The kind of therapy I utilize is positive, future-thinking, now-centered, and about lighting up and moving into that which is beneficial. In doing all of that, we’re priming the exact right things.
Priming is preparing a person to think of something. This is why when you hear an unusual word, phrase, or name, you notice it more often in a short period of time. It’s on the top of your head, you’re primed to notice it.
Author Malcolm Gladwell illustrates priming through psychological experiments. When he talks about race at the end, that’s called “stereotype threat”
Stereotype threat scholarly article (you can skim it or skip it) about having people declare their race and then take a test; black Americans did worse based on stereotype of lower intellect. Similar experiments were done with Asian women and math and driving and with athletics, where facilitator was changed to be black, white, buff or fat – participants did the same on number of push ups in test, but did worse on vertical jump if they were white and the facilitator was black because the stereotype is that black people are better at jumping and “white men can’t jump.”
Video on stereotype threat experiments and how to reduce it.
In practice, priming is why VA PTSD groups keep veterans sick. You go talk about atrocities and how crappy you felt and feel, then come back next week to do it again. Groups should be focused on solutions, be positive, and be time-limited. This is also why talk therapy fails, those therapists are priming their clients to continue thinking about what it is that sucks in their life. Instead, think about how you’re fixing that stuff – and be primed to keep thinking about that, making things better and better. It’s a small shift, but it’s a huge shift!
Advertisers utilize priming so you think of them every time you hear a slogan, see a color, notice an animal, etc. The biggest brands have the simplest logos – Nike’s swoosh, Coke’s ribbon, Pepsi’s circle, General Mills’ check mark; this is so when you see something similar in the real world, you think of them, free advertising, memory anchoring, and increased sales. I show this video in one of my classes – pause it and count the kangaroos. Every time you see a kangaroo, Dish wants you to think of them.
Street hypnotist (and who I want to be when I grow up) Derren Brown primes actor Simon Pegg – look at the room, watch it twice, for the layperson, it may be difficult to weed out what is hypnosis and what is priming.
And how it’s done
I LOVED showing these videos when I taught college courses, and the students always had so many questions thereafter. I have a bunch of Derren Brown’s shows on DVD and I watch them over and over and over – I even have a regionless DVD player just to watch them on, as they’re often hard to get outside of the UK. He’s so masterful.
This is the stuff that lights me right up. Thanks for letting me share and nerd out with you.
Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.