Ideomotor Signals for Rapid Hypnoanalysis: A How-to Manual?
ore than 25 years ago I took my first workshop from David B.
Cheek, M.D., on ideomotor signaling and exploration. I was so
fascinated by what I learned that I read his book (Cheek & LeCron,
1968) and then began searching out every article he had ever written.
As I began applying ideomotor techniques in my hypnosis practice, I
was startled at the effectiveness of these techniques. Finally in about
1982, I called David and asked him if it might be possible to consult
with him and “pick his brain” for further refinements of technique. He
said, “Certainly,” and gave me his home phone number. I asked him
how much he would charge me for these phone consultations and he
said, “I won’t charge you anything. If I can be helpful that would be
great. Just call me at home, and if I’m busy I will tell you and ask you to
understand, but usually I’m not all that busy and we can visit.” This led
to many hours of telephone mentoring by Dr. Cheek and to my developing a close relationship with this gentle, but humble giant of a man.
Dr. Cheek was an obstetrician and gynecologist. In one of those
phone calls, I presented a case to David of a woman who had come to
see me in the Sex and Marital Therapy Clinic for anorgasmia, but she
also mentioned that she had uncontrollable, recurrent vaginitis. The
woman was a nurse. She had seen half a dozen gynecologists, would go
on medication, the vaginitis would clear up, and then within three
weeks it would be back. No one, including gynecologists at the medical
school where I practice, had been able to figure out her case. I asked
David if he thought that vaginal infections could have a psychogenic
component. He replied, “Absolutely,” and went on to describe how
emotions or inner conflict could throw off the pH balance of the vagina, allowing infections to develop.
In the next interview, we did ideomotor exploration and discovered
that the vaginitis was an unconscious way of the patient punishing herself because of guilt about sexual involvement when she was not mar-
ried. We worked through her guilt within a matter of minutes and
obtained an unconscious commitment that it was no longer necessary
for her to continue having problems with vaginitis. In a 15-year followup on this case, I learned that in all those years, she had only had one
or two episodes of vaginitis.
I could cite many similar “miraculous” cases involving chronic pain
and other somatic symptoms, as well as a variety of psychological conditions. It was cases like this that convinced me of the power of the
mind to influence the body, and of the power of ideomotor signaling to
produce rapid therapeutic change—often allowing the insight-oriented
phase of treatment to be dramatically shortened to just one or a handful of sessions.
My approach to psychotherapy and hypnotherapy has always been
very eclectic, and I have tried to remain open to learning from a wide
variety of approaches to the use of hypnosis. Yet, out of the many
dozens of hypnotherapeutic techniques that I have learned and used
through the years (Hammond, 1990), the single most valued and valuable hypnosis technique has been ideomotor signaling. I recall a conversation that I had with Ernest Rossi in the late 1980s, just after he
published a book (Rossi & Cheek, 1988) with Dr. Cheek—a conversation with which I resonated. He shared that in the field of hypnosis, he
had been most intrigued by the work of Dr. Milton Erickson, but that
to him the next most fascinating figure in our field was Dr. David
Despite my deep affection and appreciation for Dr. Cheek, David
knew that I did not agree with him on a couple of points. He believed
that there should not be an ideomotor signal for “I don’t know,” as
there was in his original work with LeCron (Cheek & LeCron, 1968).
He had come to believe that at some level, the patient did know the
answer, and, therefore, that such a signal provided the patient with a
“cop-out.” However, research (as reviewed in Brown, Scheflin, & Hammond, 1998) has shown that not allowing someone to respond that they
“do not know” an answer will result in increased confabulation.
In fact, this is one of the most serious flaws in the hypnosis and memory research on confabulation-research which by its very design, was
destined to show increased confabulation, even though it has been documented (Brown et al., 1998) that hypnosis is no more likely to create
pseudomemories than waking interviews…
Ideomotor Signals for Rapid Hypnoanalysis: A How-to Manual?
In today’s managed mental health care environment, clinical hypnosis has become popular as a tool for alleviating symptoms promptly. This book is about using ideomotor (IM) signals in the rapid hypnoanalysis of psychosomatic disorders. The technique of rapid hypnoanalysis addresses the whole brain and places the feeling back into brief therapy without removing the logic or the efficiency. It offers a refreshing alternative that allows therapists to go deeper while being even briefer. Part I covers basic concepts and principles. The value, principles, and treatment planning of hypnoanalysis are discussed, including special intake questions and how to set up ideomotor signals. Part II covers basic applications of rapid hypnoanalysis and illustrates their employment. The seven common causes of psychosomatic disorders, ideomotor applications to Direct Suggestion in Hypnosis (DSIH), hypnotic preparation and care of the surgical patient, self-hypnosis, and treating the cognitive and emotional components of persistent pain are examined. Part III presents clinical transcripts of cases to illustrate the actual uses of the technique with psychosomatic patients. These transcripts explore the technique with a complex smoking cessation patient, a simple smoking recall session, a one-visit cure of a hypersensitive scar, and a workshop demonstration session with an asthma patient. This is a ‘how-to’ book that provides numerous case examples and illustrations showing specifically how ideomotor analysis techniques are used