The Successful Contradiction And Discharge Of Heavy Fear


Many experienced Co-Counselors currently have made the transition from discharge of tears to confronting heavy fear. This sort of progression is natural and normal in the overall process, just as shaking follows tears in the discharge of any particular distress incident.

In most of our lives the distress and oppression have been heavy enough that a great majority of our distress begins on the level of "accepted loss, " which needs to be discharged in tears. Only a few of us seem to be so fortunate that most of our distress never got lower than terror. I think by now the great preponderance of us experienced Co-Counselors (those with three to fifteen years experience) have begun our systematic re-emergence with a great deal of shedding of tears, and have persisted in this successfully over much of our time in Co-Counseling.

I still meet a few experienced Co-Counselors who are shedding a few new tears each session, which have accumulated because of their failure to break over into the fear discharge that they are subjectively ready for but have not objectively found the contradiction nor the effective counseling to begin. Most experienced Co-Counselors are currently, I think, shaking in their sessions, but many of them want to become more efficient and accelerate their re-emergence.

Effective techniques for discharging heavy fear efficiently are known and have been demonstrated at workshops and on videocassettes for some time. The overall contradiction to terror or heavy fear is, of course, safety. What is safety for the particular client dealing with a particular terror varies widely.

One possible manifestation of safety is a reminder that the danger is usually not present in the session, but happened a long time ago. In some other cases the danger will not be present in the session but will only have to be faced in the future. (Even if the client has "terminal" cancer or AIDS, he or she is unlikely to die during the session and probably has a great deal of time still to live.)

Isolation is a crucial component of almost all terror, and to actually get the client to meet your relaxed, friendly gaze is often enough to bring discharge. Having the client hold you tight while you respond with equal pressure from your arms contradicts the isolation on the tactile or physical level.

The counselor can offer "guarantees" to the client which may allow the shaking to begin: "I promise you that I will not let the boogy-man get you during this session at all. You will be completely safe from him at least until the end of the session;" "I will go with you to meet your nemesis, and we will face him, her, or it together," for examples.

A very useful contradiction that I did not recognize until about a year ago is to express the fear or terror cheerfully and enthusiastically (as always, words may not be enough; it may require cheerful facial expressions and cheerful tone of voice). Just as deliberately exhibiting embarrassment brings laughter discharge because it contradicts the almost universal pseudo-dignity concealment which we have attached to our embarrassment patterns, so acting cheerful and enthusiastic about the feelings that horrify us leads to a short fuse of laughter and then easy continual shaking as long as the contradiction is continued. As always, of course, the counselor will do far more modeling of the tone of voice, the facial expression, and the enthusiastic, cheerful words than the client will be able to do, but the client will be discharging while the counselor models this over and over again with the apparent confident expectation each time that the client will do it also.

This technique works wondrously well, but it does require the counselor to step out of his or her own chronic terror in order to really furnish the expression and tone of voice that goes with the delighted sounds such as "Whee! I am terrified!! Oh joy! Oh joy!"

The client's own first creativity toward contradicting heavy fear often takes the form of reaching for the next lighter painful emotion and dramatizing that. This is perfectly valid. The discharge achieved in this way can often open the client to the other techniques in a good and useful way. Sometimes the client reaches for embarrassment. The counselor should enthusiastically help with this because if they can begin to laugh, especially on the subject connected with the heavy fear (such as in an embarrassed tone of voice, "Oh I'm so embarrassed to be so terrified"), the laughter will open the door to the shaking without the client even noticing that the shaking has begun.

More commonly, the client reaches for an anger dramatization. Most experienced counselors are already familiar with this. A great amount of so-called "discharging anger" has taken place which was not discharging anger at all, but which has helped generations of us to act angry so that we could cry. Oceans of tears have been shed in this way. (Also, pages of print have been used in explaining over and over that this is not anger discharge but a clever way to begin the discharge of grief by putting your attention on a lighter, contradictory kind of distress.)

This works just as well for heavy fear. Some useful model dramatizations of this kind are: "No more! I am not going to be intimidated any longer!" (with pounding of fist in palm, stabbing motions of finger, or stamping of foot as an accompaniment); "You're much too nice a person to act like that and I'm not going to allow it any more;" "From now on you're going to treat me with respect. Do you hear?"

In other words, it's possible to borrow a little anger and make a dramatizing ladder out of it to climb up out of the heavy fear far enough that the contradiction will allow the shaking to begin.

The cheerful celebrating of the heavy fear or terror is the best and most dependable technique I have found, however, and I heartily recommend that all experienced counselors begin experimenting with it. It is a little more demanding of effort and of stepping outside of his or her own chronic distress by the counselor than other techniques, but it is likely to get the client "really rolling" with fear discharge. Try it.

Harvey Jackins

Last modified: 2015-07-21 17:39:29+00