April 8th, 2007



I was highly disappointed in this book. As those of you "keeping score" will recall, last fall I completed a course resulting in my being a "Certified Hypnotist", and I've been trying to take some "baby steps" towards actually developing some sort of a "consulting" practice. I'd been looking for some "practical" manual for setting up something along those lines, and Shelley Stockwell's Hypnosis: How to Put a Smile on Your Face and Money in Your Pocket appeared to be specifically addressing this. Sadly, not only was this not generally the case, but 90% of this book is the sort of New Age twaddle that I would think most Hypnotists would be mortified at being associated with.

It appears that somewhere along the line, Ms. Stockwell obtained a Ph.D., which perhaps lured me into thinking "how bad can it be?", but I was really unprepared for just how bad it was. The "Stockwell System" is based in that "airy-fairy" mindset that gives all of California, much of Oregon and Washington, and large chunks of New Mexico such a bad name. The book is filled with bits of bad "cutesy" poetry, really bad "pun" mis-spellings of things ("abundance" is, for example, frequently stretched out as "a bun dance"), and the authors' assorted vacation pictures (with nothing to do with the text, but I guess they're there for the IRS) and silly drawings. What's worse (speaking as a former publisher), there are what I assume to be unintentional misspellings (and various typographical errors) all through the text, in some areas as frequent as one per 3-4 pages, which suggests that this nearly-500 page spewing (counting the couple of dozen pages of ads for her books, tapes, and classes in the back) was "home set" by the author on her Mac and not bothered to be proofread.

Strangely enough, this book starts out as if the reader had never encountered Hypnosis previously, and spends maybe half its length as a basic primer. There is a particular horror involved in imagining the sort of mush-brained NewAger who picks up this book, sets it to memory, and hangs a shingle out as a therapist. Unfortunately, that scenario could go a long way to explaining a lot of quirks of California, etc. While Stockwell does cover a lot of stuff, it's all presented in the worst possible "touchy-feely" mode, piling fluff-bunny cliché on top of fluff-bunny cliché, resulting in having precious little in it useful for a "serious" practitioner. I had hoped to have been able to at least extract some "templates" from this, but except for a snippet here and there, it's all so bogged down in delusional thinking that the "translation" does not seem to be worth the effort.

Now, this is not to say that there is nothing of use in this book, only that the subset of what I had bought the book for, and what is actually in the book, would be about a 24-page pamphlet! Of course, this is from my perspective. If your worldview leans towards believing that you were an Aztec princess in direct communication with UFO intelligences in a previous life, and you demand that every little thing in your paisley pony world coddles your delusions like they were packed in ethereal cotton candy, I'm sure that you'd love this manual. Depressingly, this is still in print (not surprising, I guess, being that it's produced by Stockwell's own "Creativity Unlimited" press), so is being actively foisted on an unsuspecting public, and it can be had for about half price used via the usual vendors, but even that's too much to pay for this "newage spewage" (I, fortunately, got a copy for only $3.25 before shipping, so my disgust is tempered by frugality). Seriously, if you're not a "hearts & unicorns" type, don't bother.

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They call me "Curmudgeon" ...

The following is borrowed (embedding code and all) from lefin1 ...

Ah ... nothing like expressing my crankiness without explicitly pissing off my Xtian readers with a more predictable burst of "blasphemy"!

Happy "c'est une bonne idée" (if you pardon my French)!

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