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Sixty Years of Co-Counseling

This is my anniversary. Sixty years ago, June 1953, I met Harvey.1 I was desperately looking for help for my mother, Ida, who’d been victimized by the “mental health” system with insulin shock and sundry other psychiatric “treatments” since before my birth. 

Shortly after returning from my freshman year of chiropractic college, Ida had one of her “spells” in which she would lose touch with the present and relive some dreadful events of her past. She would make discharge sounds that progressed from light laughter to heavier “hysterical” laughter to sobbing, but in no contact with the present and with no actual discharge. These “spells” were why she had been institutionalized for short periods on a number of occasions. Observing her difficulties again, it struck me that for all that she’d suffered with life-threatening “treatment,” and for all my father, a lowly paid, highly skilled gardener, and I had paid (I began work at seven, always lying about my age and handing over my earnings to the family), Ida was no better. Indeed, she had undoubtedly been quite damaged by her “mental health” abuse.

Chiropractic college had opened my eyes to modalities other than traditional medicine. I looked in the yellow pages2 and found Personal Counselors.3

In my interview with Harvey, I related Ida’s situation. In a matter-of-fact response, he said, “I think I can help your mother, but I suggest that you first have counseling yourself before you approach her.” Life was getting harder and harder, so I jumped at his recommendation. I had two months of one-way counseling. (I don’t think there were any classes then, but there may have been.) It was lifesaving. 

In my interview, Harvey asked if I felt tears welling when he talked about crying. “Yes,” I responded. That was the closest I got to crying for about six weeks. Laughing and storming raised a huge need to cry, tears were just sitting at the top of my throat, but I couldn’t. I tried and tried—making crying sounds, or doing whatever Harvey or Margaret or Beverly or Martha4 could think of, but nothing worked.  After one of Harvey’s Saturday morning groups, feeling all that more needful of tears, I asked Shukri, the Lebanese woman at the front desk, if she would listen to me. She listened to some of my story then said, “Sidney, you’re a good boy.” I sobbed hard for two hours. I’ll never know if I would have persisted without that session. It was an immense relief. And following the two months of one-way counseling, life was never as bad. I’ve always thought that without it I would have died by about age twenty-five. 

When I returned to Seattle, after two years in the military and three years of college, Ida joined me in resuming counseling, took a fundamentals class, and, among other things, went from being a woman incapable of holding a job to being the manager of a health food store for the last several years of her life.

Again and again in recent years in my sessions, I remember Harvey’s calm, confident statement, “I think I can help your mother.” He did what he thought he could do. Her life was always better afterward.

Since 1958 I’ve continued to Co-Counsel. My fears that RC wouldn’t work for me were just fears, and I am continually amazed by and grateful for Harvey’s brilliance in thinking through the many things he did. I regularly use that awareness, that amazement, in my sessions.

I’m proud that I was sufficiently intelligent to persist. As the only young person and the only Jew I encountered in Co-Counseling, it was often difficult but always worth it. Cherie Brown, the International Liberation Reference Person for Jews, related to me that Harvey first learned about anti-Jewish oppression from counseling me, making me the patriarch of RC Jewish liberation, a mantle I’m proud to carry.

Sidney Stock
Bellevue, Washington, USA

1 Harvey Jackins
2 The part of the telephone directory that lists businesses
3 Personal Counselors is the former name of Re-evaluation Counseling Community Resources, located in Seattle, Washington, USA.
4 Margaret, Beverly, and Martha were Personal Counselors staff counselors at the time.

Last modified: 2014-08-20 20:45:40+00