A General Contradiction (Possibly) for Any Distress

A conjecture is a tentative conclusion still needing to be confirmed by additional evidence.

A CONJECTURE: If any person needing to discharge distress finds it possible to establish direct contact with a second person who is sincerely delighted with that first person, the first person will tend to begin to discharge and continue to discharge simply because of the contradiction to his or her distresses furnished by the second person's dependable and continuing delight.

Recently, in working with some long-time clients of mine, something exciting (and I think useful) happened. I found that if the client was seated comfortably in his or her session in a position where he or she could see my face, some excellent discharge began and continued. My attitude at these times toward each of these persons was one of satisfaction and pleasure in his or her existence (although I was not using any words or language to express it). These clients would begin to discharge spontaneously, usually saying very little, but resuming discharge every time they looked at me. If they looked away from my face, the discharge would last for a varying time but then would come to an end. As soon as their eyes met mine again, the discharge would renew itself. As this went on for a long period of time, the discharge would change its form, usually between periods of laughter, yawning, tears, and shaking. Sometimes the discharge would stop briefly. Whenever the client seemed to "remember" that I was there and her or his eyes would meet mine again, some kind of discharge would resume.

Usually the client would not bother to explain to me what he or she was thinking about (but sometimes would choose to do so). He or she would continue with periods of laughter, crying, yawning, and, less often, vigorous trembling and shuddering or angry-sounding expostulations.

The client appeared to be completely self-directed (once he or she got started), needing no input from me except the sight of my "delight" with her or him. (Both of us, of course, were obviously pleased and satisfied with the marvelously "easy" session which the client was having.) The session would sometimes come to an end at my suggestion (because it had taken all the time that I had available). Sometimes it would be ended with the client's relaxedly-announced decision, "Well, that's enough for now. I have to do something else."

For me as the counselor, this has been the most relaxed counseling that I have ever done. I felt delighted with the client at the beginning of the session, and the progress of the session simply added to my delight because of the way the client was progressing. It seemed certain that something in my attitude was being an effective contradiction to the client's distresses. It was being used effectively as such without any discussion or any particular need for clarification of the communication between us.

I began asking counseling leaders who dropped into my office to visit me if they would try this "experiment" with me. Then I simply looked at each one of them in the way that had been working. The results were similar to what I have described above.

At two International workshops, I asked some of the people who volunteered to be client in demonstrations to simply do or say whatever they felt like doing or saying while I simply "beamed" at them. Discharge was usually forthcoming immediately and ongoing!

At a third workshop, in October, I deliberately and systematically attempted the same approach with a considerable variety of the people at the workshop. Some of these people had long acquaintanceships with me and for some it was our first meeting. My "being delighted with them" worked well in every case.

Toward the end of the workshop, a blind man said that, from what he'd heard, the expression on my face had been crucial for the clients in the demonstrations. I asked him to be client, moved closer to him, took his hand in mine, and asked him to agree that every time I squeezed his hand we would both know it was a dependable signal that I was delighted with him. This type of communication worked well also.

Still later, people who had heard of the experiences with this approach at the workshop telephoned me with questions as to how the approach could work over the distance between us (sometimes several thousand miles). I asked these people to agree with me that a "code" consisting of a warm, pleased musical tone from me (without any words) would be understood by them to be an expression of my being delighted in them.

That has worked well!

I do not know whether some recent gains in my own re-emergence have made it more possible for me to feel and express delight about my clients than I was able to do previously, or whether the possibility of working in this relaxed, successful way has been awaiting my noticing for a long time. In any case, I am very pleased to be working with so many people in such a relaxed, easy, and apparently effective manner.

(I have a lingering regret at realizing that if I had understood this possibility when my children were small, and had deliberately maintained an attitude of delight in them throughout all the strains of life for them as children and life for me as a parent, their young lives would probably have been considerably easier and more satisfying for them.)

Again, the conjecture: If any person needing to discharge distress finds it possible to establish direct contact with a second person who is sincerely delighted with that first person, the first person will tend to begin to discharge and continue to discharge simply because of the contradiction to his or her distresses furnished by the second person's dependable and continuing delight.

Harvey Jackins


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07