Why Talk Plainly? Do Words Really Matter That Much?
Have you ever tried to help someone and failed to reach them? Did you afterwards find yourself questioning the words you used? If so, know that folks who talk for a living often feel much the same way. I know. I am one of those folks. Perhaps this is why therapists tend to be a bit particular about the words they use. Especially when the person they’re talking to is crying out for help. My point? The words we use matter just as much as the feelings we express. Moreover, words are a big part of what makes us feel what we feel. This then is where we will begin. With a few thoughts on the words we use and what makes them so important.
People Who Write Books
To begin with, I have a confession to make.
(Therapist: Oh boy, he’s not going to be one of those touchy feely clients, is he?)
I'm feeling a bit scared.
(Therapist: Oh, Lord, there he goes. Two sentences and he’s already he's acting crazy.)
Sort of like I felt on the first day of school. Have you ever felt this way?
No? I thought not.
(Therapist: How did he know? Is he some kind of a therapist maybe?)
In all seriousness, I have to admit I'm feeling a bit nervous. Why? Because therapists who write books tend to get scrutinized quite a bit. And yes, some eventually get praised for having bravely spoken up. But before that many get questioned harshly and criticized and worse. Ridiculed. All because their observations on human nature differ from what is currently accepted. Or acknowledged.
Perhaps this is why therapists, in their first book, so often preface their original thoughts with disclaimers or disguises. Or leave out the source of their inspiration entirely.
For instance, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of the best selling book, On Death and Dying (1969), reveals only in a later book the details of the spiritual experience which led to her first book.
Alice Miller, author of the best selling book, Drama of the Gifted Child (1979), admits only in a bravely rewritten preface added to a later edition of her first book to having done something similar. Her admission? She was the abused child she wrote about.
No less than Freud himself admits to having done this in a letter written in 1914 to Fredrik van Eeden, who is credited with coining the phrase "lucid dream." In this letter Freud writes, "To your First Question: My 'Interpretation of Dreams' is not based on dreams by neurotics, but largely on my own dreams."
It would seem then that for therapists, plainly admitting to that one's work has been inspired by one's personal experiences can be a dangerous act. And may lead to harsh criticisms and worse.
This then is why I am feeling a bit scared right now.
This said, I want you to know, right up front, that my work, too, has been inspired by my personal experiences. Including a life changing spiritual experience, my childhood abuse, and my own life and dreams.
Why begin a first book with personal admissions of this sort? Because I wish to practice here what I preach about talking plainly. How? By just putting myself out there and letting people draw their own conclusions. And yes. Controversial topics like talk therapy and the mind body connection do tend to provoke some rather pointed personal attacks. Especially from the intellectual mud slingers who defend the established views. But what the heck. I’d rather be a mud covered Lincoln or Tesla than a pigeon-dung covered statue any day. Wouldn't you?
While books on talk therapy tend to be stiff and formal, careful, and overtly defensive, this one will not be. I in fact intend to speak to you here no differently than I do to my friends. In plain words. Mostly. About interesting ideas and warm hearted stuff. And yes, my goal here will be to challenge some of what you are certain you already know. I may even rile you up or make you cry at times. But always, I'll treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve, by being up front about where my ideas come from. And by using fancy words only when I have to.
What's wrong with using fancy words? To begin with, this is a book about talk therapy. And talk therapies which float above clients on layers of jargon tend to demean people. And push them away. Folks end up feeling less than. Or stupid. Some may even feel downright pissed for being talked down to. And yes, while being provoked can at times inspire healing in people, being demeaned by fancy words is never a good thing. Especially when it clearly inspires more urges to quit and reciprocal arrogance than feelings of compassion and healing.
On the other hand, sometimes fancy words can be exactly the right words. In fact, at times, I even fall in love with some of them. Words with a history mostly. Words like psychophysical and psychotherapy. But only when there is no more accessible option. And only if the word has a personally meaningful history. A meaning with a living past. A warm human meaning.
For instance, in the first episode of this book, we’re going to look at the word psychotherapy. Why? Because hidden within this word’s history is the real meaning of the word. Along with the real purpose, and goal, of a talk therapy. Interestingly enough, most talk therapists I've asked admit they've never looked up this word. Why not? I'm not sure. It’s definitely worth the time.
Then there's that other monstrosity of a word I mentioned. The word psychophysical. Why use this word? Because it turns out that finding parallels between the laws of physics and the way people behave is one of the best ways to understand human nature. We are, after all, both minds and bodies. Physical beings as well as spiritual.
Then too, before the watchdogs of modern science declared this idea off limits for study, therapists used to use this belief to discover things all the time. Including many of the folks upon whose discoveries we base modern talk therapy. For instance, the father of the talking cure, Freud himself, did this when he used the First Law of Thermodynamics to postulate the existence of the unconscious. And William James, in his Principles of Psychology (1870), encouraged us to keep using this position until the day in which things become "more thoroughly thought out."
Physicists too once acknowledged this belief. John von Neumann. Niels Bohr. Even Albert Einstein who, in a 1922 letter to a Swiss journal, admitted that the doctrine of psychophysical parallelism, "to be frank, satisfies me entirely."
What made us stop believing in psychophysics? My guess? We got lost in trying to fit the roundness of human nature into the square hole of statistics. A place in which most talk therapy is still stuck. As is most science as well. And while statistics definitely has its place in the world of research, when it comes to the "humming buzzing confusion" of human nature, there is a far better way than statistics with which to describe human nature. Which brings us the next fancy word I've chosen to use in the book. The word fractility.
What is fractility? Fractility is the word I use to refer to the essence underlying real world things. Things like what? Things like the geometry of snow flakes, for instance. Or the geometry of oak leaves. As well as the geometry underlying human nature. As opposed to the essence underlying that which is real only on paper. Things like the geometry of squares and circles, and straight lines and such. And statistical information about human nature.
So does this word have a history?
Actually, no, it doesn't. Although its root word does. The root? The word fractal, coined in 1975 by the father of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot. Mandelbrot used the word to describe the geometry of hard to describe things. Non linear stuff like clouds and static and coast lines. As opposed to non real world things like classical geometry and statistics.
How did this word become fractility then?
It became fractility when I realized I could use fractals to psychophysically describe human nature. Specifically in drawings which are actually a cross between both geometries, linear and fractal.
What makes these drawings special then is that they describe human nature in ways not thought possible. How so? The things they describe are true one hundred percent of the time. No statistical correlations which infer truth because they show how things connect most of the time. Rather, with fractility, things are either always true or never true. There is no in between.
Does this sound to you like pseudo science? Know it’s not. However it may take me most of the book to convince you otherwise. Once seen though, a whole world of possibilities open up, including that you can predict personality so accurately, you can match students to teachers. And friends to friends. And people to careers and so on.
Want an example? Take the Birth Separation Moment. The moment in which we all physically separate from our mothers. Because we all experience this same event, we all get programmed by it differently but in essentially the same way.
Thus like oak leaves, which are all made differently but from the same mold, once you learn to recognize a fractal pattern underlying some part of human nature, you have learned to recognize something in us all. Infinitely different in each of us, yes. But something which is true about us one hundred percent of the time.
What pattern underlies the birth separation moment? The natural pattern beneath of all wounding events. Great and small. Imagine knowing that? This alone could change the entire face of talk therapy. More important, there is a way to make a small change in this pattern which results in the wound being gone. In other words, there is a fractal pattern beneath healing as well.
Know I have empirical evidence for what I've just claimed. More than a decade of longitudinal case studies for one thing. More significant, if what I've just told you about fractility is true, then surely it is one of the most exciting discoveries ever made about human nature. Why? Because fractility gives us a way in which to know who we really are. The essence of our humanity. Rather than vague approximations based on cold inhuman facts. Or hunches based on something as vague and unteachable as intuition.
Imagine a therapy based on real recognizable patterns? Teachable ways to guide and direct? We would finally have a real way to measure peoples’ progress. And we could to get out from under the statistical madness which purports to measure our progress.
More important still, if we could with certainty define the essence of healing moments, then we could stop wasting our time trying to stumble onto healing. Wouldn't that be grand? Imagine? This is what I’m saying is possible. And that fractility is the way to accomplish all this.
What makes me think fractility could accomplish all this? Because it can empirically describe things in human nature. One hundred percent of the time. Including peoples’ progress or lack there of in therapy. And yes. I know. I’m making some pretty big claims here. But if it works, is it pseudo science? I think not.
Speaking of things people call pseudo science, what about the other big topic here? The mind body connection? How did a book about talk therapy get entangled in something as scientifically dubious as the mind body connection?
To be honest, I didn't intend to do this. In fact, it wasn't until episode seven that this line of thought began to emerge. Thus when I began writing this book, I had in mind a book on talk therapy. But as the book progressed, something unexpected happened. I stumbled onto the solution for how the mind and body connect.
Haven't we already known how the mind and body connect though? Actually, no, we haven't. This despite the many books which claim we have. Thus if you go back and read what these books have to say, you'll find they never actually describe the nature of the connection. They only mention things we can do in order to affect both the mind and body. Additively affect them, mind you. Not holistically affect them. As if you can separately do something good for your body and your mind and then expect these two things to add up to health.
Heath is not additive. It's holistic. In fact, seeking health this way is like putting the ingredients for a cake into a bowl but never baking it. Even the finest ingredients will never make a cake this way. The same is true for us as well.
In a way then, this book inadvertently documents this discovery. The nature of how the mind and body connect. It also ties this discovery to the man who started this all. And to the controversy he started four centuries ago.
The man? René Descartes. A fellow who for sure pissed off a whole lot of people by saying that our minds and bodies were separate but interactive substances.
What’s so bad about saying this? He said it at a time when folks were burned at the stake for saying nothing more than that sun does not revolve around the Earth. Can you imagine? And you think your mother-in-law is harsh.
Anyway, what Descartes said was so controversial, it sparked four hundred years of heated arguments. Not just the kinds of arguments spouses argue again and again either. Rather, these have been discussions wherein some of the greatest minds to ever live have argued some of the greatest arguments to ever be spoken. About what? About how the mind and body could possibly interact if they are made from totally different stuff.
Do you get the problem? How could a physical thing, the body, affect a non physical thing, the mind? And visa versa. Admittedly, not an easy thing to explain. At the same time, we know in our hearts we feel like this happens and have felt this way all along.
Does this sound like something you would have no interest in? Well consider this. When your family doctor prescribes Prozac as a cure for feeling blue, he’s assuming the body affects the mind. And when your minister or rabbi speaks about not screwing your neighbor’s wife, he’s assuming the same thing; that the sins of the flesh corrupt the eternal soul. That the body affects the mind.
At the same time, when your therapist tells you that your negative thoughts are what is screwing up your sleep, she’s saying the mind affects the body. And when your son’s high school coach tells him he can win if he believes he can, he’s saying the same thing. That the mind affects the body.
How can any of this happen though if the mind and body are made of different stuff? And why should you give two hoots about how this happens anyway?
Why? Because whether you care about what Descartes said or not, you are affected by these arguments every day. As is every other human being. Including every single scientist and spiritual teacher. And everyone in talk therapy.
Moreover, every time you make a choice in life, this choice will be affected by what you assume about the mind body connection. Even if you never give these arguments a single thought. Even if you literally don't care.
So okay. Understanding how the mind and body connect is important. And some short French dude who lived a long time ago started all this trouble when he said they interact. What does all this have to do with talk therapy though? And why should you invest your time reading a book about this stuff. What's in it for you?
What’s in it for you? To begin with, the answer to how these two things connect explains some pretty interesting mysteries. Some of which may affect you directly and some of which may not. For instance, take ADD. Have you ever wondered why taking a drug which makes some people addicted and unable to focus can make other people focus better? What really makes ADD medications work anyway? And why don't these folks get addicted?
How about curing this condition? Can this ever be done? Or must you resign yourself to the fact that you will be taking drugs for the rest of your life? The truth? If you can see how the mind and body connect, you have a way to understand all this. Including the proof that ADD is not a disease. What is it then? It’s a condition of the mind and body similar to being left handed in a right handed world. Moreover, folks who have this condition can learn to focus even without drugs. In fact, in some parts of life, they even have significant advantages over folks without ADD. What advantages? To see, you’ll have to delve into how the mind and body connect.
So what is it then that makes these folks struggle so with learning? It's simple really. We've designed our world to fit the needs of other group of people. The ones who have the mind body equivalent of being right handed.
Interestingly enough, when you understand all this, you realize we all have ADD. Just some of us have it in the mind, and some of us in the body. I, for instance, clearly have ADD in my body. Which explains how I can have a genius IQ and be so inept at sports and such.
Have I confused you? Don’t worry. None of this is actually not that hard to understand. Given you have someone who shows you how to combine philosophy, physics, fractal geometry, and talk therapy in just the right proportions and at just the right time to reveal the truth here. And no. The cure does not involve the waving of bones over peoples’ heads. However, it may cause some gnashing of teeth in pharmaceutical minded households.
What else will we be looking at?
God what a mystery this one is. Why? Because while many people believe the solution lies mainly in how you eat and exercise, even if this was true, it doesn't do us much good. Why not? Because there are not too many people for whom knowing these things solves the problem.
Then we have all the nonsense about all the things said to be bad for you to eat. You know. Carbs are bad for you. Fat is too. Sugar and meat as well. As are non organically grow veggies. So what's left? Well if you're of Mediterranean descent like me, suicide, perhaps? You might as well. Life without good food is a pretty dull world.
So what's the answer? And why is overeating so rampant? The answer? If the body doesn't know it's eating, it cannot self regulate. Meaning what? Meaning there is a way to change this which does not involve being iron-willed. A way which does require you learn to see the mind body connection.
So is there a cure for overeating? Of sorts, there is. We'll look at this mystery as well at points during the book.
Then there's that other big mystery, the one we call addiction. The bane of banes for some folks. The living hell of living hells. The thing is, there's been a clue right in front of us, all along, as to what causes this. The essence of which lies in a single simple question. The question? If getting high, or getting numb, is why we get hooked, then what accounts for the differences between folks who prefer uppers and folks who prefer downers. Moreover, why do some folks prefer nothing at all. The answer? The way we experience time determines what we're vulnerable to. Which if you understand this, gives you the key to understanding the nature of addiction. As well as how knowing the nature of addiction reveals how the mind and body connect.
We'll explore this mystery at points in the book as well.
So ADD, overeating, and addiction. Anything else?
Yes, actually. In fact, this last idea may be the biggest one of all. The idea? That we do not store thoughts and feelings in memory. That we store only sensations which, when recalled, create our thoughts and feelings. On the fly!
Know this idea has its roots in an old and famous theory, the work of the founder of American Psychology, William James. His idea? That our minds are not an organized cabinet of sensations, thoughts and feelings but rather a "humming buzzing confusion" of what we experience.
If you think about it then, this would explain why we can never think or feel the same thing two times in a row, even if we try to make this happen. And yes. Patterns in our personalities do repeat within us. But never individual, minute by minute, psychological life events. Not ever.
Why not? And what's the big deal here? Well consider what this would mean about talk therapy if this were true.
If people do, as we now assume, record their thoughts and feelings in memory, then asking them to recall what they thought and felt in the past makes perfect sense. But if people make up what they think and feel only on the fly, by reliving stored sensations, then asking folks to recall what they felt in a prior events is more akin to asking them to fabricate what they recall than actually uncovering truth.
Is it possible this is what we have been doing? Asking people to make up what they thought and felt? We'll explore this idea as well throughout the book. For now though, consider what this would mean if it were true though. Like fractility, if true, this idea would change entirely the way we practice talk therapy. As well as how we go about trying to understand ourselves in general.
So have I stirred up any interest in you. Any curiosity? How about any anger or counter arguments? Have I, in fact, riled you up at all? Or at least, made you realize this book will not be dry and dull? Does any of this even sound like something you'd like to hear more about? If so, then I invite you to join me in what is certain to stir up one heck of a brouhaha; my first book, Plain Talk about Talk Therapy.
Me and Talk Therapists
Being as this is a book on talk therapy, and being I've already made some pretty outrageous claims, I figure I better tell you a bit about myself. Who I am. Where I came from. Beginning with my own experiences with talk therapy and talk therapists. For instance, I've sat across from a whole lot of talk therapists myself. So what’s it been like for me to sit in the two talk therapy seats; in the client’s seat and in the therapist’s seat?
What's it been like? On the whole I haven't liked going to talk therapists much, albeit I've sat across from quite a few. Why not? For the most part, I have found them too afraid to be wrong. Hard to get to know. Unwilling to risk a fight. And much too in their heads.
There have of course been exceptions.
One, a brilliant young family therapist, openly risked losing her masters degree internship to tell me that my fiancée, a profoundly mentally ill woman, would never get well. I can in fact still picture her saying this to me, tears and snot streaming down my face, my belly shaking as I sobbed. But when I hung up the phone, I was different inside. Stronger. More real. Permanently changed. And when, over the years, I have asked myself why this affected me so, what feels closest to the truth is that she risked being wrong, risked being real, risked provoking a fight, and spoke totally from her body.
I have never forgotten her honesty and courage. Or her kindness. And in some strange way, as I begin to write this book, I sense much of what I have to say is somehow indelibly tied to that single moment of talk therapy. Talk therapy at it's finest. Plain words said without apology and from the heart.
Strangely I only saw this therapist for a few months. Yet within four years, in 1988, due in part to her suggesting it, I began my career as a talk therapist. A life change to which I still in some ways feel incredulous. At thirty seven, when I saw her, I had been a pathetic, rage-filled loser of a man. Yet at forty one, with no formal training and an unfinished bachelors degree in an unrelated field, I fled my career in corporate America to become a family therapist in an adolescent inpatient rehab.
That they hired me still amazes me. The job normally requires a masters degree and ten years experience. Despite my lack of formal education though, hire me they did and within weeks I remember feeling incredibly grateful. And alive. Which led me to tell the people around me that being in this job felt like I had on the first pair of shoes to ever fit me.
Obviously something beyond the norm had to have been in play there. Not only did they hire me but they also entrusted me to do things most talk therapists will never be asked to do. Including that over the next two years, I saw close to seven hundred families. Not in fifty-minute hour type sessions. Rather I saw every family for six to eight whole Saturdays plus four straight days of multifamily group.
Know this included hundreds of Moreno type hour and a half long psychodramas, most of which resulted in people having the same kinds of reactions I myself had had only four years prior; tears and snot streaming down their faces. Sobbing bodies and bellies shaking. And feeling permanently changed.
Here again, that I was allowed to even attempt these things amazes me. More so when you realize that my entire training in psychodrama consisted of me watching my supervisor, a wonderfully unabashed elfin woman named Nancy Kennedy, do it once in a multifamily group. Once. One time. After which, she said I was on my own. Despite my lack of training, here again, I somehow managed to thrive. So much so in fact that within less than a year, therapists were coming from other rehabs to sit in and observe.
How could I have possibly done all this? The truth? God only knows. In part I think I was simply too naive to know I couldn't do it. In part I was so personally effected by the suffering I saw in those children that to not throw myself fully into each moment felt unthinkable. And in part, I was simply doing with my clients what my supervisor was doing with me; Nancy never once interfered in what I did but rather repeatedly let me fall then simply asked what I would do different next time.
I did very much the same thing with these children and their families. And people repeatedly told me my plain words said from the heart had changed their lives.
Where Did These Skills Come From?
Where did my skills as a therapist come from?
To begin with, as I look back almost twenty years later, I feel no less incredulous about all that has happened. How I went from being a selfishly alcoholic shell of a man to someone whose life so mirrors the therapists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is beyond me. What I'm saying is, a hundred years ago, not only did folks practice the "talking cure," they somehow also managed to formulate whole theories of personality. And found whole schools of therapy. Freud. Jung. Adler. James. Janet. And so on. All men I so admire, they became my role models.
This said, I still have a hard time believing, let alone admitting, that I have done similar things. Thus while I can easily admit to having practiced the talking cure for all these years, I still find it hard to believe that I too have written a theory of personality. The first to be based entirely on fractals. And founded a school of therapy. The first to be based on fractals as well.
How did all this happen? I think, like many of those brave souls from a century ago, my childhood reflects the tale. To wit, like Jung whose minister father's loss of faith affected him for his whole life, my mother's religious zealism had a similar affect on me. I can in fact vividly picture myself at seven tiptoeing past her dimly lit room to say good night to her and finding her on her knees praying. Which meant I couldn't, and shouldn't, under any circumstances, disturb her and her prayers. Not if I wanted to stay in her good graces. A fragile condition at best.
Being as this happened to me pretty much every night, it's not hard to see what gave me a similar life long interest to one Jung had; understanding the nature of religion.
My mother's mental condition too permanently affected me, creating an endless desire in me to understand human nature. As best as I can reconstruct then, she had both anorexia (which she died from at age 48) and a form of schizophrenia wherein her senses were like the bother and sister in Poe's book, Fall of the House of Usher. To wit, I grew up in a beautifully neat and perfectly clean but acoustically sterile home. Neither my younger sister Teresa nor I were ever allowed to talk in fact. Let alone to ask questions.
Little wonder then that I can so identify with Descartes and with what he faced in his times. Or that I so want to break the silence and encourage others to do the same. For my entire childhood then, silence was the golden rule, and even from the time I was still in a crib, I can picture this being the case. Break the silence and risk getting severely punished.
My mother's punishments aside, as you might imagine, growing up in monastic silence had its own negative impact on me. Not the least of which was that I never quite learned to connect to others socially. How could I? I was not allowed to talk let alone to talk plainly to others. The result? Probably quite by accident, I learned to talk to nature itself. Trees. Clouds. Streams. The flowers that grew wild in our lawn. I had conversations with all of them. In fact, by five, I had become a sort of a cross between a shaman in training and a talk therapist to whatever existed around me. Including that talking to animals and flowers had became entirely normal to me.
Not clear what I'm getting at? Try picturing this. Picture growing up in a very beautiful area. On the wooded hillside of a mountain overlooking the Hudson River.
Now picture me as a five year old, literally walking into the stream near my house. In my Sunday best shoes no less. Something I still find hard to believe.
How did I come to do this? Somehow I became so entranced by the early Spring water rushing down the mountain side that I literally stood in the stream, leaned over, and had a conversation with the little green moss people who lived under the water. What did I see? Tiny single stemmed beings with little round heads. What did I think? A whole community of little people who could somehow breathe under water. A mystery I carried within me for many years after that.
Of course, being I was not allowed to talk to anyone meant I never got to tell anyone this story. Until I grew up and became a personality theorist that is.
Then there was my father, a hard working, rough handed truck driver / diesel mechanic whom I can still picture studying by the light of his orange shaded floor lamp. Not human nature, mind you. Rather exploded-view books on gasoline engines. And car repair manuals.
I, myself, have studied similarly all my life, and while the books I study are not about machinery per se, they are about the machinery which exists inside us all. Peoples’ cultures. Religions. Philosophies. Human arts and frailties. And misconceptions and myths and so on.
Why mention this picture of my father? Because seeing him studying by that pole lamp for my whole childhood very much inspired me to become who I am. Especially in the way I have used books all my life to teach myself about human nature.
In a way then, these three things were my basic training as a therapist. My need to understand my mother's obsessive love of her religion. My inner life being based on anthropomorphic conversations with nature. And my paralleling my father's love of studying repair manuals by studying the works of the great philosophers and spiritual teachers.
As for where my own ideas about human nature came from, like Freud, who lived in times wherein being openly sexual was forbidden but discoveries in physics were openly worshiped, I am a product of my times. Reading James Gleick's book, Chaos, for instance, many years ago was for me like Freud discovering the work of the Nineteenth Century physicists.
Of course, being as physics has changed a lot since Freud lived, while he and I have a love of psychophysics in common, the particulars of our conclusions are actually quite different, in fact. Thus while I so agree with Freud that energies created within a mind cannot simply go away and so therefore, there must be an unconscious (an idea he derived from The First Law of Thermodynamics), I see human nature as being entirely fractal, while Freud searched for linearity in the way people think, feel, and behave.
As for what I gain by seeing personality as fractal, I find people and their personalities infinitely beautiful, in the same way all things fractal are beautiful. For instance, can you sense the difference in beauty between a silk rose and a real one? Here, the silk rose is even made of fractal materials. Still, it in no way compares to the beauty of a real rose.
Similarly I see attempts to dissect human nature, and human beings themselves, into manageable chunks of data as being as futile and wrong as dissecting butterflies in order to know their nature. Dissecting a butterfly destroys its nature. As does dissecting peoples' lives and loves. Thus I see therapies which seek to know people by intellectually dissecting them as bordering on cruel and as wastes of time.
Do you think I am being too harsh here? Too full of piss and vinegar perhaps? If so, please forgive me. I am after all more little boy bragging to you about his mud pie than a good old mainstream boy toeing the line. This said, I also feel the only acceptable proof for theories, including mine, is that they can help people to permanently change. Not just behaviorally. Nor temporarily. But permanently, in mind and body.
This then will be the standard to which I intend to hold myself throughout this book; Can what I'm saying cause people to permanently change for the better? If so, then what I'm saying has a place in talk therapy. If not, then it does not. It's really as simple as this.
This Episode's Session Notes
Okay. So what is this book about?
As you hopefully realize by now, this book focuses on four things. The first of which is on giving you some honest answers as to how talk therapy works. And doesn't work. As well as some new information as to the nature of wounding events. And the nature of healing as well.
Second, we’ll look at the actual mechanism which connects the body and mind; our perception of time. Here, you’ll ride along side me as I document this discovery.
In the course of telling you about this, I’ll also offer you the solution to a four hundred year old mystery. As well as showing you how this answer could become the key to understanding a diversity of things in human nature, from addiction and ADD, to overeating and over thinking.
Third we’ll explore an all but forgotten idea from the nineteenth century; the idea that physics and psychology mirror each other in what I call psychophysical science. Here we have a tool with which to discern the real truth about human nature. Physical and psychological alike. Visible or invisible
Fourth, we’ll look at an idea I've adapted from Chaos Theory. The idea of fractility as a way to measure truth. What makes this so important? Because unlike cold statistical data which always contains some falsehood, fractal based tests of human nature result in outcomes which test true one hundred percent of the time.
Some might now ask why we would need another book on talk therapy anyway? Why? Because some folks still struggle to see the good in talk therapy. The nice way to say this is that talk therapy is a "soft science." The mean spirited way is to say that it's a waste of time and money.
At the same time, they have a point. Much of what we currently do in talk therapy more resembles the Beatle's Magical Mystery Tour than a formal science or an evolved art. Enough of these pompous assertions already. Isn't it time someone showed you what actually lies behind the smoke and mirrors? The proof that something of substance happens in those therapy rooms? Something more tangible than just kind words in action, like “love heals all.”
To whom am I writing this book? Again, you probably realize this by now too. I'm writing it to two groups of people. One to the "therapizers," and two, to the "therapized." In other words, I'm writing this book to both therapists and their clients. As well as to anyone interested in knowing more about talk therapy.
What can you expect to get from reading this book? The short list?
A sure and certain way to measure your progress in talk therapy. Or lack thereof. Here, by progress, I mean making authentic inner changes rather than merely feeling better. Drugs can make you feel better. Temporarily. Don’t you want to change the parts of you which cause the pain?
So okay. A way to gauge your progress. What else?
How to know if your therapist is a good one. Along with better ways to define your issues and know when you are done with them.
Then there’s the issues themselves. Including clues to the cure for ADD and why most kids lose their love of learning. As well as a starting point from which to end the overeating part of being over weight. And a real explanation for what is behind out desire to get high, including a way to understand addiction which forever explains away the will power myth.
Whom am I to be making these claims? In the context of this book, I am a throwback to a time when talk therapists were also personality theorists, philosophers, and scientists. In simple terms then, I’m a generalist; meaning, I love to learn about everything and how it all connects. In a way then, I’m more like an inquisitive little kid who asks too many questions than a statistical Bunsen burner who methodically plugs away at the task.
People. History. Science. Philosophy. I simply love it all. And can’t seem to get enough time to take it all in. Why not? Perhaps because I’m usually too busy trying to help people. This is what drives me in my daily life anyway.
In the larger more personal sense of me though, I aspire to leave this world a better place. Especially for children. And for the curious child who lives in all of us, the one who still believes he or she should just be more than just seen and not heard.
How is the book laid out?
I've divided the series into three parts.
Part One is titled Talk Therapy Truths. Why go to talk therapy? What makes a good therapist “good”? What actually wounds us? And what changes in us when we heal?
Part Two is titled Mind Body Truths. What actually connects the mind and body. Philosophically and scientifically. As well as how you can use this knowledge to change your relationships and your life.
Part Three is titled Issues as Seen From the Mind and Body. Here we address hollowness in relationships. And hollowness everywhere else. Overeating. Drug addiction. Trouble with learning and so on. As well as new discoveries regarding why reporting thoughts and feelings in talk therapy may be less valuable than previously thought.
Finally, the disclaimer. My hope for you in reading this book is that it will create more questions in you than it does answers. Would that feel unsettling? Maybe. But is that the way life really is? Yes. And isn't that what a talk therapy should aspire to after all?
So where will we begin? We'll begin at the beginning. By defining talk therapy. What is talk therapy anyway? And why should you care? We'll explore this next, in the opening episode of Plain Talk about Talk Therapy.
Until the next episode.
I hope you are well,