What is Imagery

By Martin L. Rossman, MD

Imagery is a flow of thoughts you can see, hear, feel, smell, or taste. Throughout this program, you will see these three terms: imagery; guided imagery; and Interactive Guided ImagerySM. It’s important to recognize the differences between the three:

Imagery

Imagery is a natural, yet special, way of thinking that involves our senses. Images are thoughts you can see, hear, smell, taste or feel, and include memories, dreams and daydreams, plans and visions, and fantasies. Imagery is a type of thinking that has particularly strong effects on our emotions (imagine the face of someone you love and notice the feelings that come with the image), and our physiology (close your eyes and imagine sucking on a really sour lemon).

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery describes a process where you are asked to focus on images selected to help you achieve certain goals. Common applications include relaxation, relieving pain and other physical symptoms, reducing distress from surgery and other medical procedures, increasing creativity, enhancing confidence, stimulating healing responses in the body, and enhancing memory and learning.

Interactive Guided Imagery

Interactive Guided Imagery is a specific way of using imagery with particular applications in mind/body medicine. It is particularly effective in helping you to discover and improve your relationship to your health, to discover what role you can play in your recovery, and in helping you to use your resources most effectively. In this form of imagery, a trained guide helps you discover and work with your personal imagery about your illness and your healing, clarify any issues that may be involved, and learn to use your mind to support your own healing.

The imagination, as it is used in imagery, is not sufficiently valued in our culture. The imaginary is equated with the fanciful, the unreal, and the impractical. In school we are taught the three R’s while creativity, uniqueness, and interpersonal skills are either barely tolerated or frankly discouraged. As adults, we are usually paid to perform tasks, not to think creatively. The premium is on the practical, the useful, the real, as it should be — but imagination should be recognized as a valuable component of human thought.

Without imagination, humanity would be long extinct. It took imagination — the ability to conceive of new possibilities — to make fire, create weapons, and cultivate crops; to construct buildings, invent cars, airplanes, space shuttles, television, and computers.

Paradoxically, our collective imagination, which has allowed us to overcome so many natural threats, has been instrumental in creating the major survival problems we face on earth today — pollution, exhaustion of natural resources, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Yet imagination, teamed with will, remains our best hope for overcoming these same problems.

The information you will find in this program will focus primarily on simple ways of using imagery for relaxation, stress reduction, and emotional wellness.

 

APA Reference
Rossman, M. (2007). What is Imagery. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-imagery/000972
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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