Raising Self-Esteem and Reducing Self-Defeating Shame (Hedonic Disinhibition)
By Bryce Kaye
Most people think that self-esteem is something that they earn in the form of confidence. Unfortunately, this is not usually true. Most often, self-esteem is based on unconscious schemas of felt deservingness or un-deservingness (core shame). These schemas are imprinted into our unconscious “implicit” memory systems during our early developmental years. After these schemas are imprinted, we cannot easily change them through prideful achievement alone. It’s like mixing gasoline and water. No matter how much gas you add, there’s always water at the bottom of the tank. Instead, a much more successful strategy is to “condition” the brain to switch its unconscious negative schemas to positive ones instead.
To understand the usefulness of this kind of treatment, it is important to first understand the prevalence and subtlety of what I call hedonic inhibition. Researchers have discovered how the brain learns to “turn off” wants and desires that are repeatedly or painfully frustrated. This process is known as “inhibition” and is neurologically based. When inhibition turns off positive wants and desires such as fun, pleasure, curiosity, closeness with others, etc., we can refer to this as “hedonic inhibition.” When hedonic inhibition occurs during childhood due to frustratingly unresponsive parents, a person will usually develop unconscious blocks that keep them from feeling or expressing their desires. The result is often that the person is set up for a life of chronic anxiety or depression. When such a person gets into a long-term relationship, they may have great difficulty either by becoming a workaholic and/or by being unable to negotiate for what they want. Some of these people begin to feel like a footnote on their partner’s life and express “I don’t know who I am anymore!” The effects of hedonic inhibition are subtle, varied, but powerful.
Hedonic disinhinhibition is a treatment for removing the underlying emotional blocks to happiness in a person’s unconscious. My technique is largely based on an earlier form of treatment called DNMS (Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy). You can read about DNMS at its author’s website: www.dnmsinstitute.com . However, hedonic disinhibition treatment utilizes techniques based on psychophysiology to stimulate specific brain reflexes. Various hypnotic “processing heuristics” are used to stimulate new neural connections and to help the client switch from negative to positive emotion. When engaged in hedonic disinhibition treatment, the person is guided through a combination of memories, fantasies, and imaginary interactions with metaphorical images of self-parts. It is quite complicated but each step of the procedure is explained to most clients’ full satisfaction.
The results of hedonic disinhibition most often include reduced anxiety or depression and increased energy and interests. Unlike other forms of therapy that rely on conscious override of emotions, hedonic disinhibition results in more natural change. My clients frequently report that they discover themselves behaving differently without conscious effort. They find themselves comfortably handling certain situations without having to struggle with their previous anxiety. In other words, the change comes about naturally once their underlying blocks are removed.