Asklepia Monograph Series
“Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams”
and the Consciousness Restructuring Process
by Iona Miller and Graywolf Swinney
Asklepia Foundation, ©2000
Abstract: The Consciousness Restructuring Process
(CRP) is rarely practiced in isolation from simple counseling, formal or
informal. CRP has roots in a multidisciplinary approach which includes
the psychodynamics of Freud and Jung, as well as the humanistic/existential
school, in particular the techniques of Transactional Analysis and Gestalt.
The work on childhood development by Piaget, Erickson, and Alice Miller
is also pertinent. Adult developmental theories of transpersonalists
Maslow, Houston, and Gowan also describe some important aspects of this
treatment philosophy. As an eclectic approach, CRP is not limited
to these, and each practitioner will no doubt pick a variety of therapies
of choice from the entire gamut, including so-called shamanic techniques.
Consciousness journeys are not necessarily employed each session. This
paper attempts to provide a skeletal background of the basic philosophical
roots of CRP as they relate to the counseling practice of this process
of natural healing.
Keywords: Freud, Jung, Berne, Perls, Miller, Erikson, Piaget,
libido, psychodynamics, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, Depth Psychology,
childhood, fetal development, REM, dreams, psychosomatic families, psychosomatic
disorders, chaos theory, Chaosophy, shamanism, dreamwork, co-consciousness,
consciousness journeys, placebo effect, trauma, psychotherapy .
THE DEEP ROOTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS RESTRUCTURING
To be firmly grounded, any psychological process should have not only a
clearly codified description of its practice, but also a solid psychological
theory behind it which gives it a reason for being and for considering
it in lieu of other treatments. The subconscious or unconscious is
deep and convoluted. A means of opening a window into its mysteries
provides us with a positive way of implementing change in our lives.
These journeys are a means of reconnecting with our healing source.
The roots of the Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP) can be traced
back to Freud who “discovered” the nature of our unconscious instincts
and motivations. Jung explored this depth dimension with an eye for archetypal,
mythological, and religious imagery, rather than with the psychosexual
emphasis of Freud.
They (Freud and Jung) agreed that the psychobiological dynamics of human
beings represents a complex, fluid state of being wherein both childhood
experiences and transpersonal forces impinge on individuals, influencing
their beliefs, thoughts, feelings, behavior, and general health.
They agreed on the concept of libido, or psychic energy, which can either
be free flowing and growth-oriented or repressed, “frozen,” regressive,
and unconsciously creating disturbances and disease. They agreed
that unconscious influences color the nature of positive and negative identifications
and projections. They both agreed on the central role of dreams in
revealing the psychobiological unconscious, that dreams are a “royal
road to the unconscious.”
Freud created a frame of reference through his extensive writings for conceptualizing
the emotional and irrational feelings underlying behavior. Freud’s was
one of the most complex organizations of human behavior ever set down in
theory. Jung took his ideas even further, beyond id, ego, and superego
toward experiential exploration into the transpersonal realm, largely through
the process of a waking dream, an inner journey.
The field constantly evolves from this taproot, revisioning psychodynamic
theory from a number of perspectives and practices. The neo-Freudians include
Alfred Adler, Eric Erikson, Karen Horney, Melanie Klein, Heinz Kohut, and
Harry Stack Sullivan. Freud was also a profound influence on Fritz
Perls (Gestalt therapy), Alexander Lowen (bioenergetics), and Eric Berne
(transactional analysis). Psychodynamic theory is broader than Freud’s
foundational view; the various points of view share commonalities which
can be summarized in the following few key points:
1. Client developmental history is important and needs to be considered
for full client understanding. Freud is often considered the
first developmental psychologist. Basic to his orientation and the
psychodynamic frame of reference is the importance of childhood experience
in determining how we act and behave in the present.
2. Important in our developmental history are the key people we
have related with over time -- our object relations. In psychodynamic
language, object relations is the term given relationships with people
and important objects in our life. We develop in relationship to
people -- our family, friends, and peers. There is an individual,
family, and multicultural or collective unconscious. There is not
just individual life experience, but also intergenerational family themes.
3. We are unaware (unconscious) of the impact of biological needs,
of past developmental object relations, and of cultural determinants in
our present behavior. The unconscious is the reservoir of our
memories, biological, and collective drives, most of which we are unaware
of. We are each a psychobiological whole composed of instinctual,
egoic , and transpersonal drives. We create defense mechanisms to
protect our egos and self-esteem. Trust and control are central issues
which can be related to the earliest relationships with caregivers and
4. We constantly act out in our daily lives our developmental
history and our unconscious biological drives. From the psychodynamic
frame of reference, we are heavily ruled, sometimes even completely determined,
by forces outside our awareness. However, some psychodynamic theories
claim biology is central in unconscious development, whereas others focus
more on life-span developmental issues. Increasingly, the influence
of multicultural factors in unconscious development is being recognized.
5. The task of counseling and therapy is to help the client discover
the unconscious roots of present behavior. Through psychodynamic
techniques and concepts, such as free association, interpretation, and
analysis of transference, we can help the client discover and understand
the background of present behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Jung
also employed dreamwork, and the amplification of multicultural and archetypal
imagery of the collective unconscious.
Differences of opinion in the psychodynamic community continue to lead
to its evolution. Thus, we see dreamwork integrated in with other
techniques of Gestalt, and interpretation carried forth more systematically
in transactional analysis. The multicultural approach reminds us
that cultural and family roots must be part of an overall treatment conceptualization.
One criticism from the multicultural perspective of the therapies developed
around Freud and Jung is that they are highly verbal, generally expensive,
and long lasting. This makes them unavailable to the vast majority
other than the affluent. Both also place major emphasis on the individual
as primary. In this way, they disenfranchise the special needs of children,
those whose cultures are less verbal and more family-oriented, and in many
The traumatization of children, which takes an inevitable toll on society,
was not fully recognized by either Freud or Jung. Freud changed his
early position of recognizing its importance to one of labeling it as repressed
fantasies and delusions of grandeur on the part of children whose unconscious
complexes made them make false accusations. Jung was interested in
complexes also, but had limited interest in the development of children,
being generally more interested in the second half of life.
Alice Miller and Virginia Satir brought the effects of abusive and unintentional
cruelty to the attention of the psychotherapeutic community, and to parents
everywhere in such works as For Your Own Good (Miller, 1983) and Peoplemaking
(Satir, 19 ). They stressed that parenting or child-rearing
practices as they had been conceived for perhaps hundreds of years were
basically flawed and influential in producing both neuroses and psychoses.
They saw the family as a dynamic system, from which one “troublemaker”
or diseased individual could not be isolated for treatment. The approach
is one of self-in-relation. They stressed that children are individuals,
too, who deserve respect and conscientious care. Miller clarified
and amplified her meaning about the importance of self-esteem and
integrity from the earliest moments of life:
1. All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love,
and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self-protection.
2. For their development, children need the respect and protection
of adults who take them seriously, love them, and honestly help them to
become oriented in the world.
3. When these vital needs are frustrated and children are, instead,
abused for the sake of adults’ needs by being exploited, beaten, punished,
taken advantage of, manipulated, neglected, or deceived without the intervention
of any witness, then their integrity will be lastingly impaired.
4. The normal reactions to such injury should be anger and pain.
Since children in this hurtful kind of environment are forbidden to express
their anger, however, and since it would be unbearable to experience their
pain all alone, they are compelled to suppress their feelings, repress
all memory of the trauma, and idealize those guilty of the abuse.
Later they will have little or no memory of what was done to them.
5. Dissociated from the original cause, their feelings of anger,
helplessness, despair, longing, anxiety, and pain will find expression
in destructive acts against others (criminal behavior, mass murder) or
against themselves (drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, dysfunctionality,
psychic disorders, suicide).
6. If these people become parents, they will then often direct
acts of revenge for their mistreatment in childhood against their own children,
whom they use as scapegoats. Child abuse is still sanctioned--indeed,
held in high regard--in our society as long as it is defined as child-rearing.
It is a tragic fact that parents beat or otherwise abuse their children
in order to escape the emotions stemming from how they were treated by
their own parents.
7. If mistreated children are not to become criminals or mentally
ill, it is essential that at least once in their life they come in contact
with a person who knows without any doubt that the environment, not the
helpless, battered child, is at fault. In this regard, knowledge
or ignorance on the part of society can be instrumental in either saving
or destroying a life. Here lies the great opportunity for relatives,
social workers, therapists, teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, officials,
and nurses to support the child and to believe her or him.
8. Till now [written as of 1980, prior to the generalization of
recovery movements and the wide dissemination of the concept of dysfunctional
families], society has protected the adult and blamed the victim.
It has been abetted in its blindness by theories, still in keeping with
the pedagogical principles of our great-grandparents, according to which
children are viewed as crafty creatures, dominated by wicked drives, who
invent stories and attack their innocent parents or desire them sexually.
In reality, children tend to blame themselves for their parents’ cruelty
and to absolve the parents, whom they invariably love, of all responsibility.
9. For some years now, it has been possible to prove, through
new therapeutic methods that repressed traumatic experiences of childhood
are stored up in the body and, though unconscious, exert an influence even
in adulthood. In addition, electronic testing of the fetus has revealed
a fact previously unknown to most adults--that a child responds to and
learns both tenderness and cruelty from the very beginning.
10. In the light of this new knowledge, even the most absurd behavior
reveals its formerly hidden logic once the traumatic experiences of childhood
need no longer remain shrouded in darkness.
11. Our sensitization to the cruelty with which children are treated,
until now commonly denied, and to the consequences of such treatment will
as a matter of course bring to an end the perpetuation of violence from
generation to generation.
12. People whose integrity has not been damaged in childhood,
who were protected, respected, and treated with honesty by their parents,
will be -- both in their youth -- and in their adulthood -- intelligent,
responsive, empathic, and highly sensitive. They will take pleasure
in life and will not feel any need to kill or even hurt others or themselves.
They will use their power to defend themselves, not to attack others.
They will not be able to do otherwise than respect and protect those weaker
than themselves, including their children, because this is what they have
learned from their own experience, and because it is this knowledge (and
not the experience of cruelty) that has been stored up inside them from
the beginning. It will be inconceivable to such people that earlier
generations had to build up a gigantic war industry in order to feel comfortable
and safe in this world. Since it will not be their unconscious drive
in life to ward off intimidation experienced at a very early age, they
will be able to deal with attempts at intimidation in their adult life
more rationally and more creatively. (Miller, 1980).
Alice Miller was apparently optimistic about the future of any society
which could implement these simple truths. The recovery movements
made self-esteem, personal responsibility, and dysfunctionality household
words. Nevertheless, the implementation of these precepts on any
broad scale has been slow. It has spread through workshops in Parent
Effectiveness Training (PET) with its emphasis on active listening to the
true feelings of others, but family patterns run deep. Even when
there isn't overt cruelty, children still suffer from their families’ intergenerational
problems, and are manipulated and put into double binds by the exigencies
of daily life, such as unwanted pregnancies, parental personality styles,
poverty, and divorce.
The developmental roots of dysfunctional behavior lie in anxiety and defense
mechanisms, which arise from experiences which induce fear and pain.
They echo in developmental personality styles, and issues of trust, control,
Developmental ecologist, John Bowlby created attachment theory to describe
the primary mother-child relationship, so fundamental in becoming one’s
own person and gaining confidence to meet the world (i.e. attachment-separation).
His research revealed that the children’s pattern of attachment in the
early months is highly predictive of later adjustment. Specific examples
1. The pattern of attachment identified at twelve months is still
present at six years.
2. Children identified as securely attached are found to be described
in nursery school three and half years later as cheerful, cooperative,
and popular, whereas anxious avoidant and anxious resistant patterns of
attachment are described as emotionally insulated, hostile, and antisocial.
3. Children who are securely attached in early life are later
found to respond to failure with increased effort, whereas the less securely
attached do the opposite, (separation anxiety).
4. We might add, at the far end of the spectrum, the child with attachment
disorder, which is a failure of the natural bonding process and can result
in defensive antisocial and even sociopathic personality style.
Shortly after the death of his father, Freud moved away from a consideration
of child abuse and substituted his “fantasy theory” in its place; the child
was believed to have imagined the abuse. This notion has been strongly
overturned (Schiff). All caregivers -- mother, father, extended family,
nursery school, child care providers --and so on, have demonstrable impact
on children’s growth and development. It manifests through positive
and negative projective identifications.
The Family Connection
A family does not need to be overtly abusive to be inherently dysfunctional.
Neurotic transactional patterns within the family can induce a range of
negative psychophysical reactions. Dysfunctional families can visit
a wide range of family symptoms and psychosomatic syndromes on their progeny,
including anorexia, schizophrenia, paranoid, schizoid, antisocial, borderline,
histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, and
passive-aggressive disorders. Even dreams should be related to the family
structure, not just to the individual.
Although the term “psychosomatic” is usually used to describe a disease
(process) it is commonly accepted that there are physical factors in the
cause. It is less commonly understood that the body’s response to
harmful stimuli is also “psychosomatic” in that there are both physical
and psychological components in the response, (Cartmel, 1986).
When a client understands that the presenting symptom is a “response,”
“the disease,” and is ready to look for a possible cause in the process,
the disease equation can be put to use. In CRP, the client may experientially
discover how unpleasant thought, feeling, and body responses leads to a
fixed body response, which defines the problem.
Frequently, the significant contained feeling is experienced at the site
of the presenting body response (symptom). In psychosomatic disease
the potency of the stimulus is important, not the cause of the stimulus.
The potency of the stimulus depends on the degree of imbalance between
demands and resources.
Before making a treatment decision it is important to assess demands and
resources by looking at both external or situational factors and personal
internal factors that may influence options for creating and dealing with
external factors. Usually internal factors determine the existence
or significance of external factors. What is an incapacitating catastrophe
for one person may be a positive challenge for another.
An approach to physical and emotional dysfunction views disease as a response
to various factors which collectively create a stimulus, and it is the
individual pattern of responses that largely determines if and how dysfunction
or disease becomes manifest.
Reaction patterns begin in the womb and are visible in infants who tend
to be easily overstimulated by the world around them and cannot remain
calm, and those who tend to remain calm but hard to interest in their surroundings.
Hyperexcitable or overstimulated babies seem irritable much of the time,
tend to be “colicky,” pull away, stiffen their muscles, arch their backs,
and often cry or panic more when attempts are made to console them.
The hypo-arousable baby seems calm and well regulated, but is hard to get
interested in the world, has poor muscle tone, may under-respond to stroking,
vocalizations, and rhythmic movement.
For the overly excitable baby, even the mother’s voice may be a painful
experience, as they tend to be hypersensitive in one or more sensory modalities.
Normal lighting may cause the baby physical pain and emotional distress.
The hypo-arousable baby under-responds to sensory stimuli in one or more
modes. Fortunately, most babies outgrow these patterns, but in some
instances, sensitivities prevent a baby from learning to regulate itself
and take an interest in the world--making the next stage, falling in love,
Some babies who are not born with any special sensitivities may develop
the same reactions. A serious illness or unsupportive parents or
babysitters, such as those who are either anxious or very depressed, can
be the cause. The baby’s reactions may be quite specific.
However, in adults the identified cause of the stimulus is often not the
significant cause of the stimulus. When the therapeutic contract
is for an internal audit, transactional analysis (TA) is ideal. The
concepts of drivers, blockers, and scripts are basic to TA and easily understood.
The client should be told clearly that tissue damage requires tissue treatment,
whether with natural, chemical, or mechanical means.
Psychosomatic disease processes are usually open to intervention and cure
by natural means, rather than just control by chemical or mechanical means.
But, as long as disease is regarded as an entity rather than a response
process, then the option for further investigation is eliminated.
Commonly accepted examples of psychosomatic diseases are some forms of
migraine, asthma, duodenal ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension,
paroxysmal auticular tachycardia, psoriasis, eczema, neurodermatitis, and
pre-menstrual tension, recurrent breast cysts, non-infective prostatitis,
and inevitably some cancer, although the fact is that there is a psychological
component to all disease.
Gerald Cartmel (1986), a physician and TA counselor, outlines principles
relating to psychosomatic disease in the following points:
Rule 1: Psychosomatic disease is a dysfunctional response to an
excessive stimulus, manifested by a thought response, a feeling (emotion)
response, and a body response. A fixed body response occurs when
the body response is self-perpetuating and no longer dependent on the originating
stimulus for maintenance.
Rule 2: Depression is one mode of response and results in an increase
in other modes of response.
Rule 3: It is the size or duration of the stimulus that determines
the response, not the cause of the stimulus.
Rule 4: The identified cause of the stimulus is often not the
significant cause of the stimulus.
Rule 5: The internal demands and resources largely determine or
maintain the external demands and resources.
Rule 6: There are three degrees of psychosomatic disease. There
are many factors to consider in establishing a multidisciplinary treatment
plan for cure or control by natural, chemical, or mechanical means.
(a). In first-degree psychosomatic disease the client is
able to connect the stimulus to the body response to a feeling response
to a thought response. A treatment contract for natural cure can
safely be made if the client is invested in change.
(b). In second-degree psychosomatic disease the client
is unable to connect the stimulus to the body response or a feeling response
and thought response. A treatment contract for exploration only can
be made. With the client invested in exploration, a connection is
usually made between eight and twenty group sessions, and a contract for
cure can then be established.
(c). In third-degree psychosomatic disease the disease
process is no longer dependent on the stimulus for maintenance. No
treatment contract for cure can be made; treatment is aimed at control
using natural, chemical, and mechanical methods. Cure would be a
Rule 7: Tissue damage requires tissue treatment.
Where does the tendency to somatize arise from? Psychosomatic families
have been identified which foster the emergence of symptomatic children.
They create difficulties in handling stress. They tend to either
internalize or act out anger, and are immature in their ability to cope
with difficult situations. When psychosomatic disorders are generally
treated, one individual is viewed as the “container and carrier of the
disease,” when in fact it arises within the family system, and each individual
serves a role or function, such as “scapegoat,” or “the sickly one.”
In the psychosomatic family context, emotional arousal has metabolic consequences,
In primary disorders, a physiological dysfunction is already present.
In the secondary psychosomatic disorders, no such predisposing physical
dysfunction can be demonstrated. The psychosomatic element is apparent
in the transformation of emotional conflicts into somatic symptoms.
These symptoms may crystallize into a severe and debilitating illness or
Certain transactional patterns are characteristic of psychosomatic families.
Families that encourage somatization share four family characteristics
of enmeshment, rigidity, overprotectiveness, and lack of conflict resolution.
Boundaries in enmeshed families are poorly differentiated, weak, and easily
crossed. Children may act inappropriately toward parents or siblings.
Or a child may join or be enlisted by one parent against the other in decision
Individual members are regulated by the family system. Individual
autonomy is weak. Rigid families are committed to maintaining the
status quo. The children in turn, particularly the psychosomatically
ill child, feel great responsibility for protecting the family. For
the sick child, the experience of being able to protect the family by using
the symptoms may be a major reinforcement for the illness. Emotional
arousal in the child triggers physiological responses.
Even when coming into therapy, these families typically represent themselves
as normal and untroubled, except for one child’s medical problem.
They deny any need for change in the family. Such families are highly
vulnerable to external events, such as changes in occupation or loss of
kin. Almost any outside event may overload their dysfunctional coping
mechanisms, precipitating illness.
The rigidity and overprotectiveness of the psychosomatic family system,
combined with the constant mutual impingements characteristic of pathologically
enmeshed transactional patterns, make such families’ thresholds for conflict
very low. Usually a strong religious or ethical code is used as a
rationale for avoiding conflict. As a result, the problems are left
unresolved, to threaten again and again, continually activating the system’s
Each psychosomatic family’s idiosyncratic structure and functioning dictate
its ways of avoiding conflict. Often one spouse is an avoider.
When the nonavoider brings up areas of difficulty, the avoider manages
to detour confrontation that would lead to the acknowledgement of conflict
and, perhaps, negotiation. Or one spouse simply leaves the house
when the other tries to discuss a problem. Normal families are able
Viewed from a transactional point of view, the patient’s symptom acquires
new significance as a regulator in the family system. The symptom
is often a key factor in the child’s involvement in parental conflict.
One pattern tends to dominate: triangulation, parent-child coalition, and
detouring. In the first two patterns, the spouse dyad is frankly
split in opposition or in conflict, and the child is openly allied with
one parent. In detouring, the spouse dyad is ostensibly united.
The parents submerge their conflicts in a posture of protecting or blaming
their sick child, who is defined as the only family problem.
In some families, the parents require the children to reassure them that
they are good parents or to join them in worrying about the family.
Parents may vacillate between their concern for the sick child and their
exasperation over the burdens imposed. In most cases, parental concerns
absorb the couple, so that all signs of marital strife or even minor differences
are suppressed or ignored. Maladaptive sequences are enacted again
Family therapy embraces a systemic worldview. The family is the primary
unit and all members of the family are important contributors to its functioning.
Families consist of relationships, rules, and roles:
1. Relationships. Some practitioners consider the family to
include not only family members, but also relatives and friends.
The systemic worldview is concerned with relationships both inside and
outside the family. Each unit is a subsystem of an even larger system.
For example, a person is a subsystem of a family, which is a subsystem
of a network, which is a subsystem of a community, nation, and culture.
2. Rules. Families are viewed as systems, and intrafamilial
patterns of communication are the focal point for understanding family
functioning. The family’s use of routinized and regulated communication
assists each member to make meaning of life within the family. By
observing repeating patterns of communication, family therapists learn
the unconscious and conscious rules under which a family operates.
3. Roles. The roles members are permitted to fulfill within
a system are also communicated to each person. The most vulnerable
member of certain families is often given the role of the identified patient.
The roles of family mascot, peacemaker, and gatekeeper are just a few of
the expected ways of behaving that individual members might perform in
a family or network.
Early Emotional Milestones
Babies have many emotional milestones in their development ( Colarusso,
1981; Greenspan, 1985). All of these experiences and issues can be
vitally important in the therapeutic process. Many of them may be
revisited, relived in CRP journeys. They begin before birth and are perceptible
while the fetus is still in the womb. Factors impacting the perinatal
and post-natal infant include:
1. Pregnancy: planned or unplanned; parental sex preference; normal or
problem pregnancy--medication; intoxicants; bleeding, illness, weight gain;
maternal psychological health -- mood, living situations, relationship
to father; full term or premature.
2. Labor and delivery: spontaneous or induced; length of labor; complications;
vertex or breech presentation; natural or Caesarean birth; birth weight;
involvement of the father.
3. Bonding: toxic or non-toxic womb environment; parental support;
breast or bottle fed; parental personality style; parental fears; supportive
environment; reciprocal interaction; intensional communication; secure
or insecure; over or under-excitable.
From birth to 3 months, the baby develops self-regulation and interest
in the world. Ideally the infant is able to calm down, sleeps regularly,
brightens to sights and focuses, brightens to sounds especially voices,
enjoys touch, and enjoys movement in space (up and down, side to side).
Age 2 to 7 months is the phase of “falling in love.” When wooed the
baby gazes back with great interest and a special, joyful smile.
Baby smiles to facial expressions and vocalizations and vocalizes back.
Between 3 - 10 months intentional communication develops. Baby returns
gestures with gestures, vocalizes with vocalizations, responds emotionally
to emotional expressions, experiences joy and pleasure, and responds to
encouragement to explore with curiosity. Increasingly the baby initiates
interactions, looks expectantly, woos with joy and pleasure, seeks comforting,
and becomes more assertive in exploration.
The span of 9 - 18 months witnesses the emergence of an organized sense
of self. Emotional partnerships form and baby learns complex imitation;
expresses needs and interests through taking initiative; asserts independence
and originality; understands function and meaning; relates to other toddlers;
learns to communicate with words, and begins to accept limits. It’s
about establishing closeness, emotional stability while separating and
feeling close from afar, recovering from anger after a few minutes,
getting others to react, accepting limits while personality unfolds.
At 18 - 36 months, the young child learns how to express ideas, to create
emotional ideas, to construct ideas to express emotions. The child
uses ideas when stressed, using all senses for the elaboration of ideas.
To summarize: The first year of life corresponds with Freud’s oral phase.
It includes such milestones as selection of name; maternal involvement,
attitudes and feeding patterns; circumcision or bris; quality and quantity
of mothering, fathering; sleep-wake patterns; sleeping arrangements; temperament;
first sitting, walking, etc.; smile response, stranger anxiety; thumb sucking,
use of pacifier; weaning; separation-individuation process -- autistic
and symbiotic phases; parents’ relationship with each other and its effect
on infant; illness and operation throughout childhood; major parental absences,
illnesses, or death; moves.
Ages 1 - 3 correspond with Freud’s anal phase. Issues include
language development; motor development, fine and gross; separation-individuation,
maternal availability; independence vs. clinging behavior, ability to tolerate
brief separations, establishment of object constancy; establishment of
core gender identity; toilet training -- when begun, when and how accomplished,
by whom, family attitudes; enuresis, encopresis; aggressiveness, negativism;
“terrible twos;” parental attitudes toward limits, controls, and punishments.
Between 30 - 48 months emotional thinking develops further. It is
the basis for fantasy, reality, and self-esteem. Increasingly (but
still only sometimes), the child know what is real and what isn’t, follows
rules, ideally can remain calm and focused, feels optimistic and confident.
The child comes to realize how behavior, thoughts, and feelings can be
related to consequences; realizes the relationship between feelings, behavior,
and consequences in terms of being close to another person; realizes the
relationship between feelings, behavior, and consequences in terms of assertiveness,
curiosity, and exploration.
By three or four the child knows how to exert will power through verbal,
emotional communication to get what he or she wants; realizes the relationship
between feelings, behavior, and consequences in terms of anger (much of
the time can respond to limits). The child has learned to interact
in socially appropriate ways with adults and peers.
There are some parental personality styles that are not naturally complementary
to specific stages of development. The same overall styles that might
interfere with self-regulation and emerging interest in the world can also
hamper a child ready to “fall in love.” These include, but are not
limited to, withdrawl or depression, being overly subdued, overstimulating
the baby, fears (hurting the baby, personal inadequacy, loss of independence,
being controlled, sexual feelings). Also hampering the developing
relationship are attitudes such as seeing baby as a plaything, or an extension
of the parents, difficulty experiencing a wide range of emotions, fear
of closeness, fear of rejection, and feelings of envy.
Withdrawl or depression is the most common cause of a parent being emotionally
unavailable and treating the baby in a mechanical way. When this
happens, that baby is being undernourished as surely as if he or she were
not getting enough to eat. Fathers may also become depressed after
their baby’s birth, (Greenspan, 1985).
Some parents, even though neither depressed nor withdrawn, are very subdued
and do not exhibit much expression or emotion, and give their infant a
rather monotonous idea of what the world is like. Those who are either
nervous and fearful or overstimulate their infant fail to recognize that
baby also needs to be relaxed and calm to experience the world as both
an interesting and peaceful place.
When a mother is depressed, she may find that all her energies go into
providing physical care for her baby. She feels she has no emotional
energy left to smile, coo, and effectively woo her baby. With an
animated baby, the mother may not need to woo very intently; but an already
withdrawn baby is hampered in further bonding. After a while the
baby may begin to reflect the mother’s look and tone -- somber and emotionless.
Babies can have their own form of depression when they reach out for love
and are not met. Infant depression can lead to a wide range of consequences
and dysfunctions. Early infant depression (0-3 months) leads to the
attempt to close out external stimuli from experiences of either fear or
grief. Associated sensations can be described by terms such as “non-existence,”
“waves of sadness, grief, fear, or anger which are all-consuming.”
If the father is absent or depressed and can’t be supportive, the mother
may find the baby trying and overwhelming. A depressed father can
be just as critical as a depressed mother. As baby develops and demonstrates
a personality and special needs of her or his own, both mother and father
may become frustrated and discouraged from fears of closeness or rejection,
stemming from their own neuroses.
Researchers investigating the creation of false memories have concluded
that childhood amnesia blocks virtually all memories before ages 2-3.
Loftus (1997) notes, “It is highly unlikely that an adult can recall
genuine episodic memories from the first year of life, in part because
the hippocampus, which plays a key role in the creation of memories, has
not matured enough to form and store long-lasting memories that can be
retrieved in adulthood.”
Elsewhere, Loftus (1993) writes:
“It is well known that humans experience a poverty of recollections
of their first several years in life. Freud (1905/1953) identified
the phenomenon in some of his earliest writings: “What I have in mind is
the peculiar amnesia which...hides the earliest beginnings of the childhood
up to their sixth or eighth year.” Contemporary cognitive psychologists
place the offset of childhood amnesia at a somewhat earlier age: “past
the age of ten, or thereabouts, most of us find it impossible to recall
anything that happened before the age of four or five” (Morton, 1990).
Most empirical studies of childhood amnesia suggest that people’s earliest
recollection does not date back before the age of about three or four (Kihlstrom
and Harackiewicz, 1982; Howe and Courge, 1993); Pillemer and White, 1989).
Although one recent study suggests that some people might have a memory
for a hospitalization or the birth of a sibling that occurred at age two
(Usher and Neisser), these data do not completely rule out the possibility
that the memories are not true memories but remembrances of things told
by others. Still, the literature on childhood amnesia ought to figure
in some way into our thinking about recollections of child molestation
that supposedly occurred in infancy.”
However, this research only precludes “episodic” memories of actual historical
events in a narrative or dialogical form--coherent stories of early life.
It does not preclude sensorimotor memories stored in the very fabric of
all the tissues of the body, and in fact influencing the very structure
of the entire psychophysical self, (Swinney, 1997). At the onset
of treatment, therapists are well advised to review with clients an informed
consent statement, which explicitly states that not all memories recovered
in treatment are accurate.
Even the fetus has the capacity to learn and remember (Hopson, 1998). These
activities can be rudimentary, automatic, even biochemical. For example,
a fetus, after an initial reaction of alarm, eventually stops responding
to a repeated loud noise The fetus can listen, learn, and remember
at some level. The same is true for the infant and toddler, even
though the neural circuits of adult-type memory are still developing.
Early memories are encoded as sensorimotor impressions in the whole psychophysical
being. These memories influence basic issues such as being or not-being,
self-image, loveability, and the safety and supportiveness of the world
at large. They come up in CRP journeys at the fundamental levels
as vague, impressionistic images and feelings. Reconnecting with
this primal state allows the old patterns to dissolve into an undifferentiated
state and that liberated energy flows deeper into the natural healing process.
The body and dreams preserve experiences and impressions of an indelible
nature, and when they come up in the journey the accompanying feelings
also arise (such as overwhelming waves of stress, pain, and fear).
These images are not the kind that let an individual know historically
“what happened,” but enough information can be accessed and retrieved to
facilitate the healing process.
By ages 3-6, the so-called amnesia of the early period is ending and
a new phase (oedipal, according to Freud) brings up emergent issues.
The child now has conscious memories of dreams and nightmares. The
congealing of personal history, one’s narrative story about oneself, is
rooted in these earliest conscious memories. Earlier “memories” are
often confabulated from what family members and others tell us, even as
we are growing up, and thereafter. Sexual curiosity and exploration
emerges. The child confronts separation from the parents and relating
to others when school begins. There is continued motor and perceptual
THE EXISTENTIAL-HUMANISTIC TRADITION
Psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan coined the phrase “participant-observer”
to describe the function of the therapist. Sullivan held that you
have to participate in the situation of the other person before you can
observe him correctly, and conversely, observation itself is a way of participating
in the other. This lead to Perl’s notion of encounter. “Existential-phenomenology”
ideally means to take the human being as he exists, a living, acting, feeling,
thinking phenomenon, at this moment in an organic relationship to us.
Freud made the extraordinary discovery that when man could overcome his
fears, face his pathology, and seek to comprehend it, he grew healthier.
Rollo May was among the first to state that when man willingly faces his
being in the same manner, seeks to comprehend it, allows himself awareness
of its terrors, its passions, its transiency -- then man becomes most truly
human and self-actualized.
Evasion of one’s full humanness is, in fact, what initiates the possibility
of neurotic development. Jung implied this when he said that neurosis
was a substitute for legitimate suffering. An acceptance of the existence
of this “tragic sense of life” in addition to its joys, was May’s innovation.
He described his work as humanistic psychotherapy, the aim of which was
helping the other experience his existence as real, or authentic.
He recognized that in treatment the person can choose to change and become
different, but one does not become fully human painlessly. In the
process, despite and because of phases of discouragement and pain, one
finds meaning and the satisfaction of existence.
May argued that anxiety is not necessarily negative and that growth and
creativity require us to go beyond set boundaries, enduring the distress
of being without secure, reliable structures. What differentiates
the neurotic from self-actualizing reactions to such threats to being as
death, anxiety, and guilt is whether the person represses and cuts himself
off from the threatening stimuli or whether he wills to consciously face
and assimilate it.
In the existential-humanistic worldview, we are in the world and acting
on that world while it simultaneously acts on us. Any attempt to
separate ourselves from the world alienates us and establishes a false
and arbitrary distinction. Alienation results either from separateness
from others and the world or from our inability to choose and act in relationship.
Alienation can be experienced in one or more areas: the person and their
physical body, other people in the world, or the biological and physical
world. Alienation is from self, others, or world.
The existential counselor attends primarily to the self of the client,
and not to analyses and explanations of other entities, or of the client’s
unconsciousness or “less-than-fully-human” aspects. The central task
of therapy and counseling, then, is to enable the alienated client to see
him or herself in relationship to the world and to choose and act in accordance
with what he or she sees.
Having examined the world, the person is assumed free to act, rather than
only to be acted upon. But action can create existential anxiety.
Choices and decisions are often difficult. Although choice may be
painful, it is likely to be less so than the anxiety created by not choosing.
The existential-humanistic point of view is an egalitarian attitude toward
counseling (encounter) and the meaning of life. The main points of
this mode of counseling can be summarized as follows:
1. We are in the world; our task is to understand what this means.
It is clear that the meanings we generate vary from culture to culture.
2. We know ourselves through our relationship with the world,
and in particular through our relationships with other people.
3. Anxiety can result from lack of relationship (with ourselves,
with others, or with the world at large) or from a failure to act and choose.
4. We are responsible for our own construction of the world. Even
though we know the world only as it interacts on us, it is we who decide
what the world means and who must provide organization for that world.
5. The task of the existential-humanistic therapist or counselor
is to understand the client’s world as fully as possible and ultimately
to encourage her or him to be responsible for making decisions. However,
existential counselors will also share themselves and their worldviews
with clients as appropriate.
6. A special problem is that the world is not necessarily meaningful.
Existentialists such as Sartre and Kierkegaard see the absurdity and cruelty
of life, while humanistic existentialists such as Buber and May suggest
that the very confusion and disorder in the world are an opportunity for
growth and beauty.
7. The distinction between existential and existential-humanistic
positions can be defined as one of philosophy or faith. If a person
sees the many possibilities in the world as a problem, he or she has a
problem. If a person sees the array of possibilities as infinite
opportunity, she or he will choose to act. (Ivey, 1980).
As prospective or active counselors and therapists, we must listen to the
client and open the interview and ourselves to scrutiny. Only in
this way can we grow and learn about our own possibilities to enrich the
lives of others. It begins in empathic and accurate listening, with
warmth, respect, and authenticity. It means treating the person differently
than they were treated in a dysfunctional setting; relating to them in
GESTALT THERAPY: WORLDVIEW AND TECHNIQUES
Gestalt implies a unified whole, properties which cannot be derived by
summation from the parts. Gestalt psychology started in Germany,
but moved to the U.S. after the rise of Nazism (Wertheimer, Kohler, Koffka).
The idea that the whole is different from the sum of its parts challenged
the then prevailing theory of Structuralism. The early Gestalists
contribued more to the study of perception than to other areas of psychology,
always looking for pattern, shape, process, or configuration, (Rock, Palmer,
1990). What people perceived, they held, is not merely a sum of sequence
of sensations but the whole configuration of which they are part.
Emergent quality illustrates one meaning of the Gestalt concept of organization.
This became the basis of holism.
Frederick (Fritz) Perls devised Gestalt theory to fill the theoretical
gaps of psychoanalysis. He came to be regarded as a “guru” of existentialism
in the 1960s. He deeply believed that individuals who became aware
of themselves and their experience in the immediacy of the here and now
could become more authentic and purposeful human beings. His techniques
help people become aware of who they are and what they really want.
Perls was an analysand of Wilhelm Reich, so he was strongly influenced
by Reich’s view of character analysis and body armoring, which led to his
emerging ‘holistic’ convictions. Perls’ theory and methods carry
on the influence of Freudian psychoanalysis, Reichian character-analysis,
existential philosophy, Gestalt psychology, and Eastern religion.
The philosophical approach of Gestalt therapy is rooted in the fact that
whatever exists is here and now. The past exists now only as memory,
nostalgia, regret, resentment, fantasy, legend or history. The future
exists here and now as anticipation, planning, rehearsal, expectation,
and hope or dread and despair. Gestalt therapy takes its bearing
from what is here and now, not from what has been or should be. Therefore
it is experiential.
Perls saw human nature as holistic, consisting of many varied parts that
make a unique individual. We start life more or less “together,”
but as we grow and develop, we encounter experiences, feelings, and fears
in life that cause us to lose parts of ourselves. These “splits”
from the whole, or the gestalt, must be reintegrated if we are to live
intentional, self-actualized lives. Thus, Gestalt therapy is centrally
concerned with integrating or reintegrating our split-off parts into a
The Gestalt worldview is that people can be responsible for their actions
in the world and, further, that the world is so complex that very little
can be understood at any given moment. Thus, Gestalt therapy tends
to focus extensively on the present-tense, immediate here-and-now experience
of the client. There is thus a corresponding decrease in emphasis
on past or future. These two key constructs are reflections of the
basic existential view. It is centrally concerned with the totality
of the individual’s being-in-the-world.
The tasks of the Gestalt therapist include the following:
1. To assist the client in making accurate, undistorted contact with
their feelings and to learn how to be appropriately and rewardingly expressive
of these feelings (i.e. anger, fear, joy, sexuality, etc.)
2. To assist them in making accurate, undistorted contact with their
needs, wishes, and desires and to aid them in mobilizing themselves to
gratify these in a manner that leads to satisfaction and is not destructive
to themselves or others.
3. To assist them in making accurate, undistorted contact with their
external environment (persons and situations) so that their behavior leads
to personal fulfillment and remains within appropriate boundaries of reality.
The moment to moment activity of the therapist is devoted to helping them
becoming aware of how, in this now-moment of being, they block, interfere
with, or avoid the process which would lead to accurate contact with the
inner and outer environment, which leads to a fuller actualization of the
When this process of Gestalt formation and destruction proceeds consistently,
smoothly, and without avoidance or interruption, the person is able to
live with relative contentment and without chronic tensions that may be
experienced psychically or physically. Thus, the aim is to return
them to organismic self-regulation rather than living out their lives in
compliance to external regulations which have, over time, become internalized.
Gestalt moves toward outcomes which can be labeled enhanced human potential,
self-actualization, wholesomeness, creativity, competency, and self-support.
Gestalt therapists generally do not conceive of a final “cure,” but emphasize
development of a skill, the skill of awareness and expressiveness which
are essential for coping adequately with life problems that continue to
arise throughout a lifetime.
Existential counselors value authenticity. It is a valued counseling
process and counseling goal and outcome. Although existential philosophy
existed prior to existential counseling, counselors do not practice according
to existential philosophy: they instead have arrived at the existential
philosophy via their practices. They “know” based on their counseling
experiences, by designating what can be known through experience.
All practitioners have an underlying philosophy or point-of-view, but unfortunately
it is typically hidden.
In Gestalt dreamwork, each part of the dream is believed to represent a
part of the dreamer. The task of the Gestalt therapist is to find
how the parts relate together as a unity. Authentic relationships
develop quickly and strongly.
Some critics think Perls gave insufficient attention to the role of trauma
in therapy and that he uncritically accepted a Maslow type of need hierarchy.
The emphasis on self-actualization misses the importance of self-in-relation.
The word gestalt implies that the individual is a whole in a context of
family and community. Yet Perls devised many techniques for enhancing
awareness of interpersonal experiencing. He contributed more to methodology
than theory. He also pioneered many aspects of group therapy (see
Appendix: Group Therapy, this paper).
The following techniques can be used in a working relationship with a full
sense of ethics. They can be easily integrated into interviews, regardless
of any particular theoretical orientation. It is a direct sensorimotor
approach. Gestalt techniques can be used alone as counseling tools,
or meshed with CRP in the journeys.
1. Here-and-now experiencing. Most techniques of Gestalt therapy
are centered on helping the client experience the world now rather than
in the past or future. What is done is done, and what will be will
be. Although past experiences, dreams, or future thoughts may be
discussed, the constant emphasis is on relating them to immediate present-tense
experience. The CRP journeys are immediate and experiential; they
draw from threads of the past and reach prospectively into the future,
but emphasize what is going on now.
2. Directives. Gestalt therapists constantly tell their clients
what to do in the interview, although decisions for their own later action
are the clients’ own. Feedback questions relating to feelings and
interpretations give additional strength to directives to bring the past
into the present. During experiential journeys, the mentor who knows
the psychic “territory,” directs the process toward deepening and toward
its natural resolution and closure.
3. Language changes. Gestalt clients are encouraged to change
questions to statements in the belief that most questions are simply hidden
statements about oneself. Vague statements are turned into “I” statements,
thus increasing the personal identification and concreteness in the interview.
The client is frequently directed to talk in the present tense, adding
power and focus to the problem. Talking about problems is considered
less effective than experiencing them directly. In CRP journeys,
the mentored is encouraged to identify or “become” elements of a dream,
symptom, or feeling and describe what that experience is like from the
4. The empty chair technique. When a client expresses a conflict
with another person, they are directed to imagine that the other person
is sitting in an empty chair and then to talk to that person. The
roles switch and the counselor constantly suggests chair changes at critical
points. Experiencing and understanding feelings more fully, the person
can learn they were projecting many thoughts onto the other person.
5. Talking to parts of oneself. Variation of empty chair
with one’s conflicting parts. By discussing the conflicted issues
reflected by the split, the person often spontaneously generates a new
solution or answer. Different body parts can “speak” with one another,
for example a tense right hand can talk to a loose left hand. Quick
and important breakthroughs can often occur. In CRP, the mentored
can identify and experience many aspects of self, not only in personified
and dialogical form, but in more abstract sensorimotor images from their
deep past which have conditioned their existential self-image.
6. Top dog and underdog. Top dog is authoritarian and
demanding, full of “shoulds” and “oughts.” Underdog is more passive,
apologetic, and guilt ridden. When these two dimensions are observed,
the empty chair technique or a dialogue often helps the client to understand
and experience them more fully.
7. Staying with the feeling. When a key emotion or nonverbal
movement is noted the therapist often immediately gives attention to the
feeling and its meaning. The feeling can be amplified or intensified,
especially if it is uncomfortable, to help bring up memories associated
with that discomfort, pain or fear. This technique is used in CRP
to help the person confront and move into and through fears and pain.
The mentor reassures the mentored that this is familiar territory and all
will be well if they simply let go and trust the process. This frequently
leads to a death/rebirth sequence.
8. Dreamwork. Gestalt does not use dreams to understand
past conflicts, but rather as metaphors to understand present-day, here-and-now
living. The parts of a dream are considered as aspects of the client.
Any piece (person, object, scene, or thing) of a dream is a projection
of the client’s experiential work. Through acting out the dream,
the client can integrate the split pieces into a whole person. CRP
uses the concept that all parts of the dream represent the dreamer, and
uses dream images or scenes to begin or redirect consciousness journeys.
Eric Berne (1910-1970) was deeply influenced by the works of Freud, and
impressed by the ideas of Paul Federn on ego states, which Berne described
as Parent, Adult, and Child. The Parent is the ego state derived
from the person’s parental figures, and in all the individual acts just
as one of his parents did when he was small. The Adult is the objective
ego state dealing with the reality of the world. The Child is just
that--the ego state of the remainder of the individual responding in its
own childlike fashion. It is especially important for the therapist
to help the client differentiate between the Child and the Adult in his
Before going into transactional analysis proper, the client participates
in structural analysis to differentiate the ego states and aid in his reality
testing of them. The basis of structural analysis is that ego states
can be classified and clarified, and by understanding them, a person can
understand his or her own behavior and improve it. The person learns
to observe these three individual ego states within himself, how they interact,
and learns to recognize them in the behavior of others.
“Regression analysis” highlights the Child, and is the basis of all subsequent
Inner Child therapies and self-reparenting. The person reexperiences
phenomenologically the feelings of the Child. At this time it is
not the individual’s Adult talking about the Child, but instead the Child
itself talking and experiencing. Both the therapist and client learn
about issues that affect the Child ego state as well as the person’s Adult
The TA therapist believes strongly in the Adult of all clients, and informs
them of their progress and where they are going. While structural
analysis is done in the individual setting, transactional analysis usually
takes place in the group context, mixed with individual sessions.
Game analysis and script analysis are added to the process. Games
appear to be like other interactions on the surface but have ulterior transactions
within them and involve payoffs often not evident to those involved.
Games prevent intimate and honest relationships, (Morse, 1977).
Scripts are more than the repetition of games. They are the overall
way one plays out one’s life -- life-themes. They are usually laid
down in early childhood and are greatly influenced by our culture, family,
and especially our parents, according to Berne. The problem with
scripts, as with games, is that they are limiting, even self-defeating.
Script analysis and understanding opens the door for changing the script.
Insight is not enough. After clients are made aware of their selves,
seeing as clearly as possible their transaction, games, and scripts, the
therapist and client often set up a bilateral contract focusing on the
changes the patient wishes to make, outlining possible changes and methods
of change. Once again, it is up to the client and not the therapist
to decide what is to be changed. Personal and group work brings both
intellectual and emotional insights. The eventual goal is to be able
to use both emotions and intellect fully in dealing with the specific issues
and everday problems. In addition to this, TA also honors the spiritual
dimension and values of the individual.
CHAOS THEORY AND THE CONSCIOUSNESS RESTRUCTURING PROCESS
Fractal art, the result of graphically displaying the mathematical descriptors
of Chaos Theory, shows us the hidden infinity of forms and structures which
unfurl from the infinity of possibilities that mirror and duplicate the
shapes unfolding in nature within and around us.
When we focus in on a small segment and journey deep within it, or expand
it, we eventually encounter the mirror image of the segment first entered.
This reiteration of fractal patterns, their self-similarity, is mirrored
in consciousness journeys where we find the fundamental structure of our
self-image, healthy or dis-eased, repeated at every level of our being.
Shapes and patterns emerge from the mysterious infinity of chaos.
These forms reach deep inside, resonate with our spirit and foster a sense
In Chaos Theory, forms emerge, dissolve, and reform through the creative
process known as autopoetic self-organization. It demonstrates the
unfolding of creative process itself, the emergence of form or structure
from formlessness and chaos. Strange attractors, principles or forces
that interact with complexity, are hybrids with roots in both chaos and
structure which influence and shape the emergent structures.
Chaos is ubiquitous in nature, hidden in the most ordered and solid-seeming
places. It is found in the following dynamic processes, and more:
* In the structure of the atom and its particles/waves;
* in the rhythms of a beating heart and the flow of blood through it;
* in the neural firing patterns of our brain;
* in the infinite complexity of wilderness and natural phenomena;
* in the churning complexity of a turbulent white water river;
* in the motion of the planets in their path about the sun;
* in the scattering complexity of the stars and galaxies, and the moment
of the big bang from which the universe emerged.
Wherever we look, chaos or non-linear dynamics and complexity is either
right in sight or hidden just below the surface. Its domain lies
at the edges of knowledge where our perceptions of structure and order
end. Yet chaos reveals in its own depths, hidden degrees of order
and structure that resonate with the soul and reveal to us the basic forms
and structures repeated throughout nature and throughout our nature.
Chaos Theory implies a universe of evolution and constant re-creation.
Structure arises in the moment and is in resonance with its environment.
But in a universe of constant evolution each form eventually becomes dissonant
as the evolving environment surrounding it changes. The same holds
true for the fundamental patterning and structure of our existential self-image.
This is the root of the disease process and is reflected in the imagery
and psychobiology of our entire systems.
Chaos Theory restores the balance to the entropic forces which lead to
the decay and death of outworn systems. It is the means of creative
self-organization which arises from the undifferentiated disorder that
lurks within the processes of creation. Chaos holds infinite possibilities
of new form, and these forms are eventually revealed and emerge from chaos
as new structure. This is also an apt way to describe consciousness
dynamics such as thought, spontaneous behavior and creativity. Reality
is neither structure nor chaos but a process in which structure and chaos
dance between form and formlessness. This is the eternal cycle of
death and renewal, the dance of Shiva.
The CRP models of disease and wellness illustrate these principles at work
in human experience. For example, psychologists and medical doctors
have long debated why the same experience can result in pathology in one
individual yet strengthen another and with a third pass unnoticed.
Chaos Theory has a dynamic called the butterfly effect where minor perturbations
in initial conditions can be pumped up into major changes in the development
of the system; in our example, in the personality. On the other hand,
in some instances these perturbations are damped out leaving little visible
Due to mechanisms such as the butterfly effect, a minor trauma at an early
age in one individual, due to other small differences in the complexity
of his being and experience, may heavily affect him resulting in a severe
neurosis. Another individual might experience a relatively severe
trauma at an early age that has little or no effect on his development,
or may even lead to stronger positive drives. In such complex systems,
there is no clear linear cause-effect chain. The systems interconnecting
with other systems are far too complex.
We have noted from CRP explorations that the basis of every symptom of
disease, including psychological ones, represents an attempt to resolve
or heal an issue. When there is an intrusion (psychobiological trauma),
centers of dynamic activity are set in motion within the whole system which
attract more and more energy toward themselves like mini black holes.
Such systems are known in Chaos Theory as “strange attractors.” In
psychological terms, such attractors form the core of syndromes or disorders.
Frequently the childhood structures which are purposeful at the time become
maladaptive and no longer serve us and in fact threaten our continued well-being.
In chaotic systems, time is “stretched and folded” so that events ostensibly
separated in time and space are intimately linked in a non-linear way.
In a universe of constant evolution each form eventually becomes dissonant
as the evolving environment surrounding it changes. The changed surroundings
stress the form and begin a process of its dissolution back into chaos.
Periodic chaos serves to, and is an opportunity for, restructuring our
lives. It purges the old dissonant structures that impede the flow
of our consciousness and creativity.
More fundamental than these disorders is the Primal Existential Sensory
Self-Image (PESSI), which itself can become maladapted or diseased.
As the template for the whole organism, it sets up patterns which reverberate
throughout the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life of the individual.
Through the CRP journey process, this pattern may be deconstructed to the
undifferentiated state beyond form and energy, and healing takes place
when it spontaneously and creatively reforms as a new image of wholeness
and well-being. A structure arises out of the chaos in resonance
with the existing environment, and is sustained by complex feedback loops,
(Swinney, 1997). Through this process we revision our Reality from
the inside out.
This is nature’s own creative process. Healing is the biological
equivalent of creativity. Healing echoes creation and evolution.
High roads to the unconscious, connections to God and the soul, dreams
arise from our creativity. Each dream image is an expression of our
creative energy, shaped by its journey through our psyche. But no
matter what its shape, the root of each symbol and the heart of each dream
is pure creative energy.
The symbol is nothing more than a doorway opening into a chain of consciousness
states that lead us to this creator--creative self-organizing energy that
can heal us. Therefore, the Consciousness Restructuring Process is
not an interpretive or analytical way of understanding a dream, but is
an inner consciousness journey into its healing heart.
If we look at the “edge of chaos” which self-organizing systems naturally
evolve toward, we find four basic principles, as outlined by Stuart Kaufmann
(SciAmer, Jan. 1993):
1). A system goes through a phase transition from order to randomness
if the strength of the interaction between interconnected agents is gradually
increased. Intensification. Dis-ease.
2). A system can perform the most sophisticated computations at
the boundary between order and randomness. Adaptive agents can develop
good solutions to extraordinarily difficult problems. Transition.
3). Complex adaptive systems tend to evolve toward the boundary
between order and chaos. Liminality. Solutions.
4). Organisms change how strongly they interact with others in
such a way that they reach the boundary between order and randomness, thereby
maximizing the average fitness of the organisms. Dynamic adaptation.
There are certain fundamental characteristics of chaotic systems and each
has its analogy and application in the CRP journeys:
Sensitivity to initial conditions. The main feature of self-generated
complexity is the presence of an iterative mechanism which transforms the
information contained in the initial conditions in a deterministic way.
In this sense, it is possible to view complexity as elaborated simplicity.
Sensitive dependence on initial conditions means similar causes do not
produce similar effects. Disease is a crisis that is presented to
an organism that creates the opportunity to dissolve the old structure
and evolve into a new one, better adapted to survival. We are not
limited to any specific technique or practice for healing, but use a deeper
understanding of the nature of the healing process itself to create whatever
technique is needed for the client at whatever level we are working.
Butterfly effect. A variance so small it is almost insignificant
in the beginning can create vast differences as the system evolves, making
it impossible to track or predict. In CRP, just as one traumatic
incident may pattern a lifelong disorder, one healing therapeutic event
may completely and permanently restructure the whole system from the most
fundamental level. After a bifurcation there can be no return to
the old situation.
Fractal therapy. A fractal is an object that reveals more
and more detail as it is increasingly magnified, like seeing the universe
in a grain of sand. Self-similarity repeats its conformations from
the most fundamental to the most complex level. In CRP, the disease image
appears in a myriad of self-similar forms revealed through the levels of
the consciousness journey. One traumatic event can shape a life;
one intense therapeutic event can reshape it.
Strange Attractors. Investigation of the mechanism of turbulence
led to the invention of the term strange attractor. The turbulence that
is described by strange attractors is “turbulence in time” -- deterministic
chaos, or temporal chaos. Graphic depictions of attractors allow
us to map a dynamical system’s behavior in discreet-time or phase-space.
Roughly speaking, an attractor is what the behavior of a system settles
down to, or is attracted to. A system may have several attractors.
Strange attractors are the core of unpredictable variation with limits.
For humans this means any perturbation from conception onward can be a
determining factor in structure and personality. Personality traits
can be construed as strange attractors of behavior. Natural chaos
allows adaptation and self-organization for evolutionary change.
Bifurcation. Amplifying a situation, intensifying it, leads
to de-stabilization. This leads to a phase transition; phase instabilities
or turbulence in a system lead to the possibility of bifurcations.
Near bifurcation, systems present large fluctuations. Such systems
“hesitate” among various possible directions of evolution. Even little
fluctuations in subsystems combine through positive feedback loops, becoming
strong enough to shatter any pre-existing organization. In chaos
theory, this crucial moment is known as bifurcation. At this point,
the disorganized system either disintegrates into chaos, or leaps to a
new higher level of order or organization. Through this means, order
arises spontaneously from disorder through self-organization. Healing
is an ever-present potential.
The Edge of Chaos. When a system is far-from-equilibrium,
the slightest flux can be amplified into structure-annihilating waves.
Chaos Theory helps us think in terms of these fluctuations, feedback amplification,
dissipative structures, and bifurcations. Chance plays its role at
or near the point of bifurcation, after which deterministic processes take
over once more until the next bifurcation. Thus, nonequilibrium,
the flux of matter and energy, is a source of order. The highest
mean fitness is at the phase transition between order and chaos.
Complex adaptive systems adapt to and on the edge of chaos. In CRP
all the action lies in going just beyond the boundary from the known and
comfortable into the fear, pain, and challenge.
Chaotic Consciousness. There is a fundamental field of unstructured
consciousness prior to energy or form, the bornless field. A return
in the journey to this state evokes spontaneous healing and creative self-reorganization.
At the quantum level, strange attractors influence the emergence of consciousness
and its interactions with other fields to create the essence of self and
external reality. In Bohm’s model, consciousness can be either enfolded
as potential structure or a field, or it can be manifested or unfolded
as structure in the space-time universe. In enfolded or potential
form, it is outside of space-time reality.
Autopoietic self-organization; creativity and self-actualization.
Human EEG shows significant fractal structure, suggesting the brain inherently
resides in a state of self-organized criticality, where a small stimulation
can set it into fluctuation where the response distribution is fractal.
In CRP therapy, small changes in this process result in whole person changes
in a healthier direction. This process is creative; healing is biological
creativity. Freud made the discovery that when man could overcome his fears,
face his pathology, and seek to comprehend it, he grew healthier.
Rollo May was among the first to carry this insight further: when we willingly
choose to face our being in the same manner, seeking to comprehend it,
allowing awareness of its terrors, passions and transiency, we become most
truly human and self-actualized.
Emergence. Central to any understanding of consciousness and
the brain, emergence is a process by which order appears “spontaneously”
within a system. When many elements are allowed to mingle, they form
patterns among themselves as they interact. When the mind lets go
of its rational order and enters into unstructured chaos it emerges later
with a new structure.
Placebo Effect. Medicine is just beginning to use the mind-body
connection for healing. By giving a dummy drug at least 30% of patients
experience the same pain relief as with true painkiller. The same
pain-killing “pill” can stop gastric secretion in ulcer patients, lower
blood pressure or fight tumors, for instance. But this effect requires
no “pill” to initiate spontaneous healing; the pill itself is meaningless.
The body has the ability to produce any biochemical response once the mind
has been given the appropriate suggestion, which is converted into the
body’s intention to cure itself. We can bypass the deception of the
sugar pill and directly to the intention, (Chopra, 1989,1993; Weil).
Dreams/REM. Dreams are complex dynamic systems; they embody
the very nature of chaos. They are uncensored messages from the twilight
zone of chaos-order and communicating with us at the most basic sensory
levels imaginable. Dreaming reflects a pivotal aspect of the processing
of memory, and helps us form strategies for survival and adaptation.
They are complex, incorporating self-image, fears, insecurities, strengths,
grandiose ideas, sexual orientation, desire, jealousy, and love.
Their unusual character is a result of the complex associations that are
culled from memory. When the mentored recalls a dream thread, it
facilitates reentering REM for the rest of the journey.
We have concluded that training is a preferred mode of treatment.
Training is a systematic means for increasing the quantity and quality
of responses in a skill area. In training, the mentor uses his or
her other skills to develop the experiential base for learning--in a helpful
way. The mentor presents him or herself as the model who exhibits
the skills the mentored is to emulate and perhaps enhance.
A person has a response to his situation and adopts a posture and style
designed to cope with the situation as he sees it from his point of view.
Some of these situations are “intolerable” and person’s “invent” a “way
out” in order to survive or “live through” at all. How the person
sees his situation and how he invents a way to survive informs both notions
of health and pathology.
The treatment approach of Chaosophy has deep roots in traditional and contemporary
psychodynamics. It encompasses, but is not limited to Freudian, Jungian,
Existential-Humanistic, Gestalt, transactional analysis, family systems
therapy, transpersonal psychology and Chaos Theory.
In practice, it is equally rooted in the spiritual traditions and shamanism,
exemplified in the Journey process, centrality of dreams or altered states,
co-consciousness, and the initiatory aspects of CRP therapy, (Swinney and
Miller, 1992; Swinney, 1997). CRP depends on the mentor being willing
to allow himself to reach out toward, and to be intimately at one with
More than the sum of their parts, we have woven together the many threads
into one fabric, including the importance of libido and dreams from Freud;
the power of the deep consciousness journey, the transpersonal, and individuation
of Jung; the developmental theories of family systems; the empowering existential-humanistic
philosophy; and the potent empathic and rapport techniques of encounter
from Gestalt therapy and intimacy of transactional analysis; with the spiritual
perspectives of transpersonal psychology. In Chaos Theory we found
a contemporary model for the turbulent processes of human life and the
natural healing process.
This paper is not intended to be exhaustive, but only to provide the roughest
skeleton and clues for further study. It only addresses the rudiments
of the psychotherapeutic background of CRP, not the scientific models nor
the shamanic models which are the other legs of the tripod upon which CRP
rests its philosophy.
Your Own Construction of the Counseling and Psychotherapy
1. What is your overall worldview, and how does it
relate to the Consciousness Restructuring Process? Have you carefully
elaborated your worldview and its implications for your practice?
2. What are the central dimensions of your definition
of ethical practice?
3. As you think about each of the empathic concepts
(rapport, co-consciousness, empathy), what is your personal construction
of their meaning. What sense do you make of them?
4. With which microskills and concepts do you feel
particularly comfortable? Which have you already mastered, and which
need further work so they can actually be used in a session?
5. How do you make sense of the focusing concept?
How might you choose to focus your interventions, choosing CCRP or more
traditional therapies? Can you focus on individuals, family context,
and the multicultural surround?
6. What is to be your position on research and keeping
up with new ideas?
7. What theories of counseling and therapy appeal to you?
What type of integration of these diverse theories are you moving toward.
From what approach do you personally plan to practice, and what type of
continuing education do you see for yourself in the future?
8. How many of these practical counseling and clinical
exercises have you completed and with what level of mastery? Have
you practiced varying styles, established a ‘clinical portfolio’ on which
you can build for the future? Taking theory into practice is where
one finds if it “works”, where one truly integrates theory and skills and
makes them part of one’s being.
9. Have you examined how your personal developmental
history in family and culture affects your answers to the above questions?
10. How do you continue to reflect on yourself
and how your personal history and present life issues affect your performance
as a counselor or therapist? Do you continue to participate in your
own therapeutic processes; what is your developmental goal; how are your
concepts of well-being, disease, pathology, healing, and “cure” evolving?
APPENDIX I: GROUP COUNSELING
Group counseling can be an adjunct to CRP, allowing individuals
to interact in a therapeutic setting with others to further discovery and
practice life skills. Dyer and Vriend (1977) outline twenty assumptions
underlying effective group counseling as follows:
1. Each individual is more important than the collective.
2. The leader is not a member of the group.
3. Group counseling is for everyone.
4. A counseling group has no group goals.
5. Counseling individuals in groups is not only permitted:
it is necessary.
6. Group interaction is not a goal unto itself.
7. The counselor does not seek to heighten natural
pressures inherent in a group.
8. A counseling group is not a confessional.
9. Gripe sessions, focusing on outsiders, having conversations,
and focusing on topics constitute inappropriate group counseling content.
10. What goes on in a counseling group is privileged
11. Group members speak for themselves in a counseling
12. Feelings are not emphasized over thoughts in counseling
13. Group cohesiveness is not a group counseling goal.
14. Session-to-session follow-up is an integral part
of group counseling.
15. In every group counseling session, one or more
members received specific counseling help.
16. In group counseling there is no positive correlation
between member comfort and effectiveness.
17. Negative emotions are neither bad nor avoided in
18. There is no agenda in group counseling.
19. All behavior in counseling groups is neutral; it
is neither “good” nor “bad.”
20. Effectiveness in group counseling is measured by
what goes on outside the group.
APPENDIX II: THE WHOLE PERSON
1. The only consistency for the whole person is
2. Creativity and honesty are a way of life for
the whole person.
3. Although the way the whole person lives his or
her life is seen by others to be too dangerous, too intense, and too profound,
he or she is in tune with the fact that his or her real risk involves living
life without risk.
4. The whole person realizes that life is empty
5. The whole person realizes that whatever he or
she does is worth doing fully and well.
6. The whole and creative person functions at a
high energy level.
7. The whole person comes to the realization that
few men or women are large enough or whole enough to nourish and love the
8. The whole person is fully aware that any significant
human relationship is in the process of deepening or deteriorating.
9. The whole person realizes that most men and women
say “yes” out of fear of the implications of saying “no,” and that most
say “no” out of fear of the implications of saying “yes.”
10. The whole person is fully aware that in order
to live life in such a way that it is a continuous learning and relearning
process, he or she must periodically burn bridges behind him or her.
11. The whole person realizes that he or she is,
and must be, his or her own pathfinder, and travel a road never traveled
12. The whole person does not fear living intensely.
13. The whole person is prepared to face the implications
of functioning a step ahead or above most of those with whom he or she
comes into contact.
14. The whole person is aware that for most people
life is a cheap game.
15. The whole person is fully aware that many of
society’s rewards are designed to render the creative impotent.
16. The whole person realizes that to emerge within
the acceptable levels tolerated by society means institutionalization.
17. The whole person realizes that he must escape
traps in order to render him or her impotent.
18. The whole person is aware of the awesome responsibility
that comes with freedom.
19. The whole person understands fully that unconscious
motives are the inventions of the weak and cowardly.
20. The whole person knows that he or she can develop
his or her own direction if he or she is willing to pay any price to grow.
21. The whole person understands that most are conditioned
to confuse process or promises with outcome.
22. The whole person knows that cruelty is the result
of being convinced that you cannot deliver anything of value to yourself
or to others.
23. The whole person understands that incompetence
is a diversionary tactic to cover for childish impulses.
24. The whole person knows he or she must nourish
what is growing or it will not grow. He or she also knows that if
he or she does not destroy when necessary, he or she will not grow.
25. The whole person knows that if he or she falters
or does not act upon his discrimination, the weak grow strong.
26. The whole person understands that the complete
person can respond as fully as one of the other gender and they can initiate
27. The whole person knows that we know all there
is to know about psychopathy when we realize it is the preoccupation with
28. The whole person knows that honest work makes
the irresponsible painfully anxious.
29. The whole person knows that the work he does
that yields a product helps him grow.
30. The whole person values truth above all else.
31. The whole person understands the implications
that crisis often serves to assist efforts to avoid truth.
32. The whole person knows that the first and last
crisis for everyone is whether or not to work with the truth. (Carkhuff
and Berenson, 1977).
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THE INSTITUTE FOR APPLIED CONSCIOUSNESS
File Created: 11/19/00 Last Updated: 3/6/01
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