Recently someone wrote and said . . .
I am reading your web site about the mind body split. I have a whole therapy that is based on sensations. Here is the essence of the method.
Whenever you have a thought, there is an accompanying sensation that is felt in the body. Now these sensations were created during the womb, birth, and early childhood.
When you have a feeling you are combining some of these early sensations with a perception.
The therapy, then, is how to neutralize these sensations that are unwanted, and re file them back in to the conceptual mode of pure thought. Then you have the thought but no sensation. The great news is that you cannot reverse the process.
The implications of this theory are enormous because this means that you can heal the split by refilling unwanted body sensations.
And I wrote back . . .
Nice to meet you. And thank you so much for writing. I rarely have folks such as yourself write to me. A fellow practitioner of the art.
I must say, though, that I am a bit unsure as to why you wrote to me. Nor do I wish what I am about to write to feel corrective or dismissive to you. You took a risk in writing to me and for that I respect you. Obviously, you also feel excited and proud to have developed a therapeutic technique which seeks to help people by getting them to connect thoughts to sensations. And you should. As should the developers of all the alphabet therapies; EMDR, NLP, TFT, etc. which accomplish their wonders through similar means.
I, on the other hand, do not believe in subtractive methods as a route to helping people, e.g. getting rid of anything. Nor do I believe there are any psychological reasons behind suffering but rather that our seeking psychological reasons behind suffering causes us all to suffer much. Too much head. Not enough body.
What I'm saying is, I would hope it would be obvious from my writings that I do not seek to delete anything in people. I in fact believe additive methods to be the only route to true health. Similar to what many of the great spiritual traditions suggest, Buddhism being but one.
In addition, being a personality theorist, I see my school of therapy as the proving ground for my theories and not as the route to writing one. A theory would explain before the therapy exists what will happen, rather than explaining afterwards what has happened. Thus I'm not sure what theory underlies your work as you present your therapy as a road to a theory.
As for "healing" the mind body split, although I do at times use peoples' already existing words in my writings to describe the mind body connection, I use these words only to build a bridge between what has been believed and what I have discovered. Thus I in no way see the mind body connection as having a literal split which needs healing. My whole work in fact points to that while we experience the mind and body as being split, in reality, beneath our threshold of perception, it is a single continuum. This means there is no split to heal. Only wounds in our ability to notice sensation. In essence, holes in our ability to visualize caused by having been startled, each of which diminish our ability to experience sensation.
The outcome then is that these holes in our ability to visualize raise our threshold of sensory perception and in doing so give us the illusion the mind and body are split. Thus healing is the act of restoring these blocked visual abilities to visual normalcy, thus increasing our ability to notice sensation. Again, healing as an additive process rather than a subtractive one.
Why say all this? Because if I read you right, you are saying is that physical sensations created during early pre birth to childhood accompany thoughts, and that feelings result from combining these sensations with a perception. Moreover, that by neutralizing the unwanted sensations, you return these sensations to the realm of pure thought.
Stephen, with all due respect, how do you imagine people can separate sensations into those they want and those they don't, sensations from early childhood and those from the present, sensations which arise in response to the actual physical world and those which result from the mind's imagining sensation, those that lead to pain and those that lead to pleasure, and so on. Which are bad and which are good? And who determines this and by what criteria?
In addition, you seem to see as a goal altering sensation into pure thought which, were this possible, would only serve to increase the split between the mind and body. Surely not a healthy state for any corporal being.
I on the other hand see thoughts (the rational and logical or that which seeks the rational and logical) and feelings (the emotive sensual or that which seeks the emotive sensual) as equals. I also see both as the result of having had more primary experiences; those times wherein we noticed sensation, as opposed to thoughts and feelings being coexisting equals to sensation. Hierarchical rather than peer. Secondary as opposed to equal.
More important still, to see as a goal mental supremacy (pure thought replacing sensation, regardless of how desirable it may seem) would mean you see mental awareness at the cost of sensory numbness as the goal. Surely not the route to a holistic existence. And certainly not a way to heal a split between the body and the mind.
So do I see good in what you are doing? In the outcomes, I am sure. Helping people to have better lives is always a wonderful endeavor. Thus you must have a good heart. From your suggestions as to how this good is being accomplished though? To this, I can only say we have a heck of a split between us (smile.)
All this said, Stephen, please know I would enjoy hearing stories from your practice. And responses to what I have said. After all, we appear to share a similar desire to help people. And I am always fond of respectful exchanges with regard to how personality functions.
Thank you again for writing,
His answer . . . ?
Good answer. Let me explain further. Let's say that you have a reoccurring thought that upsets you. Every time you pay your bills you feel this sense of lack and dread. It does not matter how much money you have or do not have.
So you decide to neutralize this feeling instead of experiencing it over and over again. It just that simple. You decide that you do not want it.
Now the question comes up. If I remove this unwanted feeling or sensation, then am I interfering with my ability to think and feel. Again you decide whether removing this feeling is in your best interest. If you are suffering, you probably will do anything to stop the recurring pain.
You realize that you do not need this feeling every time you pay your bills. Now if you want it, then make no changes.
The next step is to reformat the sensation. You do not actually remove it or neutralize it, but rather you store in a different department... Your brain instead of your body. You still have all the memories, only they are not stored as body sensations. This means that you will no longer get upset when paying you bills, and you still retain your ability to think rationally and calmly. Yes, you have now made your rational mind supreme over unwanted body sensations.
I studied Buddhism and I got tired of watching my feelings take charge no matter how much I observed them. So I found a better way. I wrote you because you seem to be interested in sensations and how to handle them.
And my response . . .
So Stephen, are you saying that a symptom, for instance, the sense of dread you mention in and around paying bills, is the wound? If so, then what does the phrase "asymptomatic" mean? The wound was healed but now it's not. Healing is reversible?
Symptoms are never the wound itself. We've all known this for a long time now and criticize M.D.'s for ignoring this very thing. Thus when you say you store a human experience in a different compartment and that is what makes it better, I see nothing about this that explains what the wound itself was let alone what you've actually healed.
So is your goal here that the person feel less pain? If so, then what do you think pain exists for? As something broken? As something to expunge? As something gone wrong which needs righting? As something needing repair?
My discoveries began some twelve years ago with that the actual wound itself is nether the symptoms nor some lack of cognitive understanding. Rather, the human mind is susceptible to incurring permanent blanknesses when we get startled. Similar to how iron is susceptible to being permanently patterned magnetically when a significantly strong external field suddenly ceases to exist around it.
I discovered this same thing happens in the human mind. Thus, put us in the presence of a some significant external force field, trauma for instance or being in love, then startle us and we get programmed. With what? With what Janet a hundred years ago called a "fixed idea." Thus these fixed ideas, and the blanknesses which follow them, are the source of peoples' symptoms and their inability to change despite knowing better. They alone cause peoples' symptoms. Therefore they alone are what must be healed.
Moreover if you get rid of your access to these symptoms in any way, you lose the very thing which nature provides us with so we can find these fixed ideas and blanknesses. And yes, you may feel less pain by doing it your way but in the end you have not addressed the real problem. Avoidance is all you gain at best. Avoidance of the body and it's wonderful messages.
Don't believe I'm right? See for yourself. Given of course you are capable of noting the blanknesses in a person's mind (e.g. the flat eyes, dull affect, emptiness in your own gut, etc.). For example, take the case you mentioned wherein every time someone pays their bills, they feel a sense of loss or dread. You can see the fixed idea and the blankness simply by getting the person to feel this dread then asking them what they picture. I guarantee they will either picture a painful moment or be unable to picture anything. And if they can picture a painful moment, if you ask them to picture going forward in time, they will at some point still lose the ability to picture. Completely. Blank. This regardless of whether they can cognitively name alternatives.
As a real world example then, a man I know, Ed, had a terrible time managing his bills. And when we looked for the blankness, he immediately envisioned a seen in which he, at age six, was forced to put his money in a savings account. The terrible moment? When he saw nothing coming back in the tube.
Think this is just cognitive? He not only no longer feels this dread. He now loves managing his money. This now some three years later. and from a single hour of therapy.
Blankness is the problem, Stephen. Not symptoms. Nor desire. And if this still doesn't make sense to you, then consider what the wound is when you get shot. The bleeding? The collapsed lung? The ragged flesh around the hole? No. It's the hole that is the problem, not the symptoms present. How can you be sure? Sine Qua Non. By subtracting all the symptoms and noting what you have left. What is left? The hole. The empty space. Thus the wound is always the hole. The emptiness. The space. The wound is always what is missing; what you can't see. Never what is present; what you can see. Add something back into this missing space and the wound is gone forever. Permanently. Moreover, rather than having to designate a part of you as needing to be compartmentalized, by healing "holes," healing becomes additive, and not subtractive.
As for Buddhism, I spend ten years practicing vapasana sitting on a small mountain top near my home. I not only did not get tired of my feelings, I also came to love, honor, and respect them. Along with my thoughts. And my body.
To me then the better way is becoming whole. Not sectioned off.
P. S. You might also be interested to know that I accept only one proof for that someone has healed something: that what the person previously avoided or hated now is one of their favorite things. For instance, I hated English and writing. I now write some ten thousand words a week. And call myself among other things a writer. With love, honor, and respect. Moreover, I have over ten thousand cases of this pattern of healing occurring. Including in some pretty famous and talented folks.
P. P. S. I am always interested in improving my ability to love sensations. The thing is, I have no desire to lose this ability in any way.
P. P. P. S. I'd love to consider posting this exchange on my site, if you are okay with my doing this. Anonymously of course. I ask as I'm sure many folks share your views.
His next answer . . .
Here is what happens. You not only remove the feelings of dread which is a symptom, but the feelings that are attached to the dread that go way back to under age five. Thus you are no longer bothered. So if for example, you drank colas as I did for years excessively, and you no longer have the feelings or craving for them, then whether you have removed a symptom or the actual condition is irrelevant... You do not have the problem.
And my next response . . .
Stephen, I'm sorry, but you still do not say what has healed; the "problem." Again, your reference is merely to symptoms. And yes, some of these symptoms may go back to age five. Or earlier. But so what. They are still only symptoms. What is the wound?
Stephen, no offense but shamans have been doing the same thing you're excited about doing for thousands of years now. I know. I've studied with many of them and include much of what they taught me in my every day daily practice. Unfortunately being able to make people feel better is not the only goal in a therapy. In fact, what makes a therapy worth doing is that you can teach the good in what you do to others including to your clients. Including the hard science beneath what you do. This makes your clients confident students who become world class chefs of their own healing, rather than simply becoming less symptomatic parrots who for the moment do not show symptoms. Moreover if what you are doing is truly new and useful, then your students will be able to build on what you teach them and make it better. The teach the man to fish for life idea.
What I'm saying is, without hard fractal science, you are no better than a bone shaker. And to be able to claim what you do as scientific, you need to be able to support what you do with empirical demonstration and cold hard fractal proof. Thus while I have no reason to doubt what you do makes people feel better, you seem unwilling to answer even my most basic theoretical questions; what is it you are healing, and why would you want to diminish peoples' consciousness? And yes, that people feel better is great. And those particular symptoms don't come back. But so what. If that was all there was to healing, we'd still be shaking bones over peoples' heads.
Stephen, from what you have written, you do not seem to care whether you know how what you do works. Or that I do have any evidence and scientific support to prove it. Thus my original question to you; why write to a personality theorist? Just to tell me you can make peoples' symptoms go away? That's not enough. Not for me, and certainly not for your clients. They deserve to know what has changed in them so they can confidently continue in life without you.
I wrote back thinking we'd have an exchange of ideas. Thus I feel quite disappointed and frustrated at this point.
Good luck in your endeavors,
And His Final Response . . .
I am sorry that you feel this way. I guess our difference is this. You want a theory that explains why things work. I understand that. I want something that works to relieve suffering. When someone is suffering, they are in discord. Now according to your theory of personality, they are experiencing sensations and perceptions. Right or wrong? In your theory, there is a continuum of body sensations at one end and perceptual thoughts at the other end.
What I do not quite understand according to your theory is how someone either neutralizes, transcends, or comes to terms with their state of mind or difficulty. My simple solution is that since they are experiencing some kind of sensation or another within their bodies why not switch the program around so that they are not suffering.
Now they would no longer have the conditions in their bodies. Exactly what are they switching are the body sensations that you have talked about in your book. So theoretically what happens when they transfer the feelings to the mind instead of experiencing them in the body- there are no more symptoms to contend with. Shamans cannot do this because they do not know the technique.
As I understand what you wrote.. This state of mind would be like "I think, therefore I am. You would have a completely unemotional state of mind relative to your problem.. You would not be attached to any irrational impulses. You would have pure perceptions, and when this occurs you naturally have insight into your issues and difficulties. Thus you are aware.
Now as a theorist you may philosophically opposed to people reliving their suffering without some kind of enlightenment or true awareness just as some medical ethicists may be opposed to having people take a memory pill to block out obsessive memories.
I thought it would be interesting for you to correspond with someone who knows how to change the feelings into thoughts. What if everyone stop feeling upset, unhappy, miserable, hateful, fearful, etc. They simply would not have these emotions that cause wars, divorce, strife with neighbor. They would be detached and free from negative emotions. Now, of course you may be theoretically oppose to this idea because they could be free without having to understand their problems, share what they feel with a therapist, or have some theoretical expert give their approval. They simply would be unemotional regarding whatever they choose to transfer from their body states to their conceptual states.
They simply would not be upset because they would be living at the opposite end of body sensations. Of course, they would not change body sensations of love and joy and happiness. Only the ones they select. They would be free from human emotions of discord, negativity, greed, and fear. They could function adequately without these emotions.
This is what I am sharing with you, and of course as a theoretical person you would naturally question this, and this is your right.
One thing you might find interesting about body sensations. Once you make this switch, you cannot reverse the process in this lifetime. In other words, if you switch a body sensations of hate into the conceptual mode, you cannot change it back into the body mode. You might want to check out more about all of this at Doyletics.com. Here you will find a complete discussion about the practice and theory of changing body sensations into thoughts.
That is why I wrote you, and I am sorry if I am not completely clear. I just thought that this would be a novel idea for you to consider.
Thank your for taking the time to write me back, and I too have some things to think about now.