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Real Self versus Unreal Self
Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 1:08 am
I'm reading a very interesting Dutch book at the moment, called The Myth of a Happy Childhood (2006) by Gaby Stroecken and Rien Verdult. It's based on Janov and Alice Miller, among others. It's rare when there's some professional that stands 100 percent on the side of the child so I'll come back with some more about this book. For starters I want to quote this list of the real versus the unreal self. The book isn't available in English.
Awakening of the expressions of the unreal-self can help us to discover the real-self. With some build-up sensitivity we know when we feel alienated from ourselves and act unreal. In the following table we placed the real and the unreal-self against each other.
Real Self versus Unreal Self
Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 10:52 am
I love the sound of this book. Speaks to my soul. Can you tell us more?
Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:00 am
I'm reading the book myself now and it's one of the best books I've read in a long time. I plan to quote some more from the book next week and possibly translate the introduction into English.
Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:04 pm
I've finished it and this book is indeed very well written. It describes the various aspects of the abused and misused child, and is aware of the poisenous pedagogy. The writers stay for 100 percent on the side of the misused child and at the same time avoid the traps that many other therapists seem to fall into when it comes to primal therapies.
I quickly informed about the English publishing rights but it was more than I could afford. Hopefully another English publisher will pick up this book.
For now, I've translated a bit from the last part of the book, about the therapy. Perhaps a bit out of context, but nevertheless interesting for those who are already familiar with Primal Theory. Since we have discussed various aspacts of therapy on this forum and John Speyrer's forum, it's interesting to see it from this point of view.
(From The Myth of the Happy Childhood)
The Revealing Process
Revealing psychotherapy is psychotherapy that reaches further than talking. The emphasis lies on re-living the endured pain in the childhood. This pain needs to be cleared. How does this work? Usually there’s something in the present that gives us a reason to ‘trigger’. We can be affected by something or someone. In our body we notice our heartbeat regularly increasing, that our heart beats in our throat; we are short-breathed and breathe more superficial, we get warm or just chilling cold. When something triggers or affects us, our fear system gets activated.
Following Emerson (2005) in this revealing process we can distinguish seven steps. The first step is to recognize what we feel. It’s important to verbalize these feelings. An example: ‘I feel angry and sad at the same time. It makes me feel insecure.’ The second step is to identify the physical reactions to the trigger. Where in the body is activation experienced? How does this come to expression in posture, movement, gestures and physical sensations? For example: ‘I feel a pressure on my chest, my throat feels squeezed and my face feels hot.’ In the third step, a description as accurate as possible is given of the behavior or of the situation that was reason to the activation. It will be clear, that these are subjective observations and feelings about the situation or event. For example: ‘When I came in, you didn’t greet me and didn’t make eye contact.’ This doesn’t have to be a reality, but it’s the personal experience of the client. The fourth step is to give meaning. One starts to look for the meaning within oneself, not with the other or in the event. This can take some time. During this step the misused child is allowed to speak; we let it give expression to his wound. For example: ‘I have the feeling that I’m not important for you’, or ‘I’m getting the feeling I’m not allowed to be here’.
In this step it’s a search for the deepest lack of appreciation, which manifest itself in fundamental convictions or false conclusions. In step five there’s the question: what’s a fundamental lack of appreciation? Here there’s a bridge being made between past and present. When we have discovered what the deeper meaning is behind the activation, then the most painful wound can be re-lived. On a rational, emotional and physical level, this re-living can provide clarity about the deepest wound suffered. For example: ‘I’ve the feeling that my parents didn’t wish for me’, or ‘I feel used’, or ‘I feel sucked empty’. The sixth step is ‘resourcing’. There’s strength needed to face the pain.
This strength can be found within oneself, by appealing to the resources in the body. The client can also find strength from a dialogue with an ‘ideal’ parent, who reacts to the wound. This ideal parent gives the inner misused child the love, the acceptance, the confirmation and the protection, of the safe borders that are necessary. It’s not the intention that the therapist, in the role of the ideal mother, gives the misused child what it wants, but that there’s a further deepening of the pain made possible. The seventh and last step is: further clarity and reality trial. From re-living the old pain, the client can face the damage of the event, and see how he continued to have lived with this, and which part he had in revealing and avoiding the pain. The client gets a clear view on what activated him, what affected his lack of appreciation and what was the fundamental wound that connected it. By doing that, he can become more lose and free from his past.
This revelation can be a process of many sessions, but it can also happen partly in one session. The revealing therapy is about that this revealing process will continue, until the old pain of the lack of appreciation isn’t dominating anymore. The client will therefore not as often and not as fast be activated.
Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2006 3:07 pm
Here's another translated excerpt from the same book, dealing with the aspects of proper primal therapy and the dangers of improper ones:
Professionalism also means discovering the own traps in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist is allowed to make mistakes – conducting therapy is only human – but traps that are connected with blind spots in his own functioning, he has to be able to track it down, possibly with help of a colleague. When the therapist ends every time in the same patterns with the client, or makes the same mistakes every time again, or experience the same counter transfer every time, then the therapist need to examine where his own misused child gets activated by. Some traps are: the therapist tries to give the client what he has missed, instead of helping him to cope with the loss, the therapist starts to mother of father the client; the therapist keeps the client to talk about the present and avoids aspects of the client’s past; the therapist feels hurt or rejected by the client; the therapist engages into discussions and tries to convince the client; the therapist can too soon or too rashly mention a problem, which the client can’t carry yet and by this way breaking down the resistance; the therapist can’t let go of the client. It’s the mission of the therapist to question himself and to examine his misused child when he catches himself on such patterns.
Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 3:49 am
This book sounds real good. Where is says about therapist traps
"...the therapist starts to mother or father the client..". Some seem to disagree and think that therapy should involve "reparenting".
I think it is true that this is a trap. We have one chance to get what we need in childhood. We can heal some pain by primalling what we didn't get or what was done to us but we can't really be reparented.
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:55 am
?Professionalism also means discovering their own traps in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist is allowed to make mistakes ? conducting therapy is only human ? but traps that are connected with blind spots in his own functioning, he has to be able to track it down, possibly with help of a colleague. ?
I am very interested in this, particularly the use of the words? possibly with the help of a colleague? Its as if this is simply an option, to track down his blind spots, and not what I consider to be a requisite for anyone who is a practicing primal therapist
? When the therapist ends every time in the same patterns with the client, or makes the same mistakes every time again, or experience the same counter transfer every time, then the therapist need to examine where his own misused child gets activated by.?
As a result of many enquiries, I am becoming more and more aware that supervision within the primal therapy community is not widely availed off. I have occasionally asked primal therapists if they are in supervision, and some have said ? No I had supervision in my early training in other psychotherapy modalities? and now, they feel that their own primal therapy is sufficient, and supervision is not needed. And as a result most of that which is quoted below occurs. In fact, one therapist I spoke about this said ?I don?t trust others? What is this saying about the level of professionalism here, and ultimately conscious care for the client.
Some traps are: the therapist tries to give the client what he has missed, ?????????????. and tries to convince the client; the therapist can too soon or too rashly mention a problem, which the client can?t carry yet and by this way breaking down the resistance; the therapist can?t let go of the client??????.
? It?s the mission of the therapist to question himself and to examine his misused child when he catches himself on such patterns?
Primal Therapists who consider themselves to be beyond supervision, and imagine that supervision is only necessary when one is in training is a dangerous practice. Where does ?FIRST DO NO HARM? come in?
PS. In my own work, I am part of a peer supervisory group, who meet monthly, and I also avail, fortnightly, of one to one supervision, and I still have blind spots and I make mistakes!
Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:07 pm
Primal Therapy - like most other forms of therapy - is quite susceptible to abuse. The true motives of a therapist are always something to be considered. If the therapist doesn't trust anyone, then what to expect from the client?
Clare, could you tell us a bit more about your part of a peer supervisory group?