difficult to get a permanent shift in the presenting disorder.
A shortened case study, which demonstrates the underlying, patterns beneath the surface manifestation of the eating disorder: Alice was painfully thin. She ate very little most of the time. When her hunger would overcome her, she would binge eat on sweets. Then she would lapse into a deep depression where she would eat very little. And then the cycle would start over again. She had no close relationships, but she would occasionally have one-night stands where she would have sex most of the night and then never see the person again. Before our conversations, she had not made a connection between the similarities in the pattern of eating and the pattern of sexual activity.
The questions other therapists had asked, was "how can we stop this?" Solutions to stop the behavior such as behavior modification, calorie counting and nutritional counseling had had little or short term effect. The question in my mind became: "What is she medicating with this starvation and binging cycles?" In my years of practice, I have learned that imbalances, which move between two poles generally, have a major underlying imbalance beneath them, which is unconscious or unknown. The main western therapeutic solution to "bi-polar" type disorders is to medicate them. This is a failure to understand that the movement between the two poles is just the tip of the iceberg of a larger unconscious issue, which needs to be investigated and resolved in order for the movement between the two poles to cease.
Through insight inquiry and light trance work designed to dive beneath the movement between the two poles, more information began to emerge about this movement. It became clear that the primary emotion after the binge cycles was self-hatred. It became clear that the withholding and starvation part of the cycle was based on this self-hatred. By doing more in-depth trance work in order to follow this self-hatred to its root, we went to several places within her childhood where she had been unkind to her brother. She had a tremendous amount of self-judgement, which fueled the withholding of food. The conclusion had become," You are so bad for hurting your brother you don't deserve to have food." In a larger, more metaphorical context, this translated to" You don't deserve to have what you want or what you need."
The memories of the situations where she had hurt her sister had been completely blocked by her conscious mind and by the layers of shame she had placed around these recollections. This made the conclusions outlined above completely unavailable to her conscious-mind thought processes. Nevertheless, these conclusions were running her eating disorder, and by the time she had come to me, the eating disorder was running her life. The eating disorder was both a result of her self-hatred (the withholding cycle), a medication for it (the binging cycle where she sought comfort from the withholding) and ultimately a generator for compounding and deepening the self-hatred, which started the whole pattern. As with most addictive patterns, she had made the initial generator (here, it is self-hatred) much worse through the activity of the addiction.
There was a tremendous amount of work to do through soul retrieval, age regression, forgiveness, removal of energetic interference and integration to do to resolve the issues in which these original unkindnesses took place.
Through our work together, it became evident that she had not had the rosy childhood she had been telling herself she had (she had been telling herself this partly to mask the memories where she had been unkind to her sister). In fact these unkindnesses took place within the larger context of her own serious abuse at the hands of her father and the refusal of her mother to acknowledge those abuses.
By unraveling these memories, understanding the root of those unkind nesses, and working on self-forgiveness, her eating disorder began to shift. By allowing her experience to unfold, Alice was able to identify the places within it where she had twisted away from herself (i.e., "You don't deserve to have what you need or what you want) and to make the corrections needed to the underlying imbalances. Our work together took place over the course of a year - at the end of which she was not starving herself or binging and where she had started dating rather than having one-night stands.
For me, the most interesting aspect of Depth Hypnosis is that it does not spend much time on the surface dynamics of a disorder (such as tracing, defining and diagnosing the path between the two poles in the eating disorder as traditional therapeutic models might do). In Depth Hypnosis, the disorder is understood to be only a doorway or a window into the much larger context of a person's deeper experience.
Isa Gucciardi MA, CHT