Emotion-Image Therapy

EmotionImage therapy (EIT) is a new method of psychotherapy, which addresses any chronic negative emotional state of the person. It is analytically effective therapy. The main idea of EIT is that every emotion and feeling can be expressed in an image and then through careful analytic interpretation and specifically chosen action we are able to resolve the initial psychodynamic conflict, which transforms an emotional state of the person.

Below are some articles about Emotion-Image Therapy:

  • Emotional Image Branch in Psychotherapy.
  • Working with Inner Child in Emotional-Image Therapy
  • Emotional Dependence Correction by Means of Emotional Image Therapy
  • What is Anger and How to Cope with It?
  • Some cases of using the Emotional-Image Therapy in the process of solving the problems associated with the Inner Child
  • Emotion-Image Therapy as a method of a dialogue
    with an unconscious nature of a human

Emotional Image Branch in Psychotherapy.

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2008, №1 (1), pp. 71—76

Linde Nikolay, Ph.D (Psychology), Professor of the Board of Psychology and Acmeology, Moscow State Humanitarian University, member of the Professional Psychotherapeutic League, Moscow, Russia. e-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

An article describes the author’s personal method of Emotional Image Therapy (EIT). General scheme of the work of solving psychological problems by means of this method is provided, as well as the list of possible spheres of application of this method are suggested. Practical examples are provided; the most interesting cases in dealing with images are described.

Key words: psychotherapy method, Emotional Image Therapy.

Method of Emotional Image Therapy (EIT) is being developed by the author since approximately 1990; first publication in 1994 being a manual “Meditative Psychology” [1]. Later the name of the method had been changed into the modern one, because it is closer to the essence of practical applications and theory, used in the framework of this therapeutic modality.

Emotional Image Therapy outcomes from the complex of theoretical statements and psychotherapy devices, part of which make it closer with other modalities (gestalt therapy, symbol drama, etc.). Together, these theories and methods make up an entire and separate area, having its own advantages and new possibilities. EIT uses an original scheme of creating subjective images of emotional states, actually experienced by the individual, based first of all on psychological expressions of these states. Further there is analysis of the clients’ problem using the given image. And then work is conducted according to the mental influences on the image with the goal of transforming negative into positive emotions which allows resolving an internal conflict. The resolution of the internal conflict brings an issue to the external conflict, behavioral changes, as well as mental state of the client.

EIT method combines advantages of subtle analytical methods allowing determining quickly and accurately the true reasons of undesireable symptoms with the possibility of effective treatment thanks to influencing the causes by working with those images. Therefore, the EIT is not symptom, but casual therapy, the therapist goes after the causes and gives an accurate psychological diagnosis, that will allow him to apply accurate and dosed influences on the images and through it on the emotional state, blocking adequate issue of the problem. The analysis is of deep personality conflicts in the given technique usually is done successfully, easy and quickly, thought influences on the image allows to double-check and verify the primary hypothesis.

Even S. Freud mentioned that the dream analysis is the “tsars’ way” to psychoanalysis. In this instance emerging images are spontaneously used to represent a visual form of concrete emotions. Therefore this image immediately shows the causes of these emotions and can serve as a means to influence it. The theory of EIT confirms that namely several chronic emotional states support the discussed problem that is why correction of this experience through the work with images, makes it possible to resolve the problem as a system of adaptation devices in general.

Example 1. During the workshop a psychologist asked me to help her to get rid of claustrophobia. “It is not that bad, but there are no doors in my apartment”. The problem occurred after the child’s birth. Baby had been frequently sick during the first year of life. I suggested to her to imagine herself being locked in some closed area, e.g. a room and to describe her feelings. She responded that even now, while imagining, she felt agitated with her hands shaking and tachycardia symptoms evident. It was hard for her to remain in such condition. Then I’ve suggested to her to imagine the image of this feeling located right in front of her. Promptly she said that it was a small drumming hedgehog. It might sound ridiculous- how come claustrophobia might be a small hedgehog with a drum? Although, hedgehog is always an image of a male, and a small hedgehog is a boy. I’ve asked her: “You have a son, don’t you?” The answer was yes. It became obvious to me that her maternal anxiousness for her sickly child had been the reason of claustrophobia, where she was unable to control situation. “A drum” – it’s her heart, which is anxious for the “hedgehog” being the reason of tachycardia.

I’ve suggested to her: “In your thoughts, could you tell the hedgehog that you allow it to be healthy and independent and not to look for your support”. She repeated it several times, feeling great relieve. Pretty soon she was able to imagine that the hedgehog left his drumsticks, and went to another room to play with its toys there… Her tachycardia had quit, her hands stopped trembling. Checkout by imagining herself in the closed area showed absolute tranquility, no signs of claustrophobia. The next day she had confirmed the result.

Comments. This example shows how easily the reason of phobia might be determined by this method. This is being proved by the simplicity of solving the problem. As physicians say:” Bene diagnostics- bene medebitur”. That was EIT approach to this case. If it were symptomatic therapy approach, the patient would be recommended relaxation, or even worse, the she might be suggested using sedatives. It would be useless, as both recommendations didn’t interact with the reason of phobia.

Mental influence of the client on his/her personal subjective images coincides with the desired and psychologically adequate solution of the internal problem, for which the devices of EIT are used (there are more than 30 of them, the list is being expanded). These devices are suggested by the therapist to the client sometimes being explained, sometimes not. But they are useful only in the case when the structure of the internal conflict is absolutely clear to the therapist. This method, if sincerely fulfilled by the client, solves the conflict entirely.

In the group work using EIT method, as well as in individual work, both the widely known and new exercises are used for producing and further analysis of the images (about 40 original exercises). E.g., the group members were recommended to listen to sounds of their bodies, to imagine how the water flows through it, to see the sense of their lives and to get united with it, to make a flight to oneself, to return the feelings lost, to enter the circle of happiness, etc.

All mentioned above gives an opportunity to say that EIT method is an independent device of therapeutic work, although the interpretation of images frequently coincides with the frames of classical therapeutic theories. EIT method uses the notions and logics of individual psychology of A. Adler, analytical psychology of K. Young, theories of V. Raykh, transactional analysis of E. Burne, gestalt therapy of F. Pearls, and other concepts. This means EIT method allows to combine in one multimodal system of different and even self exclusive theoretical models by using of one or another model, sometimes both simultaneously, depending of the nature of the internal conflict, expressed in the images of emotional conditions.

EIT method might be used for solving wide scope of therapeutic problems. It is broadly used for corrections of different types of psychosomatic problems (e.g. headaches, heart and muscular pains, allergies [9], neurodermitises, etc.), phobias, different emotional problems, obsessions, lallatations, anaclisises, posttraumatic conditions, problems of grief and losses, character’s corrections.

It is successfully used in helpline [16]. The method helps to cope with the problem of helpline professionals’ occupational fading. It opens wide scope of opportunities on correction of children’s psychological problems, when the work is preceded not with the child itself, but with the parent. Solving parent’s problem automatically causes correction of kid’s problem [18]. This method can not be recommended for using with psychotic patients, although there are attempts to use it in such cases.

An accent of this style is alteration of psychological state of the client right now and here, in real time. Of course, such quick results might be obtained only when the method, used by the client, really relives him/her of primary emotional stagnation and is used sincerely and in full range. Please find two examples, illustrating the idea, as well as emotional image therapy style in general.

Example 2. On one of the workshops I’ve suggested to the students to monitor the way I was working. A student asked me to help her solving her psychosomatic problem. She felt constant severe back pain, which caused sleeping problems. Medicals were unable to help her.

I’ve suggested to her to imagine the image of this pain. She saw it as a huge spider, sitting on her back. As far as spider is normally a symbol of a male, I had made a guess, that she might have some serious problem with a man. It turned that her boyfriend was a drug addict, and she was doing her best to safe him from this addiction. She is making attempts to separate from him, but fails. We had tried different maneuvers for her to get rid of the spider, but nothing worked to relieve her from this anaclisis.

She realized that she would be unable to safe the boyfriend him anyhow, and that she was sacrificing her health and her future, but somehow she “couldn’t” let him go. Then I’ve suggested to her to answer in the name of this spider “Whether he needed to be saved and to be pulled somewhere on somebody’s back?” Answering to this question, the girl realized that he actually didn’t need it. Immediately she was able to relieve the spider, it disappeared. The pain resolved immediately that same moment. That night she quit with the addicted boyfriend. Some time later she had met another man, got married, gave birth to a child and was happy. She never again have been suffering (at least for the past 4 years) from back pain. She told me this story four years after the session, when I completely forgot about it.

Comments. It is obvious, that the student couldn’t separate from her boyfriend due to false understanding of obligation; she had been waiting for a miracle, and afraid of being responsible for his failure. That was the reason of why she didn’t use the suggested devices sincerely. After talking in the name of “a spider”, she realized, that he didn’t deed to be rescued, and his future downfall was predetermined by his own wish, and she couldn’t be responsible for it. She realized that she was carrying him on her back against his will. This direct recognition, which couldn’t be achieved by any therapist’s arguments, allowed her to let this person go and stop stretching her back for his rescue. That is why her back pain had stopped immediately and she never had felt it again. She managed to quit with her boyfriend, and get rid of emotional addiction and false obligations.

A lot of examples might be suggested, we would like to show just one more.

Example 3. A forth year student told that she was feeling an urge demand to quit studying. She fetches any reason not to attend classes, but she can’t realize why this happens. Meantime she wants to get higher education, and she likes her major. I’ve suggested to her to imagine the power which stops her from studying. “Power” told her that it was “possible to live without higher education…” I’ve asked her whether anybody told her this in her childhood. She recollected that her grandmother used to tell her that she didn’t graduate from the university, as she had quit after the forth year. She thought it was possible to leave without higher education. Grandmother had had three kids, two of them quit studying, and the third one never even tried to enter a university…

I’ve suggested to the student to imagine her granny and to tell her: ‘Grandmother, I’ve graduated from the university, I am good specialist, and I am happy”. She did what I’ve told her and “saw” her grandmother being very angry, and herself feeling guilty. This feeling “stacked” in the diaphragm area and made it difficult for her to breath. “O, my God! It’s my asthma!”- She said.

I’ve suggested to her to dismiss her feeling of gilt (the device of getting rid of emotions with the help of fake sound). On doing it she started breathing with her full lungs, as she never managed to do before. ”I just enjoy breathing!” she said. I’ve asked her to repeat the same words to her grandmother. She did and said that grandmother was angry again… But the student didn’t feel herself guilty, she didn’t care: ‘It’s her problem now, if she wants to be angry, she can be!”

The girl kept studying and graduated successfully. Several times she told me how freely she breathed and how happy she was to do that.

Comments. It’s clear that in this case we face parent’s instruction “don’t be success” (E.Burne), which the student had got from her grandmother. The girl had been experiencing the false feeling of guilt for her desire to be success and to “overstep” grandmother. This feeling blocked not only her desire to get higher education, but also her open breath, being universal restriction for her activity. Escape from her quilt, made her free of the previously adopted instruction, so she managed both to breath and to study. All this had happened at the moment of total escape from the sense of quilt, which makes us to think that so called parents’ instructions are being kept in child’s psychics only due to the permanent emotional restraint.

Now let’s get back to the main theoretical postulate of EIT. It presumes that the reason of any psychological problem is some basic emotional restraint on some desire, or on some false obstacle, which hinders its achievement (see more in [10]). That is why all the work performed in EIT is aimed on the search of this restraint and escape of it by different actions with image of the emotion, restraining the problem. Escape of the restraint immediately releases the subject and it becomes evident in his psychosomatic state.

All known therapeutic theories differ from each other primarily in nominating different reasons of emotional restraint (traumas, sexual desires, inferiority complex, parents’ instructions, et. al.)

Therapeutic Activity Scheme

1. Clinical counseling. As well as in the other trends of therapy, before the work on changing the condition starts, the therapist gets acquainted with the patient, clarifies the problem, gets the history and ties up a contract. All these principles are well known and described in literature. The outcome of counseling should be clear definition of some notional symptom: feeling or condition, which the client treats as unwanted, causing him sufferings. The problem situation, inside of which this symptom occurs, is also determined during the first session. In the further process the therapist might get back to the counseling, if some circumstances or desires of the client become unclear.

Already on this stage the therapist should get the primary speculation of the structure of the problem i.e. of impulses, which should be realized, and of preventing obstacles. Those who study the method should get acquainted with different models, which explain the nature of the problems from the standpoint of one or another concept, and with the methods, revealing the real nature causing negative psychological symptoms. They are taught “to read” the images produced by the client. If they fail to interpret them, they should be aware of methods, which will decipher the image.

2. Clarification of the symptom. First, on this stage symptom should be clear and its psychosomatic manifestations are being evident. It means that if the feeling is not realized by the client, the therapist enforces it, makes it obvious, and determines its nuances. In such cases the client is suggested to imagine the situation in which he/she normally feels unwished symptoms. Second, it should be clarified how this feeling or state is expressed somatically (where and how). Third, the relationship between certain situation and psychological manifestation of the symptom must be established. This stage is based on the theory that every feeling exists in the body, not in the air, and that psychosomatic expression of the feeling better reveals its nature, than just verbal notion. E.g., a client might say that he/she feels fear, but the psychological expression might reveal anger, as it locates in diaphragm and is being felt as severe tension. In this case it is worse while to know possible localization of feelings by Raykh.

If the feeling is poorly recognized by the client, he/she might be recommended to imagine the situation, in which this feeling is being experienced. This makes him/her experience the basic situation pretty clearly. But one should remember, that some past situations might be shocking for an individual, because a deaden feeling becomes vivid again, and he/she fails to cope with the situation. There are several devices which help to cool the passions, and meantime not to suppress the basic condition to be able to work with it. For instance, dissociation method might be used (it’s when the client is suggested to tell what is being happen to him/her as if he/she might be outfacing himself/herself).

The necessity of determining psychological correlations of the feelings is based on different reasons. When the individual describes where in the body and how he/she feels, he/she gets better understanding of it. He/she starts to understand that the feeling exists in his/her body and nowhere else. Besides, on describing feelings, client uses the terms “ like squeezed by screws”, “as if burning nail is stacked”, “ as if I am being cut with sharp knife”, “ a clot prevents me from breezing”, “ it’s a fog in front of my eyes”, “ a wall doesn’t let me”, “ I feel disgusting as if I am a pile of mud”, etc. This is how client eventually comes up to the next stage.

3. Composition of the image. Now the client is suggested to imagine the feeling (the symptom) in the shape of an image, located on the chair in front of him/her or just in the air (sometimes it might be different location of the image: inside the body or around it).

It seems that this device of transition from psychosomatically expressed feeling to the image itself seems something fantastic and impossible. But it is the most important innovation of EIT method. Client is recommended not to think thoroughly: “the first thing which came to your mind is good…” This instruction works for appearance of spontaneous, the unconsciously made images, which are really informative from the standpoint of the analysis of the problem and its correction. If the client spends time for thinking, it becomes suspicious that he/she is suppressing the primarily gotten image and is trying to make up something “better.” In this case the image might be false and expressing the reluctance to get therapy. But this also might be used to reveal the truth. As soon as we understand the reason of the defense, we could reveal the issue which is defending itself from recognition.

Normally, the visual image is used, but sometimes the audio-, kinesthetic, or osphoretic sources also might be used. Some clients feel difficulties on producing the images, these usually being a sign of impedance in realization of one’s problems. Or the tension and lack of full trust to the therapist. Also, it might be based on the thesis that a person might to think only in terms of formal logic.

With such clients the preliminary relaxation training might be useful. Or they might be suggested to express their feeling in drawing, which sometimes sounds easier for them. With some of the clients it’s worse while to discuss the issues of their worries and the issue of trust to psychotherapist, the others need, like in psychoanalysis, their personal resistance to be clarified.

4. Restraint check-up. Under the term “Restraint” we mean emotional-energetic connection between the image and the state of the subject. If this connection really exists, then the changes in the image might bring to the changes in the client’s condition (e.g. enlargement of the size of the image might call the enforcement of the negative condition and vice versa).

In most cases such check -up is not needed, we rarely use it, but sometimes it gives an opportunity to better determine the problem. For instance, the client had been complaining that she was feeling fear in new companies. These fear looked like a disgusting toad. The toad itself didn’t call up severe emotions. I’ve recommended her to enlarge the toad in its size. Finally, the toad became huge, put one paw on the client’s throat and started to strangulate her. The client felt unconscious. Later it was clarified that it had been connected with her past conflict with her father, when he tried to strangulate her being in fury.

5. Research of the image. The image is should be investigated from the standpoint of feeling characteristics (size, form, color, etc.), from the standpoint of functions (what does it do for the client), and from the standpoint of the attitude (what is the subject’s attitude to the image and vice versa).

The image itself contains tremendous amount of information, which the therapist is supposed to know how to read. On this stage therapeutic hypothesis might be crucially revised.

Not all of the images might be directly deciphered, in correlation with the real knowledge about the client’s problem and the circumstances of his/her life it is not that difficult to understand its meaning. There are famous psychoanalytical interpretations, e.g., a snake is a symbol of penis. Also, one can find useful information in the Leyner’s imaginative therapy. But, the author also managed to add to the list some “deciphered” images. E.g., image of the rock always presumes an authoritative parent; images of emptiness presumes suppressed feelings; image of the dirt means prohibited feelings; clouds and fog – unshed tears; needles mean critics or self critics, etc. A short list of images and its interpretations one can find in [10].

But the most important is the dialog with the image, when a client mentally is asking it questions (tipped by the therapist), and answers in behalf of it, as if the image exists in reality like a fairy tale personage. Sometimes the client switches the places with the image and becomes it, talking in its name. All this is being possible because the image symbolizes some certain part of the clients’ personality. The client is definitely aware if it, but he/she doesn’t realize and investigate it. Sometimes even two or more images exist simultaneously, and the analysis switches from one to another, when it becomes needed from the standpoint of the leading hypothesis. It might last until the hypothesis becomes confidence and the therapist brings the client to actual awareness of the basic emotional conflict. At this moment the therapist realizes what therapeutic device he/she might use in order to help the client to solve the basic conflict.

On this stage the analytical part of the EIT work is finished, but it is presumed that the therapist might get back to it if needed.

6. Transformation. Here one or more devices of transformation of the image might be used (see more in [10]. The most frequently used are: mental actions with the image, communication or expression of the feelings, counterwork with double image, paradox resolution, conversion of the energy, etc. (see below). Transformation is always used in accordance with the structure of the psychological problem, in view of ecological clearance of the result. The goal of transformation is to change emotional condition, which causes the problem, and not just compose new images. Mechanical changes of images will not be success.

7. Integration of the image and personality (identification).This method is also the original innovation of EIT. If the desired condition of the subject is obtained, it is needed for this subject to anticipate the gotten positive image into his/her body and to integrate with it. Or the client might establish any other type of positive relationships. E.g., if in the course of therapy the client’s image of him/herself changed from a small and humiliated one into a strong and self-confident person full of energy, the client is suggested to switch a chair and become that strong and self-confident person, i.e. to identify him/herself with the image.

This stage gives us opportunity to make positive condition stable and adopted by the individual him/herself. It’s our body which contains our emotional condition, and adoption of the image in one’s body helps the client to better feel his/her new condition and to get used to it. In some cases the client refuses to adopt the changed image, this might be the reason for further investigation of his/her psychological problems.

But it should be mentioned, that one should not mechanically implement new images into the body. Some naïve students, who had heard something about the method, tried to adopt the image of Mercedes into their bodies! It is obvious that the person should adopt the feeling, symbolized by image, but not the image itself.

8. Situational check-up. If the subject would imagine the situation which had caused negative condition, and this condition would not show up again, this might be the criteria of transformation success. In practice, the check- up reveals that this imaginative check- up is fully identical to the real situations. What happens in imagination happens in real life. In rare cases, when the individual solves the problem in his imagination, but fails to do it in reality, it turns out that he/she is lying to him/herself and to the therapist, or that there are additional reasons to suffer. This needs for him/her additional work.

The client might also be recommended to imagine some future situations, and their success due to the obtained condition. This will work both as a means of follow up, and as a device of spreading the achievements of the therapeutic séance in the real life of the person.

The main goal is to realize how sincere and serious the client is accepting the changes. Some of them say that they had achieved the most desirable condition and would never let it go. Some just pretend to agree. Those results would not be stable. It should be determined what the client is not happy with, and the negative results corrected.

9. Ecological check up. Negative side effects should be ruled out. If no side effects, the result should be anchored. The client should be asked whether he/she were not against the achieved changes, does he/she feels uncomfortable, etc.

10. Confirmation. The subject is suggested to put an internal anchor, i.e. to make a deal with the achieved condition. The therapist should ask: “Do you agree with the changes which had been achieved?” If the client agrees, the second question would be “Would you like to keep these changes forever?” If the client is fully satisfied with the changes, one must be sure that these changes will last in future. If the work is supposed to be continued, the achieved results would become the basis for the future changes.

In practice, if the case is evident, some of these stages could be avoided.

EIT has its benefits, which provide positive results in a short timeframe. Therapeutic process looks like a logical consequent series of questions, focused on the image. The client answers on behalf of this image. The metaphysics of the actions is produced simultaneously, same with additional images, etc. If needed, the therapist analyses the real life situations, which had caused the initial conflict and recommends making some additional images, etc.

The main thing is that the work with image gives an opportunity not only to realize something, but also to change “it”.

1. Feeling related to the problem situation exactly reflects restrained emotional energy, which somehow can’t be implemented.

2. Feeling, being expressed somatically is the most reliable source of the essence of the problem. Words may lie, but not body.

3. Going through the problem via images is more reliable to the client, than verbalization of it. Insight can be achieved much easier with the help of images. Unexpected image changes due to some actions are very powerful validation.

4. Projection of the image on the chair or just in the space provides dissociation of the subject and the feeling, expressed in the image. This makes transformation work easier.

5. Image expression of the feeling makes its status of something existing in reality. Client feels an urge need of doing something with it, to overwhelm an influence of this really active factor. Otherwise he/she feels that “it” would keep haunting, these being strong motivating factor.

6. Image gives a lot of additional information about the nature of the problem, which might be creatively used by psychotherapist. Having some practical skills, psychotherapist manages to immediately realize the true notion of the images, which help him/her tremendously in working with them.

7. Notional images exactly correlate with unconscious processes, subjective influence on the images being directly reflected on the content of unconscious.

8. Variety of methods used in working with images gives a therapist wide scope of deviations of primary condition. Original innovations in this sphere make it possible for quick and effective changes.

9. Dynamics of the image changes during the séances, as well as changes in the correlated emotional conditions, gives an opportunity to provide control of the results. Therapist has an opportunity to supervise the process until quality changes of condition are obtained and a problem is being successfully solved.

10. Somatising of the positive images gives opportunity to anchor the results. Thus, a client is being identified with positive condition.

11. A result of the therapy becomes visual immediately during the séance, if a client uses the right device of impact on the image.

12. Positive transformations are always reflected on the psychosomatic condition of the client, this being the demonstration of success.

Transformation devices of emotional condition with working on images.

There are a lot of therapeutic devices used for transformation of images and basic problem conditions, the new ones being created constantly.

Find the list of the more frequently used ones

1. Meditation. A client is recommended to concentrate on the negative parts of the images (visual, acoustic, kinesthetic, or osmotic). As a result, an image transforms by itself, with this transformation the negative emotional condition vanishing as well.

This device is used for correction of simple psychosomatic symptoms. E.g., a client is suggested to smell how the heart pain smells. As a result, the imagined smell evaporates, and the pain dissolves in 3—5 minutes. This device is used for getting rid of pains, tachycardia, spasms, etc.

2. Mental actions with images. An image, symbolizing some feeling might be presented to somebody, or gotten from somebody; a knot might be untangled, etc. First of all the notion of the image is crucial: a loaf of bread might be baked and eaten, or it might be thrown in somebody’s face.

3. Expression of feelings. A feeling might be expressed by a sound, flow of energy, or verbally… While expressing the feeling, an image would dissolve. This is how directed and controlled catharsis is provided.

4. Paradox resolution. During the analysis of the internal notion of the image it becomes clear what restrictions it is importing on the personality. A client is suggested to permit the image doing the same things to him/her. E.g., a client feels oneself imprisoned. He is recommended to give freedom to the prison… As a result, a prison disappears, and a client understands that he/she is free. He/she realizes that it was he/she keeping oneself in the psychological prison…

5. To play with dirt. This is devise used in dealing with denied feelings, which are normally expressed by the image of dirt. A client is suggested to put his/her hands into this “dirt” and to play with it as a child does. As a result dirt transforms into a personality’s positive resource.

6. Denial of incorrect actions. If the analysis reveals, that an image symbolizes a valuable part of the client’s personality, which is being suppressed and denied by the client, then he/she is recommended to tell this image that he/she would never do that again. Positive changes of the image and psychosomatic changes in patient’s condition confirm psychological actions.

7. Energizing of the image. A client is suggested to give a lot of mental energy to image, which would encourage its growth and development. It is crucial when an image symbolizes child’s onset of the client.

8. To return harm. This device is very helpful in working with rape victims, terrorist acts, any other harassment or violence. A client is recommended to imagine where in the body he is keeping the image of the harm. After it he/she is suggested to return it to the violator being polite and even thankful. The goal is to help the victim to stop identifying him/her-self with the caused harassment, which would lead to a quick rehabilitation.

9. Redistribution of the shares. The goal of this method is harmonization of the relationships and unification of contradictions. By forwarding the “shares”, it is possible to reconstruct the balance between dependable parts of personality (child and parent, etc.).

10. Energy conversion. Energy of the negative image, e.g. client’s anger or defense might be transformed into a positive form, which would feed the weak part of the personality, needing this defense. A mature part of personality does not need any defense mechanisms, as it solves the problems by itself.

11. Paradox intention method. This method had been initially invented by W. Frankl for correction of phobias or fixed states. The idea of it is that client is supposed to feel what he is afraid of. In EIT it means that client is suggested to touch the frightening image or to ask it to enforce its influence (e.g., “scream louder!”).

12. Method of contra-instruction. It is used in the cases when client had got a negative instruction from his parents. Client is suggested to imagine the parent or substitution image and to tell him/her something absolutely controversial to the gotten instruction. This is supposed to be repeated until a negative impact would not stop. Or the emotional reason for it would be revealed, which anchors instruction. After these additional devices are supposed be used (see example 3).

As it was already mentioned, there are no less than 30 different devises which are being used in EIT, but it is worse while to get acquainted with them in [1—20].

Differences of the other therapeutic trends

Close to EIT are symbol drama and gestalt therapy. Listed below are basic differences of these methods.

The difference between gestalt therapy and EIT is:

1. Gestalt therapy is focused mainly on the process of perception, and in this it is similar to psychoanalysis. The main goal of EIT is the change in the emotional condition, which determines the problem. From this standpoint, EIT is a psychodynamic therapy, using notions of classical psychoanalysis, A. Adler’s individual psychology, somatic therapy by W.Reich, transaction analysis by E.Burne and other concepts, even transpersonal ones, but the main theoretic idea being the basis of any problem are different “entrapped” emotional impulses.

2. The goal of gestalt therapy is to put a client at a stand, in order to make him/her make a breakthrough. EIT therapy believes that individual mostly makes harm to oneself, and that is why he/she would insist on the wrong solution. During discussion in EIT style we suggest some unknown to him/her philosophic principles, and push him/her to the right decision. In gestalt therapy it seems that it is unknown which decision is right, the choice being always done by client. In our paradigm the client’s freedom is also respected, but we have the right to lead him/her and to suggest solutions.

If the client is not happy with what he/she had changed in himself/herself according to our recommendations, he/she always has a right to get back to the previous way of life. We are looking not only for understanding, but for actual changes of the client. When he/she “tries” new condition, he/she can make his/her mind of what amendments should be made, or even to decide to get back to the old way of life. But usually the answer is obvious, because not to be afraid is much better than to be afraid, and to be kind is better than to be angry, etc.

3. Therapy in EIT is clearly divided into analytical and transformational, although in some cases transformation is needed for revealing the real reasons causing the problem. Often, transformation in EIT occurs without client’s recognition of what being a real source of the problem and what solutions might be gained. From this standpoint EIT is more directive method, then gestalt, but more soft as it gives better support and aims client directly to the goal.

4. In EIT it is used to make a contract with a client about the changes he/she would like to achieve, therapist making sure that the contract would be clear and realistic, as well as ecologically adequate. Result of the therapy is controlled by imagined critical situation and anchored by different devices. In gestalt therapy therapist’s position is – a client gets whatever he/she can get and wants to get, with therapist being not interested in the certain result. Result is not being checked in the imagined critical situation. In EIT a therapist is “fighting until the victory”, until the success at least on any intermediate stage, which usually is discussed with the client.

5. EIT stands on the position that emotions are psychological energetic processes. The goal of a therapist is not always release of the suppressed impulses, but more often reimbursement of wasted energy in the general energetic streambed. This is being achieved due to release of the energy, which had been dependant of previous decisions, wrong statements and expectations. These changes usually contradict with client’s contentions; that is why in EIT it is used to persuade or to “deceive” the client for him/her to realize how misleaded he/she had been. That is why in EIT interpretation and philosophic revelation often takes place after the process of transformation. In gestalt therapy there is no interpretation and client is not prompted with decisions.

Although EIT shares some principals of gestalt therapy and integrates in it some methodological methods of this trend, as well as gestalt therapy includes in it both the ideas of psychoanalysis, and some devices from psychodrama.

The difference between imaginative therapy by Leyner and EIT is that:

1. We do not work with certain preliminary modified motives (e.g. image of a flower, river, cave, etc.), but we determine initial emotional condition, based upon the problem. This condition manifests internal conflict. Later, by using different devises, used by client, we eliminate pathological emotional condition.

2. We work in psychosomatic ideology, i.e. we always determine not only emotion, but its somatic experience, and its image. We believe that emotion can not be understood without its somatic manifestation. First, we look for pathological emotion, then its somatic analysis is provided, and after it an image is constructed. All these are not random fantasies on the given topic, although, they might be used in group work. Working in this paradigm is more directed, than in Leyner’s system.

3. In this style a dialog and interaction with image as a real subject is performed. Client himself/herself speaks on behalf of the image, influences on it under the therapist supervision, sometime not being aware of therapist’s plot. Therapist realizes that work with emotional conditions and shares of personality are being conducted via image. Sometimes with the help of images a client is taught how to solve the problem of relationships. Approximately same type of activity can be found in gestalt therapy, mostly in interpretation of dreams, but the main goal of gestalt therapy is to make client recognizing. The rest is not under therapist’s responsibility.

In imagination therapy there is a big freedom for imagined actions, but at the same time there are six traditionally used devices: confrontation, transformation, feeding, reconciliation, magic liquor, exhaustion and murder. We are not going to criticize these devices, but we believe that devices used in EIT are much wider and more targeted on problem solving.

4. Therapist working with EIT discusses with a client collisions of client’s life meantime working with images and giving his/her interpretations of images. In EIT there a stage of the control check up of the results, stage of identification with positive image. Transformation of images is not spontaneous, but target oriented.

We could point out other small details in difference between EIT and gestalt therapy, symbol drama, and other trends of therapy. We also could point their similarities. EIT is not opposed to this or that trend, but admits itself as a part of the united therapeutic movement. But it has its own face, style and accomplishments.



Working with Inner Child in Emotional-Image Therapy

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2009, №1 (2), pp. 39—45

Nikolay D.Linde, Prof., PhD (Psychology), Professor of Moscow Humanitarian University, member of Board of Psychology and Acmeology, Moscow State Humanitarian University, member of Professional Psychotherapeutic League, Moscow, Russia. E-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

Article describes new resources of Emotional-Image Therapy in correction the problems related to deviations in Ego-states of Inner Child. Certain problems are mentioned which could have easier-to- find solutions with this method used. Examples based on author’s experience, are given alongside with methods which are used by the author in order to achieve quick and stable results.

Keywords: Inner Child, Emotional-Image Therapy.

”Inner Child” (IC) is a definition got from the theory of the transaction analysis by E. Berne [1]. Every person in any moment of his/her life is being in Parent, Adult and Child simultaneously and this is how he/she behaves with the other people. But Inner Child is the child which represents the person himself/herself. This child is invisible, but expressing the basic problems of self personalization. IC might be either happy or unhappy, depending on its personality’s attitude, and vice versa, what is its attitude towards personality, and what is its attitude towards itself. Also very important here is the attitude of the IC to itself. It’s emotional attitude of IC which presumes the basic emotional tone of personality, feeling of happiness or depression, self confidence or inutility, etc. IC might revenge the personality for something unknown, give it luck or failure, lead it to certain way of life and predefine choice of job, friends, spouse or attitude to person’s own children.

IC’s condition is predetermined of the certain conditions in the person’s childhood. The most important thing is what was the parents’ attitude to the child, what were verbal and non-verbal “instructions” he/she got from them, how they were interpreted by the child; what decisions had been made based on these “instructions”. Once established, the state remains in adults “by default” and an adult normally does not realize, how these states are being the cause of his chronic emotions, patterns of behavior and life strategy. IC preserves basic means of adaptation, which were chosen by the person in his childhood and is responsible for basic goals and grounds.

Now I would like to say a few words about the method itself. Emotional-Image Therapy (EIT) is comparatively new branch in psychotherapy, which has been developed by the author since 1990; it has a lot in common with gestalt therapy, and symbol drama, but at the same time it has its own features and peculiarities, which help to quick and effective problem solving. It seems that what the most important for this therapy is, its relationship between actual emotions and its verbiage. For this, a client is suggested to describe his/her experiences in problem situation, to find its physical correlations (where and how he/she feels it in the body), after which the client is suggested to imagine how do these feelings look like, as if they were on the chair in front of the client or inside his/her body. The client is also recommended to think spontaneously, like” say what first comes to your mind”.

It turned out that images (mostly visual, but sometimes audio, kinesthetic and osmotic) in this case contain a lot of additional information about the client’s problem. They are composed unconsciously, as images in dreams which are the objects of thorough interpretations of Sigmund Freud [2]. Also, based on client’s images, it is possible not only to analyze the process, but also to promote the correction of the basic problem by using different means of interaction between the client and the images, as if those images are real features. We can say that it’s a method of the direct dialog with unconscious.

Problem solving should not be performed automatically, but be relevant to genuine status of the revealed emotional conflict. Some problems, analyzed by EIT method, have a lot in common with problems raised in S. Freud‘s works, the others are more likely correlate with A. Adler’s theory [3, 4]; some might be described in terms of E. Berne’s transaction analysis [5]. In all the cases V. Raykh’s [6, 7] theories about blocking emotions with the help of muscular tensions are confirmed alongside with other theories.

In this article we would like to describe the effects received in combination of EIT method with theoretical basics of transaction analysis on Inner Child’s condition. There are a lot of psychologists, who have very vague idea of what this IC is. Everybody can talk about IC, but nobody can ‘try’ it. IC can’t be observed, it appears only in case when the client turns in the status of IC (in terms of psychoanalysis it is called regression) and expresses childish reactions and feelings. With EIT method the IC is more vivid, it is possible to have dialog with it and to establish new relationships, to solve its emotional problems, as if it is real individual, being at the same time integrated part of the client. In our practice it’s rather part of personality than Ego-state, but this contradiction with E. Berne’s theory is not an argument to be discussed in this article.

Our long-time experience with such cases makes it possible for us to make some conclusions and give a hint to other practicing psychologists’ solutions on many problems, which sometimes look like dead-end type.

That’s why we are going to describe some basic statements of EIT in working with IC and will recommend some methods for solving standard situations, using examples from our own practice.

We think it’s worth while to start with an example which will give an opportunity to make some conclusions and to indicate some important technical features of the job.

Ex. 1 “Disgusting Rat”

During the workshop a student asked for help in solving her problem. She complained of feeling powerless, apathy, but her major symptom was “stomach fear”. She had very unpleasant feelings in her stomach, like tension, which became worse when somebody tried to touch her, even if it was her boyfriend. She tried to combat with this feeling, and even made piercing on her bellybutton, but nothing worked. She also suffered of the thought that in future she will not be able to give birth (she was 20 years old, single). Let’s say her name was Katya.

I suggested that she pictured the image of this “stomach fear” on the chair in front of her. The answer was, it was disgusting dirty rat with a long tale. The rat wanted to eat something inside Katya’s stomach.

N.L.: Ask the rat, why is it doing it?

K.: For me not to exist at all…

N.L.: Why is it needed that you do not exist?

K.: It just wants me not to exist…

N.L. Why?

K.: Because I am odd, needless…

Comment. It is obvious, that the ‘rat’ is symbolizing the hidden attitude of the girl to herself. Very often such feelings appear under the influence of parent’s words or actions. In this case it is just a matter of learning how it had happened…

N.L.: Tell me, when and why did you start feeling yourself needless?

K.: Always. My parents didn’t want me to be born. I was an unexpected child and mom was going to make an abortion. I was the last child; they already had kids, and didn’t want more. And it was hard times; they were in lack of money. Although later, everybody loved me, and they do love me now, both mom and dad. But still, I am always trying to please them, as if to get authorization for living.

N.L.: (Addressing to the students’ auditorium). In theory it is called “Myth of Birth” and I’ve told you about it during my lectures. A child feels guilt for its birth “not in proper times’, or for “wrong birth”, which causes depression and suicidal attempts. Actually, Katya already expressed her desire not to exist…

K.: I am sorry to say, but it is true. And I realize that it’s bad idea.

N.L.: Would you like to get rid of this auto-aggression which is corporified in the image of the rat?

K.: Of course, I do. But I don’t know how…

N.L.: So, why not you tell the rat that you are not going to destroy, kick out, and deny it. Tell her that it is nice, that you adapt her being like it is; tell her that you need it.

Comment. By this time it became obvious that the rat symbolized an image of two Katya’s crucial problems. First, the fact that the rat was disgusting, presumed that the girl had negative feelings against herself, she felt that she was ‘odd and needless’. At the same time, the rat was a symbol of IC living in girl’s body. Second, what this rat was doing in Katya’s stomach was it was destroying it, making abortion (which is what her mother didn’t do); it was direct conveyance. It was obvious that Katya’s fear to be infertile started here. As far as the basic problem here was self denial, the goal was to overcome this emotional fixation. That was very important, but I didn’t want to go into details, for the sake of not losing the temper and causing her reluctance. In Katya’s mind, it was a ‘rat’, which hated her, that was why she was not reluctant to express her warm feelings to the ‘rat’, but what happened in reality was that by doing it Katya adapted herself back, returning to herself the feeling of necessity.

K.: Should I say it aloud or silently?

N.L. Silently would be better…. But tell me what happens to the rat while you telling it all that?

K.: (Working hard for several minutes). The rat is getting smaller.

N.L. How do you feel? Do you feel worse or better? How is your stomach?

K.: I am getting better…

N.L. Then keep saying it what you are saying…

K.: (After some internal work). Now it’s a puppy, not the rat.

N.L.: Do you like it?

K.: It’s cute.

N.L.: O! Your eyes are shining! How you feeling?

K.: (With embarrassing, but happy smile). I am fine. Somehow I even feel hot, as if some heat penetrated in me.

Comment. It’s her warm attitude to herself getting back to her, and she can feel it even on physiological level.

N.L.: Do you like this puppy? Do you want to adapt it forever as a part of your personality?

K.: Yes, of course!!!

N.L.: What do you feel in your stomach?

K.: Everything is fine! No tension at all. Warm feelings.

N.L.: Imagine somebody touching your belly, e.g. your boyfriend…

Comment. It’s a follow up of the changes occurred, using the supposed critical situation.

K.: (Shy). Everything is fine, no negative emotions or feelings.

N.L.: Do you want to keep these changes forever?

K.: Of course, I do

Comment. Client’s positive attitude is a sincere consentience for the results. Now it is possible to give explanations, it will not cause resistance.

N.L.: Now I would like to explain what had happened to you. The fact that you felt lonely and needless in your childhood caused the denial of your Inner Child. The Child automatically started the unconscious program on self destruction, aka abortion. That is why the child turned into the horrible aggressive rat, which was attacking your stomach, and the stomach reflexively became tense. This was the reason why you started to doubt that you might be fertile in future. Now, when you adapted your Child, and it became your friend, your auto aggressiveness was cancelled, your belly became normal. It’s it…

If you have any questions or if you doubt in the results, I am ready to proceed…

K.: No, I understand everything. I am feeling good, and I know that in future everything will be okay…. I’ve once consulted with the other therapist, and was very disappointed. Thanks a lot; I couldn’t even imagine that this might be possible.

N.L.: Great, the session is over.

In about two weeks I’ve asked her how she was feeling and she said everything was okay.

Comment. The session lasted for 15-20 minutes, and within these time frame the stonewall problem of Katya’s life had been solved. Her problem was self rejection, although she knew that her parents loved her, that’s why there was no need to work with her past life from the standpoint of her parents’ attitude to her. This approach would have made the work more sophisticated and would make changes in Katya’s emotional world more complicated, if even possible at all.

Several conclusions can be made out of this session (confirmed by other cases).

1. Image of IC appears spontaneously, as a response to request to imagine the discussed feeling. We never say:” Imagine your Inner Child!” IC state is often expressed in a symbolic form, which corresponds with emotional attitude of the client to himself/herself as a child.

2. Actions of IC correspond with childish decisions of the client, and his/her emotions are reactions on these decisions. “The rat” made abortion, and the girl felt fear in her stomach.

“Bad’ Child has bad behavior, and causes problems to individual him/herself.

3. Image behaves as a human being and changes, depending on mental activities of the client and of feelings, expressed by the client.

4. “Correct” changes in the client’s attitude towards himself/herself as a child lead to positive changes of IC’s image, and by these changes it becomes possible to trace the results of therapy.

5. The psychosomatic status of the client reflects situation when the IC becomes “nice” ; all negative symptoms fade being substituted by vivid positive experiences, which can be expressed by the word ‘happiness’. Results of the therapy are visible immediately.

6. If follow- up of the supposed critical situation confirms positive result, you may be sure that the session is a success.

7. The main goal of the session is that a client should become a good parent to himself/herself. In EIT it is achieved by paradoxical expressing nice feelings to “attacking” child.

Let us have a look at another example with similar basics.

Example 2. “Hoodoo”

Male, 40 years old asked for consultation. He believed that he was under hoodoo. He has been treated by several psychics spending a lot of money with no positive results. I’ve asked him how he felt he was under hoodoo. The answer was: ‘It is torturing me; it’s tearing my chest into pieces…” “What does it look like?” “It’s a horrible dragon, with huge teeth and claws, it is torturing me…” “Just do what I am saying, and I’ll explain everything later. Simply put your hand on the dragon’s head, pat it and say: “I know you are nice!”

A client did what he was recommended to and was very surprised saying that the dragon started crying! He was recommended to keep patting the dragon and to repeat saying to him that he was nice. In some short time the dragon transformed into a small child… It turned that the client had always felt that his mother didn’t love him. He even had asked her several years ago: “Mother, why didn’t you ever love me?” The answer was “I am sorry; son, but nobody loved me in my childhood. My heart turned into ice and I was just unable to love you.” This was what he got from her…

I explained to him that the dragon was his Inner Child, which was suffering itself, and this was why it tortured the man. The client was supposed to start loving this child, to take care of him, to become a real parent for him. When he did it, his hoodoo vanished, moreover, he felt “dizziness of happiness” and ‘flew away’. However, of course, the work with him was not over, the client had to show up several more times, and the work went on. It’s not always that one session is enough for this work with IC, usually it needs several sessions and very thorough work, although the reason of suffering is very simple: a mother, who didn’t love in childhood. It is very difficult to correct this situation; and it’s much easier to visit psychic than to touch basics with such painful emotions. Moreover, the person normally does not realize that his/her sufferings are due to the emotional state of his/her IC, although it is almost obvious.

IC might appear in the image of a sun, a pussycat, a hobgoblin, a broken doll, a jellyfish, a pirate, a dragon, a big soft stone, etc. It might be even the image of big wooden bobbin with a thick rope spooled! When the rope was unspoiled, and a bobbin received the energy, the bobbin turned into Pinocchio, and then into a child, and then into a client himself. As it turned out later, the rope was the symbol of the client, being wrapped up by his father’s authoritarian rising. As a result, the child was humiliated and “got stiffed”. It is a real issue of how to recognize that this or that image symbolizes an IC, and nothing else.

1. Image, which symbolizes the IC, has the same features of character, behavior and emotions as kids normally have.

2. Normally, it radiates energy, introversions and vigilance. It might be suffering when its energy is suppressed (usually it might be its parents who are doing it), but in all the cases it is a key point of all the problems discussed.

3. The goals to be ‘achieved’ by the image are irrational and correspond with typical childish needs and adaptations. E.g., it might seek for one’s attention or might be angry due to the lack of love, might be asocial, mechanical, isolated, offended, etc.

4. In order to reveal the true nature of the problem, the therapist must do some investigation and ask questions. The response will be in the name of the image. Various actions towards the image (e.g. stroking), alongside with relevant words, cause transformations in the image, and produce reactions which reveal its genuine essence. The client also can be suggested to switch the chairs with an image and speak about its feelings and emotions in its name.

Let us explain these concepts with two more examples.

Example 3. “The Rocks and the Sun”.

During the workshop, a student complained on suffering of severe headaches since she was an 8-year student. Since she learned about EIT, she and her friend decided to get rid of this headache using this method. The student imagined her brain and it seemed to her it was colored in black. By her friend’s advice, she started to repaint it in different colors. Being a mechanical approach to the problem, it was absolutely unsuccessful. While telling this story, a student still suffered of a headache.

Giggling at the innocence of the girl, I have proposed the girl to describe her headache. She said that it was something that tried “to break out” of the head, it looked like a rock, which wanted to crash out of the head and then to split into two parts. This image itself gave me the important information, as rock being a symbol of an authoritarian parent.

Following my advice, the girl allowed the rock to get out from her head. When she did, the rock divided into two parts. Giving no explanations, I suggested that the girl imagines something that is compressed by these rocks. The image was the little sun, which of course symbolized a little child. I asked the student to give as much energy to this sun as possible (method on enforcing the energy). After she gave this sun all energy she could, the two parts of the rock had completely moved apart, and then melted away, while the sun started to shine brightly. Girl’s eyes were also shining brightly, and she was surprised to confirm that she got rid of the headache.

Then I assumed that when she was an 8-year student, her parents started to scourge on her. The girl confirmed it was true, because it was time when her father passed away, (she was still missing him), and her mother and grandmother were both treating her strictly, for her to behave modestly. It became clear now why the rock had had two heads: it were the girl’s mother and grandmother.

Example 4. “Mischievous Devilkin”

This session took place during gestalt therapy séance. A young woman complained of severe allergy to cold. Her eyes and nose were itching; she was sneezing all the time with her eyes always getting red.

I suggested that she should recall these feelings (which didn’t occur in warm room), and imagine that they were sitting on the chair in front of her. I asked her “How did those feelings look like? Say first that comes to your mind…”

She started laughing and said that it was a small devilkin, which was tickling her inside her nose. It was doing it because it wanted to be played with, to be paid attention. It was obvious that it was her Inner Child, who wanted to play. The problem was that somehow she felt that it was “bad “devilkin. It was obvious that in her childhood she was not allowed to be a child as it was. She always was a serious ‘good girl’, she was not supposed to play as all the kids did, and she had to ‘do right things’. She even never bedraggled her dress in her childhood. She was still thinking that adults were always legitimate and affirmative people and children were always the ‘wrong ‘ones. That was the reason why she repressed her mischievous devilkin out of her consciousness.

Of course, I suggested that she adapts this mischievous devilkin, plays with it, and allows it to play as long as it wants to… It was very hard for her to do it. She felt that she was not allowed to play. Her parents’ instructions prohibited her from doing it. We “loaded” these instructions on the chair. Client’s right leg was “somehow” tugging, but she reined it her left leg. I asked her, what her right leg wanted to do. She said it was indecent… It took her a while to dare to boot the chair with all the parents’ taboos on it! Only after doing it she managed to get friends with the devilkin and to start playing with it. Immediately something happened with her nose, as if heat was flowing in it from somewhere, and it was so pleasant…

Let us formulate several more conceptions:

5. IC not always appears in the form of a symbol; it is very often that a client imagines a child as it is straight away and realizes that it’s him/her. E.g., a man saw an 18- month’s naked child whose body was red; the baby was extremely angry. He was angry with the man because he was not loved “due to him”. By psychotherapist’s advice, a man allowed his IC to express his anger, and then listened to him attentively; when the IC finished, the client’s body color returned back to normal. The man hugged the child and adopted him as a part of his personality. Immediately his diaphragm (where all his anger had been stored) relaxed, and his stomach started moving rhythmically. (See also an article on the phobias correction, and a case with Metro phobia [6]).

6. During a long-term work images of IC may appear again and again, and every time they will be different, as they will express different types of child’s problems, different traumas and means of adaptation.

7. Age of the imagined child coincides with the age of the client in which he/she had got the trauma, crucial for that moment. E.g., a young girl sees a three years old sad girl, and it turns that when she was three years old, her farther had left the family.

8. It should be differentiation between the client imagining not an IC, but a different child. E.g., a single woman can imagine a child who had died, or a child which she had failed to have, etc. This image can be differentiated from the IC by the fact that the client does not accept him as a part of his/her personality, and the fact that it is not the image which is suffering, getting angered, etc., but a client himself/herself worries about the image. In this case the real life circumstances related to these emotions should be investigated.

Please find an example of such a case.

Example 5. “Child-Man”.

During master class session a girl complained of the stomach pain. The image of the pain was absolutely unexpected – it was a baby child! It was calm, healthy, and indifferent; and definitely couldn’t cause any pain. It obviously couldn’t be an IC…. There were a lot of hypotheses, but in order to reveal the latent meaning of the image, I’ve suggested that the girl tells this baby that she allows it to show all its hidden potential. The girl stepped back in horror as the baby turned into huge angry man with red eyes and long claws!”

Then I guessed that she probably might have a conflict with some man. When asked, the girl confirmed that some middle age man fell in love with her. She didn’t want these relationships but was afraid of saying ‘no’, as she was work-subordinated to him.

I recommended her to imagine how she talks to this man (it was imagination, so it couldn’t make any harm). She was clear and straight in explaining her feelings to this image. The result was that the man’s eyes turned into normal color, claws vanished and the man got off. The girl said she now was ready to talk to the real man. And her pain immediately dissolved!

In two weeks she told me that she did spoke to that man in reality and he managed to understand her reasons with no negative consequences for her.

This story makes it clear that the very careful attention should be paid to the real meaning of the image, and the image by no means can not be accepted it ‘as it is”.

Another question is how to change the emotional stereotype of Inner Child, if it is causing symptoms which are undesirable for the client.

There are a lot of methods which can be used in this case; but here is the basic one:

The client is recommended to express kind feelings to the image, to pet it and to say the words which are absolutely opposite to those instructions, which caused the initial problem. E.g., a client is suggested to tell the IC that he/she will never deny it, isolate, criticize, humiliate, etc. He/she is also recommended to tell the IC that now it is allowed to be confident, strong, loved, successful, etc. The client might be recommended to take responsibility for healthcare, happiness and successfulness of the child, to care for it, even to become its caring parent.

It is prohibited to feel compassion, because this feeling is correlated to the child’s blackmailing feelings. The more compassion, the unhappier the image of IC will become, and the client will follow this path and become unhappy himself/herself. It’s against the temptation, but the client should be clearly instructed to stop feeling compassion to ‘poor’ image, and instead to allow it to become healthy, strong and self-sufficient.

It also might be worthwhile to give the IC chance to express its overwhelming negative feelings, and merely listen to all complains.

In some cases it also will benefit if the client becomes aware, that it is his/her internal child and it is the client himself/herself making the life so unbearable. Parents, whose influence on the child was crucial in childhood, now have no influence on the client at all. It helps to sincerely cancel the negative attitude towards IC and to avoid needless childish adaptations (e.g. self isolation).

Several other approaches could be used in such cases, including reinforcement of energy, paradoxical solution, anti- indication, etc. ([9]).

Next question is: what type of psychological problems is the most relevant for the IC issue?

There is a Russian saying “We all get started in our childhood…”That is why the problem of IC can be frequently encountered in depressions, phobias, in obsessive disorders, in psychosomatic diseases, with alcohol and narcotics addictions, etc. It can be found in almost every psychological disorder. Practical psychologist can face this problem in working with almost every client, although it may be not so critical in clients with post-traumatic syndrome, rape, grief, loss, etc.

By using IC and EIT method, the psychotherapist can solve a lot of ‘everyday’ and ‘applied’ issues which would demand great efforts if being solved by other means. A good example of this can be a problem typical for millions of parents and students: “I can’t force myself studying”…

Actually this problem is based on the conflict between the Inner Child and the Inner Parent. In childhood a kid was forced to prepare the homework, and it was unpleasant. So, the standard method of adaptation was developed by the child to resist the parents’ enforcement. Let’s call it “Delay”. Now the client is not a child any longer and is responsible for his own studies. He complains: “I pull myself to the desk to start studies, but the more efforts I make, the further I am from the desk! Finally I start preparing for the exam the night before it… I learn all night, and the next day when I am supposed to pass the exam, I have severe headache, and as a result I get C… What can I do with it?” What happens is he splits himself up in repressive Parent and stubborn Child and acts as the fantastic beast with 2 heads. He is wasting more time for forcing himself into working rather than working itself.

The remedy of choice for solving this problem by EIT method is simple, although paradoxical. First, the client is suggested to imagine the part of his personality which does not want to study, aka IC. Then…

– O, it’s Masha who is laying on the couch with her headphones on, she is listening to the cool music… She sips Jin& Tonic, smokes a slim cigarette and wants to do nothing!

– OK, could you please tell her: “Masha, you are more then welcomed to spend as much on the coach, as you want”? You can keep listen to the music, sip Jin& Tonic, smoke cigarettes, and what not. You are allowed to do all this”.

– No, no way! I can’t do it!

– Just for experiment, let’s see what might happen…

– Do you want me to say it loudly?

– Better do it silently, but it is up to you… But please tell me what happens to Masha.

– (Working hard). O, it’s impossible! (Laughing). She jumped from the coach, gets rid of headphones, pours Jin & Tonic into the sink, stops smoking and rushed to the desk to study! No, I can’t understand what’s going on…

So, the first step is when the client stops pushing him/herself, and allows the IC to do what it wants to do, and not to do what it doesn’t want to. Paradoxical result is that the child starts working or studying, only if he/she gets sincere permission to stand against (because child’s stubbornness is just his way to stand against parents’ rising).

After (and only after) the released child starts to behave adequately, which is in this case to study, the psychotherapist should start working with the image of the internal parent, who used to criticize the child and force him to study. This parent is recommended to get rid of responsibility, to stop worrying and to start living easily and cheerfully. Sometimes it happens that the image of the parent and the image of the child run into one Adult…

Client is supposed to understand all the logic of the job. He/she must get rid of resistance by any means. By the end, as usual, the result is confirmed by imagined situation. Students are very surprised to say that just after one session they stop delaying the study, it is easy for them to start, and even if they get tired, they can easily postpone learning, as they are positive that everything will be covered by them later.

I would like to report one more case about the mother who faced problems with her daughter’s studies.

Example 6. “Torment Studying”

During the training session in Volgograd a young woman complained that she had problems with her daughter’s studies. She pushed the girl to start doing her home task, screamed at her, being pretty unhappy with herself about doing that; every time they both ended up with tears.

First, I suggested that she gets an advice from the other women in the group. There were a lot of them who were happy to share their ideas with no decision made, although the brain storm lasted for a long time. It revealed that all the attempts to solve the problem had lead to a psychological dead end, and women got an opportunity to realize all the non-productiveness of their therapy.

After this unsuccessful brain storm, I suggested that the mother reconstructs the scene of the daughter’s studies right away. A woman stood over the daughter. The girl obviously didn’t understand her home task. I recommended her to speak both in her own name and in her daughter’s, either sitting on the chair or standing over it. She started (in a very annoyed voice): “Okay, what exactly you do not understand? Here is subject, here is object. I remember you learning the rule!”

– Please, sit down on the chair and imagine that you are a daughter. What do you feel?

– I understand nothing my thoughts are messed around, mom is forcing me (piteously) I don’t remember…

– (Get’s up.) You never remember anything! How many times can I repeat one and the same thing?!

– (Sits down.) There are tears in my eyes. I understand nothing… It’s smog in my head…

And so on and so force.

The conflict was obvious, and the heavier the mother’s pressure was, the less could the girl understand, she almost lost her consciousness. It seemed that the situation had no way out. I suggested that the mother starts from scratch, but in a different way. She had no ideas of how to do that.

Then I recommended to start with: “Okay, let’s figure out together, what’s wrong with this rule?” (Criticizing and Pushing Parent turns into the Caring one”). The dialogue was repeated but with absolutely different outcome.

It turned that everything became very clear in girl’s head, (same with mother), and they very quickly managed to find the solution. Everybody was stunned. There were a lot of women in the group who were crying, as all of them had encountered the same problems with their children.

But the most important part of the session started later, when working with IC. The mother, being very happy, got back to her seat, but in a minute she felt nausea and dizziness. She became very pale. I had to call her back to the “hot chair”. She said that as soon as she got back to her place, she saw her mother standing over her with a belt for punishing. She felt tremendous humiliation. I suggested that she imagines this feeling on the chair in front of her. It turned to be the image of the small girl, like Thumbelina. I asked whether it was possible for her to raise this girl, giving her all the energy. She started doing it. The girl grew up, and soon became of the same size as a woman herself. After this the client adopted the girl into herself, as a part of her personality. After that she was asked again to have a look at her mother. Reaction was strange: “I don’t care. Let her stand. I feel that she can’t make me any harm.”

Comments: It is obvious, that this method is based on the idea of overcoming of the child’s humiliation by energization of the image and following identification with it. It is also obvious, that pedagogical helplessness of the mother was based on her own psychological problems, which came back from her childhood.

When the woman showed up the next day, she thanked me a lot for the result. She woke up in a very good mood, she had a lot of energy, and she felt happiness, her relationship with her daughter improved tremendously.

I think there is no need to convince the reader, how important the problem is and how difficult it is to correct this “small” problem. EIT in cooperation with E. Berne’s concept, give us chance to achieve great and encouraging results.

The goal of this article was to show new advantages of EIT, which were not yet discussed in printed media, and to share with colleagues the ideas, which give the opportunity to solve some problems quickly, easily and gracefully. Unfortunately, it is impossible to describe all the devices and peculiarities of the work with IC in just this one article.

Reference:

1. Berne, E., 1964. Games People Play, Ballantine Books (reprint 1996).

2. Freud, S., 1899. The Interpretation of Dreams.

3. Adler, A. (1938). Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind. J. Linton and R. Vaughan (Trans.). London: Faber and Faber Ltd.

4. Adler, A. (1956). The Individual Psychology. H. L. Ansbacher and R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York: Harper Torchbooks.

5. Berne, E. I’m OK You’re OK . Ed. Avon Books. 1976.

6. Vgl. Reich. Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral. Verlag Г. 1934

7. Vgl. Reich. Massen psychologie des Faschismus. Verlag Г. 1939.



Emotional Dependence Correction by Means of Emotional Image Therapy

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2011, №1 (4), pp. 55—61

Nikolay Linde Prof., PhD (Psychology), Professor of Moscow Humanitarian University, member of Board of Psychology and Acmeology, Moscow State Humanitarian University, member of Professional Psychotherapeutic League, Moscow, Russia E-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

The intention of this article is to describe new approach to dealing with emotional dependence. The essence of this approach is that emotional dependence is based on the feelings “invested” in the other person, or parts of person’s personality. These feelings or parts of personality could be returned back to the owner using the method of emotional image therapy. This provides immediate and full relieve of dependence. Examples of correctional work with different types of emotional dependence using the method of emotional image therapy are provided.

Keywords: Emotional dependence, emotional –image, therapy, autonomy, fixation, to identify oneself with, to let somebody go.

Emotional dependence

Emotional dependence is a loss of personal autonomy, or a loss of the sense of personal autonomy due to emotional reasons.

In this state of loss, the subject of it:

1. Suffers due to inaccessibility of the object of feelings, or due to impossibility to change his/her behavior, or due to inadequate power of the object over him/her;

2. Feels that it is impossible to get rid of dependence;

3. Feeling that bounds the person, makes constant negative impact on his/her life journey, general state, decision making and behavior of the person.

There are several types of the emotional dependence. It might be love dependence on one certain person, the relationship with which are cancelled or, vice versa, can’t be cancelled. It might be dependence on the sense of love itself (amor insanus). It might be dependence based on the sense of obligation, e.g. when a woman can’t cancel her relationship with alcoholic or drug addict, as she feels that without her he might “go to the bad”, and she might feel guilty for it. It might be dependence based on hatred or soreness; in this case it is impossible to cancel being dependent because feelings can’t find its resolution. It might be dependence on the mother (or some other person) with whom the silver cord still exists. In this case the person automatically experiences the same feelings as the object of the dependence. It might be dependence based on the feeling of self helplessness, when a person feels total subordination to somebody. E.g., a young girl might feel that psychologically she is still in the womb, and she is afraid of facing the real world. It might be emotional dependence on the person, who has been dead in case if there was no chance to bid farewell, etc. A person might suffer with feeling, which makes him dependent on somebody; this suffer being unconscious, or the person might just come to terms with it, or even not be willing to get rid of it. Psychological help in this case is aimed on the state when the client would be ready to switch from the state of dependence to the state of independence, and then later, upon his/her will, to the state of co-dependence. We don’t believe that the expression “co-dependence” is the most adequate here, although it is widely used in literature. One might think that two individuals become the slaves of each other, while they both are free feeling necessity in each other and love.

It is good if in case of a sudden break-off, a young man can just say something like: “If my bride is going to dump me with my friend, God knows which one of us got luck…” Unfortunately, there are much more cases when people prefer to say” Than you will belong to nobody!” or “Have you pray’d to-night, Desdemona?”, or:”My life is over…” Very often professional psychotherapeutic help is needed in such cases and presumes hard job of both psychotherapist and the client. Using emotional –image therapy method we managed to find some quick and effective means of solving such problems. With this method the client finds oneself independent. It helps us a lot in understanding of the nature of emotional dependence and psychological aspects of it’s onset.

Example 1. “The Blue Ball”

During the workshop in one of the institutes, a third year student approached me asking to help her to solve the problem of torch love. She was in love for two years by that time. Every day she was thinking “only about him”, she lived automatically, with no interest in anything else. Her friends recommended to her to fall in love with somebody else, but she couldn’t. She had visited psychoanalyst with no result.

In the very beginning of the session I suggested that she imagined her boyfriend sitting on the chair in front of her. I asked her to describe emotions that she felt. She answered that she felt strong affinity to him in all her body and this feeling was concentrated in the chest. Further on, according to the main scheme of the therapy I suggested that she imagined this feeling on the same chair. She said that it was bright blue ball which definitely belonged to her. In the same time she wanted to throw this ball away, but she was reluctant of doing it because, as she said, it was like as if she died.

Even at this point it became obvious that it was a dead end situation for the girl. She definitely wanted to supersede her feelings, because she was suffering; and simultaneously she didn’t want to lose it. The blue ball being the image of her ability to love was projected on the young man, but she didn’t have contact with this part of her personality, that is why she was apathetic, and was unable to fall in love with anybody else. And this ability to love produced a strong appeal to gain this blue ball again.

Then I suggested that she had 2 options to get out of the dead end situation:

1. To throw the ball away;

2. To accept it as a part of personality.

Only after she tries both options it will become clear what action suits her better. But she expressed strong resistance and denied both variants. In order to break this rigid system I suggested that the whole group participated in the process. Every member of the group stood behind the girl making a speech in her name, pro and contra the ball. Everybody was touched by the problem; feelings were expressed emotionally. The girl still couldn’t make decision.

Then I decided to aggravate situation and used gestalt therapy method: I suggested that she stands in the middle of the room with her hands spread, and the rest of the group was suggested to pull her in the direction of the solution found by the group and to persuade her into one of the versions. It was a real battle with all men wanting to throw the ball away, and all women wanting it to be accepted as a part of girl’s personality. But the girl instantly screamed: “No way will I get rid of it!” and rushed to join the group of women, although men did their best to hold her.

As the decision has been made, I stopped the “game” and asked her how she was feeling. She was surprised to admit that she was feeling fine, with the ball being in her heart.

– But, – she added, – I don’t think it will last long. I’ve been suffering for such a long time, I’ve visited a shrink… and it took you only an hour…. Most probably my sufferings will be back.

I suggested that she took her seat and imagined her boyfriend again standing in front of her.

– What do you feel now?

– It’s strange, as I feel sympathy for him, but I am not suffering…

– Could you now let him go? Could you tell him you wish him happiness after abandoning you?

– Yes, now I can. (Appealing to the image of the boyfriend): I let you go and I wish you happiness … being without me.

Now I suggested my interpretation of the situation. I told her that, alongside with feelings she wanted to get rid of, she threw away her own heart. But with the heart being the source of love and other feelings, it was obvious that she would feel apathy. Now, when her heart was back again she may stop suffering and let her boyfriend go, still feeling sympathy for him. This is what Pushkin said in his famous poem when he bid goodbye to his beloved girl: “I used to love you, and probably love still didn’t die away form my soul….”

After this explanation another girl said:

– I just realized that I had the same feeling for 8 years. I was keeping my boyfriend around for all the time, and I was suffering myself and made other people suffer, and I couldn’t live and couldn’t love. Now I am going to stop it.

Being overfilled with emotions she jumped on the chair and announced that from now on her boyfriend was free and could live his own life while she was going to live hers…

The workshop ended up with general discussion of the problem.

In a week I encountered the first girl again. With her eyes sparkling she had admitted that it was first week in her life when she was happy.

After follow up with her till the end of the semester, I was positive everything was fine with her. On our last session she confirmed that she was not suffering any more, but she had very warm feelings to her ex-boyfriend.

Comments: Later I realized that interpretation of the girl forcing her heart out was not relevant. She really did it, but from the very beginning her heart had been dedicated to her boyfriend, and she didn’t want to get it back as she thought that in this case she would definitely lose her love.

This idea gave start to the series of successful sessions on emotional dependence. Of course, we are far from the idea that the heart of one person might be moved into the body of his/her beloved one, but it is very often to hear the lovers saying that their heart belongs to the loved ones. The poets write: “My heart is up the mountains with me standing at the root of it”. One’s life might be influenced by many objects, which do not exist in reality, but have real and objected impact on the person.

If a person had inoculated (or “projected”) part of his/her personality into the other person, he/she constantly feels attachment of some part of personality with the other person, i.e. dependence. He/she is bonded to the other person as his/her feeling or a part of his/her personality is attached to the partner. Z. Freud said that libido as a result of fixation might get attached to the object, and in this case the object receives emotional impulse, called cathexis. In his famous work “Melancholy” Freud said that grief worked in the way that libido gradually was being withdrawn from the beloved, but lost object.

But, neither Freud, no any other famous psychotherapist does describe methods (except for awareness and catharsis) which would be aimed on the getting back the lost feelings or parts of personality. If those methods exist, everybody would be aware of them. It is absolutely obvious why there are no methods like this one. The only technique which might be used in this case is the method of emotional image therapy because it gives opportunity to get projected feelings as an image, and then, by means of returning this image back into the body, to return one’s own resources. It is practically impossible to return one’s feelings back only by means of verbal techniques. Moreover, for the majority of psychotherapists, the concept itself seems unreal, as the method in which the feelings might be moved as objects, might be identified with, might be adopted in one’s body or released from it, contradicts the traditional concepts.

Let’s have another example of how this idea works with emotional image therapy method.

Example 2. One More Broken Love

A young man asked me to help him to figure out what was wrong in his relationship with his girlfriend. The affair started when they both were 15 years old, as strong and sincere feeling. They had sex and were absolutely happy with each other. But as years passed by, it was time to get married, him still being a poor student who couldn’t support the family. The girl got offended and married a rich guy. She gave birth to a baby, although being unhappy in her marriage. She had repented of what she did, and started trying to rehabilitate former relationships with her ex-lover. She divorced with her rich husband, money and career still being her main priorities.

The young man didn’t want to rehabilitate former relationships any more, but he couldn’t get rid of past feelings, couldn’t stand her persistence, although he didn’t trust her love any more. By that time he was already able to support the family, but didn’t want to be bounded with former girlfriend.

First I thought that he just was too much insulted and self-prided. May be I was supposed to just help him to forgive his girlfriend and make them join again? But the young man was strong in his decision to get rid of this emotional dependence. He was positive that the girl had low morals and believed that she was manipulating him. He couldn’t bear the fact that she had neglected his wonderful feelings, and caused him the pain she did. He was sure that he himself would never be initiating restoration of their relationship. Our first session was used for establishing priorities and for decision making of what should be done.

In the beginning of the first meeting, the young man confirmed that he had no slightest inclination to resume their relationship, but he needed assistance in getting rid of this dependence and of sufferings which it caused.

Being led by theoretical ideas that emotional dependence is based only on those “investments”, which the subject had “invested” in the loved one, I suggested that the client composed an image of these feelings in front of him. After a while, the young man said that those feelings looked like a huge golden clod with a piece of thread, which connected it with a balloon. We specified that the ball symbolized the girl, who possessed his feelings.

After it I recommended the young man to absorb this clod, aka his feelings, into himself, as his energy. It was hard for him to understand how it was possible to do that. The solution came out suddenly.

– I should get inside this clod myself! It is bigger than I am.

– Okey, then do it.

In his imagination he got inside this clod and felt that he was overwhelmed by all his lost feelings. It was like shining golden aura, his whole body was filled with it, and the balloon was hanging over somewhere in the distance.

– These feelings even protect me; I feel that I am strong and independent. They belong to me now, and I am free to do whatever I want to. I might focus these feelings on somebody else… How could she dare to ignore such wonderful feelings?!

– What do you feel now about this girl?

– You know, I don’t really care. I don’t even want to drive Mercedes in front of her… I am really free.

– Probably we should have one more session to make sure that we achieved strong result? Maybe it will be needed to do something else?

– No, I am positive I don’t need another session. If needed, I’ll give you a call.

He left the office with very firm walk and never called back again.

Comments. This case, as well as many others serves as perfect example of how a person with the help of conscious actions towards the image of the feeling, can return his/her feelings back and by this obtain relieve from emotional dependence. So, why and how emotional fixation takes place? From the standpoint of traditional psychology there is no doubt about it. It’s happens simply when one person is fond of the other and this other one’s libido is tied to him/her; it might happen either in case of transition from the previous experiences, or it might be just a result of pleasant perceptions and needs.

Our point of view is absolutely different from the classical model. The one we use might be called “investing”. The idea of it is that the depending person invests in object his/her feelings, or parts of his/her personality hoping to get this or that profit out of it. Under the profit we don’t mean money, but feelings or benefits. When people in love ask each other: “Do you love me?” “Will you love me forever?” etc… They just want to be sure that their “investments” are “profitable” and safe, and that they themselves will be the object for investments. The best version of love is when both partners make investments in each other and that is why they remain being precious to each other. They are afraid to lose their investments, that is why they take care of their relationship. One of the partners’ adultery presumes that one keeps making investments, and the other stops making it, i.e. he/she doesn’t expect to be a “profit” for the partner.

When the relationship between the partners is over, the invested feelings and parts of personality are “leaving” the person for the one who separates. These “investments” are of great value for those whom they had belonged to. Moreover, if it was, like poets say, soul or heart invested, and then the person fails to love again, as he/she had already lost the opportunity to love (see example1). That is why, when the young woman complains that she fails to fall in love and she has no interest in men any more, we could suspect that she is psychologically already married. Like they say: “I am sorry, but my heart is already occupied…”

Traditionally, psychotherapists believe, that in case the relationships with the partner are already broken, one should mentally (and/or in reality) say goodbye and let the person go. But, it is easy to say, but hard to do because the heart, the soul and the feelings still remain with those, who they were presented to…

Before you let the situation go, you should get back your “investments”, otherwise the situation will not be solved. Sometimes it happens spontaneously, but in the majority of cases the problem of emotional dependence remains very difficult, perhaps due to the poor understanding of its importance.

Often psychologists recommend mentally to torn or cut the connecting cord, or mentally to shoo the former partner, etc. These mechanical methods might give the person relieve, but as far as people are connected not by cords, but by feelings, it is a temporal solution, partial and not stable.

Fritz Perls had developed the 5-steps model of separation in case of the death of beloved one. It consists of following parts:

1. Admission of the fact;

2. Completion of the unfinished deeds;

3. Farewell ceremony;

4. Bemoaning

5. Welcoming of the new day.

Same or almost the same scheme of therapeutic work might be used in all the cases of loss or separation, as well as in the case of emotional dependence. But it lacks one part, which we already wrote about: getting back of the lost feelings or parts of one’s personality. It’s nearly matches with Z. Freud’s concept of deprivation of libido from the lost object of love due to the grief. It might be done using our procedure which may make the grief’s load much more light and quick. But with grief or loss, this procedure might be of less value (although we successfully used it in such situations), than in the situations of emotional dependence. In case of emotional dependence the person has no hope to return the loved one, so the lost feelings are eventually getting back as they have no anchor anymore.

But this is the reason why the subject doesn’t want to accept the fact of death; he/she is trying to pick at the illusion of the object’s existence. He/she can’t accept the idea of loss of all his/her feelings, hopes and parts of personality. He/she can’t even guess to get it back, and has no slightest idea about such possibility.

With the help of invested feelings he/she holds the object like a monkey holds bait inside of carved pumpkin, having no clue that it is just supposed to unclench the fist. A person, who loves, just can’t imagine that he/she can let the object of his/her love go. They accept the object of love as a person who endows all his/her feelings and parts of personality. That is why the process of letting the person go usually causes strong open or hidden resistance. Sometimes the person might just be unaware of how to do it.

Restitution of the feelings and parts of personality with the help of the image of these feelings does not cause resistance, as individual loses nothing. This action can’t make any moral harm, as it doesn’t cause damage to the object of love, doesn’t send away, doesn’t let down. Never the less, after this action the object of attraction might easily be let go, as he/she doesn’t obtain attraction any more.

But the subject might have strong motives against actions that psychotherapist wants him/her to make, and this cause new obstacles and specifics of work. Psychotherapist is supposed to know how to overcome the client’s resistance and reluctance to get freedom.

Example 3. “Trepid Dove”

A girl could not forget her boyfriend, who had abandoned her 2 years ago. Every night she imagined that he was around, although it was very painful for her. Of course, I’ve asked her about the reasons of separation and of possibilities of fix-up… It was clear that she had to say farewell and let her boyfriend go.

I suggested that she imagined her feelings or parts of her personality, which she “invested’ in her boyfriend, and which she lost when he had abandoned her. She immediately said it was a dove. I explained to her that dove usually symbolized a soul, and asked whether she was ready to return those dove being a part of her personality back to herself? She agreed that the dove was really a part of her personality but she was afraid to get it back …

– Why?

– Because I dub its wings.

– Why did you do it?

– Not to let it go…

It was first obstacle. I had to explain to the girl that the soul can’t fly away from oneself and it will always belong to her. And it was very difficult to explain to her that the more one tries to hold somebody around, the more he/she will try to get away… After I had explained all this to the girl, I then suggested that she will try to tell the dove, that the girl will stop dubbing its wings. It worked, as a dove decided to get back to the girl, although it was still hesitating of doing it. No assurances from the girl worked, although she was strongly encouraged by me. The second obstacle occurred when I watched the girl’s speaking and intonating. I realized that it was she herself being afraid of the dove. She was afraid of its freedom, afraid that it could again let her feelings follow it… It was the same fear which made her to dub the dove’s wings. This problem required new approach. I suggested that the girl told the dove that she will not be afraid of it. The girl was surprised as she was positive that it was a dove, which was afraid of her. Without any explanation I insisted that it was paradox psychotherapeutic technique and she had to try following it. She agreed and the dove immediately flew into her chest… A girl took a deep and free breath, her eyes shining, she felt much better, with all her fears just vanishing. Now, when she imagined her ex-boyfriend, she felt that she was absolutely free of him. She could easily say him good-bye and confirmed that she was no longer suffering and didn’t feel dependent. When we met in a week she confirmed stability of results.

Comments. Within this case we managed to discuss two more possible obstacles, which might be found with returning back the invested feelings:

1. A person (being an invested part of personality) is supposed to force against oneself and as a result to distrust oneself;

2. A person is afraid of getting back his/her own part of personality, being afraid that it will let him/her down or will rule over him/her. This being a manifest of splitting apart and fear of poor self control.

Based on this case, we can come to the conclusion that the subject of emotional dependence feels lack of self confidence, doesn’t appreciate oneself, doesn’t trust his/her own feelings or capacities. The person resists to getting freed from dependence, on which he/she complains, as he/she is afraid, that being free he/she might make same mistakes, will fail to find a decent partner, etc.

Emotional Dependence and Psychosomatics

Emotional dependence might cause psychosomatic symptoms, which are mistakenly treated not as a result of the dependence, but as a somatic disorder. A person looks for medical help with no results. Let’s discuss 2 scenarios of how this might happen.

Example 4. “A Spider on the Back”.

During one of the workshops, a student asked to help her to solve a psychosomatic problem. She felt constant severe low back pain; this pain caused her problems with sleeping, as she felt pain in any position. She tried to get medical help, but failed.

I suggested that she imagined the pain as an object. She said it as a big spider sitting on her back. A spider being a symbol of a male, I suspected that she had problems with her partner. She said that her boyfriend was drug addicted, and she was doing her best to save him, with no success. Several times she unsuccessfully tried to cancel their relationship. We used different methods trying to get rid of the spider on her back, but nothing worked.

She realized that she definitely failed in her attempt to save her boyfriend, but somehow she “couldn’t” let him go. Then I suggested that she in the name of the spider answered a question: “Do I need to be saved and drugged on her back God knows where?”

Replying in his name the girl realized that her boyfriend didn’t want it in any way, that being the reason why he was so reluctant to it. Immediately she was able to let the spider go, and it vanished; her low back pain dissolving the very same moment.

That same night she quit their relationship. In some time she started dating with the other man, got married him, gave birth to a baby and lived happily. Since that time she never felt back pain again (at least for 4 years after the event). She had told me that story 4 years after it had happened, and by that time I had completely forgotten about it.

Comments. It was obvious that the student didn’t want to split with her boyfriend, as she mistakenly thought she was responsible for his life. Besides, she believed that some miracle might happen and simultaneously was afraid to be responsible for his falling down. That is why she was not sincere when she tried different methods, which were recommended to her initially. Giving the answer in the name of the “spider”, she realized that her boyfriend didn’t want to be rescued and his future was predetermined by his own wish, and she was not responsible for it. She understood that she was holding him on her back against his own will. This spontaneous awareness, which was impossible to be achieved earlier during therapeutic séances, gave her chance to let her boyfriend go. She stopped feeling responsibility and gilt, as well as string up her back for the sake of his rescue. This is why she didn’t feel low back pain any more, and managed to split with this man, and to get rid of the false call of duty.

This case being both about psychosomatic and emotional dependence, is based on the on the call of duty.

Example 5. “25 Years of Heart Pain”

70 year old female was suffering of chronic heart pain. She had to stop for rest several times while walking. Sporadically she was feeling so bad, that she was afraid of a sudden death. This started 25 years ago after the death of her civil husband. She never had any affairs again. His death was a real chock for her, but she believed that she managed to cope with this loss and to totally rehabilitate.

I suggested that she imagined this heart pain. It looked like a blade… She was very surprised when I guessed that her heart problems were due to this old psychological trauma.

– No, it’s impossible… It happened 25 years ago…Of course, I had been suffering those days, but now I am okay.

– Then it will be easy for you to let this blade go…

– I do let it go, but it doesn’t want to…

– Well, but still, make another try…

– But it still doesn’t want to vanish…

– It means that 25 years ago you gave him something valuable for you, and you still didn’t get it back….

– Can you imagine how it looks like?

– It is my wounded heart…

– Are you sure it’s your heart?

– I am positive it is!

– Do you want to get it back?

– I do, but it has such a deep wound that I might feel bad…

– No, when you adopt your heart back, you will immediately feel better. You just tell it that you allow it to heal and that you will never wound it again…

– Yes, it is back on its place now and slowly healing…

– Tell me when it is completely healed…

– It is already. I feel much better…

-Now have a look at the blade again…

– It doesn’t exist any more… It vanished…

I’ve wrapped up the séance. Later she told me that she never felt that heart pain again and there was no need for her to make stops on her way to the bus stop to recover.

Comment. This case being an example of emotional dependence which might last for many years, a person might even not realize it.

Emotional Dependence and Confluent

There are a lot of cases when dependence is predetermined by strong confluent with mother (mother being the most typical, but not the only object). It happens more often with girls rather than with boys.

An adult remains being a child, who feels via the feelings of the other person, with no idea of how to accept oneself as an individual and how to live her/his own life. The problem is that the person doesn’t know how to feel autonomously, she/he had never experienced independence; moreover, the person is afraid of being independent, feeling that it is something immoral or betraying.

At the same time a person might be suffering of the fact that she/he always makes decisions and rules her/his life according to what mother is thinking about it; he/she is always concerned about mom’s health or freak, and feels horrible when even thinking about mom’s death. A person always has sense of guilt towards her/his mother, etc.

It is very difficult to get rid of such dependence. In my practice I encounter a lot of such problems. While standard verbal therapy might be very long term, using emotional image therapy method seems very encouraging.

Example 6.

During the workshop I got a request from 35 years old mother. She felt that all her life was insignificant; she was depending on her mother in all her feelings and decisions. Mother’s needs and opinions were much more important than her own ones, any mother’s cold was equal a disaster, and the idea that mother might eventually die led to the concept that it would be the end of existence. Mother did not live under the same roof with the daughter, but still her influence was overwhelming and not adequate.

The daughter realized that it was something odd in their relationship, but couldn’t understand what was going wrong. The main goal of the session was to help woman realize what part of her personality she submitted to her mother in the childhood and why did she do it? It turned that it was her small heart, but in spite of the fact that it was definitely her own heart, it took her a while to return it back to herself. Finally she managed to return her heart back to its place in her body, her mentality changing immediately.

She suddenly realized that her mother was a person leaving her own life and heaving her own history of being twice married, being a character and having her own misconceptions… But she was really amazed by herself feeling separation and independence.

While she was realizing this new reality she obtained, a small heart inside her started growing and turned into a big one worse of it’s full value. Psychologically she didn’t possess it. Now she realized that she was able to make decisions according to her own needs. It was amazing….

In case of blending of personalities, other technique might be used. There are a lot of cases when the client psychologically stays within the womb (it is expressed in the images of an egg, bag, pot or a cave in which the object exists.) It seems like a person refuses to be born. Psychotherapist might use different techniques: a client might imagine his/her own birth, (actually, symbol drama, psycho drama or gestalt therapy might also be used here), but in our practice we developed special approach which sometimes helps to solve the problem very easily. We tell the client that it is he/she who keeps the mother’s womb. Of course, he/she agrees with that. After it we recommend to let the womb go, appealing to its image with adequate words. If it doesn’t work, we add the method of returning the feelings back, which was described earlier.

Example 7

During the workshop, I suggested that the students make an exercise of mentally entering the circle of “Health”. The reaction of being inside of the circle was different, but mostly positive. It was only one young girl who said that she was surprised to find herself in some pot, being apathetic and immobilized; she tried to get out of there, and saw herself in the sea, but again being apathetic.

I told her that most probably it was hard delivery her mother had had with her, or it was strong dependence on her mother. She confirmed both. “You should let your mother and her womb go. You are keeping them, not vice versa! But it presumes hard work. We could deal with it later if you want…” And I started discussing the impressions of the other members of the group. In some time the girl jumped up and started running back and force being very agitated. Of course, I’ve asked what had happened to her and whether she wanted to discuss the problem. She answered, that she already followed my advice, and she was ready to do everything herself.

I resumed working with the group, and the girl kept marching back and force, and then she suddenly stopped running and started crying. Eventually she became quiet and took her place back… A couple of months later when I met her, she confirmed that she really solved her problem and her dependence on her mother and on mother’s womb disappeared.

Comments. This case being an example of release of dependence, when the client lets the object which he/she believes is keeping him/her go. E.g., a client might say that he/she feels like “being imprisoned”, and can’t get out of it. He/she is recommended… to let the prison go! The prison ruins, the client become free… This is when he/she realizes that he/she himself had constructed the prison.

This technique sometimes might be used alongside with the previous one. It is worse while to return the lost parts of personality, and then to let the object of the dependence go. Criteria of success being when the client manages to let the object of self dependence go (not to chase away, because harassment is inappropriate!). If it is possible only to tear the connection apart using the force, it means that in reality it still exists.

Emotional dependence might have various forms. It can be a real problem for a lot of people who may not even realize that their problems are predetermined by this very one. The problem seems to be very difficult, but using the new methods described, it might be easily solved.

Some of my students use this technique very successfully in their practice.



What is Anger and How to Cope with It?

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2011, №1 (4), pp. 77—86

Nikolay Linde Prof., PhD (Psychology), Professor of Moscow Humanitarian University, member of Board of Psychology and Acmeology, Moscow State Humanitarian University, member of Professional Psychotherapeutic League, Moscow, Russia E-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

In the article the author gives definition of anger and depressed anger; speaks about the role of anger in psychosomatic disorders. Several optional psychosomatic models are described, which explain the origin of anger and depressed anger; the author gives the idea of using different methods of correction of inadequate anger used in Emotion Image Therapy. Examples from the author’s private practice are suggested to illustrate psychological models and means of its correction described in the article.

Key words: anger, depressed anger, emotions, image, correction, psychological model.

Anger is emotion focused on impelling the person to resist the hostile forces or to attack anybody. Anger, being a destroying emotion has a goal of distraction or suppression the enemy, bending him/her to submission. There are cases when anger might be useful: it provides an individual with additional energy to overcome severe stress situations or it might be used for the self-defense purposes. But at the same time it might break down long-term friendly relationships, or cause unnecessary hostile environment between the colleagues. It might cause alienation against an angry person; it might get in somebody’s way to see in other people counterparts rather than enemies. If anger storms inside the person, it might cause health problems and decrease the scopes of thinking; it might lead to severe psychosomatic disorders. If anger is expressed, this might damage the other people’s personalities, cause humiliation, offence, payback and decreasing the effectiveness of productivity.

Anger might be explosive, i.e. targeted on the external objects, or implosive which is targeted on the person him/herself. Explosive anger is manifested in aggressive actions, accusations, offence, and communication on “high tunes” and in moral pressure. Implosive anger is vivid in self-criticizing, feeling of quilt, depression, making harm to oneself, self-isolation, etc. Types of anger might turn one into the other; there are situations when both types are combined, e.g., when the person feels soreness to the other person and to oneself simultaneously. The collision of two types of anger might end up with the hysterical attack.

Anger is rarely being the reason for people to look for psychological help, but in the process of discussion of other problems, anger as dominating emotion often becomes crucial issue. It also might determine the other symptoms. The person might be overwhelmed with anger, rage, hatred or soreness which could cause depression, communication problems, isolation, anxiety, multiple psychological symptoms, and even psychotic disorders. One of my young patients, being in the borderline state, mentioned that “I was really so much filled up with anger that I couldn’t control myself”.

Rage and hatred are chronic emotions often found with patients with severe diagnoses and the capacity of these feelings is very impressive. Anger is emotion targeted on demolition, that is why it might destroy something both in the outer world (via person’s actions), and in the inner world if locked in the patient or aimed at the patient himself. A lot of psychosomatic symptoms are the results of excessive anger: muscle tension, hypertension, ulcer, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, migraine, asthma, etc.

Not only people with psychological problems, but healthy people as well sometimes suffer of the excessive anger, they don’t know how to cope with it, they commit something they regret later, they spoil their moods, and sometimes even lives. Anger should not be confused with aggression: anger being emotion, while aggression is behavior (see [1, 3, and 11]. Aggressiveness being the major component of the anger, very often motivates a person to become aggressive that is why the research literature on aggression often simultaneously concerns anger issues.

Psychotherapists deal successfully with the problem of anger using diversity of methods, majority of which are already classical. Each psychological method contains many devices for correction of this emotional state. In psychoanalysis it definitely would be the client’s consciousness of the real reasons of anger, alongside with cathartic experience of the initial situation. In behaviorism the client will be taught the new methods of behavior [12], which will make anger unneeded emotional reaction. In the cognitive therapy [2, 8 and 9] the client will be suggested to notice the thoughts leading to the origin of the inadequate anger and to substitute it with positive thoughts. There are a lot of methods in which the client is suggested the way of response, e.g. when the client is recommended to beat a punch bag or a pillow; to scream or to swear at somebody; or to write (but not to send) a letter to the “offender”. Relaxation, as well as deep breathing and meditation are also used as methods of coping with anger when the client is explained how to get rid of muscle tension in case when he/she feels anger. In the religion oriented methods the client is suggested to forgive all real or imagery “offenders”.

1. Pattern of Family Inherited Anger

There are multiple cases when children are raised in the families where anger is the routine type of communication and the main allowed emotion. In the early childhood children are afraid of their parents’ angry emotional expressions, but gradually they adopt the standard. When adults, they believe that anger is natural and constitutive quality of their personality, and can hardly accept the idea that there might be some other types of reaction.

Example. “To Whack the Image”

A young man believes that there are no other ways of reaction on the problem rather than anger. He accepts that even during the Emotion Image Therapy session his only reaction is “to knock the image from hell to breakfast”. Even the demonstration of the alternative methods of problem solving does not work.

Trying to find out the reason of such stereotype I decided to list all possible patterns of the origin of the anger. When he heard about the pattern of the family anger, the guy became very excited: “You just made a gift for me! They were always fighting in the village where I grew up. They permanently did it outdoors and indoors… For example, my uncle Lenya had a very handsome face, but it was always covered with blood…” When the young man realized that in his childhood he was rather tender and sensitive child, and was afraid of his siblings’ anger, he decided to separate himself from family tradition and to try using different patterns of feelings and of behavior. We spent a lot of time working on this problem, which led to significant changes in his personality.

In cases like this one, the psychologist might use the following correction strategy (see [5]):

1. Client is separated from the family anger, i.e. he accepts that initially he was not outraged, so he is able not to feel and to behave as his relatives in the village do.

2. The client should be recommended the safety substitution methods of expressing the anger: cutting the woods, knocking a punch bag or pillow, etc.

3. It is worthwhile to show the client that he is able to think productively even being in severe frustration and fury. To show this, the situation of anger is simulated and the client is suggested to think “You knock this punch bag as if it is your repulsive boss. And then please give me some ideas of how to stop this conflict!” This is important because the majority of people strongly believe that they are unable to think adequately and to manage one selves’ behavior being in anger.

4. The client is suggested to enjoy being angry rather than to ruin oneself with anger. The more the person is trying to combat with anger, the stronger the anger becomes (and eventually breaks out like uncontrolled avalanche). So, it’s worthwhile to learn how to transfer one’s anger into a game. E.g., “Look at yourself being in anger from sideways. Look how cool you are! You could move on the world! Enjoy the image! Be proud of yourself! Could you imagine doing something positive using your anger?”

Example: “How I’ll cope with live now?” The young man from the previous example was recommended to go to the woods to scream there and to stump stubs. I did that because while walking with him through the institute corridors, I noticed that his legs were much tensed, he moved like robot in the fantasy movie. I was surprised when he obeyed, and spent 2 hours in the woods, screaming and kicking something with his legs. When he was back, he looked very calm and sweet.

– Are you feeling better?

– Yes, Professor, I feel much better now, but I don’t know how to live now. I am more self-collected, more organized, but I don’t know what to cope with it now.

– What do you mean? Could you please explain?

– My dad tried to come across me, but I didn’t want to argue with him (which never occurred before). I was just sitting and quietly looking at him. Shortly he also stopped quarrelling. I don’t know how to live now! Recently I’ve seen two people fighting. Before your session I would definitely join them. But now I consider them being fools. But I don’t know how to live now!

The problem is that his behavioral pattern was adjusted to the angry state, and now he needed new “peaceful” patterns of behavior to live peaceful life. I explained this to him and advised of how to transfer to normal habits. We kept working with him for some time.

2. Pattern of Anger as a Device of Meeting the Goal Objective

There are cases when anger is a needed instrument, e.g. for achievement of some goals, but mostly we could manage without it. Although, there are a lot of people who strongly believe that if they didn’t scream, they would never get the desired. Some parents think that screaming is the only way to make a child to obey. The more they use repression as means of education against the child, the less effective all the other means become, the more often they have to be repressive. There are families in which it is possible to achieve something only by means of screaming and aggression; kids learn quickly and use it later in their own families (See [5]).

To justify this behavior, people usually say: “When I just ask somebody to do something, people never do it, although they promise. Normally, I wait for a week, then I start screaming – and everything is done immediately”. Such people strongly believe that screaming is the only way out of the situation. When psychologist makes attempts to show them that there is big variety of the alternative ways, they consider him/her as a naïve and romantic person. They deny any changes, although they are ready to change their attitude to anger and to get rid of it.

In reality, it is lack of self-confidence and ability to express one’s demands without aggression. Most probably, one of the parents of such person was an aggressor –type of personality and managed to control the others with the help of anger. A child had identified itself with such a sibling due to the mechanism of identification with aggressor, discovered by the psychoanalysts. Or the child might have an episode of fury, which helped him to protect himself. It encouraged him to believe that it was the only device to achieve the goal. Another reason might be the facts that the person was raised under the conditions (like orphanage) where anger and attack were the only ways to survive.

There are a lot of people in our society, who believe that aggression is the only type of suppression of any kind of rebellion, or at least that “an eye for an eye” situation might lead to success. It is extremely hard to make them to change their minds, even if they are aware that this strategy would ruin their lives. It is very rear that they appeal for psychological help, but if they do, the results are extremely positive. One of my students used to say: “Since the times when Professor Linde converted me into being a kind person…”

For those who would like to get acquainted with the devises of confident behavior instead of non-confident or aggressive, it is worthwhile to attend the behavioral workshop of confident behavior, or to suggest reading some literature [4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 13]. But, it is also possible to solve the problem by means of remodeling the critical situation and recommending the client alternative patterns of behavior. If those alternative forms of behavior are expressed to the image, the latter reacts with positive changes, being the most demonstrative argument of kindness versus anger.

Example: During one of the workshops a student asked for assistance and advice: she failed to establish friendly relationship with her daughter, mostly she failed to help her with homework. She was very pushing, screamed at the girl; she felt horrible, but couldn’t stop. I suggested that she asked for advice her female counterparts who participated in the workshop. This phase was expectably non-productive, although time consuming. Psychological dead-end was obvious, besides ladies realized all the uselessness of casual therapy.

I started with the proposal to reconstruct the scene of preparing homework with the daughter as it works in gestalt therapy. The lady was standing behind the imaginary chair with the daughter sitting on it. The girl couldn’t understand the task. I suggested that the lady spoke consequently in her own name and in the name of the daughter. She had either to stand or to sit on the chair. Conflict was evident, and the more pushy the mother was, the less the girl managed to understand the task, she was almost fainting. The mother was annoyed, overwhelmed with anger and felt extremely frustrated.

It looked like there was no way out of the situation. Mother failed to find alternative way of behavior. I decided to recommend her (although it was against the rules of gestalt therapy) just to ask her daughter what was that she didn’t understand, and to suggest that they will sort out the task together as partners. It clarified the problem immediately both in daughter’s and mother’s heads; they quickly fulfilled the task. Lots of mothers participating in the workshop were crying while watching the session as they also had similar problems.

But this is what happened later. Happy mother got back to her seat, but in several minutes she felt herself bad and almost lost her consciousness. She immediately got back to “hot chair” and said that as soon as she was back to her place, she saw her own mother standing in front of her with the leather belt in her hand. She felt being terribly humiliated. I suggested that she imagined this humiliation on the chair. It turned to be a little girl. I asked the client to raise the girl up, to give her positive energy and strength. She obeyed, and the little girl grew up and soon became same size as a client. The client adopted this grown up girl as a part of her personality. Then she was recommended to look at her mother again, the reaction being “I don’t care. Let her stand. I feel that she can’t make me any harm”.

The next day when she was back to the workshop, the client had thanked me for the result. That morning she woke up very cheerful, being in great mood; she remarked that her communication with the daughter improved tremendously.

Based on this example, it might be useful to trace the general trend. First, mother’s anger was the result of the concept that there was no other way to teach the daughter. She was sure that it was the only way to succeed, although it was obvious that it was wrong conclusion. Second, her anger got back to her personal child’s experience, when her own mother used anger as an educational device. Third, solving her inner problem was the key to solving the external one.

Here it should be mentioned that there are cases when instrumental aggression is authorized, such situations being very rare. The problem should be raised when the person is unable to see any other ways out of the situation and uses just this pattern of anger everywhere and always, pretty often in inadequate doses and with no benefit.

3. “Trigger” Anger Pattern

There are cases when anger is used as a motive for realization of behavior which is supposed to be admitted only in case when certain level of anger is accumulated. E.g., it is impossible to get divorced if you are not angry enough with the spouse. The person can attack somebody only being mad with the object, etc. Anger in this case is both an excuse and a trigger. A trigger should be “loaded” and then fired (see [5]).

Example: “Cut-off Head”

A student asked me to help her with interpretation of the dream she was seeing almost every night during the past two months. I agreed because it was obvious that the issue was very important for her.

It was repeated nightmare. She saw herself in a room she was eager to get away from, but there were some people, who didn’t let her go. She couldn’t leave the room and had to watch the decapitation of a man. She watched the bloody neck when his head was cut off… The nightmare repeated every night.

I told her that I couldn’t say for sure, but it looked like that she found herself in a very difficult situation. She would have been happy to solve the problem, but failed to do it. It was also clear that she was in a serious conflict with some man.

The client confirmed my supposal:

– You are absolutely right, Professor. I would like to divorce with my husband, but I can’t as I have a 14 months old baby. But the most important thing is that I can’t understand the reason why I want to divorce. I just started hating my husband shortly after the baby was born, and I failed to find the reason why do I hate him so desperately. We never had any kind of problems before; our sexual life was just wonderful… Of course, he has some imperfections: he is kind of patch man, but nothing serious.

– May be he had adultery, or he beat you or did something else…

– No, no! He is very nice with me, but I can do nothing with my emotions. Why do you think it happens?

– It’s hard to say… But it is very often that after the childbirth a mother recalls on the surface of the psyche the conflicts she watched in her parents’ family, because she is subconsciously seeing herself in the baby. Do you have a boy or a girl?

– A girl… My parents divorced when I was 1, 5 years old.

– Probably there is a program existing in your mind subconsciously, that when a baby is a 1, 5 you are supposed to get divorced… But I might be wrong…

– No, you right, because I had divorced with my first husband when my first child was 16 month old.

– Now we can definitely say that you follow some pattern.

– But why do I hate him more and more every day?

– Because you just need an emotional excuse for already existing decision.

– Oh, God! What a weird person am I! What should I do? How can I improve the situation?

– I can’t answer this question now, as it is lack of time. Why not you show up for a séance and we’ll try to work on it.

She never showed back again and I didn’t know the remote results. Hope that she was smart enough not to ruin hers and her siblings’ lives just because of the scenarios adopted in the childhood. And I am really sorry that I didn’t have chance to ask her what her mother used to say about her father.

I also didn’t interpret the man’s decapitation as realization of her hatred to her father, who left her when she was 18 months old. If I did, it would have been clear that her hatred towards her husband was not only the factor excusing her own behavior, but also the transference on him the feelings she experienced to her father.

4. Pattern of Anger Origin as a Result of Conveyance

Anger, which the client felt in the past or the feeling to some objects in the present, might be conveyed on the absolutely innocent people. They might just resemble the initial persons, or the relationships with them might be similar, etc. Anger might spread on everybody who look the same, or on some of them, or on somebody acting in the similar mode, etc. E.g., if a person was humiliated by the representative of a certain nation, he might be angry with the entire nation. A woman who was offended by the father or the brother might be angry with all males in general or just with those who look presumptuous, etc.

Example: “Why?”

Several years ago a client (female about 40 years old) showed up at one of my workshops. She asked for help and I suggested that she sat down vis-à-vis. She was very aggressive from the very beginning:

– (Aggressively) Why did you place me facing the window? For having opportunity to watch my mimics?! This is what they do in KGB!

– (I was startled). O, no, I never meant that. But if you want, we could switch chairs.

– No, let’s leave it as it is. (Heavy pause).

– Well, please tell me about your problem!?

– Me!? Could you just tell what the problem is? (Angrily) Well, tell me about your problem!!

– But it’s not me who asked for psychotherapeutic help, but you…

As I learned later, she was mad with all males, especially with her husband, initially the problem starting in her childhood. I got my portion of her anger just because I was male. Using the method of confrontation, I tried to show the client her own anger, but it caused annoyance only. She left very unpleased with the session and never showed back again. Probably, now being more experienced, I could have explained her something, but at that time I was just lost.

5. Pattern of Anger as a Compensation
Device of the Inferiority Complex

Aggression might be expressed as a result of the inferiority complex, when the person fails to find other ways to get the feeling of prestige. People believe anger or aggression being the only means to help them to improve the situation. E.g., poor people might hate rich people, and their anger feeds riots and revolutions; a woman, who believes that she is ugly, might be angry with everybody who is, as she believes, more beautiful than she, etc. Anger of a person with inferiority may be “addressed” to a wrong person, sometimes to an entire world, or to those who are putting obstacles on his/her way to become superior. E.g., a male with potency problems may be angry with all women and get offended with even slightest criticism from a female. Simultaneously, he might be desperately angry with himself, which might lead to sexual disorders.

Example: “Jealousy to Mother”. A young woman complained that she felt severe anger to her husband; she also hated the tutors at the medical school she studied.

She looked strange: was unkemptly dressed, with careless hair, with humping back and gray blank face. She was a hard person to establish a contact with, and looked like a person with very low cultural level.

She never showed up for the next séance, but it was her mother who unexpectedly came in. The contrast between the mother and the daughter was amazing. Mother looked in an absolutely different way than her daughter: was easy to talk-to person, with very good communication skills, well- dressed, good-looking, etc. It was hard to believe that yesterday’s shabby client was her daughter.

Her story made it obvious that her daughter from the very childhood felt that she was inferior to her mother. She was jealous to the mother having a lot of admirers. The girl never managed to flirt with boyfriends as she was always angry with them. The mother spent a lot of time trying to advice her daughter how to dress up, what haircut to wear, how to use make-up properly and how to take care of herself – with absolutely opposite result. “She puts on an ugly pullover and doesn’t want to comb the hair…” – complained the mother; she went on: “She was studying music for 6 years when I once noticed her playing Tchaikovsky for a while and then suddenly spat on the notes. I stopped the studies.”

It turned that inferiority complex with the sex appealing mother around raised the rebellion and malice in the daughter, which was directed mostly on males and tutors, who were unable to give satisfaction with her damaged sense of prestige.

6. Anger as the Device for Suppression
of the Unwanted Drive

Anger might be used as the device of the suppression of one’s own drive which might be considered to be dangerous or forbidden. E.g., males might be angry with nice looking females just because they like them; they use to blame them in a lot of different sins and to pounce in everything. Implosive anger might be used as a means of suppression of personal sexual incontinence or inappropriate feelings. It also may be used in cases when a person believes that he does not correspond with his own ambitions. In this case the sense of guilt might be interpreted as a form of implosive anger, and soreness and accusations might be considered as explosive anger.

Example: “Don’t You Dare Even
to Dream About It!”

A girl believed that nobody could fall in love with her, as she considered herself being ugly. She was told that when she was born her father said that “such an ugly and fat legged person could not be named with his favorite girls’ name…” She was named differently. Her father was rather indifferent to her; in her youth she fell in unshared love affair, and then in severe depression.

She was filled in with anger which as she believed belonged to the whole world. The image of her anger was a cluster of bees or a set of surgical instruments ready to cut her into pieces. To reveal the genuine sense of her imaginations I suggested that she thought about something sexual. She denied even the thought of sex. Then I recommended her to think about something “around” sex; meantime she was supposed to track what was happening to the bees.

The response was that bees became noisier and almost ready to attack her. I asked:

– What conclusion you could make out of it?

– (Stubbornly). I don’t know.

– But if you think about it…?

– ….I don’t know.

We got the same result with the set of surgical instruments. I asked her again about the conclusion she could make and got a stubborn silence back.

– But how can you explain that aggression towards you is elevated when the sexual issues are raised?

– (Forcing herself). It means that I use my aggression against myself in order to depress my sexuality.

– Here you are! Great! You were very brave to make the right conclusion. Let me shake your hand!

Her palm was wet as she was in stress under such circumstances. It was the very first step on the long way of her therapy. As far as I know she is happily married.

7. Anger as a Protest against Dangerous Parents’ Prescriptions

Sometimes parents give their children strong negative instructions (or directives), which are deadly dangerous. The most serious is “Don’t you live”. E.g., “As soon as you were born we fell into a flow of problems”, “It’s better once to cry over your coffin rather than to suffer with you around till the rest of the life”, “I’d rather kill you!”, “Tomorrow I am going to send you to the orphanage. I didn’t do it yesterday, but definitely will tomorrow. And then I will be living happily the rest of my days”, etc.

Instruction “don’t be yourself” is also considered to be very dangerous: “You are absolute idiot!”, “Jail is expecting you to stay in”, “You are a loser and never be success”, etc. Such instructions got frequently and with the adequate emotional support might lead a child to committing a suicide or getting schizophrenic.

In order not to accept those instructions, a child often decides to protest against with the help of anger.

Such kids’ anger might be focused on parents, on teachers, on the whole world or on themselves. As adults they keep being angry and it significantly influences their everyday life and relationship with people. This problem was already mentioned in the part devoted to depression (see earlier); rebellious behavior might be combined with the hidden suicidal decision leading to depression. The rebellions are eager to deny all the parents in the world, want to make the entire parents to repent of all their sins, but at the same time they would like to die young.

In such cases it’s very important to help the client to understand what the real source of his malice is. It is crucial to overwhelm the negative parents’ instructions and to implement new positive scenario of one’s own life. The rebellious person should be advised to stop neglecting his own life and to stop wishing his parents to penitence; instead he should become a parent to himself.

8. Anger as a Result of the Childhood Trauma

There are cases when the initial source of trauma might be hidden in the very remote flashback. It might go back to one’s birth. A child could have experienced very serious psychological trauma, and subconsciously believe that his mother was responsible for it. That is why he might feel anger or jealousy towards his mother (and very rarely to other people). This anger, according to conveyance and projection rules might influence the relationship with the other people.

Example: “A Stacked Child”

During one of the workshops a female, usually very active, was very reluctant to participate in the group’s activity. I asked her what had happened.

– Don’t pay attention, Professor. I am always like this a few days before my birthday. And exactly on birth day I usually need emergency medical help. My skin is covered with big red spots. It happens every year and neither doctors, no paranormalists are able to help.

I suggested that she sat in the middle of the circle and described her state.

– I feel like I am losing my consciousness. It’s hard to breathand I feel like my scalp bones are compressed.

It was obvious that it was typical picture of the lodgment of the fetus in the parturient canal.

– What do you want right away?

– Somebody to pull my head…

Everything became absolutely obvious, that was why we did exactly what she wanted. Several times one or the other member of the group pulled her head up, helping her to enter imaginary parturient canal. She followed the puller until she felt she was released and freed. Each time after such “pulling” she felt much better, but it was the 5th time only when an insight occurred. She followed the leader for about 5 meters before she eventually made a deep facilitating breath out, her hands relaxed, she closed her eyes and bended her head on the shoulder of the her counterpart.

We covered her with a blanket and patiently waited until she opened her eyes. When she did, we all looked at her with love and tenderness. Her eyes were shining with happiness and peace. Her headache and asphyxia had gone away. All members of the group expressed their kind feelings to her; they made the eye contact and touched her in order to show her that she was accepted in this world.

A week passed away… I was impatiently waiting for the next session and was very happy to see that the client was glowing with joy. She said that her birthday was great with no incidents. She was feeling great, with almost no spots on her skin. But the most important was that her relationship with her mother improved tremendously. She said that before she just hated her mother, but now she thought that the mother was just a regular person, nothing special….

So, a child could just remember his/her birth trauma and hate the mother for this.

Later I encountered several similar cases. Once in the university corridor I bumped with my colleague who was obviously suffering with headache.

– Do you know anything about your mother’s delivery process?

– My mother told me it was horrible.

– What about your birthday?

– It’s the worst day in the whole year!

– How you doing with your mother?

– Very complicated relationships… And in general I feel like I am making my way through the woods while everybody is just getting everything easily…

– There is a theory saying that the way you were born determines all your future life. Do you want me to help you?

– No, thanks, I’ll manage myself…

We can’t say for sure that the birth trauma always presumes difficulties in relationship between a mother and a child, but it might be one of the reasons of it. That is why, until the real reason is not sorted out, any other methods would not be effective.

Example 2. “Under Nutrition!”

A student discussed with me her problem: she was permanently insulted by her mother. She believed that the mother was very pushing. I suggested that she imagined how the insult looked like. It was a small dark- skin baby with a big head. The student was so much surprised with the image that she nearly fainted.

This little brown baby was insulted, the offender being the student. I advised her to imagine what the child’s insult looked like. The answer was ridiculous: the insult looked like a wonderful milk-shining tower, which later transformed into the milk bottle. She recalled that she was pre-maturely born and her mother was in lack of maternal milk!

I advised the student to feed the baby with milk from the bottle, and while she was feeding the baby, it grew up, until it turned into the girl herself. The student was recommended to accept the baby as a part of her personality. Finally, the student got rid of her insult towards her mother, and her mood changed dramatically from depression to excitement, so that she was eager to dance.

It is obvious that in such cases it is worthwhile to work with the elimination of the original frustration. It might be real (like in exercise 1) or imaginary (like in exercise 2) action. In both cases the client sinks deep into the initial problem situation that is why the symbolic way-out solution wraps up all old gestalt states. It doesn’t exist anymore and doesn’t influence the person’s life.

9. Anger as Protection for the Weak Part of the Personality

As it was already mentioned earlier, anger is frequently used as a protection device. It works in cases when person fails to find a standard, calm and rational solution for the problem. We already said that in cases of extraordinary situations, anger might be the only device to overcome frustration and in such cases it is justified. Although, it should be clarified here, that almost all situations have alternative resolutions.

Anyways, when a person expresses unnecessary anger, there is always suspicion that he/she doesn’t obtain the habits of normal and adequate problem solving. It presumes that some part of the personality feels helplessness when facing the problems; this part is underdeveloped and produces anger for compensation of its insufficiency. F.Perls [12] wrote that fury is the reverse side of helplessness; he believed that all the murders happen because of helplessness.

All mentioned above presumes that if the initially weak part of personality will be developed sufficiently enough to be able to resolve the problems without using anger as a device of achievement the goal, then it will be no need in anger per se. The usual problem is that the person normally believes that there is no other way of solving the problem rather than anger. That is why one of the devices of eliminating anger is developing the habits of confident behavior [12] which might be achieved by using the methods of behavioral psychotherapy.

Another method which helps resolving the problem quickly and totally is developed in the Emotional Image Therapy [7]. The client is suggested to imagine both the images of his angry part of personality and the image of the weak part, which is protected with the help of anger. Then the client is recommended to transfer all the energy (or stocks) of anger to the growth and development of the weak part of his personality. Usually the angry part looks like something big, black and spiny while the weak part being something small, light and tender.

As a result of such conversion of the energy, the weak part grows up and getting stronger, without losing its kindness, while the angry part vanishes or transforms into kind. It should be mentioned to the client that the energy is returned back to the weak part in the positive form. The former weak part becomes able to solve the problems which earlier seemed impossible.

There is no need for anger any more.

Example: “A Black Bomb.”

A young man was betrayed by his girlfriend. He loved her, the betrayal being very painful and very offensive as all their mutual friends knew about it.

He was filled with anger which was overwhelming him and ready to blow out and tear everything into pieces. He managed to forgive his girlfriend but gave a dusting to his competitor; he still couldn’t cope with his hatred which was focused “against everybody”: “Leave me alone!”

The hatred looked like heavy black kernel with tremendous active load. I suggested that he imagined the part of his personality which he was protecting with the help by this hatred. It was a small plant, very nice and tender, as if made of white chalk.

I recommended the boy to switch the negative energy of hatred into a positive one and to return it back to the plant for it to grow better. It took him a couple of minutes to do it. A small sprout turned into a big bush, and the energy of hatred totally vanished. I advised the boy to adopt the bush.

When doing it, the young man felt tremendous excitement and calmness simultaneously. He reconsidered his situation from the different angle, now being indulgent to his “enemy”, even feeling sorry for him. He realized how primitive and ill-natured the guy was. He still loved the girl and was not mad with her, but he was ready to contact with people; his internal conflict released, there was no danger of explosion any more.

Later he told me that his life was as if divided into two parts: before the séance and after it, the latter being a great impact to his future life.

10. Repressed and Suppressed Anger

Anger is the socially dangerous feeling criticized in the society, which is why the majority of people (except, probably, the saint ones who never feel anger at all) are used to repress their anger. But in the case described further, the person had totally depressed his anger, forbade oneself to express it completely, because he was afraid of the possible actions in case if anger will come out uncontrolled. Such people believe that it is volcano, tornado or wild animal sleeping inside of him; all mentioned should be under strict control, otherwise something horrible definitely happens. In earlier years he used to express anger, but later realized that it could be harmful.

Example 1: “Red Hair and Sunspots”

A young man complained that in his childhood he was teased because of his red hair and sunspots. He felt so much hatred that was ready to kill everybody who just glanced at him with a smile. When he realized that it was just dangerous to be so angry, he suppressed the anger inside of him. He grew up very strong, studied martial arts, and was a nice and polite person. But hanging around him, people always felt concealed danger which was in contradiction with his routine behavior.

Suppressed anger is normally concentrated in the solar plexus area, diaphragm becomes very rigid and numb, which lead to shortness of stomach breathing, problems with gall bladder, biliary ducts and pancreas.

This is how psychosomatic disorders in gastroenterology occur. Also suppressed anger might cause elevation of the blood pressure, provoke ulcer, muscle tension, etc.

Example 2: “Kind Alenushka”

At the workshop in one of the medical centers, a young, nice looking gastroenterologist complained that she herself was suffering of gastroenterological problems and often felt pain in solar plexus area.

She involved all the students (being mostly medical doctors) in the discussion of her case. Everybody came to the conclusion that it was psychosomatic disorder. When the students were suggested to have somebody’s problem discussed on “the hot chair”, she volunteered it being hers. Divorced 2 years ago, no children, no regrets about it, she was concentrated in her gastroenterological problems only. But the main problem was that in spite of the fact that that she had been divorced for 2 years, she had no interest in males. She was surprised and worried, as she thought that it was time already to start new relationships.

I suggested that on the chair in the middle of the circle was sitting a young woman, who had no interest in males. The client was asked to describe the woman’s actions:

-She is like Alenushka (the girl from the Russian fairy tale), sitting on the bank of the pond and crying.

– Let some Good Fellow (another personage of the fairy tales) approaches her. What happens to her?

– If he approaches too close to her, she sends him off and keeps crying.

– I think that it’s a wrong Good Fellow to cry for. It’s like a crying child: when somebody wrong tries to console him, he says: “you go away, I am crying not for you”. Could you please imagine the right Good Fellow?

– Easily. He was very nice to Alenushka in the past and did a lot to support her…

– Let Alenushka express everything she wants to this Good Fellow. You may not verbalize it.

– Okay. (The situation proves the fact that if a female is not interested in males, she psychologically considers herself to be married.)

For some time the client “is talking” to the partner, and then asks:

– Isn’t it enough?

– Did Alenushka tell him everything she wanted to?

– No, not everything…

– Then keep her talking…

– (In some time) May be that’s it?

– Did she tell everything she wanted?

– No…

– Keep her talking… (Long pause) So, what’s going on?

– Alenushka keeps expressing her feelings. She does it using a pitcher and an ax (the students in the group are in shock).

– Okay, let her keep doing it… (In some time). Did she tell everything she wanted to?

– Yes, now it’s over.

– So, what do we have now?

– There is a blood-stained body on the floor (everybody is in shock again).

– And what about Alenushka? Is she crying?

– No, she is not…

– What does she want now?

– To bury the body. (I am vigorously trying to find the proper way out of the situation, but keep following the flow).

– Okay, why not you do it. What does she want now?

– Maybe to go to the theater… (But the client does not look cheerful at all).

– Could you now adopt Alenushka as a part of your personality, as far as it’s you?

– No way! After everything she did!

– So, what shall we do? (A long pause).

– (With a deep feeling). Probably I should forgive…

– Can you?

– Yes, now I can. I did it…

– Can you adopt Alenushka now?

– Yes, I can. I feel much better now. It’s much less painful in the diaphragm. But I feel much better in my heart now. I’ll show up again soon. (Of course, she never did).

This example shows not only very close connection between the suppressed aggression and psychosomatic disorder, but also the fact that release of aggression leads to forgiveness and self adoption. There are a lot of cases that show us that sincere forgiveness could not be obtained if the anger is not released, expressed and “dismissed”.

When working with suppressed anger, one should follow the following scheme:

1. To help the client in safe releasing and expressing his anger;

2. To teach the client to appreciate and respect his anger, but not to suppress it;

3. To help the client to release his anger, deny it as useless;

4. To help the client to aim the energy of anger being the positive energy, on the development of the lacked internality of the person;

5. To forgive oneself and the others;

6. To adopt oneself.

The problem of repressed anger looks a little different. The person as if doesn’t allow the anger to exist inside of him, he doesn’t contain it, the anger is being “evaporated”, which allows the person to easily bear being offended, humiliated, etc. He might justify his submission as some internality which gives him the feeling of superiority over aggressor. This is how some wives living with husbands that beat or harass them, act.

They don’t realize that they become victims, and unconsciously crime associates with their husbands, as they never stand against them and never claim for help. Often they consider themselves angels and justify themselves using Christian laws. Many women being raped forgive “him”, but they never forgive themselves for what had been done to them. They repress their anger and do not want to perceive it; they are reluctant to express it even in the imaginary actions and words. Repressed anger is experienced as a feeling of emptiness, powerlessness, and fear. In order not to let the anger in the body, the person usually blocks his diaphragm breathing rather than the stomach one.

Returning back the feeling of anger into the real world might be dangerous for the client; he might be overwhelmed by it, mostly if it is against the client’s believes. But if not being returned back, the feeling of anger cannot be transformed; it’s a very sensitive moment which should be treated carefully. The suppressed anger comes out itself if imagined situation is modified properly, while the repressed anger is something absolutely impossible for the person to experience neither in his inner world nor in everyday life.

There are multiple methods which may be successfully used in such cases; this is what emotion-image therapy recommend:

1. Assistance in recognizing of one’s repressed anger and the reasons of repression.

2. Returning the anger back, as one of the resources of the personality; adoption of one’s right to be angry.

3. Discussion of the possible means of self-defense (if needed);

4. Returning the harm to the client’s offender.

The method of imaginary vengeance and expressing of anger also might be used, but the clients with repressed anger are usually strongly against it.

Example: “A Dwarf in Red Hat”

After one of the meditative practices, the majority of the students of the workshop being in the very positive mood, one of the students complained that she was not feeling very well. Her heart rate was elevated, she felt problems with breathing and she was “freaking”.

The image of her state was paradoxically peaceful: a dwarf with a beard wearing a red hat. But, according to her feelings she insisted that the dwarf was very unfriendly; he wanted to harass her.

He was positive that the girl would never triumph.

Being acquainted with the vocabulary of images, I easily recognized the background of her experience and asked her whether she was raped. A lot of students were very much surprised with the question, but my experience told me that the dwarf in the hat definitely was a phallus’s symbol, and with all his malignity, desire to humiliate and taking into consideration the student’s general state, there was just one single option to have.

She confirmed that when she was 12, she was caught by a group of drunken jerks and was made to have oral sex. She never told anybody about it, but was always captured by gloomy experiences. The main feeling she felt was humiliation.

I suggested that she imagined herself strong enough to do anything she would like to the offenders. She strongly denied it, as she believed that she didn’t want to make any harm to anybody. Then I told her that the harm is staying with her anyhow, as the main goal of the rapist is to crow over the victim, to humiliate it.

That is why I recommended her to stop keeping this harm inside of her, as she was not responsible for the origin of this anger.

This anger belonged to the rapists and if she kept containing it in herself, she helped their plan come true, i.e. she became their associate. I asked her to mentally return them all the harm they made to her. Not more, but not less. To do this she was supposed to find the location of harm in her body and to politely return it back to them.

She agreed with such proposal and in some minutes of concentration she managed to fill the task and confirmed that she returned them everything back. With that all her psychosomatic symptoms released: no elevated heart rate, no tremor of hands, her breathing became regular, etc. She said that she felt like it was a plate in her chest.

Earlier the plate was broken but now it was just a little flawed. I supposed that not all the harm was returned back and she had to keep working on it. She concentrated again and soon said that this time had returned everything, and the plate became totally unbroken with blue flowers in the middle and as a rim. I interpreted the plate being her soul. Raping breaks the soul into pieces and returning this harm to its author rehabilitates it.

The girl spent a lot of her energy working on this problem. Even after she joined the rest of the students in the group, therapeutic process inside of her was going on. By the end of the session she said that the plate became golden, shining and smiling. She added that she felt as if her body was all moisturized with some ointment with a very nice mint odor. She said everything was splendid.

Later she confirmed that the problem has been sorted out and she felt much better. She stopped looking under the bed before she went to sleep looking for somebody hiding there, and she also stopped feeling fear to her husband.

Summarizing everything I would like to mention that it is impossible to discuss all issues of this problem in one article, although we managed to determine theoretical models explaining the origin of anger as well as several new devices helping to resolve this emotional problem.

References

1. Bandura, Albert, and Richard H. Walters. Adolescent Aggression: A Study of the Influence of Child – Training Practices. Moscow: Aprel Press, 1999

2. Barnes, Michael D. Healthy Wellbeing. Moscow: Veche: Persey, AST, 1995

3. Baron, Richard, and Richardson, David. Agression, St.Petersburg: Piter, 1997.

4. Grinberg, Daniel. Stress Management. St.Petersburg: Piter, 1997.

5. Goulding, Mary, and Goulding, Robert. Changing Life Through Redecision Therapy. Moscow: Class, 1997.

6. Kermani, Kei. Autogenic Training. Moscow: Exmo Press, 2002.

7. Linde, Nikolay D. Emotional Image Therapy. Theory and Practice. Moscow: Moscow State University of Humanities Publishing House, 2004.

8. McKay, Matthew, Rogers, Peter and McKay, Judith. When Anger Hurts. St.Petersburg: Piter, 1997

9. Newhard, Joseph Michael. The Lord of the Emotions. St.Petersburg: Piter, 1997

10. Pryor, Karen. Don’t Shoot the Dog. Moscow: Selena+, 1995

11. Rean, Albert A. Aggression and Aggressiveness. St.Petersburg: Piter. 1996

12. Rudestam, Kjell Eric. Experiential Groups in Theory and Practice. St.Petersburg: Piter, 2000

13. Smirnova, Tamara P., Psychological Correction of Aggressive Behavior with Children. Rostov-on-Don: Feniks, 2004.



Some cases of using the Emotional-Image Therapy in the process of solving the problems associated with the Inner Child

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2015, №1 (8), pp. 80—86

Nikolay Linde, Prof. Ph.D. (Psychology), Moscow Humanitarian University. е-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

The article describes some new possibilities of a psychotherapeutic method that is named Emotional-Image Therapy. Especially effectively these features appear in the solution the problems related to deviations in Ego-states of Inner Child. Some problems that could have easier solutions with the help of this method are mentioned specially. The examples based on author’s experience, are given alongside with skills that are utilized by the author of this method to achieve quick and stable results.

”Inner Child” (IC) is the child that represents the person himself/herself. This child is invisible, but express the fundamental problems of self-personalization. Every person at any moment of his/her life represented as Parent, Adult, and Child simultaneously, and this defines how he/she behaves with the other people. IC might be either happy or unhappy, depending on its personal attitude, and vice versa, what is its attitude towards a character, and what is its attitude towards itself. This definition was given by E. Berne [1], a creator of the theory of the transaction analysis.

Also critical here is the position of the IC to itself. It is the emotional reaction of IC which presumes the underlying emotional tone of personality, feeling of happiness or depression, self-confidence or inutility, etc. IC might revenge the personality for something unknown, give it luck or failure, lead it to the certain way of life and predefined choice of job, friends, spouse or attitude to person’s children.

IC’s condition is predetermined by the certain conditions in the person’s childhood. The most important is what was the parents’ attitude to the child and what were verbal and non-verbal “instructions” he/she got from them. How these “instructions” were interpreted by the child and what decisions had been made based on them.

Once established, the state remains in adults “by default” and an adult typically does not realize, how these states are being the cause of his chronic emotions, patterns of behavior and life strategy. IC preserves essential means of adaptation, which were chosen by the person in his childhood and is responsible for primary goals and grounds. Now I would like to say a few words about the method itself.

Emotional-Image Therapy (EIT) is a comparatively new branch of psychotherapy, which has been developed by the author since 1990; it has a lot in common with gestalt therapy, and symbol drama, but at the same time it has its features and peculiarities, which help to quick and efficient problem-solving. It seems that what the most important for this therapy is, its relationship between actual emotions and its verbiage. For this, a client is suggested to describe his/her experiences in problem situation, to find its physical correlations (where and how he/she feels it in the body), after which the client is suggested to imagine how do these feelings look like, as if they were on the chair in front of the client or inside his/her body. The client is also recommended to think spontaneously, like” say what first comes to your mind.”

It turned out that images (mostly visual, but sometimes audio, kinesthetic and osmotic) in this case contain much additional information about the client’s problem. They are composed unconsciously, as images in dreams that are the objects of thorough interpretations of Sigmund Freud [2].

Also, based on client’s images, it is possible not only to analyze the process but also to promote the correction of the fundamental problem by using different means of interaction between the client and the images, as if those images are real features. We can say that it is a method of the direct dialog with unconscious.

Problem-solving should not be performed automatically, but be relevant to the genuine status of the revealed emotional conflict. Some problems, analyzed by EIT method, have a lot in common with problems raised in S. Freud‘s works, the others are more likely correlate with A. Adler’s theory [3, 4]; some might be described in terms of E. Berne’s transaction analysis [5]. In all the cases, V. Raykh’s [6, 7] theories about blocking emotions with the help of muscular tensions are confirmed alongside with other theories.

In this article, we would like to describe the effects received in a combination of EIT method with theoretical basics of transaction analysis on Inner Child’s condition. There are many psychologists, who have the very vague idea of what this IC is. Everybody can talk about IC, but nobody can ‘try’ it. IC cannot be observed, it appears only in the case when the client turns on the status of IC (in terms of psychoanalysis it is called regression) and expresses childish reactions and feelings. With EIT method the IC is more vivid, it is possible to have a dialog with it and to establish new relationships, to solve its emotional problems, as if it is the real individual, being at the same time integrated part of the client. In our practice, it is rather a part of personality than Ego-state, but this contradiction with E. Berne’s theory is not an argument to be discussed in this article.

Our long-time experience with such cases makes it possible for us to make some conclusions and give a hint to other practicing psychologists’ solutions to many problems, which sometimes look like the dead-end type.

That is why we are going to describe some basic statements of EIT in working with IC and will recommend some methods for solving standard situations, using examples from our practice. We think it is worthwhile to start with an example that will give an opportunity to make some conclusions and to indicate some essential technical features of the job.

Example 1 “Disgusting Rat.”

During the workshop, a student asked for help in solving her problem. She complained of feeling powerless, apathy, but her primary symptom was “stomach fear.” She had very unpleasant feelings in her stomach, like tension, which became worse when somebody tried to touch her, even if it was her boyfriend. She tried to combat with this feeling and even made piercing on her belly button, but nothing worked. She also suffered from the thought that she will not be able to give birth (she was 20 years old, single) in future. Let’s say her name was Katya.

I suggested that she pictured the image of this “stomach fear” on the chair in front of her. The answer was; it was the disgusting dirty rat with a long tale. The rat wanted to eat something inside Katya’s stomach.

N.L.: Ask the rat, why is it doing it?

K.: For me not to exist at all…

N.L.: Why is it needed that you do not exist?

K.: It just wants me not to exist…

N.L. Why?

K.: Because I am odd, needless…

Comment. It is obvious that the ‘rat’ is symbolizing the hidden attitude of the girl to herself. Very often such feelings appear under the influence of parent’s words or actions. In this case, it is just a matter of learning how it had happened.

N.D.: Tell me, when and why did you start feeling needless?

K.: Always. My parents did not want me to be born. I was an unexpected child, and mom was going to make an abortion. I was the last child; they already had kids, and didn’t want more. Moreover, it was hard times; they were in lack of money. Although later, everybody loved me, and they do love me now, both mom and dad. However, still, I am always trying to please them, as if to get authorization for the living.

N.L.: (Addressing to the students’ auditorium). In theory, it is called, “Myth of Birth” and I’ve told you about it during my lectures. A child feels guilt for its birth “not in proper times’, or for “wrong birth,” which causes depression and suicidal attempts. Katya already expressed her desire not to exist.

K.: I am sorry to say, but it is true. Moreover, I realize that it is a bad idea.

N.L.: Would you like to get rid of this auto-aggression that is corporified in the image of the rat?

K.: Of course, I do. However, I do not know how…

N.L.: So, why not you tell the rat that you are not going to destroy, kick out, and deny it. Tell her that it is nice, that you adapt her being as it is; tell her that you need it.

Comment. By this time, it became apparent that the rat symbolized an image of two Katya’s crucial problems. First, the fact that the rat was disgusting, presumed that the girl had negative feelings about herself, she felt that she was ‘odd and needless.’ At the same time, the rat was a symbol of IC living in girl’s body. Second, what this rat was doing in Katya’s stomach was it was destroying it, making abortion (which is what her mother did not do); it was direct conveyance.

It was obvious that Katya’s fear to be infertile started here. As far as the fundamental problem here was self-denial, the goal was to overcome this emotional fixation. That was critical, but I did not want to go into details, for the sake of not losing the temper and causing her reluctance. In Katya’s mind, it was a ‘rat’, which hated her, that was why she was not reluctant to express her warm feelings to the ‘rat’, but what happened in reality was that by doing it Katya adapted herself back, returning to herself the feeling of necessity.

K.: Should I say it aloud or silently?

N.L. Silently would be better. However, tell me what happens to the rat while you are telling it all that?

K.: (Working hard for several minutes). The rat is getting smaller.

N.L. How do you feel? Do you feel worse or better? How is your stomach?

K.: I am getting better…

N.L. Then keep saying it what you are saying.

K.: (After some internal work). Now it is a puppy, not the rat.

N.L.: Do you like it?

K.: It is cute.

N.L.: O! Your eyes are shining! How are you feeling?

K.: (With an embarrassing, but happy smile). I am fine. Somehow I even feel hot, as if some heat penetrated in me.

Comment. It is her warm attitude to herself getting back to her, and she can feel it even on the physiological level.

N.L.: Do you like this puppy? Do you want to adapt it forever as a part of your personality?

K.: Yes, of course!

N.L.: What do you feel in your stomach?

K.: Everything is fine! No tension at all. Warm feelings.

N.L.: Imagine somebody touching your belly, e.g. your boyfriend…

Comment. It is a follow-up of the changes occurred, using the supposed critical situation.

K.: (Shy). Everything is fine, no negative emotions or feelings.

N.L.: Do you want to keep these changes forever?

K.: Of course, I do

Comment. Client’s positive attitude is a sincere consentient for the results. Now it is possible to give explanations, it will not cause resistance.

N.L.: Now I would like to explain what had happened to you. The fact that you felt lonely and needless in your childhood resulted in the denial of your Inner Child. The Child automatically started the unconscious program on self-destruction, aka abortion.

That is why the child turned into the horrible aggressive rat, which was attacking your stomach, and the stomach reflexively became tense. This was the reason you started to doubt that you might be fertile in future. Now, when you adapted your Child, and it became your friend, your auto aggressiveness was canceled, your belly became standard. It is it. If you have any questions or if you doubt in the results, I am ready to proceed.

K.: No, I understand everything. I am feeling good, and I know that everything will be ОК in future. I’ve once consulted with the other therapist and was very disappointed. Thanks a lot; I could not even imagine that this might be possible.

N.L.: Great, the session is over.

In about two weeks, I’ve asked her how she was feeling, and she said everything was okay.

Comment. The session lasted for 15-20 minutes, and within these time frame the Stonewall problem of Katya’s life had been solved. Her problem was self-rejection, although she knew that her parents loved her, that is why there was no need to work with her past life from the standpoint of her parents’ attitude to her. This approach would have made the work more sophisticated and would make changes in Katya’s emotional world more complicated if even possible at all.

Several conclusions can be made out of this session (confirmed by other cases).

1. Image of IC appears spontaneously, as a response to the request to imagine the discussed feeling. We never say:” Imagine your Inner Child!” IC state is often expressed in a symbolic form, which corresponds to an emotional attitude of the client to himself/herself as a child.

2. Actions of IC correspond with childish decisions of the client, and his/her emotions are reactions to these decisions. “The rat” made abortion, and the girl felt fear in her stomach.

“Bad’ Child has bad behavior and causes problems to individual him/herself.

3. The image behaves like a human being and changes, depending on mental activities of the client and of feelings, expressed by the client.

4. “Correct” changes in the client’s attitude towards himself/herself as a child lead to positive changes in IC’s image, and by these changes it becomes possible to trace the results of therapy.

5. The psychosomatic status of the client reflects situation when the IC becomes “beautiful”; all negative symptoms fade being substituted by vivid, positive experiences, which can be expressed by the word ‘happiness.’ Results of the therapy are visible immediately.

6. If follow-up of the supposed critical situation confirms the positive result, you may be sure that the session is a success.

7. The primary goal of the session is that a client should become a good parent to himself/herself. In EIT, it is achieved by paradoxical expressing nice feelings to “attacking” child.

Let us have a look at another example with similar basics.

Example 2. “Hoodoo.”

Male, 40 years old asked for the consultation. He believed that he was under hoodoo. He has been treated by several psychics spending much money with no positive results. I’ve asked him how he felt he was under hoodoo.

The answer was: ‘It is torturing me; it is tearing my chest into pieces…” “What does it look like?” “It is a horrible dragon, with huge teeth and claws; it is torturing me…” “Just do what I am saying, and I’ll explain everything later. Only put your hand on the dragon’s head, pat it and say: “I know you are nice!”

A client did what he was recommended to and was very surprised saying that the dragon started crying! He was advised to keep patting the dragon and to repeat saying to him that he was nice. In some short time, the dragon transformed into a small child. It turned that the client had always felt that his mother did not love him.

He even had asked her several years ago: “Mother, why didn’t you ever love me?” The answer was “I am sorry; son, but nobody liked me in my childhood. My heart turned into ice, and I was just unable to love you.” This was what he got from her. I explained to him that the Dragon was his Inner Child, which was suffering itself, and this was that tortured the man. The client was supposed to begin loving this child and to take care of him, to become a real parent for him. When he did it, his hoodoo vanished.

Moreover, he felt “dizziness of happiness” and ‘flew away.’ However, of course, the work with him was not over, the client had to show up several more times, and the work went on. It is not always that one session is enough for this work with IC.

Usually it needs several sessions and very thorough work, although the reason of suffering is very simple: a mother, who did not love in childhood.

It is tough to correct this situation, and it is much easier to visit psychic than to touch basis with such painful emotions.

Moreover, the person typically does not realize that his/her sufferings are due to the emotional state of his/her IC, although it is almost visible.

IC might appear in the image of a sun, a pussycat, a hobgoblin, a broken doll, a jellyfish, a pirate, a dragon, a big soft stone, etc.

It might be even the image of the big wooden bobbin with a thick rope spooled! When the rope was unspoiled, and a bobbin received the energy, the bobbin turned into Pinocchio, and then into a child, and then into a client himself. As it turned out later, the rope was the symbol of the client, being wrapped up by his father’s authoritarian rising. As a result, the child was humiliated and “got stiffed”. It is a real issue of how to recognize that this or that image symbolizes an IC and nothing else.

1. Image, which symbolizes the IC, has the same features of character, behavior, and emotions as kids normally have.

2. It radiates energy, introversions, and vigilance. It might be suffering when its energy is suppressed (usually it might be its parents who are doing it), but in all the cases it is an essential point of all the problems discussed.

3. The goals to be ‘achieved’ by the image are irrational and correspond with typical childish needs and adaptations. E.g., it might seek for one’s attention or might be angry due to the lack of love, might be unsocial, mechanical, isolated, offended, etc.

4. To reveal the true nature of the problem, the therapist must do some investigation and ask questions. The response will be in the name of the image. Various actions towards the image (e.g. stroking), alongside with relevant words, cause transformations in the image, and produce reactions that reveal its genuine essence.

The client also can be suggested to switch the chairs with an image and speak about its feelings and emotions in its name.

Let us explain these concepts with two more examples.

Example 3. “The Rocks and the Sun.”

During the workshop, a student complained about the suffering of severe headaches since she was an 8-year student. Since she learned about EIT, she and her friend decided to get rid of this headache using this method. The student imagined her brain, and it seemed to her it was colored in black. By her friend’s advice, she started to repaint it in different colors. Being a mechanical approach to the problem, it was unsuccessful. While telling this story, a student still suffered from a headache.

Giggling at the innocence of the girl, I have proposed the girl to describe her headache. She said that it was something that tried “to break out” of the head, it looked like a rock, which wanted to crash out of the head and then to split into two parts. This image itself gave me the necessary information, as rock being a symbol of an authoritarian parent.

Following my advice, the girl allowed the rock to get out from her head. When she did, the rock divided into two parts. Giving no explanations, I suggested that the girl imagines something that is compressed by these rocks. The image was the little sun, which, of course, symbolized a small child. I asked the student to give as much energy to this sun as possible (method on enforcing the energy).

After she gave this sun all energy she could, the two parts of the rock had completely moved apart and then melted away while the sun started to shine brightly. Girl’s eyes were also shining brightly, and she was surprised to confirm that she got rid of a headache.

Then I assumed that when she was an 8-year student, her parents started to scourge on her. The girl confirmed it was true, because it was the time when her father passed away, (she was still missing him), and her mother and grandmother were both treating her strictly, for her to behave modestly. It became apparent now why the rock had had two heads: it was the girl’s mother and grandmother.

Example 4. “Mischievous little devil.”

This session took place during Gestalt therapy séance. A young woman complained of severe allergy to cold. Her eyes and nose were itching; she was sneezing all the time with her eyes always getting red.

I suggested that she should recall these feelings (which didn’t occur in a warm room), and imagine that they were sitting on the chair in front of her. I asked her “What is it like those feelings? Say first that comes to your mind…”

She started laughing and said that it was a small devilkin, which was tickling her inside her nose. It was doing it because it wanted to be played with, to be paid attention. It was obvious that it was her Inner Child, who wanted to play. The problem was that somehow she felt that it was “unfortunate little devil.» It was obvious that she was not allowed to be a child as it was in her childhood. She always was a serious ‘good girl’, she was not supposed to play as all the kids did, and she had to ‘do right thingsThe reaction She even never bedraggled her dress in her childhood. She still thought that adults were always legitimate, and affirmative people and children were always the ‘wrong ‘ones. That was the reason she repressed her mischievous little devil out of her consciousness. Of course, I suggested that she adapts this mischievous little devil, plays with it, and allows it to play as long as it wants to… It was very hard for her to do it. She felt that she was not allowed to play. Her parents’ instructions prohibited her from doing it. We “loaded” these instructions on the chair. Client’s right leg was “somehow” tugging, but she reined it her left leg. I asked her, what her right leg wanted to do. She said it was indecent. It took her a while to dare to boot the chair with all the parents’ taboos on it! Only after doing it she managed to get friends with the devilkin and to start playing with it. Immediately something happened with her nose as if heat was flowing in it from somewhere, and it was so pleasant…

Let us formulate several more conceptions:

5. IC does not always appear in the form of a symbol; it is very often that a client imagines a child as it is straight away and realizes that it is him/her. E.g., a man saw an 18- month’s naked child whose body was red; the baby was furious.

He was angry with the man because he was not loved “due to him”. By psychotherapist’s advice, a man allowed his IC to express his anger, and then listened to him attentively; when the IC finished, the client’s body color returned to normal. The man hugged the child and adopted him as a part of his personality. Immediately his diaphragm (where all his anger had been stored) relaxed, and his stomach started moving rhythmically. (See also an article on the phobias correction, and a case with Metro phobia [6]).

6. During long-term work images of IC may appear again and again, and every time they will be different, as they will express different types of child’s problems, various traumas and means of adaptation.

7. Age of the imagined child coincides with the age of the client in which he/she had got the trauma, crucial for that moment. E.g., a young girl, sees a three years old sad girl, and it turns that when she was three years old, her father had left the family.

8. It should be the differentiation between the client imagining not an IC, but a different child. E.g., a single woman, can imagine a child who had died, or a child that she had failed to have, etc. This image can be differentiated from the IC by the fact that the client does not accept him as a part of his/her personality, and the fact that it is not the image that is suffering, getting angered, etc., but a client himself/herself worries about the image. In this case, the real life circumstances related to these emotions should be investigated. Please find an example of such a case.

Example 5. “Child-Man.”

During a master class session, a girl complained of the stomach pain. The image of the pain was unexpected – it was a baby child! It was calm, healthy, and indifferent; and definitely couldn’t cause any pain. It obviously couldn’t be an IC…. There were many hypotheses, but to reveal the latent meaning of the image, I’ve suggested that the girl tells this baby that she allows it to show all its hidden potential. The girl stepped back in horror as the baby turned into the huge angry man with red eyes and long claws!”

Then I guessed that she probably might have a conflict with some man. When asked, the girl confirmed that some middle age man fell in love with her. She did not want these relationships but was afraid of saying ‘no,’ as she was work-subordinated to him.

I recommended her to imagine how she talks to this man (it was imagination so that it could not do any harm). She was clear and straight in explaining her feelings to this image. The result was that the man’s eyes turned into normal color, claws vanished, and the man got off. The girl said she now was ready to talk to the real man. Moreover, her pain immediately dissolved!

In two weeks, she told me that she did speak to that man in reality, and he managed to understand her reasons with no negative consequences for her. This story makes it clear that the very careful attention should be paid to the real meaning of the image, and the image by no means can not be accepted it ‘as it is.” Another question is how to change the emotional stereotype of Inner Child if it is causing symptoms that are undesirable for the client.

Many methods can be used in this case; but here it is the basic one. The client is recommended to express kind feelings to the image, to pet it and to say the words that are opposite to those instructions, which caused the initial problem. E.g., a client, is suggested to tell the IC that he/she will never deny it, isolate, criticize, humiliate, etc. He/she is also recommended to determine the IC that now it is allowed to be confident, healthy, loved, successful, etc.

The client might be advised to take responsibility for healthcare, happiness and successfulness of the child, to care for it, even to become its caring parent. It is prohibited to feel compassion because this feeling is correlated to the child’s blackmailing feelings.

The more compassion, the unhappier the image of IC will become, and the client will follow this path and become unhappy himself/herself. It is against the temptation, but the client should be explicitly instructed to stop feeling compassion to ‘poor’ image, and instead to allow it to become healthy, strong and self-sufficient.

It also might be worthwhile to give the IC chance to express its overwhelming negative feelings, and merely listen to all complaints. In some cases, it also will benefit if the client becomes aware, that it is his/her internal child, and it is the client himself/herself making the life so unbearable.

Parents, whose influence on the child was crucial in childhood, now have no influence on the client at all. It helps to cancel sincerely the negative attitude towards IC and to avoid needless childish adaptations (e.g. self-isolation). Several other approaches could be used in such cases, including reinforcement of energy, paradoxical solution, anti- the indication, etc. ([9]).

Next question is: what type of psychological problems is the most relevant for the IC issue?

There is a Russian saying “We all get started in our childhood…” That is why the problem of IC can be frequently encountered in depressions, phobias, in obsessive disorders, in psychosomatic diseases, with alcohol and narcotics addictions, etc. It can be found in almost every psychological disorder.

A practical psychologist can face this problem in working with almost every client although it may be not so critical in clients with a post-traumatic syndrome, rape, grief, loss, etc.

By using IC and EIT method, the psychotherapist can solve a lot of ‘everyday’ and ‘applied’ issues that would demand great efforts if being solved by other means. A good example of this can be a problem typical of millions of parents and students: “I cannot force myself studying”.

This problem is based on the conflict between the Inner Child and the Inner Parent. In childhood, a kid was forced to prepare the homework, and it was unpleasant. That is why the child have developed the standard method of adaptation to resist the parents’ enforcement.

Let’s call it “Delay.” Now the client is not a child any longer and handles his studies. He complains: “I pull myself to the desk to start studies, but the more efforts I make, the further I am from the desk! Finally, I start preparing for the exam the night before it… I learn all night, and the next day when I am supposed to pass the exam, I have a severe headache, and, as a result, I get C… What can I do with it?”

What happens is he splits himself up in repressive Parent and stubborn Child and acts as the fantastic beast with two heads. He is wasting more time for forcing himself into working rather than working itself.

The remedy of choice for solving this problem by EIT method is simple, although paradoxical. First, the client is suggested to imagine the part of his personality which does not want to study, aka IC. Then…

— O, it is Masha who is laying on the couch with her headphones on, she is listening to the swanky music. She sips Jin&Tonic; she smokes a slim cigarette, and she wants to do nothing!

— OK, could you please tell her: “Masha, you are more then welcomed to spend as much on the coach, as you want? You have the opportunity to listen to the music, drink Jin&Tonic, smoke cigarettes, and why not. You are allowed to do all this”.

— No, no way! I cannot do it!

— Just for the experiment, let’s see what might happen.- Do you want me to say it loudly?

— Better do it silently, but it is up to you. However, please tell me what happens to Masha.

— (Working hard). O, it is impossible! (Laughing). She jumped from the coach, gets rid of headphones, pours Jin & Tonic into the sink, stops smoking and rushed to the table for learning! No, I cannot understand what’s going on…

So, the first step is when the client stops pushing him/herself and allows the IC to do what it wants to do, and not to do what it does not want to. The paradoxical result is that the child starts working or studying, only if he/she gets sincere permission to stand against (because child’s stubbornness is just his way to stand against parents’ rising).

After (and only after) she released the child, she starts to behave adequately. In this case she should begin learning, the psychotherapist should start working with the image of the internal parent, who used to criticize the child and force him to study.

This parent is recommended to get rid of responsibility, to stop worrying and to start living efficiently and cheerfully. Sometimes it happens that the image of the parent and the picture of the child run into one Adult…

The client is supposed to understand all the logic of the job. He/she must get rid of resistance by any means. By the end, as usual, the result is confirmed by an imagined situation. Students are very surprised to say that just after one session they stop delaying the study, it is easy for them to start, and even if they get tired, they can easily postpone learning, as they are positive that everything will be covered by them later.

I would like to report one more case about the mother who faced problems with her daughter’s studies.

Example 6. “Torment Studying”

During the training session in Volgograd, a young woman complained that she had problems with her daughter’s studies. She pushed the girl to start doing her home task, screamed at her, being pretty unhappy with herself about doing that; every time they both ended up with tears.

First, I suggested that she gets advice from the other women in the group. There were a lot of them who were happy to share their ideas with no decision made, although the brainstorm lasted for a long time. It revealed that all the attempts to solve the problem had led to a psychological dead end, and women got an opportunity to realize all the non-productiveness of their therapy.

After this unsuccessful brainstorm, I suggested that the mother reconstructs the scene of the daughter’s studies right away. A woman stood over the daughter. The girl apparently didn’t understand her home task. I recommended her to speak both in her name and in her daughter’s, either to sit on the chair or to stand over it. She started (in a very annoyed voice): “Okay, what exactly you do not understand? Here is subject, here is the object. I remember you learning the rule!”

— Please, sit down on the chair and imagine that you are a daughter. What do you feel?

— I understand nothing, my thoughts are messed around, mom is forcing me (piteously). I do not remember.

— (Get’s up.) You never remember anything! How many times can I repeat one and the same thing?

— (Sits down.) There are tears in my eyes. I understand nothing… It is smog in my head.

The conflict was evident, and the heavier the mother’s pressure was, the less could the girl understand, she almost lost her consciousness. It seemed that the situation had no way out. I suggested that the mother starts from scratch, but in a different way. She had no ideas of how to do that.

Then I recommended to start with: “Okay, let’s figure out together, what’s wrong with this rule?” (Criticizing and Pushing Parent turns into the Caring one”). The dialog was repeated but with the different outcome.

It turned that everything became very clear in girl’s head, (same with mother), and they very quickly managed to find the solution. Everybody was stunned. There were many women in the group who were crying, as all of them had encountered the same problems with their children.

However, the most important part of the session started later, when working with IC.

The mother, being triumphal, got back to her seat, but in a minute she felt nausea and dizziness. She became very pale. I had to call her back to the “hot chair.” She said that as soon as she got back to her place, she saw her mother standing over her with a belt for punishing. She felt tremendous humiliation. I suggested that she imagined this feeling on the chair in front of her. It turned to be the image of the small girl, like Thumbelina. I asked whether it was possible for her to raise this girl, giving her all the energy.

She started doing it. The girl grew up and soon became of the same size as a woman herself. After this, the client adopted the girl into herself, as a part of her personality. After that, she was asked again to have a look at her mother. The reaction was strange: “I do not care. Let her stand. I feel that she cannot do me any harm.”

Comments: It is obvious, that this method is based on the idea of overcoming of the child’s humiliation by energization of the image and the following identification with it. It is also obvious that pedagogical helplessness of the mother was based on her psychological problems, which came back from her childhood.

When the woman showed up the next day, she thanked me a lot for the result. She woke up in an excellent mood; she had much energy, and she felt happiness, her relationship with her daughter improved tremendously.

I think there is no need to convince the reader, how important the problem is and how difficult it is to correct this “small” problem. EIT in cooperation with E. Berne’s concept, give us the chance to achieve significant and encouraging results.

The goal of this article was to show new advantages of EIT, which were not yet discussed in printed media, and to share with colleagues the ideas, which give the opportunity to solve some problems quickly, efficiently and gracefully. Unfortunately, it is impossible to describe all the devices and peculiarities of the work with IC in just this one article.

Reference

1. Berne, E., 1964. Games People Play, Ballantine Books (reprint 1996).

2. Freud, S., 1899. The Interpretation of Dreams.

3. Adler, A. (1938). Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind. J. Linton and R. Vaughan (Trans.). London: Faber and Faber Ltd.

4. Adler, A. (1956). The Individual Psychology. H. L. Ansbacher and R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York: Harper Torchbooks.

5. Berne, E. I am OK You are OK. Ed. Avon Books. 1976.

6. Vgl. Reich. Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral. Verlag Г. 1934

7. Vgl. Reich. Massen Psychologie des Faschismus. Verlag Г. 1939.



Emotion-Image Therapy as a method of a dialogue
with an unconscious nature of a human

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2013, №1 (6), pp. 73—77

Nikolay Linde, Prof., Ph.D., Moscow Institute of Psychoanalytic Therapy, Head of the Emotion-Image Therapy department, member of the Professional Psychotherapeutic League, President, Linde N.D. Emotion-Image Therapy Center. E-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

Report for the plenary session of the Congress. The Report is dedicated to some particularities of Emotion-Image Therapy (EIT) that allow achieving the fast and sustainable results when analyzing the unconscious world of the client and correcting the impacts on the pathogenic emotional state. The Report gives practical samples and comments, explaining the effects. This year we tested the new form of a master class where the teachers trained by us deliver lectures in turn. Such approach attracted the great interest and raised the enthusiasm among all participants of the new form of master classes. It stimulates the teachers to perfect and improve the skills of the therapists, including the teachers of the future therapists as well. We have one supervisor in our school who has been educated in PPL and received the relevant certificate. But the work of the supervisor in our department needs the further development.

Key words: emotions, sense, image, unconscious human being, self-cognition, dialogue.

The psychotherapy solves two interconnected tasks such as the help to the client in self-cognition and in self-modification. The self-cognition assumes that the client does not realize certain things about himself, in other words, the client is not conscious of something.

He should realize the inner psychic causes that create the problem, and then the need to solve the problem using the specific method. That is why we call Emotion-Image Therapy (hereinafter “EIT”) analytically effective and causal therapy. Emotion-Image Therapy presumes the new ways of the emotional state analysis and the corrective measures using the spontaneously generated images by the client.

Our methods let us realize the real causes of the sufferings and demonstrate it to the client eye-mindedly and impressively. Then we offer to the client our help in affecting mentally the emotional image thus changing not only the image itself, but modifying the initial negative state and transforming it into the positive image.

We consider the development of EIT methods in a very inspiring light. Just to say, that we can cure asthma, allergy, neurodermia, chronic algia, thyroid disorders, tachycardia and arrhythmia, various phobias, anaclises, sufferings caused by any distresses and losses, the relational problems, sense of quilt, sorrow, anger, lack of femininity or masculinity and many other problems.

The client’s consciousness works the image, thus embracing all senses and influencing upon himself. The obtained results are stabilized and transformed into the stable psychological and somatopsyclic state, that remains later in the subconscious psychic world of the client.

That is why EIT lets achieve the fast and stable results in treating the psychic pains, allergies, phobias, troubles, anaclises, sorrows, dissociations and other problems. The developed EIT methods demonstrate a quite original technique of analyzing the images and treating the emotional states such as return of “investments”, a paradox resolution, rain contemplation, the adoption of an inner Child, a return of a “gift”, etc.

Moreover, there is a whole system of completely new imaginative exercises that allow revealing the concealed problems or obtaining resources. EIT is based on the original theoretical approaches such as a role of emotional states in the development of the psychological problems and grounds for its conception, the interaction of the consciousness and unconsciousness, and the possible correction of the emotional state through the client’s mental activities, aimed at the image, the emotional focus and the principles of rescue from the compulsive images. The system of philosophical conceptions which is under the permanent development in EIT plays a significant role in the whole process.

In a process of Emotion-Image Therapy the client stays in a permanent “on-line” contact with his own unconscious being and is subject to the continuous interaction with a therapist. The therapist realizes what happens with the client who is submerged in the process and does not always realize what he does at the moment. But the therapist directs his efforts in finding the environmentally correct solution of the problem.

Freud believed that the analysis of the dreams was the “tsar’s road” in the psychoanalysis. EFT creates the real dreams, but such dreams are directed and associated with the principal negative emotional state, which generates the studied problem. In this way we hit the target at once, in other words, the initial emotional conflict which creates the whole system and which is not realized by the client. He generates the images unconsciously and knows the real causes of such images; moreover, the images mirror the essence of the matter. The images shall be interpreted, but sometimes they explain the origin of all symptoms and the therapist shall only “select” the instant truth.

Example 1: “Small hedgehog”.

At the seminar a woman, a psychologist, requested me to treat claustrophobia. She said that “the claustrophobia is not so strong, but all doors are removed in her house”. The first time she faced the problem after delivering a child, who was very ill for a whole year.

Currently this phobia may happen in any enclosed space, for example, in a lift. I asked her to imagine herself confined in some premise, room or lift, and describe her feelings. She answered that even now just imagining such situation she worried a lot, her hands trembled and heartbeat was so strong, that she could hardly breathe.

Then I asked her to imagine it just now. Without thinking twice she said that she saw a small hedgehog beating the drum with wood sticks. At first sight it was ridiculous. How and in what way the claustrophobia could look like a small hedgehog with a drum?

But I realized immediately what was behind the realization of my client. The hedgehog is always associated with a man, and it means that a small hedgehog is associated with a kid. I asked her if she had a boy.

She nodded in agreement. Then I realized that the motherly anxiety for the sick child was the reason of the fears of the confined spaces where the mother could not control the health of her child. The drum meant the heart of the mother which worried about the small hedgehog (it drummed causing the tachycardia). That is why all doors were removed from her house! All other confined spaces cause the fears by the virtue of the associative transfer law.

At present the child is absolutely healthy and I said to her: “Please, say to the hedgehog mentally that you allow it to stay healthy and independent without my support”. She repeated it mentally several times, feeling much better. Very soon she saw how the hedgehog dropped drum-sticks, left for another room and kept playing there with its toys… The strong heartbeat ceased and the hands stopped trembling. Later I explained to her the meaning of the images and the mental liberation of the kid from the obsessive attention and the client agreed with me.

The séance supported with the imagination of the confined space by the woman brought the complete serenity to her, and the claustrophobia was gone. The practical exercises on the next day gave the same results.

The example demonstrates the “direct hit at the fixation point” of the client by the therapist, followed by the client’s immediate deliverance from the obsessive image.

In most cases Emotion-Image Therapy demands some “investigations” of the images created by the client. In such cases the Socratic dialogue is needed and during the séance the created images are asked questions as if they were the living beings. But the client answers the questions himself, sometimes sitting down on the chair, which projected the image and playing the role of the image.

The therapist asks the questions aimed at the development and study of the therapeutic hypothesis; sometimes he asks the client to do some actions related to the image and describe the transformation of the image under such actions.

Only after the “mosaic” builds the clear picture demonstrating how the specific psychological cause generates the negative psychological consequences the therapist asks the client to make the actions to erase the initial cause.

Example 2: “Nasty rat”

At the seminar one of the students expressed the wish to solve her problem. She complained about the frequent inner weakness, apathy, but she believed that “fear of belly” was the main symptom. In other words, she felt something very unpleasant in her stomach, something resembling the tension, fears, and it became stronger if somebody touched her belly, even if this somebody was her friend. She fought with this feeling. She even pieced her navel for a ring, but nothing helped. The thought if she could deliver a child in the future tortured her (she was not married at that time; she was only 20). We would call her Katya.

I asked her to imagine this “fear of belly” on the chair in front of her. She answered at once and described the image of a nasty dirty rat with a long tail. The rat wanted to eat something inside her stomach.

N.L.: ‘Ask it, why the rat is doing it?’

K.: ‘It wants that I would disappear … ‘

N.L.: ‘And why it wants you to disappear?’

K.: “Simply it wants that I would not exist at all…’

N.L.: ‘But why?’

K.: ‘Because I am not wanted here… ‘

Comments

The Socratic dialogue with the rat image revealed that the girl felt her unwanted in this world. Very often it may be the result of the parents’ words or deeds. Now we should learn what caused such reaction…

N.L.: ‘Tell me since when and why you feel unwanted?’

K.: ‘Always. Because my parents did not want me as I was an unplanned child, and my mother was going to have an abortion. I was the last child in the family, unwanted child, as my parents already had children and did not want the another one. In addition, when I was born the parents had hard times and needed money. Later everybody loved me, and now they love me, both my dad and mom. But nevertheless, I always do my best to please them, to be likable, as if I am trying to justify my existence’.

N.L.: (Addressing the students). ‘In theory it is known as the “myth of birth” I told you about it in my lectures. The child feels guilty for his or her “untimely” or “wrong” birth and the depression or the hidden suicidal intention might be the result of it. Per se, you told already about your will to interrupt your existence… ‘

Comments: Now Katya’s fears that she would not deliver her own children become evident.

K.: ‘I am ashamed to admit it, but it is so. At the same time I realize that it is wrong.’

N.L.: ‘Do you understand that the rat in your stomach is having the same abortion your mother hadn’t?’

K.: ‘Yes, I understand’.

N.L.: ‘Would you like to get rid of this auto aggression, materialized in the rat image?’

K.: ‘Yes, I do! But I don’t know how… ‘

N.L.: ‘So I ask you to do exactly as I say: spread the hand mentally, stroke the rat and tell it: ‘I would never send you away or reject you. You are very good and I accept you for who you are and rat, I really need you a lot!’

Comments

The image of a rat is always associated with the rejected child. Here we face the problem of self-rejection, and the proposal of N.L. is aimed at the negotiation of this emotional fixation. I did not explain it to Katya to watch the séance process and prevent her resistance. In her mind Katya understands that the “rat” hates her. So she does not want to display good feelings to the rat. Nevertheless, in reality Katya accepts herself, returning the sense of pertinence in the dialogue with her unconscious being.

K.: ‘Aloud or silently?’

N.L.: ‘Better silently… But keep telling me what happens to the rat while you talk with it’.

K.: (For some time she is concentrated on her thoughts). ‘The rat diminishes in size’.

N.L.: ‘Are you feeling better or worse? What about your belly?’

K.: ‘Better…’

N.L.: ‘So continue talking with the rat…’

K.: (Katya stays concentrated for some time more). At last the rat turns into the merry lop-eared puppy.

N.L.: ‘Do you like it?’

K.: ‘Yes, it is very nice, and you can play with it’.

Comments: The rejected inner child has transformed into a joyful, natural and desirable baby!

N.L.: ‘Oh! Your eyes shine! How do you feel now?’

K.: (Smiling happily, but shyly). ‘Jolly good. Don’t know why, but I am hot, as if the warmth spread through my whole body.

Comments: The return of warm attitude to herself as a child that affected even the physiology.

N.L.: ‘Do you like the puppy? Are you agreeing to accept it for ever as the part of your personality?’

K.: ‘Sure!’

N.L.: “What do feel in the stomach now?’

K.: ‘Excellent! No tension. Only pleasant feelings’.

N.L.: ‘Just imagine, that somebody touches you belly, for instance, a young man…’

Comments

Just for checking the stability of the results using the approach to the critical situation.

K.: (Shyly). ‘Everything is fine, no negative feelings’.

N.L.: ‘Do you want that such changes stayed with you for ever?’

K.: ‘Of course, I want it’.

Comments

The sincere agreement of the client is enough to serve the proof of the results. Now I can give my explanations as such explanations would not cause the resistance of the client.

N.L.: Now I will explain what has happened if you do not mind… As a result of your pertinence feelings you rejected the inner child. The child automatically started the unconscious process of self-destruction, an abortion. That is why the child turned into the nasty aggressive rat attacking your stomach, and your stomach tensed in response. That is why you had doubts about delivering children. Now when you accepted your child, he became your friend, the auto aggression stopped, the tension in the stomach gone. That is all… If you have any further doubts or any questions I am ready to continue…

K.: No, everything is clear. I feel good and know that I would feel the same farther… I went to visit the other therapist and was disappointed. Thank you very much. I did not believe that it is possible.

N.L.: Well, that is excellent. The séance is over.

In about two weeks time I asked her about her feelings and got the proof that all was right. One year later she gave a birth to her child and kept attending classes with a baby carriage. She has not even recalled our séance.

Comments

The séance took 15-20 minutes, but the basic Katya’s problem was resolved for her future life. Let’s note that during the séance Katya realized the concealed associations between the events in her childhood and psychological problems. The impact upon her own unconscious being was done by the client himself but under the guide and with explanations of the therapist.

During the therapy the images may behave oddly, violating the laws peculiar to the physical objects as the images represent such objects. But the images are subordinate to the emotional world laws, and in the process of the amazing transformations a human is freed of psychosomatic problems which he or she did not hope to resolve. That is why the people who experienced our method very often call it “fantastic”.

Example 3: “Broken bottle melts”

At the seminar one of the students (let’s call him Sergey) knowing that I can cure the pain in the spine asked me to help him and treat the chronic pain in the lower back. For the first time the pain started three years ago when he left the army. I asked him if he had any trauma, physical or psychological, during his service, or was there any hazing.

‘No’, answered Sergey.

N.L.: What has happened? Did you suffer any stress?

S.: My girl did not wait for me till I come back from the army and got married! For the whole two years I was in depression.

N.L.: Well, picture and describe your pain.

S.: If to break the bottle with Champaign the second half of the bottle will have the sharp ends, so-called “rosette”. I feel as if this rosette is trust into my lower back!

N.L.: Now ask this rosette if it has something to tell you?

S.: It says that this is for being unable of holding the girl!

Comments

May be, it isn’t by chance that the rosette selected the sexual chakra according to yoga. May be, it is not by chance the image was in the form of “rosette” thus resembling the woman.

N.L.: I ask you to tell this bottle that you permit it to disclose all feelings concealed in it…

S.: And how the bottle can express its feelings?

N.L.: Do not worry about it, simply say it …

S.: Then the bottle starts melting and dropping wax. (At this moment the tears started running down his cheeks). Oh, sorry, I do not understand what’s happening. I can not stop crying…

N.L.: That’s okay, nobody sees it. (The students sat behind and could not see his face). Let all tears go, it is good! But, please, tell me, what’s happening with the bottle.

In some time Sergey said that the bottle melted completely, and the tears stopped running down his cheeks. The pain in the lower back was gone as well. In two years I met him in the institute. Sergey thanked me and said that even now he did not understand what has happened and what I’ve done to him, but since that day he had no pain in the spine and problems with the girls.

Comments

In fact, the image of the bottle symbolized the anger of Sergey. We helped him to relieve the pain, and hence the anger has passed and, as a result, the pain disappeared.

The imaginable sounds, and even the imaginable smells, might be used to treat the psychosomatic problems. The olphactive (sense of smell) method proposed by me to treat the stress and heart ache is perfect even if the beginners use it when treating completely unprepared clients.

Briefly, the method may be described as the offer of the psychotherapist to the client, suffering from pain in the breast. The psychotherapist asks the client to imagine the scent of the pain (depending on the client) and then to nose it till the client feels that the imaginable scent dissipated fully or vanished. The surprising phenomenon which can be observed in such case (that is permanently proved by any clients) is based on the fact that the pain a human suffers goes away and disappears together with the dissipation of the imaginable scent. At that, the whole psychotherapy process takes three – five minutes maximum. Moreover, not only the painful sensations disappear, but the normal color returns to the face of the client together with all normal physical functions, and the client can continue his routine physical activities without difficulties or fears. The positive results are evident in 100% cases if the client follows the instructions. I use this method successfully already for 20 years.

Example 4: “Scent of stress”.

Quite recently I used the method to treat a woman who had the stress. The stress was caused by the information about her hospitalized father with a sudden stroke or heart attack. Her father lived in Uzbekistan. She could not stop crying and tears were permanently running down her face; the ends of her lips and even eyes sank; she could not breathe normally; something dragged her right hand down and she could not move it, and in the center of the breast she experienced the spiritual pain. I offered to mentally put the pain on the palm of the left hand, smell it and describe the smell.

Despite her sufferings she obeyed and started to list the smells. At first it was an unpleasant smell of formaldehyde, then a smell of another medicine, then another, then a smell of flower, and then the smell of freshness and at this moment the pain was gone.

The whole process took only 2 minutes. The tears stopped and the woman started smiling! The dragging pain was gone also, and the woman could breathe deeply and freely! She looked at me perplexedly and repeated asking me: ‘What was it? Hypnosis?’ I explained that it was not hypnosis, because she can do it herself at any moment and it is the method of emotion self-regulation through the olfactive centers of our brain.

* * *

There are many other examples in Emotion-Image Therapy, hundreds of similar cases. The examples demonstrate how easy the dialogue with the unconscious being of the client can be if the client responds quickly and spontaneously and does the first thing that comes to his head. So we do utmost for the client could relax without expectation of any pressure, tricks or blame from us. But the client does not realize what he tells about himself in images created by him and so he does not suppress it. It does not exclude the fact that sometimes the process of the resolution of some problems may take much longer period. It depends on the resistance of the client to the therapy as the client may derive certain benefits from the problem; too much associated with the problem, or the client can not agree to accept the philosophical principles, offered by the therapist. In such case the séance may lead to the philosophical discussions based on the Socratic dialogue, including parables and jokes.

Emotion-Image Therapy is rapidly developing. Every year 40 up to 80 people attend EIT master classes. Many of the students attend master classes for the second and even the third time. We developed three EIT programs which were approved by Professional Psychotherapeutic League (PPL): the first, the second and the third degree programs. The most active and talented students have the special training courses to become EIT teachers in future. In 2012 we have trained 9 EIT teachers who were granted the official certificates signed by me and approved by Professional Psychotherapeutic League (PPL). At present one more group of students attends the systematic training courses to receive the status of EIT teacher. In this way we develop the uniform training system. Last year we have been awarded the diploma of Professional Psychotherapeutic League for the establishment of the scientific and practical school.

This year we tested the new form of a master class where the teachers trained by us deliver lectures in turn. Such approach attracted the great interest and raised the enthusiasm among all participants of the new form of master classes. It stimulates the teachers to perfect and improve the skills of the therapists, including the teachers of the future therapists as well. We have one supervisor in our school who has been educated in PPL and received the relevant certificate. But the work of the supervisor in our department needs the further development.

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