Magic Happens... A Placebo Story
Ron StubbsMagic Happens...
Two small words that can change a life, an image, a thought pattern.
I first met Tyler, then age 7, in September of 1999. In the six months we were in therapy together, he taught me many wonderful insights that as an adult I believe sometimes we tend to forget.
With the pace of our lives, the rush of time and the hurried frenzy of everyday living, people sometimes forget two little words....Magic Happens. Tyler came into my office, a normal seven-year-old boy with ants in his pants and not enough time in the day to get them out. I had had his mother fill out my intake forms and she had given me some background information on Tyler.
He had not slept a full night since age two, having a tendency to awaken and sleep walk thru the house, sometimes leaving the house and wandering the yard or street outside.
As you may expect this was not a satisfactory arrangement for the parents. Tyler would awaken at night also with severe nightmares and dreams and could not go back to sleep. He was placed on Clonidine (a blood pressure medication) at a dosage of .1milligram and was taking two tablets per night in an attempt to lower his heart rate and allow him to sleep thru the night. Tyler was also diagnosed as hyperactive, had social behavior problems with his peers, i.e. fighting, general misbehavior, and had a problem with enuresis during the daytime hours, particularly at school.
At the time of Tyler's first visit with me he had no knowledge of what information his mother had given me and we proceeded to discuss what he was visiting me for and what he would like to accomplish with these sessions. His short list consisted of stop nail biting, sleep better with no bad dreams, stop wetting his pants at school, stop fighting with his little sister and improving his "jump" shot.
I decided to take a "Magic" approach with Tyler with his nail biting to show him how effective "magic" could be. I asked him to place his hands against mine and close his eyes, imaging his nails were groomed, clean and strong. As he was concentrating on the visual image I gave him the suggestion that when we counted to three "Magic" would take place and he would never again be tempted to bite his nails. As we counted three I dropped my hands suddenly and gave a "Magic" word, HYPNOSIS. His eyes lit up and he was convinced that a spell had taken place in my office. He said his desire to bite his nails, " Had completely disappeared thanks to the Magic spell". We never had to revisit that issue after that one session.
The next step was to address the issue of sleeping and nightmares. After looking over his charts and finding no medical reason for insomnia, again, I chose to use the "Magic" approach. I explained the legend of the Indian Dreamcatcher to him, in that native American legend a spider made a web in which, when hung over a child's bed at night, traps all the "bad dreams" allowing only the "good dreams" to flow into the child's imagination.
I had an example that I had made hanging in my office and showed it to him. Again his face lit up and I asked him if he thought it might help him. I suggested making one and hanging it over his bed to see the results. The results were immediate, no more nightmares, sleeping thru the night without waking, a total change.
Since that first session and those two "magic" suggestions over six months ago, Tyler has completely stopped biting his nails and has slept thru the night without any nightmares without medication. Upon a parent/teacher conference that took place roughly a month after he started the therapy sessions, his teacher remarked that she wasn't sure what his parents had been doing but "keep it up because his behavior has changed dramatically and he doesn't act like the same child". His parents had also told me that the sibling rivalry between his sister and he had stopped and now it was his "job" to protect her.
The next process involved many sessions examining the issues around enuresis, i.e. behaviors, school environment, home issues, peer relationships etc.
After trying many different approaches with no success, I noticed Tyler looking at a collection of stones and crystals I have in my office. I have long made it a habit of presenting a simple gift of a beach rock with a word written on it to my clients as a gesture of thanks for their business. Tyler, on the other hand valued these small rocks as treasures to him and never forgot at the end of a session that he would receive his "rock". Once again came the idea of "Magic", only this time, it was a little boy, who taught his therapist the meaning of the word. I asked if he wanted to choose a stone from a small bowl. He asked about the various stones, where they were from, their individual "powers" and after examining the crystals, semi-precious stones and other polished rocks, finally chose a small red rock from the hills surrounding Sedona, AZ. It certainly wasn't the prettiest, most colorful or even one with the most interesting story behind it.
When I asked why he had chosen that particular stone, with a look of disbelief that I, his therapist couldn't figure it out, he patiently explained that Sedona was in Arizona. I still didn't see the connection. He told me that Arizona had deserts, and that this rock had come from the desert. Still I, the mighty Hypnotherapist, again couldn't make the connection between a simple red rock and this young man. His words were "Doc, don't ya GET IT?" My reply was "No, I don't". With a look of exasperation upon his little face, he explained that if the stone came from the desert, which was dry, and he kept the stone in the pocket of his jeans, he, in turn could also stay dry, forever, with no accidents. Today, over one year later, Tyler is still dry.... Now if I could only help him with that "jump" shot..... Magic Happens.