How to do Therapy: A Gumby Show Example [Video]

This clip from the Gumby Show episode “The Rodeo King. Pokey acquires the delusion that he is his favorite TV character, Buster Bronc, and Prickle — “that’s Doctor Prickle” — shows the attitude of any good therapist by immediately trying something else when his first attempt doesn’t work. In the clip:

  • Pokey tries modifying the patient’s environment first.
  • When that doesn’t work, he switches to hypnosis.
  • When this, too, fails, he “prescribes the symptom.”

This brief clip from a children’s TV show in 1957 demonstrates a can-do attitude and a flexibility of method that is not always found in today’s therapists!

But we all knew that Gumby was special.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Do This

A man came in to see me to stop smoking, and after the first session, he reported, “It didn’t work. As soon as I left the building, I wanted to see if I could still smoke, so I lit up a cigarette. And I still could.”

He would have agreed that an alcoholic client probably shouldn’t keep a hip flask on his person at all times, and a sex addict shouldn’t leave a hypnosis session escorted by a couple of hookers! That would be silly. There’s a difference between falling off the wagon and jumping off.

Fortunately, most people already know this, so a smoking cessation client isn’t surprised when asked to bring in any remaining cigarettes so we can dispose of them. Hypnosis adds the power of suggestion to your existing powers of willpower and resolution, and it can do this quickly, but not so quickly that it’s wise to douse ourselves in steak sauce and walk into the lion’s den! Continue Reading...

Why Some Bad Memories Keep Hurting While Others Fade Away

47434667 - beach, wave and footprints at sunset timeWhy do some bad memories stay with us while others fade away? I remember that, when I had my wisdom teeth out, it was a deeply painful and unpleasant experience, one that made me wince whenever I thought about it. But as time passed, the wince-worthy feelings faded. I still remember that day clearly enough, but now it’s almost as if it happened to someone else. The remembered pain has faded away, leaving the memories of the sights and sounds and smells and thoughts intact. Where did my pain go?

Perhaps it’s one of the responsibilities of the unconscious mind to let painful memories go, after first absorbing the meaning of the painful event and learning from it, preserving the learnings and then letting the pain go,  its task complete?

Pain, like unpleasant feelings, has its uses. It gets your attention and encourages you to stop! And vividly remembered pain can remind you not to do it again. But how unpleasant it would be if every painful experience were remembered as if it were happening again! So — usually — we learn from the experience and then let the pain go. Usually. Not always. Continue Reading...

Talk to Yourself With Style

Back in the old days, the concept of “self-talk” and “inner monologue” were not widely accepted by the therapeutic community. They just didn’t admit that everyone talks to themselves! So a patient would innocently say things to a psychiatrist like, “I told myself, ‘Don’t do that, you’ll get in trouble,’ but I did’t listen.”

Unbeknownst to the patient, this would set off a a firestorm of activity inside the psychiatrist’s mind. “Talking to himself? That’s an auditory hallucination, isn’t it? No, it isn’t. Yes, it is! That’s means he’s schizophrenic. No, it doesn’t. Yes, it does! Good thing I don’t do that. Yes, I do. No, I don’t! Shut up!”

Fortunately, all the professionals have realized that self-talk is perfectly normal, whether it’s done internally or out loud. Everybody does it. Whew! And in many cases it’s helpful, too. People with a habit of saying, “Let’s see…” while they take in the world around them before deciding what to do next are using the phrase to focus themselves, and that’s good. Continue Reading...