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We often define hypnosis as the triggering of the imagination through suggestion to open the mind to new ideas and changes. This alternate state of awareness and relaxation, if done correctly, offers tremendous opportunity for personal growth and improvements. Mindfulness, on the other hand, challenges the brain’s negative emotional connections to create positive emotional connections. Exercises geared towards positive feelings and compassion, shift the brain to think more positively.

The brain looks to determine two major functions: safety and danger. When we are in a relationship in which the brain feels safe, we refer to it as a reasonable brain. When the brain feels its in danger, we refer to it as an emotional brain.


The first time I met Eric and Julie they were engaged to be married. However, Eric’s family was not in favor of the marriage and was in fact doing everything they could to discourage him from going through with it.

When it was clear that wouldn’t work, Eric’s father became overly reactive and opposed to any suggestions Julie’s family made in the hopes that they would convince Julie to end the relationship. When that tactic failed, Eric’s parents became demanding and inflexible and threatened to disown him as a means to gaining control.

While this was going on, Julie, understandably was very nervous about her future relationship with her new in-laws. Eric tried comforting her, pledging his support and assuring her that after the wedding they would have little to do with his side of the family.

Then something very strange happened. Eric’s family did a 180-degree turn and began to invite Julie to their family functions and their home. They could not understand why Julie was refusing to take part.

When I met the couple they were distraught and emotionally drained; they did not know how to cope with all the drama. In addition, it was two and a half weeks until the wedding. Julie was angry and hurt, and scared of Eric’s father instability. She also did not trust him.

Their rav, concerned that all this pre-marital trauma would have an effect on their marriage, suggested they see me. He explained to them about the emotional brain and reasonable brain we discussed above. He told them that should Eric`s family revert to their previous state, he and Julie would have to make a conscious effort to ignore them. However, the reasonable brain would not process the logic of that and subsequently leap into being the emotional brain and respond in away that would result in another negative encounter.

I agreed with the rav. In fact, it seemed to me that Eric’s father may have some of the symptoms of a Borderline Personality Disorder, which is often accompanied by what we call splitting. When some people function well during an increase in negative emotional changes. For them, the brain tries to overcompensate for the unbalance, so that when the person is feeling good he acts in a positive way and when he is feeling bad, he acts in a very negative way. Children who grow up with a parent who functions this way will often have issues of childhood abandonment, and live in a sort of black and white world. If they are in a positive frame of mind and forgive someone who has wronged them they can be quite pleasant and supportive. If they feel that a spouse is loyal and causing very little conflict, they can be very good spouses.

There was concern here that Eric, growing up with a father who acted this way, could conceivably be that way with Julie.

I explained to the couple that for their marriage to survive, they would have to consider what I call Mindfulness and Hypnosis.

I asked if they each had happy thoughts from their childhood they could bring to the surface. Neither could. So I played a Youtube video called “The Candy Man of Petah Tikvah.”

I told them to use the song as a way to reduce stress – when they hear the song they would stay calm and non-reactive when being misunderstood. We tried it under hypnosis and when they emerged from the trance they felt relaxed and wonderful.

Three months later they contacted me to say that they were still facing many challenges, but that Baruch Hashem felt they were coping well.


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Moishe Herskowitz, MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage). As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he guides new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. He can be reached at [email protected] or 718-435-7388.