Interview with Roberta Temes, Ph.D.
The world-renowned hypnotist and psychotherapist, Dr. Roberta Temes, has helped thousands of people resolve sleep and weight-loss issues. Roberta is the author of 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hypnosis' and editor of 'Medical Hypnosis,' the first medical textbook addressing hypnosis. She is a member of the faculty of SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Q: A good night's sleep is essential for a comfortable and productive day to follow. What are the factors that disturb a person's rest and what can hypnosis do about them?
A: Sleep researchers have determined that there are three different types of insomnia, each with its own cause and solution. Initial insomnia, where you cannot fall asleep, is usually caused by poor sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene consists of the rules to be followed to promote sleep. They include going to bed at the same time each night, staying away from caffeine after noon, relaxing before bedtime, establishing a bedtime ritual, and most importantly, avoiding bright lights in the evening. Exposing yourself to bright lights is the same as taking a stay-awake pill. Initial insomnia also responds to making a thorough to-do list before bed. Whatever is put on paper is put out of your mind. Hypnotic suggestions can easily motivate you to follow all these rules.
People who cannot stay asleep are helped by hypnosis with the following suggestions: Your partner's snoring will sound soothing and put you right back to sleep. If you awaken to use the bathroom, you will immediately fall back asleep when your head touches the pillow. You will ignore all extraneous noises during the night.
These suggestions work because they are offered while the listener is in a hypnotic state and thus his/her critical censor is turned off and he/she is ready to absorb new information and is easily persuaded. No one else is offering these suggestions which are based upon the latest scholarly research and worded in a particularly influential way. Every word uttered on the CD is calculated, tested, and said at exactly the appropriate time with precisely the right emphasis.
People who suffer from early morning wakefulness should consult with a doctor; usually that is a sign of depression and is easily treated with an antidepressant.
Q: Getting to sleep in the first place is an ordeal for many people. How can they just switch off their worries and concerns, and their anticipation (or sometimes fear) of the next day?
A: The hypnotic suggestion to write for twenty minutes at bedtime will switch off worries and concerns by having all fears down on paper, instead of in mind. When the persuasive argument is made that writing about what ails you at bedtime will remove troublesome thoughts and the person in fact does so, there is great relief.
When Beatrice came to my office not knowing whether she needed psychotherapy or hypnosis, because she was tortured by thoughts of her daughter's upcoming wedding to a man she (Beatrice) thought undesirable, I suggested hypnosis not therapy. Beatrice would be able to cope with her disappointment if she were not sleep deprived.
By instructing her, while under hypnosis, to eagerly take pen in hand each night at bedtime and write for 20 minutes no matter if she thought there was nothing to say, I was helping her to approach bedtime with an uncluttered, undisturbed mind and thus easily fall asleep. It worked!
Q: Getting a fat stomach is just so easy to do, as we all love to eat cheese, cakes, chocolate... How could losing that weight possibly be enjoyable?
A: Taste buds are easily altered by hypnosis. Suggesting cravings for broccoli and dislike of junk food is the goal. Losing weight provides an enjoyment of its own if the focus is on the result. Hypnosis eliminates feelings of deprivation, thus it is enjoyable to simply follow a plan and look and feel like a winner.
There is plenty of research about hypnosis being useful for weight loss and it is based upon responding to suggestions about food choices and portion control. It is particularly so when there is an underlying hypnotic suggestion that sticking to the right foods will cause happiness, thinness, and pride.
Q: Doesn't it take tremendous willpower to stick to a regime in the face of temptation?
A: Usually, successful hypnosis eliminates feelings of temptation. But, should those feelings return simply play the CD again and you are once again fully in charge of everything you put into your mouth. That's the advantage of a CD as opposed to going to a practitioner. You can easily play the CD prior to going to a restaurant, or right before Thanksgiving dinner. It will reinforce everything.
Q: Would the effect of hypnosis be to destroy one's enjoyment of a good meal?
A: You will always enjoy eating, food will always taste good, you'll simply adhere to the hypnotic suggestions of choosing healthful foods in appropriate portions. An important suggestion I include in my weight-loss session is: There will be delicious food waiting for you at your next meal so you need not finish everything on your plate if you are no longer hungry.
Q: It seems to me that the hypnotist is simply offering suggestions. Is there an art to choosing these suggestions? And can a suggestion be enough to overcome emotional eating?
A: I thought you'd never ask. Choosing suggestions is an art based upon rigorous science. It is that science that differentiates fair hypnotists from excellent ones. Every word is calculated.
There is plenty of evidence that obese people are at least as mentally healthy as thin people. Most fatties, in fact, are more mentally stable. It's a very, very small percentage of fat people who eat for emotional reasons. This is well documented in the psychiatric literature.
“Being hypnotized by Dr. Roberta has led to two major changes. Now, I eat much more slowly and stop when I’m full, something I never used to do. More importantly, I have sustained an exercise program for two months (a personal record) and look forward to exercising every day—something I never thought would be possible. In the past, if I was exercising on a regular basis but the exercise was interrupted, by illness, for example, I would never resume. Recently, though, I had the flu, and as soon as I felt well enough, I was actually anxious to started exercising again.” --Deena Parker
“I was about 40 pounds overweight and had already tried hypnosis for weight loss before with no results, so I was not optimistic. I have never been able to follow a diet for over 3 weeks, so I decided that this time I would use your CDs in combination with The South Beach Diet and see what happened. It has now been a little over 2 months and I have lost 25 pounds! The best part is that following the diet has been easy this time – it is almost like I can’t NOT follow it.” --Kevin Goodrich
My experience is with the program Enjoying Weight Loss. Roberta guides the listener to have a better understanding of eating and health in general, and to feel strongly motivated to immediately take action and better their present situation. This is done in a pleasant and relaxed way - one doesn't feel in a 'hypnotic trance' particularly, nor under any kind of pressure, but the changes do take place. Listen a few times and one begins to act more consciously in real life, saying "No, thanks," when before one would have eagerly grabbed a second helping.
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