INSOMNIA — Dr. Victor Frankl on “logo” therapy

INSOMNIA There are many causes of this unfortunate illness. Fear of death can be the cause. Sometimes, the fear of going to sleep (oblivion) prevents conscious and subconscious relaxation necessary for rest.

The mind is so complex that something frightening said to a child of three by an unthinking adult can penetrate the subconscious of that child, be totally forgotten (repressed), and emerge many years later as a cause for “insomnia.”

Physicians, especially surgeons, are now more alert to what they say in the presence of an unconscious or anesthetized patient. The subconscious seems to have ears even when the person is insensible and cold. Insomnia is a habit that can cause mental fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, a lessening of the powers of concentration, and many other serious problems.


About 25 percent of Americans experience acute insomnia each year. Still, about 75 percent of these individuals recover without developing persistent poor sleep or chronic insomnia, with seniors experiencing the highest percentage of insomnia, according to a study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 

While that may sound daunting to seniors, it’s also reassuring to know that you are not alone in your struggle to overcome insomnia.


Many insomnia cases result from eating too late at night, causing discomfort, indigestion, irritability in your nervous system, and chronic breathing problems, which are physical and can keep you awake.

Some of the biggest problems change in a job, school, and money worries are significant factors for insomnia. Losing a relationship or loved one is emotionally devastating and a huge factor for insomnia.

Poor sleep habits also is a significant factor in modern society. Innovations in technology have created a myriad of stressors for developing insomnia. Example. Blue light emitted from digital devices with screens (cell phones, computers, televisions) has proven to be an enemy of sleep.


Symptoms we experience during the day:

  • High levels of anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling exhausted after waking
  • Easily stressed and anxious

Symptoms we experience during the night:

  • constant tossing and turning
  • Busy mind
  • unable to fall asleep
  • unable to stay asleep
  • Restless syndrome

The average insomniac shows the world deep shadows around the eyes, a lackluster look, and neurotic tendencies that compound over time if no help is obtained. Many insomniacs blame a “busy mind” or “this hectic existence.” Such people will actually “plan” on staying awake.

Insomnia is LEARNED. With the most exacting logic, reasoning, and reality testing, a person decides to stay awake – it is only through planning and practice that one becomes an insomniac.

Through instruction in self-hypnosis, the insomniac will learn to sleep like a bear in a cave in a short time (usually within six weeks).

NO DRUGS are necessary.

As no drugs are required, no addiction or side effects will occur.

Without question, hypnosis is the safest and most effective therapy for insomnia known. It is considered by some therapists (usually of the analytical school) that treatment should be administered to uncover hidden or repressed childhood traumas that may (or may not) be the case in insomnia. Still, we have yet to see proof that this approach is necessary except in extreme cases.

A majority of insomniacs need to overcome a distressful habit. Dr. Victor Frankl, a Viennese psychiatrist and neurologist who suffered years of Nazi concentration camp torture when freed wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” and other books. He introduced “logo” therapy.

In this therapy, Dr. Frankl urged his patients to try to do the very act they found uncomfortable or distasteful. In the case of insomnia, he suggested chatting with his patients “try to stay awake.” This approach he called “paradoxical intention.”

His books have significantly contributed to psychology, and he was one of the first to urge a departure from medicine’s usual method of administering sedatives.

Hypnosis, however, seems to be a more “normal” method since it simply encourages relaxation, and as the insomniac is occupied with hypnotic techniques, he will fall asleep. As in most behavioral changes, it is replacing a bad habit with a good one or substituting something positive and healthy for a pattern that hitherto had been negative and unhealthy.

What caused insomnia in the first place and what psychological disturbance maintained the habit pattern is unimportant at this point. The fact is that hypnosis can provide a method so that an insomniac can successfully get a typical night’s rest and eventually overcome a debilitating habit.

Why hypnosis is not used more generously by the psychiatric branch of medicine for many problems, including insomnia, is challenging to understand.


You, as a sympathetic listener, will first probe your client for any history of childhood trauma that may have caused the problem.


“Why do you think you cannot fall asleep easily at night?”

And the usual answer is, “My mind is active. Things keep going around in my mind. I am aware that this is keeping me awake, but I can’t control my thoughts; I seem to have so much on my mind that I can’t get to sleep.”

Another answer may be, “I’m in a tough business. I have so many problems at the office (shop, store, home, college, etc.) that I can’t seem to turn them off when I want to sleep.”

The primary purpose of the hypnotist’s question is to get the clients to talk about their problems. As the client talks, note the number of times they say, “I can’t.”

Note the conditioned habit pattern demonstrated by the “I can’t.” True, this game can be played with anyone no matter the problem, but the insomniac will always be the prize “I can’t.” And this is why, when your clients try to sleep, they will continue to toss and turn – hating the world, society, their job – but more significantly, themselves.

The process of initial relaxation, as taught in beginning self-hypnosis, will come as a welcome relief to most insomniacs, who usually make excellent hypnotic subjects for the simple reason they are tired from loss of sleep and are generally becoming neurotic about the problem.

They will generally welcome the soothing commands of a professional hypnotist. The word “sleep” should be used repeatedly during induction. The same techniques are used in treating insomnia, of course, as in any other form of relaxation training. The insomniac, however, always stresses self-hypnosis.

In your discussion, persuade the client that they are doing this, and you are only a guide. This must be repeated many times to transfer any reliance upon you to the client.

Show the greatest admiration for any progress, and praise him for his excellence as a subject.

The praise and empathic relationship are beneficial from a reward-reinforcement base upon which to dissuade the negative pattern from continuing. As in the case of all habit changes, the replacement with a positive and emotionally satisfying habit will correct the unhappy state of insomnia.

Suggestibility by the hypnotist becomes fact to the insomniac as he recovers from his affliction. Much of this comes from the subject themself as they come to “believe.”

The hypnotist suggests, soothes, and softly persuades relaxation and concentration. Usually, the rapid technique, i.e., counting to three, will administer the corrective way to sleep.

We advise practicing two to three times a day in the relaxing techniques and finding that eight sessions with the hypnotist will make the insomniac sleep soundly. In the beginning, most insomniacs will not believe that hypnosis will correct their affliction, and most will frankly admit that coming to a professional hypnotist is a last resort. Most will have tried drugs, counting sheep, reading poetry, and drinking all kinds of milk elixirs in desperate efforts to get a night’s sleep.

Therefore, while you will be most reassuring, nevertheless stress that SELF-hypnosis will do the trick and not some outside agency or magic.

Place the responsibility right where it belongs.

This usually has a sobering effect on the client, and they will begin to see just how much, by habit, is responsible for insomnia. As your sessions progress, you will see the practice paying off – the eyes will be more alert, a quickening step, and a more confident attitude.

Always be quick to praise your client and urge them to recognize the progress made in a short time. Also, stress the “here and now” experience and counsel your client not to dwell on past errors, mistakes, sins, or fears. Instead, the excellent vigor of the present moment and the existentialistic exercise must be emphasized.

Dismiss references to the past as futile, and bolster any sagging will with “here and now” psychology. Your optimism is the insomniac’s tonic for confidence, faith, and relaxation. Trust and peace are inseparable and are dually self-supportive. Encouragement invites belief – disbelief has maintained the unhappy state of affairs. Be very careful of the words you use to an insomniac during induction.

For sales motivation and improved work habits, hypnotists use the words “dynamic, aggressive,” and so on, but they should never be used in the case of insomnia. You must tailor your comments to the client’s needs and beware of stereotyping your induction for all who come to you.

The conscientious hypnotist always seeks to accommodate the client’s needs, especially during induction. Words are symbols with meanings, remember and invoke a reaction (good or bad, right or wrong, positive or negative) from your client.

It has been found that it is wise to emphasize deep breathing during induction for an insomniac.

Studies have shown that many people hold their breath when “trying hard” to sleep. One recent study indicated that several insomniacs were so concerned with getting to sleep that they “forgot” to breathe.

Therefore, have your client not only breathe deeply at the initial phase of induction but continually remind him that he is to breathe deeply and rhythmically. As we know, a more focused concentration on breathing also acts as a hypnotic technique for sleep or somnambulism, so it has a double benefit.


Tags: busy mindinsomnianeurologistself-hypnosistherapy

Hypnotherapy for Insomnia

It is usually only through planning and practice that a person creates insomnia. With the use of the hypnotic suggestions that you will feed yourself during the day and before you go to sleep at night, you can change your habit in approximately six weeks.

Hypnotherapy for insomnia is a natural method of relaxing; and if the insomniac is occupied with utilizing hypnosis techniques, he will most likely drift into a sound and natural sleep.

Write a goal contract that states the length of time you will allow yourself to be rid of the label “insomniac”. Often visualize yourself in bed falling asleep and awakening in the morning, feeling relaxed, refreshed, and revitalized.

One method that should help you fall asleep at night is to visualize the word “relax” as if it were written on a slate in your mind’s eye. After a few moments, erase the word “relax” and write the word “sleep”.

Repeat this process as many times as it is necessary for you to enter a sleep state. Feel yourself growing more and more relaxed each time you repeat the process.

Use the following direct suggestions to help you fall into a relaxing sleep or to re-educate your sleeping habits if you are using these suggestions during your daytime sessions.

1. When I go to sleep, I fall into a deep pleasant sleep and have pleasant dreams. I sleep the night through and wake up feeling refreshed.

2. Each and every night my sleeping patterns and behavior are better. I am sleeping better and better and feel more confident about myself. I am calm, tranquil and relaxed.

3. Shortly after I go to bed with the intention of sleep, I fall asleep quickly. I have faith in my ability to relax and sleep, and I let it happen.

4. I am letting go more and more, deeper and deeper, so relaxed, so comfortable.

5. Each night I am sleeping deeper. I am formulating the behavior of deep, sound sleep. It is a natural behavior of deep, tranquil, revitalizing, comfortable sleep.