Saturday, January 28, 2017

Silence 2

Real, effective therapy requires the client to shut up, pretty early on in therapy and frequently. Silence, to go inward. Words and conversation are too often buoys, both yanking the person out of her depth and keeping her afloat, false-stabilized by bright talk, rationalizations, the sheer quantity of running away on word or idea energy.

For some clients, words and feeling and deep feeling and deep revelatory feeling are all in friendly or warm touch with each other. But for most of the people who come for help, talk and deep feeling are different worlds, almost matter and anti-matter: You may as well ask a computer program to turn into a bowl of ice cream. That different.

If we want clients to change, we have to point them to silence, and to the purposes of it. It’s so everything can stop. When everything stops, you start sinking back to your foundation. When everything stops – and in a room with a clear and deep-seated observer – you are present with your life in a unique and one true way. This is presumably what you wanted: To get to reality.

Just stopping everything is in itself epiphanic. Your brain is in a different place, no longer a whirlwind. If you go beneath the anxiety, you immediately see yourself and your world in a different way: It’s yours. Time doesn’t rush by to be lost, gone. You are the central actor, seeing everything.

I have rarely if ever done a good enough job promoting silence as the essence of process. We therapists want to talk, to show the person new things about the world his psyche lives in, and his psyche itself. I’m suggesting, though, that we soon abruptly come to a fork in the road, one branch leading to a different dimension: the place of aloneness and silence. Though Bettelheim said: “I speak here of the child’s private world . . . Each of us is implying in his way that one cannot help another in his ascent from hell unless one has first joined him there. . . .”*, this is untrue for adults, who ultimately can’t be hand-held in their hell. They have to face the truth that when they most needed the parent, they were alone.

We are not abandoning the client when we do this. We are, though, destroying the fake relationship between stranger and help-seeker. It is replaced by the person first being in the silent cave of himself, looking out stunned or answered or in desperation, and seeing a hero.

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* Bruno Bettelheim, The Empty Fortress, 1967, p. 10.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.