Despite the name of this therapy – ‘VISUALIZATION ‘ – it involves not just the visual sense, but can also make use of the other four senses (touching, tasting, hearing, smelling).
The therapy involves USING and DEVELOPING our IMAGINATION. It is called ‘visualization’ only because most people find it easiest to imagine SEEING IMAGES IN THEIR MIND’S EYE, compared to using the other senses imaginatively (although this is not true of everyone, of course).
INTERNAL STIMULI VERSUS EXTERNAL STIMULI :
Because this therapy makes use of our power of imagination, it relies on internally generated stimuli as opposed to externally generated stimuli. In this context, we can define these terms in the following manner:
– internally generated stimuli : something that we imagine happening to us
– externally generated stimuli : something that actually does happen to us
SIMILARITIES IN OUR EMOTIONAL AND BIOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO THESE TWO TYPES OF STIMULI :
VISUALIZATION THERAPY can be so powerfully effective because the way we humans respond to vividly imagined events can closely mimic the way in which we would respond, both emotionally and biologically, if the imagined event were actually happening.
I present some examples below:
If we intensely fear something that
might happen to us, it can feel as bad to us as it would if the feared event actually did happen to us, or, quite possibly, worse. For example, people who commit crimes often describe living in fear of the police knocking on their door ; this can force them to live in such a protracted state of anxiety, with its myriad mental and physical symptoms, that it actually comes as a relief when they finally are arrested.
2) PLACEBO EFFECT:
If a person is given a ‘dummy’ pill, but believes it to be the real thing (eg they are told that the dummy pill is a highly effective headache cure), then the fake pill can be as effective at reducing the symptoms of the headache as the genuine medication. The BELIEF that the pill is real causes the brain to respond in the same way as it would have done to the real tablet.
I remember learning about an impressive study on the power of hypnosis when I was studying for my first degree in psychology at the University of London.
The study demonstrated that if people who have an allergy to a particular plant leaf are hypnotised, close their eyes and are told that the back of their hand is being rubbed with the plant leaf to which they are allergic (when, in fact, it is, in reality, a plant leaf which is completely harmless to the hypnotised individual) some will develop an allergic reaction ( a rash) all the same.
This is because the power of their (erroneous) belief causes their brains/minds/bodies to respond identically to the harmless leaf as they would have done to the harmful leaf.
4) THE FAMOUS EXAMPLE OF THE SUB- FOUR MINUTE MILE:
Before Roger Bannister, nobody had run a sub-four minute mile and it was widely believed to be beyond man’s physiological capabilities. However, Roger Banister used visualization as part of his training regime and repeatedly saw himself, in his MIND’S EYE, achieving this so far elusive goal.
After he succeeded in running the mile in under four minutes, many other runners also did so soon afterwards. This is because, it is theorised, after Roger Bannister’s achievement there was a change in top runners’ mindsets: previously they had believed running a mile in under 4 minutes was impossible, but now they believed it was possible.
Changing their beliefs changed their performance. They had overcome a self-imposed psychological barrier.
5) VISUALIZATION IN RUGBY:
Johnny Wilkinson, the England rugby star, used visualization when taking his kicks : he imagined a coke can placed on the other side of the goal posts which he had to hit.
Over 800 instantly downloadable hypnosis audios from which to choose. Click HERE.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).