an article written about John Petrocelli, the Director of the Hypnosis
Dan Gaylinn of Palo Alto, CA
while studying for his doctorate program !
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 3:49 AM
Subject: My Healer Paper
I am attaching
a copy of my paper about Healers from Another Culture -- the paper
that I wrote about you for my Cross-Cultural Counseling class.
I got a perfect grade on it, and I think that you will be pleased
with it. Please send to me any feedback, comments, or insights
that you may have about it. I really do appreciate all that you've
done and continue to do for me, and in support of my work and
I look forward to many collaborations in the future.
cel: (650) 269-1169
see the Buddha on the side of the road
Hit him with a crowbar."
225 - Cross Cultural Counseling
November 10, 2003
Another Culture's Healer
For this assignment, I chose to examine the work of a non-traditional
healer and therapist, whose work has been both supportive and inspirational
for my own. I first crossed paths with this healer several years ago
when I had heard through a small community on the internet, dealing
with the applications of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, that there was a
live practice group forming in the greater Manhattan area of New York
City. Having grew up in the suburbs of this area, and being relatively
local to the first meeting (not to mention my own burgeoning interests
in this field), I jumped at the chance to work and practice with others
of like interest. What I found was an approach that was at once startling
John Petrocelli, also known as the Man In Black, greeted me and three
others at a downtown bookstore as our first practice meeting began.
What ensued was a virtual "how-to" for powerful renegade-style
hypnosis with consenting volunteers and unknowing passer-by's alike.
John has a subtle and unassuming style that, upon meeting him, one would
not suspect his powerful and unwieldy talent lurking just beneath the
surface. I knew in minutes that I wanted to learn more from this man.
One may ask what interest this individual serves for the purposes of
an assignment in cross-cultural healing, and rightly so. The reason
that I offer John for examination under this light is with the knowledge
and consideration of his ability to work with literally any type of
person, from any cultural background, gender, sexual preference, or
whathaveyou, and still attain the same positive and permanent results
that he would achieve with someone who shares his own particular background.
It is for this reason that I find not only the individual, but his approach,
as worthy for consideration in the light of cross-cultural healing.
In addition, I present this healer's work as an example, or a case study
if you will, of the type of phenomenon that is becoming increasingly
common in a world of multi-cultural diversity: the multi-cultural healer.
As you will note in the following pages, John does not ascribe to any
one particular culture or any one particular ethnic background. Rather,
he considers himself a unique amalgam of his own personal experiences,
and uses this same introspective insight to incise into the belief systems
and reality-structures of any of the client's who come to see him. It
is by this understanding that I posit the idea that culture, as it is
becoming to be known in a modern age, no longer deals simply with language,
or social tendencies, or traditional customs. Rather, culture is becoming
increasingly individualized, as each individual makes his or her culture
uniquely his or her own, bringing it into the ongoing evolution of the
future, as the past is integrated one illusion at a time.
Petrocelli (or JP, as he is known to his friends) grew up in New York
City, spending half of his time in a small ethnic section of the Lower
East Side called Little Italy. By his own admission, he had "lived
the Italian stereotype" that "would make Hollywood movies
tame by comparison." He recalls that "[All of his] family
members were [either] cops, mob members, or priests." The rest
of JP's time was spent in an area of New York City called Greenwich
Village, which at the time was a hotbed for the counter-cultural experimental
scene of the 1960s: "Drugs, hippies, yippies, hells angels, psychedelia,
that gamut was happening here [when I was] a child." These two
entirely different cultures, separated by a 50-foot-wide 4-lane street
(called Houston Street), could not be further apart, culturally, if
they were on separate continents. He remembers that "crossing over
[Houston] was like stepping into another world. The two didn't mingle
at the time. There was a clear dividing line at that street."
Yet, JP found himself having to embody this division in himself as he
grew up. He describes his upbringing in the neighborhood of Little Italy
as angry, and those around him as having a "violent background.
Lots of fighting. Lots of getting hit. Lots of negativity. [My] family
didn't believe in psychiatrists or psychologists. The work had to be
done in secret." This 'secret' was then further exacerbated by
the fact that he was "taught that men didn't show their feelings,"
even though they "weren't taught how to control that raging sea
inside." This type of childhood left young John feeling very high-strung.
Yet, at about the age of eight or nine, he had made a personal discovery
that lead him to a way out. John learned to find respite from the chaos
at home, making use of a form of self-hypnosis that was called "the
Jacobsen's relaxation technique." It was by use of this technique
that John was able to find the inner peace that enabled him to sleep
through the night. It was also at about this time that John found himself
fascinated by the character of Count Dracula in the Abbott and Costello
Meet Frankenstein movies. He says that what amazed him most was the
amount of control that the Count had over people. This mysterious power
appeared in stark contrast to the lack of control that John himself
experienced in his own life. Culminating from his fascination in the
Count and the reprieve allowed him by the relaxation techniques, John
used the earnings that he made from a shoeshine kit that his dad had
given him for his birthday to purchase his first book on hypnosis which
he got through the mail. With a deep passion for the art burning in
his gut, John practiced for many years to achieve the substantial and
long-lasting results for which he is now known.
JP works with anxieties, phobic responses, allergies, and the full spectrum
of emotionally-caused and related problems. He uses a procedure called
the 5-Path Hypnotherapy. This is a systematic approach to hypnotherapy
that is described below.
Regression to Cause.
Here, the client is hypnotically regressed to the first time that they
felt the presenting symptom of their problem. In many cases, this is
regarded as the physiologic response of an emotion and is often linked
to a specific moment event in the client's life. An example might be
an anxious feeling in one's chest. Further exploration and "following"
of this emotion, enables the client to focus on this feeling and allow
it to lead him (or her) and the therapist back to the first time that
the feeling occurred. This is called the Initial Sensitizing Event (or
ISE) and usually took place before the client had turned ten years old.
Next, the client is brought back to the time before the incident and
the feelings occurred so that they can neutralize the event of its emotional
potency. This is done by allowing the adult client, who has disassociatively
regressed to an earlier time in his (or her) life, to inform the child
of his (or her) former self of how best to undergo, integrate, and cope
with the incident that has yet to occur. Upon this rewinding and going
through the ISE once more, this time as better-informed, the child can
experience the event without the physiologic pain or discomfort felt
previous to the work. This process of neutralization is then carried
through any remaining subsequent sensitizing events (SSEs), so that
none have the power over the client's current experience.
At this point, the client is then taught various strategies for forgiveness
that will allow him or her to resolve any unexpressed anger or other
bound-up emotions. After achieving a state of somnambulism (a sort of
waking sleep), the therapist leads the client through a modified Gestalt-like,
empty-chair technique, in which the client imagines that the individual
who has caused him (or her) the most pain in his (or her) life is sitting
in the empty chair that is placed before him (or her). This very special
person engaged in a dialogue, for which the client supplies both roles,
going back and forth between the two perspectives in trance until the
client is able to purge (either verbally or physically, in the form
of beating a pillow) all of his (or her) anger or unexpressed emotions
in a healthy and cathartic way. This procedure is usually done for the
two main culprits in the client's life. Once achieved, the chair is
left empty, allowing the client to bring forgiveness in the form of
silence to everyone he (or she) may need to forgive. One by one, the
client imagines each person taking the chair so that he (or she) may
give in silence the forgiveness that is needed. The client takes whatever
time is needed and lets the therapist know when he (or she) has satisfactorily
finished this process.
Dealing with Guilt
The same chair technique as above is used, except this time in the empty
chair is a mirror and in the mirror is the part of the client that has
made mistakes: the part who spoke or acted when he (or she) should have
remained quiet or exercised control; the person who remained quiet or
unmoved when he (or she) should have spoken up or taken action. Again,
engaging in dialogue with these parts of the self, the individual is
able to move through and past the blame that they have put upon themselves
(oftentimes unconsciously), so that they may move forward unhindered
by past mistakes.
Dealing with Secondary Issues
Finally, if there are any secondary issues, variations on parts therapy,
emotional freedom techniques (i.e., tapping), and neurolinguistic programming
are used interspersed with a form of direct-suggestion hypnosis to resolve
states that, using the powerful techniques of hypnotherapy, he is able
to overcome the years of pain that his clients endure "in just
a session or two." He feels as though the healing that he brings
to others makes him feel good because, as he says, "I can't go
back in time and do this work on myself, but I can help others not to
go through the years of pain that I did." What makes JP's approach
unique is an aspect of what he calls "street sense." With
this, he integrates an uncanny ability to gain rapport with just about
anybody with a deeply felt interest in the client before him. It is
to this he attributes his cross-cultural flexibility - of which he needs
a good deal to maintain his successful practice in the ethnically diverse
city of New York - and a sort of "sixth sense about New Yorkers
[that] makes doing this work a breeze. Everyone, so different is really
so similar. We all go through the same crises and the same problems.
We all were brought up in similar backgrounds." He surrounds himself
with a wide diversity of people in his daily life and feels genuinely
interested in what was going on with them and their innate ability to
By allowing this genuine curiosity and deep sense of caring to guide
him, JP allows his clients, the people on the streets of New York, to
teach him all he knows. "We all have basic needs," he says,
"I constantly ask questions and repeat questions back, checking
their responses and feedback. I use the information fed to me and mirror
it back." It is in this way that he is able to find out, not only
what is important to each person he works with, but also how it is important
to them. He explores how they were raised and what they want or need
(or believe they need) to get out of counseling. Above all, JP says
that he always has "a willingness to go out on a limb [because]
it isn't any fun if you play it safe."
To the healers of tomorrow, JP shares a valuable piece of wisdom: "First
and foremost, you're there for the client. The belief they have in you
will make all the difference in the world. Sometimes, techniques, procedures
aren't needed. Just lending an 'ear' can change a person. Just repeating
back 'their perspective' can change them."
writing this paper, I have found that cross-cultural healing can be
seen as a process of self-discovery. Just as JP has learned to incorporate
the darkness of his own past, and utilize it for the purposes of healing
others in the present, I can see how my own shadows, weaknesses, and
foibles can be pressed into the service of healing. Even though John's
own cultural, ethnic, and experiential background is very different
from my own, I feel that I can (and have) learn(ed) a great deal from
how he has integrated his work into his own process of self-development,
continuously advancing his skills on the job, by staying open to what
each individual client may have to teach him. It is my hope that I am
able to move forward into my own work with an ongoing sense of the passion,
heart, and caring with which JP does good work, so that I, too, can
begin to cultivate within myself an effective cross-cultural healer.
About Dan Gaylinn / Author / Student / budding
brillant psychotherapist / hypnotherapist :
is currently enrolled in his second year towards a Ph.D. at the
Institute for Transpersonal Psychology.
Find out more about the school at their website: http://www.itp.edu/
You can write dan at firstname.lastname@example.org
John Petrocelli, Angela Cabela, Michael Anthony Hurley,
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