Chapter 20

The Devices, Forces and Trickery
Used By The Unconscious
to Keep Us Out of Our Own Brain 


( Übersetzung: RWR )

Die Muster, Zwänge und Tricks des Unterbewusstseins,
um uns aus dem eigenen Kopf raus zu halten

The defences with which we will concern ourselves are:

1. The Devices of Invisibility and Not Knowing

2. The Device of Misdirected Attention

3. The Spell of Forgetfulness

4. The Defence of Not Wanting To

5. The Defence of Not Being Allowed To, and the Problem of Disloyalty

6. The Defence of Other Temptations:

(a) Ornate Intellectual Delights

(b) Ornate Intellectual Questions and the Need to Know

(c) The Pleasure of the Appetites

(d) The Pleasure and Safety of Hurtful Delights

(e) The Safety of False Beliefs

7. The Device of Confusion

8. The Silliness Barrier

9. Avoiding Negative Self-Belief

10. The Device of Shape-Changing and Symptom Travel

11. The Device of Extreme Terror


1. The Devices of Invisibility and Not Knowing

The unconscious part of our mind directs our thought, feeling and behaviour at all times, and it absolutely does not want us to know this fact. It works invisibly and it succeeds. We almost never do see it in action. The unconscious is a bully and it pushes us around.

In the real world, a woman leaves a party early. Her conscious sense of why she is going home is that she has become tired of the superficial conversation all around her.

Actually, a man sitting near her, who has been speaking in an authoritarian way, has triggered a feeling of negativity which more properly belongs to her father. She does not know this. The unconscious connection and the force with which it drives her out of the room are absolutely invisible. Without knowing that she is fleeing, or what she is fleeing from, she nonetheless flees.

The DEVICES OF INVISIBILITY AND NOT KNOWING have prevented her growth although, in another way, they have kept her safe.

As we go on we shall see that THE DEVICES OF INVISIBILITY AND NOT KNOWING will curl and twist through all the mental phenomena we shall study, from the shallowest to the deepest levels of the mind.

- I don't know why I am so crabby and irritable all the time. My life really isn't that bad. Bob's mom has been staying with us but she tries so hard that I really can't tell her when she makes me angry.

- You don't know why you're feeling irritated?

- Not really. I just wish she wouldn't try so hard. She's been staying with us for two months. I like her really. She's okay.


2. The Device Of Misdirected Attention

The unconscious can have its way with us only if it can get us to examine the wrong things. Coming to see the wrong things as the cause of our pain and our behaviour is the hallmark of the human race.

The woman who leaves the party will tell her friends the next day how she has matured. She will brag about how she has risen above superficial party conversation. Her attention has been misdirected by her unconscious; she has left the river of knowing and is examining the trees along the bank.

A man in my primal room is exploring the revulsion he feels when he is with a homosexual business associate. He talks to me at great length about AIDS and other sexual diseases. He has become an expert in this area. He does community service one evening a week, teaching young people how to avoid sexual disease. What he cannot look at is his childhood wish to touch his big brother's penis, which was often shown to him as an example of manhood. His attention in the present has been misdirected against gays and has been given social approval as he teaches the avoidance of sexually-transmitted diseases.

His awareness has been misdirected and he will pursue false goals throughout his entire life, unless he discovers and experiences the original connections. His interests and activities in the area of sexual education have 'protected' him from his early memories and desires.


Defences come in all combinations and intensities. We can be very, very blind to something, and in the midst of that blindness we can pursue the wrong ends with tremendous energy.

- That damn boss, I hate his guts. In fact I've hated every boss I've ever had.

Later in this book, we will discover some devices of our own to make these defences visible. Finally we will dissolve them altogether. For the time being, we must look at each one so that, when we work with them, they will feel familiar.


3. The Spell of Forgetfulness

A mother who is in therapy screams uncontrollably at her two-year old who has just dumped porridge on the kitchen table. She has forgotten what she learned; her scream is hiding a feeling. She has forgotten that if she lies down on her bed and feels the rage as we are teaching her to do, the rage will evaporate without damaging her child.

A man is learning how to recall his dreams. His instructions are to tell himself, before he goes to sleep, that he wants to dream. He has been told to put a pad, pencil and penlight on his night table. He has been told that whenever he wakens in the night or in the morning he must scan back quickly and write down any fragments of his dream which he can recall.

In the first week he forgets to apply the directions he has been given. The second week he reminds himself that he must remember his dreams but forgets his pad and pencil. The third week he is so sure he will remember a powerful dream he had that he doesn't write it down, and he later forgets it. In the fourth week he does everything he has been asked to, but leaves his pad of dreams at home. In the fifth week he remembers to bring the pad, then forgets to get off the bus at my stop. Through all this he stoutly maintains that his forgetfulness was merely coincidence.

He is actually deep within the SPELL OF FORGETFULNESS, an unconscious device to prevent penetration of the deeper self.

- Did you lie down and work on yourself at all this week?

- Well, you know how it is. Things pile up and before you know it, a week has gone by. I sure was angry, though; Jean and I fought continuously.


4. The Defence of Not Wanting To

A woman enters my office who, in the previous session, has had her first regressive breakthrough. She announces that she has been crying all week. She does not want any more tears. She does not want to go into work with her eyes all puffy.

- What would you like to do today?

- I don't know. I just don't want to feel any more pain right now.

- Would you like to leave early this week and try again next week?

Then she replies,

- Well no, I want to be here, I just don't want any more pain this week.

* * *

A man lies in the dark, crying. He recalls the death of a playmate when he was six years old.

- I don't want to feel this.

- It hurts too much?

- Yes... It was my fault.

- You killed her?

- No, but somehow I always felt that I did.

- Would you like to try staying inside the feeling that you killed her?

- I don't want to.

- You don't want to?

- No, there's something bad in there.

- What would you like to do?

- I guess I better try.

- Place yourself in the centre of that old, old feeling that, at age six, you did something which caused your little girlfriend to die.

--(the patient begins to cry.) We used to undress together all the time and look at each other and touch each other. And doing this led to her death. I always felt that doing these bad things caused her to die.

- You really didn't want to feel this, did you?

- No I didn't.

* * *

- Please centre yourself in that feeling.

- I can't.

- I think you can. Imagine entering the elevator to go down to your car.

- Please, I don't want to do this.

- To get free of this, you're going to have to re-experience this rape attack.

- I do re-experience it; I dream about it all the time.

- If you relive it while you are awake and in therapy here with me, it will not have to come to you in your dreams.

- I just don't want to do it yet.

- Is there something else you want to do today?

- Yes, I want to talk about my mother.


5. The Defence of Not Being Allowed To

This, you will come to realize, is one side of the malignant opposites we spoke of earlier when we were talking about feelings which came in pairs:

- There's something about your mother that you just don't want to talk about.

- That's true.

- Is it hard for you to talk about her?

- Yes.

- Is there a feeling there?

- Yes, I just don't want to talk about her.

- Please sink down into that feeling of not wanting to.

- I guess it's not that I don't want to, it's that I'm not supposed to. I'm not allowed to talk about all the bad things she did.

Wringing her hands after a long silence:

- She had a lover... I just know I shouldn't talk about this.

- You've carried this secret with you all these years?

- Yes.

- Let's go inside that feeling of not being allowed to tell. Lie inside that little girl who couldn't tell. Don't say anything to me for at least one minute.

- I ....

- No, don't talk, lie inside the feeling of being a little girl having a terrible secret.

- Dad would have killed her. He had uncontrollable rages and he had guns in the basement.

- So by keeping her secret you kept her alive.

- I guess I did.

- How did that feel?

- I was always scared to death.

Within the DEFENCE OF NOT BEING ALLOWED TO lies the extremely powerful and subtle PROBLEM OF DISLOYALTY.

Over and over again patients will bring their journey to a halt because they feel that it is disloyal to speak negatively about significant people in their lives, both past and present. It cannot be over-emphasized that blame is not the same thing as establishing a deep inner-connection.

When someone is working on the mat, screaming at his father that he hates him, this is the feeling through of an important, internal, shaping experience. It is not the blaming of this patient's father for what the father did to him. The difference between blame and feeling through a connection is subtle, but absolutely crucial. We know intellectually that our fathers were the product of their upbringing and, therefore, not to blame for what they did to us. We must, however, bypass this intellectual knowing, and be allowed to feel and externalize the hurt that their behaviour brought into our world. The feeling of past connections is vital for our healing. Blame is a completely separate issue.

Once we realize that our expressing of feelings is a therapeutic externalization and not a laying of blame, we are then freed to feel the feeling. The DEFENCE OF NOT BEING ALLOWED TO drops away and finally we can say negative things about our loved ones because we realize we are exploring a feeling.

It is important to remember, however, that the DEFENCE OF NOT BEING ALLOWED TO is still also a feeling and may not dissolve until we have entered it and repeated it many times. Simply knowing the difference between casting blame and experiencing a feeling, like any other intellectual knowing, will not suddenly set us free. It does, however, give us a point of focus upon which to concentrate our feeling-oriented techniques.

The fact is that feeling disloyal happens to be one of the brain's most subtle tricks to keep us from entering the deeper self. It is a device created by deep fear of our early pain, and we shall return to it more directly when we study the DEVICE OF EXTREME TERROR.

- What did your father do all those evenings in the basement?

- I can't tell you.

- Can't tell me?

- We were never allowed to talk about our parents. They told us it was disloyal.

- Can you speak about it now?

- No. I just can't get it out.

- And yet you have a lot of feelings about all this, don't you?

- Yes.


6. The Defence of Other Temptations

(a) Ornate Intellectual Delights

- All my life I've made people laugh. I'm an archetype, a joker. You see, an archetype is...

- What does it feel like to be funny all the time?

- Well, I like being the centre of a crowd. My dad used to tell jokes a lot.

- Stop talking to me about this; lie back and image the situation. Where were you?

- At my club.

- Close your eyes, imagine that you are there and build up the image until it is as real as possible. Now enter the feeling you have as you tell the joke... Don't talk to me about it, lie inside the feeling for at least half a minute.

- There's a kind of push inside of me to be funny.

- Stay inside that `push' and let it deepen. Let a single word, phrase, or sound, come up and out of your mouth. Don't tell me a story and don't get logical.

- Laugh at me!

- Does that phrase exactly fit the feeling?

- Yes.

- Then very carefully staying inside the feeling, repeat the phrase over and over again.

- Laugh at me... Laugh at me... Laugh at me... Laugh at me... I'm suddenly feeling very sad.

- Stay inside the feeling of sadness and keep repeating the phrase.

- Laugh at me... (the patient starts to cry)
- Love me... (cries openly now) I just want someone to love me....

- Would you like to talk to me about archetypes?

- No, I just want someone to love me.

- Exactly.

When we stop people from getting intellectual and keep them inside the feeling, they stand a much better chance of having an ever-deepening experience of themselves. Without this focus and intensity there can be no real therapy.

- My dad couldn't help it you know.

- You mean he couldn't help beating you?

- Yes, that's right. (pause) It's been proven that if your parents were beaten, they will pass it on and beat you.

- How did the beatings make you feel?

- That doesn't matter now. It all happened a long time ago, and I've read a lot of books about this.

- How did it make you feel?

- That doesn't matter I've worked it out. I did an M.A. thesis on family violence.

- How did it make you feel?

- Please don't ask me to feel this.

- How did it make you feel?

- I was so scared all the time.... (crying)


(b) Ornate Intellectual Questions and the Need to Know

Feeling-oriented depth therapy requires that we reverse normal daytime processes. By this I mean we must trust that if we feel the feeling first, without asking questions, the conscious-unconscious axis will reorient and bring us the answers we seek. In a sense, we must learn to jump off the cliff and into the feeling, but without looking that is, without asking questions.

In many people, the need to know what they are doing must seemingly be appeased before they will allow themselves to have a feeling. This asking of questions and pursuing of the NEED TO KNOW keeps the conscious-unconscious axis oriented towards the intellect, and away from the journey downward and inward. The need to know is born from deep terror and is the essence of conscious control. The need to know and to ask questions before we will allow ourselves to feel, is one of the brain's chief methods of keeping therapy at Level One.

- I don't know why I should have that feeling every time I enter my mother's home.

- Please just stay inside the feeling without asking the question why.

- But it doesn't make any sense, why should it happen like this?

- Please just enter the feeling, image your mother's home and you walking into it. Stop asking for reasons before you feel the feeling. It keeps you in your head.

- All right. I'm standing just inside the door of my mother's home.

- What do you feel?

- I feel that I want to run away.

- Please allow the feeling to deepen. Don't think and don't ask questions.

- Please don't hit me again mommy. Please don't hit me again (crying).

- So now your question has been answered.

- Yes it has.

When we drop our ornate intellectual questions and our need to know, feeling the feeling will allow us to experience our truth.


(c) The Pleasures of the Appetites

- I'm finding that when I try to lie down and work on myself, I get an urge to masturbate. And afterwards I fall asleep.

- Is it helpful for you on your therapy journey?

- I don't think so.

- In that case when you want to masturbate, stay inside the feeling of wanting to. Externalize your sounds and words and stay with what comes out.

* * *

- I find I'm always going to the fridge for food.

- Are you letting yourself feel that hunger without opening the refrigerator door?

- I keep forgetting to.

- I'll bet you do.

* * *

- I don't want to feel this. I just want you to hold me.

- Let's just stay in the feeling for a while first and save the holding for later.

* * *

- Sex with my wife is always so much better after we fight.


(d) The Pleasure and Safety of Hurtful Delights

So often, when we are negative toward others, it is an attempt to get above our pain. Nowhere is this more true than when we are being critical.

The critical faculty has been with life since the dawn of time. The amoeba must assess whether or not what it is about to ingest is toxic or nourishing. The elephant has the same problem. Criticism is an upward displacement of this basic judging around the necessities of life. Criticism at the verbal and symbolic level still helps us weed out what is toxic in the long run from what is nourishing and growth-producing.

Unfortunately most of us overlay this basic necessary function with something extra. We use criticism to gain altitude and safety above our fear. Ultimately, underneath the fear, lurks the grief of all our childhood hurts.

- That man is such an ass. He's always doing something stupid.

- You don't have much respect for him?

- It's not that, I just don't like him.

- Can you stay inside that feeling?

- Well, actually, I find him kind of scary. He's sort of like my dad.

How much easier it is to hate, than to turn inward and face our fear.


(e) The Safety of False Beliefs

- I truly believe all men are bastards.

- All men are bastards?

- Yes. I hate them.

- Sink down into the centre of that hatred and repeat the phrase `I hate them' at least five times.

- I hate them ... I hate them ... I hate them ... I hate them .... It's my brother (starting to cry). I hate him for all the times he hurt me. For sticking his fingers in me.

- All men are bastards?

- My brother was a bastard.

- Yes, he certainly was.

Whenever we stop persuing our feelings, a platform of false beliefs re-assembles. This is called "personality". With it we manipulate our world and avoid our pain.


7. The Device of Confusion

Often in the landscape of the unconscious, many different kinds of feelings collide like the coming together of different rivers from many directions. The intermingling currents produce very muddy and unsettled water. When we decide, after a lifetime of denial, to finally enter the landscape of feelings, we often feel many different things at the same time things which lead to a feeling of confusion. This feeling of confusion can be treated like any other feeling. We enter the water, we remain in the centre of it and slowly but surely, after a number of hours, the different currents and layers make themselves known to us.

- Whenever I think about my family, I get completely confused.

- Lie inside the confusion, leave your thoughts behind, and feel the richness and complexity. Soak in it for at least half a minute. And let whatever phrase wants to, come up and out of your mouth. Don't be logical and don't tell me a story.

- I love you Bobby.

- Bobby?

- My older brother, the only one in the house who seemed to care about me. When everything else was horrible I always knew he cared about me.

- There's no confusion in that feeling, is there?

--No, there isn't.


8. The Silliness Barrier

The surface self is devoted to logic. When the surface self views the deeper self, it is peering into non-logical processes. The deeper self works by association so that one thing can lead to another in a way which seems silly. We have already discovered in this book, however, that the non-logical processes of the deeper self, when unravelled, always end up making perfect sense.

When the surface logical self looks at the deeper non-logical self, it has a built-in excuse to avoid deeper examination. The surface self says, 'There is no point in examining this issue because it is silly.' Again and again, we hear in therapy the comment that something is silly and therefore not worth going into.

- I don't want to talk about it. I feel silly when I complain about my mother's gift.

- You feel silly?

- Well, it is silly. She gave me a fur coat and I feel silly because I'm not grateful. I'm just not happy with it, and it is such an expensive gift.

- Let yourself enter the feeling that you have when you think about the gift.

--(After a few moments) I hate it.

- You hate it.

- She's always trying to make me into a smaller version of her.

- So your hatred of the coat isn't really all that silly.

- No, I guess it isn't.

* * *

- I had a dream last night but it seems very silly.

- What was the dream about?

- Well I was in a desert and there was this icicle hanging from a tree.

- Focus on the scene. Let yourself have feelings about it and see what comes.

---The icicle is cold in the midst of all that warmth.

- Does that make any sense to you?

- Well, my husband showers me with love and yet for some reason I feel very cold toward him.

- So as a metaphor, is it silly?

- No, I guess it isn't. In fact it's the biggest problem I have.


9. Avoiding Negative Self-Beliefs

No device can thwart our journey into the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY more effectively than this one. When we encounter this defence our revulsion can become so extreme that it can altogether derail our inwardness. The entering and use of this device seems to so powerfully fly in the face of reason that it has prevented humankind's self-exploration from the very beginning.

And yet the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY holds true. To dissolve an inner malignant process, you must experience and acknowledge that, no matter how malignant or how negative it seems, it is still part of you. This and only this will free you from the grip of these very difficult feelings. It is here, more than anywhere else, that we diverge from those therapies which employ the power of positive thinking or the re-framing of deep, negative belief to render it palatable. The moment we employ these shallower self-help devices we are lost. The repressed remains repressed. There is no real hope of integration and we are stranded forever inside the structures of the false self. We remain split off from the awesome heritage of our profound ability to integrate with HOLISTIC INSIGHT and to become comfortable with the darkest parts of our inner landscape.

Denial is the cornerstone of the mental mechanisms of defence, the foundation supporting the house of cards which is the false or pseudo adult self. Denial stands at the intersection of true and false in the mind. It keeps the seemingly negative or dark side of us so deeply frozen within our unconscious that most people go to their graves without ever knowing even a small portion of their deeper self.
Nowhere does denial operate more powerfully than in the avoidance of NEGATIVE SELF-BELIEFS.

You will recall that, early in this book, we said the child buries its grief and rage and develops in its place the outer intrinsically manipulative part of the self that we call personality. That is to say, the child learns what it can and cannot say, what it can and cannot feel, and indeed what it can and cannot think, to be accepted as a human being. The deeper self with its pain slides down and away into oblivion, while the surface self grows its ever more ornate matrix of rationalizations to get what it needs and to be safely accepted within the larger family of humankind.

Finally we have a personality which comes to be profoundly complex. It towers into the sky on a base of untruth, 'I am this and I am not that,' or 'I am that and I am not this,' all untrue. We shall come to see that men and women are all things. There is no combustion engine without fire and heat, no matter how gently the wheels may turn.

Our self-esteem comes to depend not on an organic and therefore intrinsically ethical core, but on what Scott Peck has referred to as 'The Lie.'

How do we come to feel okay, to feel safe, living on the top floors of a tower built on sand?

We must develop a more and more powerful process of denial and then we must seek continuous validation from our world. We join the 'Society of The Lie.'

You smile and validate me whenever I speak my rationalizations and I will smile and validate you whenever you speak yours. We will all be okay just as long as we do not lie down and feel deeply.

Feelings are the x-rays of the mind, and although they may begin in confusion, in the end, if we go deeply enough, they do not lie.

The human brain (the 'Whole Brain') can come to integrate almost any truth within its depths. First, however, it must find that truth. Denial of deep and seemingly ugly feelings prevents the Whole Brain from bringing to bear the full power of its integrating and healing abilities.

The journey into the deepest self is a journey into what at first seems an unacceptable self. On this journey we must struggle to suspend our social judgment of what is good or bad. Just as scuba divers suspend for a while their surface breathing in order to find the depths.

Unfortunately, so deeply have we taken into ourselves our matrix of social judgments that we can become panic stricken when we begin to undo them. We fear everyone will reject us and we will die alone in an agony of negative feelings.

How can we look at and allow ourselves to feel the seeming ugliness with which we must ultimately merge and which we must finally re-own? How can we repeat phrases to deepen our inner experience that seem to fly in the face of every teaching we have ever had? How can we say things out loud that seem to be beyond all reasonable standards of self-help?

The answer is that we must trust what we feel, to lead us to the next link in the feeling chain. We must trust that the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY, although it may wind a tortuous route, will always bring us home to a truth which needs to be heard and integrated.

We begin first with small things. As we start to experience relief when we experience our truths, our trust in ourselves and in this method of therapy will grow more and more solid. The tower will begin to rebalance itself, and the ground around its base to grow firm and sure.

In the unfolding of these processes, you will come to realize that taking ownership of what feels profoundly negative within us will open the door to the final hiding places of the deepest mind. Here then, more than in any other place, the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY will first appear to be a terrible transgression of therapeutic endeavour. It will then emerge as the brightest and cleanest method of self-exploration.

- I was so angry at my kids the other day.

- So angry?

- Well, pretty damn angry.

- Lie back, enter the anger and after you've soaked in it, let a simple phrase come.

- I hate you ... I can't say this ....

- Can't say what?

- I simply cannot say the next thing ....

- Trust your brain. It will handle the feeling.

---(patient crying) "I can't go on.

- Let's give the `I can't' the same treatment we would give any other feeling. Find your way into the feeling of this resistance, this `I can't' and when you have connected with it, say the words `I can't' very, very carefully five to ten times.

- I can't... I can't... I can't... I can't... I can't... I can't... I can't...."

- I HATE YOU FUCKING KIDS ... The fact is I realize that sometimes I want to kill my children (patient looking at me in horror).

- Kneel on the mat, take the plastic bat in both hands, raise it above your head, bring it down as hard as you can and scream at the same time `I want to kill you'.

(Long pause... patient reluctantly hits the mat and says in a half-hearted voice:)

- I'll kill you.

- I want you to hit the mat hard and scream `I'll kill you'.

- I'LL KILL YOU... I'LL KILL YOU... I'LL KILL YOU! (Patient now hitting the mat vigorously).

Now watch what happens when the patient overcomes her resistance to something within her which fills her "normal self" with deep revulsion. Watch what happens when she trusts that what she is dealing with is a feeling and it does not necessarily represent ultimate truth (although it may feel like it). If she stays in the process not only will it resolve itself but it will begin to take her to the next and deeper insight.

- I'll kill you... I'll kill you ... I'll kill you.... (hitting the mat hard). My God this is what my mother use to scream at me!

- Keep screaming.

- I'll kill you... I'll kill you... (patient now hitting in a frenzy) Kill, kill, kill...". Don't kill me mommy .... (sobbing) . . . Please don't kill me mommy.

Only when the patient experiences the full power of her rage against her children, does her pain rise to an intensity which will fracture her defences against remembering that her mother used to threaten her life regularly.

As this sequence gets properly completed, and only as it gets properly completed, does the rest of the iceberg get heaved up to the surface so that the whole issue becomes visible. Now with all this brought forward, the Whole Brain can begin to do its work. What seemed to be something which was impossibly and detrimentally negative, comes to be seen as psychologically straightforward and easily forgivable. In fact, in the most profound sense, there is literally nothing to forgive. The patient has simply been caught up in a very logical chain of feeling circumstances which resulted in killing rage toward her own offspring.

When we enter the negative, we discover at a feeling level that the pain does not need external forgiveness. When pursued deeply enough, NEGATIVE SELF BELIEF, as does any other feeling, always opens out onto a landscape of holistic understanding which ultimately shows that there is nothing to forgive. Everything that we have ever thought or done makes perfect sense and the Whole Brain ultimately integrates itself.

This is not a licence to do wrong. It is a deepening organic knowledge that, given the circumstances we have been in, we were helpless to do or be other than what we were. Having seen and felt this, we are cleansed and can move forward within a more profound and intrinsically guilt-free and ethical life.

Level Four depth psychotherapy undoes our dependence on those who make a living out of 'selling' acceptance and forgiveness. If you think about this, the meaning for civilization is awesome.

- How are you feeling toward your children now?

- I love them and sometimes I get so angry with them I feel like killing them. Somehow it's okay. It doesn't scare me now when I say it.

* * *

A man becomes filled with rage while sitting in a hospital outpatient department waiting to find the results of an important test. He starts shouting at a nurse and then gets up and runs out of the hospital:

- I don't know what got into me.

- Put yourself back in the hospital setting. Let the feeling come to you and stay in it for half a minute.

- I don't know why I might have a tumor. I'm not a bad person. (Here we see once again someone trying to keep above a feeling which seems negative to their mental health.)

If we keep to the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY, let us see what happens:

- I want you to say five or six times, `I am bad.'

- I don't want to say that. I'm not bad.

- Trust your brain to handle things that seem terribly negative.

- I am bad.

- Say it again.

- I am bad.

- Five times please.

- This is silly.

- Say it five times please and say it with feeling.

- I am bad... I am bad... I am bad... I am bad... I am bad. Mom used to blame me for everything.

- Say it again five times.

- I am bad... I am bad... I am bad.... She blamed me when our father left us.... My God, I do feel I am bad . I feel that it was my fault.... I felt so helpless when he left. Like there was nothing I could do about it and it was my fault.

- Let's go back now to the outpatient department and revisit all that anger. You had been saying to me `I don't know why I have this tumor. I am not bad.'

- I don't know why I might have this tumor. I am not bad. My God, the tumor is my fault. I can't believe it. It's the same feeling as when my dad left. It's my fault that I am ill. What a load of shit to carry!

- Exactly.

Therapists who encourage people to make things positive by using 'the power of positive thinking' prevent their patients from going to the centre of their most important issues. Unless we embrace the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY and encourage our patients to feel every negative thing about themselves which comes to the surface, we are simply helping them to build a higher and higher house of cards. We are telling them not to trust the capacity of their Whole Brain. We are leaving them stranded in an even more complex denial. What we are really saying to them is that, as therapists, we trust neither them nor ourselves to do the deepest and most necessary work. This elaboration of the great societal lie, on the part of someone seen as an authority in the mental health field, can only lead to an unutterable and profound despair. To people who trust therapists as the court of last resort in the mind's truth, this is a crucial betrayal. When it occurs in any therapy, it can lead ultimately to suicide because the patient now knows that even the therapist cannot face the negativity which is so profoundly a part of all our lives.

When therapy itself lacks the courage to go into life's darkest places, then indeed there is nowhere left to turn.

When I hear about people in therapy having committed suicide, I often wonder if they did so for that very reason. When the therapist backs away from what is seemingly most unbearable, rather than pushing forward into it, there may seem nothing left for patients but to take their lives. The message has been given that there is a limit to what we can face and integrate.

Feeling-oriented depth psychotherapy, which uses as its foundation the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY, never gives an ultimately pessimistic view of existence. This therapy remains open-ended and hence profoundly optimistic.

The CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY will not fail us in this frightening place unless our ego structure (personal strength) has been so shattered by childhood trauma that there is not enough strength left in our brain function to see us through.

Please re-read the chapter on Cautions.

Even so, moving slowly over time, we can still do wonders in terms of what we can come to accept.

This may be one of the times in therapy when having a psychiatrist evaluate what is and is not possible for you could be very helpful. Always bear in mind, however, that the term psychiatrist is not synonomous with ultimate wisdom. Psychiatrists have their belief systems to keep themselves safe just like anyone else. Never completely turn your back on your own deepest intuition, even though, God knows, it can sometimes be wrong. Hence, the cautions at the front of the book.

In the early stages of therapy, and indeed for some considerable time during it, we may need the compassion of our companion-therapist to reassure us that we are okay. As one of my therapists used to say to me, 'You are just a person, Paul, not a monster.'

Some further examples of pursuing the negative will suffice to show that 'the negative' is a doorway to truth, not a gateway to hell.

- She left me. And the funny thing is I'm not angry.

- Repeat `I'm not angry' several times.

- I'm not angry... I'm not angry... I'm not angry... I'm not angry... Jesus Christ! What a load of bullshit. I hate her for doing this.

- Lie back, centre in the hatred and begin repeating the phrase `I hate you' as though you were speaking directly to her.

- I hate you... I hate you... I hate you... I hate you... I hate you... I could kill you... I don't like this. It's scary.

- Stay with it.

- I could kill you... I could kill you....

- Here's the plastic bat, take it in both hands, raise it over your head and bring it down hard on the mat at the same time repeating your phrase.

- I'm afraid to do this.

- Bring your rage up from the centre of yourself through the muscles of your back, your shoulders and your arms and out onto the mat. If you do your anger work here and keep it on the mat, you will not have to struggle with it out there.

(hitting and screaming, the patient finally exhausts himself.)

- How's your rage?

- It feels much less and I realize I have been angry all my life.

- So it's not all your girlfriend's leaving?

---No, it's triggering something much deeper.

- That's right.

- But I really do miss her, you know.

- You loved her very much.

- Yes ... I did.

Whenever you find yourself denying something, especially if the feeling of denial seems overly powerful, reverse the denial. Put on your scuba gear, submerge underneath your 'I'm okay' position and merge with an admission of the most negative thing you can say. Externalize this over and over again until your HOLISTIC INSIGHT processes find the real balance of the positive and negative within you. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, a statement of denial will defensively cover a profound negative belief. This, in turn, hides the deeper connection that we must feel to free ourselves from the belief.

The following sequence in therapy illustrates the problem of denial and the return of what we have tried to repress:

"My mother and father's marriage broke up when I was six years old and I believed that it was my fault. I felt so badly that I wanted to die.

"I was told not to be so silly; that it was not my fault. I finally repressed the belief that I was responsible for my mother and father separating, and I repressed the feeling that I wanted to die.

"Years later I became the kind of person who felt responsible whenever anything went wrong. I was plagued by powerful feelings of guilt and suicidal thoughts. I struggled to handle it all by devoting myself to good works. Still I couldn't rid myself of wanting to die. I taught children in Sunday school that they should learn how to forgive themselves when they make mistakes. Everybody told me that I was a fine person. Still I wanted to die. Now finally I have decided to work on this in therapy."

- You seem, by everything you have said, to have a powerful hatred toward yourself.

- I never thought about it before.

- And yet you keep wanting to kill yourself.

- Yeah, well I guess that's true.

- Let yourself lie back, say the phrase five to ten times, 'I hate myself '.

- I can't do that.

- Why not?

- It's against my belief to say negative things to myself. I thought I was here to learn to love myself. I don't see how I can learn to love myself by repeating over and over again that I hate myself.

- Trust that when you follow the feeling it will set you free of this hatred. Lie back and let yourself feel what it's like inside when you want to commit suicide. Stay in the middle of the feeling and say the phrase "I hate myself" five to ten times, very carefully.

- I hate myself... I hate myself...

- Louder.

- I hate myself...

- Louder.

(screaming) I HATE MYSELF!... IT'S ALL MY FAULT!

- What is your fault?

- My daddy left me... He went away forever and it's all my fault.

- You caused your parents to break up?

- Yes.

- Say the words 'It's my fault' at least five to ten times and stay in the feeling.

- It's my fault... my fault... Don't leave me, Daddy... Don't leave me (patient sobs) Please... Please... Please don't leave me Daddy... (long silence)

- Well, is it your fault?

- No. But I think that I always believed that it was.

- How do you feel about killing yourself right now?

- I don't want to.

- So if you really let yourself go, to the bottom of your terrible and negative belief that you hate yourself and that your parents' breakup was all your fault, you suddenly discover that you no longer wish to die.

- Yeah, I guess that's right.

- Every time you want to die, walk away from the railing of the bridge, get into your car, lean back and begin your feeling sequence until you reach this state of relaxation. You may have to do this a hundred times across two or three years before you completely bring the suicidal feelings to a stop.

When you encounter the ugly within you, do not let anyone tell you to suppress it. Approach it with the knowledge that if you do your feeling work on the mat, you will not have to hurt either yourself or anyone else.

In passing, I would like to say that I believe most adult suicides are really childhood suicides that have been delayed and acted out much, much later.

There are many times in life when a little conscious, positive thinking can see us through scary or difficult situations. Simple phrases such as "I know I can get through this" and other words of encouragement can be a helpful life-raft.

Do not, however, attempt to insert positive thinking into the base of your personality structure as a foundational process. It will, in the end, never really work and even when it seems to, the price of repression with its future inner rigidity will be very high indeed.

When working on the mat, no matter what the feeling, we must express it and we must express it congruently, showing outwardly the same energy which exists inwardly. If we do not do this, or are steered away from it through false positives, we commit murder against the processes of the self.

We never heal.

During the change from repressive, linear, judgmental consciousness to holistic non-judgmental consciousness, we will usually need support, permission, and reassurance. Nothing is more terrifying than encountering a deeper self which does not carry the badge of social approval. For this reason you must read Caution Three at the beginning of this section.

The deeper we go into the mind and the more holistic our insights, the less judgmental we will become. As we experience the enormous, unconscious complexity of those things which cause our behaviour, and the external forces which shape it, we will be less and less inclined to apply a good versus bad judgment. We become intrinsically forgiving of self and others, the only true basis for a compassionate life.

In the world it is necessary, for the survival of our race, to make judgments about human behaviour as to whether or not it is constructive or destructive for society as a whole. At a societal level, of course, we still have to obey the rules or chaos would result.

Yet, in the deep mind, everything is seen to have been shaped by forces over which we have no control. The resultant behaviour comes from places so far below anything we can see, that the notion of personal responsibility, in the sense of being conscious of why we do or don't do certain things, begins to evaporate.

HOLISTIC INSIGHT illuminates perfectly. Perfect illumination, even in small quantities, dissolves guilt. We come to see that we have always done our best with the extremely limited information available to our consciousness.

A man trusts somebody in a serious business deal. He is warned not to but he has a deep feeling within him that he must do so anyway. He loses all his money.

He will never know that the hair-style of this man triggered deep associations belonging to his father. He will blame himself for bad judgment and will suffer guilt. Deep regressive therapy, in calling forward early connections with his father, allows him to see that the forces behind his business decision were both beyond his control in the first instance, and, in the second, completely unknown to him. His guilt dissolves. He also comes to have less need to criticize the seemingly strange decisions of others.


10. Device of Shape-Changing and Symptom Travel

One of the most puzzling devices used by the unconscious to prevent our inward journey is the endless shifting between phenomena that we are attempting to connect with. In the unconscious, anything can change its shape to become anything else. Feelings cloak and re-cloak themselves under coats of many colours and behind buildings of many facades. It is as though the feeling is a mischievous wood sprite who can be now within a tree, now within a rock and now within a river. Things that stand for this, may suddenly stand for that, and, as I said a moment ago, anything can become anything. Don't be alarmed by this. No matter how bizarre and shifting inner processes become, we will have magic to equal them, to track them, and to bring them forth from where they hide.

- My stomach has been hurting all week.

- Lie back, drift down into the pain and soak in the centre of it like a pickle in brine. Don't think, don't talk, just soak.

- My boss yelled at me last Monday morning in front of the whole staff.

- How did that feel?

- I was angry as hell but I couldn't say anything.

- And your stomach has been hurting all week?

- Yeah.

- Stay in the physical pain.

- I'd like to yell back at him.

- Staying inside the pain, yell anything which comes to you from that hurting stomach.

- Fuck you... Fuck you... Fuck you... Fuck you... .

- How's your stomach?

- It's a little better but it still hurts.

- Then re-centre in it and let more stuff come out.

- Asshole... asshole... asshole... ASSHOLE!

- How's your stomach now?

- The pain's gone.

Rage and humiliation have become a stomach ache. They have changed their shape and have hidden themselves in a different place.

* * *

I hope he dies in that sports car. He scares me with all the damn chances he takes... (a pause) I really love him you know.

Love becomes anger. Anger changes to fear. And fear changes back to love. In the unconscious, no matter where we start, processes change and change and change. We almost never end up where we begin. Because we can never see the end of a sequence, those people of whom we have already spoken, who need to know why they are having a feeling, will never be able to flow through unconscious connections. First come the feelings and, only later if we trust them, will they entice the causes into our awareness.

Symptom travel is one of the common shape-changing events in the endless shifting from one thing to another as we try to track a process through the deeper forest.

- I have a pain in my stomach.

- Stay in the pain.

- It seems somehow to have shifted into my chest.

- Let's go up into your chest and lie inside the feeling.

- I know this sounds crazy, but now it's in my throat.

- Stay with it in your throat.

- I feel like gagging, I can hardly speak.

- Stay inside the gagging and let yourself make gagging noises.

- I just can't get anything out.

- Your unconscious will do anything to keep you from speaking your pain.

- Yeah. I think you're right.

When you try to enter a symptom and it counters your attempt by moving from place to place within the body, if you patiently focus on every new manifestation, eventually these shape changings and symptom travellings which bind and hide the insight will break down. Sometimes, as in this case, a client will even have to retch into a wastepaper basket before the symptom will give up and allow the pain and the insight to come forth.


11. The Device of Extreme Terror

Of all the barriers between us and what we need to know about ourselves, extreme terror is the most difficult to overcome. Very few people can face it as it intensifies. Very few therapists can face it either, in their patients or in themselves.

The amazing truth, however, is that if we stay within our terror and feel it and drink it and let it flood in on us, this monster of the deep will dissolve like every other feeling we shall deal with.

Terror is the curtain before the main play. When it is fully felt, this mysterious and painful process disappears and is usually replaced by a childhood re-living and a major insight. This is so easy to say and so very hard for most of us to do.

Usually people require months or years of trust in themselves and in their therapists to plunge through this flaming barrier. Some can do it within a few sessions, others can never bring themselves to risk it at all. This kind of readiness is a deep and personal thing. No one should enter extreme terror without having paid particular attention to the cautions at the beginning of the book. The DEVICE OF EXTREME TERROR, like any other defence, may be a necessary protective device against real disintegration. Nevertheless, most of the clients who come to me can handle it with a little encouragement. When we get to the insight behind the terror, we often discover that it did not seem to warrant the degree of defensive fuss that it created. When we do get behind the fear to the deeper feeling with its HOLISTIC INSIGHT, we experience a vast relief in mind and body.

In general, the larger the trauma, the larger the terror. And the weaker the ego structure (personal strength) the larger the terror. Often, however, there is no obvious relationship between any of these things.

Sometimes a person comes to a session with anxiety or it arises as they talk.

- There's something about my friend's husband that makes me anxious.

- Lie back and insert yourself into the centre of this feeling.

- I'm getting more scared.

- Stay with it.

- My heart's pounding.

- Let it pound.

- I'm starting to sweat all over.

- Let yourself sweat. Let your heart pound and stay inside that terror (very long pause). He reminds me of my uncle,

- How old are you?

- Eleven years old.

- What's happening?

- He's teaching me how to kiss. He says it's time for me to learn.

- How's your terror?

- It's gone.

If we remain inside the fear, it opens out onto a platform of understanding and the fear itself ends.

There is no greater constant in my practice than the ending of terror if one can only keep returning to it and staying in it until it breaks open and yields its insight.

Chronic anxiety has always been a problem in psychotherapy, and, in general, psychotherapy has not done well with it. Yet, in a feeling-oriented regressive practice, chronic anxiety is our ally. It is a long, long corridor full of doors which open on to early childhood pain, and on to all the issues that are related to it in adult life. Chronic anxiety is one of the best tools we have; it is the entrance to the deeper self and, in the end, it will always yield to our techniques, bringing relief and insight.

- I've been feeling really afraid all week.

- Lie back and let the fear come to you.

---(patient begins to shake uncontrollably) What's happening to me?

- You are shaking. This is one way the body expresses feelings.

- I don't like this.

- Let yourself shake and see if there are any words that want to come up and out of your mouth.

---(patient now shakes even more violently) No... No... No... (now sobbing she begins to scream) NO... NO... NO... My father is taking my little sisters to the basement where he is molesting them. I can hear them crying... I can't do anything about it... Oh my God, I can't protect them... He has a gun... He is saying he will kill us all if I tell anybody about this....

---What's happened to that fear you have been carrying all week?

- It's gone but I feel sick in my stomach.

- Would you like to enter this feeling?

- I've had enough for today.

- That's fine.

Most people in my practice do not encounter this level of trauma but it is not uncommon. Once again, we see that if we can find the courage to remain inside the terror, it dissolves and insight takes its place.

Moderate-to-severe anxiety, before a deep insight occurs, is as common as wind before a storm. We learn that anxiety and fear, and even terror if felt fully, will not destroy us. (If your therapist begins talking as your panic rises and thereby prevents it from peaking, you may be with the wrong therapist.) Often it requires a few months of practice in staying with fear before we can see it through. Others struggle to stay with it for years. Once we find that terror does not destroy us and that it does lead to an extraordinary recovery of early material, this initially frightening mental device (THE DEVICE OF EXTREME TERROR) becomes just another feeling, just another doorway and we no longer have to avoid it at all costs.

Again it must be said that there are some mental conditions, such as borderline psychotic states, where staying inside terror may cause psychotic disintegration. Please reread Caution Two.

I must emphasize that this is not an issue for the great majority of general psychotherapy patients. It is important, of course, that your therapist-companion be available to you as a support when you first breach these defences.

Now let us look at magic to dissolve the devices and trickery of the brain's defences and to unearth the deep immaculate healing processes of the mind.

Back   Table of Contents   Next
home page