When you finish reading this article, you will quack like a duck. But only if you really want to.
According to Westport-based hypnotist Marcel Klasen, hypnosis -- a relaxed or trance-like state during which one is purportedly able to communicate with one's subconscious mind -- is more than a clichéd magic sideshow: "The perception of hypnosis is that it's used solely for entertainment," Klasen says. "Yes, it can make us laugh and feel good -- because it can do amazing things -- but there are therapeutic applications to it as well." Hypnosis, he adds, is "meditation with an agenda."
"Instead of being one with the universe," says Klasen, hypnosis helps individuals become "one with themselves." And Klasen, a board-certified hypnotist, believes it helps move people beyond perceived limitations in order to achieve real change. He explains that hypnosis is really a form of behavior modification -- on a more rapid-fire scale. Whereas traditional therapy might take months or even years to enact change, "Hypnosis quickly allows people to alter their behaviors by bypassing the 'thinking' part of the mind -- or the re-programmable part that defends behaviors and actions."
But as anyone who's ever fought addiction, bitten his or her nails or struggled with anxiety is quick to tell you, the mind is a stubborn entity, to say the least. For many, the mind seems to need more than a swinging gold watch and a soothing voice to help coax it into change. According to Klasen, who was born and raised in the Netherlands and has lived in Westport for 18 years, an individual's susceptibility to suggestion is actually all in their mind. In fact, a strong indicator of success lies with the motivation of each individual. "Most people who seek help through hypnosis are already well-prepared to do so," says Klasen. They want to re-program that pattern of their subconscious but they need a goal, he says. Without it, hypnosis is literally just a daydream.
Klasen explains that hypnosis is all about helping people to help themselves feel better. To that end, his job is that of "personal trainer to the mind." And just like a personal trainer who can instruct clients about making the most of a treadmill, it is the client, after all, who winds up doing all the legwork. Hypnosis, in Klasen's view, is no different: "I look for the good in people and magnify it, he says. But it is the client who, whether subconsciously or not, makes a decision to alter their behavior. Which, in most scenarios, rarely includes quacking like a duck.
Marcel Klasen will hold a seminar in the McManus room of the Westport Library, Thursday, November 4 at 9:30 a.m. Call (203) 291-4800 for more information.