By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — Shawn W. Mash doesn’t dangle a gold watch or ask you to stare into spinning concentric circles.
When he hypnotizes you, this longtime Dallas hypnotherapist — 86 and a member of Chabad of Plano — simply will ask you to close your eyes and relax.
Of course, this isn’t Hollywood. As Mash adjusts his voice to the necessary level to persuade the subject to stroll into a trance, he’s not probing for hidden memories.
And he’s certainly not searching for multiple personalities, trying to create a sleeper agent, or manipulating the subject to cluck like a chicken when hearing a trigger word.
No, Mash is working in service of getting a client to relax. He’s inducing a power nap — a dreamy, comfortable descent into soft mellow wonderfulness and positivity.
He’s also taping the session so the client can listen to it again later.
In this narrative, a reporter visited Mash to see how hypnotherapy helps patients.
Mash’s voice can be heard throughout the process as a guide for his client’s hypnotic journey:
“See the different colors? The different shapes? They look so real,” Mash said. “Imagine a waterfall cascading down the side of a mountain … The water falling and splashing and spraying and shining and a rainbow stretched across the bluest sky you’ve ever seen.”
Mash is basically stretching out 20 minutes of real time into two hours of deep, undisturbed sleep in the mind of the subject.
“Let it go,” Mash said. “Empty out. Let yourself rest.”
Rest comes. Eyes remain closed.
Mash, president of Professional Dynamics, Inc., of Dallas, is recognized as an authority on clinical hypnosis and the behavioral sciences. He has thousands of clients across the world and lectures extensively throughout the United States and abroad. He works for corporations and does quite a bit of work via Skype.
He is the creator of “The Mashonian Model of the Mind,” which through his perspective probes into how a mind works and teaches a client to slow down an overwrought brain.
In addition to private practice and group therapy, Mash also holds seminars that combine behavioral change roles with human relationship and skill building.
His listed credentials include participation in various degree programs at the University of Texas at Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Cornell University and the University of Boston.
Zelda Mash, the hypnotherapists’s wife and office partner, said her husband gets extraordinary results with his work.
“He works with people with problems with alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and cigars,” she said. “He works with people with weight problems, stress, fears, phobias, anxieties, helps people who are terminally ill with pain medication, teaches hypnobirthing, having babies, and works with professional and nonprofessional athletes about their game. He helps people get rid of migraines, fibromyalgia, insomnia and prepare for testing. He can help people retain information and not stress out during tests.”
Help during birthing
Mash’s hypnotic help comes in handy in the area of pain management — a lot of it with women about to give birth. In some cases, Mash said it is possible to help clients through extensive painful surgery. His hypnosis also is known to help rebuild confidence or help cancer clients deal with the many levels of pain.
He’s also a crackerjack handwriting analyst.
Zelda Mash is happy to explain how good her husband is at analyzing handwriting: She remembers an incident a few years ago when the Long Island prosecutor’s office called inquiring about a young man who had once seen Mash.
When her husband came out of a session, she showed him the young man’s folder that she had located.
His first response was “Who did he kill?”
Zelda Mash was astonished. It was moments like these when she realized how much of an amazing tool this particular skill is.
“He didn’t ask me, ‘Is he back in town?’ or ‘Is someone calling about employment?’ It was ‘Who did he kill?’” she said. “He told me, ‘There’s so much anger in his handwriting I would be surprised if he didn’t kill somebody.’ … It turned out the young man had killed five prostitutes.”
Mash founded Professional Dynamics Inc., in 1980, but prior to that became well-known throughout the Dallas area through his work at Davisson Clinics. He worked there as the executive director. At Davisson Clinics, he said, he developed programs that helped thousands of people to achieve goals and remain in control of their lives.
Currently, Mash is compiling his many proven techniques into a soon-to-be-published book titled Use What You Have To Get The Thing You Want But Don’t Have.
Many of Mash’s clients rave about his hypnotic prowess in letters they submitted recommending his service to others.
In one letter dated March 22, 2012, his client Tammy Diamond thanked Mash for hypnobirthing training.
“As each session progressed, I increasingly felt more and more confident and fearless from labor,” she wrote. “Going into labor and the anticipated ‘pain’ was one of my biggest fears of childbirth. My husband and I worked together in your sessions and talked it out, so we had our ‘plan’ and knew there would be no surprises gong into labor. … It made me so calm and confident that I enjoyed my pregnancy and labor — and even the recovery.”
In a letter dated Sept. 18, 2013, client Dave Alpaerts wrote in thanking Mash for, essentially, helping create a new version of him. With the letter Alpaerts included a photo of him running in a crowd during some type of outdoor sporting event.
“Your serenity, wisdom, common sense and humor triggered a part of me I thought was long gone,” Alpaerts wrote. “I’ve managed to build myself physically … but then I started to rebuild myself mentally. … I started looking at myself, who am I, what is positive and what is negative, for me, for my children, for my parents, and everyone close to me.”
“The chaos is slowly going away, making place for vision, organization, courage to reach my goals, clients — and all this in a big cloud of positive thinking,” Alpaerts wrote. “ … I can only hope that I can speak to (you) one more time to keep this newfound power inside me alive.”
In a letter dated July 21, 2002, Nancy Elledge thanked Mash for helping her husband, Glenn Holton. He had passed away six years prior to the date of the letter.
Holton had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He worked with Mash for 13 months to stay calm and confident.
“He used your meditation and hypnotist tapes every day and I truly believe they helped prolong his life,” she wrote. “ … Please accept my sincere thanks for what you did for him, You have a unique gift for helping people and you are so unselfish with your gifts.”
Admittedly, these are very somber issues to discuss in a story that began with a newspaper reporter being lulled into a power nap through hypnotism.
Back to that account:
The session was nearly over. Mash coached me into the nap with instructions of “Let it go. Empty out. Let yourself rest” and “Each moment you go deeper, deeper than ever before.”
Mash added several instructions inspiring positive thinking in there before waking the subject.
“Encourage your willpower and good feelings about yourself and concise control over the now,” Mash said.
“If you get the slightest uncomfortable, worrying, anxious thought with any situation, you breathe through your lips.”
“You become relaxed. You feel the good things about yourself.”
And finally: End of session.