The Power of

The Simple, Natural
Mind-Body Approach to
Change and Healing

Stanley Fisher
One of my friends has discovered The Secret of the Pepper Grind. In it's simplest form, it states that the quality of the food in your average show-off restaurant is inversely proportional to the size of the Pepper Grinder they bring to your table when you ask for salad. The longer the grinder, the worse the food.

We're beginning to think the same about the books we receive for review. Simple, short titles --- Pnin, Alone, Howard's End, The Stranger, and Molloy for example --- seem to offer quality reading; long ones, like The Absolute Best and Safest Way for You to Survive the Next Nuclear Attack and the Consequent Economic Disaster Which Should Be Arriving Any Day Now, When You Least Expect It tell us that they are a waste to read, much less buy.

Stanley Fisher was a three-pack-a-day man until someone put him in an hypnotic trance and convinced him that the cigarettes were killing him. Not only did he give up smoking, he was interested enough to learn hypnotic techniques, to use on his patients he's a psychologist; he says he is also "works in the areas of...psychoanalysis" (which fudges around the commonly accepted idea that psychoanalysts are Freudians, and MD's to boot).

After he learned what he could about hypnotherapy, someone convinced him that he could sell a book about it, so he whipped one out this one in 1991 --- updated herein last year --- and called it Discovering the Power of Self-Hypnosis: The Simple, Natural Mind-Body Approach to Change and Healing.

Fisher has sold jillions of copies of this but be forewarned --- it is largely a commercial for Stanley Fisher, including a tedious listing of all the people who have come to him with their bad habits --- Bob and Carol and Marcus and Alice and Bill "a lawyer working with a prestigious Wall Street firm" who came to him in "a state of extreme apprehension." Just so you will know how good he is --- even better than those who teach certain meditative techniques --- there's Francis who "all of his adult life he had been able to use Zen meditation as a way of calming himself..." but "meditation was no longer working..." so he came to Fisher and he was able to cure him of his panic attacks in a trice.

These case studies are interleaved with not-so-subtle self-encomiums ("When I later did research with Marcia Greenleaf, a health psychologist at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine...") It's a big pepper-grinder he uses.

He misses the boat on some of his insights, such as his quote from Milton Erickson:

    Therapy results from an inner resynthesis of the patient's behavior achieved by the patient himself...

Erickson, the master medical hypnotherapist (who wouldn't be caught dead talking about a stint at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, even if he did it) is saying that a cure is best achieved by total rapport with the patient: in effect, the patient becomes his own best doctor. From Fisher's pointed references to his personal insights and his miraculous results, we can only wonder if he truly believes that the patient has done anything at all besides sit there in a trance, blitzed out of his mind and lapping up all of the Master's suggestions.

Despite all the land-mines, the good doctors' specific ideas for self-induced trances are fairly comprehensible. Instead of your forking over whatever it is that they are asking for the book --- someone scissored out the price in our review copy, with pinking-shears, no less --- you might go to your favorite local bookstore or library and copy down Fisher's three specific self-hypnosis techniques offered up on pages 204 - 208. It's the spice without the spicer.

--- Bruce Wills, PhD

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