I’d much rather talk about you in this blog, but I feel it might be useful to say a bit about where I came from and how I came to construct the ‘affectological view’ of human behavior, yours and mine and everybody’s. Admit it; I seem a little bit “off-standard.” That’s because I am, and I want to show you that there’s a very definitive path that got us ‘here’ and why it has inestimable value to the idea of emotional balance for everybody, and snips the hubris of current psychotherapy a bit.
I know it seems like a personal boast or some sort of litany of personal achievement on my part, but these are important ‘steps’ along my road toward what is now a proven and effective form of ‘guidance toward perfect self help’.
My first taste of ‘the mind’ came about when I was a teen, rising in the ranks of GoJu karate, where mind focus was an important attribute. This led me to studies into the philosophy of Bukkyo Zen and its practical mindfulness tradition. I had spent almost all of my childhood in silence, so the practice of a meditational mindfulness over three years was really a snap.
From this point on (in the 1960s) my steps toward what I am now and what I do were:
- Study of Morita Therapy
- Studies and practice in Zen Shiatsu
- Studies and practice in Ampuku Shiatsu (following the philosophy of emotional cache being found at tanden area of body)
- Teaching and guidance in Bukkyo Mindfulness session work
- Formal study, veterinary science
- Formal study and practice of deferential trance as naturalistic phenomena and humanistic (non-trad) hypnotherapy
- Research into preverbal affect influence on later-life character
- Research and practice in Ego State Therapy and Ericksonian ‘pattern particularization’
- Trainer in original PSH (Private Subconscious-mind Healing)
- Developer of more ‘precision’ approaches to subconscious emotional treatments: Af-x, ECR (Emotional Core Reframing) and ‘equiMind’
The purpose of this post, though, is to draw your attention to the content of number 7 in the above list. It was this realization that launched my focus on the very principles that lie at the core of my work and all my philosophy of ‘the life of the mind.’ It was the reading of a few specific works by academic and clinician authors that created my own tipping point in the realization that there’s more going on within the mystery of the ‘mind chaos of everyone’ than we know about.
So, in case you’re interested in pursuing a similar path of interest and curiosity, here are some details of those works.
The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, by Thomas Verny. Dr Verny is a psychiatrist who has founded the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. His most telling statement from the “Secret Life” book (that shook me up) was,
the unborn child is a feeling, remembering, aware being.”
and at six months of foetal development can understand its mother’s emotions. Prenatal neuroscientists show that even at a stage as early as 22 weeks (into gestation), the unborn child has the capacity – and uses it – to store information related to emotional (affect) experiences that it might be having, even in utero. The research proposes that at this stage in development, the limbic brain and its associated physiological links, through the central nervous system, have become fully formed, and it’s inconceivable that the complex neural system remains idle until we, as adult observers, “think” it should activate.
From Conception to Birth, by Tony Lipson. The late Dr Lipson (Dept of Genetics, The Children’s Hospital, Sydney) was a pioneer in the research into childhood maladaptions. This book is not widely-read, but there was one passage that struck me as vital. It was/is …
What are the facts? When does the spinal cord communicate with the processing and thinking part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, where the grey and white matter resides? It is only when the vital connection between the spinal cord processing centre, or the brain stem, and the brain itself is made at 22 – 23 weeks that feelings of the senses such as warmth, light, sound and pain have any real moral meaning and form part of experience. The spinal cord can then communicate with the true brain and vice versa, both responding to movement, feeling and position and presumably, albeit unconsciously, able to have memory which will influence the person for the rest of its life.”
I repeat, “… able to have memory which will influence the person for the rest of its life.” And there it lies. The formative notion that started my ball rolling in an effort to determine just ‘how’ those preverbal (maybe prenatal) experiences impacted who we are today!
Then came Daniel Goleman, who you’ll recognize for his book “Emotional Intelligence.” A few years prior to writing this socially (and professionally) ground-breaking book, Goleman wrote Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception. It is my opinion that this book is far more important to the world than Emotional Intelligence.
The opening paragraph to the Introduction says it all for me. Most students and followers of my work would “get” that what he is talking about and searching for, we, in our sphere of Af-x, have indeed found. This is that paragraph….
My topic is hard to explain to you, although it is something with which we are all intimately familiar. The difficulty is that we have no precise words for it. That very fact is, in part, why it intrigues me so; there are, it seems, vital parts of our lives which are, in a sense, missing – blanks in experience hidden by holes in vocabulary. That we do not experience them is a fact which we know only vaguely, if at all. Those blanks in experience are my topic.”
What Goleman describes as holes in vocabulary can also be likened to the good old “doughnut principle.” The most obvious thing about a doughnut (donut) is its hole; the part that’s not there. If you’re trying to solve a scientific mystery or an existential mystery relating to human behaviour, then you start out always missing some data, or it wouldn’t be a mystery and open to question. The principle is just that from the shape of the hole, you can often infer a lot about the shape of the doughnut.
Let’s say the hole, the vacuum, if you like, relates to the issue of preverbal and-or prenatal affect encoding a la Janov, Damasio, Lipson, Verny and many others. Let’s say the actual meat of the doughnut – the graspable part – relates to the way that a person receives their conditioning information that leads to the establishment of belief systems throughout the early and later parts of their life. That conditioning has been “informed” (influenced) by the ineffable aspects of the hole, but those affect encodings have been just that:- influences, influencers, pattern-forming information.
One cannot say that affective encoding builds a definable structure of behaviour as life unfolds, but introduces a kind of ‘fuzzy logic’ to the way the person relates to their deeper emotional selves.
And so it went. As I put together all the research into affective neuroscience and “back there on the periphery” was my older findings about the importance of silence and the way that emotions become clearer the less ‘chatter’, I carefully constructed the genesis of what is now known as Af-x, ECR and the equiMind program.
I am nothing if not “careful” and cautious when it comes to the treatment of, and influence on, other people. I abhor the great cacophony of claims and “come-hithers” of many forms of so-called therapy. From my own early times, I have believed that all therapy is auto-therapy, all help is self-help. This has informed the nature of my efforts over the decades, and my striving to create an emotional (and mental) “assistance program” that not only echoes my belief that people actually make changes for themselves rather than ‘get them from a therapist’.
Further to this, I have striven to create a treatment program that leaves the client in no doubt at all that changes that occur are of their own doing rather than mine.
As an aside, I was influenced further by the reading of a book called How Clients Make Therapy Work – The Process of Active Self-Healing (Bohart and Tallman) that actually says it all for me. An old (ish) book, 1999, but it’s a pity that it is not well-read by the psych professions. Now out of current print and expensive. Pity.
As early as the formative years of the PSH approach, I instituted a system by which we could PROVE that there was merit in our approach – that we were not joining the throng of acronym-ridden therapeutic approaches that did not seek to prove or disprove their claims of success.
This involved very specific style of garnering feedback about outcomes from ex-clients. People were contacted 3 to 4 months following their therapy, by an independent (external) organization. They were asked about the results of their treatment and assured that their therapist would NOT know directly of their comments. This ESR system (Efficacy Study Research) was independently administered and is still in operation today.
My point about ‘careful steps’, then, is that from the inception of the ‘subconscious privacy’ approaches (Af-x and ECR) we have been conscientious in our attention to what has been a system that has proven that the vast majority of our clients have experienced satisfying results from their engagement with Af-x or ECR practitioners. This system of research is and has always been mandatory for practitioners in this field.
The success of the Af-x/ECR approach is underpinned by the research and neuroscientific data that describes this ‘hidden self’ – the ‘backseat driver’ in our lives. The correlation, then, between these successes and the premise of the existence of the non-verbal primary affect nucleus existing deep in our inaccessible (attempting to use words) subconscious is unassailable. We can’t deny it. The black swan is alive and well, knocking on the door of the clumsy approaches to mainstream psychology today.
My own mission is to help expose the existence of the ‘emotional core’ of the human mind – how it behaves as a ‘silent passenger’ – a back-seat driver. And that although inaccessible through ‘talk therapy’, there are ways to make positive changes to the non-verbal patterning that your mind has established. What you read above are the steps that have got us here.
If interested, you can read more about the *limbic brain here.