What is the difference between neurosis and psychosis? Let us start by defining neurosis and psychosis.
Neurosis is a broad term rarely used by therapists and psychologists these days. However, it does have some value to hypnotherapists. Broadly, neurosis can be said to be a mental problem in which the suffer is in touch with reality. Often this appears as a logical – emotional dissonance. This means the suffer can tell you that their behaviour is inappropriate but feel it is beyond their control. Typical examples would include;
- Phobia’s – in which the sufferer knows that the trigger for the phobia is not dangerous.
- Obsessions – where the obsessed know that they are over focused but cannot break out of that.
- Extreme Habits – the sufferer may be able to identify the habit as unpleasant, but they are unable to take control of it.
- Twitches and ticks – where the afflicted cannot control the muscles involved but there is no identifiable physical problem.
With neurosis there is an implication that some life event or problem is influencing the problem. This may not always be true as a life event may have initiated the problem behaviour but it may now be a habit.
Neurosis is the most serious level of mental health issue a hypnotherapist may deal with. Psychosis (see below) are contraindicated for hypnotherapy.
is a general term used to describe any set of symptoms where the sufferer is thought to be out of touch with external reality. This may be due to any number of factors such as organic brain impairment or long term stress. Symptoms of psychosis include
- Severe lack of insight or self-awareness.
If you have any concerns that a potential patient may be out of touch with reality refer them on to a doctor.
So what are contraindications ?
Essentially a contraindication is a reason NOT to do something. So in the medical world, which is where we get the term from, a good example would be:
- Drug X is for migraines, but also lowers blood pressure.
- The patient has migraines, but also has low blood pressure.
- because Drug X is likely to further lower the patients blood pressure and thus put them at risk it should not be prescribes. Drug X is contraindicated for patients with Low blood pressure.
What are contraindications for hypnotherapists?
Hypnotherapy is a relatively safe intervention. Many hypnotists will argue that hypnosis is an entirely normal process, no more dangerous than falling asleep. However, there is the issue of how hypnosis is induced and what is done once a client is in hypnosis.
What are the general contraindications for the use of hypnosis ?
Most hypnotherapists agree that it is unwise to work with people who are in states of psychosis. This means that they have a problem which causes them to be out of touch with reality. Psychosis may include hallucinations, grandiose beliefs, paranoia.
There is discussion around people with epilepsy which occurs when they fall asleep. The process of hypnosis may be related to the state change from being awake to asleep. As a rule with people with epilepsy which is triggered by falling asleep I recommend extreme caution, ask about their medication and how stable they are on their medication, inform them of the facts and when it doubt refer to your professional body .
What are the specific contraindications for the use of hypnotherapy ?
The most common contraindications which come up in therapy are for a particular type of client with a particular type of technique. For example;
- Eye tiring inductions should not be used with people with eye pain, strain or glaucoma.
- Arm based techniques (limb heaviness, arm levitation) should not be used with people arm pain, strain or joint problems.
- Body focused techniques ( muscle relaxation, body scan inductions) should be avoided with people who have conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and panic attacks where there is a tendency to monitor the body for symptoms.
These are but a few examples, and others will be flagged up in technique specific videos. The rule of thumb is think about what you are doing, use your common sense and when in doubt play it safe!
Author – Matt Krouwel is a hypnotherapist in Birmingham (UK). He is also the course leader for the West Midlands School of Clinical Hypnotherapy