The Basic Problem Of
Stress Management and Human Growth
Stress management manuals almost always fail. They fail because they ignore a central insurmountable mental process; what psychiatry calls the Return of the Repressed.
These books seek to suppress pain by either tranquillizing the mind with relaxation and meditation techniques, or they use 'the power of positive thinking' to reframe the meaning of events. Of course the pain always returns because it has never been truly neutralized.
Those books which do work toward insight, encounter a serious problem. The brain is always under pressure, even in the best-adjusted individuals. Stress books deal with this problem by backing away from the deepest self. They run home to what is intellectual and thus abort their journey into deep and lasting change.
In the damaged human being, which includes most of us, we have seen in Part One that the unconscious fills with pain. We have seen that rage and anguish build up in the deepest self to a powerful degree. At the same time, the parts of the self which act as a container become weakened due to the same poor parenting which created the pain. Thus, we have rising pressure in a weakened container. The 'serious problem' which all stress management manuals face is: How do we work to repair a mechanism, such as the human mind under great pressure, without causing an explosion?
Should we simply give up and run home to less intense levels of therapy? Should we never, ever, put a manual on the general market about Deep Organic Self-Management?
I do not believe that we should give up. Deep oceans, unknown continents and terrible gulfs have never stopped mankind from advancing in the past. The advancement of our race into the realm of ultra-high technology suggests that we keep pace. Our mental development really must parallel our technical development, and it must do so for all of us, not just the knowledgable few.
This book is dedicated to the proposition that non-psychotic emotional distress is caused by early childhood pain and a resultant lack of consciousness in adult life.
* * * We know that the mind can observe, process, store, and function perfectly.
When a neurosurgeon touches the exposed brain with a tiny amount of electricity, a patient can re-live in perfect detail an early childhood event.
When life-threatening danger suddenly comes upon us, people have reported an ability to observe and respond to the external world that is so far beyond the average as to be literally a different plane of existence.
During a regressive therapy experience, clients will relive events with utter clarity. They will, in fact, even experience feelings that were suppressed so quickly during the actual moment of trauma that they never, ever, have been consciously known.
There is unquestionably therefore, in the depths of the brain, a set of processes which can be called uncontaminated, perfect, or immaculate.
These processes would include: Immaculate Observation, Immaculate Storage, Immaculate Processing (including re-experiencing), and Immaculate Function.
We lose these immaculate processes when we are afraid that the consequences of using them will bring us extraordinary harm. The principle of being personally safe overrides the immaculate processes of the brain. When threatened, the child, and indeed the adult, turns off conscious knowledge as fast as it emerges and shunts it safely down and away from awareness.
The threatened and traumatized child not only instantly buries its knowledge, it also buries living processes that are attached to the knowing that it wants to be rid of. Thus we lose not only memory but function.
For instance, if a child is traumatized in a car accident and represses this knowledge, he or she may later refuse to drive a car. Thus the original knowledge of the event is lost, and the ability to function in the present is also lost.
The underlying ground of all brain function for human beings is the confidence that what we see, think and feel is true. If we couldn't count on this, we would degenerate into terror. For example, if you thought the sidewalk was going to disappear out from under your feet, you would refuse to take a step.
The brain must maintain the confidence that what it knows is true and stable. At the same time, the brain keeps suppressing more and more of what it knows. It does this to keep us safe in the moment, so that internal pain and external threat will be adjusted to at any cost. Immediate survival outweighs truth. The traumatized child, therefore, is alive but increasingly diminished.
To function knowing less and less of our truth, and yet at the same time to maintain our belief in the basic ground underneath us, we fill in the spaces with false beliefs. We remember what we need to remember. We repress what we need to repress. We see what supports our view and we stop seeing things that do not.
We unconsciously build a conscious personal self, which becomes a house of cards. This house of cards can only be maintained by more and more external validation. Fitting in and receiving validation keeps us from collapse.
For example, imagine that you go to work one day and nobody acknowledges your presence. Hour after hour people look right through you and give no signal that you are there. How long do you imagine any of us could remain free of terror without being validated even on that most basic level?
The adult replaces IMMACULATE OBSERVATION with disordered observation, IMMACULATE STORAGE (memory) with disordered storage, IMMACULATE PROCESSING with disordered processing and IMMACULATE FUNCTION with disordered function. We become honeycombed with these invisible disorders, making our life decisions and choices, such as who to marry and what work to do, with insufficient understanding. Thus we do not get what we need, and we do get what we don't need. We exhaust ourselves, feel dissatisfied and, unable to find meaning, walk our path from birth to death.
This manual which you are reading exists to reverse this difficult human plight. We can find our truth, and we can live in an organic and fruitful way.
* * * In and around the buried Immaculate Processes (observing, storing, processing and functioning) which we have discussed, lie an entirely different but connected set of brain functions. I call these functions the Processes of Holistic Insight.
Holistic Insight is the sudden, global, non-linear awareness of self and world which dissolves the disordered brain function that we have discussed. Holistic Insight is itself an Immaculate Function, and returns us, in quantum leaps, to greater and greater clarity.
In this book our job will be to find the techniques which activate the IMMACULATE PROCESS OF HOLISTIC INSIGHT, in order to actually experience the parts of us that are lost. We want to win back from the darkness the supple processes of the mind. In so doing we will disassemble the false self which we have constructed to avoid anything that triggers our pain. We seek to become clear and comfortable in our function, by finding and experiencing each buried hurt that misdirects our lives and prevents us from clear, self-balancing organic living.
With the gift of HOLISTIC INSIGHT we will then access the uncontaminated IMMACULATE FUNCTIONS of the brain.
Finally, we will be able to perceive, to process, and to act without so many of the distortions that have plagued our lives and formed the basis of the lies that we live. We will also, as a bonus, be able to process emotional pain and stress with the tools which we are about to acquire.
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