Lucy: Loud Noises

CASE #1079

Date: 2001. Place: Spokane, WA.
   It was early June when Lucy came to visit, having been referred by a local television reporter I’d worked with a few months earlier. Lucy was a camera operator at her station and had been given an assignment to cover a major fireworks display, coming up on the Fourth of July. She really had no choice as to whether she could hand the assignment off to someone else. It would be her job.
   As soon as she sat down and began discussing it, she was literally shaking. To say that she was terrified didn’t come close. Just thinking about it had caused sleepless nights and fearful thoughts throughout her day. I explained what hypnosis was and how it might help. She was willing to try anything. The first thing I did was teach her how to relax in a methodical way; i.e. one slow step after another. Next came light hypnosis, which I compounded by taking her into trance and bringing her out several times. Each time I brought her up, I didn’t let her come out of trance all the way.
   By the end of her first visit, she was able to achieve a medium level of hypnosis and she felt good about that. Instructions were given regarding self-hypnosis, which she was to practice every day. When she returned the following week, I spent about half an hour to get her to the point where I could do age-regression.
   Note: As to taking a half-hour to do an age-regression, I would rather be safe than sorry. While there are those who claim that they can induce a subject into an age-regressive state in less than a few minutes, I consider that a “make-believe” state. Yes, there are people (about one out of twenty-five) who can drop into deep trance almost immediately but I’m never going to risk my reputation on a possible three-minute trance.
   If I happen to detect that my client has that capability, I’ll go with it, of course. The great majority of clients, however, must learn how to achieve deep levels in which a positive outcome will result. I can’t teach this strongly enough.
   Back to Lucy, who is now in deep hypnosis. I chose an arbitrary age and took her back, first, to the age of five; then four, three, two, and one. She indicated that, even at one year of age, she was terrified of loud noises. Here’s how our session went:
Therapist: Okay, Lucy, I’d like you to be like a pretty little bird and you can see everything around you from where you sit. You look down and see Lucy…now a one-year-old girl. It’s her first birthday. Take a good look at her clothes. Can you tell me what she’s wearing?
Lucy: It’s a white dress…and it has little yellow circles on it.
T: Is there a birthday party today…do you see a cake? Just for a moment, I wonder if you could look at the room through Lucy’s eyes and tell me what is going on. If…at any time…you want to tell me what you see from the pretty birdie’s eyes, that would be okay.
L: My mommy and my daddy are here…and I see food. It has lights.
T: That’s right, Lucy. There’s a cake just for you. So, tell me, Lucy…on this special day…have you ever heard a dog bark or have you ever heard someone slam a door really loud?
L: Yes.
T: You have heard loud noises. Do those noises bother you…do they scare you?
L: Yes…I don’t like scary things.
T: Lucy, do you know what causes those noises to be so scary?
L: No.
T: Well, Lucy, maybe we can find out and if we do…then maybe…those loud noises won’t bother you anymore. Would you like that?
L: Yes.
T: That’s good, Lucy. You’re doing great. Now, I’m going to take you to the moment in your short life, just before something scared you…and if we know what it is, then we can make it stop scaring you.
   So now, Lucy, I’m going to lift your arm at the wrist and when I do…I don’t want you to help me or resist me. I’m going to pick it up and then let it go…and an amazing thing is going to happen when your arm drops back down to the arm of the chair. It will be the very first time you were ever scared of any noise. Now, I’m picking up your arm at the wrist (I lift it), and now…when I drop it…you’ll be right there. (drop) There you are, Lucy. Where are you?
L: I don’t know.
T: You don’t know. Now, Lucy, when I tap you on the back of your wrist, you are going to be like that little bird sitting up in a nearby tree. (Tap) Sitting there in that tree like a little bird…tell me what you see. And, who’s there?
L: My mommy…and I see lots of people. And, I see lots of colored things in the air…and loud noises. I’m scared and my mommy is holding me tight. I can hardly breathe.
T: Mommy’s holding you tight and you can’t breathe and you are scared. I’m going to lift your arm again, Lucy, and this time you are going to be eight-years-old…and magically…you are going to know if you’ve ever seen or heard anything like the things that scared you so much that day. (Lift/drop) There you are, Lucy, you are eight-years-old and you now know if you’ve ever seen anything like that scary thing before in your life.
L: Yes, I have. It’s a fireworks show. I can see it. I see me as a baby and my mommy is holding me so tight and I’m crying. I can’t breathe and I’m scared.
T: That’s right, Lucy. Your mommy took you to a fireworks show and you didn’t understand what was happening because you were just a baby. Now, if it’s all right with you…I’ll teach you a secret trick so you won’t have to be scared of noises ever again.
   When I tap you on your wrist again…you’ll be back to your age of 29 and you’ll feel more relaxed than you are right now. You’ll feel a very deep state of peace and relaxation. Okay?
L: Okay.
T: With each breath you take now and with every word I say…you continue to relax deeper and deeper. And now, Lucy, here’s the trick. Each and every time you feel the slightest tendency of being scared of loud noises…you are going to gently squeeze your right ear lobe…I’m going to touch your ear…now. (I touch her ear lobe)
   When you touch your ear like this, you will instantly remember your mother holding you and that fireworks display…and when you do…you’re going to instantly think to yourself, “I’m never going to let that bother me again. That was my mother’s mistake and it wasn’t my fault.”
   Now, I’d like you to touch your ear lobe in the same way I just did. Go ahead and lift your hand and touch it. (Lucy does) Okay, now I’m going to make a small noise and when I do, you will practice exactly what I just taught you. Are you ready?
L: Yes.
   I snap my fingers and Lucy lifts her hand to her ear. As she continues to hold it I tell her that her fear was brought on by her mother and others who didn’t understand how noises might affect a little baby. I ask her to repeat my words to herself so she can make the connection.
   Our session ended as she is roused up to full conscious awareness. I ask if she will practice every day and return the following week. She agrees. Over a period of sessions, I revealed that her mother would put a pillow over her face if she didn’t stop crying. This obviously made it difficult to breathe for the moment. After resolving that issue and a few others, we both felt comfortable with her progress and that if she needed me, she would come in again.
   Right after our final session, we stepped out of my office. Once outside, she took a deep breath and began to cry. I asked what was happening, to which she replied, “I can breathe. This is the first time in 29 years that I am able to catch my breath!”
   I have no way to express how much I love deep-trance hypnosis and what it can do for those who live with pain.