How does my problem help me?
We often complain about our maladies or dysfunctions, but we sometimes forget to ask how they help us.
Let's look at some examples.
A lady with paralysed leg consulted a hypnotist. After the session her leg was better and she went home cured. However, the cure was short lived. The paralysis began to return and soon she was as limited as she was before. However, she returned to the therapist and discussed the situation.
She reported that, after her paralysed leg was better, she could do the housework, do the shopping, take the kids to school, and generally do things which she did not do before. When her bad leg returned, she didn't have to do the housework, go shopping, take the kids to school and do all these things. Family members would say, 'Don't do too much, with your bad leg. Sit down. We will do the housework, go shopping and take the little ones to school.'
She was better off with her paralysed leg, in her or her unconscious mind's estimation. The therapist agreed she was better off with her bad leg, and further treatment in that direction was abandoned.
Her case was not unique.
A man had a phobia of travel and telephones. He sought help from a behaviour therapist. After a year of treatment he no longer had a fear of telephones and travel. His phobias were cured. However, he realised he didn't have anyone to telephone and he had nowhere to go.
So he sought help from a psychotherapist. After about a year of treatment he had people to phone and places to go. The treatment was successful. However, his conversations on the telephone were boring, mainly with fellow male hobbyists, and his journeys were equally meaningless. He felt he really wanted a relationship with a woman. He had wasted years in therapy addressing the wrong issues!
Although it is clearly a case of missing the real reason and treating symptoms, in one way the story could be an illustration of those who just refuse to be helped. Have you ever tried to solve someone's problem, and whatever you suggested they refused. You were addressing the wrong issue.
The psychic Edgar Cayce took a different approach.
A boy had problems with bed wetting. When he was three years old, his parents consulted a psychiatrist. The treatment did not work. Several years later he was still regularly wetting the bed. They again consulted a psychiatrist. The treatment again didn't work. Then they heard of Cayce.
Cayce gave the boy a life reading and determined clairvoyantly that in a previous life the boy had been a minister who was a witch hunter. He sought out witches and they were tested with the ducking stool in the pond. In this life he was testing himself by dunking himself in urine (Law of Karma).
Cayces prescription was that the mother should give the boy suggestions about love and forgiveness as he began to fall asleep at night. She would sit next to him and when he fell asleep, she would whisper the suggestions on love and forgiveness. This she did regularly and the boy stopped bed wetting. After about a year she could stop giving these suggestions and the problem did not recur.
A conventional hypnotist would have addressed the bed wetting. Perhaps giving suggestions about a dry bed, or increasing awareness of the need to urinate. Cayce's prescription seemed off the mark addressing a different issue. But really it addressed the correct issue. (You might want to read one of the stories about Nazrudin at: http://www.trans4mind.com/personal_development/Theory/Nazrudin.htm)
What is interesting about all these cases is that the therapist addressed the wrong issue (except in the Cayce, example). The real problem was not the woman's bad leg, or the man's telephone phobia, or the boy's bed wetting. It was something else. Something quite different. To Western thought, it was something quite bizarre.
This type of misunderstanding is echoed on a global scale, too. During this century, a great deal of effort was invested in curing disease in the third-world. The result was the great famines. Because fewer people died, the demands on the economy for food could not be met. As a result aid agencies supplied food. In turn, this enabled societies to buy guns and make terrible war. What were previously minor tribal classes, became cruel battles with modern weapons. The point isn't that help is wrong, but that we need to address the real issues if we are to reduce human misery, both in the third-world and here at home!
Back to our subject.
There are two things which prevent us moving from a condition we claim we do not want, to one we claim we do want. The first is the advantages we get from the unwanted condition. The second is the disadvantages we avoid by not moving to the desired condition.
For example, for the woman with the bad leg:
For the man who cannot use the telephone:
And for the bedwetting boy:
The ideas are important, not the questions. We wouldn't ask them very often, unless we were prepared to deal with the possible trauma that may be unearthed, or more likely, the extreme anger at suggesting there are advantages to the bad condition (and that we might be responsible for it). Underlying these problems are deep karmic issues. Knowing about the questions gives us more direction although we might appear to fumble along as we allow ourselves or others to develop and grow.
For example, a woman who had a fear of certain types of street and certain rooms, had blotted out her memory of rape and abduction. (And also past-life issues on similar themes, including raping and abducting). The forgetting too served a purpose for her and was amenable to these questions.
We can use six-step reframing, in part at least, to address these issues. You do not go-into the parts. You deal with the issues from a distance. Severe abreaction is not necessary, although it may be important for our understanding.
The above is quite at odds with conventional belief, where we connive to hide our present- past-life misdeeds and therefore prevent our progress and growth.
Most Recent Revision: 4-Apr-99.
Copyright © 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
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