The Postulates of Re-evaluation Counseling
Re-evaluation Counseling is a theory of human behavior and set of procedures for solving human problems. It is a complex theory, still growing, containing a large amount of information in its details and techniques. Its main assumptions can be summarized at present in the following 28 points:
Rational human behavior is qualitatively different from the behavior of other forms of life. (It is not just more complicated).
The essence of rational human behavior consists of responding to each instant of living with a new response, created afresh at that moment to precisely fit and handle the situation of that moment as that situation is defined by the information received through the senses of the person (other living creatures typically respond with preset, inherited response patterns--"instincts," or with conditioned, equally-rigid modifications or replacements of the inherited response patterns, acquired through experiences of stress).
This ability to create new, exact responses may be defined as human intelligence. It operates by comparing and contrasting new information with that already on file from past experiences and constructing a response based on similarities to past situations but modified to allow for the differences.
Each human with a physically undamaged brain has a large inherent capacity for this rational kind of behavior, very large as compared to the best functioning of presently observable adult humans.
The complexity of our central nervous systems (now estimated to contain at least one-thousand billion individual neurons and a number of possible states of relationship between these neurons larger than the number of atoms in the known universe) has brought us not only human intelligence of a very, very high level but also has conferred on us the capacity to be aware; to notice what is going on while it is going on, to think about the rational processes while they are taking place. This ability or function of awareness is very hard to define or describe, but humans are completely aware when it is present in another person or not, and enjoy it fully in themselves when it is operating.
This complexity of our central nervous systems has also conferred upon us complete freedom of decision. Even though this freedom is denied unendingly and emphatically by the societies in which we live, it still persists and is completely available to us. This complete freedom of decision is not just freedom to make a good decision, to make a rational decision, to make a correct decision. It is an unfettered freedom. We are completely free to make wrong decisions, destructive decisions, irrational decisions as well. Our freedom of choice is unfettered, unlimited.
This complexity has also conferred complete power on each individual, if we define power as the ability to have the universe respond to us in the way we rationally wish it to (not in the usual oppressive society's definition of power as "the ability to enforce our will upon other intelligences, other humans").
The natural emotional tone of a human being is zestful enjoyment of life. The natural relationship between any two human beings is loving affection, communication and co-operation.
The special human capacity for rational response can be interrupted or suspended by an experience of physical or emotional distress. When this occurs information input through the senses then stores as an unevaluated and rigid accumulation, exhibiting the characteristics of a very complete, literal recording of all aspects of the incident.
Immediately after the distress experience is concluded or at the first opportunity thereafter, the distressed human spontaneously seeks to claim the aware attention of another human. If he or she is successful in claiming and keeping this aware attention of the other person, a profound process of what has been called discharge ensues.
Discharge is signalized externally by one or more of a precise set of physical processes. These are: crying or sobbing (with tears), trembling with cold perspiration, laughter, angry shouting and vigorous movement with warm perspiration (tantrum), live, interested talking; and in a slightly different way, yawning, often with scratching and stretching. Discharge requires considerable time for completion.
During discharge, the residue of the distress experience or experiences is being recalled and reviewed. (Not necessarily with awareness.)
Rational evaluation and understanding of the information received during the distress experience occurs automatically following discharge and only following discharge. It occurs only to the degree that discharge is completed. On completion, the negative and anti-rational effects of the experience are completely eliminated.
As a result of long-term conditioning of the entire population, the spontaneous attempt to claim the aware attention of another person and proceed to discharge and evaluation is almost always rebuffed. (Don't cry. Be a big boy. Get a grip on yourself. Don't be afraid. Watch your temper.) Applied to small children, these rebuffs begin and perpetuate the conditioning of the population which prevents discharge.
Undischarged and unevaluated recordings of distress experiences become compulsive patterns of behaving, feeling, and verbalizing when restimulated by later experiences which resemble them strongly enough. Under such conditions of restimulation the rational faculty of the human is again suspended and the new information of the current experience is added to the rigid distress pattern making it more far-reaching in its effect and more easily restimulated in the future.
We have called the association of distress recordings from the past with the current scene, and the resulting rigid, "inappropriate" responses "restimulation." This kind of association must have been originally a decision, a decision apparently motivated by the hope that bringing up and "restimulating" the distress recordings would create a possibility of discharging them (if the attention of another person could be found or some other contradiction to the recordings could be achieved). The repetitive attempts at this kind of decision and the resulting lack of success (since we seldom found the resource of contradiction and resulting discharge we hoped for) tended to make restimulation into a "habit" and a pattern.
It is possible (and profitable) to decide not to be restimulated. Such a decision can be repeated as many times as necessary.
The effect of an undischarged distress experience recording in "playing" the bearer through a compulsive, repetitive re-enactment of distress experiences is an adequate explanation for all observable irrational behavior in human beings, of whatever kind or degree.
Any human being, and human beings in general, can become free of the restrictions, inhibitions and aberrations of accumulated distress experience recordings by reinstating a relationship with some other person's or persons' aware attention and allowing the discharge and re-evaluation processes to proceed to completion.
Any infant can be allowed to remain free of aberration by protection from distress experiences and by allowing full discharge and re-evaluation on the ones that do occur.
Though a greater degree of awareness, rationality, understanding and skill on the part of the person whose attention is used ("the second person," "the counselor") provides for more rapid and more complete discharge and re-evaluation, the process is workable if even a small degree of awareness is available and if even a roughly correct attitude is maintained by the second person.
By "taking turns," i.e., by exchanging the two roles periodically ("Co-Counseling"), two people can become increasingly effective with each other and help free each other from accumulated distress patterns to a profound degree.
Distress patterns which have become too reinforced by repeated restimulation can become chronic, i.e., surround and envelop all behavior and activity. To discharge these requires initiative, skill, and resource on the part of the second person and considerable time for handling, but they are not different in origin or effect from lighter distresses, and can also be completely discharged and evaluated.
Distress experiences result from any unfavorable aspect of the environment. In our present state of civilization, the bulk of early distress experiences of any child result exactly from the dramatized distress recordings of adults which the adults received from earlier generations when they were children. We have a sort of transmission of aberration by contagion here--well-meaning, adults unawarely but systematically infecting each new, healthy-to-begin-with child with their burdening distress patterns.
The irrationalities of society (enforcements, punishments, exploitations, prejudices, group conflicts, wars) are reflections of the individual human distress patterns which have become fossilized in the society and often enforced by the rigidities of the society itself.
No individual human has an actual rational conflict of interest with another human. No group of humans has an actual, rational conflict of interest with another group of humans. Given rationality, the actual desires of each individual and each group can best be served by mutual co-operation.
Nothing prevents communication, agreement, and co-operation between any humans except distress patterns. Given knowledge of their nature, these distress patterns can be coped with, handled, and removed.
Any individual or group can act rationally first without waiting for rational action on the part of someone else, and can take control of the situation by so doing.
It is always safe to be rational. Knowledge of the above information can be applied to all aspects of living and to all relationships with real profit and success.
Re-evaluation Counseling is a meaningful and useful description of the nature of human beings and the source of their difficulties. It is a rediscovery of the workable means of undoing human distress. It is a system of procedures for expediting this discharge and re-evaluation process. It is a promising and successful alternative to individual and social irrationality and distress.
"Re-evaluation Counseling," as a title, correctly denotes the collection of insights into the actual nature of reality which we have assembled as the result of our practice and thinking, in the areas of human thought and activities where this actual reality has been occluded or undiscovered as a result of lack of information, misinformation, distress patterns, and the operations of the oppressive societies.