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The Fish Tank


Carol was a 35-year old single mother living with her 8-year old daughter. Carol had for years been suffering from what was thought to be a recurrent depressive disorder. Antidepressant never made any impact, and it was like Carol was carrying an inner sadness, perhaps finding the roots far away back in to the past. When I met her at the PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) she suddenly became keen to try hypnosis. Cognitive behaviour therapy and counselling had never managed to give her any true healing.

This is a transcript and condensation of two successful sessions which helped Carol to understand the source of her chronic depression. Her closest friend and the father of her child witnessed this transformation, and despite his scepticism against hypnotherapy, he gave account of what he saw as a truly remarkable recovery. Following her sessions she was able to transform these negative energies and release herself from fear, created by her father’s constant physical abuse of herself and her mother. The PICU staffs were all stunned by this rapid transformation.

“I am 5 years old…we are moving…moving house….it’s exciting because we are bringing the wall down…”.

“The wall….what is that?”

“It’s underneath the fish tank. We are bringing these fishes with us. Oooops, one is naughty and he jumped out of the tank…he’s running away…..we put him in to a plastic bag.  The tank is so big that you can swim inside….”.

“Can you swim?”

“Of course not. I am only 5 years old.”

Then suddenly Carol went to a serious incident with her father. She was 10 years old and her father was angry and threatening.

“He is holding a knife…he is so angry….I am so scared…that he will kill me….I grab the knife but he cuts my hand. My mother comes home and she knows. She is used of being abused all the time. He thump her, kick her body, drag her hair and threaten to kill her…it’s awful. This is my father.”

Then suddenly without any notice, Carol was 23 years old, and she vividly described how she was driving furiously towards her parent’s home. Her mother had told her that she had been beaten again.

“I run in towards my father. I grab him by his throat and push him towards the wall. Then I tell him that if you ever again touch my mother I will cut your throat off. Then I leave. I am proud of myself.”

“What did he do?”

“Nothing. He just froze and he never touched her again!”

Carol was so affected by her encounter with the past that she rapidly transformed in to a person more present a alive than ever. She had kept these traumatic incidents hidden in her unconscious self. Later the same day, she called her mother who confirmed the story about the fish tank.

In order for past traumas to be fully released, the exact details sometimes have to be elicited by the therapist with all the precision of a surgeon removing shrapnel from the tissue of a bomb victim. The deep hypnotic stage transforms emotions, physiology and cognition. The imagery process challenges thinking and our sense of control. Hypnotherapeutic sessions suddenly disclose processes that are usually protected by barriers of consciousness. The price Carol paid for not knowing was anxiety and depression. All that has changed now. She is happy again!

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