Here is the full transcript of hypnotherapist Danna Pycher’s TEDx presentation: Healing Illness With The Subconscious Mind at TEDxPineCrestSchool conference. Danna Pycher is a certified neuro-linguistic hypnotherapy coach, author of 3rd Generation and Beyond and a motivational speaker.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Healing illness with the subconscious mind by Danna Pycher at TEDxPineCrestSchool
What if I told you, you might not be who you think you are? What if I told you that your very perception or idea of who you are, has been weaved into your mind over time? What if you don’t agree with what your mind has to tell you?
I’ve always had an inquiring mind. I’ve always questioned everything. I felt the need to get to the bottom of everything and never took anything at face value. This ever curious personality would one day save my life. Let me tell you who I am.
Hi, I’m Danna. I’m a hypnotherapist specializing in trauma and chronic illness. I also do a lot of public speaking about the Holocaust, because I’m a third generation descendant, about trauma, and my favorite topic to speak about, the subconscious mind and how it works, because holy moly it’s fascinating.
I want to take you on a little journey today that will expose the connection between your mind, who you think you are, and the potential onset of disease. So if you may please follow along as we go through the human experience.
From conception until death. OK, so it won’t be that morbid. We, all of us, are born as blank slates. We, all of us, then through our experiences are programmed to have certain beliefs about who we are, what we can achieve in life, and what type of person we should be.
From birth until six, we are essentially living life in a hypnotic trance. It’s why we learn languages so quickly at this young age. We are sponges just joyously absorbing everything around us. At this precious age, we set up the rest of our lives, that’s right. What we learned from about the age of zero until six is essentially the patterns or programming we begin to develop from adolescence or from then and repeat again and again from adolescence into adulthood.
I want to tell you something that might offend you. People, we are patterns. I also want to relate something else to you. Sometimes our patterns do not serve us. Those patterns are called disease, depression, obesity, and the list unfortunately goes on and on.
OK, let’s rewind for a minute. I want to rewind to a really serious pattern that I had in the past. I had what’s called chronic fatigue syndrome, which later turned into fibromyalgia. Both are chronic illnesses that to put them lightly are no fun and to put them into context can be seriously debilitating.
I was 18 years old and I would suddenly go in and out of these intense spurts of not being able to function. I was dead tired to a point where if I couldn’t take a nap in the moment I needed to, I felt as if my heart would give out. The fact that I was so young, I knew something was wrong. I went to many doctors, many doctors who all told me I was either stressed or depressed. And I looked at them and I said I’m a freshman in college. Really, what do I have to be depressed about?
So for years I did research into why I felt the way I felt and I became my own advocate. I began experimenting with diet, with lifestyle, many different things, just to try to get a handle on my symptoms. And I started to feel better and I was able to really get a handle on my life and to manage life really well. And when I finally had a big handle on my health, I got severely knocked down again. And when I say knock down, I mean almost killed in a near-fatal car accident. T-boned, smashed, left hanging upside down in my car until the firefighters came to cut me out not sure if I was paralyzed or dead.
Without going into the gory details, I knew that I was in for a long ride ahead of me. I was handicapped for six months and I developed what’s called PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. And on top of that I began to feel sick again. In 30 seconds, I wasn’t the same Danna anymore. I developed PTSD and because I knew that I was one person and I wasn’t that person anymore, I knew I had to see someone or do something about it.
So I began to see this therapist and she was a very nice woman. Yes, she would tell me things when you get to a stop sign in each street. So I thought to myself, am I really paying you this much money for that, that I got.
So eventually after six months of minimal improvement, I met a woman who survived cancer and she said she would not have survived cancer were it not for this trauma therapist she went to. So I said that’s my woman.
So I went and the first appointment with her, this trauma therapist, she said to me and she looked at me and she said, “I’m a bit alternative. I hope that’s okay with you.”
And I said, “I’m desperate, whatever you got.”
She said, “I do this thing called hypnosis.”
I said there is no way you’re touching my brain with that stuff. I was super skeptical, I had no idea what it was and my only reference was show hypnosis and hypnotherapy is not show hypnosis. So basically after about six or seven sessions of meeting with her, I decided that I liked her. She was smart, forward thinking, compassionate, so I thought to myself: “What the heck! What can it hurt?”
So I walked in that session, I walked in feeling one way, I walked out feeling another. I wasn’t exactly sure what she did. I just felt better. Within six weeks, my PTSD was gone. The next month my depression, the next month my anxiety. This woman saved my life.
OK, so that’s all interesting and I want to tell you something even more interesting. So I mentioned to you earlier that I started with chronic fatigue and later developed what’s called fibromyalgia. I view these two elements as sisters, it’s very similar. Yet fibromyalgia on top of the intense fatigue is a serious muscular pain. Yet what’s the interesting part is I didn’t develop this pain until after my accident.
So here’s the interesting part. When I was healing my trauma through hypnosis, the pain in my legs began to dissipate. Bit by bit, little by little, the pain in my body was leaving. I thought to myself: “Well what’s happening here?”
So that brings us to where we’re going today. I want to walk you through the mechanics of the hypnotic process and how it works and how the mind and body and disease and thoughts are all interconnected. But, first, let’s jump into the science of how minds and bodies interact.
So how exactly are trauma and disease correlated? I want to mention to you that trauma doesn’t have to be a near-fatal car accident; it doesn’t have to be coming back from war. Really in my mind the way I view trauma is if you viewed the world one way and then some situation happened to you and now you view the world in a different way, that can be a traumatic circumstance. So it doesn’t have to be this overwhelming experience.
Have you ever heard the phrase “stress kills”? OK, so I used to hear that phrase and I used to scoff. Yet now I see just how valid that statement is. Physical and psychological stressors cause inflammation to occur in the body. Inflammation is the key word in many diseases. Reducing inflammation is the key to healing many diseases. Are you with me this far? OK, beautiful.
When events happen in life they’re recorded; when stressful events happen they are recorded as is, and that creates a certain level of shock on the mind, which therefore sends distress signals down the nervous system which in turn will tell the endocrine system to increase adrenaline and cortisol. And while those levels are increased, our immune levels are lowered. The fact that we have these stress responses initially is not a bad thing. Yet the fact that our minds compound all of these situations over time without ever letting them go every situation builds upon each other. So the real reason we experience stress in reality is for our own good, for our own safety.
If you think of an animal, for example, a mouse. A mouse sees a cat, gets anxiety, has stress levels. Why? Because it needs to make the decision to run away. Yet once the mouse runs away, once the mouse finds cover, that anxiety is gone. The mouse doesn’t over analyze what the cat was thinking, how to feel about it now and what to do about it. No, that’s only something humans do.
Humans encounter a stressful situation, we instantaneously attach meaning to it and then it’s recorded forever. So the initial stress isn’t bad, the continual attachment to the stress is bad. Follow me so far? Good, OK.
So just to reiterate, when we experience stress there’s a recording in the subconscious mind. And enough of those recordings over time will cause havoc and an overstressed nervous system, which in turn will cause an overproduction of stress hormones and a suppression of immune function.
So now the golden question: How do we reverse all of this? So there’s a new study dedicated to all of this called psychoneuroimmunology. Psychoneuroimmunology, meaning the branch of medicine that deals with the influence of emotional states and nervous system activity on immune function, especially in relation to disease. So that’s the textbook definition.
In reality, the best way that I have found to take the study off of paper and into real life to intervene in the influence of stress on immunity, I have found is hypnotherapy. How? Let me tell you.
So I do this fascinating therapy, it’s called regression therapy. Essentially what this means is I take my clients to the first time, the very first, first, first initial time that a stressful event or events caused the element at hand. For example, let’s say we’re working with depression. I’ve got a client through a visualization through their minds, through their subconscious mind, it’s very cool and then through this visualization, I’ll say something like this: “We’re going to go to the first time, the very first time you had emotions around depression.”
And so what happens in the subconscious mind is subconscious mind then links up with these specific memories that are tied to that specific element. So it goes something like this: A client would describe something that happened when they were two years old, let’s say. “I was two; my parents were fighting, I felt very upset, confused, responsible for my parents etc etc.”
So then I start asking them questions like this: “In that moment, how did you need to feel as a two-year-old?” And then they would respond something to the effect of: “I needed to feel like a baby, like a two-year-old, comforted etc.”
So at this point I would then direct them to feel as if in that memory, they were feeling their body as the two year old with their resources that he or she needed in that moment. In that moment there is healing. You cannot change what has happened to you in the past. Instead you’re changing the mind’s perception and the weight of the heavy feelings that the past memory holds. Then after resolving that memory we would then proceed through other memories in a similar fashion.
So what exactly is this doing? It is completely allowing the subconscious mind to cope with things and never got to cope with in the past. This reduces the recorded stress that we’ve carried around our whole lives. When the subconscious mind heals, allows the nervous system to relax. When the nervous system relaxes there are less erratic signals. When there are less erratic signals, the endocrine system does not need to be in a chronic state: a fight or flight, therefore sending out inflammatory hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. You see all these well coming together?
OK, I know I overloaded you with a ton of information. So I want to finish up with this. A bit of an experience I had with a client who came to see me. There’s a woman, she came to see me and she came to see me for weight loss which many people do, many people come to see hypnotist to lose weight. And I asked her what’s the issue? No motivation to get to the gym, you don’t have a taste for healthy food; what’s going on?
So she said, “No, I have motivation get to the gym. Yet every time I go, I get into more pain.”
So I asked, “Why are you in pain?”
She said, “I have this thing called fibromyalgia. Are you familiar?”
I said, “Oh, am I familiar.” So I said to her let’s start from the inside out. Instead of working on your motivation to get to the gym, we should work on your fibromyalgia pain first. I asked her: “Where do you feel most of it right now?” She said in her neck.
I said okay let’s go for it. We did a regression session around the pain in her neck. And the memory that came up was at the time she was 12 years old; her and her brother got in a fight. He pushed her down the stairs and she essentially got a stiff neck for a few weeks and then it went away. 10 years later, it came back and she told me for 20 years she couldn’t move her neck. We resolved that trauma — the trauma surrounding that memory and a few others. When we finished, she came up out of hypnosis and she went like this. For the first time in 20 years, she moved her neck. My mouth dropped and so did hers.
We carry our lives with us not only in our minds yet all over our body. Our bodies and minds are intrinsically connected. There’s so much more detail I can go to on this topic. Yet really this is the takeaway I want to give to you today. The mind and body are resilient and have the innate ability to heal themselves. Yet sometimes they just need a bit of guidance. My wish for you is to be informed and to know that there are resources out there to help you feel like the best you.
I was told time and time again that I would be sick or have PTSD forever. I was told by many doctors that I’d have to be on high-level antidepressants, that there was no hope for me. This is the pathway of my life. Yet in reality I knew and I was determined with every ounce of my being to get back to who I knew I was that girl that existed somewhere deep down inside me. And now I speak about chronic illness and PTSD in the past behind me, no longer part of me.
If there’s someone you know who doesn’t feel good, please tell them that there is hope. If you can heal your mind you can heal your life. So here’s to you, your healthy mind and body and here’s to never giving up the fight for your vitality.
Thank you very much.