A man came to see me a little while ago, he was healthy, reasonably well off, had a successful career a in commerce , but he was deeply troubled. His problem seemed simple, he was approaching 60 and while this in itself did not cause him too many concerns, he was being pressurized by family and friends to have a party. He explained that while has was not the world’s greatest party animal he enjoyed social gatherings unless they related to him. He had never had a birthday party in his life, not even his 21st, – he had no desire to have a birthday party and the thought of arranging one or worse still having one arranged for him brought him out in a cold sweat. He felt that as far as his own parties were concerned he had a party phobia.
He realized that this was not a rational reaction for a man of his age and while he did not necessarily want to be “cured” he did want to understand why he felt like this.
Under hypnosis he revealed that he had in fact once had a birthday party, when he was three years old. However, due to an outbreak of influenza in the area no one came to the party. He could vividly remember being curled up on his mother’s lap crying – feeling hurt and humiliated – because no one had come to his party. He vowed at that point that he would never be made to feel like this again. Shortly afterwards his mother was carried away by the same influenza outbreak. While this was a much more traumatic event, for which he had sought help and had come to terms with, his mothers death had added loss to the feelings arising from the party, but had pushed the event into his sub-conscious.
Recalling the party did not give rise to any great outpouring of emotion, but it did help him understand why he felt like he did. Afterwards he said that understanding why he felt like this did not necessarily make him want to hold a party, but he did at least have a rational explanation as to why he felt like he did and one that he could tell people if he felt the necessity to explain his position.
Often an event in our lives can give rise to a reaction – this is sometimes called an Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE). Other events then occur which add to the reaction of the ISE and while the ISE itself is often forgotten, we are left with a long term “illogical” reaction to something – perhaps a phobia or an allergy.
In many cases the ISE and the reaction are not as closely related as was the case here and frequently the reaction may be much greater than simply not wanting to hold a birthday party but regardless hypnosis can be a powerful tool to help you understand why you feel and react like you do.