The Power of Suggestion

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The practice of treating multiple personalities is fraught with the power of suggestion prompted from the practitioner to the client. Some suggestions are obvious and overt such as asking: What happened in your bedroom with your father? Others  are subtle, hinting, for example, that a memory lurks about child sexual abuse. At times, “truth serums” are used to unleash memories. Although this practice is not a prevelant as it was in the late 1980s, it is still used.

Suggestion, particularly when coming from a person in the position of power and trust such as a psychotherapist, doctor, clergy, or teacher, is powerful. It can be used as a tool to keep someone under control or to influence their thoughts and/or behavior. During DID therapy, it leads clients to believe they have different entities within them when indeed no such a phenomenon exists.

Included in this category are examples and explanations of the power of suggestion & techniques used.

Stay tuned.

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15 Comments

  1. Steve

     /  06/03/2011

    Jeanette,

    Sorry. I didn’t realize you’d deleted it and I posted it again. This time it appeared at the top of this post so you might want to remove it again.

    Sorry.

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  2. Back in college, the writing professor was gushing about an earlier class which included a student who said they were a multiple personalty and the techer went on about how this woman had 10 personatlities and they never knew which one would show up and how it was hard to give back the work assignments because they would only accept “their” own work.

    I let her gush a while, then I said “And it didn’t occur to you that it was odd that all these alleged different personalities all knew to show up for the same writing class week after week?”

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  3. V

     /  06/02/2011

    When, many years after the fact, I asked my mother about DID, what she said was, “You know what that was? Those doctors give you drugs and they brainwash you and they make you do things!”

    The drug angle is an interesting one. I definitely think my mom was whacked out on a number of things when she was in therapy for fake-DID.

    Besides drugs, I think the simple therapist attention was what hooked my mom. She was (and is) a desperately lonely woman. Being mentally ill (which she is, although never with DID, which was made up) is very very isolating.

    The doctors made her feel special and like nothing was her fault. That was like crack to her. And then they gave her real drugs. She had no chance against their persuasion I think. She was already very vulnerable and they didn’t need to do much to hook her into a world of fake DID.

    My father had a lot of affairs and implied that it was my mom’s fault because she was fat. My parents’ marriage never seemed to be the subject of therapy though — it was always childhood stuff. I suppose my dad was the one who carried the insurance and if they split up it would have stopped the DID therapists’ insurance-money gravy train.

    Given my dad’s behavior I think it’s somewhat understandable that my mother would get hooked on all the attention from her male doctors. She was so lonely I think.

    I feel sorry for my mom, but at the same time I know that she went through DID high, while I went through it sober and as a child. The diagnosis had certain benefits for her, but those were all things that harmed me and my siblings.

    It is so amazing to me that these DID therapists could take advantage of other human beings the way they did — and mentally ill, fragile, lonely human beings at that. As well as young children. Not to mention the large amounts of taxpayer money they siphoned off into their own pockets. It floors me that people could act this way, just because they think they have special knowledge or because they want insurance money.

    I hope you didn’t have to take too many drugs. They are awful.

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    • Agreed, the need or desire for attention, love, caring, and the undivided devotion of another is powerful. Add drugs to that and you have a perfect cocktail to influence the beliefs and behavior of someone else.

      The point you make about vulnerability is a particularly important one. Most patients are in a needy and hurting place in their lives when they seek therapy. I sure was. I think this is almost a necessary component that makes the “therapeutic alliance” work.

      You asked if I had to take too many drugs? I was on so many medications at such high levels that the nursing staff was amazed I could walk, no less carry on a conversation. You know that once the addiction kicks in, you need more. In Pennsylvania, USA where my treatment took place, the legal limit of sodium amytal that a patient could have in a 24 hour period of time was 1500 mg. I was taking that every day. After time, I was getting 200mg of injections every few hours around the clock. Then there was the Valium. ativan, haldol, and sleepers – other drugs are escaping my memory at the moment.

      The pharmacy at the hospital questioned the doctor’s orders many times, but no none made him stop.

      When I fled therapy, I was still addicted to drugs. The withdrawal was awful – but I got through it by rationing what I had in my medicine closet.

      Once, I was discharged from the hospital and the notes said I was suicidal. Several days later, I counted the number of pills I had in my closet. There were over 400. Sounds like a set up to me. I left the hospital with a prescription too.

      The point to remember, IMHO, is that these “therapists” truly honestly believe they are helping people. The fact that their patients eventually become disabled, tells them that they are doing something right – rather than thinking logically and saying : hum, maybe I should stop this or change something. Their high opinions of themselves and their belief in what they are doing… is what make them DANGEROUS.

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  4. This post has one major flaw, all of it.

    I have no quarrel with objections to any form of suggestion in therapy. However, I also object to the use of “suggestion” in blog posts about “suggestion”.

    For example, in this post your first sentence is a suggestion that is simply not true. It is not fraught at all.

    Since the fact is that there is no need to suggest anything, and the majority of therapy training explicitly warns against any suggestion. All material discussed should come from the client. This is practically a number one rule, not to suggest that abuse has occurred, even in cases where it may seem obvious that it has.

    So the use of suggestion is a concern yes, if it occurs. But therapy is not fraught with it.

    Having made a false but emotive point, a reference to “truth serum” is introduced. Why? Is this to introduce an emotional association to something scary. I have never heard of truth serum being used in the UK, ever.

    Next we are told that suggestion is powerful. If I ever tried it it would be powerful enough to get me punched. Most people are extremely resistant to any suggestions. Try saying “I know how you feel” to any victim, and they will quickly suggest that you dont.

    Then you suggest that DID therapy leads people to believe in it, yet many people know of their DID before coming into a therapeutic setting. So your theory is demonstrably false.

    You refer to “different entities within”, when no one teaches that idea. It is common knowledge that they are one and the same person.

    Then we are told that no such phenomenon exists, when clearly it does. People do spontaneously see and react to the world in different ways, even with different persona, based upon the memory context that they are in at the time.

    I met a teen last week who told me that they started giving names to their friends different parts, as they showed up, at school. No therapists were within 2 miles at the time, however DID is confirmed.

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    • Keith, I strongly urge you to read the professional literature on suggestion.

      Regarding Sodium Amytal and truth serum drugs. You could use some education and reading the literature in this area as well. Personally, I was addicted to the stuff while a patient, and have 15 audio tapes of truth serum interviews – where the drug was administered intravenously.

      MPD is ingrained in Western culture. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of multiple personalities. There are hundreds of groups on Yahoo alone devoted to it. It takes nothing to learn to be multiple.

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    • Hoo boy. The power of suggestion has been pretty effectively proven by advertising and media in general. (And it’s no coincidence that advertising has made extensive use of psychotherapeutic theories.) It works very well on psychologically healthy people on a macro level, so it’s no stretch to see that it can be extremely effective on a one-on-one basis with an inherent power imbalance and an emotionally distressed client.

      Sorry, Keith, but your statement is just plain wrong. Stacks of literature and decades of lived experience by millions contradicts it.

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      • Good point.

        One needs only to look at cult behavior and their leaders to get a clear picture of the power of suggestion. Psychotherapy is no different.

        Like religious cults, psychotherapy for DID usually exhibits some of the following:

        1. there is a person in the position of power and trust & to whom the follower/patient looks to for guidance = Therapist

        2. an ideology = belief in DID, MPD, some related trauma theories, believing that childhood sexual abuse leads directly to multiple personalities, satanic cult conspiracies

        3. cut off contact with family and those who do not agree with the new thinking, beliefs and ideology = control of environment & makes guru/therapist more vital to survival.

        4. give all, possessions, money to guru/therapist = listen only to therapist. Go broke trying to make payments and probably lose job or drop out of school.

        5. surround ones self with only like minded people = join chat forums, read books, listen to tapes, etc. = control of incoming information + mind control

        6. become sleep deprived, physically weak, poor diet = easily manipulated and kept in vulnerable state. Suggestion works wonderfully at this point.

        7. believe you have multiple personalities = thought reform

        8. believe you have been abused based on feelings, memories, hunches or guru/therapist’s clinical experience = thought reform + mind control

        9. believe you were raised in a satanic cult = thought reform

        10. recruit others = support anyone who has similar “symptoms” experiences. Educate about DID without including the controversies or harm done to others. Run groups, blogs, websites exclusive to DIDers.

        11. thinking that you cannot live without your therapist = mind control. It keeps you at the therapist’s side and you become an ally and defender of them and their theories/treatment.

        12. Staying in the relationship for years and years under these extreme conditions = mind control.

        These are simplistic comparisons. As you said, just read about cults – it’s very clear.

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    • Steve

       /  06/03/2011

      Keith,

      There’s no way to tell how many people show up at therapy knowing of their so-called DID. All we have is the word of either patients or therapists, which demonstrates absolutely nothing.

      Maybe the teen you described above has seen US of Tara? There’s more than one way to get silly nonsense in your head here in America.

      If you’re a therapist treating patients with DID they might be better off with a lawyer than they are with you.

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      • @Steve.
        Keith, as do others like him, present scenarios like this where a patient can sustain severe damage because the therapist is obviously not educated in many key areas that are prevalent in DID theories. I’ve asked Keith about his educational and psychological credentials on several occasions and he has evaded answering me. As I’ve expressed to him, anyone can call themselves a minister, therapist, whatever. That is why we continue to get responses like this from people who have beliefs rather than solid training in psychology with proper credentials to treat patients.

        Sooner or later, there may surly be a clash between theories and lawyers in Keith’s case as you mention. Once again, the patient/client will suffer and be left to clean up the mess – as well as other therapists who try to undo the harm their colleagues dole out.

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        • And, I am very concerned about the growing teen population dabbling with DID. The DID scene is intriguing and a way to be different or to stand out – which is what the teen years are all about. They have no idea the intensity of the fire they are playing with. Most of their parents do not know they are hanging out in DID forums and reading DIDers blogs and picking up information and behaviors and in essence learning how to be a multiple. Teens are mimicking behaviors that they read about on the Internet claiming to be losing time, cutting themselves, and naming every thought and feeling and thinking it is another personality.

          This is the power of suggestion at its best. Take a young impressionable mind and mold it into multiple personalities.

          Adults with DID have no business supporting, encouraging, or in any way dispensing information to young people and teens. Teens have no way to ascertain whether or not the information they are getting is solid or bogus. We have a new generation of damaged patients on the rise.

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          • Steve

             /  06/03/2011

            And what will happen when these impressionable teens and others see information like this?

            We have the possibility of McMartin, etc. all over again. How many more innocent people will go to jail? How many more kids and adults damaged for life by the court system and therapists?

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          • @ Steve. I copied your link and then deleted it because I don’t want people going from my site in that manner. If they happen upon it, fine. However, I appreciate the info – I will probably use some of it on this blog elsewhere, but not as a link.

            You know, there are still people out there railing against the McMartin’s and their employees? The McMartin trials were the most expensive in history (if my recall is correct) costing tax payers upward of 15 million dollars. What did they get for their money? Nothing, except plowed up land that was meant to find the non-existent tunnels to torture rooms. That case goes down in history on several counts.

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