Having experienced anxiety and panic attacks in my life, a passage from the book “Monkey Mind” by Daniel Smith resonated. He starts by quoting Shakespear and his despair at the advice that is offered as a treatment for anxiety.
The passage is taken from “Macbeth.”
“Canst though not minister to a mind diseas’d,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?”
Daniel Smith responds to this passage with, “The response horrified me, for it suggested what I immediately saw was an impossibility, Minister to myself? How? This thing I was feeling wasn’t something I could stop outside of and examine. I couldn’t lay therapeutic hands on it. I couldn’t subject it to my will. I wasn’t even sure I had a will anymore.”
Later on in the passage he goes on to say: “It is common to give superheroes extra-human senses. Spider Man feels a tingle when danger is imminent. The villain is throwing a boulder. The innocent has been launched from the skyscraper. Wavy lines appear above Spider Man’s head. Tingle. Dodge. Thrust. Catch. Act. But what if the hero’s only power is an inner alarm that rings to tell him he has an inner alarm?
That is anxiety. All that varies is the location and the quality of the alarm. Is it in the gut? Is it in the groin? Is it in the throat? The spine? The heart? The lungs? Is it a tightness? A looseness? An unraveling? A liquefication? Fluttering? Scratching? Scraping? Pulling? Is it hot or is it cold? Is it a presence or is it an absence? Is it a stone or is it a void? What do you call yours?”
The words of Daniel Smith sum up, for me, how hypnosis works. Interactive hypnosis can ‘pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow.’ By identifying the shape, color and temperature of the anxiety we can change it, ask it what it needs, wrap out arms around it, set it free!