How did Victor Garlock know he had hepatitis before his doctors knew?
The 75-year-old psychotherapist specializes in dream interpretation and hypnosis, and one night he dreamed that a bloodmobile was in town. He remembers that he signed up to give blood, but then informed the nurses that he couldn’t because he’d come down with the liver disease.
The dream came true: Garlock was diagnosed within the week. The semi-retired professor has heard of similar experiences from students. During a dream class, a student said she’d had a nightmare about getting bitten by a rat on her breast. When she woke up, she noticed a bump, leading to an early cancer diagnosis.
“The question is, how can your mind possibly read something that subtle and that difficult, and your conscious mind have no idea?” Garlock said. “We have a lot more power than we think.”
Garlock explored that topic in a book he wrote, “Your Genius Within: Understanding Sleep, Dream Interpretation and Learning Self-Hypnosis.” He will talk about his book, which was published in 2012, Thursday during “word, revisited,” a bimonthly community program hosted by the Cayuga Museum in partnership with publications Olive Trees and aaduna.
Besides his published works, which include columns in The Citizen, Garlock is coming back to Cayuga Community College to teach a one-credit course on sleep and dreams through the psychology department during the fall semester. He also practices locally at The Center, a wellness spa and therapy group located at 1 Hoffman St. in Auburn.
Garlock said he uses hypnosis in his practice to help patients recall dreams or find things inside of them that will help them with a problem. He teaches patients to relax their bodies and minds, eventually teaching them how to hypnotize themselves. The techniques have helped patients lose weight, quit smoking, get better sleep, manage pain and even recall repressed memories, he said. One woman, who had blocked out memories of being assaulted, was hypnotized and then able to recall her assailant. Law enforcement was able to catch the person, Garlock said.
He’s even helped a player on the Olympic basketball team. After an injury, the athlete had developed fears that prevented him from playing at his best. Garlock said they worked on helping the player focus, abandoning his fear for mantras like “you’re going to do it” and “do it.”
“I hadn’t expected someone to see me for that,” he said. “I have a good time.”
Garlock also practices what he teaches. He uses self-hypnosis while in the dentist’s chair. He’s had his gums trimmed without anesthesia, he said, though sometimes he’ll need pain medication afterward.
The psychotherapist knows that not everyone may be so receptive to these kinds of techniques and methodologies. Some of his patients, he said, come to him for help as a kind of last resort. He’s well aware of some public perceptions about hypnosis.
“Hypnosis is not something where the person controls (another),” he said. “That’s the kind of myth where people are running around like a chicken for entertainment. All I do is help the person. It’s a kind of focused concentration where you tap into your imagination, your own ability to concentrate. It’s really about focus.”
Garlock said none of what he does should be a substitute for visiting a health care professional, but he loves helping people find a different avenue to confront their challenges. It’s something he’s been doing for decades. He got his doctorate degree in the mid-1970s from Cornell University, where he was exposed to professors who were interested in dreams and hypnosis. He continued exploring that interest when starting to teach at Cayuga Community College. He retired around 1999 and opened up a clinical practice in Florida in addition to his space in Auburn.
Garlock spends more time here than Florida now, but he helps patients in both areas. He hopes to reach as many people as possible through his books, his columns, his practice and his talks, so everyone can discover their inner genius.
“We have more within us than we think we have,” he said.
Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.