Dec 8, 2022 • 11M

Podcast: Experimental Technique

Audio guide to using an unusual psychological technique for relaxing the mind

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Donald Robertson, the author of "How to Think Like a Roman Emperor", and a cognitive-behavioral therapist, talks about how to apply Stoicism in the modern world, discussing philosophy, psychology and self-improvement with guests from all walks of life. Available on Google and Apple podcasts.
Episode details

This is an audio recording of me explaining, and demonstrating, how to use a very simple but powerful psychological technique, which I call imaginal aphasia.

It derives from an old hypnotic technique called hypnotic aphasia, and involves speaking (e.g., counting) aloud while gradually fading your voice to silence, and imagining that it’s becoming more and more of an effort to pronounce the syllables. You’re doing this both externally and internally, i.e., in your outward behaviour but also in your imagination, in order to relax and silence your mind.

This technique is pretty easy for most people to learn and because it’s a physical behaviour, it seems to exhibit a standard practice curve effect, i.e., it becomes quicker and easier to do with practice. However, I would advise against individuals with diagnosable psychiatric conditions using it, except perhaps under the supervision of a qualified mental health clinician. For ordinary (subclinical) anxiety and insomnia, though, I think this may be helpful as a coping strategy.

Let me know your feedback in the comments, and if you think of any other ways in which it could be useful.

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