Getting Over It: The Problem of Bad Memories 3

In my last two posts I discussed the problem of bad memories- past events that still affect us because they feel like they happened yesterday. The emotion linked to these events seems always fresh and immediate. This is because these memories are stored differently from ordinary memories that gradually fade with time. We cannot forget them any more than we could jump twenty feet up into the air. And endlessly picking over them is even worse, because in our heads we’re putting ourselves back into that situation, where we cannot think clearly or constructively- we can only suffer.

Fortunately there are other ways of dealing with these problems that are much more helpful and effective. These methods work by disconnecting the memory from the extreme emotion that stops us thinking clearly about it. When the emotion (usually fear, anger or embarrassment) is removed, we can begin to see the memory as something that is in the past- over and done with. We can see that we were different then and didn’t have the power and knowledge we have now. We can see that we survived.

These therapy methods use the power of our imagination, guided by the therapist in specific ways. Hypnosis makes the therapy more effective by increasing the power of the imagination. Using these methods the person can be helped to deal with memories while remaining detached from the powerful emotions that the memories would normally arouse. The client doesn’t even need to disclose to the therapist any details of what actually happened.

In this way, the client can think clearly about what happened instead of being immediately sucked into a whirlpool of extreme fear, shame, anger, or other powerful and unpleasant feelings. They can understand that they are now a different person with more knowledge and power than they had then. They can understand that the past event is now over, left behind them in the past, and has no power over them today.

There are several treatment methods based on these principles. They include the Clearance Protocol (invented by Graeme Harvey), the Reflective Time Process (invented by Dr Geoff Ibbotson), the Rewind Technique (invented by Dr DC Muss), and the Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing or EMDR technique (invented by Dr Francine Shapiro). The first three use hypnosis, though it doesn’t have to be deep hypnosis. EMDR does not use hypnosis although a relaxed state of mind is needed. I personally use the first three methods.

To discuss further how I might help you with problems caused by bad memories, or with any other problem, you can phone or email me via the contact form on this site HERE.