Mind Body Therapy: Methods of Ideodynamic Healing in Hypnosis
by Ernest Rossi and David Cheek
“A remarkable collaboration between psychologist Ernest Rossi and gynaecologist-obstetrician David Cheek, this book guides and empowers therapists and patients to find the keys to their own health and well-being through therapeutic hypnosis.” – from the back cover.
The theoretical basis for this work is Cheek’s ‘basic clinical hypothesis’ that there are at least three levels at which mind-body information can be encoded: the physiological, the ideodynamic (ideomotor) and the verbal levels:
“Most conventional psychotherapy and ‘conversational hypnosis’ deal only with the information that is available to normal memory at the verbal level. Information that is encoded at deeper psychobiological levels by the release of hormones and ‘messenger molecules’ during times of emotional, physical and surgical stress, however, becomes state-dependent or state-bound to that specific psychophysiological state of stress. When patients later apparently recover from their acute stress and return to their ‘normal’ psychophysiological conditions, the statebound memories frequently are not accessible by the ordinary processes of memory accessed by the verbal level of conversational psychotherapy.” (p. xx)
For me, one of the most interesting points of the book is seeing how ideodynamic responses can not only access state-bound memories but can also process these memories. One is both reading the memory and releasing it by working at this non-verbal level. So how does this actually work?
We hypothesize that the repeated ‘mini stress’ involved in the ideodynamic reviewing of the sensory and emotional circumstances of a traumatic even in hypnosis can partially reactivate the stress-released hormonal information substances that originally encoded that even in a statebound condition.” (p.8)
So a stressful event ‘encodes’ a trauma at a chemical (hormonal) level within the body. This level is below the verbal level of awareness so cannot be accessed directly through normal memory regression. By the use of ideodynamic signalling one actually reactivates these ‘hormonal information substances’, allowing the state-bound or dissociated memories of the traumatic event to be brought up to a level where they can be verbally reframed.
If you get one major insight from the book it’s this – that trauma is encoded (stored) at a biological level. It’s actually all about chemicals and the mind-molecule connection.
Another significant point is that the questions that activate an ideodynamic response are not merely a procedure for getting the right answer:
Getting the right answer is frequently only the final, conscious, verbal end-product of the ideodynamic process of healing. The activation of inner psychobiological processes of mind-body communication and healing that the patient must engage in to get the right answer is the more significant part of ideodynamic hypnotherapy. (p. 77)
What they are saying is that ideodynamic work doesn’t just get yes/no/can’t say answers – it actually facilitates the processing of unconscious material. Importantly, ideodynamic questioning focuses the client on their own inner resources – it creates a state of absorbed, playful expectancy that stimulates the creative inner mind to process the elements of the problem in new and resourceful ways.
The authors present clinical case studies to confirm the hypothesis that ideodynamic signalling does access deeper sources of mind-body healing than verbal therapy. But be warned, the case studies and other medical discourses are not light reading and are not really aimed at the lay hypnotherapist. This book will be of most value to those taking a more academic interest in the field. The first few sections of the book provide valuable “how to’s” for eliciting ideomotor signals, but thereafter one enters the somewhat daunting world of statistics, chemistry (psychobiology), and medicine. For those at home in this world, I highly recommend this work for its shifting of mind-body healing from the realm of esoterics to the world of observable data and science. Academic students of hypnosis looking for research projects will find plenty of suggestions for these. The authors outline the state of current research and suggest further experiments or directions of inquiry to expand this knowledge.
If you’re just looking for a manual on how to use ideodynamic responses in hypnosis you might find this book only partially satisfactory. However, if you want the actual science behind the mind-body connection, or if you’re looking for psychobiology research projects in an academic setting, this is the book for you!
Mind-Body Therapy: Methods of Ideodynamic Healing in Hypnosis, 1st ed, by Ernest Rossi and David Cheek, W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.