the Free Hypnosis Social Network
I find myself more and more annoyed by a particular logical fallacy I hear a number of my colleagues indulging, to the point that I just can't remain silent.
Before I talk about what that fallacy is, I have to disclose why I find it so annoying: I was guilty of using it myself up until recently. So at worst, this is a rant, but perhaps I can make it a cautionary tale.
I'll slide into that tale sideways.
A few years ago, a bunch of my friends went to study spiritual healing from a, well, professional faith healer. (You could call it energy healing if you want.) Anyway, at one point a friend of mine related that this spiritual healer had a low opinion of hypnotists, because he'd had to "clean up a lot of messes hypnotists had made."
When I asked for more explanation, my friend went on, "Every time that healer gets a client who went to a hypnotist first, the hypnotist either did no good or made things worse."
It didn't take long to spot the fallacy there. I answered, "Well, of course. The vast majority of people who go to hypnotists improve, so they have no need to go to a faith healer. So it stands to reason that only those for whom hypnosis wasn't the right choice (or who saw the wrong hypnotist for them, or who gave up on hypnosis too early, and so on) will ever hire a faith healer. He drew his conclusion without a representative sample."
Now, that logic seemed pretty clear to me (and reassured my friends). But it took me a while to realize I'd been doing the same thing.
See, I've had clients who'd been to other hypnotists, or who'd been in therapy for over a year with no progress, or whose pain meds had made no impression--and in some of those cases, I was lucky enough to make a dramatic difference in a single session. So I concluded (just like the faith healer had) that I was awesome and those other people (and their methods) sucked.
Like I said, it was only a few months ago that I realized what a hypocrite--almost typed "hypnocrite" there--I was being.
And now that I've seen that, I see the same faulty logic all over the place: NLPers talking about having to help the victims of poorly done regressions, regressionists speaking dismissively of NLP approaches as superficial, direct suggestionists pissing on the Ericksonians . . .
So if there's a moral to this story, it's don't be a twerp like I was. If you get someone for whom another professional failed (or screwed up), don't assume that professional is incompetent. Don't look down on their approaches or conclude they do minimal good. Recognize that nobody's perfect. Not even you.