Solana Beach psychologist’s new book offers tips on how to unlock happiness


By Claire Harlin

It’s not uncommon for people to experience emotion from life events, but when those emotions aren’t resolved, they can greatly shape a person’s beliefs and behavior for life.

That’s much of the premise behind Solana Beach resident Peter Lambrou’s new book “Code to Joy.” A local leader in the field of psychology, and specifically self-hypnosis, Lambrou and co-author George Pratt have developed an approach to being content that seeks to recode the “blocking beliefs” that often stand between people and total happiness.

“Sometimes the subconscious mind can rule the conscious mind,” said Lambrou, who specializes in hypnotherapy and psychotherapy for anxiety, phobias and weight loss. Lambrou is on staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, where is has been past chairman of psychology, and is on the Psychology Section executive committee. He has also been an instructor at UCSD Extension for many years.

Lambrou, who studied journalism as an undergraduate, entered the field of psychology full-force, already having co-authored a book on self-hypnosis before deciding to get a degree in the field and practice clinically. The authorship opportunity arose decades ago when Lambrou attended a self-hypnosis workshop by psychologist Brian Mogul Alman, who contracted him to write the book, which focused heavily on the self-hypnosis process and Lambrou’s own path to discovering it. The 1982 book “Self-Hypnosis: The Complete Manual For Health and Self-Change” is still a best-selling classic for the publisher, has been translated into 14 languages, and has sold more than 250,000 copies over the years.

Lambrou said his first book was “pivotal,” and he has since continued writing. Other books include “Stop Your Panic Attacks Now”; “Hyper-Performance: The A.I.M. Strategy”; and “Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions.”

The “code” in the title of “Code to Joy” refers to the thoughts and beliefs that are installed in our body that we must sometimes change.

“One must take a life-limiting belief and flip it around so that it reflects the truth,” said Lambrou. “Sometimes that comes in the form of an affirmation.”

Many of the instilled beliefs that keep us from being happy are formed by “microtraumas” that occur in our childhoods, Lambrou said.

“A person in early times of life doesn’t always have the context to understand certain traumatic experiences like an adult would,” said Lambrou. “As adults, it’s too late to change what has been imprinted. In our early years, we get imprinted with no filter.”

These “microtraumas” are not always completely tragic, but they are impressionable, he said. He shared the example of a patient who used to help her aunt with cleaning, so her aunt gave her a quarter. Her mom, however, criticized her for taking money from family, and that patient later in life has trouble in business because she found it difficult to take money from others, and she viewed her own clients as family.

He said he has also seen feelings of abandonment result from custody battles that took place in childhood, or feelings of perfectionism and inadequacy result from people who grew up in strict environments. In the book, Lambrou provides an extensive list of possible scenarios, all gathered from patients’ experiences he has compiled and observed during his decades of clinical practice.

“Microtraumas are like small little cuts that occur and seem insignificant but they can really shape a person’s beliefs of themselves later on,” Lambrou said.

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. Code To Joy reached #16 in Amazon rankings during its release in May 2012