For me, therapy is all about discovery. The first feeling I discovered was anger. A woman got very angry with me in a group, and I shrank back into the wall. The group leader asked me if that was what I usually did when someone got angry with me, and I said yes. He then asked if I had any other choices. I hummed and hawed and said I supposed I could get angry back. He nodded, and I tried it. I got so angry that by the time I was finished she was back against the opposite wall. After that we became friendly, and it was a good experience.
November 2, 2013
I was flicking through the channels one evening looking for anything interesting, and came across a film just beginning with Amanda Seyfried in it. As I am a great fan of hers, I stayed with it, and it turned out to be so good that I just stayed and watched the whole thing from beginning to end! She plays the part of a fact-checker for a New York newspaper, engaged to be married to a sexy Italian chef, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, who is very active and energetic, and quite dishy. He comes into some money, and decides to open a restaurant. He proposes that they take a sort of pre-honeymoon in the romantic city of Verona, where he can also take a side trip to attend a wine auction nearby. They have a great time in Verona, and really love it, and he gets busy asking around for the best places to buy wines. She wanders round the streets, and comes across the house reputed to be the very house where Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet fame) used to live, with the famous balcony still intact. Below it is an old wall, where lovelorn girls have taken to pushing letters between the bricks, to Juliet, asking for help with romantic problems. Amanda arrives just at the moment in the evening when the tourists have departed and a woman is going round collecting the letters from the wall and putting them in a basket. She is intrigued by this and follows the woman, who turns out to be one of the Secretaries of Juliet – a group of women who have taken it upon themselves to answer the letters that have a return address on them. Later she returns to the wall, and is idly fingering the bricks when one of them falls out, and reveals an old letter which has never been collected. It is dated 50 years ago, and does have a return address, in England. She takes it to the Secretaries, and it is decided that she herself should write the answer, which she does. A few days later, the writer of the letter turns up with her snotty grandson. By this time Amanda’s husband has lit out for Livorno, chasing wines and truffles. The two women decide they like each other, and that they should try to find Lorenzo Bartolini, the lover the old lady – played beautifully by Vanessa Redgrave – left as a teenager because she was too scared, and too young, to pursue him. Amanda, as a fact checker, knows how to do a search, and Vanessa tells her that Lorenzo (played by Franco Nero) would never leave the area. The unpleasant grandson is elected to be driver, and they proceed with the search, discovering several Lorenzos, but never the right one. During the search, the grandson mellows considerably, softened by the wonderful scenery and the beautiful Amanda. Eventually they give up and return to Verona, but on the way stop off at a vineyard which creates one of their favourite wines. A young man is trimming vines, and Vanessa looks at him and says – “That’s him!” Amanda asks him his name, and he says – “Lorenzo Bartolini”. A middle-aged man comes up, and they ask him his name, and he says – “Lorenzo Bartolini”. After some back and forth, one of them goes off. They wait. Round the corner, on a horse, comes an elderly man, rather handsome, the very man they came to find. Amanda has now gone off her intended, who is obviously more interested in his job than he is in her. The grandson and she fall in love… There is nothing very subtle about this film, but it is beautiful, and it has a good heart, and some really good performances. I loved it.
October 31, 2013
For me, it is all about freedom. I have never been very interested in ‘solving problems’ in therapy. But every time a have a breakthrough in therapy, it seems I have more freedom, and I love that. I remember one of my first experiences, when a group leader said – “Let’s go round and say what you are feeling right now.” I just didn’t know what I was feeling. If that happened now, I could say – “I feel blocked” – but I didn’t even have that vocabulary then. As time went by, I discovered one feeling after another. All human beings have feelings, even those who don’t want them.
October 26, 2013
I became curious about what sort of clients I had been seeing over the years. And as I checked back through the records, I found that there were two main features: one was the high proportion of men – perhaps because of my book Healing the Male Psyche: Therapy as Initiation – and the other was the high proportion of creative people. I have seen an opera singer, a viola player, several actors, a creative director in advertising, a tattoo artist, a novelist, someone running a recording studio, a pianist, an oil painter, a number of people connected with the theatre in various ways – the list goes on. Also I have seen a number of gay people – although I am heterosexual myself – and in fact I am on the approved list of Pink Therapy. I was quite surprised as I went through the list, to see the variety of creative people I had been seeing over the years. I suppose, as a published poet myself, I should not be too surprised, but still it was quite a remarkable list, I thought.
October 8, 2013
I have resolved to put on a workshop next March, on Saturday the 29th of the month. I have been agonising over the title, and have decided at last to call it “Opening the Doors of the Transpersonal”. The idea is that for a long time I have restricted myself to the work of Ken Wilber, because I have found it very practical and very useful to the practitioner. But there is a whole world out there, some of which I have found very stimulating and very interesting. Martin Daniels, for example, has brought out a 5-by-5 model which is very nice. Jorge Ferrer, John Heron and their circle have produced some challenging ideas. Then there are the new books by Len Sperry and David Matteson, and the older but excellent one of Barbara Sullivan, which make some very important points, for example on the political side of the transpersonal in combating sexism and racism. And of course the quite different approach of Barbara Woodman and other Jungians, with a much more feminine sensibility, also very rich.
I hope to present all this stuff in a way which is not too confusing, because it is all compatible and worth considering. It is not right for the transpersonal to be divided into watertight compartments and scholarly disputes. Spirituality is one great realm, not to be divided up into warring fiefdoms. Obviously these are very early ideas, and as time goes by they will harden up and find a fitting shape. Watch this space!
October 5, 2013
Had a great weekend in Slovenia, with the Edmond Cigale people, and a new workshop, which I did partly in Baltimore last month, and partly in Keele University before that. It is called ‘The Terrible Twins of Psychotherapy – Primal and Transpersonal’. The idea behind it is that in all the recent work on psychotherapy integration, these two important areas of work are always omitted. This is such a shame, because they both raise key issues for the world of therapy. Primal raises the question of memory – can people remember their births, and so forth?
I argue that there are four levels of memory – conscious recall, muscular memory, cellular memory and past lives memories. Academia only seems to recognise conscious recall, which is of course very restricted in its scope. The transpersonal raises the question of logic – is there only one logic, the logic of Aristotle, which is also the logic of Newton, Descartes, Boole and mathematical logic, the logic of things, as used in computers – which is today called First Tier logic, or do we also have to recognise Second Tier logic, which is particularly suited to the study of people, and Third Tier logic, which we need if we venture into the world of mysticism?
The Cigale people are very hospitable, and put me up in a lovely little hotel, just across from the workshop space, and took me to really nice restaurants for the evening meals. All honour to them!
October 2, 2013
Next weekend I shall be in Ljubljana, doing three workshops for a nice guy named Edmond Cigale – various aspects of therapy and the transpersonal. I have been there before, and had a really good time there – last time I did some individual sessions as well. Next March I want to do a public workshop in London, but I can’t make up my mind about the topic!
September 23, 2013
Here is my first update – new thing for me, very exciting! This weekend I am presenting at the BPS Transpersonal Section conference near Scarborough. It is my “Do You Believe in Fairies?” workshop, which I have offered in about four places now. It is all about the Subtle level of consciousness, the first level at which we really face the issue of whether we are spiritual beings or not, and what that might mean. I find this a really fascinating area of work, and there are a lot of angles to it, not least the fact that you have to use a completely different logic to tackle it. You have to drop the question – “Is it true or false?” – altogether, and instead ask the question – “What effect did that have on you?” This is of course madness to some of the rigid thinkers in academia, who think that you can never abandon the true/false dichotomy, and even those more advanced thinkers who have moved on to dialectical logic, where something can be true and false at the same time. This is a further type of thinking, which has been called third tier thinking.
September 21, 2013