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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New clinic aims to harness the power of suggestion

New clinic aims to harness the power of suggestion

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Lance Castille has opened the Kingdom's first licensed hypnosis centre in Phnom Penh to introduce benefits of the often misunderstood treatment.

Photo by: Sovann Philong

Lance Castille opened Phnom Penh Hypnosis last year.    

While hypnosis is still in the process of transition from sideshow spectacle to valuable medical tool, the treatment is gradually gaining credibility.  The recently opened Phnom Penh Hypnosis is the first hypnosis centre in Cambodia to be issued a business licence and a testimony to the treatment's growing international popularity.

Lance Castille, the mastermind behind the operation, has practised as a professional hypnotist in both the United States and Japan for six years, and throughout his career has worked with clients from a wide range of backgrounds, professions and nationalities.

Despite the growing popularity of hypnosis as a medical treatment, Castille says that most people still have misconceptions about it.

"Generally, I find that in Western countries the misconception about hypnosis is that it is mind control; and if it was, I wouldn't be [in Cambodia]. I would be in the troubled spots of the world."

Referring to familiar examples of television hypnotists who appear to make people act in foolish and ridiculous ways, Castille says that this form of entertainment is performed by highly skilled hypnotists.

"With a really good hypnotist it is possible - it is real. Look at the mechanics. They usually start with a large audience and on TV probably don't show the selection process. They ask for a number of people to come out, so the show involves volunteers - people who are willing to do this. They ask for a number of people because you may get a few in there who will not go into trance at that particular moment. It is all about odds," Castille said.

While TV shows are all about entertainment value, Castille says there are no swinging pocket watches and laughter of the audience during his therapy sessions.

"During my sessions, people remain completely in control," he said. "My typical session would be very boring to watch from the outside. Inside the person's internal experience is usually very pleasant.  They enjoy it but there is not much external emotion."

Hypnosis became popular as a treatment of medical conditions in the 18th century and is a form of deep relaxation and focused awareness, not unlike meditation, Castille said.

A soothing tone of voice conveying messages and repetitive stimulus, such as the sound of a metronome, can induce a hypnotic state in susceptible individuals.

International career

After living in Japan for 20 years, Castille came to Cambodia on a short holiday last year and liked the country so much that he decided to stay indefinitely and open Phnom Penh Hypnosis.

"I came to Cambodia with my wife on vacation in January 2008, and we were due for a change," he said.

Having studied acupuncture in Japan and China, Castille stumbled upon hypnosis by chance during a training workshop.

Now, Castille offers customised hypnosis programs at his new centre in the capital and says the results he obtains are fast and effective.

"Hypnosis is a safe, natural and effective way of helping people change habits or increase motivation," he said.

Castille says that hypnosis is akin to a natural state of mind that we are in and out of frequently - something he refers to as a "trance-like state".

Some areas in which hypnosis has been used with great success include weight control, stopping smoking, stress management, insomnia and even pain management. However, if the problem is a medical issue Castille says that he usually asks for a referral from a doctor.

"Hypnosis can be useful in any place where you have stress, as it seems to affect all types of conditions - mental, emotional or physical," he said.

While at the moment the treatments in Phnom Penh are offered only in English, Castille plans to explore the possibility of providing hypnosis through a translator, something he has already tried in Japan.

"Hypnosis is not well-known to Cambodians. They know the word when I show them the translation, but I am not sure what they think about it," he said.

"Cambodia's past is very different from what other people have been through. There is a lot of trauma from a lot of different causes," he said.

"Cambodians I treat would have to speak English, or I could use a translator.... Even though it's not ideal, I have done this in Japan. The process just took longer."

While Castille guarantees the quality of his service, he says success of hypnosis is dependent on many variables including the level of the client's commitment and cooperation.

Prior to the start of the treatment, Castille asks his clients to attend a free 40-minute screening to find out if hypnosis is the right way to proceed.

Cost is calculated per package and depends on what issue needs to be resolved and how many sessions are required, but fees are generally about   US$250 for three sessions and three home sessions on CD.

For more information on Phnom Penh Hypnosis, call 085 606 234 or visit www.phnompenh-hypnosis.com.

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