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WZZM 13's Hannah Saunders puts hypnosis to the test with her own resolution

7:52 AM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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WZZM's Hannah Saunders had a problem with snakes

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - We've been hearing more and more stories about people using hypnosis to reach their New Year's resolutions, and since many of you have already quit yours, we decided to look into it.

I went to a local hypnotherapist to find out more about how it works and put my own resolution to the test - getting over my fear of snakes.

"Hypnosis does work," said Dr. Gary Laundre of the American Institute of Hypnosis. He claims to have cured hundreds of people of their phobias, and addictions like smoking, drinking and over-eating. "A lot of people hypnotized for the first time think, (they) didn't really know they were hypnotized. (They) didn't feel weird and heard everything that was said."

Forget what you know of hypnosis from cartoons and carnivals, he says it's more like a relaxation exercise; helping you take down the defensive barriers excusing yourself from your bad habits, to a state where you can better understand why you are the way you are. "To be in that focus, we have to be bypassing the critical thinking of the conscious mind, not the conscious thinking."

Skeptical, I gave Dr. Laundre the biggest test I could think of, curing my deep, debilitating fear of all types of snakes. The session lasted about an hour and a half.

First, he had me think of a situation with snakes which would bother me the most, so I thought of being in the shoes of Indiana Jones, when he's caught in a snake pit in the Raiders of the Lost Arc. Then we did a preliminary exercise where I would touch places on my hands and face while thinking of this situation. He described this as a type of brain stimulation, like acupuncture. Depending on the issues of each patient, the exercises before hypnotism can vary.

Then the hypnosis. I was never fully asleep, but very, very relaxed. He talked me through relaxing every muscle in my body to the point where I had no distractions and I could focus on letting go of the fear without feeling it.

After the session, I was still doubtful, but I did feel better. As we traveled to the John Ball Park Zoo to test if the therapy worked, I no longer felt sick to my stomach about the thought of even seeing a snake.

When I was shown two snakes, a ball python and brown hog-nose, it turned out I was still scared. Although, I was still in the same room, something I could not have done before.

As I took it slow, I began to realize I was always scared of what I didn't know or understand about snakes. Once I started letting myself touch the snake, and feel how, and why they moved the way they did, I stopped sweating so much and felt more in control.

I held both snakes, not for long, but I held them. Just as Dr. Laundre told me it would happen, my phobia turned into more of a cautiousness and curiosity, and not so irrational. Whether it was the hypnosis that did it, a placebo effect, or anything else, I don't care; I'm cured!

Other areas where hypnotherapy can help:

  • Enhancing memory
  • Focusing at work or in class
  • Sports performance
  • Healing
  • Pain management
  • Grief (break-ups or death)

These issues can't always be fixed in one session. He says it's more likely to happen with things you want to quit completely like smoking, but less likely with areas you want to limit, like food intake for weight loss, without completely quiting.

Dr. Laundre admits hypnosis won't work for everyone, but says his success rate is almost 100%. You can contact him at (616) 285-9966 or doctorgl@hotmail.com. His sessions cost around $195 for 90 minutes, and if you ever need to go back for the same issue, it's free.

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