This isn’t the first time that have posted an article about this treatment plan, but this one, in the Mail on Line goes into so much detail about the procedure that I thought it was worth posting.
The treatment that this married couple in Spain are providing is a great example of sensory distortion, and is something that Cognitive Hypnotherapy has been using for years with great results. So, you don’t have to travel to Spain to get a very similar treatment. Give me a call to find out what’s possible.
By Claudia Connell
Last updated at 8:15 AM on 03rd July 2009
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Is this the weirdest weight-loss idea ever? You get hypnotised into thinking you’ve had gastric band surgery and will never need to eat so much again – and it works…
Lying on a hospital trolley, feeling pleasantly woozy from the recently administered pre-med, I am about to be wheeled down to theatre to have my gastric band fitted.
I can hear the noises of a busy hospital and am aware of that very distinct clinical smell. Despite what lies ahead, I don’t feel in the least bit anxious as the anaesthetist puts me under and the surgeon prepares his scalpel for that first incision.
Perhaps my calm state of mind is because I am relieved to finally be addressing the weight problems I have struggled with for two years – but, in reality, it’s far more likely to be due to the fact that I am not in a hospital at all but reclining on a comfy chair, under hypnosis and in a state of deep relaxation, in a therapy room on Spain’s Costa Del Sol.
You see I’m not actually having a gastric band fitted, I am being hypnotised into believing it as part of an innovative new weight loss treatment.
As Britain’s obesity rates soar, demand for gastric band surgery has never been higher. The success stories of celebrities such as Fern Britton and Sharon Osbourne have encouraged thousands to follow in their footsteps.
Some desperate dieters will happily pay the £8,000 themselves while, controversially, many NHS trusts now offer the treatment free in the belief it is more cost effective in the long-term than allowing people to remain overweight.
But there is no denying that the procedure is complicated and risky and often leads to many unpleasant and painful side effects such as vomiting, diarrhoea and acid reflux.
Now, two Spanish-based British therapists are convinced they have hit upon an ingenious way to help overweight people shed the pounds without undergoing any dangerous surgical procedures – by hypnotising patients into believing that they have had their stomachs reduced.
When the Mail ran the story of Marion Corns, who had undergone the procedure called the Gastric Mind Band, showing how she had shed three stone in four months, the clinic was inundated with calls from people all over the world wanting treatment.
But can an overeater like me really be tricked into believing that my stomach is the size of a golf ball and that I will no longer be able to eat the gluttonous portions I’d previously been gorging on?
Given that I am piling on the pounds and going up a dress size every six months, I’m more than willing to give it a try.
The Elite Clinic in Fuengirola is run by an expat married couple – Martin and Marion Shirran, both therapists with ten years’ experience of helping patients conquer addictions and disorders, from drug use to panic attacks.
When an overweight patient remarked that she was terrified of surgery and wished she could be hypnotised into believing she had a gastric band, Marion realised there was no reason why this could not be done.
She spent the next few months watching videos of the procedure and devising the gastric mind band programme. Her very first guinea pig was husband Martin, who lost five stone.
Other patients report a good response to the extent that they claim they have a success rate of 80 per cent – higher than actually having the surgical procedure which only works for 70 per cent of people.
I am piling on the pounds and going up a dress size every six months, I’m more than willing to give it a try Perhaps the E995 euro bill (that’s around £853) might be worth it after all.
But could it work for me, the world’s most cynical woman who thinks that any kind of alternative therapy is a load of nonsense and that if something works then it works, regardless of whether you have faith in it?
After all, I don’t ‘have faith’ when I take two paracetemol for a crashing headache, I know the drug will do its job.
I was relieved to arrive at the smart, marble-floored clinic and find that Martin and Marion were friendly and good humoured; not the hippy dippy, tie-dye-wearing types that I expected.
My therapy had been arranged over a course of four days with the virtual surgery coming at the very end.
At my first session, Marion wants to get a picture of my attitude to food and diet and to examine my history of yo-yo weight gain.
My blood pressure and resting heart rate are taken and are both very healthy.
I also know that I have the cholesterol level and liver function of a child – from blood tests I had taken.
The doctor was so impressed by my liver function he assumed I was teetotal.
Of course this clean bill of health doesn’t help with my attitude to weight loss. If I had high blood pressure or cholesterol, it might spur me on to shift the flab.
Marion asks leading questions such as: Do I always leave a clean plate? Do I eat until I feel uncomfortable? Do I reward myself with food treats? Needless to say I answer ‘yes’ to all of these.
Unlike many overweight people I was not a heavy child – in fact, I was always a skinny Minnie with arms and legs like matchsticks.
I was a size 8-10 in my teens and 20s and filled out to a fuller figured size 12 in my late 30s.
Now 43, I am a size 16, and 12 1/2st and with a BMI that is getting dangerously close to the ‘obese’ category – and I hate it. I don’t want to be fat any more.
Marion asks me to explain why I hate being fat, and want to be slim again. Not usually a person that is down on myself, to my surprise, when I look in the mirror I say that I see a dumpy, middle-aged woman, not the vibrant, youthful-looking person I was just a few years ago. I feel old and sluggish.
She also asks me if I have a dress in my wardrobe that I love, that doesn’t fit me but that I am holding on to as I really want to get into it again.
I do: it’s a beautiful pink beaded shift dress that cost a small fortune and that I wore to Ladies Day at Ascot five years ago.
It’s a very small size 10 – and when I bought it I had it taken in!
The three-hour session ends with hypnotherapy, something I’ve never had before. In fact, other than the cheesy entertainment kind, where a person is told to jump up and dance like a gorilla every time a whistle is blown, hypnosis is not something I know a great deal about.
I rather expect Marion to produce a large watch on a chain and tell me I am feeling very sleepy.
Instead my pulse is monitored and I’m told to lie back and relax while Marion talks to me in soothing tones about being at a crossroads in my life where I can take one of two roads.
The first is the old familiar road, lined with sweet wrappers and takeaway boxes and declines sharply downhill. The second is a tougher, uphill road that is a struggle to climb but it leads to happiness, peace and contentment.
I am told that every time I pick up a spoon an image of me in my pink dress will jump into my mind and I will see that nothing I eat will taste as good as the feeling of being size 10 again.
During the hypno session, my pulse rate had dropped from 70 beats per minute to 57 (the level is in the 40s when you are asleep) which showed that, despite my scepticism, I am in a state of deep relaxation and, therefore, my subconscious is susceptible to suggestion and instruction.
I come to feeling like a zombie and as though I have been under for several hours when it is only about 30 minutes.
Later that evening when I go out to eat, I am presented with a huge bowl pasta which, strangely, looks unappealing to me even though it’s my favourite dish. The plate is groaning under the weight of the food and for what must be the first time in years I only manage to eat a third of it. What’s happening to me?
At my next session with Marion, she measures my resting metabolic rate: this will tell me how efficiently my body burns calories and how many it needs on a daily basis.
I must look like a crazed Stepford wife as I sit in the hotel breakfast hall chewing slowlyThe result reveals that I burn 1,600 calories a day. A non-dieting woman will, averagely, consume 2,000 calories a day which means I have 400 extra calories that are not being burnt and are turning to fat.
If I cut my calorie intake to 1,300 a day, I can lose a pound a week – if I exercise as well I can double that.
We also discuss portion sizes, where Marion reveals that I eat three times as much as I should, and that the recommended portion size is roughly the same as your fist.
While under hypnotherapy I relax even more deeply and am told to leave food on my plate at every meal, to find pleasure in the flavour of food and not the quantity, to place my knife and fork down between mouthfuls and to chew every mouthful 15 times before swallowing, and to only eat when hungry and not to a scheduled timetable.
If it gets to lunchtime I am to place my hand on my stomach and ask: ‘Am I hungry?’ If I am not, then I don’t eat the meal. It all sounds so simple.
At breakfast the next morning, I find myself doing exactly what I am told and the meal that would have taken me five minutes to wolf down is now lasting four times as long. I must look like a crazed Stepford wife as I sit in the hotel breakfast hall chewing slowly
I seem to be doing this involuntarily. Surely this is not the hypnotism actually working?
After my second mouthful, just when I am starting to enjoy the muesli, what should pop into my head? You guessed it – me looking slim, tanned and happy in my pink dress. Damn.
My third session is with Martin, who practises cognitive behavioural therapy which concentrates purely on the present.
He teaches the patient to take responsibility for their actions and to identify, understand and, ultimately, stop their damaging behaviour.
Martin definitely seems to believe in the ‘tough love’ type of treatment, playing bad cop to Marion’s good cop.
He asks whether I want to wait until I have type 2 diabetes and my heart is at risk before I address my weight issue.
When I snort and reply that I’m a long way from that, he points out that I have gained nearly three stone in 18 months and that if I repeat the same pattern I will be classed as morbidly obese.
As stupid as it sounds, that had never even occurred to me.
Martin asks me if I always wear my seatbelt when I drive and why. I say: ‘because I don’t want to be hurt in an accident’.
‘So why don’t you protect yourself from heart disease in the same way?’ he asks. For the first time, I am stumped for an answer.
He tells me about a woman he is treating who is so heavy that she has to pay for two plane seats when she flies over for treatment and asks whether I want to end up like that.
He asks: ‘Is this going to work?’ and over the course of the two-hour session my answer changes from ‘I hope so’ to ‘yes it will’ without my realising.
I don’t know whether it’s the Spanish heat, the jet lag or the treatment, but in the three days I have been in Spain I have not really been thinking about food – unlike my life back home where I plan every meal in advance.
Day four of my treatment is the biggie, the virtual gastric band operation. The session is to last for three hours.
As Marion prepares to put me under hypnosis I am told to lie back in the chair and close my eyes as the lights are dimmed and the blinds are closed.
A pulse monitor is clipped to my finger to monitor how deeply I go into a trance like state.
Soothing music is played gently in the background as I am instructed to relax my body, starting with the toes and working my way up to my face.
The music changes to that of an outdoor setting as I’m told I am in a garden full of fragrant and exotic plants – the room is then filled with the scent of jasmine and grass as the scene is being described to me using a technique called ‘vortex aroma’ where a computerised programme will release smells into the room at a specified time in the treatment.
Soon I can hear the sounds of birds and the crashing of waves. I am told I am barefoot on a beautiful, deserted beach, staring out to sea – the salty smell of the ocean fills my nostrils. I feel peaceful.
After 15 minutes I am deeply relaxed but not asleep and able to hear and remember everything I am being told as the weight loss part of the hypnosis begins. I relax deeply and am suddenly aware of the noises and smells of a hospital and can hear distant chatter.
Marion is at what looks rather like a DJ’s mixing desk which has a computer with a programme that releases authentic smells at the right moment.
Marion tells me that the pre-med is about to be administered and I feel a scratch to my hand. She tells me that I am being wheeled into the theatre where (thanks to sound effects) I can hear the beep of medical machinery.
A smell of anaesthetic is released into the room when I am about to go under and it fills my nostrils, this is delivered by a device called a ‘vortex aroma’ linked to the computerised system and expelled at the right time in the hypnotherapy session.
Then, Marion talks me through the incision being made, my liver being moved aside, the camera being placed inside me and the gastric band closing off a section of my stomach.
The distinct whiff of TCP fills the room when I am told that the wounds are being stitched.
I am informed that the operation has been a success and a golf ball is placed into my right hand for me to squeeze.
The golf ball is the size of my new-look stomach, says Marion, I will eat five or six mouthfuls of food before I feel full. Again, I am told to only eat food for its flavour, not its quantity.
But when I get home something astonishing happens I just don’t feel hungry any more The hypnotherapy lasts for about an hour and I come round feeling as woozy as I would from an actual anaesthetic, I also find myself clutching a pink golf ball that I don’t recall being placed in my palm.
I leave the session feeling very weird and slightly confused, and head straight to the airport for my flight home.
On the plane I refuse all offers of food but, being the cynic that I am, I tell myself that it’s because I am flying with a budget airline and their sandwiches are the Devil’s poison.
But when I get home something astonishing happens I just don’t feel hungry any more.
It is now ten days since my virtual gastric band was inserted and in that time I have eaten a fraction of what I normally would.
Like most people, I am always hungry at breakfast time and prepare a small bowl of fruit and cereal.
Not once since returning from Spain have I finished it all. I want to, but it’s not happening. I eat so slowly and I can’t stop picturing me in my pink dress.
Five evenings out of ten I haven’t eaten an evening meal at all, because I just haven’t fancied it.
I have found that I am eating at around 8am, midday and 4pm and then that seems to be enough.
My social life has always revolved around late night meals and drinking when, in fact, it was the last thing my body wanted.
The bizarre thing is that I don’t think for a minute that I have a gastric band, I know that I don’t, but I feel strangely full in a way that I didn’t use to.
Just a fortnight ago, I could easily polish off a Marks & Spencer lasagne for two. Pasta now makes me feel so uncomfortably full that I can’t bear to eat it.
Will it all wear off? Will my huge appetite return with a vengeance in the coming days?
I feel rather overwhelmed and slightly confused by the whole experience. In eight weeks’ time, I am due to revisit the clinic to monitor my weight loss and see if I require an adjustment to my gastric band to either speed or slow down my weight loss – just as I would if I had actually had the surgery.
Once I hit my target weight of 91/2st I have to undergo more therapy where I may have my virtual gastric band removed, and will be given a maintenance programme that will allow me to eat without regaining the weight.
Will it work? All I know is that I have lost 7lbs in ten days, and that as I sit here typing this on a hot summer’s day the thought of a huge bowl of icecream is as about as unappealing as a slap in the face with a wet fish.
Who’d have thought it? Could it really be the result of my phantom gastric band? I’m starting to believe it might be.
For more information visit www.gmband.com