Because I get more and more readers from outside of Finland, I try to once in a while write in English. In this blog I am going to be still in dialogue with psychiatrist Robert Berezin’s book. He has written an excellent book in the field of inner drama of our parts and psychotherapy.
To be honest, I am quite impressed about his book. He emphasizes that the most of our common mental problems are not primarly problems of our neurobiology – instead they are problems of our destructive internal plays. He even strongly criticizes western psychiaty for it’s almost purely somatic treatment practices. The history of western psychiatry is not beautiful and it’s somatic one-sideness has to be broken for finding new ways for healing.
Several questions pops up in my hypnotherapist mind after reading his book. One of the most profound questions is following: When is psycho- or hypnotherapy needed and when can we use just mindfulness and self-hypnosis for exploring our inner experience?
Berezin points out that psychotherapy is a kind of living theater that gives form and access to our invisible internal play. But so is mindbody couching, which integrates creative self-hypnosis (art trance) and mindfulness. These methods in combination give each one of us a powerful battery for self-knowledge. By using meditation and hypnosis we start to recognize our parts and their internal plays.
Before diving more deeply into above mentioned subject, I shed light to western theater’s history. Robert Berezin writes about it’s historical background following:
It was convention in Greek theater for the actors to wear masks made of linen, wood, or leather that covered their entire heads. The mask was a twodimensional representation of the character, a kind of caricature of the character being enacted. It helped the actor vanish into character and enhance his transformation into his part.
The actor behind the mask spoke his lines through a mouth hole in the mask. The etymology of the word ”person” itself comes from the sound of an actor’s voice coming though the hole in his mask. In Latin, per means through, and son means sound. A ”person” is the being behind the mask. In fact, the use of masks in Greek theater itself derived from even older shamanistic rites of the Dionysian cult. The ancient shamanistic practices themselves were founded on the intrinsic duality between the inner being and the surface self.
It was standard in classical Greek theater to have a chorus. The chorus consisted of twelve men all wearing indentical mask speaking in unison, who expressed hidden knowledge of the fate of the characters. Through the chorus, the Greek plays addressed the hidden source of the morality play. Thus, character inexorably played out his destiny, which was known by the chorus but not by character himself. He was oblivious that he was enacting a destiny that was built into his character. And he was likewise oblivious as to where it came from.
The sins of our peers and ancestors live in us. We all can be just a pawn in this game. We are the play of our different parts, many of them are learned habits and introjected others, which start to live their own life inside of us. To live full life, we have to occasionally take off our mask for being authentic self. We can start to get in touch with our authentic being, and then we will see the inner truth behind our masks. We can learn to be the members of audience, including critical director, who see both the protagonists, secondary roles and the chorus. We can start to direct our own play. Many people live whole life through their inner truth behind the mask in invisible plays. The never undress their masks because nobody have taught them to do it.
So when to use psychotherapy or hypnotherapy and when just creative self-hypnosis? I think, that you have to have well developed adult parts which can be educated to be a director of your own internal plays. They can then help the childish parts to grow up. Very often in midlife crises persons have already those parts needed and they can use mindful and self-hypnosis techniques for integrating their own self. What they just need is a little bit of new learning , couching. Very many teens or adolecents don’t have these mature parts, and that is why they need therapy. And even some adults miss them.
For adult mature parts or ”ego states” to develop, everyone needs an emphatic, respectful, real life listener which resonates whith our childish parts. This adult person can be introjected in the person’s own inner theater. In my experience it is possible in creative therapeutic art groups to help these kind of mature ego states to develop from different archetypes, too. You can play with and internalize new healthy, adult, role models from the litterature for example.
And then in the theater of consciousness, ”all the world’s a stage,” where, as our mask figures, we enact our invisible plays, which influence and determine our destiny. In all of us, ther is a disjunction between the role of the adult self, the mask figure played upon the stage, and the person behind the maks, the Authentic-Being. We live our and enact our invisible internal play – all of us.
Robert Berezin emphasizes that our integration process is a mourning process. I agree. We have to make seen our invisible play in creative trance. It is not just a rational process. It is profoundly a creative process. In this new play our childish parts have to be allowed to mourn their losses. Many of our childish parts has suffered from abuse by peers. Someone – psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, other respectful, wise person or our own adult part – has to support to free this childish part´s emotional experience constructively in symbolic form and support it’s growth by letting mourning happen.
This creative reprogramming of ourselves makes possible that our emotional and information molecules get in free flow. We don’t get stuck in the rigid and destructive internal plays. After this creative process we are not anymore the badly copied masks of other persons. We start to see our problematic internal play and true self behind our masks.
Hypnotherapists are the shamans of our time. They are bodymind healers who deal with human pain in the service of alleviation of suffering. They don’t divide persons to body and mind, because they know that they are not separate entetities. And they don’t even separate you and me, because they know that neither these are separate enteties. And what is good news, you can learn to be a hypnotherapist of yourself.
We can learn to direct, criticize and create internal plays with which guide our happy and balanced living and which are at the same time in consonant with actualities of human life. There are new kind of hypnocouching methods (like HopeCoaching), which learn people reconstruct their own internal plays with using mindfulness and self-hypnosis methods. This makes us more patient observers who don’t jump so easily on the stage in sadistic or masochistic plays. We are odd creatures, our inner plays continue to live inside us very powerfully, inspite of we know them or not. So it is very important to start to explore the plays of our inner theater.
In order to disconnect from the old play, the mourner must face and go through the pan of all the feelings of his attachment to digest the loss (sadness of losing his attachment). The feelings are about whatever defined the actual story of their relationship (love, sadness, anger, envy, hate – whatever it was). To face and digest their deeply held story and mourn those feelings takes a long time. Typically with death, the major work takes a year. To lay the relationship to rest, the mourner must deactivate the old play in his cortical theater. This allow him to accept the new play and for him to come back from the dead to go on in hi sown life.
Berenzin underlines that mourning is never really complete. The mappings of the old play remain in the cortex, like those mappings of the phantom limb. The good news is that after successful process we don’t get stuck in old plays. They sometimes try to wake up inside of us, but we start to notice these plays and then we don’t jump on the stage so easily anymore.
Berezin writes that the change is slow. I think that in hypnosis and in meditative states the changes can be quite fast. I remember my hypnotherapy teacher saying that sometimes in hypnotherapy you can make in few sessions changes which take in psychoanalysis years. Unlearning habits can sometimes take time because you need to recondition new internal experienes to real-life experiences.
I personally have had bulimia when I was young. Until last spring I have struggeled with chocolate craving. I got melanoma and they removed one of my toes. This craving stopped with this operation. Immediately. The answer was allready inside of me. The last price of getting rid of this craving was one toe. The change was fast and it has lasted without difficulties now for ten weeks. A piece of puzzle found it’s right place.
Inner theater in facebook.