By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
I had the privilege to chat with Mike Mandel, hypnotist, in Toronto, Canada.
Mike talked to me about his 45 year hypnosis career, shared personal stories about his involvement in the hypnosis field and more, and we talked about what makes for good therapy. Watch the close captioned video or read it in my article.
World renowned hypnotist and therapist Mike Mandel's fascination with hypnosis started when he was just 12 years old and has sustained a career lasting almost half a century so far, spanning entertainment, therapy and training.
Susanna Sweeney: Hello Mike, thank you for joining me all the way from Toronto, Canada warm welcome to Mike Mondale one of the best known hypnotist in the world. Joining me here today to talk about your hypnosis career and how it all started. We'll bring you right back to the start, Mike. And you might yes entertaining story of how it all began.
Mike Mandel: Okay. With me it's been a journey, a long journey that began in the summer of 1965. When I was 12 years old. We had emigrated to Toronto from England. My father was ex British Army, he was an engineer. And he he was concerned I was watching too much television. And he said any book you want you can have took me to a bookstore.
And there was a book "The key to Hypnotism" by Walter Gibson. And I got this book, started learning the contents, went out searching for someone to hypnotize and I found a friend next door at McLean's Animal Hospital. Her father, his father was a veterinary technician. And him and his brother- Wayne and Max and I attempted to hypnotize them but Max just thought that was a big joke.
Wayne went into a profound somnambulistic trance. His hand became cataleptic, I created glove anesthesia and stuck safety pins through his- the flesh of his fingertips, which bled incredibly, but he was able to look at them with no pain and no no concern. I must say his parents didn't find it as interesting as I did. I was ordered to cease and desist. But I found out I had a knack for it.
Mike Mandel: And I began to play with hypnosis all through my teenage years. And then when I was 21, I began doing hypnosis full time as a career. So that's 45 years ago. Since then, I've done over 5000 hypnosis shows as a stage performer I retired two years ago, on three continents. hypnotized three major rock stars. I do it forensically, still, in Canada and I've trained Virginia Department of Criminal Justice, New York State Troopers, RCMP, all sorts of police.
And it's been a fascination. I've lived, breathe and eat and hypnosis as long as I can remember. And in 1992, a friend of mine was reading a Tony Robbins book and I mocked him for it. And he said, Mike, it's not like you to mock something you've not even looked into. And I took the challenge and I bought a Tony Robbins personal power cassette tape set.
And I thought this stuff is magic, and started hearing about NLP and started hearing about Bandler and Grinder the founders and I wound up becoming an NLP practitioner around 1992/ 93 started seeing clients, found out I had a knack for it because I had my hypnosis background as well.
Susanna Sweeney: They combine incredibly well, don't they?
Mike Mandel: Oh It's a complete overlap. And because of so much Ericson stuff, and I mean, Milton Erickson is hypnosis as far as I'm concerned, in fact, I have here on my desk- This is an actual brick from Milton Erickson's house in Phoenix, Arizona.
Susanna Sweeney: Wow, that's incredible. How did you get that?
Mike Mandel: One of my students gave it to me a friend gave it to me and it's a wonderful thing to have. But I went on and did an NLP master practitioner course in new code- John Grinder's new code- did an Ericksonian hypnosis training with Derek Bomber, my mentor but I already knew his entire course by day two he said, what are you doing in this class and he got me to co teach and then he said I want you to be my hypnosis hired gun and I said I'll do it, as long as I can completely redesign your hypnosis course, so I did and then went on to do a two year NLP trainer course in NLP new code.
We brought John Grinder to Toronto twice and I just got immersed in this, went to California, studied with Dr. Larry Nimms in "Be Set Free Fast", did the EFT courses, the tapas acupressure technique, and I was practicing from 1992 as a psychotherapist in Toronto. Because it was an unregulated field at the time, and a lot of people were coming to me because they had such poor results with other therapists who were continuously re anchoring problem states and so on. And I really enjoyed the change work, I enjoyed helping people. And I continued right up until 2000. Did about eight years of this, my mentor Derek Bomber died in 2000.
And then shortly after, my friend Chris Thompson, who became my best friend, he approached me to teach and I started teaching more and I had a dream that changed my life. I woke up. I had been studying a university level course in Cathedral architecture. And I woke up in the morning and I saw hypnosis training based on the structure of a gothic cathedral. And that became the "Architecture of Hypnosis".
And Chris became my business partner, he quit his job. He's, you know, a mechanical engineer and MBA- a stock analyst in downtown Toronto. And he began promoting what I was doing.
Based on this unusual fact, Susanna, my parents died young. My mother died at 53. My father died at 57. And Chris said, you're getting old, he said. You have to get all of this out of your head, give it to the world before you drop dead. So that became my quest. And I've always worked in a very, what I'd call a neo Ericksonian approach, lecturing on hypnosis, teaching hypnosis. I was blessed to be asked to give the keynote last year at the world's biggest hypnosis conference in Las Vegas, Hypno Thoughts Live, it's on YouTube.
And I decided to write a hypnosis keynote- half an hour, where the entire keynote was hypnotic, where it was all designed in a series of embedded loops. And- I've just been having fun with this for what's that 45 more than 50 years anyway. So 70 is getting closer than 60 and I still love it. We love teaching the live classes when when we're able to do so with COVID-19, we still have the online Academy.
And I've been blessed to train with some of the best hypnotists in the world because my mandate is I have never arrived. There's always more to learn. it's twofold. We need to do the self work. We need to be clean vessels, we need to deal with our own stuff, our own egos, our own narcissism, our own junk, our own wounded ego states. And when we do that,
Susanna Sweeney: You're singing my song right now.
Mike Mandel: I thought, I thought that would be the case. The need to be something special disappears. And so the second part of it is we as do the self work and be is continue to learn from the best. So I trained with Freddie Jaquin who became a very close friend. We brought him to Toronto, we brought JamesTrip to Toronto. We brought Melissa Tiers from New York to Toronto, he brought Karl Smith to teach Kinetic Shift.
And Chris's genius was we wanted to learn from these people. So instead of paying to go and train, we bring them to us- bring the world to Toronto. They do the class here, we get to take the course, and completely keep building our own skills.
And we've got David Snyder coming we had Bob Burns booked, but COVID-19 cancel that. So my mandate is to keep learning from the best, keep dealing with my own stuff as it surfaces and be the best the cleanest vessel I can. So I can enter that psychotherapeutic loop with someone with deep concern and love for them. And their highest my highest intention is for their well being and their personal ecology and their progress and it works.
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Hypnosis has been shrouded in mystery. There are many myths or, simply, false beliefs attached to hypnosis. You, too, have likely picked up a few of them as they are ‘around’ in public consciousness. Let me bust those myths for you so you can be free to enjoy and appreciate hypnosis for what it is.
Hypnotic trance is referred to with much mystery. Is it really that spooky? Allow me to talk you through what the experience is like.
Susanna Sweeney: Yes, well, absolutely. I mean, I've been- I shared that with you, I've been in the therapy world for a quarter of a century. And definitely that's been one of my big takeaways- that you can only bring your clients as far as you have gone yourself. But ultimately it's not just you know, skills are good techniques are good.
That's all helpful. But how you apply them always grows out of your own personal development. And if you haven't been there, then you can't bring the client there.
Mike Mandel: There's not a chance. There's no chance of taking them there or even pointing them there. Because ego and all these things always get in the way, they really do. And the first time, it's still an ongoing process for me. Five, six years ago, we attended our first Hypno Thoughts Live conference in Las Vegas, which is about 1000 attendees. It's fantastic. I don't know if it's going to go ahead this year.
But Chris and I - I didn't even want to go. I thought- You know, so much hypnosis I had seen had been just terrible, poor technique, like ridiculous technique, people reading scripts at people and not even looking at their client not interacting, but just reading at them.
And I said to Chris, I don't want to go- like and you talked me into it. And I met these- some poor trainers, but I met some amazing trainers, too. And I started to put a lot of stuff aside and saying, I'm just going to be this open vacuum cleaner to keep learning and keep taking in information. And that's why when you asked me to do this interview, I'm thrilled to do it. If I can convey anything to you of note, I'm glad. And I'm sure I'll get something back from you that I too will use at some point.
Susanna Sweeney: Yeah, and that is such a healthy attitude. I just love it. And it's absolutely true. You never stop learning. That's completely my experience. So right now I'm doing a course with Steve Andreas.
Mike Mandel: Oh, great. Excellent. His son Mark, his son Mark is a good friend of mine.
Susanna Sweeney: Okay!
Mike Mandel: He is just a lovely person. And it's really nice.
Susanna Sweeney: Yeah.
Mike Mandel: That's great. That'll be a great one.
Susanna Sweeney: Completely because trauma has been my baby for so long. And these trauma techniques just totally, you know, they're unreal. They're out of this world to me. I have the 25 year perspective on trauma and the limitations in the psychotherapy world around processing that. And when I got into this work, I was totally blown away.
Mike Mandel: Interesting, yeah
Susanna Sweeney: I'm way too busy to do a course. But I just love it.
Mike Mandel: Well, I only see clients now on Thursdays and I only see them for very specific things remotely, because I've got a stable of fantastic psychotherapists and hypnotherapist I can send them to who really are looking to expand their practices.
And I much rather teach now at this time, having retired from the stage largely retired from doing keynotes, I love the teaching- nothing excites me more, Susanna than to get some students who are adequate or fairly average and turn them into amazing hypnotists and that...
That's when we pass it along and see them replicate excellence. I agree with you about the trauma, I treated an awful lot of trauma from '92 til, oh, just a few years ago, I never had a plan. I use a wide variety of techniques as well as rape victims and traumatized police and military in horrendous accidents.
And all of the above and to see people set free is a remarkable thing where my focus is today is largely on ego state work, because I'm convinced it's the missing ingredient for a lot of therapists. A lot of good therapists, you know, the ones who will be doing EMDR or EFT or Rewind Technique or whatever, and the problem isn't being resolved. We've all run into the client where we do everything right.
But for some reason, it still doesn't work. They appear to be at threshold. There's all of this stuff going on, but for some reason, we may be able to reduce it. Slightly or maybe a lot, but we aren't taking it to zero. And I see this with EFT a lot, a lot of EFT practitioners.
And what they're not recognizing is, unless they have the vaded Gordon Emerson's word meaning invaded by fear, anger, sadness, trauma, unless they have that vaded ego, state executive at that time. They can't cure it. You're dealing with an intellectual ego state that knows about problem, but it's not the one feeling it and I came across this too, because...
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Susanna Sweeney: You must associate the client. That's what you're talking about. Right? You have to associate to the problem that you're working on, otherwise it won't work.
Mike Mandel: Yes. Yeah. And a lot of people- instead of associating them into it, what they do is talk about the problem, but they're talking about it in a dissociated way, unless they- they feel it unless they feel it in their body, unless they're able to feel the trauma. You don't have the right ego state executive.
Susanna Sweeney: So see, I don't even call it ego state. I mean, the way I've come from the sensory motor world is very much about bringing it into the body. So it's about the present moment. And it's, where's that in your body right now?
Mike Mandel: Right. But when you say that, according to Dr. Emerson, now we're going back to Paul Furdan, Watkins and Watkins to Emerson in Australia, the ego states are burned into the brain as neural pathways. And so what's happening is some of them have no connections, they have no protein kinase See, building neural pathways between them.
And only one of them because they are digital, only one of them at a time can be connected to executive function, the prefrontal cortex, so a more powerful one is going to push out a weaker ego state. And here's the beautiful model I love. The model says we have 50 to 150 ego states developed through childhood.
They're all different ages. Some of them are traumatized. Some of them are naturally functioning, some don't like being executive, some don't like each other. Some get along great. And if you think of it as a bungalow, a single storey house, with one door to the outside world, and there's also a basement, it's a Canadian house with a basement where the furnace is and the recreation room, the below ground. And on the top, the main floor, there are the five to 15 sub personalities that we use on a daily basis.
They know about each other, they usually get along, and the one that answers the door to see who's there and the outside world is the one that's executive. Now a stronger one could say, I'll get that and push it out of the way. Now in the basement. We have the ego states that don't come up to the main floor very often, and they certainly don't answer the door very often.
But off to the side of the basement we have the bomb shelter, the old fallout shelters they had in North America, especially in the US, and that's the vaded, the traumatized ego states and they're there because they hurt so much and they're frightened. And they're the ones that we bring executive so we can heal them, then they become integrated again, into the... it's a model, but it's a useful neurological model.
And you and I are on exactly the same page. Because when they're feeling it in the body, that's when it's executive. And that's when the cure comes, whether they're abreacting or whatever they're doing.
Susanna Sweeney: It will only come out to when somebody feels safe.
Mike Mandel: Yes, or, or when that terror, grief, whatever is retriggered. Even if they don't feel safe, it can become executive in a panic, right?
Susanna Sweeney: Yes, but then not be therapeutically accessible.
Mike Mandel: Correct. That's right. And to get to the...
Susanna Sweeney: They might run a thousand miles from you...
Mike Mandel: Yes, I totally agree- to get to the ones that are down in the basement. We really need deep hypnosis to get to them to be able to negotiate and heal them. What's intriguing is the concept of the highest wisdom state. The highest wisdom state is the only ego state that all the other ones will listen to- the only one. And what it does is when we contact that it speaks in a completely different voice. It's stentorian powerful voice. It has the highest good of the person intent, I contacted that to help people overcome trauma and things in the past. It's a wonderful thing. Let me give you a quick personal example about self healing.
Susanna Sweeney: Please.
Mike Mandel: When I was 19- 1957 five seven, I was four years old. We were still living in England, and it was April 29. It was my fourth birthday. And we didn't have a lot of money. My mum and dad took me on a double decker Manchester bus with my sister who was 11 and we went to my aunt Sheila's house for lunch, for my birthday.
That's my dad's sister. And we took the bus we had rain, you know, pullovers and umbrellas and everything- it's England. Rainy Day. And that birthday was wonderful. I remember because Sheila had a birthday cake for me I'd never had one before. And a box of black magic chocolates which are an expensive luxury for our family.
And I can even remember I ate the marzipan one- crazy- cups of tea, and they had some cardboard cutout soldiers for me because they didn't have much money. But someone gave me the best present I ever received, or ever would receive. And it was a teddy bear.
I'd never had one and I saw this bear, and I hugged it, and I loved it. And I called him Teddy. And I put the bear on my knee, and I drank tea and it was a wonderful afternoon. But then it was time to go home. And we got back on the double decker bus took the rest of the chocolates and some of the cake and we all bundled on the bus Chatterton in Manchester and in right near our house got off the bus.
Bustling in the rain. down from the top deck, and I had left the bear on the bus. And I remember feeling terrified, and grief stricken. I felt like I'd lost my best friend. And I buried that grief. Now my father phoned the bus company, they made the inquiries, the bear never showed up. And over the years, I buried the pain of this, and I became a not very nice person. I just, you know, I wasn't a criminal or anything, but I wasn't I wasn't a good person at all.
And I got married and my wife knew my whole life. She knew my whole story. And I was never abusive or anything, but there was a lot of clashes that were my fault and drank too much all these things, because I was hurting, unconsciously hurting. And she knew my story. And then something interesting happened. It was December 1986. So this is gone from 1957 to 1986.
My wife's birthday is Christmas Day. Now Christmas is a huge thing in this house. I become like a little kid. I've got a Jewish last name, but I'm actually an Anglo Scottish Presbyterian, Presbyterian elder. I don't know how that happened. So we had our Christmas morning, and my wife had her Christmas presents or birthday present. And I was taking her to New York and it was all these wonderful things.
And she said, I think there's another present and I said, what-she said just behind the bureau there. And I pulled this parcel out and it said to Mike from Santa Claus, I opened it. It was a teddy bear- and I instantly abreacted all that pain from that four year old boy, I clung to the bear. I said, You found me. You found me again. I was sobbing like for five minutes, and all this pain left me, and I thank God, I changed in that moment.
And I told them at Hypno Thoughts Live when I did keynote last year, to 1000 hypnotists. I said, as a 66- I was only 66, as a 66 year old man, I am proud to tell you, that bear sleeps in my bed with me every night.
Susanna Sweeney: How sweet.
Mike Mandel: You see, because when I put that bear in the bed with me every night, that young child ego state becomes executive, but he is safe now, safe and secure and comfortable. And that began a lot of my own healing in 1986.
Susanna Sweeney: And that story makes so much sense and thank you for sharing that with our audience. The one one thing that really struck me about that is how we tend to assume that trauma is something major, right? So that's sort of the, you know, a major event like sexual assault or physical abuse. So those things are recognized as being traumatic. But what we don't tend to see is some relatively minor events can actually be major for people, especially for young children. These things can be absolutely life shattering...
Mike Mandel: ...and enormous, enormous. Yes. And again, we're back to the NLP Maxim. We're not reacting to the events, were reacting to our internal representation of them. So the event to the world might seem like an insignificant thing. But we would mean to the person experiencing it. Yeah. It's life shattering because of the portrayal to me was I've lost my best friend, just like that. Look, I'll show you something interesting. Susanna on the wall here, in my office. This is a painting, an original painting my wife got done, or- she bought it, and it's called the protector. You can see it's a bear a bear looking over his domain. And she said, that reminds me have me at my best. Just gonna put it back on the wall here. Yeah. Okay, there we go. Excellent. He's looking over Milton Erickson, the brick now.
Susanna Sweeney: What a wonderful story in 1986. And this started another whole different process for you. Where you probably then at that stage went into hypnosis with a different frame of mind after that correct?
Mike Mandel: I think I think so. And one of the hardest, I don't know if you're familiar with the Enneagram, Susanna, I'm a typical Enneagram type eight. The eights are the white knight when they're at their best. We want to rescue damsels in distress and children and animals and, you know want to go into the fire and pull the bodies out and save people. But at our worst when we're disintegrated, we are the ones who you know, kill a dozen people with a machine gun in a mall. It's a terrible thing, everyone One of the nine numbers has its liabilities and its strengths. But the hardest thing for type eight is to be vulnerable. So at one point, I couldn't even have told anybody that story that would be perceived as weakness. But it actually became liberating for me, for me to be able to be vulnerable and unafraid. It that -that's, thank God that's the probably the biggest change in my personality was- was the effect of that over time, being able to share my own weaknesses, and my own failings and realize that's where the healing comes from. Hmm.
Susanna Sweeney: So I often use the analogy of alchemy. In fact, I used it with a with a client today. So this this medieval idea, right that you could produce gold and the...
Mike Mandel: The Philosopher's Stone...
Susanna Sweeney: That you could produce gold out of anything, right. So in in Germany in Saxony, there was a ruler who, locked in an alchemist in one of his castles, and basically he would be a prisoner for life on unless he produced gold. And what this man eventually came up with was porcelain.
So the equivalent of gold, right? Because it made the ruler very, very rich. But the idea is, right, so he was locked into this castle, which was a terrible situation. And out of this proverbial "shit", he ended up producing gold, right? Because he had to think of a way how would he get out of there?
You know, yeah, out of the situation. And it brought up this genius recipe, whether he had seen it before, whether he had come across Chinese porcelain, or whether it actually was his own genuine invention, nobody knows.
Mike Mandel: But it's just brilliant. What a total reframing of the situation, too, to make goal and it's porcelain it that's phenomena And I love that sort of thing, a one that keeps coming to mind with me. That's a great metaphor and great story. A friend of mine died a few years ago. His name was Ruben Carter.
Ruben Carter was also called Hurricane Carter. He was the middleweight boxing champion of the world. And Bob Dylan wrote the song The Hurricane about him. You know your big when Bob Dylan writes a song about you, but Denzel Washington played Ruben Carter in the film The Hurricane.
And Ruben became a very close friend. I didn't see him a lot, but we really bonded. He called me his brother, right until the day he died. And I learned a thing from him that was so interesting. He was wrongfully imprisoned for a couple of murders. He served something like 14 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement. Now, this is a man who- his freedom was so important, especially when he was wrongfully convicted until he was eventually exonerated and set free.
And so I asked him, I said, but your freedom is so important and he was so transformed from the prison experience. He became came a better person from it. It was amazing, instead of bitter. And he said the way he did it was he always had to control his environment. And when they put him into solitary confinement in the small cell, in a small cell, he refused to see it as a limitation.
And he saw it that now he was in absolute control of everything inside that cell. And he said, that's what made the difference. He was still in control. It was just a different area. He was in control. They couldn't take that from him. And he said he was prepared to eventually be in control just inside his own skin if he had to. He wouldn't let anyone else completely control him.
And that stopped him becoming bitter and resentful. And he was just such a loving person, even though he lost an eye in prison and remarkable stuff. But remember, it's yeah, it's not again, it's not what happens to us. It's how we perceive it, how we frame it in turn.
Susanna Sweeney: How we process it...I assume you've read Victor Frankl...
Mike Mandel: Of course, yes to all the discovery of meaning. He's one of my wife's my wife's favorite authors. And taking the absolute worst experiences as one of in our MMHA Academy. We've got lots of medical doctors, a couple of psychologists, couple of dentists, but we have one psychiatrist as well. And he stays anonymous, largely, but we've talked about this.
We talked about the difference between pain and suffering. And two people can have the exact same amount of physical or emotional, mental pain, whatever, but they don't suffer the same way. And that's very, very interesting. Again, you know, you said what we do with it, yeah. How we how we process it, and Frankl is a is a phenomenal example of that.
Susanna Sweeney: Yes, and I think especially when you're dealing with trauma, it's a really beneficial viewpoint to see the gold that you can find in the shit, right?
Mike Mandel: Yes, yes. In fact...
Susanna Sweeney: ...how else are you going to process some of the worst things that could ever happen to human beings and find meaning in that.
Mike Mandel: Mm hmm. One of the ways they tend to work not just with trauma with but with most things, except when I'm working to produce generative change if I'm working to produce remedial change to fix something, I've adopted what I call the Mandel model of therapy.
And it basically takes the metaphor that the client is in a labyrinth, like from Greek mythology, a labyrinth, a maze, largely of their own creation as they respond to what has occurred. And a labyrinth is a scary place, there's darkness, there's false terms. There's doors that lead nowhere, there's doors that are locked. And as much as we as therapists, of whatever ilk would love to open the door, grab them and pull them out. We can't do that.
Derrick Bomber my mentor, him and John Grinder are the ones I consider mentors but dirt bomber said you're not only your own best therapist, you are your own only therapist- that changed everything for me. And so I showing clients, I can't get in and kill the monster for you and drag you out of the labyrinth. But what I can do is give you the tools and empower you and shine some light for you so you can kill your own monsters and walk out of that labyrinth a free person.
And I always detraumatize first, that's my motto, no matter what they have, I find whatever is presenting- Is there a layer of trauma holding this together? And that's the first thing I'm going to unlock because if that's gone, we start with a tabula rasa somewhat of a clean slate. And we can begin now to build on a clean structure instead of working on top of a cemetery or something like that...let me ask you, Susanna. Wait, what what is the most challenging thing you've ever worked on?
Susanna Sweeney: With a client?
Mike Mandel: Yeah...
Susanna Sweeney: Clients material? Dissociative personality disorder? Yes, I found that very, very challenging. And at the time I had very limited tools. So I think...yeah, how do you work with dissociation?
Mike Mandel: Though...and again, it's a chronic problem. But hypnosis can give us a way in because dissociation according to Erickson is always part of trance. And so sometimes we can, we can cause that integration of the personality- provided with again with the ego state model. We're looking at healthy ego states. Vaded so invaded by fear, anger, sadness, trauma, whatever. We're looking at...
Susanna Sweeney: The ego state model is very suited then to having dissociated- It's like that, isn't it- the dissociated parts. Just that it's frozen in DID- you actually get the- they're much more separate than they would ordinarily be.
Mike Mandel: Yes, far more separate. And in fact, we'll often find that's where we're gonna find amnetic loops, people amnesic for something that happened five minutes ago, you know, I mean, for your eye, if we go into a room or stand there and go, what do I just come in here for?
Well, neuroscience says, The ego state that sent us into that room is not the one that arrived in the room, that's normal. But if someone is standing in a room for two hours, and they can't remember when they came, now, now, we're now looking at this profound dissociative identity disorder. And in the in the neuroscience model coming out of ego state theory, they have to actually make that connection.
They have, you know, you're doing a million connections a second, but they have to use the protein molecule to actually bring that connection in when that part now becomes integrated into the personality again, and what a challenge for you, you know, it's um, yeah, dissociation is a horrendous thing for the client. I find as in any degree can be bad, but obviously that would be the worst case scenario.
But I find in my own case, as Enneagram type eight, when I get under a great deal of stress, I mean a tremendous amount of stress, which fortunately, thank God does not happen very often. But when it does, I switch to Enneagram five, and I lose my emotions, I dissociate from my emotions 100% and I said to, my wife, I can't tell what I'm feeling. Am I angry? Am I sad? I can't tell.
And that's a real alarm bell for me to know that I'm under too much stress when I cannot tell what my feelings are anymore. And it's just a thing we learned to work with. I've discovered in the last couple of years in the self exploration that I have my own particular OCD.
And how it manifests is this, when I'm under a lot of stress, and only when I am- like overwork with no break or whatever, just relentless, I start pathologically straightening things. And they are always things with right angles and straight edges. So I'll put the, you know, the keyboard from my Mac, exactly lined up with the edge of the desk. And then there's a pad here and two books, they have to perfect. And when I catch myself doing this, I mean, this is something I can fix.I have the tools to get rid of that.
So it will never happen again, because we treat it as all OCD is anxiety driven. And it's a means of keeping the anxious ego state from the executive, but I kept it on purpose. Because for me now, Susanna, it's an alarm bell. So when I start pathologically stressing or fixing things, sorting things, I know I go, Okay, my brain is telling me I need a break. I'm under too much stress. And then I may do a couple of rounds of EFT or my six step tab. Just to release the stress and then it stops again. It's a self awareness is really everything, isn't it? You know, that's my wife's thing is self awareness.
Susanna Sweeney: Yeah, absolutely. So what I've the tool that I've started using the last couple of years is Transcendental Meditation. Okay, that's really or actually, me doing it three, three and a half years now. Something like that.
Mike Mandel: Yep. Well, 20 minutes a day...
Susanna Sweeney: That's really changed my world...I think what happens when you have some regular practice like that is you just become more and more yourself. And less and less of the other stuff- the external kind of...
Mike Mandel: Yes, yes, less of less of the imprint from everything around us. There's more of an authenticity, more of what we call the true self, you know, that is unencumbered by hatred and fear and all of these things. It's interesting that you're doing that. I'll tell you what mine is. I do Jinshan Jitsu- and it's from Japan. Yeah, yeah. And so Jinshan Jitsu is holding the thumbs in the fingers. So the thumb is the stomach spleen. The first finger is kidney, bladder, and so on. But the one for anxiety is the thumb. The one for anger is the first finger. And then this is I'm sorry, and fear, anger, grief, and then having to perform. And what I do is every night...I do the ritual before I go to bed. What's that?
Susanna Sweeney: Isn't anger the middle finger?
Mike Mandel: Yes. anger's the middle finger. Oh, it is. Yeah.
Susanna Sweeney: And isn't fear the pointy finger?
Mike Mandel: First finger? Yeah.
Susanna Sweeney: The teacher would go...
Mike Mandel: Yeah, I said it backwards. The thumb is anxiety, this right?
Susanna Sweeney: Would do this, right, producing fear...
Mike Mandel: Yes, and what do people say? When they're afraid? It's mean. I don't mean to be crude, but they say oh, you know, he was so frightened. He pissed himself. Well, you know what?
That that's kidney bladder. that's fear. So not surprising. So anyway, the ritual when I go to bed my meditation is, I grasp the thumb either hand and hold it not too tight and I start to feel a pulse in both hands. And to do for about a couple of minutes. Then I go the first finger, I do all of them sometimes the second round and I end, some in the center of the palm, which is the deepest one. And I just wait until I get a pulse.
And when you do it regularly to get the pulse very quickly, and that's clearing the meridians. And all my sleep problems have completely disappeared. They just there's no nagging thoughts in my brain, nothing. We are, but I'm sure you will agree...
Susanna Sweeney: Interesting you should bring this up. Do you know where I got that the finger holds, I got from them from Capacitar. So from...
Mike Mandel: What is that, what's Capacitar?
Susanna Sweeney: Capacitar is, they're- It's an organization that brings support into very disadvantaged communities that have been traumatized. So they give them, they draw on all kinds of methods and they take the easiest and the safest pieces that they can teach people to help them manage their traumatic stimulation.
Learn powerful and easy-to-learn skills that can help you become the master of your emotions.
Mike Mandel: Oh, that's fantastic. What a great thing to do. You know, and I said with EFT, I started EFT I studied with Willem Lammers, a Swiss psychologist in the mid 1990s, about '95 so I was already doing my practice I've been doing hypnosis for over that time and NLP as well.
And Willem Lammers, we studied EFT So Gary Craig's, you know, his 13 points, whatever it is, then TFT, Roger Callaghan's Thought Field Therapy, and Tapas acupressure technique and then I said, I went study with Larry Nimms in California we were the first people ever certified, I was the first Canadian ever certified. But having said all that, having done this for 25 years on then then Robert Smith's faster EFT, I have condensed everything into just six points. I added one point to the five of faster EFT which is the top of the head of the crown chakra, which is anxiety in Chinese medicine.
And my six Step tapping 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 under the collarbone six that clears 99% of things and you don't have to do the- you know "Even though" idea and rotating the eyes and humming and "Happy Birthda"y and that- I stopped doing that when I started Larry Nimms, he's a classical psychologist and he said, Oh, he said, I don't do any of that anymore.
The rotate said, Really? I said, Yeah, he said, pretend you don't need it. And you'll you'll discover you don't. I pretended I didn't need it. Never used it again- it's like-, or all this, all this psychological reversal. They said it was Roger Callahan's greatest discovery, Larry Newman said it was Roger Callahan's, greatest invention, he said didn't exist. He said pretend there's no such thing as psychological reversal. You'll never run into it again.
He was right. I never saw it again. So I like I like a simplified method. I teach my students to have a very large well stocked box of tools, not to go in with a plan, but to have all of these tools sharp maintained, ready to go. So when someone came to me from Quebec last last summer, and she had a horrible grief thing.
This woman had also fallen out of a second story window. I mean a nightmare of stuff happened, this poor woman, lost her spouse, lost your best friend the same year. And my unconscious said, mirroring hands. So I did. Richard Hills mirroring hands, that was the perfect thing. So by having a very complete box of tools, and by keeping all of them sharp, when I was a therapist, I made a contract with myself I was right on Lake Ontario in Toronto, I had a beautiful place in an upscale area across from Starbucks.
And I made a covenant with myself that I would never do the same technique twice in a week. Once I used it, I couldn't use it again. Because my aim was to build ultimate flexibility. Just shift gears. It's like a martial art to me, change gears and do it seamlessly. And the better we can do that, the more we can. Again, we're back to helping people right...
Susanna Sweeney: Now I think that's a very wise approach. To have a wide toolbox, and not not to be overly reliant on tools either because sometimes it's all about you, and how you interact with the person on what you pick up only intuitively, or in conversation, what you can reflect back to them...
Mike Mandel: Yes and that's that's where it becomes....and that's where it becomes the whole thing of not going in with a plan. Yeah, but we are reacting to a living human being, not a set of tools, not a set of procedures, we are entering a psycho-dynamic loop with that person. And in the absence of rapport, the changes will not last. But in the presence of rapport, the technique becomes the least important thing.
You know, I love John Grinder's rapport secret, it's served me well. You don't have to do the matching, the mirroring, the breathing and sync the offering back language. Those are all great. But you can short circuit the whole procedure by when you sit down and just congruently pretend that the person in front of you is the most fascinating, important person you have ever met in your life and continue to pretend that and your mirror neurons do everything else, and the rapport will be off the scale.
Susanna Sweeney: Amazing. That's a good take actually on... because I think some of these things and NLP they've become almost stylized or rigid. Yeah. But it's about that fluidity of being able to be yourself in it.
Mike Mandel: Yes. And never letting our subjects surprise us, no matter what they do. It's like, I got that from Erickson. I'm still at heart primarily an Ericksonian. And the idea that whatever behavior they offer- short of physical violence- that's acceptable.
That's now something we work with and never freaked out by them. How- what kind of results are you getting with the EMDR... The reason I'm asking you is it's not a modality I practice. I've got students who use it and swear by it. But I have a friend of mine from Vienna, and he's one of Toronto's best pediatricians.
And he's associated with Toronto sick Children's Hospital, which is one of the premier children hospitals in the world. Groundbreaking I think they separated a couple of Siamese twins, and they do everything there. But he said he's trained quite high level in EMDR.
But he stopped using it because he said he was running into patients who were in a hyper aroused state afterwards and feeling really spaced out. And he found he could get the same results with one of the tapping regimens without them feeling all zoned out. Do you run into that at all?
Susanna Sweeney: Yeah well you see, so I trained in Havening Techniques and EMDR at the same time. And so my take on EMDR is that I think it's it is of a certain age, right? It's 30 years old. And it's basically it was the best of the trauma world back then.
Mike Mandel: I see.
Susanna Sweeney: Right, but they have a certain- there's different ways of learning EMDR I learned it in the psychotherapy world. So the the Francine Shapiro way of doing it, and for my taste, there was way too much insistence on working with cognition in that you know, you have to work through every memory to you know, otherwise you won't get the right result. I'm not convinced of that any longer. I think you can work with feelings,
Mike Mandel: Yeah, I do too.
Susanna Sweeney: I think you can do to even with physical pain, that's a state. You can you know that
Mike Mandel: Yep.
Susanna Sweeney: And so you don't have to be you know, there's three layers. You have cognition, you have emotion, and you have body sensation.
Mike Mandel: Yeah, you can work somatically...
Susanna Sweeney: You can work flexibly, you don't have to necessarily have cognition be part of it. In fact, I find with trauma claims that it's actually often beneficial not to have too much cognition at all. Because that can lead to...
Mike Mandel: Yeah, I totally I agree with you because it gets too close in my mind in this hypnotists opinion. To me, it can get too close to CBT where we're giving people new ways of thinking about it and behaving, you know, learning how to live with that pain and do things despite it instead of instead of taking away the source and setting them free.
Susanna Sweeney: Absolutely, so, so what happens when people think too much they go to meaning? Yeah, right. And what will happen is they will reinforce the negative beliefs that they originally created when the trauma happened, right? They totally because children definitely when it's developmental trauma as a child, that's what you do. You make whatever bad thing happens, you make thought about something bad about yourself because mom and dad are good...
Mike Mandel: Yes, it has a meaning it has a self reflexive meaning. Yeah. And we're, we're on the we're on the same page. And then
Susanna Sweeney: And then, if you recreate that, as an adult, every time that you talk about the trauma, I'm not sure of what benefit that is, you know.
Mike Mandel: I agree. Let me give you an example...
Susanna Sweeney: So just to finish answering your question about EMDR, what I find is, Havening Techniques- I look at that as an improvement on EMDR. So certainly the science behind it. And I've talked to Ron Ruden about this, it's- the whole priority for them was to keep clients safe.
Right when they when they eventually when he had, you know, gone through the study of neuroscience for X amount of years and he had finally decoded how this happens in the brain that trauma is encoded and then they developed techniques to undo the trauma, their focus was on keeping people safe, creating a safe haven.
Mike Mandel: Right, right, I never practised Havening...I've heard a lot of great things about it from my students. So it's probably something I would like to look into at some point for greater completeness, but I've only heard good things about it from people I really respect. Let me give you a cool example I think you'll find useful because you as a psychotherapist, let me tell you about one of the worst psychotherapy examples I ever heard.
And this is the kind of stuff that is, you know, we talk about this the good, the bad and the ugly. And I worked with a client and this man was going through, he'd gone through some marriage problems. And him and his wife had a lot of arguments and stormed out of the room and all of this, the Toronto therapist, psychotherapist, licensed psychotherapist, here was her solution, when and it could just as easily have been a 'he'. But the solution was whenever you have a fight, hold hands and look at each other in the eyes as you fight.
Her idea was that way you're dealing with a human being, well, what happened was, they were coming along and they went on vacation to a national park in Nova Scotia, Canada, and they were on a vacation, their marriage is coming along and they're very happy. And as they walk through these beautiful pine trees and Canada at its best, they held hands and they're walking and talking and turned and looked at each other. And they had the worst argument of their marriage started within five seconds.
All of those horrible arguments had become anchored to that touch. I mean, that is so incredibly irresponsible to give someone that as a as a solution. And it only came out under hypnosis, what had happened, his unconscious knew exactly what it was. But it just appears to me that, what have we got- we got 200 competing theories of therapy.
The bottom line to me is always that we are dealing with a human being, you know, we're dealing with a living, breathing person who is often hurting. And, yeah, we've got to get we've got to get either through an affect bridge or a somatic bridge or something. We've got to get to that, under the surface that where they're hurt is.
I liked the way Melissa Tiers handles it very well, her addiction protocols are amazing. And this is a woman who was a heroin addict and got off it by herself. And she treats the emotional stuff and the physical body feelings as exactly the same and gets phenomenal results. You know, it's because as soon as we say the emotion, then it becomes, "Well, where do you feel like your body?", right, so we're back to the the display of it and it is such a fascinating field.
And I guess I'm sure you're like me, those times we have a phenomenal victory with a client I worked with...those are the best. I worked with a young woman, a mid 30s young to me, and she had been raped. by an uncle, systematically for seven years from age seven to 14, her parents never knew it was always in a shower when they were at this resort somewhere. And this woman had such horrendous PTSD.
If you put your hands like this near her neck, she'd become violent and fight. She had gastrointestinal distress. That was just terrible, lower back pain, flashbacks, nightmares, just, you know, on edge constantly. And she'd been in therapy for something like 12 years. And all they did was keep her talking about the problem all the time, all the time. And that is one session.
One session, she was cured absolutely free of it. To the point that I could grab her by the throat without warning at the end of the session and shake her and she just burst out laughing. I mean, it's when we hit the right tool with the right attitude and the right caring with the right person at the right moment. Boom, boom goes the dynamite- the effect is- it's just so gratifying.
Susanna Sweeney: Absolutely. Absolutely. I can only go along with that. And so tell me, you're kind of at the legacy stage of your career. So share with our audience a little bit about the projects you're into now, your kind of pet babies, your...
Mike Mandel: Yeah, well, yeah, sure. I have worked out an ego state protocol that I give out freely to anybody who wants it. It's just two sheets of paper. But it's a clever way of getting the unconscious mind to integrate ego states below the threshold of your awareness. The results have been amazing.
I created MindScaping a few years ago. MindScaping is being used by therapists around the world now- some use it as their only method of therapy. And it's interesting because you can throw it at a huge thing like your health or your relationships, or a tiny thing like that meeting I have tomorrow that I'm nervous about and the whole idea was Milton Erickson was brilliant at getting the right metaphor that would unlock someone's problem because he was Erikson.
And MindScaping gets the unconscious mind of the subject to provide you with the metaphor that will unlock it. So it's just weird how well it works. I stumbled upon it again. And that's something I'm still really pleased with right now we're putting together another self hypnosis track because I put out three tracks, stress relief, peak performance and memory power, but that was 25 years ago. And I've learned a lot in 25 years.
And one of the images that was in all three of these tracks that interlock to the different products interlock with each other hypnotically in a very strange way. There was a castle they were never allowed to visit. They always had to go past it. I must have had 100 people over the year say I want to go to the castle.
I want to go to the castle. So purely as a public service, Chris Thompson and I are creating a hypnosis track track that will be about 40 minutes long and it's different one because it's the first hypnosis track where your experience will be different every time you use it. And this enables people to do self healing and so on, they get to go to the castle, finally. So that has been written, we have to record it once COVID-19 is over and and get back in the studio.
We're currently putting out what we think will be the ultimate self hypnosis product- we're working on writing it, that's going to be recorded too- we just did an anxiety protocol that we're hearing from therapists around the world was the missing piece, because we're dealing both with overthinking and cognition and we're also dealing with the gut feelings of panic and so on.
I just love coming up.... I've got too many things I still want to produce. And what I'm working on now is something, the working title is Athenaeum but that's not going to be what it is. It is a way of, without giving this away, I've written it we have to record it and then I get five therapists to test it.
Three women and two men who are in my list of phenomenal therapists, they're going to test it, refine it, beta test it the way they do with MindScaping - then I'll refine it and we get that out there as well. And I did mentalism onstage for 20, 43 years, mental effects, mind effects, and I've just put together Mandel on mentalism. So we're doing selling up creating a product we'll make available to mentaliss, magicians have 10 amazing effects you can do to freak people out for your own amusement. And our podcasts, you know...
Susanna Sweeney: I love that you have- you mention all of this in the same breath- therapy stuff, this amazing transformative stuff and the entertainment.
Mike Mandel: Well, we got to get it done.
Susanna Sweeney: We gotta live, we gotta live.
Mike Mandel: You know, today we recorded we got rave software. One hundred and fifty one, 151 Brain Software recorded episode 151 today, and when I hang up from you, I've got to write the notes on it so we can send it the Philippines and have it edited and put online and Chris, Chris is the one who holds my feet to the fire and keeps me going. I think he makes me work too much but- but it's we're having fun and we're seeing people change and empowering therapists and nothing's any better than that really.
Susanna Sweeney: Absolutely. I can see you on fire. So, thank you very much. We'll finish the interview part now. And thank you. Thank you so much for sharing all that, especially the personal stories, very moving stories. And yes, thank you for joining me. We will talk again at some point in the future. And I'd like to wish all the best with your projects moving forward from here.
Mike Mandel: Thank you.
Hope you got a lot out of my interview with Mike Mandel, hypnotist in Toronto, Canada. Please leave a comment and let our community know what you have learned.