Every now and then I get email inquiries which I delete, but think about later. This is the most recent incident:
Someone wrote to me and wanted to know if I’d hypnotize them to do a [fill in the blank] sex act that they claimed they didn’t actually want to do. Because of certain red flags, I knew this was not a serious client inquiry but a rather wearisome form of sexual harrassment that most women in sexology and sex therapy are familiar with: “the fake client.”
I did what I usually do with such emails. But the reason I’m thinking about it now is that it wasn’t the first time I’ve been approached in this way. Sometimes it’s men (sorry, but it’s always men) who fantasize about wanting to be controlled in hypnosis. If I answer at all, I explain that I don’t do that. I’m a sexologist, not a hypno-domme, but I do teach classes for people who want to play with hypnosis with each other, etc. But other times, people have presented with more complex scenarios and it’s taken longer to understand what they’re about.
In fact, there’ve been a couple of times when a male partner contacts me and presents his female partner as “having a problem.” Though he talks at first as if he’s supportive and caring, his actual agenda has nothing to do with improving the sexual relationship for both of them. His real agenda is that he wants me to “fix her” with hypnosis so that she’ll do [fill in the blank] sex act. And when the male partner realizes I’m not going to “fix” anybody to make them do what they’d rather not do–that’s not what sexuality counseling is about–he usually pulls out (and takes his partner with him). These are often people with consent and boundary deficiencies, to put it mildly. I do try to refer on to an LMFT or other licensed professional, more for the woman’s sake than his, but I’d be surprised if any of those clients have followed up.
Another troubling variation on the “fixing people” theme is when someone wants to be hypnotized to “not be gay anymore” or someone inquires about this on someone else’s behalf. I always explain that (1) this is unethical and (2) won’t work anyway. This is less of a “fake client” gambit, but I mention it here as part of the “fix it by changing me” (or fix that person by changing them) mindset.
A Great Tool, But Not a Quick Fix or a Magic Wand
Hypnosis is great complementary treatment for a lot of things. Its use is supported in medical and psychological literature. In the area of human sexuality, its got great potential for all kinds of inner exploration and healing. But it’s not a quick fix. It’s a process which takes multiple sessions as well as practice between sessions.
Hypnosis can be used to explore origins of sexual shame, guilt, and trauma (it’s good to have a referral to a licensed therapist, if necessary). In some cases, hypnosis can provide a measure of relief from these troubling emotions, as well as self-hypnosis coping skills, and so on.
Hypnosis can be used to explore and create “erotic archetypes” that help a person envision and live into a new pattern of behavior or a new sexual self. It can help boost sexual confidence and self-esteem.
Hypnosis can help a person going through any kind of “coming out” process–by creating stress-reduction and self-esteem suggestions.
As a complementary modality, hypnosis help with certain types of physical problems, but only when medical conditions have been either ruled out or are known and being treated by a doctor or other medical professional. One of my favorite pairings: a client who is seeing a pelvic floor therapist for vaginismus and who also sees me for hypnosis to overcome shame, improve sexual self-image, and so forth.
Another good pairing: a person experiencing difficulty with erections who has been screened for diabetes (which can cause circulatory disorders), and who also sees me for hypnosis to overcome the worrying that leads to a “self-fullfilling prophecy” of “failure” during a sexual interlude. I can also help with hypnotic “desensitization” where we envision a series of events which may trigger the worry and fear, and gradually work through these scenarios to make them less triggering. (It’s all about getting back into the parasympathetic nervous system mode in cases like these.)
And for creating bonds of affection, sensuality, and new skills for sexual enrichment–erotic hypnosis classes are great for people who wish to play together in this realm, using it to explore fantasies, sensation play, and so forth.
There’s sooooo much to say about the use of hypnosis for sexual concerns that I really need to get back to work on my book, Entrancing. I did my Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) project (similar to a dissertation) on this topic, based on a lit search about 15 pages long. A popular book on this topic is well within my capability.
Pity the Fake Client
I feel sorry for the men who play the Fake Client game. Obviously, they are out for quick titillation at someone else’s expense but they don’t recognize that they are squandering golden opportunities to work with (usually) very well trained, insightful, compassionate professionals who will offer a nonjudgmental arena for addressing their issues, so that one day they can move beyond the adult equivalent of a teenage phone prank, like calling a pet cemetary and asking if they deliver. (I had a friend who used to do this…)
Their thrills are so paltry, so diminished. What is to be gained by exhausting the patience of a whole category of dedicated professionals who could actually open up a whole new world to them, should they be at all inclined to do the work that stepping into a new world–and a new sexual pattern–entails?