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New Uses of Hypnosis and Ideomotor Signaling
Dabney Ewin, MD and Philip D. Shenefelt, MD, ABMH
Ideomotor signaling as a nonverbal means of communication in hypnosis has become a very useful therapeutic questioning tool during the past few decades. Forming the basis of signaling attributed to external spirits in séances in the 1800s and before, ideomotor movements account for non-conscious motions of the hand held pendulum and Ouija board planchette. Chevreul and Carpenter in the mid 1800s began to establish our scientific understanding of ideomotor movements. An intention or thought formed in the frontal cortex is transmitted to the motor cortex at a subconscious level, coordinated by the cerebellum, and sent down spinal nerves to the appropriate muscles, inducing micromovements not visible to the naked eye but amplified by the hand held pendulum or by the slow ratchet-like cumulative movements of a finger or other body part. This ideomotor phenomenon has been utilized during hypnotic trance to provide nonverbal communication of "yes" or "no" or "I don't want to answer" using finger signals or hand held pendulum. LeCron first used this ideomotor form of communication in conjunction with psychosomatic hypnoanalysis. Cheek expanded and more recently Hammond, Walsh, Ewin and others have refined its use. C.O.M.P.A.S.S. is a mnemonic for Cheek and LeCron's seven keys Conflict, Organ Language, Motivation, Active identification, Self-punishment, and Suggestion or imprint to help medically oriented practitioners chart the psychosomatic landscape of the patient. Psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health workers are also finding ideomotor signaling nonverbal communication helpful in charting and understanding subconscious aspects of the client.
At the end of this session, individuals will be able to...
- Describe two ways ideomotor signals can be used for nonverbal communications; and
- Elucidate two concepts behind the development of ideomotor signalling as we know it today.