Saturday, April 22, 2017

Socratherapy


I believe the best therapy is holistic therapy that is feeling-heavy and thinking-light. As I (and other primal and primal-related clinicians) see it, people become false lives in their heads. This is because we had to give up our child life, our “blueprint,” when we were hurt or otherwise directed away from it. We become blinkered People of Thought, seeing ourselves and the world high above the quicksand in which we’re rooted, so out of touch with our birthright and essence that we may as well be someone kidnapped early and thrown in a prison tower for the rest of his days.

I once treated a woman who was a living caricature of analyzing intellectuality. After months of sessions, I still didn’t know if this was Asperger’s or a facet of psychosis (it well exceeded “within normal limits”), but I did know there was a childhood of grief. It was bemusing how her mind cerebrated diligently at every second about everything, like Spock on crack, even when I tried to put the brakes on. In the midst of one of her labyrinthine √©tudes, I had her sit in my chair and look at a brief scenario in Vereshack’s on-line book, as I read it aloud:

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.”*

The moment I completed the reading, my client fell into the longest and deepest bawling that the thin walls of my mental health center could abide. Afterwards, a surprised person, she felt different. And better.

Feeling is the sine qua non of life-changing therapy. But most clients don’t crash through to a breakthrough place. They can’t, for a number of reasons. And many shouldn’t. This is why I’m a therapist “of the people” rather than one of the sometimes more effective Primal therapists who treat the radical and scarce elite. I face and accept the frustration of having to be adults in a world made of our defenses. And yet, my work is strongly founded in the ultimatum of feeling and in the holism of mind, body and time.

Most often there is talk, not exactly Socratic, but challenging. I challenge the present self.

- A twenty-four-year-old woman with a deep suicidal splinter, what may be a birth-body feeling that is a certainty even with her smiling and gracious manner, is shown her exact birth trauma in the psychological and medical literature. The trauma is associated with adolescent-stage suicide. We picture it. This in a way disenchants her sense of being, alpha and omega, a person who is meant to die. It is only alpha: the first pain, and the meaning it contained. “We are more than this first seed.”

- One of a fair number of clients in Las Vegas who had once been well-off but was now homeless or on rent vouchers, on a bus or on a bike – he recognizes that “anytime my life is going well, I seem to let it all go to crap.” What’s the feeling of that? If a childhood is sour, empty, where parents and brother and sister are strangers to each other, where there is no bond, how is “success” ever going to be strong, true? There will always be a downward pull to a place and time where there needed to be love.

Conversation rides in a sea of history. Everyone on my couch is a child, but of course also a hurting adult or teenager. Even when it is a parent who feels guilty, devastated, about years of cruelty and intolerance to her little children, we say “You may try to run a marathon with a knife in your back, but you will fall.” We say “It is almost impossible to see beyond your own unmet needs, to feel warm and generous when you were starved. You need care, finally.”

Conversations are nearly universally moving, because of a sort of parental empathy that stirs the emotions: it strikes major and minor and complex chords that have been waiting to be touched since childhood. The adult feels a mild air of being parented, of acceptance for her whole self. We challenge a mans present anger and he sees that it comes from the quicksand of his childhood. We argue the messy reality of children and a woman admits enjoying sex with her father when she was an older teenager. Shame mitigates in the dialogue.

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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.