I had to psyche myself up to dial King’s number. Phoning a psychotherapist was confirmation that my problems were no joke; that I needed psychiatric and therapeutic help. Things had got to that stage.
He seemed a bit snappy over the phone.
“When would you like to come in?”
“The session costs eighty pounds, and lasts two hours.”
“Okay, I’ll see you then.”
Instantly I thought, this isn’t going to work. He reminded me of the councillors I’d seen at college and uni. It was unbelievable that those councillors had got jobs in the first place. One in particular was ignorant, cut me off when I was speaking, talked to me like I’d forgotten the most obvious of things and hence was thick as shit. Only this time, King’s service wasn’t coming for free.
King was an aging local man who constantly played the kind of “relaxing music” you find through aeroplane headphones.
“Welcome!” he said, arms open. He took my coat, sat me down and was generally overtly nice.
“So…” said King. “What would you like me to help you with today?”
“I have a fear of attractive women.”
“A fear of attractive women!”
For the next two hours everything I said seemed to tell him some supposed hidden secret, and he gasped and hummed at the various responses I gave to questions. I was becoming less convinced of his legitimacy by the second. He gave me this advice:
- Stop eating chocolate (I could do with a separate session for that alone).
- Use butter instead of margarine.
- Drink full fat milk instead of semi-skimmed.
- Remove all electrical appliances from bedroom. They give off signals that affect you in sleep, apparently.
- Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. When early man lived in a cave, he would fall asleep when the sun went down because there was nothing to do. And when the sun woke him up he’d go off hunting. Then the caveman invented fire, thus allowing him to stay up a little later. And the caveman slept in a little. The amount of daylight he got was reduced, which affected the receptors in his brain. His body clock crept forward, and day-by-day the caveman went to bed later and later. The less daylight he got, the less he could function. We still need vitamin D for healthy skin and to reduce the chance of developing mental illness.
- Drink more water. The brain is mostly water. I mustn’t let it dry out. I’m trying to do this in work.
- Take flax seed oil tablets whenever I felt like I might get nervous. (I had taken one a few hours before breaking down on CB’s shoulder, so I’m not bowled over by the power of flax. I have seen online that taking them twice a day can help many people. Not only does it balance cholesterol levels- handy when you eat lots of steak like I do- but it can calm nerves and also quell the symptoms of schizophrenia. Nice to know, however twice-daily usage made no major changes.
King gave me a list of personality traits- words with a description of the trait next to it. They related to feelings: anxieties, behaviours, delusions- general mental problems that people sometimes have. He asked me to tick all the boxes that applied to me. The first one was described as “He who hides worry behind a brave face.” As I ticked it King said, “Everybody ticks the first one.” When I got to the bottom of the list he took it off me.
“It’s generally regarded that if you have five or more, you have a serious problem. And you have… fifteen.”
I nodded, staring into space.
Next King asked me to remove my shoes and lie on some kind of hospital bed-cum-psychiatrist’s couch. He wrapped a blanket around me. In each hand he placed a metal bar, connected to looped wires leading to a machine with a needle and dial.
I told him I’m lonely. This is behind pretty much every problem I have. It’s why I cry at night. The fear of being hurt by a woman and the idea of making my pain worse is what blights my life. We asserted that my loneliness was a steel spike in my heart.
I thought: this is bullshit. I can’t believe I’m paying through the nose to listen to this. He described us taking out the spike, going to the tip, digging a hole and burying the spike. Then we covered it with an oak tree. I was completely conscious and very sceptical throughout the whole session. After we planted the oak tree King asked me if the pain had gone. I said I didn’t know. He asked me to open my eyes. I’d had them closed for so long that even the dim yellow light in the room dazzled me.
Then a moment of validity occurred. King was surprised that the needle had hardly moved throughout the whole session. It didn’t surprise me. But when I described my loneliness and the “steel spike” in my heart, the needle surged to the right.
“Somebody must really have hurt you. I mean… a steel spike?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, you could say that.” I was not impressed with King’s need for me to use mushy, poetic metaphors in order to attain a “diagnosis”. How was this going to help me?
He then gave me a bill for eighty quid and a printed report of advice. I thanked him and left.
So. 6 years on, I can attest that hypnotherapy is bullshit. The correct way to overcome these issues is to go to your GP and request a course of counselling. If you’re a man, make sure the counsellor is too. Look up David DeAngelo and Neil Strauss. Read The Game. Love yourself. It is not arrogant to do so. If a woman likes you, do not question her attraction.