Re-evaluation of a person's rigid patterns of behavior seems to consist primarily of his exploring these patterns with part of his attention, while at the same time managing with part of his attention to stay outside the pattern and achieving some kind of objective look at them.

This division of attention, this balancing of attention between the content of the reactive pattern or the experience of hurt and the real world of the present, seems to be necessary at every level of this process. It is present in the discharge of deep grief, it is present at every level up through the "talking out" of boredom.

Spontaneous Process

Actually these processes of re-evaluation (including all levels of discharge) take place spontaneously whenever such a division of a person's attention is achieved. If a person is thinking about an old grief but at the same time is partly aware of the present situation which does not contain loss but is secure and includes the presence of a strong concerned person such as the counselor, then tears will begin to flow.

Achieve Balance

On latent material - that is, material that is not chronically in restimulation but shows only when specifically restimulated by an unusual set of circumstances in the environment - you as counselor will usually have the problem of directing part of your client's attention to this material, so that a balance can be achieved.

In dealing with chronically restimulated material, however, you, as the counselor will have what seems to be the opposite problem - to draw enough attention of your client away from the material, so that he or she can feel secure enough for discharge to take place.

Acute Restimulation

When a person is "upset" more than ordinarily by a happening in the environment, you, as counselor, can usually turn her attention to you or any second person and have her talk about the upset. This will attract enough attention outside of her restimulation and gain enough feeling of security and objectivity for her discharge to begin immediately.

Thus, a person coming home from work in a turmoil can often be handled by some interested listening and questioning. A little discharge will be followed by a quick rise in tone, as the temporary involvement in the pattern of upset recedes and some of the restimulated charge runs off.

Chronic Restimulation

With the material which has become chronically restimulated in a client, however, it becomes a very difficult matter to draw any of the client's attention outside the pattern. This pattern has been lived with so long that it has become "adjusted to." What rational behavior goes on (and there is likely to be quite as much of it as with any other person) is nevertheless constrained and modified by the rigid framework of the patterns which are in chronic restimulation. (We may note these in other people and refer to them as "little idiosyncrasies".)

Often it will be hard to make a satisfactory attack on these chronic patterns until considerable work has been done on more readily available material which has not yet been so "adjusted to" or which is in restimulation only sporadically.

The Deeply Disturbed Person

With the deeply disturbed person, material has been restimulated so continually and so deeply that you are faced with a very real problem in securing any free attention outside the patterns of aberration at all.

If little or no free attention is available, then your first approach to helping such a person must necessarily involve attracting attention away from the rigid patterns, out to the present environment or to pleasant memories.

Since there are few easily observable or dependable signals as to how much free attention a person may have, either chronically or acutely, counseling can always with profit begin with these lightest of techniques.

Free Attention Versus Aberration Depth

Because any of the patterns of hurt which are stored up by a client will clutch on to and soak up amounts of free attention in proportion to the depth of the painful emotion contained within them, you will always seek to direct your client's attention toward such material as will not swamp it but rather can be handled by it.

Last modified: 2022-03-01 00:54:19+00