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I have a soft spot for Crawley. I visit Crawley quite often. But I have to say that Crawley station isn’t my idea of paradise. I was on the platform. My train was late. I seemed to be travelling on a day when all trains had received special instructions not to stop at Crawley! But my eye was attracted to a big billboard advert, which got me thinking…

It showed the face of Paul McKenna. Underneath were the words “I Can Make You Thin.”

Practicing hypnotherapists tend not to like Mr. McKenna very much. There are all sorts of reasons for this, which range from understandable envy at his success to real concerns about stage hypnosis and the image of hypnotherapy which these type of activities tend to project to the public at large. My own view is that McKenna is “the acceptable face of stage hypnosis” only insofar as he shuns the humiliating and exploitative activities of other “entertainment” hypnotists. From what I have seen of him, which admittedly isn’t much, I very much doubt that he has ever caused anyone any harm. And as for his “self-help” products – that has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?

Well, maybe. But psychotherapy isn’t medicine. With medical issues, a medicine or tablet may be appropriate and sufficient for almost all sufferers of that condition. What works in one case will probably work in another. But the mind is not like the body. Bodies are basically similar. Minds are not. I’m sure that Mr McKenna has sold huge amounts of his “I Can Make You Thin” product. And yet obesity remains at epidemic levels.

But what really intrigued me about the advert, and the product, was the wording. “I Can Make You Thin.”

If you have read this far into this article you probably have some interest in the issue of weight loss. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to be thin? Do these two questions amount to one and the same thing? If you want to lose weight, just ask yourself why. Think about it for a moment.

There are two types of reason why people want to lose weight. First there is the health-related reason. This can be anything from a stern warning from a GP that a heart attack or stroke is imminent unless action is taken, to a desire to feel less tired and lethargic. The other type of reason can be summed up in two words: Personal Appearance.

Let us deal with the health issue first. Does “Healthy” mean “Thin”? Are thin people always healthy? Even without dragging in anorexia I think you will agree that the answer to the second question is a resounding No. You may need to lose weight. But to be healthy you don’t have to be thin.

As regards personal appearance, this does seem to be a gender-based issue. In all my 15-odd years of practice I have only had two male clients for weight loss hypnotherapy. And both of those male clients came to be because their GPs had told them they had to lose quite a lot of weight or risk some rather bad consequences. In general, men tend to be rather more laissez faire about weight. A friend of mine from way back was actually rather proud of his beer-nourished paunch. He used to refer to it as a “growth industry”! Women, however, tend to be far more concerned with the issue of weight and personal appearance. This concern can be extremely negative, physically harmful, even fatal. Anorexia casualties tend to be female. The reasons for this concern can range from inappropriate role-modelling when young and impressionable (“Barbie” dolls, stick thin fashion models) through to peer pressure, and everything in between. Women want to be thin. Or do they?

I don’t know what studies have been done, and I speak here only from experience, but as far as attractiveness goes, people don’t tend to find “thin” very attractive. Do women like thin men? Knobbly knees, thin legs, feeble arms? Well, not in my experience. The same, I would suggest, is true for men. Given the choice between a super-fit tennis player like Anna Kournikova on the one hand and some stick-thin, fashion-hawking, ill-looking human-clothes-hanger of a “supermodel” on the other – well, I think I know which most men would choose. OK, that particular tennis player has a very pretty face. But she also radiates health, vitality, fitness, energy and – most importantly – strength.

I think that “thin” is a very, very negative word – don’t you? We use it pejoratively. Some friends of mine went to see Knight and Day at the local cinema. They said the film was quite good fun – but rather thin. The thin end of the wedge is not a good place to be. The original meaning of that often misused word jejune is “thin”. My own personal associations for this word are wholly negative. For me, thin implies weak, feeble, lacking strength and substance, malnourished, flagging, failing, overstretched, poor, tasteless, watery – in fact, I can’t think of a single positive association for the word “thin”.

Paul McKenna can make you thin. Are you still up for that?

I think that weight loss is a highly complex issue and I will go into more detail about hypnotherapy for weight loss in another article. As I write, spring is in the air. Soon we’ll be digging out our summer clothes, sports and beachwear. Maybe we’ll be thinking about our weight. But let us not make “thin” the Holy Grail of weight loss. Let us think instead about health, strength, vibrancy and energy. If you good people of Horsham, Crawley, Guildford, West Sussex and Surrey are thinking along the same lines and are wondering whether hypnotherapy can give you the helping hand you need, then – drop me a line!

Horsham Hypnotherapy: serving clients from Horsham, Crawley, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Guildford, Redhill and all parts of West Sussex, East Sussex and Surrey. Contact us today. Or drop us a line at 5 Cambridge Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 5ED.

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