Reflection on Doctor/Patient relationship – Comments on Chinese movie, The Great Hypnosis

Hypnosis is gaining its popularity in China to a degree that a movie was based on the stories of how a psychiatrist conducting therapy sessions with high levels of hypnosis techniques.

Western therapists probably would immediately identify the “ethical issues” in this movie – this “smart ass” psychiatrist has too much power over his patients. Even though, he achieved his goals – curing his patients, he made decisions for them and pushed them to face the most traumatic memories by hypnosis.

Wait a minute, let’s not jump to the conclusion~

Let’s slow down and further explore the underlying cultural differences.

The treatment paradigm in Asian culture (and in many parts of America) is that doctors know the best. The humanists and feminists may jump out and point it out – How about the patient’s autonomy? How about doctors who abuse their power?

Those are good questions.

At the same time, through this movie, a westerner may learn how a hierarchical society works best in certain circumstances – the psychiatrist’s teacher has more power and wisdom than the psychiatrist (I don’t want to ruin the thrill of finding out what does this mean for you in case you decided to watch this psychotherapy thriller this weekend)

In other words, a hierarchical structure is not entirely “bad” or “controlling” or “only serving people with power;” yet, the critical constrain of such system is that the “ultimate one” on the top has to “take responsibility” with true “altruism” and “compassion.” To me, that means, it became a “full circle” – the top one actually serve the bottom ones, this make the “hierarchy” no longer a top down ladders.

Some therapists may have heard about “paradoxical strategy” intervention – a very controversial way to treat psychological issues – asking clients to do the opposite and even exaggerate the symptoms (one famous example would be to instruct a couple with sexual difficulty: “DO NOT have sex in any circumstance in the next two weeks – you can flirt, but NEVER have sex” – then, the power of wanting to eat the forbidden fruit often cures the sexual difficulty).

This intervention requires the therapists to assume a position of power (and manipulation and control)!

Oops, most therapists don’t like the words “manipulation and control.”

That’s not what we do! We simply reflect back to the clients what they told us……respect their capacity to be an independent human being.

Few years ago, a young late teen gratefully thanked me: “you are so good at manipulation! What you told me was actually what my Mom told me, but I can hear what you said!”

Luckily, English is not my first language, so the word “manipulation” doesn’t carry the same weight for me. Without much emotional reaction, I simply responded with curiosity and further explored what she meant by “praising” me for being good at “manipulation”…

After that, I thought a lot about what does it mean in terms of “helping” “teaching” “facilitating” versus “manipulating” and “controlling.”

Again, it comes back to the intention – whether its from altruistic mode or from self-serving mode. Yet, this is dangerous, a lot of abusive teachers/parents/politicians all say – “I am doing this for your benefit, not mine!”

How to differentiate a pure, gold heart, from a sugar-coated evil heart? (Or, maybe a heart with distorted views to a degree it only sees things from one perspective and still believes in its own altruism.)

PS: Yes, I used the word, “heart” here, not “mind!” Our intention comes from our “heart” – with integration of body, mind, and spirit.

I don’t have exact answer in this post.

Yet, one possible step is to explore and fully understand human beings’ capacity to use our smart “minds” to come up with brilliant plot/conspiracy – it’s a popular theme in recent Chinese movies, whether the context of stories is modern business worlds, ancient battle grounds, or even in psychotherapy.

Such trend will unfortunately/fortunately teach many non-Chinese more and more “manipulation” techniques developed within the sophisticated Chinese history.

Enjoy this movie if you are drawn to mind-twisting plot!

Note: This website does not intend to provide any specific individually-tailored psychological advice/services to replace any medical and/or psychological treatment. If the readers are in need of medical or psychological attention, please seek appropriate services in your area.

Copyright © 2018 Chia-Chi (Alicia) Hu; 版權所有:胡嘉琪

 

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