Puppies on Fire when Guided Imagery goes Wrong

When I teach experiential hypnosis with guided imagery, I stress an approach that is based upon consensual imagery and positive rider suggestions with an aim toward keeping the trance partner in a positive frame and emotional state.

Some folks don’t think things through and cause all sorts of cognitive dissonance and worse.

I would say the character of Britta in the wonderful television series Community is one of those folks, someone who’s had just enough training to be able to affect folks but doesn’t have enough competence or self-awareness of just how fucked up some of the things she says can seem or just how incredibly negative an experience she can create.

By wan of an example, here’s a bit of pleasant guided imagery . . . most folks would find a basket full of puppies to be a very positive thing to imagine, but what if the trance facillitator, for whatever reason, tampers with the scenario so that there is fire involved?

Note the patter Britta speaks as well as the facial expressions of the folks undergoing her closed-eye guided imagery. I think it’s fair to assume they’ve had their eyes closed and she’s guided them into a relaxed space with the basket full of puppies before slipping into the fire bit . . .







Despite this being a series of animated gifs, you can almost hear the anguish in Troy’s voice.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Community and hope it manages to stay on the air despite schedule shuffles and threats of cancellation from the network. I think it’s brilliant writing and this is an example of just such great writing, it has just enough reality to it. I am not without a twisted sense of humor and understand the power of the invisible puppy (my students at the university may recall the invisible puppy that I introduce to a number of classes early into the semester) so I’m not without appreciation for this sort of twisted humor.

However, this sort of imagery actually happens more than a lot and it shouldn’t but I’ve seen more than a few folks who are practicing hypnosis outside of the realm of a television sitcom do far worse things to their clients.

Please, when working with actual humans for therapeutic effect, learn to structure your guided imagery in a way that is positive and helpful.

Trust me, the burning basket of puppies will NOT get you anyplace good . . . and, yes, I’ve seen someone do something very similar with a straight face and an assumption she was helping folks with far worse results than Troy’s comedic anguish.

BTW, this post is inspired by a Tumblr post . . . the animated gifs can be backtracked to the source via the call backs from the post at http://briandavidphillips.tumblr.com/post/42424912723.


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