SPOTLIGHT ON HYPNOSIS: Infertility and the Law of Reversed Effect
By Jimmy Eldred Quast
Whenever I think about hypnosis in regard to women’s health, I invariably remember two unusual doctors whose independent contributions to the field of hypnosis were, and are, truly inspiring. One, William S. Kroger, was a psychiatrist and a pioneer in hypnosis and psychosomatic medicine. The other, David B. Cheek, was a gynecologist and obstetrician whose use of hypnosis was so advanced that it will probably take many years for the rest of the world to fully appreciate what he accomplished. Much of their work was presented to me as required learning during a significant portion of my own formal hypnotherapy training. I am limiting today’s discussion to the topic of infertility.
Many obstetricians and therapists believe that stress may be the main cause of infertility. Some of the best evidence for this comes from the common scenario in which a couple eventually adopts a child after much effort to have one of their own. Frequently such a couple will conceive within months of the adoption. This is an exquisite example of the Law of Reversed Effect. Simply stated, the more willful attention one gives to overcoming a problem, the more one empowers the problem. Another way of saying it is, we seem to never get enough of what we really don’t want. The harder you try to make yourself remember a word or a name, or to fall asleep for that matter, the less chance you have of succeeding.
Dr. Kroger tells of having several cases over the years in which he diagnosed, incorrectly, a woman as having blocked tubes. Naturally, after the mistaken diagnosis, the women stopped trying to get pregnant. By letting go of their stressful effort and worry, their tubes relaxed and before long they became pregnant.
As I have said many times in other articles, stress is a chemical process within the body. Dr. Bruce Lipton’s work at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin has demonstrated that the high levels of adrenaline accompanying stress actually render us sterile for as long as the state of stress lasts. We humans are fully capable of maintaining our stress nearly 24 hours a day. Of course that is not an ability we should brag about, because it puts our health in considerable jeopardy. In regard to sterility, stress can produce it in both women and men. Stress, aka the fight or flight response, is nothing more than our bodies getting ready to either fend off, or run away from, an external threat. In order to conserve as much energy as possible to meet the impending threat, our bodies automatically shut down many internal systems that aren‘t necessary for fighting or fleeing, including digestion, cell replacement, immune response, and reproduction. Unfortunately the same things happen when a woman gets stressed out about her inability to conceive. It can become even worse when she and her husband start subjecting themselves to all sorts of unpleasant (stressful) procedures and interventions to solve the problem.
Kroger developed the technique of telling his infertile patients, under hypnosis, “Do not deliberately try to get pregnant.” He took the point even further by telling them to “assume that you cannot conceive.” The other part of his technique was to either teach these women self-hypnosis or to set up post-hypnotic cues which they could use to quickly relax their body and mind, whenever they need to dial down their stress response. Nowadays, this is very basic hypnosis - the kind any hypnosis student is taught in their initial trainings.
David B. Cheek found that analytical hypnosis could be used to reveal unrecognized disharmonies, within his patients’ deeper mental processes, that not only could cause infertility but also could cause many other common pathologies within the field of women’s health. A book that he wrote, with co-author Ernest L. Rossi, called “MIND -BODY THERAPY, Methods of Ideodynamic Healing in Hypnosis,” is my all-time favorite textbook. I recently designed a course based upon it for the new American Holistic University in Virginia. <www.AHUonline.us> .
Dr. Cheek had an amazing track record using hypnosis to overcome infertility in his patients, and to help women achieve normal births after multiple miscarriages. One of his most amazing contributions was his discovery that problems like infertility and miscarriage can be the result of trauma experienced during the patient’s own gestation period, birth, and infancy. Such events cannot be remembered consciously, of course. Nevertheless Dr. Cheek demonstrated many hundreds of times that such forgotten events can have an inexplicable and obviously frustrating effect on some women. I know of no other tool besides hypnosis that can be thoughtfully and deliberately used to ferret out such information and actually relieve the resulting problems through deeper understanding.
David Cheek was surely a genius and William Kroger was a fearless innovator, but the things they taught me and many others are relatively simple. Hypnosis is the power of suggestion. It happens to every one of us every day. It starts happening even before we are born. It happens to us either wittingly or unwittingly. It can either program us beneficially or to our detriment. Kroger once said, “Just as no one has a monopoly on faith, no one has a monopoly on hypnosis.” It can neither be patented nor outlawed, though a few misguided individuals have tried. It would behoove us all to learn more about it and make positive use of it.
Note: hypnosis for medical issues may require a physician’s referral.