Unlock your mind and be free: A practical approach to hypnotherapy
by Edgar A. Barnett MD
The courtroom of the mind
This book uses an extended metaphor of a “courtroom of the mind” to very effectively dramatize the forces at work in the origination of disease and emotional suffering. Understanding how these forces interact gives therapists a sure way of intervening to affect resolution and healing. The approach and methodology is strongly based on transactional analysis, and anyone looking for a very clear and highly practical introduction to working with TA will find this book highly rewarding.
Barnett likens the troubled person to a prisoner locked in the cell of his or her own mind. There are four prisons:
- Fear – e.g. phobias, anxiety
- Anger – e.g. migraine, ulcer, back pain, hypertension, obesity
- Pain and sadness – e.g. asthma, depression, drugs
- Guilt – e.g. impotence, obesity, skin diseases
The prisoner has been incarcerated because of a crime they believe they have committed. This crime and the resultant sentencing all happen to the person in childhood.
A crime is any act that endangers the peace and order of society. In this metaphor – the child perceives herself to have committed a crime, which then consigns her to a prison of Fear, Anger, Hurt or Guilt.
From transactional analysis we know that we all function from more than one ego state. An ego state is a distinct set of feelings and behaviour patterns. Each of us has at least three different ego states – Child, Parent, and Adult. In the courtroom of the mind, these ego states play the roles of Accused, Prosecutor, and Judge.
All the trouble begins when the child does something to earn the displeasure of an adult or when an adult, acting inappropriately, threatens the wellbeing of the child. In some way the child stands accused of a crime.
When the accusations are made, the Adult ego state has not yet developed, so the Child is left to speak in her own defense. Her testimony is always simple – she was just doing what seemed right, she was just being herself. However, this testimony is inadequate, so the Child is found guilty and a sentence is imposed. The sentence usually involves a repression of some kind and is held in place by guilt.
Release from prison
Years later, when the child has grown to an adult, the repressions of the sentence imposed all those years ago creates a symptom or other form of suffering that brings the person to therapy. The aim of analysis is then to discover the nature of the original crime so that a new trial can be had – one in which the inner Child now has an advocate in the form of their inner Adult.
In the extended metaphor of the courtroom of the mind, the key to unlocking the prison is analytical hypnotherapy. Barnett outlines a general procedure for hypnotic analysis and regression, and provides instruction on how this can be performed by anyone, even without the help of a therapist.
The prisoner – specific disorders
Barnett goes on to describe specific conditions and their common “crimes” and “prisons”. This section is excellent for anyone looking for insights into how to approach the treatment of these conditions. Conditions briefly covered include migraines, asthma, peptic ulcer, cardiovascular diseases, skin diseases, sexual dysfunction, obesity, depression, phobias, and obsessions.
This book packs a lot into quite a short space. I now use the courtroom metaphor in all my regression work and have found it a key insight into the mechanics of illness and healing. Healing invariably involves the appeal of some long-forgotten unjust trial in which a child is wrongfully accused and is sentenced without the benefit of a defense. I can unreservedly recommend this book to any therapist wanting to deepen their understanding of hypno-analysis and regression.