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27 Apr 2004

dreams and hypnosis
Is it possible to remenber things that happend to you when you were small if you go under hipnosis? I sometimes dream that i have sex with my father and i am uncomfortable when het tries to hug me or kiss me goodbye? i desperatly want to know if this is normal and is it normal if i suspect that he has touched me when i was younger. This bothers me very much and i dont know i there is something wrong with ME or is it normal behaviour?
I remember 2 incidents where he touched me, but i think i am making a big deal out of nothing, and i need your opinion please? What can i do to get over this thing?
thanks for your help..
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

debbie, the answer is NO. Hypnosis is unable to help us recover any accurate memories of long past events. Worse than that, it makes you so highly suggestible, that if the person doing it with you expects you to find "memories" of being singed by a dragon, you are likely to quite soon remember meeting a dragon in the garden, and being toasted by its fiery breath. So it can perhaps occasionally help you to recall some scraps of accurate memories, but so mixed with fantasies and expectations, and "memories" of things that definitely did NOT happen, that the mixture is completely unreliable.
We know that incest occurs, and that some fathers do on occasion act sexually inappropriately towards their children, which is wicked, and that most fathers do not do so. We know that dreams are also a highly unreliable guide to anything that actually happened ( last night I dreamed I was hired by a top Hollywood studio to write the next Jack Nicholson movie, which I can assure has NOT actually happened !). We know that some people occasionally dream of having sex with a parent, or a film star, or of a parent killing them. In the last two examples we know these events definitely did NOT happen, and we have no great reason to believe that the first did, either.
Some parents are awkward about being cuddly, so we feel odd when we embrace them. Some of us feel uneasy at such embraces -- whether or not there has been any earlier improper conduct. If we were touched inappropriately, we may or may not have been upset at the time.
In fact, although some very unhappy people have definitely been abused or molesed when they were children, many are just as miserable, and have definitely NOT been abused ; and some people who were badly abused show no symptoms or problems at all. Indeed, there are no particular signs or symptoms in later life that reliably suggest whether or not we were abused.
And also, much depends on our age at the time of the possible incident --- normally, we remember little or nothing of whatever happeed in our first 3 or 4 years --- not because anything nasty happeed, but because our brain system for remembering things, is not functioning normally before around that age.
Most people who were molested, remember it clearly throughout their lives --- not necessarily because they consider it highly important to them ( some do, some dont) but because here is no normal mechanism for pushing such events beyond our ability to recall them, just as there is no normal mechanism for bringing such recollections back. We generally choose not to think about it and often don't try to remember any unpleasant earlier events, because it's not useful to us in our everyday lives, to do so.
I'm nor sure whether you really have a "thing" to get over. I wonder whether you may have been reading some of the exagerated and inaccurate articles or books which have been written in recent years, which cause much msery and grief, by insisting that nearly all of us have been abused ( not true, fortunately ) and that somehow our memories of such events get "repressed" making us unable to remember them ( probably untrue, definiely nuntrue in almost all cases ) amd that there is supposed to be some marvellous benefits achieved by using various trick ways to "remember" such events ( absolutely not true and dangerous quackery).
Therapy or counselling that concentrates on trying to get you to "recover" memories of earlier unpleasant events is sheer dangerous quackery that can cause enormous harm, and has absolutely no good evidence that it ever does any good ( except for improving the bank balance of the "therapist" !).
If you are troubled in some way in your present daily life, it is worth seeing a balanced therapist or counsellor NOT one who specializes in issues of memory-hunting ) and to work on your current problems, not on digging into the past. Inflating some mild unease ( you don't have to embrace your dad much if at all, whatever the reasons for your queasiness ) can create a major problem which doesn't need to exist.
We are never doomed to be eternal victims of whatever happned to us in the past --- we can control the past by controlling how we choose to label and identify those past events, and especially by the conclusions we choose to draw from them and the meanings we choose to attach to them.

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