What We Think We Know That Would Be Good for the Rest of the World to Understand


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 a very high level of human intelligence, the capacity to be aware, complete freedom of decision, and complete power. 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 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 pre-set, inherited response patterns, "instincts," or with conditioned, equally-rigid modifications or replacements of the inherited response patterns, acquired through experiences of stress). In our discussions we define human intelligence as this ability to create new, precise, successful responses may be defined as human intelligence. It operates by comparing and contrasting new information with that already on file in our nervious systems from past experiences and constructing a response based on similarities to past situations but modified to allow for the differences.

Human beings function in two completely distinct modes that alternate and interact in directing the behavior of individuals and groups: human intelligence, a continually flexible, continually-updating-itself mode, and distress patterns, installed when humans relapse to a more primitive, conditioned response during distressing situations. The human being and the distress pattern are completely distinct. The patterns may be of infinite variety, including some pseudo-survival varieties, but the human being, as distinct from the pattern, is integral, is consistent, is wholesome, is good.

The capacity of a human being's intelligence is limitless and cannot be defined.


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. Distress patterns may affect the person intermittently, or, if the restimulation of the pattern has reached a certain point, chronically (i.e., will "play" all the time).

Distress patterns tend to force their victim through a re-enactment of the original hurt that caused the pattern. Thus patterns are addictive in their actions. What are called "addictions" in ordinary language are the effects of patterns. Yielding to compelling feelings embodied in patterns is the necessary and sufficient explanation of addiction. All addictions, including chemical addictions, operate only through recorded distress patterns. Distress patterns tend to grow and even "snowball" through rehearsal/restimulation.


After any distress experience is over, the distressed human being 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 which we have 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 noises and vigorous movement with warm perspiration (tantrum), non-repetitive, interested talking, and in a slightly different way, yawning, often with scratching and stretching. Discharge often requires considerable time for completion. Rational evaluation and understanding of the information received during the distress experience occurs automatically following discharge and only to the extent that discharge is completed. On completion, the negative and anti-rational effects of the experience are completely eliminated.

Co-Counseling works to free humans from distress and irrational behavior Human beings can become free of accumulated distress experience recordings by setting up a relationship with another person's aware attention and allowing the discharge and re-evaluation processes to proceed to completion. By "taking turns," i.e., by exchanging the two roles periodically ("Co-Counseling"), two people can become increasingly effective with each other. Such a relationship is essentially a peer relationship and will become increasingly so as both parties become skilled and relaxed.

Aware listening is ninety percent of effective Co-Counseling. Chronic patterns may require additional intervention and determined persistence by the counselor. Many techniques have been developed and revealed to in assist in dismantling chronic patterns.

Co-Counselors are required, and expected, to refrain from setting up any additional non-counseling relationship with a person whom they first meet in the context of Co-Counseling, or in the Co-Counseling Community.


Two general trends exist in all the processes of the universe. One trend which we usually call a "downward trend" is similar to entropy as the physicists use that term. The "upward trend" which exists in the universe is counter to the downward or entropy trend. The appearance of complex relationships involving matter, energy, space, and time is an expression of this upward trend. The appearance of life is a higher expression of this. The appearance of intelligence is still-higher expression of the upward trend. Many further steps are being explored in the thinking of Co-Counselors. It is an assumption for intelligent humans that reality is benign. Any of the non-benign appearances of the pseudo-reality that have sometimes concealed reality can be faced clearly, can be contradicted, can be discharged about, and can be eliminated.


Feelings are not a reliable guide to action; only logic (the way a human mind works in the absence of distress and in the presence of accurate information) is a reliable guide to action. "Good" feelings can be enjoyed, but should not guide the human. Unpleasant feelings can be contradicted and discharged but should not be acted upon.


"Every single human being at every moment of the past, if the entire situation is taken into account, has always done the very best he or she could do and so deserves neither blame nor reproach from anyone, including self. This, in particular, is true of you."

Shaming and blaming are unworkable, irrational, and completely unproductive concepts that only arise out of distress recordings which exist, either individually or in the culture. Punishment, criticism, blame, or reproach as a response to a mistake, or to irresponsible or irrational attitudes or actions is never called for, never justified, and never effective. The person who blames someone else is in fact adopting a powerless position for himself or herself. This is damaging to both the blamer and the blamed.


The past is completely determined. The future allows any intelligence free choice. This becomes clear when you draw a line of "present time" between the past and the future.

In any situation it is always possible for an individual to take the initiative and to take charge of the situation by so doing. Complete responsibility is the inherent, natural attitude of each human being. There is always at least one elegant solution for any real problem. The attitude of powerlessness which has been conditioned on all humans in this society is a fraud, imposed by distress and conceals an actuality of total power for any individual or rational group.

No external oppressive force can require your internal surrender (your surrender in your own, private thinking). You may have to yield the appearance of conformity to external oppression for your survival in some oppressive situations, but you do not need, ever, to agree with or conform to the oppression in your own private thinking.

Happiness consists of the overcoming of obstacles on the way toward a goal of one's own choosing.


There is no rational conflict of interests between human beings. Any really good solution is a good solution for everyone. It only takes one person deciding to be rational to eventually make a relationship go well.

Love is the way people naturally feel about each other. One always has the freedom to give love by decision. Failure to receive love can be a hurt, but it is much less hurtful than being unable to give love or to not have one's love accepted.

There are many rational needs which humans sense and act to fill. When a person is feeling a rational need and the need is not met, the situation is distressing and can install a distress recording which will include the feelings of continuing to need what was needed in the past. These old, recorded needs cannot be met in later different situation, and all attempts to meet them will be doomed to failure. These unmet "frozen" needs can only be discharged but cannot be "filled."

Most people who have any relationship with each other at all tend to develop several relationships. Each relationship needs to "stand on its own feet" and needs to be dealt with and thought of separate from the other relationships.

Almost everything which we have been told in the present oppressive societies, or have assumed to be true about our sexualities will be shown by discharge and critical examination to be distress patterns. Any "unbidden" sexual feeling is almost certain to be restimulation of past distress.


Nothing prevents communication, agreement, and cooperation between any humans except distress patterns!

For communicating important ideas, one-to-one communication is usually necessary. Individual, personal friendships are the only dependable-enough contact to introduce ideas that contradict a listener's previously held beliefs.

The possibility of a rational group discussion is greatly enhanced if the following concepts are applied: 1) No individual speaks twice before everyone speaks once, and no person speaks four times before everyone speaks twice. 2) Discussions shall be about issues but not about the personalities of the speakers. 3) Everyone shall be listened to with respect. 4) If the discussion is being held in a sub-group of a larger group, a summary of the important things said in the sub-group shall be presented to the larger group.

Individual thinking is greatly enhanced by attentive, non-responsive listening. In changing a person's opinions, listening is a more effective tool than talking.


Any undamaged human brain is capable of learning anything. All difficulties in learning are the result of distress patterns. Learning occurs when new information is presented in relation to something the learner already understands and is presented in small increments with each one being understood before the next is presented. Presenting new information too quickly installs confusion which prevents learning; presented too slowly, it installs boredom and prevents learning. Learning occurs best from someone one loves and regards as a peer rather than an "authority."

Distress interferes with and prevents learning. Learning is greatly enhanced by allowing repetition by the learner and by the learner being allowed to talk during the process. The learning process is accelerated by the learner being liked, receiving lots of approval, having successes, having aware closeness with other people, playing, and discharge being encouraged.


Leadership is an inherent human characteristic. Leadership functions must be performed if a group is to function well.

At least one person must think about the group as a whole rather than about just her or his role in it.

A good leader cannot hope to do the thinking for the group but can elicit the thinking of all the members of the group, fill in any gaps, organize the thinking into a consistent form, and communicate it well enough back to the group to secure their agreement and, if possible, their commitment to it.

"Attacks" are attempts to harm a person, usually a leader, or an organization, in the guise of disagreeing and discussing but motivated by an attempt to do harm to others while pretending to only "discuss" or "disagree." People playing this role should not be "counseled" but should be asked to apologize and, if unresponsive, should be made to leave the group and their attacks ignored.

It is possible to deliberately create "oases of safety" for thinking, for discharge, and for re-evaluation by making and following agreements.


Re-evaluation Counseling theory has been developed both inductively and deductively. Anything that is added to the theory and practice of Re-evaluation Counseling is examined carefully and accepted only if it is consistent with the already-in-place parts of the theory. In one sense, Re-evaluation Counseling theory and practice can be viewed as the uncovering of reality from the confusions which have been placed upon it by misinformation, oppression, and the operation of distress patterns. Policy consists of proposals for the application of theory, of guidelines drawn up from past experience for such application, and structures for implementing these actions consistently and cooperatively by all the people involved. Liberation policy statements are always draft liberation policy statements, expected to be revised further with the gaining of additional knowledge.


All presently existing human beings are very closely related. The differences which do exist in the behaviors and functioning of groups of humans are cultural, are learned and acquired characteristics. There is no human culture which is superior or inferior to any other human culture in any overall human sense, although there may be, and are, particular outstanding richnesses in any culture.

Class societies evolved through greed but were tolerated as tools to master the environment more effectively, and functioned to that end through allowing some members of the society time and leisure to think, to accumulate knowledge, and to plan the activities of the society. All class societies which we and our ancestors have experienced and participated in to date have been oppressive societies, in which the value produced by the work of most of the people was taken from them by the ruling classes in a kind of "legal" robbery. All such societies to date have operated primarily to organize this exploitation of the majority of the people by a ruling minority.

The principal forms of class societies which have existed to date are:

  • Slave Societies
  • Feudal Societies
  • Capitalist (Working-Class/Owning-Class) Societies

The oppressive societies of slavery, feudalism, and capitalism each inevitably arose in turn because of a human need for change. Each contained within itself a built-in, long-range unworkability which, in the case of the slave system, eventually led to its collapse and replacement by feudalism (e.g., Fall of the Roman Empire), and in the case of feudalism to its collapse and replacement by capitalism (e.g., the European Renaissance). There are many indications that capitalist society is now in the late stages of collapsing because of its own built-in, long-range unworkability.

One of the principal means used by class societies to maintain their oppression and exploitation of people has been to secure the cooperation of different groups of people in oppressing each other. This has been done by installing and maintaining attitudes of racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and the oppression of young people between the different sections of the oppressed population. Oppression exists universally in present societies. Every person in our societies is locked into both oppressed and oppressor roles.

The basic mechanism for keeping any person in an oppressed condition is the installation upon the person of a distress pattern or recording by hurting him or her in an oppressive and invalidating way. This leads to one or both of two results when the distress pattern is restimulated. The first result is to be forced again into the role the person filled in the original hurt experience. In this case the person is pushed to "accept" or "agree" to be oppressed, to accept the invalidating feelings, to be defeated in the attempt to remain human. The slave "agrees" to be a slave, the serf picks up his hoe and bows his head, the wage-worker feels inferior and "lucky to have a job." The second result occurs when, in an attempt to escape the role described in the first result above, the victim of the restimulation seeks relief by "occupying" a different role in the restimulated distress recording, the role of the oppressor. In this case the male victim may turn the abuse and invalidation originally turned on him on a woman (the basis of sexism), or a white victim may turn it upon a black person or another non-white person (the basis of racism), etc., etc.

Oppression only operates, and can only operate, through distress patterns. No person would ever agree to or submit to being oppressed unless a pattern of oppression had first been installed, in the first place by being oppressed as a young person. The oppressor, the person who functions as an oppressor, has always first been oppressed and then manipulated into the other end of the oppression pattern. The person who functions as an oppressor does so always and only because he or she has first been oppressed, and the pattern of oppression thus installed and has then been manipulated into the other end of the pattern in order to function as an oppressor. If we can help the person acting out an oppressor role in a pattern to discharge that pattern or manipulate the person out of it, that person will gladly cease functioning as an oppressor and will become an ally.

An oppressive society actively reinforces both of the results described above with false "theories," propaganda, discriminatory treatment of all kinds, religious pronouncements, secret societies, etc., etc. Control of communication, mis-education, lies, false propaganda, habits, culture, and religion are reinforced by force in the form of laws, courts, police, prisons, armies, etc. In this way each group's attempts to resist oppression are discouraged and their confidence sapped, and each group is mobilized to cooperate in the invalidation and defeat of every other group.

Most damage done by oppression is done by its internalized form, in which the victims continue to oppress themselves, oppress each other within the group of the oppressed, and, as a group, attempt to oppress other groups and the members of these other groups who are oppressed in a similar way to the way their group is oppressed. The person outside a particular oppression can be powerfully effective against the internalized form of the oppression.

To attain complete liberation two processes are both necessary: (1) effective organized social action and struggle, and (2) discharge and re-evaluation to free each individual from his or her individual distress patterns.

To be successful, any oppressed group seeking liberation must move in two directions:

  1. It must consistently strive for unity within its own group around a clear-cut program of goals and actions.
  2. It must consistently seek unity and mutual support with every other oppressed group, no matter how difficult this task may seem at first.

People need separate discussions within each particular liberation group before they can hope to communicate well to, or unite with, the other groups. They must have a time to get themselves together in the safety of their similarities, their commonalties, or their homogeneity. People having the same backgrounds need to first discuss and agree on what they want the other groups to hear from them. Once that is accomplished, they can come together and listen to each other with respect and achieve the real unity that they would otherwise seek too quickly or too simplistically.

People cannot be organized successfully for liberation around programs of distress or painful emotion. To appeal to their fear, guilt, shame, is to paralyze them by restimulation in the long run. They must be organized by appealing to reason, logic, and confidence. All programs and policies should be rational. The tone of communication should always be one of confidence in the inevitability of success.


[The one-point program of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities: That the only program of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities which is binding on all members be: through Re-evaluation Counseling to seek recovery of one's occluded intelligence and to assist others to do the same. That all other activities undertaken by the Community be in support of this program and that no agreement beyond consistency with this program be required of members of the Community.]

"Reform" of an oppressive society cannot bring liberation from oppression. Replacement is necessary. Since the sole reason for the oppressive society is oppression and exploitation, such oppression and exploitation is bound to be re-introduced after the reform in some other form as long as the oppressive society exists. The great liberation theoreticians of the past are useful inspirations and models to liberation workers today in many ways but cannot be applied except in the most general ways to a current situation. Of most use is their method of concretely examining the real situation they were confronting, making sure they had the facts, and then thinking fresh and hard for new solutions to that particular situation. All our situations are new.

People can only be effectively organized to participate in liberation on an individual basis. Calling mass meetings, distributing leaflets, and other "mass" activities are an almost complete waste of time unless they are peripheral to a systematic making of individual friends, who will consider a liberation program if you offer it because they trust you.

People can best be organized for world change on the basis of offering them meaningful lives rather than by appealing to them only on narrow, economic, or self-serving issues.

Reclaiming courage and complete integrity (and freeing ourselves from conditioning) is a key task for our individual and social re-emergence at this point.


The Guidelines are to promote rational associations between Co-Counselors. Co-Counselors use various modes in the process of re-emergence, including two-way sessions, mini-sessions, phone sessions, group sessions, discussion groups, topic groups, think-and-listens, support groups, speak-outs, panels, intensive counseling, and "relationship sessions." Guidelines have been established to make the best use of each mode.

Co-Counselors associate together in support groups, classes, workshops, Community meetings, Wygelian leaders' groups, and conferences, and organize themselves into Areas and Regions. There are many books, journals, pamphlets, audiocassettes, and videotapes about Re-evaluation Counseling.

Harvey  Jackins

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00