Analytical hypno-analysis using ego states and transactional analysis
As described by Edgar Barnett in the book Unlock Your Mind and be Free.
Edgar Barnett 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. He 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 itself to have committed a crime, which then consigns them 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.
The Child ego state is the feeling part of our being. The Child feels all the normal emotions – Hurt, Anger and Fear, as well as their opposites – Happiness, Love and Security. In the Courtroom of the Mind, the Child is the Defendant/Accused – charged with having feelings.
The Parent state develops in response to contact with the outside world. The child models his Parent state on significant adults, usually the true parents. The child’s internal Parent will try to control the behaviour of the child to make sure it doesn’t alienate the actual parents and other caregivers.
“The Parent ego state primarily intends to protect the Child, although the manner in which it fulfills this function is frequently archaic and responsible for much mental ill health.”
The Adult collects data independently of other people’s beliefs and opinions, unlike the Parent. Most importantly, the young child does not have an Adult ego state to defend them against accusations from parents and adults.
The Court Room
The accused is always the Child (the actual child and the Child ego state). She is accused of feeling, of existing, of being the wrong sex, etc.
The Prosecutor is usually a parent. The Child is accused of causing stress to the Prosecutor.
The Judge is the Parent ego state. Why? Because it’s the task of the Parent state to prevent the Child from alienating herself from the true parent. It rescues the situation by judging the Child and determining whether a punishment should be imposed.
When the accusations are made, the Adult 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. When the trial is revisited in Analysis, the Adult can be brought in to restore the rights of the Child.
The Judge (Parent) must decide whether the Child is guilty. If not guilty, the matter is put away and no harm is done. If the verdict is one of guilt, a sentence is imposed.
The sentence always fits the crime and is intended to make sure that the Child never commits the crime again. For example, if an expression of feeling has been found unacceptable, the Parent may well decree that the accused be sentenced to withhold any expression of that forbidden feeling.
The Parent, as jailer, must enforce whatever sentence is handed down by the Parent as judge.
- You must not exist (Hurt, Guilt)
- You must never feel angry (Anger)
- You are not lovable – you are bad (Hurt, Guilt)
- You must not succeed (Guilt)
- You must not be afraid (Fear)
- You must not love (Guilt)
- You must not think
The prison locks – Guilt
Imprisonment of the Child means imprisonment of the emotions. The message is that the Child’s emotions are bad and must be suppressed for its own good.
Before the Child can be freed, the Parent has to be convinced that it is no longer necessary for the Child to be locked up for its own protection.
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 Child now has an advocate in the form of their inner Adult.
The purpose of the retrial is to persuade the Parent ego state to reverse its original verdict of guilty. Barnett makes the point that the Parent usually welcomes relief from the onerous duty of Jailor.
The key – Analytical hypnotherapy
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, namely:
- Location of the first critical experience
- Identification of the repressed feeling
- Acceptance of the repressed emotion
- Recognition of the current irrelevance of the previously repressed emotion
- Relinquishing the unnecessary emotion
How to use the metaphor
You can use the metaphor of the Courtroom of the Mind in regression hypnotherapy to identify the protagonists in a sensitizing event. Invariably, the patient’s symptom will begin with something that happened in childhood when their Child ego state felt it had done something wrong and which was deserving of punishment. Once you’ve located the initial sensitising event (ISE) you bring the patient’s Adult self into the scene to give the Child the wisdom and love they didn’t have access to when the event occurred. The aim is to establish the essential innocence of the Child.
The entire metaphor is adapted from Unlock your Mind and be Free: A practical approach to hypnotherapy by Edgar A. Barnett.
Russel Brownlee – Expert hypnotherapy in Cape Town.