Friday, June 30, 2017

Thoughts of the Day

Photo by Sara Fogan

     Every now and then I like (and need) to take a few moments and remind myself about what is really important to me, in my life. If you follow me on my Calminsense Hypnotherapy Facebook page you may have seen some of these quotes before on this page, or will in the future. Many of these Quotes of the Day are beautiful examples and illustrations of the work I do as a hypnotherapist, so I will probably draw on them in future essays.

  • “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.” Calvin Coolidge
  • “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” Thomas Edison
  • “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu
  • “Don’t be eye candy, be soul food.” – Nina Dobrev
  • “Something is only impossible until you do it.” – Bille Baty
  • “Values are revealed when times are toughest.” – Lolly Daskal
  • “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” – John Milton Cage Jr
  • “The voice in your head that says you can’t do this is a liar.” – Bruce Van Horn

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit

© 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Representation of Food in an Eating Disorder

(This blog was originally posted on April 11, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

According to Dr. John Kepner, a hypnotherapist and expert in treating eating disorders, anorexia nervosa (self-starvation) and bulimia (bingeing and purging) tend to be learned behaviors without an obvious organic cause. However, these syndromes can result in severe physiological consequences, including death. These individuals can also experience extreme levels of depression and high levels of emotional suggestibility (somnambulism), he warned.

Children, adolescents and adults who suffer from these diseases have an uneasy relationship with food, Dr. Kepner observed. On the one hand, food is often associated with nurturing and being loved or cared for during infancy and early childhood, because the primary caretaker is fulfilling this basic survival requirement. On the other hand, the individual may experience separation anxiety and even suffer generalized anxiety if the parent or primary caretaker does not love or take care of the person.

Social pressures and expectations to be slim can also influence these behaviors, such as the frequent emphasis society and the media places on being thin as the “ideal” physique. The majority of the population does not look the way people are seen in movies, on television and in fashion advertisements. However, someone who has one of these eating disorders will tend to process this message to an extreme degree and is already hyper-suggestible to these messages. Ultimately, Dr. Kepner warned, the person starts to believe that achieving this ideal super-skinny shape or low weight is a panacea for all his or her emotional problems, such as resolving fear of abandonment issues or finding a loving partner.

In this person’s mind, food becomes an “enemy” whereby the idea of food/eating leads to getting fat and will result in being unloved. This trans-logic process would evoke anxiety about food or eating, thus inducing the person to simply not eat (anorexia) or induce vomiting or use diuretics and laxatives to get rid of any sustenance (bulimia) that has been ingested. Needless to say, “Anorexics and bulimics rarely seek hypnosis for fear of being revealed or made to gain weight,” said Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder Dr. John Kappas.

If a client does come in for therapy, a good starting point for this process is to “start moving the client to physical suggestibility, to come outside herself and get control over her symptoms, said Dr. Kepner. It is important to get the client to accept suggestions about gaining weight in hypnosis and in cognitive therapy, Dr. Kappas added.

In order to work with a person who has anorexia nervosa or bulimia in hypnosis, the hypnotherapist must refer this client to a licensed medical doctor or mental-health professional for treatment, Dr. Kappas said. With a referral from an appropriate licensed professional to make this diagnosis and for treatment, the hypnotherapist may also work with the client to help to increase the person’s self-confidence/self-esteem, support compliance with recommended treatment regimens, etc., through hypnosis and therapeutic guided-imagery techniques. Hypnosis and therapeutic-guided imagery strategies can also facilitate the client's compliance with recommended treatment regimens, etc., and encourage the client and his or her family to work with the mental-health expert to resolve Family Systems issues.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
© 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How This Snickers® Ad Got It (Sort of) Right

(This blog was originally posted on February 18, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

You probably laughed when you saw the Marsha Snickers Ad on television during the 2015 Super Bowl. I sure did—and not just because it was a brilliant spoof of how the oldest, “perfect” Brady Bunch daughter/sister might have had a melt-down because she got too hungry. The sketch is perfect in its 1970s retro feel, with the ever-patient Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) placating her cranky daughter with the following suggestion: “Marsha, eat a Snickers.”
“Why?” Cranky Marsha (Danny Trejo) demands.
“Because you get a little hostile when you’re hungry,” Mrs. Brady explains. After just one bite, Cranky Marsh transforms back into Cute Marsha (Maureen McCormick).
“Better?” Mrs. Brady asks with a knowing smile.
“Better!” Cute Marsha says with a grin.
Did this ad hit home for anyone else? Do you ever feel cranky or get overly frustrated when you are hungry? If so, you are not alone. Hunger—which is the most obvious “symptom” of low blood sugar—can also be accompanied by a variety of other physiological and psychological responses. As I explained in my blog titled What Do You Eat?, nutrition plays a huge role in how we perceive and respond to events in our environment.
Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D. observed that low blood-sugar levels can exacerbate or even cause a person’s presenting problem (behavior or belief). For example, a sudden drop in blood sugar can trigger physical symptoms such as shaking, light-headedness and feeling tired, or even psychological symptoms such as depression, paranoia, irritability and memory problems. Furthermore, Dr. Kappas found an association between a person’s low blood-sugar levels and fluctuating suggestibility with the onset of a phobic response. This (irritability) reaction is illustrated in the advertisement when Cranky Marsha threatens to strike her sister with an axe for punching her in the nose. The script implies that with the candy in her system because she is no longer hungry, Marsha will calm down to the point of being coolly dismissive of her sister; or, at least she would no longer want to attack poor Jan with an axe.
I have to hand it to the creators of this ad: they were very clever to associate increased/decreased emotional volatility with hunger and tie the amelioration of this reaction with eating their product. There is certainly no doubt that eating something when we are hungry makes us feel better and more like our normal selves. However, if the food source is high in sugar and other carbohydrate sources as a candy bar no doubt is, this relief will be short-lived. Once the initial sugar boost wears off, we will likely in the same situation.
Consequently, when I work with my hypnotherapy clients, regardless of their therapeutic goal, one of the first things I explain is the role of good nutrition and how what they eat can affect how they behave and think. For example, while the peanuts in a Snickers® bar are a good source of protein, the sugar and many other ingredients that make this item so tasty undermine the healthy “benefit” the manufacturers might promote. Conversely, that handful of peanuts would be a great snack on their own because these legumes are a good source of protein that will help to assuage hunger and reduce moodiness and anxiety.
For more information about how nutrition affects mood and behavior, and other practical techniques to help reduce anxiety, I invite you to read my blogs titled The Origins of Fears and Phobias and Irritability.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
© 2017