Dealing with the stress of Anosmia/Dysgeusia (loss or change in the senses of smell and taste)


Around 3m people in the UK are affected by some form of taste and smell dysfunction.

Some of them people suffer from treatable disorders such as chronic sinusitis or nasal polyps while others may have experienced permanent or long-term damage caused by ear surgery, injury to the mouth or nose, or as side-effects drugs such as captopril, lithium, procarbazine and certain drugs used in the treatment of cancer.

To get the medical terminology out of the way, Ageusia is the complete loss of sense of taste, Dysgeusia is distortion of the taste of things and Hypogeusia is a decrease in taste sensitivity. Anosmia is the inability to detect odours and as such, it  can either be an issue in its own right or else a major contributor to taste disorders.

Whether the problem is that of taste or smell or both, it can be extremely distressing for sufferers. Our enjoyment of food is focussed around taste and smell and without those we are just left with the texture and temperature of the food and the feeling of fullness it give us. Other than that, a large part of the pleasure is missing and many sufferers of Anosmia/Dysgeusia lose all interest and enjoyment in food and eating. And that is aside from the loss of enjoying a whiff of scent from a flower or a teasing hint of perfume in the air or the smell of fresh ground coffee or new baked bread or the scent of a new born baby’s skin.

With loss of these pleasures there often come feelings of frustration, anger, depression and grief. People with these problems will often withdrawn from socialising because so much of social life is focussed around celebratory meals, restaurant outings, enjoying a good glass of wine with friends, appreciating a gift of flowers and so on.

Impairment of taste and smell can also affect jobs and careers – the inability to smell or taste while working in hazardous environments where a smell of burning or taste of gas in the air is an early indicator of something being wrong makes employment in mining, gas, oil or chemical industries difficult. A doctor or paramedic being unable to smell alcohol on someone’s breath could lead to their misdiagnosing the reasons for a patient’s erratic behaviour and lead to serious errors in diagnosis and treatment. Any impairment of taste or smell can be dangerous not only for the sufferer but also for their colleagues and the people relying on their services.

Hypnotherapy cannot do anything to help restore functionality of sense of smell or taste but it can do a lot to help mitigate the sense of loss and anger and frustration at its happening. It can help those who have not totally lost their sense of smell or taste to optimise their remaining faculties so that they can make the most of enjoying what they can. It can also help stimulate their recall and enjoyment of those smells and tastes which they can no longer experience directly – the mere sight of a highly spiced meal bringing back memories of enjoyment and appetite without the need for the full taste/smell experience.

Post hypnotic suggestion can also be used to encourage those with partial taste/smell functions to remember all those times that they have a really satisfying taste/smell experience and to be far less aware of the unsatisfactory ones.

In these ways, quality of life can be optimised and feelings of loss, grief and anger minimised.

If any of my readers have any experience of these disorders or their treatment I would love to hear from you. Just leave me a Comment describing the causes of your problem and the emotions they engendered and how you found your own personal coping strategy. I’d also be interested to know whether or not you feel that the type of therapy described here might have been of benefit to and the reasons why/why not.

PS  update June 2017.  I have just come across an organisation called FifthSense (fifthsense.org.uk) which has beenmailinglist@fifthsense.org.uk set up to provide information and latest news on developments in the world of Anosmia.

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We should all have one of these….


This is a great idea.  If only we could get it miniaturised and slide it into our hippocampus and wire it up to our limbic system.  Bingo!  Instant sunshine every day…

http://www.psfk.com/2012/10/happiness-machine-internet-printer.html

How being a Perfectionist can damage your life


I attended a course last weekend which started me thinking about how much we all damage ourselves and our quality of life by indulging in Perfectionism.   We often think of Perfectionists as having some form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) where all can labels in the cupboards have to face forward and the cans and bottles have to be ranked in size order and by colour and content.

Most of us have some element of the Perfectionist within us – liking a tidy home or desk or having a regular place to put the kitchen scissors.  This type of behaviour helps us have more efficient and pleasant lives and avoids wasting hours of effort trying to find a roll of Cellotape.

However, our Perfectionism can become a problem when we start to apply it to ourselves and how we feel the world should treat us.  For instance, when the mechanism of the subconscious (which builds our map of the world and the everyday rules for living), starts to create rules which build an unrealistic expectation about the world around us and the way it should (must) treat us.

If we aren’t careful, we can begin to construct unrealistic rules for ourselves and then try to live by them, expecting the world to treat us well in return.  Examples of these beliefs could be  “I should never turn down the chance of doing something” or  “It must be 100% right.  Not even a tiny error is acceptable” or “My employer must always treat me well because I am a such a good worker and he really values my contribution”.

The result of creating these types of rule is that you put a massive amount of pressure on yourself and those around you to deliver something which is, in reality, unachievable.

“I should never turn down the chance of doing something” means that instead of having a varied and interesting life you are manically running/driving from one event to another.  Getting up early to get somewhere; leaving that event early to get somewhere else; frantically changing clothes for the next activity;  driving furiously to get somewhere else; always looking at the clock, cursing buses, trains and planes for being late; fretting and agitated in traffic jams; dragging friends and family around behind you in a frantic hurry to get somewhere and do something else rather than the thing you are actually doing!

Many people also apply this same “never turn anything down” rule to their work lives by never turning down a job or a project.  Clients tell me “it’s because they know I’m the only one who can  do it,”  “It’s my area of expertise”, “no one else can meet that kind of deadline”.  What they are really telling me is that their employer is exploiting their mistaken belief.  The Manager handing out the work probably thinks that my client is a mug for taking on more and more work; that they don’t really care what happens to one of their team when they eventually break down.  That as long as the job gets done and the Manager looks good, they’ll keep on piling on the work.  If it all goes wrong, they can blame the overworked and Perfectionist who has moved heaven and earth to make sure that they deliver a 100% perfect job.

The self-delusion that one is valued at work and that a company cares still runs deep in the veins of many employees, despite the evidence in front of them every day.  They will tolerate bullying, abuse and overwork because they fear the effort of finding a new job and lack the confidence to rise to the challenge of being given tasks without the right training, timescale or resources.  The chances are that if your boss never has to say “do it or I’ll find someone else who will” when loading another massive burden on your already overburdened back, then it’s YOU who’s the one taking on the work others have already said is impossible to do in the time/for the money/without more resource etc!

Another corrosive belief is that “it must be 100% right, otherwise the rest of what I’ve done is useless and worthless and I am a useless and worthless person who doesn’t deserve thanks or praise”.   No amount of praise can be meaningful to his kind of Perfectionist.  It rolls off them as their subconscious mind rejects what it sees as hollow words from people who  “just don’t know how much better the result could have been if only I could have done a better job”.  This creates in the Perfectionist a deep well of frustration and dissatisfaction with everything in their lives.  They feel bad all the time.  They might turn to drink, drugs, sex or food for comfort in order to achieve that elusive feeling of control over their lives. They might begin to blame others for their lack of perceived achievement, or break up relationships or just work harder and harder until they eventually break down.

The payback which comes from all this manic behaviour is often the firm belief that “My employer must always treat me well because I am a such a good worker and he values my contribution so much”.  Perfectionists believe this of their families too “because I work until 2am every night cleaning the kitchen the family must love me more and show me their appreciation”.

But because everyone views the Perfectionist as neurotic and unreasonable, they don’t value that person more.  In fact, they probably value them less than they would if they just worked 9-5 in the office and spent their time enjoying relaxation with the family playing games and doing trivial things.

As I’m always telling my clients, it’s OK to want to do things to the best of your abilities, but only within the context of the time, energy and other commitments that you have.

If you find yourself under constant pressure, ask yourself why.  What are the beliefs which are driving you to be under that pressure?  What makes the rules you’ve created for yourself true?  What less pressing rules could you create?  Are the rules you are currently living your life to actually out of date – were they right for when you were younger but are they appropriate to life as it is now?

Try writing down the rules which trouble you most and think about them.  How much do they ruin your life?  What would happen if you didn’t obey them?  What would you lose  AND, more importantly, what would you gain?

Why not take a look at the Perfectionist in your own life, and see how your own work and home life could be improved?

If you’re looking for a hypnotherapist, check this out…


I recently received the following enquiry from a prospective client which I though my readers might find of interest…

I found your website through Google. Although I work away I am at home most weekends. I am considering hypnosis to help me get over a difficult emotional time. I have been advised by my GP to check any therapists credentials thoroughly. I hope you don’t think this rude in any way. Can you let me know which organisation you trained in for your CTB/REBT, NLP, EMT and counselling. Do you have insurance and how long you have been a therapist. Do you offer Friday evening or weekend appointments and how much per session. Many thanks Sue

I hope that my reply might help those considering hypnotherapy but are unsure how to find  a properly trained and qualified therapist…

Hi Sue,
Many thanks for contacting me with your questions.  No, I don’t think they’re rude at all, they are very sensible and I wish that more people would ask questions of their therapists!!
Because your questions are so fundamental to finding a good therapist this reply is probably more fulsome than you might have expected.   I plan to add the information below to my blog as a guide to others looking for help, so you might as well have the benefit of a sneak preview of the content…
So, to answer your questions:-
a)  Your GP’s recommendation to check out credentials comes from the fact that the term Hypnotherapist, is as yet, an unprotected title.  In other words, ludicrous as it might seem, anyone – trained or not – can set themselves up as a hypnotherapist. This appalling situation is an historic anomaly which is being addressed by the profession and regulatory bodies right now.  However, for now, caveat emptor is the byword in choosing a hypnotherapist.
b)  I received my training at the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis (www.ichynposis.co.uk) in London. It might  be useful for you to take a look at their website and click on the Courses tab where you can read details of all the elements of training which I received.  I consider the training I received to have been not only thoroughly enjoyable but also very comprehensive.  Since completing my training and going into practice, I have never found myself at a loss as to what to do with a client and I have (modestly!) a very high success rate.
In addition, and as part of my membership of this and other professional organisations, I  undertake annual Continual Professional Development training.  This usually takes the form of weekends training in a particular technique or aspect of therapy.  So far my CPD has covered advanced elements of therapy such as Eye Movement Therapy, Weight Loss strategies, Advanced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Use of Metaphors in Hypnosis, Current and Past Life regression analysis,  Deep States Training plus others.   I also undertake a set amount of reading of technical papers/instructional books etc each year and attend quarterly meetings of the Association of the ICH where we attend lectures and brief training sessions on a wide range of topics. I also attend a number of ad hoc  events during the year such as Professor Windy Dryden’s recent revival of the 1930’s tradition of doing 45 minute CBT therapy sessions in front of an invited audience and the Royal Society of Medicine Hypnotherapy Section’s meeting on Pain Control.
These activities allow me to meet and network not just with hypnotherapists but also with therapists from many other disciplines and thus create a support network of people who have particular and very specialist knowledge which I regularly tap into for ideas and advice.
c)  I am a Registered Practitioner with the General Hypnotherapy Register (one of the largest registers of reputable hypnotherapists in the UK) and the CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council), a government and NHS sponsored organisation which registers practitioners with recognised qualifications and experience.  CNHC registered practitioners are preferred suppliers to the NHS (take a look at their website for more info).   You can look me up on the register of both organisation too!
I would advise you to avoid anyone who has trained online.  The essence of successful hypnotherapy is not just about knowing facts but in the practice and the advice and support of tutors/supervisors.  It  requires the development and practice of “bedside manner” skills and empathy, and tuning of techniques, which simply can’t be learned over the internet IMHO.
c)   Yes, I am insured through Towergate Insurance who seem to handle a lot of the professional indemnity insurance for hypnotherapists.
d)  I have been qualified since July 2008 and immediately started practice.  I work full time from a purpose built therapy room in the Havering area.
e)  I offer weekday & evening appointments starting at 9.30am and starting the last appointment at 7.00pm.  I do Saturday’s from 9.30 to midday.  I can also do Sundays by exception.
f)  I charge £60 per session which includes the cost of a CD given at the end of the first session, any tailor-made CD’s provided thereafter and any advice packs or special instruction sheets required.
I hope that these answers give you the information you are looking for.
 One more word of advice I would offer is to always speak to a prospective therapist on the phone to briefly discuss your problem.  Things to look out for are i) whether or not they are genuinely interested in discussing you problem and learning more about it or just anxious to get you to book an appointment b)  if their questions demonstrate a knowledge or understanding of your issues c)  if their comments have some insight and good sense.  Ask yourself “do they sound like my kind of person?”.  Some therapists specialise in the “that must be dreadful” school of sympathy.  Personally, I don’t do a lot of sympathetic clucking but a lot of empathic understanding (or so my clients tell me).  So a phone call is really worthwhile.  The question is “can I really work with and trust this person?”
If you’d like to chat further, or you’ve any questions unanswered, please do feel free to give me a call.  I’m always happy to discuss concerns and make sure that you’re happy with whatever you decide to do.
In the meantime, best wishes with your search.  Keith

AN INSPIRING & THOUGHT PROVOKING MOVIE


I watched a tremendous film called Temple Grandin last night on Sky.  It takes us into the world of someone with autism and the extraordinary talents they have.  Instead of the usual Hollywood slush it has a really uplifting hard-edged narrative taking us through her life and her remarkable achievements.  Wikipedia says about her…

Temple Grandin (born August 29, 1947) is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. As a person with high-functioning autism, Grandin is also noted for her work in autism advocacy and is the inventor of the squeeze machine designed to calm hypersensitive people.

Grandin is listed in the 2010 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the category “Heroes”.[1]

Look up the film. A very rewarding couple of hours.

The value of CNHC membership


Although this is a relatively narrow topic for a Blog, I’m writing it in response to a number of queries I’ve had from both fellow hypnotherapists and members of public who have asked “Why are you a member of the CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council) Register?”

The short answer is because it is now the most important Register of professional competence open to practicing Clinical Hypnotherapists in the UK.

Many people are unaware that anyone can present themselves as a hypnotherapist.  There is no legal requirement for registration, licensing, training, supervision or insurance.

I have always considered this to be a completely unacceptable situation which has been brought about by the fragmented nature of the hypnotherapy fraternity in the UK and the  amount of political infighting which has resulted.   In 2000, a House of Lords Committee reviewed the whole issue of regulation of the complementary and natural health market and recommended that whilst legislation was not required, a Code of Voluntary Self Regulation should be implemented through an independent organisation.

Staggeringly, it has taken a decade for these recommendations to be implemented, accompanied by many thousands of man hours or discussion and debate.  Finally, however, in 2009, the CNHC Registered was launched.

The Department of Health now recommends that when seeking a hypnotherapist, NHS staff and members of the public should consult with someone who is CNHC registered.

To quote from the CNHC website…

CNHC registered complementary therapy practitioners using the CNHC quality mark demonstrate to members of the general public and other healthcare providers that they conform to national standards of practice in their work.

If a CNHC registered complementary therapist has the CNHC quality mark it means that they:

  • Have undertaken a programme of education and training which meets, as a minimum, the National Occupational Standards and the core curriculum for the complementary therapy/discipline concerned where a core curriculum has been agreed

or

  • Have achieved competency to the level of the National Occupational Standards for the therapy/discipline concerned by means of relevant experience of at least three years and /or relevant training and been assessed by their peers as having met those standards

and

  • Have provided an independent reference of their good character
  • Have confirmed that they do not hold a criminal record (including cautions), or notified CNHC of any such record for consideration by the Registrar prior to acceptance
  • Have confirmed that there are no health issues that impact on their ability to practice
  • Have confirmed that they have not been the subject of any disciplinary or civil proceedings against them in relation to their practice or have notified CNHC of any such proceedings for consideration by the Registrar prior to acceptance
  • Hold current professional indemnity insurance
  • Have agreed to abide by: The CNHC Code of Conduct, Performance and Ethics CNHC’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Policy CNHC’s Data Protection Policy Terms of use of the CNHC website.

Following it’s launch, the CNHC has made inroads to acceptance within the NHS and with charities, as evidenced by their latest Newsletter…

CNHC registration is key for mental health charities

As CNHC continues its work to raise awareness of CNHC registration across a range of sectors, they have been liaising with a number of organisations that represent people with mental health conditions. Here they outline the importance given to CNHC registration by Mind and Anxiety UK.

  •   Mental Health charity, Mind, supports CNHC registration. Mind provides a wide range of support and information to people with mental health conditions throughout the UK. Where people are seeking complementary therapies, Mind recommends they find someone who is CNHC registered.

Mind’s Head of Information, Beth Murphy commented: “Some people find complementary therapies help them to manage their mental health but it is vital that therapists are appropriately trained and regulated. Mind supports and promotes CNHC registration and the CNHC quality mark to help people find a therapist they can trust.”

  •  Anxiety UK is a national registered charity formed 40 years ago by a sufferer of agoraphobia for those affected by anxiety disorders. Today the organisation is still user-led, run by and for those with current or past experience of anxiety disorders. The charity is supported by a high-profile medical advisory panel as well as a number of celebrity patrons including cricketer, Marcus Trescothick and comedienne, Ruby Wax.  Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing services including counselling, clinical hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The charity also operates a national helpline, delivers online services and provides an innovative peer mentoring scheme. The charity uses robust screening processes for its therapy services to ensure the highest standards of governance are maintained both before and after appointment and CNHC registration is one of the criteria for its hypnotherapists.

Nicky Lidbetter, Chief Executive of Anxiety UK said: “It is of the utmost importance that our therapists are verified, validated and accredited by relevant and appropriate governing bodies to ensure the highest standards of clinical practice. As there are several governing bodies particularly in the field of hypnotherapy, it is most reassuring to know that the CNHC has made significant progress in defining and establishing a core standard in terms of qualifications, training and experience that hypnotherapists must have in order to be eligible for registration. Going forward, we will be requiring all of our hypnotherapists to be registered with the CNHC.”

To find out more about CNHC please visit http://www.cnhc.org.uk/pages/index.cfm

Obesity, weight loss & why Gastric Bands fail


I am often asked if I offer hypnotic Gastric Band therapy and the answer is always “Yes, but…”.  The reason that I am loathe to offer an immediate gastric band fix is that it runs the risk of leaving the real underlying reason for weight problems unresolved and can therefore be doomed to failure.

Cummerspeck (literally grief bacon) is a German word which describes the mindless eating  which leads to weight problems and obesity in those with untreated emotional trauma.

GPs in the UK are often faced with patients who are desperate to become “normal” and demand quick-fix gastric band or bypass surgery to solve their problems.

Yet having a physical gastric band fitted means making major changes to diet (for instance having to avoid anything with oil or fat in it or else experience vomiting immediately after eating) and having to accept a death rate risk of 1 in 2,000 operations (the most common cause of death being pulmonary embolism) plus the risk of being one of the 1 in 10  patients who will need a further operation at some time due to slippage, erosion, leakage or infection involving the band.

But of more concern perhaps, is the fact that although the patient may lose weight and reduce the risk of heart and endocrine disorders there is mounting evidence that they may suffer ADDED psychological pressure due to loss of their mechanism for dealing with stress, leading to  issues of low self-esteem, relationship problems, dissatisfaction with  body image and ultimately, depression.

The same psychological problems can obviously attach themselves to use of a hypnotic gastric band.  As a result, I always insist that anyone wanting this therapy also does the first three sessions of my standard weight-loss course.  In this way, they have the opportunity to relearn the basic rules of good eating and to come forward with any underlying problems of grief, loss etc which might be driving their behaviour.  Having dealt with those things first and cleared or controlled psychological blockages, the chances of a hypnotic gastric band working are greatly enhanced.

In my view, hypnotherapy should provide support for overweight or obese clients in  a variety of ways:-

•   Firstly, by identifying and dealing with the underlying causes of their obesity – both emotional  (grief, fear, abuse etc) and practical (being unable to read/write, dyslexia, lack of social training etc) – thus providing a combination of therapy and practical help.
•   Secondly, by offering reinforcement – especially if they’ve already had advice from an NHS dietician.  New ways of eating and thinking about food can be reinforced through the creation of hypnotic suggestions based on an individuals eating plan and the breaking of addictions to unhealthy foods like chocolate, fried foods etc.  I find that teaching people to eat like thin people eat, often makes a major difference to their ability to lose weight.
•   Thirdly, through the creation of tailor-made CD’s – designed to reinforce therapy between sessions and provide constant reminders of what to eat, how to eat and all the benefits which weight loss brings, combined with ego-boosting suggestions and encouragement.
•   And finally, but very importantly – Resolution of problems arising –  providing an on-call resource for dealing with practical or emotional problems immediately they arise.