- Subconscious thoughts can arise while someone is reading a book.
- Interactions with the subconscious can sometimes lead to confusing information.
- Therapy can help clarify metaphors that arise from the subconscious.
In the first part of this series, we met 19-year-old Michael, who was told by his subconscious that he will undergo a transition on December 21, 2012. This was the date that the Mayan calendar ended and when some people thought the world might end. Michael’s subconscious explained that it picked that date to get Michael’s attention. I met with Michael on December 20, just before the transition, and he promised to email me as soon as the transition occurred. The plan was for me to see him for a follow-up appointment on December 23.
I waited eagerly for an email on December 21.
The world did not end. And there was no email.
There was no email on December 22, either.
Michael was scheduled to return to see me at 5 p.m. on December 23. That morning, one of my earlier afternoon patients canceled, so I thought it would be a great idea to have Michael come in early so that we would have more time to talk about what happened to him. I emailed him in the morning to ask if he could come in earlier.
I looked up his phone number and called.
I became a bit nervous. Did something untoward happen? I told myself that Michael will come precisely at 5 p.m. because he always was prompt.
Nonetheless, my level of anxiety increased as the day passed.
I looked out my office door at 4:59 p.m. on that Sunday. And precisely at 5 p.m., Michael walked down the hall toward my office.
“Michael!” I exclaimed with some relief. “You made it! Where have you been? Why didn’t you respond to my email this morning?”
“I changed my email address,” he replied.
“And what happened to your phone?”
“I changed my phone number a few weeks ago.”
“OK then,” I said. “So, what happened? How was the transition?!”
“Nothing happened,” he said in frustration. “That’s why I didn’t e-mail you. Nothing happened. I’m very confused.”
“That makes no sense!” I said. “In my experience, when a subconscious volunteers that something is going to happen, it does.” I thought for a moment. “Let me ask your subconscious about it.”
Michael put his hand on the armrest of his chair to allow me to ask his subconscious questions that it could answer through movement of his fingers. He closed his eyes and they fluttered a bit as he entered the hypnotic state. We again established which fingers his subconscious would utilize to indicate, “Yes,” “No,” and “I don’t want to say.”
“Did Michael experience his transition two days ago?”
“Did he fail to realize this was his transition?”
“Am I supposed to help him figure out what happened?”
“OK, Michael,” I said as he opened his eyes. “Tell me what you did on December 21.”
“Nothing,” he protested. “The next morning, I typed with my subconscious, and he wouldn’t tell me anything about the transition. I was really frustrated.”
“What did he say?”
“He told me that I need to lead the ones I love.”
“Did you print out what you typed?”
“He told me not to print it out. And when I asked him why not, he replied, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ I have no idea what he’s talking about. And, besides, my printer is broken,” he grinned sheepishly.
“Then what happened?”
“I got angry,” he blurted. “And I kept typing yesterday hoping that he would tell me about the transition. And then he said that I missed it on the previous day.” He paused. “I am so confused. I thought whatever was going to happen would be much more straightforward.”
“So, please tell me. What did you do on December 21?”
“All I did was read a book!”
“Tell me about it.”
“It’s a book by Jack Kerouac. It’s called The Dharma Bums.”
I had never heard of Jack Kerouac or that book. “What’s it about?”
“It’s about Jack and his buddy Japhy who go hiking all over the countryside and have adventures. It’s kind of rambling. Sort of like stream-of-consciousness writing.”
“I have a question for your subconscious,” I interjected.
“Did you help Michael pick out this book?”
“Did something in the book help Michael have his transition?”
“Did Michael miss it because he thought it was in the book?”
“Michael,” I said, addressing him. “When you read, do you visualize scenes based on what you are reading?”
“Sure,” he replied. “I imagine things really well. They seem real.”
“That’s what happened, then.” I explained. “You must have had your transition but didn’t realize it! You thought it was part of the book! Tell me about the book in first person,” I suggested.
“OK. Jack Kerouac calls himself Ray in the book and he is narrating. So, my friend Japhy and I go backpacking in the woods. We were at a campfire. I hiked into the woods by myself and found five different paths. I wasn’t sure what path to take.” Michael paused, as he appeared to collect his thoughts. “Japhy came up behind me and said it does not matter which path I take. They all lead to the same place. He added, ‘You must be concerned with yourself and just be yourself. Do not be troubled by outside judgments.’”
“So, what did you do?” I asked.
“I realized that I need to follow a path in order to feel happy with myself. I also got the sense that it was my responsibility to show others the right path. So, I take one, and I come across a bridge. I see people that I know are following me. I lead and we cross the bridge and find ourselves in a beautiful green place. Then, the bridge disappears and we are stuck there.” He paused again. “I’m not sure how, but then I found myself back in camp with Japhy.”
As Michael was relaying the events as he recalled them, I developed a growing feeling of certainty about what was going on. “Michael!” I exclaimed. “Those events you just described were not in the book! That was your transition!”
“No, it was not!” he replied. “What I just told you was in the book.”
“I am certain it was not,” I responded. The source of my certainty likely arose from the information Michael gave me before he described the transition. “Let’s ask your subconscious.” Michael put his hand on the armrest of his chair. “The description of the multiple paths and what happened after that, was that in the book?” I asked.
“Was that Michael’s transition?”
“Was the book just a way to help walk Michael through the transition?”
Michael stared at me in apparent astonishment. I said, “You go check the book and find out for yourself. You can tell me what you find out next time we meet.”
The Meaning of the Transition
“But what does the transition mean?” he asked.
“How did you feel when you went down the path?” I asked.
“I felt more confident in myself and in the people who were following me,” he replied.
I turned to Michael's subconscious. “Was one of the purposes of the transition to help Michael gain more confidence?”
“Did the transition happen when Michael realized all the paths lead to the same place?”
“Was another of the lessons of the transition that Michael is supposed to become a leader?”
“But I don’t feel comfortable as a leader,” protested Michael.
“Many times leaders are chosen, even when they do not feel worthy,” I said.
“But I don’t want to appear self-centered as a leader,” he said.
“Leaders aren’t better than other people,” I explained. “They are just further along the path.”
“I can feel comfortable with that notion,” he said.
“Why don’t you ask your subconscious what else you are supposed to have learned from your transition,” I suggested.
Michael sat back in his chair and closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened them, his face relaxed. “The subconscious told me that the lesson I learned transcends death. He told me that now that I have transitioned I will begin to change. As it sinks in, I will need to deal with new emotions.”
In the next blog post, I will describe what happened at Michael’s appointment two weeks after the transition and some of the lessons I learned from our unusual interactions.
More information about hypnosis and its use for interactions with the subconscious is available in the 2021 book Changing Children’s Lives With Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center, by Ran D. Anbar. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.