Monday, 31 October 2011

Drop a feeling

Some people report experiencing feelings that they don’t want. In such circumstances the psychological process of dropping the feeling is required.

For small feelings

Drop feel 1 Jpeg

1. Child ego state experiences the feeling
2. Adult becomes aware of the feeling
3. Adult decision to drop feeling

For large feelings

Drop feel 2 Jpeg

1. Child ego state experiences the feeling
2. Adult becomes aware of the feeling
3. Child expresses feeling the number of times needed
4. Adult decision to drop feeling (May need two chair)

Barriers to dropping feeling


The racket value of the feeling
The strength of its connection to a script decision
Secondary gains associated with it.


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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Life positions

What is your life position?


I’m OK, You’re OK
I’m not OK, You’re OK
I’m OK, You’re not OK
I’m not OK, You’re not OK

OK Questionnaire 001


Book update - October.

I am much happier now. As I enter the second half of the manuscript for my book on counselling drug users the last two weeks have been frustrating to say the least.

Desert bike

I have never had to produce documents of this size and for this purpose before so I did not know how I would do it. But I am discovering I am doing this second book the same way as I did the first. I am not a systematic writer at all. I have a general idea of what is going to be covered, after all I did have to produce a book proposal that included a statement of the titles of the chapters for the publisher.

Fortunately last time they allowed me to modify that a bit as I went along and I am doing the same again. I definitely do not have a very clear idea of what I am going to write. I make it up as I go along in the general areas that I have decided on.

I kind of start at chapter one and move through the chapters but often I am doing them out of order. It depends what comes to my mind on any particular day. I walk pretty well every day as exercise and often when I am walking I get the best ideas coming up. So when I get home it is straight onto the word processor and putting down the ideas, at least in note form.

Jump woman

I have a current supervisee who has to do this project that is basically a small thesis. About a month ago she made a contract in her supervision that she would do ‘x’ amount of words, ‘x’ number of days per week. When she made it I thought, there is no way this is going to work, but it has worked well and she is getting it all done. Obviously I projected onto her because there is no way I could write like that.

However back to me being happier today. In the past two weeks my thoughts have been jumping between three separate chapters all at once. Counselling the teenage drug user, the Transactional Analysis theory of addiction and self soothing and the drug user. A common feature of the problematic drug user is an inability to self soothe. This jumping around has left me feeling like I am not getting anywhere and hence the frustration.


However today I concluded two of the three chapters, the teenage one and the theory of addiction one and that is why I am back to being a happy little chappy again. And I will be doing the self soothing one this week which is a little bit more focussed, well I hope it remains that way!


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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Arrêté après des centaines de graffitis sur des trains.

... grâce à l'exploitation des sites internet, les enquêteurs de la sous-direction régionale de la police des transports (SDRPT) identifient un individu ... (L'express 26/10/2011)

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Friday, 28 October 2011

The peace protester and projection.

Projection is a natural thing that many, no all of us do from time to time. It has also been identified by Freud as a defence mechanism. A defence mechanism is a psychological process employed by a person to save them from anxiety and one could say to save their self image as a good person.

jump woman1

For example a peace protester may have significant aggressive impulses inside him. He is disturbed by these impulse so they cause him anxiety and they do not fit with his own self image of what a good person is.

As a consequence his unconscious takes over and solves his anxiety. It gets him to project his aggressive impulses outside onto someone else or perhaps some organisation. This allows him to avoid his anxiety and maintain a good self image because in his conscious mind he has no aggressive impulses. Due to his non aggressive sense of self he becomes a pacifist and goes on peace protests, (Also because he is unconsciously frightened of his own aggression).


He sees the government as being very aggressive at least in part because he has projected his aggressive impulses out onto it.

Hence we have

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.
William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

And the icing on the cake comes when he can go on a peace protest and express his aggression towards the police (who he has also projected his aggressive impulses onto). This aggression does not cause him anxiety because in his mind he is being aggressive in the quest to achieve peace.

Peace protester


Boiled egg and peace protesters

Have you ever had a boiled egg with toasted soldiers. I was raised on that sort of breakfast food and the soldiers dipped in the yoke is very yummy.
Egg and soldiers

But my good friend calls them -

A boiled egg and peace protesters.

A good name I thought!


Eros and thanatos

Any student of the psychotherapies would have heard the terms:
Eros and thanatos
Libido and mortido
Life instinct and the death instinct
If not, then they should have! Freud seized on this concept and it became central in his overall theory of human nature. In his book “The ego and the id” he discussed this theory of instincts at length.

Freud[1962] in his discussion of the two classes of instincts states that the first class is the sexual instincts or Eros. This is a "...self-preservative instinct,..."(P30). On the other hand there is the death instinct whose task it is to, "...lead organic life back into the inanimate state;..."(P30).
He is thus entering into the field of the philosophy of opposites. Human nature, life and the universe is unerringly a collection of opposites. The answer to the question, “Is it possible to have something that does not have an opposite?” begs unending cognition.

Hyams(1998) notes this in her article on dissociation. She says that the world is full of polarities - good/bad, inhaling/exhaling, high/low and so on. In addition there is yin/yang, protons/electrons, left/right, black/white, matter/anti-matter and so on endlessly. Does something exist that does not have an opposite? I am yet to think of one. As soon as one defines ‘x’, then ‘not x’ is also defined. However that is for the philosophers to conjugate over.

Mask face

Freud’s theory of these two instincts is a theory of opposites. One problem with such theories is they can become static. One discusses what is a manifestation of Eros (the life instinct) and what is a manifestation of Thanatos (the death instinct).
Eros = love, procreation, win/win situations, peace and cooperation, god.
Thanatos = hate, murder, game playing, war, devil.
This provides us with a static taxonomy of this theory. It is possible to look at how they interact and Freud does this to a certain extent in ‘The ego and the id’. He talks about love and hate being able to change into one another and how eating is both simutaneously constructive (gives life to consumer) and destructive (destroys the consumed product).

It is this point, in my view, that gets lost and is never taken far enough by Freud. This theory of insticts gets caught up in a right/wrong or good/bad morality. His bipartite system has a moral basis which leads it into trouble. It follows on from the same moral view that has been held by many if not all religions throughout time.

Life, growth, creation is good vs death and destruction is bad. In religious terms we have good and evil and god and the devil. The church has for all time seen god as good and the devil as bad and we must behave and think in a way that allows to be with god and defeat the devil. The only true way to defeat the devil is to not define god. As soon as one defines god, one defines the devil at least in part - the devil = non-god. If you do not define god then the devil cannot exist. If it does not exist then it is ‘beaten’ in one sense.

Spider woman

This god vs devil or eros vs thanatos are static models based on a moral principle as suggested before. Thus we have the very basis for the moral underpinnings of psychotherapy.
Thanatos vs Eros = games vs intimacy, aggression vs assertion, I’m not OK vs I’m OK, win/lose vs win/win, competition vs cooperation, script vs autonomy. Some now argue they do not hold to such a moral view, as Transactional Analysts they work with the client and hold no judgements as to what is right and wrong.

In my view - balderdash. How many books on TA describe how to increase game behaviour and decrease the capacity for intimacy. How many describe how to avoid intimacy and increase script bound thinking and feeling. Transactional analysis is based on (as are all psychotherapies) a set of moral judgements about what constitutes life & growth and what constitutes death and destruction. What constitutes health and what constitutes pathology is central to any psychotherapy.

Base jumper 2

Let us take the static model of Freud’s bipartite theory and look at it as a dynamic model. Once done we end up with a very different situation. This allows us to go beyond examining the two insticts and what they represent in thinking, feeling and behaving. Instead it leads us to 3 new questions:

1. Are Eros and Thanatos interacting or not?
2 When they do not interact what happens?
3 When they do intereact what happens?
These three questions lead us to yet another set of opposites - change vs inertia.

What would happen if all the poeple on earth suddenly came to their senses and were able to tap totally into their eros energy and avoid all their thanatos energy? Governments would stop spending trillons of dollars on building bombs and weaponery and put all that money into psychotherapy and medical science. With all the advances taking place eventually people would than be able to live good quality lives until, they were 150 years old. What would the planet be like then. Firstly, governments of the world would rapidly bring out one child policies and these would even more rapidly become ‘no child policies’ or ‘very few child policies’. We end up in a state of inertia - little change. If we could all tap into the good growth, creative energy of the universe we end up static, in a state of inertia. When the eros instinct over rides its opposite for too long this is where we end up. If the thanatos instinct over rides then we end up in a similar state. Everything is destroyed, nothing is created and we end up inert again.

As transactional analysts this means we must be aware that it is essential that we remain playing games at some level and remain script bound to some degree. If we became script free then we end up inert. Thus we have one answer to the question about what happens when eros and thanatos do not interact.

So what happens when they do interact. Consider this other example that occured in Australia recently. There were massive bush fires in the eastern states of Australia. We saw images of huge flames, dead animals and huge areas of burnt out forests, All the reports were of how much devastation had been caused, how much bush had been destroyed. Clearly thanatos had been at work and left massive destruction in its wake.

However this is incorrect. The bush had not been destroyed it had been changed. The pictures of huge blackened areas all left us with black, sorrowful feelings. These blackened areas should be a stimulus of great feelings of excitment, anticipation and joy, not of sorrow. Imagine the growth and creation of insects, rodents, vegetation that are now going to occur in these blackened areas. It will represent an expression of eros in its undiluted form, a thing which we all say is wonderful. If there had never been the thanatos of the fire then this eros could not have occured.


We humans are a death phobic species. We will do almost anything to avoid the pain that acts based on the thanatos instinct can bring. We spend millions of dollars on fire fighters and fire fighting equipment to reduce the “destruction” (ie thanatos, ie change) to a minimum.

Consider human reaction to endangered species like the elephant or lion - the Kings of the wild. What do we do. We create breeding in captivity programs in zoos. We create reserves for them to live in. These are called wild life parks. A nice term to alleviate our guilt. Lets be realistic wild life parks are the same as breeding in captivity. These wildlife parks and zoos are simply museums. They allow us and our children to see species as how they once were. A useful endeavour. But lets not pretend they are existing as they used to. Such parks and zoos allow us to observe the history of such species, not the now.

So why do not we just let all the elephants and lions die out. Let that symbol of evil and thanatos - the poacher - do his work and kill off all the remaining ones. Why do we not get it over and done with instead of stringing out the pain and trying to pretend that these species still exist. Why do not we accept that lions are extinct, its just that we do have some in a museum that we can go and look at from time to time?.

I do not have an answer. Perhaps it is a sign of some form of collective human guilt. Perhaps it is because we have accepted a static model of eros and thanatos or god and the devil. If we look at the same model dynamically then we see that with the extinction of the lion that opens up change and some form of species will be allowed to grow, develop or even be created that could never have happened with the presence of the lions. The poachers work allows eros (god) and thanatos (devil) to interact thus we do not remain in inertia but move into a change phase.

Skeleton face

How does this translate into psychotherapy and transactional analysis. All psychotherapies have some sort of statement on what is health and what is not. The majority spend a great deal of time defining such things. For instance in TA we have script and autonomy. Large amounts of time and energy have been spent on defining and diagnosing what are script thoughts, feelings and behaviours and what are not. Then just as much time is spent on how to treat or facilitate change of such thoughts and feelings.

How would people react to suggestions that:
“A divorce is to be as celebrated as much as a marriage”
“Game playing is essential to normal human growth and development”
“The srcipt free individual will wither and die over time”

This is what the dynamic model of eros and thanatos or the life and death instincts proposes. Up to date psychotherapies have been taken from the church or the (moral) static dichotomy of good and bad and the god and the devil.


It seems erronous to view humans as having the two drives of eros and thanatos. Instead we have:

interaction/unbalance/change or stagnation/balance/homeostasis.

It is more reasoned to view these two drives as either interacting or not. If they are not dynamically involved then we have stagnation and non-life. If they are interacting then we have life.

Freud, S. (1962). The ego and the id. New York: W.W. Norton.
Hyams, H. (1998) Dissociation: Definition, Diagnosis, Manifestations, and Therapy, with Special Reference to Cults/Sects. Transactional Analysis Journal. 28(3), 234 - 243.

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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Monday, 24 October 2011