Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fluid nature of memory explains success of hypnotherapy in overcoming phobias

Memories are not held securely in the brain.  Every time they are recalled to consciousness they have to be re-installed, thus allowing the possibility of memory change in the process. (New Scientist 3 May 2003). This was followed by the following comment on 24 May:

The model of memory recall in which a consolidated memory becomes fluid when recalled and may then be reconsolidated in an altered form helps explain the success that hypnotherapy and neurolinguistic programming achieve in removing entrenched phobias, often in single sessions. The therapist guides the patient in a relaxed state to recall the circumstances linked to fear, in a way that avoids the fear reaction - for example, by visualising the situation as a distant picture, or a film that can be run backwards and forwards, chopped up and destroyed. The memory may be altered by adding someone the patient trusts, or by associating it with funny music. An imaginative therapist conjures up many ways of removing the fear and a wide variety of phobias may be removed by these seemingly simple techniques.  Fear of flying, motorways or meeting people seem more common these days than the traditional spider phobia, but all are removed by reconsolidation of the memory

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