Understanding How "P" Curves Work: a Few Words About "Deepening"
[This story is about Joe, a man who had been unfaithful but felt no guilt. What emerged was his ability to see the beauty in his "being faithful." The process involved four sessions. This session was session four.]
I began this series with a few words about the "deepening" process, specifically about how we allow "deepening" to happen. Some may ask then, is this, the final session in the series, the "deepest" layer of the series?
In one sense, yes. And in another, no. Confused? Allow me to explain.
I'll begin with a brief review of how "P" Curves work.
First, there is the goal of "P" Curves. The goal is to help people to restore their ability to see beauty in BLocked life areas.
How do we do this?
We do this by dividing people's inner visual experiences into what they can and cannot see.
Because Emergence Therapy defines "wounds" as what people "cannot internally see." Thus, we locate wounds by dividing people's inner lives into two piles, what they "can" see, and what they "can not" see.
What does this dividing of people's inner lives accomplish?
It allows us to locate the line between what people "can" and "can not see," and it is this line which marks the exact point at which the wound occurred. This point also marks the onset of the BLocked life area as well.
So now, what about "deepening?" How does this apply?
Start with the idea that while we do guide people during the "P" Curve process, the way we guide people more resembles jungle guide than therapists.
What I mean by this is that, no healthy jungle guide would tell people where to step every step of the way. This would ruin the trip.
Nor would they not offer assistance, allowing people to entirely fend for themselves.
What they would offer, then, is the minimum assistance needed to keep the trip going well. Then, if asked, they would offer more.
We Emergence guides do the same thing. Thus, we too try to intervene as little as possible. This means that other than to make the next scene request and to then ask people what they can see, we talk as little as possible.
And what guides us?
We allow ourselves to be guided by the flow of what comes directly from the person's mind, recording the basics of what people say on paper while at the same time, asking people whatever we need ask to keep the dividing process going.
In a way, then, you could say that what we do during "P" Curves is we help people to "free associate." However, despite the obvious similarities to "free association" therapies, our methods and goals here are very different.
Our methods are neither analytic nor personally detached. In fact, while we know how tempting it can be imagine there is a logical explanation in and around wounds, we know this is not helpful. Further, because we know healing depends on allowing the material to emerge entirely from the person, we know to stay away from analysis.
At the same time, we also know to be as warmly connected to the person as we possibly can be during the process.
Of course, given the choice between trying to heal alone and facing one's suffering with another warm human being, most people would and do chose warmth. But why do we not analyze?
Because when it comes to the wounded parts of people's minds, we see logic as the primary "disorganizer" of minds. In other words, we see logic as what directs people away from their suffering and thus, away from their wounds.
This means, despite the relief logical understanding sometimes offers people, we see logic more as what people use to avoid healing rather than as what actually heals.
So what do we see as the primary healing agent for the wounded parts of our minds?
And what is this exactly?
It is the process by which our minds connect the snippets of life movies we record during our lives to other similar life movies.
What then, actually connects these life movies to each other?
Visual similarities. And we call these visual similarities; the connections our minds create during the associative picturing process, "threads of visual similarity."
How then do we apply these theoretical ideas to how we do "P" Curves?
We apply them by using the powerful qualities of the free association process to access people's minds while at the same time, focusing most of our energies on the two primary tasks at hand:  asking just what is needed to keep the free association process going, and  warmly witnessing everything which emerges in the person.
So what about the times wherein what comes from people's minds does appear to emerge in logical sequences? Isn't there a logic implied there.
No, at least not at the level of how our "wounds" are organized. And this distinction is important.
What I'm saying here is, yes, there are parts of our minds which are logically organized. And yes, people can access these parts of their minds logically. However, the wounded parts of people's minds are never organized logically. In fact, this lack of accessible logical organization accounts for a good portion of why our wounds cause us to suffer.
Said in other words, wounds are never logical. Thus, what we look to access during "P" Curves are the more primitive, unorganized parts of people's minds; the "wounded" parts.
This means while we do recognize that, at times, the things people see during "P" Curves do appear to be logically organized, we also know this logic appears after the fact, as an overlay to our life experiences. Thus, now having done many thousands of "P" Curves, we know that despite whatever apparent logic we may see, we simply do not use logic to organize the wounded parts of our minds but rather we use it to avoid accessing these parts of our minds.
As for the word, "deepening," and what this word implies with regard to logic, doesn't our use of this word imply that we believe some logical order exists within peoples' wounds? More over, doesn't it also imply that as we heal, we uncover deeper and deeper levels of this logical order, in essence, some sort of a logical sequence in which our wounds occurred?
Actually, no, it does not. And to be honest, we use this word knowing it may mislead. So why use this word to refer to what emerges in successive "P" Curves?
Because of the similarities the "P" Curve process has to the "deepening process" hypnotherapists use.
What specifically is similar?
Hypnotherapists use the word "deepening" to refer to the process by which they help people to go into progressively deeper states of trance, believing the deeper into trance people go, the more important the material accessed.
Emergence guides help people to do the very same thing during "P" Curves, meaning, they help people to progressively go deeper and deeper into a state of trance. More over, similar to what happens during a sequence of hypnotherapy sessions, during "P" Curves, this deepening happens on two levels.
First,  during a single "P" Curve, successive scene requests deepen people's trance state. Second,  during successive "P" Curves, as people build on what has previously emerged, people's depth of trance continues to deepen.
Does this deepening happen in any logical order though?
No it does not. Thus, as we stated at the beginning of the previous "P" Curve, even when scenes emerge in what seem to be logical orders, the guide knows this logic never implies "cause and effect."
It does however indicate visual "connections," the connections we refer to as "threads of visual similarity."
How are these two things, "cause and effect" and "threads of visual similarity" different?
To say wounds have a "cause and effect" is to say that the wounded parts of our minds are organized logically. They are not. So how do the wounded parts of our minds exist within us?
They exist similarly to how the second century BC Greek philosopher Carneades (founder of Plato's third academy) posited all minds are organized. He said they exist not as literal recordings but rather as "phantasia"; as collections of imperfect images.
We then add to Carneades' teachings the idea that our minds use "threads of visual similarity" to organize these collections of imperfect images, visual threads which more times than not defy any logical understanding, at least until they become connected to what we do know with threads of visual similarity.
What about when these threads are not present, in a sense, when they for all intents and purposes have yet to be created?
We see this lack of connection as the primary aspect of being wounded, in that we see wounds as the places in our minds wherein we have yet to create these threads of visual similarity. This leaves these particular groups of images inaccessible to us whenever we are in states of ordinary consciousness.
On one level, then, what emerges in people during "P" Curves is simply newly created threads of visual similarity, index points with which people can from then on access what had previously been the more painful parts of their life experiences.
As for this particular series of "P" Curves, are there threads of visual similarity in this series? Yes, although many of these threads will become visible to you only after you have read through this final "P" Curve.
For instance, there is a thread of visual similarity which emerges which involves a color; the color "green."
There is an important thread of visual similarity which emerges between what Joe couldn't see in the first "P" Curve; the "missing moment"; and the "missing moment" in this final "P" Curve.
Finally, there is also an incredibly important group of threads of visual similarity which emerge between the layout of the main scene in the first "P" Curve and the layout of the main scene in this final one.
Now to see how these threads had been preventing Joe from feeling his infidelities, let's go to the fourth and final session.
the Issue Statement [layer 4]: "I can't explain my infidelity"
(Please note, the words in this issue statement came directly from Joe.)
Finally, we see the healing ambivalence so common in emergences: Joe knows he was unfaithful yet has not explanation for it, at least none that feels real to him anymore.
What does this mean?
It means that at this point, Joe has clearly begun to see and feel the negatives in his being unfaithful. At the same time though, and despite his seeing some negatives, Joe has yet to genuinely feel he should not be unfaithful.
Where am I getting this from?
As usual, from what is missing. In this case, it is coming from what is conspicuously absent: Joe can not as yet even explain to himself what motivated him to be unfaithful. By inference then, he has no true sense of why he should not be unfaithful again except to avoid the suffering it would cause others.
What makes this more significant is the fact that these words come directly and spontaneously from Joe himself, and not from anything I said. Further, because this is the first time Joe has even thought of this, the idea that he couldn't explain his infidelity must have just emerged.
Here, then, we finally see Joe's personal sense of infidelity beginning to emerge and by "personal," I do not mean simply that he was beginning to mentally know about this idea. Obviously, he had known about it all along.
Rather, what you see emerging here is Joe's true sense that he had never really considered what being unfaithful meant, neither to himself nor to his partners.
This then leads us to the opening scene request, wherein I ask Joe to "go to any time he can visualize infidelity."
The First Scene Request: "Go to any time you can visualize infidelity."
As I've just mentioned, Joe and I began this fourth and final session with my asking Joe to "Go to any time you can visualize infidelity."
So what did he see?
At first, Joe's mind flooded with snippets of scenes none of which could he bring anything into focus. You can see I've documented this in the upper left quadrant, where I've written references to the snippets he saw. Then, in the upper right quadrant, I've noted his inability to picture any of this clearly.
What does this indicate?
It indicates Joe can not even picture infidelity. This ability is totally blocked.
Here at last, then, is the face of Joe's core injury in and around being unfaithful. He can not picture anyone's infidelity, let alone his own.
Now take a moment to think about what this means as far as Joe having been unfaithful.
It meant he had no conscious ability to experience his infidelities no matter how willing and logically motivated he had been.
Ultimately, then, this also meant Joe had nothing personally meaningful which would interfere with his being unfaithful. At best then, if he had chosen to be faithful, he had chosen this more out of fear or out of moral implications than out of anything personal.
No ability to picture anyone's infidelity. Hard to believe. Yet here it was. Joe's primary BLock.
So where did we go next?
Next, we tried the other have of the possibilities, the times people are faithful.
The Second Scene Request: "Go to any time you can visualize fidelity"
The first thing to note here is how this scene request, "Go to any time you can visualize fidelity," is the inverse of the first scene request, "Go to any time you can visualize infidelity." Please know, this is reversal is purposeful. How?
I've covered all possibilities for inner visual material in and around fidelity in only two scene requests.
Joe first sees his paternal grandfather. Then realizes he was seeing him in response to my having asked him to picture "fidelity." Yet this man hadn't been faithful. More healing ambivalence.
Next Joe saw a second person, his Aunt Alice, whom he also realized he was seeing as a result of my having asked him to picture fidelity.
Here again, he realized that although he had always seen her as having been faithful, she too had been unfaithful for a time.
Yet more healing ambivalence.
This then lead Joe and I to the pivotal scene in this whole series of "P" Curves, the scene in which he finally saw how his wound about Charlie the little green man had set him up to get injured by his Aunt Alice. How?
Before telling you, I need to ask you to have a look at the two drawings below.
Where did these two drawings come from?
For the lower left quadrants of the first and last "P" Curves.
Know, too, that Joe drew both these layouts himself.
Now, can you see the threads of visual similarity yet, the threads which connect these two drawings to each other?
The Threads of Visual Similarity Which Connect These Two BLocks
Layout from "P" Curve One
Layout from "P" Curve Four
What you see above are two wounding stages, two rooms in which Joe was wounded.
In the drawing on the left, Joe was about eight years old. In the one on the right, he was about seventeen.
Now start comparing the two layouts.
First, notice how Joe is laying on his back in both scenes. (In the drawing on the right, "Joe" is marked by the words, "me.")
Next, notice how both rooms are notably rectangular.
Also notice that what Joe is laying on is in the same position, room wise, in both scenes. (In the first scene, he is laying on a bed in the lower right corner of the room, and in the second, he is laying on a couch which is in the same position in the room.)
Now notice how Joe's head and body are in the same position in both scenes.
Next notice where Joe was looking in both scenes. In the first "P" Curve, he was looking diagonally to the upper left, at "Charlie, the little green man." And in the last "P" Curve, Joe ended up looking in the same direction in the room. Thus, at first, he was looking at a TV (which he has drawn) and then next, he followed his Aunt who crosses the room in her underwear to this very same spot.
Now notice the words Joe wrote in the first "P" Curve layout.
He wrote, "can't speak, can't relax, can't yell."
In effect, in that first scene, Joe was terrified and ambivalently frozen in shock, both wanting to see what "Charlie, the little green man" looked like and wanting to look away from Charlie, of whom he felt terrified.
And in the second layout?
In the second layout, Joe was also ambivalently frozen in place by shock, this time frozen in the ambivalence of both wanting to continue to stare at his Aunt's breasts and yet feeling ashamed that he has not looked away.
In this case, if you look at the lower right quadrant of the complete final "P" Curve (the "P" Curve at the top of this page), you'll see Joe said, "she was so good to me and here I am, looking at her breasts."
Very significant in both scenes is what Joe can't see. He can't see the moment in between being compelled to look and feeling he should look away.
This missing moment is especially clear in the second scene where Joe actually told me, "I can't experience the moment in between watching her in underwear and looking away afraid."
So what had actually happened here?
Before examining this, let me first comment on the third and final scene, a scene for which I made no scene request.
The Third Scene: [note: this scene emerged spontaneously]
In this third and final scene, Joe spontaneously begins to picture a time from his early childhood wherein he and his best friend were stoned. In this scene, his friend confesses an attraction to him and begins to touch him.
Once more, we see healing ambivalence in that Joe confesses being torn between stopping him and enduring his touch. Why? Because "He's my only friend and I was going to lose him."
Not notice all the ambivalence in Joe's thoughts and feelings.
"I felt attracted, gay, disgusted with myself, "my fault." Afterwards I felt sick - perverse."
Finally, Joe has what ended up being the final emergence of the series. At first, he begins to genuinely and heartedly laugh out loud. Then in smiles, he tells me, "This is hard stuff to talk about."
My Final Thoughts
Before talking about all the threads which emerged and the implications these threads had in Joe's infidelity, I need to preface my remarks here with something particularly significant.
I did these four sessions in July, 2001. Thus, although I did write a bit of what you've just read back then, more than ninety percent of what you've just read I wrote now, some three years later.
More important, during this writing, I neither spoke to Joe nor consulted any other notes. In fact, I have no other notes. Thus, the majority of what you've just read came entirely and solely from what I recalled from reading these "P" Curves some three years later.
How is this possible?
Because of how guides guide "P" Curves.
What I mean by this is, because both the guide and explorer visualize the process, the "P" Curve notes become conscious visual material in both people's minds. This implies several things.
For one thing, it implies that despite the sketchy nature of the words written on the "P" Curve, these words remain potent even years later, in this case, three years later. In fact, I will tell you, even I have been surprised by how fresh these "P" Curves feel to me. It feels almost like I just did them.
What is also surprising to me is how the mind continues to integrate the material which emerges. Thus, many of the insights I've written here came to me only as I reread the "P" Curves. This means even now, in my mind, I am still integrating this material in deeper and more meaningful ways.
Now notice the level of detail which has been available to me, this despite the fact that there are actually very few words written on the "P" Curve itself. Even so, I've somehow managed to write in such detail, all of which has been generated from the few words I had originally written on the page.
How is this possible? About this, all I need do is remind you of the old adage; "a picture is worth a thousand words."
Now consider that words which help your mind to picture create a thousand pictures in your mind.
This is the power of "P" Curves.
Now what about the threads I've mentioned and Joe's infidelity? More important, did he heal?
As for the remaining threads, I think I'll leave this search to you. After all, what emerges in you with regard to Joe's infidelity will become a permanent part of your own inner life. This means that whatever emerges in you with regard to how these threads connect will forever be present to help you, yourself, and can be a pivotal part of the compassion needed to deal with anyone's infidelity.
As to the most important question of all, did Joe's infidelity heal, I'll leave this answer to Joe himself and to words he himself wrote many many months later.
Joe's "After" Words on Infidelity
A year and a half after this last "P" Curve, Joe wrote the following:
"A year and a half ago, I felt like one big hormone in the presence of women, like a dog salivating at every nook and turn. Before that, I felt even worse.
What I mean is, prior to meeting my second wife, this was how I felt 99% of the time.
Then, when I met my second wife, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to change, but when I thought about actually changing, I felt torn between the impossibility of it and the necessity of it.
What was impossible? Changing any of it. After all, I was a womanizer.
And the necessity of it? I very much wanted to save my marriage and my wife's and my happiness.
Then too, there was the urgency I felt. Having been unfaithful in the past and having experienced the pain and guilt of my hurting my first wife and family and myself had created an urgency in me to change.
What happened? I did change. A lot. Now, people want to know how.
Well, other than to say I know it's the work I've done with Steve, there's a lot I don't understand about how it happened. In fact, to be honest, other than to say I've changed, I find it hard to say exactly how and when.
What I can say though is, when I look at women now, I look at them differently. I see them as beautiful human beings, not just objects there for my pleasure.
This difference in me feels like a miracle."