Ajamu James Ayinde, A.C.H., Ph.D.
Medical Hypnotherapist,
Master Mental Coach (c)

Book Reviews

Book Reviews 



Reframing: NLP and the Transformation of Meaning by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

-reviewed by Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H.

Reframing was published in 1982 and is one of the seminal books on NLP.  For those who are unfamiliar with NLP, you are in for a treat.  For those who have been around the block for a while, give it a second read.  Reframing is one of the central, fundamental tools of any hypnotherapist or NLP therapist.  Like most good authors, Richard and John take a concept that we are familiar with already (looking on the bright side), give it a name (reframing) and a set of techniques (6 step


Reviews on this page:

Reframing: NLP & the
Transformation of
    Bandler & John

Hypnosis: A New Tool in Nursing Practice
edited by Gil Boyne

Hypnosis & Meditation
   Ormond McGill

Sports Hypnosis

   Donald Liggett

reframe and context and content reframes) that can be used in a therapeutic process.

The book follows the format of many of the early NLP books in that it is a transcript of an actual training that Richard and John had done for students.

In a nutshell, reframing is a way of taking a so-called negative event or behavior and showing the client how under different circumstances that same “negative” event or behavior could be looked upon favorably.  A simple example of reframing would be to remind the client who complains that it raining that the flowers need rain to grow.

When I first encountered this book, during my practitioner training in 1996, I was amazed by the artistry of the inventors of this art form.  They had the ability to take “bad” situations clients or students presented and spontaneously turn them into positives.  Exercises to develop that “reframing muscle” are an important part of NLP training at all levels.  NLP teaches us that there are many ways to view a given circumstance.  Depending on the lens or filter that is used, your client’s view of the world will be quite different.  It is the client’s attitude or belief system that shapes that filter.

The techniques of NLP are never to be used in a vacuum.  The presuppositions of NLP are always present as the foundation or bedrock that support any change work that we might do.  In order to understand how reframing can become second nature one must read between the lines of the book and notice the allusions to the presuppositions.  There are a few presuppositions that underlie the use of reframing.  One is: There is no failure, only feedback.  When clients talk to you about their issues they have already “framed” them as “problems”. They do not see how that “frame” can be removed and exchanged for another more suitable one.  What Reframing teaches you is that the client is always in motion, always in process.  The place where they are in life is not a final destination unless they choose to make it so.  There is always a way for them to make another attempt, set a new outcome, or make new distinctions.  This belief, once installed in your neurology is what will enable you to continuously come up with new ideas and novel ways of having your client look at his or her situation.

Another presupposition that guides the techniques outlined in this book is: There is a positive outcome behind all behavior.  That can be a tough one for some new to NLP to swallow but I assure it becomes more and more tender and tasty over time. In working with Reframing, you may find that you can do incredible change work with clients without delving into any content.  In other words, you don’t even have to know what specifically the client wants to address.  You simply set the frame in your interview to find out when it happens and how it impacts them. 

The Six Step Reframe is broken down this way. 1) Find a certain behavior or belief that the client wants to change. 2) Establish communication with the inner conscious mind thru the use of ideomotor signals (devise a system for yes and no responses) 3) Find out what the secondary gain or hidden benefit is for the client of having a certain behavior.  (As a Transpersonal Hypnotherapist, you may already have skillful ways of assisting your client to informally enter trance so the answers are actually coming from deep within) What we are doing here is separating the intention from the limiting behavior.  4) Locate another part, perhaps the creative part that will come up with new and better ways of meeting the same need.  5) Ask the part to be responsible for introducing these new approaches to implement them for the client, when necessary. 6) Do a check to find out if there are any part of the client that objects to the changes that have been made.

As with all NLP techniques, you test your work and take your client into a point in the future at which time he or she will use the new attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to better handle some challenging life situation.

Many who learned NLP in the eighties and early nineties were amazed by the results that simple techniques like reframing gave their clients.  Many stopped using Reframing when they came to feel confined by it.  Other skilled Trainers began to experiment because they understood that no aspect of NLP was ever meant to be rigid and formulaic.  In time, you too, might see how certain steps can be combined or omitted.  One metaphor before I sign off. In the martial arts, one practices a form that has existed sometimes for hundreds or thousands of years.  In the training hall, one is expected to demonstrate a pure form without any personal embellishments.  When the student in under the pressure of actual competition or combat, the classical form may take on a new form and will flow in an unexpected way.  When the martial artist has successfully met that challenge he or she gratefully looks back on those hours of drills in the classical form.   You too might be grateful after you’ve learned the mechanics and the philosophy that underpins this form of change work.   Remember, Reframing: NLP and the Transformation of Meaning is about choice, freedom, possibilities and above all magic.  Use this great work as a tool for YOUR great work.
© 2001 Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H. AEI Hypnosis 877 HYPNOTX


Hypnosis: A New Tool in Nursing Practice, edited by Gil Boyne

-reviewed by Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H.

This book was written in the early 1980’s and it is just as appropriate today as it was then. Each chapter is written by a registered nurse. There are a total of fifteen chapters and I have included reviews of the ones that made the greatest impression on me and might be of greatest interest to the practicing hypnotherapist. In the twenty-first century, hypnosis is coming into a new light of understanding. In the very early days of its use, the prestige factor was overly emphasized and it was believed that only men could induce hypnosis. In fact, many doctors who would learn hypnosis to help others would not allow themselves to be hypnotized. It seems that male pride and professional hubris made it impossible for many doctors in the 1950’s and 1960’s to personally experience the wonders of hypnosis. In those days, hypnotists would use nurses as subjects while the doctors watched. Today, two of the major hypnosis organizations training health professionals in the therapeutic use of hypnosis are women.

What is hypnosis and why are nurses so ideally suited to use it? Hypnosis can be simply defined as a focused state of attention. While a person is in that wonderful relaxed state they are given beneficial suggestions that aid the healing process. No one is completely sure why it works but the consensus is that by bypassing the conscious mind positive suggestions that could be ignored during the normal waking state are more readily accepted. Words have healing power and even when patients are under anesthesia the subconscious mind is listening. Hypnosis just involves speaking, something nurses already do, formal training helps them use their words more precisely to bring about desired results with patients. Due to the factors brought about by managed care, doctors must see many patients in the course of a day, spending only a few minutes with each. Increasingly, it is the nurse who has the greatest opportunity to connect with the patients.

Although nurses have many responsibilities making their rounds, patients seek them out asking them questions and opening up about feelings, fears and concerns. This is true of those who may have long or short-term hospital stays. The experienced nurse has the confidence born of the training and technical knowledge to gain the trust of the patient.

Trust equals relaxation and acceptance of suggestions in hypnosis. The majority of nurses are female and many patients view them as a mother substitutes. Many patients’ early experience with being sick involves a mother dispensing comfort and aspirins. Often patients who are normally very mature and capable will revert to an almost child- like state when they are sick. This works to a nurse’s benefit since most of us feel vulnerable when we are sick and want to know that there is someone near who cares and knows what to do to help us get well. Hypnosis can happen in a very informal way. Nurses can provide instruction on how to relax and enter trance state and once the patient is there she can offer beneficial suggestions.

There are different approaches to hypnosis that can be defined simply as permissive and authoritarian. Neither is more right than the other. Some may be more suited to your personality and to the needs of the individual patient. Patients may experience feelings of dependency and helplessness during their hospital stay. Nurses taking the authoritarian approach can tell the patient directly, in a matter of fact way, what he or she can expect in terms of a quick recovery. The permissive involves telling stories. This works really well with children but adults are surprisingly open to the approach. These uncertain patients can have their fears easily put to rest by a nurse who is able tell them happy stories that take their minds off the health challenge he or she is facing. Nurses can also tell stories about patients, just like them who made great progress as a result of this new medicine, procedure or life style change. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy either way. Nurses can help us to give ourselves permission to heal. That is all we really need.

© 2001 Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H.  AEI Hypnosis 877 HYPNOTX


Hypnosis and Meditation by Ormond McGill

-reviewed by Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H.

Hypnosis and Meditation
by Ormond McGill is an important book for professional therapists and those who are interested in self-healing.  There are many parallels between meditation and hypnosis.  Many of our potential clients and students may be far more familiar with meditation or yoga than they are with what we offer in the way of hypnotherapy.  Because we have a transpersonal approach, we can make the connections between the two.  I offer this book as a way to make connections with other holistic practitioners.  Hypnosis is often defined as a focused state of attention and mediation most often implies a non-focused state.  Hypnosis is goal-oriented while meditation is about becoming more comfortable with simply Being.  In a twenty-first century culture it might seem remarkable that few of us have any formal training is how to set and achieve worthy goals via mind power and even fewer have any real awareness of how to be silent and still without wanting to jump out of our skins.

Ormond McGill has spent a lot of time in India studying with various teachers. The book opens with a foreword by Gil Boyne then proceeds to define hypnosis and self-hypnosis, suggestion and the hypnotic state of mind.  Clinical hypnosis while quite powerful has limitations because it is limited to addressing physical, emotional and psychological issues.  Meditation, however, is totally unlimited as it seeks as its aim a union with the Divine. It allows us to transcend the bonds of our bodies and minds.  The “limitation” of meditation is that many Americans have still not accepted it as a valid path of healing growth and change.  They have been taught to see it as a foreign concept.  Moreover, they have been led to believe it is a boring, difficult and time-consuming road.  Those who may have an interest may feel that they lack qualified instruction and may give up early on or not get started at all.

Two of the main issues we seek to address as hypnotherapists are stress management and body image.  Using hypnosis does not mean that stress will automatically disappear from one’s life. It will give better tools for coping with it. It doesn’t change circumstance but it helps us to change our attitude toward are challenges.  Hypnosis combined with meditation will allow a person move from a victim posture to one of a victor.  This is far more that simple affirmations or positive thinking.  These are both great.  However, the true inner core of power comes from having a real experience of connecting with the Divine and glimpsing our true nature. 

When someone is in the grips of their disease all she is able to see is her pain, loss, grief, disappointment, and the things that she is not able to do the same as before.  What we have discovered is that there are certain qualities and characteristics of survivors and winners in the game of life.  She is able to extract meaning from any given challenge or difficult situation.  This comes from being able to see things from a higher place, a place of wisdom.  Often this wisdom comes with the passage of time when we reflect upon events.  When facing a life-threatening illness we do not always feel that we have the luxury of time.  Hypno-meditation allows an individual to go inside and see from a Higher, metaphysical standpoint and find out things like the message of this particular health challenge.  It may also signal us to make in our emotional life, diet, career, etc.  Sometimes the insights that may emerge can appear to be common sense, nothing profound or mystical.  Other times what can emerge from the recesses of our other than conscious mind is down right cosmic.  We might perhaps learn that we are meant to learn how to stop taking care of others for a time and learn how to receive care.  One may find out that the universe needs us to learn how to be more present in this body and this time and get out of our heads and stop living in the future.  Maybe Source is bringing disease to teach us forgiveness, making a break with a painful past.  It is very possible that hypno-meditation can get one in touch with a guardian angel, spiritual guide or beloved ancestor who can comfort us in a time of need and remind us that we are much more that our bodies and that we live on even after we leave this body.

On a practical healing level, these techniques can help us to see ourselves beyond whatever healing crisis that we now find ourselves.  Looking into our scary places of fear and fragility and finding our Beingness and beauty.  Hypno-meditation can teach us to recognize the true Self, who we really are, a luminous being untouched by the stresses of life unhurt and unharmed by any of the vagaries of life.   Through the process of hypno-meditation it is possible to have such an experience.  This transformation can change the way you look at and interact in the world.  A revolution of consciousness can change the body.  In the same way, a change in the body can have a powerful effect on the mind.

If this review has piqued your interest, another book by the same author is Hypnotism and Mysticism in India.   The book has lots of great photos that illustrate different “mind over matter” feats that have long fascinated Westerners.

© 2002 Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H. AEI Hypnosis 877 HYPNOTX


Sports Hypnosis by Donald Liggett, Ph.D.

-reviewed by Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H.

This is a great new book that is a wonderful addition to the available literature on the topic of athletic enhancement through hypnosis. As many of you may be aware, high-level athletes have used hypnosis for decades. Top competitors from the former Soviet Union claimed many gold medals with what was for many years their secret weapon-hypnosis. This book fills an important void. One of the early books that dealt with the topic in the early 1980's was Hypnosport by Les Cunningham. Dr. Liggett's work picks up where the earlier work, now out of print left off. Sports Hypnosis is very well organized and filled with practical information. While it does include anecdotes and case studies, they are about US athletes as opposed to Australian sports legends highlighted in Hypnosport.

The author has some very impressive credentials. Dr. Liggett is a retired college professor having received his doctorate from Stanford University in international education and educational psychology. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis certified him in hypnosis. He even used hypnosis to assist the gymnastics and football teams while teaching at Stanford. Dr. Liggett was invited by the country of Malaya to teach at one of their universities and work with some of their national athletes. To his credit, several of Dr. Liggett's clients won gold and bronze medals in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

This book is written for the athlete who may have no knowledge of hypnosis. You will definitely gain insights if you work with sports clients using these tools. If you also have a sport that you are involved in you will receive a double benefit. He gives case studies on well-known sports like basketball, football and soccer but also includes information on work that he's done with kayakers and pole-vaulters.

What are some of the important areas that a sports hypnotist must help each athlete address? Relaxation, imagery, energy, and motivation, are some of the top focus areas and he addresses each in turn. He begins the book with general information about hypnosis and makes it accessible to the average athlete. Next he spends time talking about relaxation-the cornerstone of any sports hypnosis program. Relaxation has many benefits, as you are aware from your own work with the general public. For athletes, tension may seriously impede athletic performance. It can lead to tight muscles, injuries, frustration, depression, and choking and early retirement.

The chapter on relaxation is excellent. Liggett includes a self-hypnosis script for progressive relaxation. Many athletes may not have direct experience with relaxing. This is especially true for those involved in sports that require great strength like wrestling and weight lifting. Liggett suggests teaching such athletes to practice tensing the muscles and then releasing them. If they practice this everyday for a minimum of five days a week they will soon see real results. In a short time the tensing component can be eliminated from the routine.

Imagery is covered in the next chapter. He gives specific tools for helping athletes to imagine playing at their personal best. I think you will enjoy the chapter on imagery. Dr. Liggett puts forth a theory about hypnosis and imagery that many of us would probably agree with. For the sake of simplicity, we may explain hypnosis and imagery as one and the same when addressing the general public but we know that there is a difference. The word "imagery" is used to include visual images, sounds, emotions and bodily sensations. Dr. Liggett has done research to prove that people who are formally hypnotized are able to experience imagery in a much more vivid fashion. He includes an excellent graph to illustrate his point.

The book contains inspirational quotations and insights from Dr. Liggett's many years of working with athletes. What may be missing for some are scripts for specific sports. However, Dr. Liggett didn't write this book for other sports psychologists and practicing hypnotists so he did not include any scripts for addressing specific athletic needs. This book receives high marks from this reviewer.

© 2002 Ajamu Ayinde, A.C.H. AEI Hypnosis 877 HYPNOTX

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