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Regression Therapy as a Valid Approach in Treating Obesity: A Case Study – Janet Cunningham (Is.10)

by Janet Cunningham, M.S.

The study of obesity has perplexed dieters and professionals alike. This paper presents the research and view that regression therapy and working through the blockages in the unconscious mind can be a major key to success. The research of the author indicates five major reasons for manifesting excess body fat. She identifies those reasons, and documents a case study using childhood and past-life therapy.

In spite of an increased interest in fitness in the 1980’s and 90’s, statistics indicate a shocking reality: eighty to ninety percent of dieters who lose weight gain it back. We continue to emphasize external (diet change, exercise, behavior) and avoid internal factors (thoughts, beliefs, mind patterning, and emotion). Clearly we have not addressed the mind’s ability to hold unconscious reasons to keep excess body fat. Nor have we begun to consider the “spirit” or energy-essence of the individual. Experts continue to study the effect instead of the cause.

Good nutrition and exercise are, of course, necessary for a healthy, normal-weight body. And yet, there are millions of obese and/or overweight Americans who cannot—CANNOT—lose weight and keep it off.

Less-than-understanding friends and some experts cry out: “They just need more willpower.” Willpower is a function of the conscious mind. Can one lose weight with willpower? Of course; it happens all the time and any diet or exercise program will work. If, however, there are REASONS held in one’s unconscious mind to keep excess fat, the dieter will gain all the weight back!

Obesity is an internal fight, a fight between the conscious mind that says “I really want to lose weight” and the unconscious mind that says “I need the weight because…” Obesity is an internal fight, and any external measures, although valuable, cannot solve the problem. The problem is not the cause. The cause is internal—the cause is in the mind.

The causes are the memories and experiences of the person that have brought about a NEED for extra layers of body fat for protection. The cause is locked in the unconscious mind.

One of the most discouraging facts of the weight loss battle is that the dieter loses hope. Each new effort is fueled with the underlying belief (and fear) that s/he will just gain it all back. When the dieter recognizes that there are reasons why s/he has put the weight on…s/he can also understand that what the mind creates, it can re-create.

Working in the field of traditional weight control counseling for fifteen years and seeing this frustrating reality was what led me to move to a deeper study of the mind and hypnosis. I eventually opened my own business and began working with clients to change habits and reprogram the mind to a more healthy body image. Although the success rate improved slightly, I quickly realized that for most life-long dieters, the unconscious mind held memories and programming that were not easily changed, and despite what I said, many people were still seeking a fast, no-effort answer to losing weight; they wanted me to “hypnotize their fat away.” Others were ready to take responsibility and understood what I was teaching. Yet, I began to realize that for most overweight people, the unconscious mind held programming and beliefs that were not modified by standard hypnosis techniques.

For the past seven years, I have done intensive work related to the deep unconscious mind. I began doing regressions to childhood memories and experiences to find the cause of client weight problems. My research over the years in regressions under hypnosis proved to be valuable in helping people uncover their REASONS for staying overweight.

I realized that for these clients there was a NEED to keep excess body fat. That need for fat is a need for protection, in response to memories locked in their unconscious minds. Those memories were individual according to each person’s own life and experiences. They included:

  • Food programming: How to eat, what to eat, when to eat, why one eats.
  • Being overly-disciplined or ignored and the child’s emotional and mental response.
  • Painful childhood memories of being in a fat body that was different from playmates and the teasing and embarrassment they suffered at school.
  • Abuse: Emotional, mental, physical, and abuse of the spirit.

Some of these issues or memories could be discussed during counseling sessions, and often were. There is quite a difference, however, when an adult discusses a memory with his/her rational mind, and when that same adult relives the experience under hypnosis.

Thought is energy. Emotion is energy. Fat is energy. Excess fat means that energy is not moving or flowing freely throughout the body-mind system. Excess fat is blocked energy. As one feels the need to protect him or herself, one puts on excess layers of fat—and there are very good reasons to keep layers of fat for protection, as far as the unconscious mind is concerned.

Excess body fat is ONE FORM of manifesting blockages. I don’t want to give the impression that I am saying thin people have no blockages. Thin people simply manifest those (sometimes same) blockages in other ways. If one is a human being, one has energy blockages.

Fat serves as a protective layer. There are many individual reasons why a person has an unconscious need to protect the self. Generally, I have found five major reasons for manifesting excess body fat.

(1) Keeping feelings and emotions in. The majority of overweight or obese clients whom I have worked with over the years are very attuned to their emotional selves. The client may recognize that he feels emotions strongly. In our society this is not always valued; a sensitive nature doesn’t quite fit into our “don’t act emotional — be cool” western society; and so the person tries to adapt. But adapting requires “shutting down,” a closing down of sensitivity, blocking the emotional self. The body responds to that NEED at an unconscious level. Layers and layers of body fat WILL dull one’s receptive, emotional self.

Clients have learned that they eat to “stuff their emotions down” and to avoid feeling emotions as they begin to rise. To keep them in, to avoid their expression, food is used, and it works! Eating will stuff it and keep it in.

(2) Keeping personal power down. Power is energy. Energy is power. I have found that a majority of overweight clients keep their power down. They prefer to stay passive, and in fact do not even recognize nor have a sense of their own personal power. Some “give their power away” to avoid risk or change. They fear hurting others’ feelings, and are fearful of being hurt. They might accept, give in, give up, and avoid, rather than act in their own behalf.

(3) Stored memories. There is a desire to avoid painful memories and emotion. If a client has memories of being called names as a child, laughed at while playing games at recess, or being left out, the greatest healing comes by allowing the memory and acknowledging the pain. Then s/he can be free to move on.

Some memories are more devastating. Some studies indicate that three out of five women have been sexually abused. I have worked with many such women under hypnosis, and I believe that sexual abuse affects every level of consciousness. Healing from such traumatic memories takes time. There is other physical abuse, and mental and emotional abuse as well, often directed to us by well-meaning parents or others who were acting out of their own hurt.

4) Self punishment. A lack of self love or a deep unconscious belief that s/he deserves to be punished is often uncovered as an obese person begins to take an inner look. A lack of self love will contribute to creating a body that cannot be loved and accepted. A belief that “I do not deserve” happiness, a slim attractive body, to speak my opinions, equality in the family structure equates with self punishment.

5) Protecting the “spirit.” The sensitive person has a need to protect his/her spirit by hiding it safely away, not letting anyone “know the real me.” Often the spirit has been hurt in early years and the adult is unwilling to put his or herself in such a vulnerable position again.

Sometimes there is a lack of desire to “be here.” There is fear of experiencing life and an avoidance of the free-flowing energy that exists when one is “fully present and feeling IN the body.”

Although I focus on the habit patterns created in the present life, I have found that in a few acute cases of obesity, past-life therapy can also prove valuable. Such is the case of one client whom I will call Dot. Dot is approximately forty-five years old, four feet eleven inches tall, and was over one hundred pounds overweight when she first came to me. She had fought obesity all her life, attempting every avenue available to her. In our initial counseling session I checked on her knowledge of nutrition, which I found to be more than adequate to construct a healthy diet.

Dot was intelligent and so attuned to her inner self that I was able to work with the healing challenges and opportunities that life events brought to her. Following is a very brief summary of the unconscious blockages to successful weight loss that emerged in Dot’s case.

(1) Life Event: Living near parents: Her English mother’s emphasis on cooking and eating which Dot was unable to resist. Childhood Regression: Lack of love and attention; the only person from whom she felt love was her grandmother who fed her chocolate candy. Stored Memory/Emotion: Love equals food/sugar.

(2) Life Event: At dinner meals Dot became aware that she was worried that there wouldn’t be enough food. Past-Life Regression: A primitive existence, cave dwelling, in which the threat of starvation was always present. The man in charge of dividing portions of food for the small tribal community was Dot’s love (and husband in this life). She saw any extra food to her as proof that he loved her more than the others. Stored Memory/Emotion: Love equals food; fear of not having enough to eat; husband as provider-security.

(3) Life Event: Dot’s uncontrollable craving for chocolate. Past-Life Regression: Singer; adoring fans sent her chocolates; she became morbidly obese. When her popularity declined, she sent herself chocolates. At her death she was unable to get out of bed and was addicted to sugar and chocolate. Stored Memory/Emotion: Sugar/chocolate addiction; sugar/chocolate connected to expressions of love.

(4) Life Event: Suspicion of a new female friend of her husband. Past-Life Regression: Mistress of a Priest, she saw herself as “temptress.” Stored Memory/Emotion: Disgust of “feminine wiles”; self blame; self-punishment; distrust of feminine energy; guilt; a belief that she separated herself from God.

(5) Life Event: Dot’s husband continues to see his new female friend at a class he is taking. He tells Dot that she would like her—“she even looks like you.” Past-Life Regressions: A Native American tribe. The “other woman” was Dot’s twin sister and a baby was born to her and Dot’s present husband. Dot chose to go to a cave to die rather than eat “white man’s poison.” Stored Memory/Emotion: Anger, blaming the other woman, death by starvation.

(6) Life Event: A dental appointment, pointing out an unalterable gag reflex; this prompted a discussion of her difficulty with oral sex (Dot didn’t object to it, but she was unable to do it). Past-Life Regression: Experience of gang rape. Stored Memory/Emotion: Powerlessness; anger; fear; gag reflex.

(7) Life Event: Increased psychic sensitivity; fear of small crowds. Past-Life Regression: Indian medicine woman; she saw the coming massacre of the tribe by soldiers and “lived in my visions.” Stored Memory/Emotion: Fear of “going crazy”—living in visions; fear of other people’s power.

(8) Life Event: Husband’s continuing attraction to another woman; fear of being alone. Past-Life Regression: Young girl in prison (dungeon) who was kept alive for political reasons. She was fed well, kept alone, and died alone. Stored Memory/Emotion: Fear of being alone; Food as sole comfort.

(9) Life Event: Examining her marriage; discussions of love, trying to put limitations on her husband’s actions. Past-Life Regression: Dot saw herself as a Monk who was secretly very active sexually. Stored Memory/Emotion: Self blame; self punishment.

(10) Life Event: Desire to walk for exercise in the woods near her house, yet her fear of horseflies prevented that freedom. Past-Life Regression: Infant left to die as tribal custom dictated survival of the fittest; death by starvation; covered with horseflies. Stored Memory/Emotion: Death by starvation; fear of horseflies.

(11) Life Event: In lovemaking with her husband, Dot had a spontaneous reaction from her stored memory, and she ended up in a fetal position sobbing. Current Life Regression: Childhood to teen years sexual abuse (incest); strong messages to never speak about it. Stored Memory/Emotion: Powerlessness; fear; anger; consciousness moving out of body; fear of talking about herself or speaking up for her own needs. This became our primary work for an extended period of time.

(12) Life Event: Dot began to have another memory rising from her unconscious, and she smelled cigarette smoke when it wasn’t near. Current Life Regression: Oral sexual abuse at a young age with a male relative; inability to communicate. Stored Memory/Emotion: Fear, powerlessness, consciousness moving away from physical body; Gag reflex.

(13) Life Events: Continued psychic opening and working with people related to alternative methods of healing. Dot felt fear rising. Past-Life Regression: Experimental surgery where a plate was inserted in her head to keep energy controlled; her psychic energy was seen as neurotic and dangerous. She sensed a type of injection that brought about “sugar shock.” Stored Memory/Emotion: Fear of people not understanding her psychic abilities, fear of power, addiction to sugar.

(14) Life Event: Anger rising; in Dot’s words: feeling “split apart.” Past-Life Regression: A Mayan spiritual teacher; portion of her soul was locked away due to her self blame after killing her subordinates. Stored Memory/Emotion: Fear of her own power; fear of her own anger; self-punishment at a soul-level.

(15) Life Event: Avoiding her creativity; body pain; eyes-vision worse. Past-Life Regression (Group regression of three): Pre-Inca time, Dot had a visionary gift, she was pregnant and the baby was taken (cut) from her body as a sacrifice to keep the visionary gift. Stored Memory/Emotion: Decision not to have children in this life; fear of others; fear of using her creative abilities.

We worked through blockage after blockage as they arose from Dot’s unconscious, triggered by current life events. Each memory involved a mental and emotional release and counseling for Dot to fully understand how it affected her need to keep excess fat. In addition, Dot’s high sensitivity to other people’s energies had created a pattern of running away and stuffing her own emotional self down. As with many obese people, Dot had turned her own personal power into a belief in powerlessness, apparently a “soul-mind pattern” from her experience in past lives.

The subject of obesity and excess body fat is very complex. Unlike other issues which are often dealt with through one or two childhood or past-life regressions, I have not found that to be true in the case of chronic overweight clients. Recognizing that one starved to death in a past life has value in understanding an uncontrollable hunger and a fear of not getting enough food, but the habit patterns of overeating that have been reinforced during this life must be addressed. Discovering the reasons in the unconscious mind is the first step. The second step is for the client to take action at a conscious level of mind, and that includes a gradual change to making healthy food choices and an increase in physical activity. The dieter cannot jump over the first step, however. If s/he attempts to use conscious control to diet for weight loss, s/he will find that s/he sabotages her or himself and the excess fat returns. Many obese people are still seeking the instant, no-effort weight loss still promised by numerous advertisers today. There is probably no such thing. But when a client is willing to take an Inner Journey to discover the Self, success can be achieved.