Subconscious Surrender in Addiction Treatment
The first time that I witnessed a hypnotherapy smoking cessation process, I experienced a sense of true surrender, or what some choose to call 'grace'.
Even though at that time I had already stopped smoking for some years, and I was only witnessing the process, not experiencing it directly, I had an immense feeling of peace and of alignment: I knew then that I didn't need to smoke and so did every part of me, even the ones that to some degree still held on to the notion that it was cool & sophisticated, or that it could help me to relax in social situations.
Since then, I have become more and more fascinated by the possibilities that hypnotherapy could offer to addiction therapy. Indeed, addiction specialists for the past 100 years have touched upon the idea that something of this nature was required for the recovery process to be effective. Whether it has been called an act of surrender, a vital spiritual experience or a subconscious alignment, it is clear that this moment of grace is necessary to the recovery process.
There is a beautiful passage in the book Alcoholics Anonymous which talks about this phenomenon:
What the authors of Alcoholics Anonymous describe throughout their work as a vital spiritual experience can be likened to the state of subconscious surrender produced by the hypnotherapeutic process, where the addict can finally stop fighting themselves and is able to start the emotional work necessary for a full recovery.
Dr. Harry Tiebout (1896-1966), an American psychiatrist specialising in the treatment of alcoholism, discusses surrender in these terms in his paper, The Act of Surrender in the Treatment of the Alcoholic.
Hypnotherapy has the power to bring about this unconscious surrender and allow the process of working a 12-step programme or alternative programme of recovery.
In difficult cases, where the addict has tried different addiction treatments, hypnotherapy can be especially useful as it is my experience that those people who struggle with relapse are often impeded by the fact that although they have a desire to avoid the consequences of their addiction, and on a conscious level, the desire to stop using drugs or alcohol, on a subconscious level that decision has still not been made.
Experience shows that failure to recover from addiction is not a moral failing. There is no lack of will-power. It is simply that will-power is unable to resolve the problem. The act of surrender that Tiebout describes renders will-power redundant, as there are no longer parts of us that are in conflict regarding the value of the object of our addiction.
Alcoholics Anonymous. (1935). New York City, N.Y.: Works Publishing / Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Tiebout, H. (1950). The Act of Surrender in the Treatment of the Alcoholic. Pastoral Psychology, [online] 1(2), pp.32-41. Available at: http://silkworth.net/pages/tiebout/tiebout_surrender.php.
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