The hypnotic work of Valerie Austin
Valerie Austins memory was once so bad she forgot she was married. Then she discovered hypnotherapy. And as she tells Jane Hall, her new book reveals that far from being a cranky practice, hypnotism is one of the most natural of healers.
But for a horrific car crash that nearly claimed her life, Valerie Austin would never have ended up as a hypnotherapist.
It takes a brave person to admit that the calamities and traumas she suffered at the time were really a blessing in disguise.
But if she hadnt been in the accident Valerie would never have had to seek treatment for a serious memory loss and would never have been forced into discovering hypnotherapy as a profession.
It all began one dark night in 1979 as she travelled home on the M6. She was forced to swerve violently after someone ran in front of her car. As she wrenched the steering wheel round, the car skidded off the road and plunged down a ravine.
Jolted from side to side like a limp rag doll, Valerie amazingly survived. She had a badly cruised body, but her head and face were unscathed. Or so she thought.
It was only when she enrolled on a secretarial course that she realised the damage she had suffered in the accident was more sinister than anyone had imagined.
Now 45, she says: At first I thought I was just being slow at picking things up, though that was unusual for me as I had always been a fast learner. I was already a touch typist but I could not even do that properly without making dozens of mistakes.
I found I was not able to understand even the simplest things. Worse still, my friends began to notice that the day after an evening out I would have no memory of the night before, I could not recall people or places.
To my enormous embarrassment I was having to ask lifelong friends who they were, I became what others considered eccentric constantly losing things. Never ready for a date or appointment on time.
She added: No one knew the nightmare I was going through because outwardly I looked fine. But I could not perform even the simplest tasks, such as filing.
I was a totally disruptive influence to those I worked with. I would start a job and move on to something else, forgetting to finish the first task.
Valerie was so bad that at one stage she even forgot her mother was seriously ill in hospital and went to a party.
Her doctor suggested she consult a hyypnotherapist, so she went to California looking for a wonder cure and found her husband instead. She said: When I returned to Britain, he phoned me every single night just to make sure I still remembered him!.
The more I learned about hypnotherapy the more I came to see its tremendous value and its potential for helping people.
In a last desperate bid to regain her memory, Valerie sold her story to the newspapers in the hope that someone would see it and be tempted to offer help. The ploy worked. A famous American hypnotherapist,
Gill Boyne, was touring the country at the time and agreed to help if he could use her a a guinea pig.
In a half-hour session in front of a classroom of students, Boyne cured Valerie. For two years everything was all right until disaster struck again.
On one of her frequent visits home to Britain a string of family deaths, accidents and traumas so devastated her that she suffered a relapse and actually forgot she had a husband in America. She never went back to him. She spent the next four years in a mental fog and with a memory retention span of no more than 24 hours.
Because her memory was so bad, she literally forgot to seek help, but eventually she came across a British hypnotherapist who was an associate of Boynes.
He helped her regain her memory again, but this time she took a deeper interest in the whole subject and decided to become a hypnotherapist herself.
My motives initially were selfish, she says I thought that if I understood more about the whole thing I might at least be able to help myself retain my memory, or be able to call upon professional colleagues who could assist me.
The more I learned about hypnotherapy, however, the more I came to see its tremendous value and its potential for helping people."back