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Hypnotherapy to Treat Traumas in Bullying Victims–Is It Possible?

Kelly Yeomans (1984–1997), age 13, an English schoolgirl from the Derby suburb of Allenton, became widespread news when the cause was blamed on bullying to which she had been subjected by other local children.

She was reported to be the victim of repeated harassment and taunting, particularly about her weight.

Hamed Nastoh (1985–2000), age 14, Afghan-Canadian high school student who committed suicide by jumping off the Pattullo Bridge due to bullying.

Rebecca Ann Sedwick (2000–2013), age 12, American middle school student who committed suicide by jumping due to bullying. Sedwick was a seventh grader at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, Florida. Sedwick was cyberbullied and bullied in person for one and a half years.

All those names above belonged to bullying victims around the world that took matter onto their own hands and decided to kill themselves one way or another.

All those names above belonged to teenagers, who had their future destroyed in such a young age, due to a monstrous practice that has sadly been happening around the world for centuries, and is not showing any sign of a stop, if not the contrary.

You might have heard about a thing called cyber bullying; which is what happens when bullies meet the internet.

Cyber or conventional ways aside, let’s talk about this first: what is bullying, really?

According to our friends over the net, bullying is the use of force, coercion, or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception (by the bully or by others) of an imbalance of physical or social power. This imbalance distinguishes bullying from conflict; the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally.

When exposed to continuous bullying by their peers, teenagers are at a big risk of having suicidal thoughts. As we may have realized from the data above, the majority of people who killed themselves were only in their teenage years; which we imagine must have been so hard to their friends and family.  So why are these young people so prone to suicide? Let’s first agree on what the term itself means.

The word suicide, as defined by the sociologist Emile Durkheim, applies to ‘all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result’.

A person’s risk of committing suicide can be increased by a number of demographic and social risk factors. Demographic risk factors for suicide include being male; being relatively young; and being single, widowed, or separated or divorced. Social risk factors for suicide include being unemployed, insecurely employed, or retired; having a poor level of social support as is often the case for the elderly, prisoners, immigrants, refugees, and the bereaved; and having been through a recent life crisis such as losing a close friend or relative or being the victim of physical or sexual abuse.

People with a psychiatric disorder who are resistant to their prescribed medication or non-compliant with it are also at a higher risk of suicide, as are people experiencing certain specific symptoms such as delusions of persecution, delusions of control, delusions of jealousy, delusions of guilt, commanding second person auditory hallucinations (for example, a voice saying ‘Take that knife and kill yourself’), and passivity which is the feeling that one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions are under the control of an external agency.

Physical illness can also increase the risk of suicide, and this is particularly the case for physical illnesses that are terminal, that involve long-term pain or disability, or that affect the brain. Examples of such physical illnesses include cancer, early-onset diabetes, stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. The only thing that they still had some control over was whether they lived or died, and committing suicide seemed like the only option left. This is never true.

Some of the thoughts that may accompany suicidal thoughts include:
• I want to escape my suffering.
• I have no other options.
• I am a horrible person and do not deserve to live.
• I have betrayed my loved ones.
• My loved ones would be better off without me.
• I want my loved ones to know how bad I am feeling.
• I want my loved ones to know how bad they have made me feel.

Despite a huge number of teenage suicide victims that are caused by bullying all around the world, somehow we still don’t have any clue about why it happened at the first place. Whenever there’s a terrible case of bullying in the news, people wonder, “How could this happen?” and “Why didn’t these kids come forward earlier to stop this?” There are no easy answers to these questions. In part, kids say nothing out of fear—because they don’t want to be the next one targeted! But here are some of the beliefs and psychological processes that can lead kids to turn a blind eye to bullying.

  • Belief 1: “Everyone one else is okay with this bullying, so I’ll be weird if I don’t go along with it.” Research tells us that adolescents tend to overestimate how comfortable their peers are with bad behavior. Psychologists call this pluralistic ignorance. Adolescents usually hate to feel “weird” compared to their peers, so boys, in particular, are likely to shift their attitudes in the direction of what they think everyone else believes. Whether it’s heavy drinking, hooking up, or bullying, we can end up with everyone doing something that no one really wants to do.
  • Belief 2: “It’s not my job to stop this bullying.” Psychologists call it diffusion of responsibility, when everyone assumes that someone else will intervene. In general, the bigger the group of bystanders, the less likely people are to intervene to help someone in need. But we know from research that intervention from bystanders—either speaking up directly, if it’s safe to do so, or informing responsible adults—is key to stopping bullying.
  • Belief 3: “This doesn’t count as bullying.” Rationalizationsare things we say to ourselves to excuse bad behavior. They could include comments such as: “I survived it, so it’s not that bad.” “He deserves it, because he’s weird (or younger).” “She did something worse than I did, so what I did isn’t so bad.” “I was getting even. He did something to me, first.” “We were just joking around.” You may want to mention some of these common rationalizations, and see if your child can explain why they don’t excuse cruel behavior.
  • Belief 4: “This bullying too awful to be true.”  This is simple denial. Sometimes we just don’t want to believe things that shake our assumptions about our kids, our community, or even our world. We expect bullies to be kids who are bad all the time, but they’re usually not. Kids think, “I couldn’t possibly be a bully!” or “My friends would never do that!”

If you have a teenage daughter, son, niece, nephew, grandchild, or even a friend that is being bullied, you have to start taking a serious step before it’s all too late. Since bullying leaves a severe trauma to the victims, you need to treat it as one.

One option for the treatment of trauma is hypnosis. A number of studies have recently come out showing the help that hypnosis can provide when treating trauma.

The 2009 study published in the journal Bulletin de la Societe des Sciences Medicales du Grand Duche de Luxembourg found that patients treated with a blend of Ericksonian Hypnosis and EMDR techniques showed a marked decrease of PTSD symptoms than those patients treated by more traditional methods.

Part of these results may also be linked to an early diagnosis of trauma by their primary care physician. Successful diagnosis of trauma is key, followed by careful, innovative treatment tailored to each particular patient.

One of the most difficult aspects of experiencing a traumatic event or events is that the impact of trauma can affect a person’s life months and years after the event occurred and that the difficulties that arise manifest and interfere with everyday life.

Consequently, people do not realize that negative emotions, problems in relationships, and low self-esteem are oftentimes directly related to previous traumatic experiences. In essence, the longer and harder people ignore traumatic events, the longer traumatic memories will control and affect their lives in more negative ways.

Practitioners have been using a combination of hypnosis, mindfulness, and exposure therapy techniques to help people suffering from psychological trauma caused by any kind of trauma or distressing event. Their approach focuses on helping people reduce the impact and the symptoms associated with trauma. Their practice incorporates techniques that help clients gently confront and work through difficult memories and experiences, while also learning to live more fully in the present moment in order to regain control over their lives.

This approach utilizes hypnosis to help clients explore their unconscious to finally understand the relationship between their past trauma and current psychological distress, which ultimately allows them to free themselves from these painful memories.

This does not mean using hypnosis to re-experience memories, as is often portrayed in the media, but instead, using the calming properties of hypnosis to help a person diminish the anxiety associated with the trauma while using therapy to move forward with their lives. Research shows that facing the memories of the event in a safe and controlled therapeutic environment can drastically reduce individuals’ symptoms and allow them to begin living their life and feeling like themselves again.

Our Hypnotherapy service involves trustful and experienced practitioners in the field and the doors are always open for anyone in need of help; be it physical, or, in this case mental. Call us for more information and book an appointment as soon as needed; let’s save our loved ones from being another name on the list. Stay healthy, stay safe!