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Third Man Syndrome

While doing some research recently I came across the idea of The Third Man Factor or Third Man Syndrome. It’s where people report situations where a presence, such as a spirit, provides comfort or support during a traumatic experience.

In John Geiger’s (American-born Canadian author) 2009 book “The Third Man Factor” he recounts stories of people who had this experience. The term is used where people in dire moments feel a presence helping them, comforting them or giving them courage. Some people liken it to a visit from a guardian angel, dead relative while some report an unknown presences. It has been reported by a wide variety of people from firefighters to extreme sportsmen to arctic explorers. This entity actually appears to people visually as well as auditory so that the effect is that an actual person is there.

In the foreword to The Third Man Factor book, Vincent Lam (Canadian writer and medical doctor) tells of his own Third Man experience during a highly stressful period while crammed to get into medical school. He wrote, “My visit from a Third Man, whom I believe to be my guardian angel, occurred within a personal moment of crisis, rather than in the gruelling physical circumstances described by many of this book’s subjects. This sits well with John’s [Geiger] argument that the Third Man likely occurs more commonly than we recognize, and is not limited to extreme travel and exploration”.

Sir Ernest Shackleton (Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer), in his 1919 book South, described his belief that an incorporeal companion joined him and his men during the final leg of his 1914–1917 Antarctic expedition. He wrote, “During that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three”. This admission resulted in other survivors of extreme hardship coming forward and sharing similar experiences.

T. S. Eliot’s (Anglo American Poet and Playwright) 1922 modernist poem The Waste Land were inspired by Shackleton’s experience. One passage says, “Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together. But when I look ahead up the white road, there is always another one walking beside you. Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded. I do not know whether a man or a woman — But who is that on the other side of you?”

Emotional intelligence has highlighted the importance of “the capacity to soothe oneself”. This has led to the scientific explanations that consider the phenomenon an unconscious coping mechanism. But regardless of what you think these phenomena are, guardian angel, ancestor or a self-soothing coping mechanism I find it fascinating.

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Complex post-traumatic stress disorder 

Unlike post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is a stress-related disorder which occurs in response to prolonged or repetitive exposures to traumatic events.

Typical symptoms include emotional dysregulations (angry outbursts, throwing objects, and aggression towards self or others), negative self-beliefs (feelings of shame, guilt, and failure) and interpersonal difficulties (problems with relationship boundaries, lack of trust, social isolation, difficulty perceiving and responding to others’ emotional states). Other symptoms can include feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, distorted sense of self and hypervigilance.

A good example of this is Rick James (American singer-songwriter). He said, “I was angry about the fact that my father would beat my mother on a daily basis, that my mother would take it in turn and beat on me. I was an abused child. I was mad about all those things, very bitter and very angry”.

CPTSD is often caused by repetitive adverse childhood experiences. Indeed, the trauma model of mental disorders connects CPTSD with chronic neglect or repetitive sexual, psychological or physical abuse. 

It has also been observed as a result of instances of intimate partner violence, bullying, kidnapping and hostage situations, slavery or other human trafficking, sweatshop workers, prisoners of war and solitary confinement.

Judith Lewis Herman (American Psychiatrist) was the first scholar to propose Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) as a new mental disorder in 1992, with her book Trauma & Recovery.

Regardless of the age of the sufferer, a child or adult, the first step is to identify and address the threat they are under. Only once safety and stability has been restored can recovery begin. Judith Lewis Herman proposed a complex trauma recovery model that occurs in three major stages:

  • Establishing safety
  • Remembrance and mourning for what was lost
  • Reconnecting with community and more broadly, society

Herman believes recovery can only occur within a healing relationship where the survivor is empowered by that relationship. This means relationship in the widest sense. It need not be romantic and can also include relationships with friends, co-workers, relatives or children. It can be a therapeutic relationship (between a healthcare professional and a client or patient).

Hypnotherapy can help with CPTSD. If you contact me, I will carry out an initial free consultation to discuss with you what symptom you have. If I can help you I will set out. If I feel I can’t help you, I will refer to a better suited health professional.

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Nadia Whittome

I thought I would write a little about Nadia Whittome. ‘Who?’ you might ask. Well in two ways at least she is a remarkable woman. Firstly, in 2019 she was elected the Member of Parliament for Nottingham East at the tender age of just 23. This made her the youngest MP, also known as the Baby of the House.

But for me a far most impressive feat was that in May 2021, she announced that she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and would be taking a leave of absence. I think this is just the most tremendous example for those struggling with mental health issues. There is still a great deal of stigma associated with mental health. So to see someone as high profile as her making her struggles known, and publicly doing the right thing by taking a break, is so beneficial.

It is thought that one in four people suffer some form of mental health issue each year. And her actions were praised by the Chief Executive of leading mental health charity, Rethink Mental Illness, Mark Winstanley. He said, “The enduring stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace can be hugely damaging, preventing people from accessing support and leading them to prioritise work over their own wellbeing for fear of judgment. Being signed off from work for poor mental health is not a sign of weakness, but a recognition that wellbeing should always be a priority. We welcome Nadia’s openness around her diagnosis and wish her well in her recovery.”

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Kier Starmer (Leader of the Labour party) hoped she would “…gets well soon”, and added, “I respect Nadia’s bravery in speaking openly about her mental health and I look forward to welcoming her back to parliament”. While Jeremy Corbyn, (Former Labour leader) described her as “…bold and brave”. He tweeted, “By being honest about looking after her #MentalHealth she helps all those who are struggling”.

Sadly not everyone was as sympathetic. The blog site Guido Fawkes commented, “…she needs to take a break from parliament due to PTSD. Parliament may be daunting though nothing akin to the trenches of the First World War. The shells lobbed on social media may ruin your day, they don’t kill”.

Keen to return to work, she was advised by her GP that the NHS waiting lists for treatment ran to many months and so was forced to use private healthcare to get timely treatment. She commented, “It just highlighted everything that needs to change; everybody should have access to the best treatment for whatever the condition is, and be able to access it quickly. I know from the casework how many people are waiting months, years even”.

In September 2021, she was able to return to her duties in the House of Commons. Speaking on her return she said, “I’ve thought a lot about whether to speak about the causes of my PTSD, and I decided that it wouldn’t help my recovery. But I will go as far as saying it was caused by extremely traumatic events that were entirely unconnected to my work as an MP, politics or parliament”.

So if you, or someone you know, has struggled following a traumatic event, then seek help. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms or how long ago the trauma occurred there is help available. More severe cases can be successfully treated by psychotherapies, while milder symptoms can be treated with Hypnotherapy. If you contact me, I will carry out a free initial consultation to discuss with you what symptom you have and how I can help.  

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PTSD Awareness Month

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. PTSD is not something that only the armed forces suffer from. Anyone can suffer with it following a traumatic event. Research suggests that around 8% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetimes. It’s not a new thing, but the term is relatively modern. In the first half of the 20th century PTSD is known as ‘Shell Shock’ or ‘Battle Fatigue’.

So what sort of trauma can cause PTSD? Well, virtually any form of trauma can cause it. It’s not just life-threatening situations like wars, natural disasters or physical assault. Non-life-threatening events such as divorce, abrupt relocation and financial problems can also cause it.

Typical symptoms include flash backs, depression, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, and disturbing thoughts. In extreme cases the sufferer may have episodes where they are not fully aware or conscious of what’s really happening. For some these symptoms may last a few days or weeks. But for others the effects can last much, much longer and may require treatment.

Other symptoms of trauma can have a massive impact on our lives. These symptoms can include adverse physical reactions if reminded of the event such as heart racing, increased breathing and sweating. Others reactions can include increased safe keeping behaviours such as avoidance or hypervigilance, becoming detached from life, being demotivated, angry outbursts and feeling vulnerable. I think Jane Leavy (American biographer and author) put it quite well when she said, “Trauma fractures comprehension as a pebble shatters a windshield. The wound at the site of impact spreads across the field of vision, obscuring reality and challenging belief”.

Luckily, PTSD is highly treatable, but as with many mental disorders there can be a stigma attached to it. So, seeking help is the first and most important step on the road to recovery. There is no shame in doing so. Being open and talking about PTSD will increase awareness and mean that more people will seek treatment for it.

The goal of therapy is for the sufferer to be able to remember the trauma without reliving it or it effecting their behaviour. We are all different and so process trauma differently. Asking for help is not a weakness.

So, if you or someone you know might have PTSD, there are ways to get help. PTSD UK is a charity in the UK dedicated to raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Their website has some useful advice and resources.

There are specific techniques that can be used in Hypnotherapy to help you process and healthily work through past traumas and overcome PTSD. If you would like to discuss these further, please get in touch.

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Hiraeth

I thought I was say a few words about why you might want to have a past life regression. And to do so I am going to have to use a Welsh word as there is no equivalent one in English. The reason you should have a past life regression is hiraeth. Roughly, it translates as a longing for a time or place you can never go back to. It can also mean homesickness tinged with grief and sadness over the lost or departed.

Perhaps you visit a place and immediately felt at home or even ill at ease. Perhaps you have unusual memories, an unexplained interest or fascination with somewhere. In a previous life perhaps this place was important to you. Phil Collins (Drummer and Singer) has an obsession with the battle of the Alamo and believes he is the incarnation of one of its defenders.

In a similar way to being drawn to a place, a particular time may be important to you. Tina Turner (Singer) has a great interest in ancient Egypt and believes she is the reincarnation of an Egyptian Pharaoh. And she is not alone. The musician and songwriter Marc Bolan (Glam rock band T Rex) said, “I personally believe that I was… a previous life or something… a previous reincarnation, a bard of some sort, because most of the things I write about are descriptions of places I’ve never been to”.

Another reason is if you have unexplained physical symptoms? This is one of the most common reasons to have a session. Called somatizations, they are physical symptoms that can’t be fully explained by the presence of a medical condition. These are often physical expressions of traumas and other psychological issues sometimes rooted in a past life. It is often possible to completely heal or alleviate these symptoms using self-healing techniques.

Past life regressions can also be used to cure phobias. A phobia is an excessive fear of something. So, while it’s normal to be wary of certain creatures (snakes, etc.) or situations (flying) an extreme reaction can be a sign of a past trauma. So, is the phobia explainable? If you have a phobia of dogs, but have never had a bad encounter with one, perhaps the cause is from a past life. For example, the singer Stevie Nicks has a phobia of exposing her neck. She believes she was beheaded in a previous life.

When having a past life regression it is common to come into contact with a guide or your higher self and it is often possible to ask them questions. For example, you may feel you have met your partner in a previous life, worry whether you are doing the right things in life or have an important (life changing) choice to make. These are all popular things to ask about.

And now you have found this article and are thinking that everything happens for a reason. The universe is giving you a gentle nudge. And maybe it’s time to listen and contact me for a session.

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Past Life Therapy

I recently qualified as a Past Life Therapy practitioner. The phrases Past Life regression and Past Life Therapy are often used interchangeably, but in fact there is a significant difference. The technique was originally developed by Dr. José Luis Cabouli a pioneer in new techniques in the field. It has been translated into English and is taught by Antonio Sangio.

Unlike a full past life regression, Past Life Therapy is an abbreviated and symptom specific methodology. It uses very simple relaxation techniques that induce a state where you can relive certain events from the past. Using this modality we do not explore past lives so much as focus on one event that is causing problems in the present. The idea is to bring to your consciousness something that is currently hidden in the subconscious. With this technique it is possible to change certain attitudes and thoughts that condition or restrict us that often we do not know why they occur. As Peter A. Levine (American Psychologist and Trauma and Somatic Expert) said, “The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect”.

Using it you will be able to revisit the traumatic episode that is causing your current problems and find the internal resources you have to solve them and create a new pattern of behaviour for yourself. This will allow you to begin a new path of self-knowledge, personal growth and to move away from suffering. One of the advantages of regressive therapy is the speed with which we can identify the core of the problem that affects us and deal with it. 

Somatizations are physical symptoms that can’t be fully explained by the presence of a medical condition. These are often physical expressions of stress, anxiety and other psychological issues. It is all about understanding and getting to the bottom of symptoms like these. Using this therapy you can also achieve profound change and resolve mental blockages, phobias, depression, fears and tensions.

A typical session is about an hour and so it’s shorter and an inexpensive way to resolve past traumas and issues that are impacting your life. Clemantine Wamariya (Rwandan-American human rights advocate) puts it very well, “I’m still coping with my trauma, but coping by trying to find different ways to heal it rather than hide it”.

So, if this is something you think you might be interested in then contact me.

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Cause and Effect Model

The cause and effect model is a way of looking at how you respond to a situation or issue. If you feel in control, empowered and able to see the connection between issues and yourself then you are said to be “at cause”. If you are being fatalistic, feel there is no way to control a situation and can’t see the effect you may be able to bring about, you are said to be “at effect”. 

The table below shows some typical vocalisations of the two states.

“at cause” “at effect”
I influence Life is random
I take responsibility for things that happen I can’t control what others do or say
I am proactive I react to things
I make things happen Things happen to me
I control my environment Someone should do something about that
I challenge the status que I accept things
I lead I follow
Take responsibility I blame others
I am decisive I procrastinate
I run my business the way I want. We are lean and responsive to change. There is a recession. I can’t do anything about that.

This is a powerful way to examine your world view, state of mind as well as your reaction to a challenge. You may generally be a positive (at cause) person, but a crisis or problem may have trapped you in a negative (at effect) frame of mind. Knowing this can cause a realisation and initiate a change in perception and mind-set.

Now, if you are in a mind-set you would like to change then there is a method you can use. This technique, based on Meta Model Questioning, is to systematically challenge the limitations and assumptions you feel you have about a situation. This can be done with someone else, or you can do it yourself. For example, you think ‘I never meet the right person to have a relationship with’. You might question Never? The right person compared to whom? What stops you? What would happen if you could…?

Typical questions in the Meta Model are: Who Says? According to Whom? Who Specifically? How? What? When? Where?  Never? Nobody? Nothing? No one? All? Always? Everybody? What do you mean by that? Compared to whom? Compared to what? How do you know that? Why do you assume that? What stops you? What would happen if you could? What would happen if you did? What would happen if you didn’t? Tell me more? And?

As Kendrick Lamar (American Rapper, Songwriter and record producer) said, “My moms always told me, ‘How long you gonna play the victim?’ I can say I’m mad and I hate everything, but nothing really changes until I change myself”.

Past trauma and events can cause you to become stuck in the ‘at effect’ mode. Hypnotherapy can help you change your mind set, become more positive and explore the root cause of these feelings. If you feel I can help you with this, then contact me.

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Beyond Quantum Healing

Beyond Quantum Healing (BQH) is part of a family of Hypnotherapy techniques that also include Introspective Hypnosis, Past Life Regression and Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique (QHHT). It is a form of hypnosis that is closely allied to Delores Cannon’s work on QHHT. The Beyond Quantum Healing (BQH) technique was created by Candace Craw Goldman. Candace worked with Delores and not long after her death in 2014 she developed her own methodology and released it in 2017.

With BQH hypnosis techniques are used so you reach a deep state of relaxation that allows you to connect with your Higher Self (subconscious, Spirit Self, etc.).  Doing this you can visit past lives, future lives, life between lives, as well as forgotten memories from your current life. Essentially, the Hypnotherapist asks your subconscious to reveal information that may be unknown to the conscious mind that will aid in healing and discovering the root cause of both mental and physical problems, illnesses and phobias.

I think John Polkinghorne (English Theoretical Physicist and Theologian) put it very well, “Quantum theory also tells us that the world is not simply objective; somehow it’s something more subtle than that. In some sense it is veiled from us, but it has a structure that we can understand”.

Practitioners of QHHT do not provide on line sessions and adhere to a tightly controlled scripts. While with BQH it can be done in person or on line and the Hypnotherapist is encouraged to let the session develop organically, going where the client’s subconscious leads. The idea of letting the session develop naturally rather than being prescriptive is key to the way this modality works. The Hypnotherapist acts as a facilitator to allow the client to communicate with your higher self. It also allows you to ask questions that have been prepared beforehand.

You can ask anything, be it guidance on an issue, about the future, life purpose, health, relationships, etc.  But I know from experience that while you can ask about anything, you may not get an answer. You might be told it’s not significant or important. Another common answer is that you planned for the thing you are worried about to happen before you started this life. While seeking knowledge is important, the healing aspect of BQH is equally appealing. It can help you heal all sorts of traumas and issues. Healing of the physical, mental and emotional can take place in these sessions.

Everyone’s experience is unique and different. Due to the nature of BQH there is no way to know how the session will go and what you will learn. And it can take a few hours, days, weeks, or even months to fully process and understand the information you receive. If this sounds like something that you might be interested in, then contact me for more information and a free initial consultation.

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Samaritans

24 July (24/7) is Samaritans Awareness Day. The date refers to them being there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As part of this, the ‘Talk to Us’ awareness campaign runs to remind people who the Samaritans are and what they do. Samaritans is a UK and Ireland based charity aimed at providing support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide. This is usually done through their telephone helpline, but you can also email and write (snail mail) to them. Their name derives from the biblical Parable of the Good Samaritan although the organisation is non-religious.

The Samaritans are a valuable organisation and one that deserves our help and support. It is estimated that every ten seconds Samaritans responds to a call for help. In 2021, for example, around 22,000 people volunteered their time to Samaritans, 20,000 trained listening volunteers responded to calls for help and around 2,500 volunteers supported the running of more than 200 branches and locations across the UK and Ireland.

There service is available around the clock for anyone who is struggling or who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. This supports is an important aspect of changing the culture of being able to discuss mental health more openly. As Luke Richardson (Canadian Ice Hockey Coach) said, “We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide”.

Although they are there at the point of crisis, they also offer support and encouragement before an issue turns into a crisis. They operate in prisons, schools, hospitals and on the train network. They help people who are going through a difficult time but also train others who may come into contact with vulnerable people to do the same.

Every suicide is a tragedy and reaches far beyond the person who dies. It will affect their family and friends who are often left confused and wondering if they could have done more. The Samaritans ultimate mission is to minimise and prevent suicide. I think Gerard Way (American Singer and Comic Book Writer) puts it very well, “Suicide is a serious thing. And if you know anyone who is suicidal, you need to get them help. No one should be in pain. Everyone should love themselves”.

If you want to contact them it’s free to call them from a landline or from mobiles. The number is slightly unusual, but is absolutely free. You don’t need to have any credit or call allowance. Simply call 116 123 or email them on jo@samaritans.org 

They will listen to you and help you talk through your concerns, worries and troubles. They will focus on your thoughts and feelings and may ask questions to help you explore the problem and how you feel. They offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like and in your own way. They won’t judge you or tell you what to do, but they will listen to you.

If you or someone you know is struggling then getting help is the best thing you can do. Samaritans are available to help as well as other sources of help and support.

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Narcissists

I wrote recently about toxic relationships and how to recognise a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. It’s my view that any form of physical abuse in a relationship is unacceptable. But emotional abuse is more subtle and those who perpetrate it can be devious and deceptive.  The first type of personality disorder I would like to explore is narcissism.

So, how would you know if you were in a relationship with a narcissist? Well if you have a cat or a small child you definitely have a narcissist in your life. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental disorder characterised by a pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance and entitlement, a strong need for admiration, an inability to empathise with and appreciate the feelings of others and being exploitive of others. 

So, what do you do if you have a narcissist in your life? Well if you can remove them from your life or limit the contact you have with them that might be the answer. But this is not always possible, they may be your boss or a relative. So, there are several strategies that you can try. In my experience the most effective approach is to set and maintain boundaries as to what you regard as reasonable and permissible behaviour. Effectively, this informs them what we will and won’t accept. If they cross those lines we will keep our distance from them and not engage.

Narcissistic traits develops as a result of great insecurity or trauma in a person’s life often in childhood. This makes them repeat self-centred patterns of behaviour that mirror how a child seeks attention from a parent. This then arrests their ability to psychologically develop and mature fully as an adult. Because of this, understanding and compassion can be an effect strategy as can help to meet their unfulfilled needs. 

Narcissists will often try to bait you to get an emotional respond. This may involve them over reacting or reacting inappropriately to a situation. They may try to reframe a situation to be about them. They can also manipulate situations and others to create an environment where you feel compelled to respond. Recognising this allows you to stop being drawn into their games. Responding will likely encourage them as they are getting the response they wanted.

Being well informed about narcissism can help us to recognise their behaviours and manipulations. Believe in you right to be happy and stand up for your right to be respected and treated with compassion. Also, having a good support network who you can share your experiences and frustrations with can be very valuable.