Taking Stock of Ourselves

Any time there is communication between the writer of words and the reader of words, we both play an active role within a larger reality of which we are, at least somewhat, aware.

We have many different relationships to other human beings. We have companions, we have families, we belong to organizations. We play active roles that influence others. We all are influenced by others. Because we are human and intelligent, we seek to influence the thinking and actions of others and in turn are influenced by them. We have a built-in tendency to try to be as influential as possible and to play as benign a role as we can in the development of the species to which we belong.

If we have participated in Re-evaluation Counseling, we share some degree of agreement with each other that all human beings are always trying to function intelligently as far as we are able to at any particular time. We also have assumed that all humans in the present are still somewhat limited in our intelligent flexibility by rigid patterns and assumptions which have been left upon us by distress experiences. The effects of these distress experiences tend to influence us to be inflexible, compulsive, and less-than-optimally intelligent.

The oppressive society which surrounds us pressures us in thousands of ways to be inaccurate in our thinking. It offers us inaccurate information and holds out selfish, uncooperative, competitive motivations and encourages us to think them desirable. We conduct a "two-front" war against the unintelligent distress patterns which have been inflicted upon us and the pseudo-reality which the environment, through its culture, pushes at us.

In one sense, each human's overall challenge is to convert his or her current functioning to a future functioning richer in intelligence and less dominated by compulsive patterns. Our ultimate goal certainly will be to function solely on our intelligence.

We operate within a system of social relationships with other intelligent humans. As a group of humans, we have been engaged for at least a million years in a fairly arduous struggle for survival. Over most of this period of struggle we have intuitively been preoccupied with trying to reproduce and increase our numbers faster than the exigencies of living were tending to wipe us out.

The last several thousand years have been different in that our total numbers have finally grown large enough and we have become scattered widely enough, in large enough groups, to give greater security to the overall survival of our species.

Unfortunately, in these last few thousand years, class societies have also appeared. They became possible because of our greater numbers, but they also arose from certain common anxieties in the struggle for existence and from distressed emotions, such as greed. Greed can appear to be justified by certain patterns based on anxieties about individual survival. Thus people possessing power over others can easily rationalize playing an oppressive role.

Beginning and continuing in this period, oppressive class societies have developed in at least three varieties: (1) slaveowner/slave societies, which lasted several thousand years; (2) feudal or noble/serf societies, which lasted about two thousand years; and (3) owning-class/working-class or capitalist societies, which have lasted a few hundred years to date. In this roughly ten thousand year period, the accidental accumulation of distress patterns became largely replaced by the deliberate installation and re-installation of distress patterns, with the purpose of compelling people to play their assigned roles in the class structures that arose.

All class societies are based on the oppression of a great majority of the people by a very small minority of the people. All class societies are irrational and inefficient and rely upon distress-patterned motivations. The deliberate installation of irrational patterns is necessary for these societies to function. Otherwise they would immediately be changed by the operation of human intelligence.

Class societies "evolve" in the crude sense that the slaveowner/slave society is less efficient than the feudal society which replaced it, which, in turn, is less efficient than the capitalist society which replaced the feudal society. Yet all class societies are basically irrational and operate against the welfare of the great majority of the humans who comprise them. At present, all human societies are dominated by the economics of owning-class/working-class relationships. This is known as capitalism.

In the last one hundred and fifty years, at least three major efforts have been made to eliminate the inefficient, oppressive irrationalities involved in oppressive class societies. These three efforts were the Paris Commune, the Russian October Revolution, and the Chinese Liberation of 1949. After persisting for varying lengths of time, each of these was "overthrown" by a "counter-revolution." These reversals to capitalism were proclaimed by the surrounding capitalist societies to be more rational and intelligent than the revolutionary systems they overthrew, even though the successful "counter-revolution" in each case was clearly based on the re-installation of oppressions that had been largely eliminated by the revolutionary forces while those revolutionary forces persisted in power. Each such counter-revolution was preceded and prepared for by sapping the strength of the revolutionary regimes with philosophies of elitism, with plundering of resources, and with assigning blame for the reinstated oppressions to the oppressed people themselves.

Practically speaking, the overthrown progressive societies appear to have been made vulnerable to overthrow by their failure to clearly understand the distinction between intelligence and distress-patterned functioning, by their lack of deliberate use of the universally available processes of discharge and re-emergence (tears, trembling, perspiring, laughter, raging, yawning, and stretching), and by the long-standing prejudices against using these processes in the societies from which the revolutionary regimes had arisen.


Forty-eight years ago a key incident occurred. A person suffering from a heavy accumulation of distress patterns persisted in discharge, against all the usual resistance in the society around him. Observing this example led to a small but persistently growing group of people claiming discharge for themselves, because of its personal benefits to themselves, then slowly exploring its broader implications as, through discharge, they became more aware that the main source of their distresses was the misfunctioning and oppression of the class societies. As Re-evaluation Counseling sought to function and develop in an organized way, there were continual attacks made on the organization by the repressive forces in the society. These forces, however, never succeeded in completely suppressing the Re-evaluation Counseling group's progress.

The gradual increase in the intelligence of the participants in Re-evaluation Counseling is at present coming to play a significant role. After forty-eight years, enough structure and agreement have developed and brought together a large enough number of people for the project to grow steadily, in spite of attacks from the oppressive society.


At this point, we have finally come to notice a species-wide submission to an ancient mistake in thinking. This mistake has consisted of putting a similar kind of attention on two different kinds of problems: problems that exist in the real world and problems consisting of the distress patterns of the observer being projected onto reality. It eventually became plain, though it is often still confusing, that problems existing in reality tend to be solved by putting attention upon them, but problems that are a projection of a person's distress onto reality are magnified and prolonged, instead of solved, by putting attention on them. This clarification, which grew out of experimentation with the Understatement process, is leading to a great improvement in counseling practice. It is leading to a more and more general decision by Co-Counselors to encourage clients to put their attention toward the positive aspects of reality instead of the ancient habitual preoccupation with the negative or alarming appearances of the pseudo-reality.

There is developing a general agreement among Co-Counselors to emphasize the importance of courage rather than the importance of fear; a general agreement to emphasize honesty and accuracy in communication rather than difficulties in communication; and a general agreement to emphasize confidence. (Intelligence will triumph!)

We have long had a stated goal in Re-evaluation Counseling of attaining the ability to think about thinking while thinking (present-time awareness). This undertaking, in particular, seems to be advancing rapidly.

The various publications of Re-evaluation Counseling - the books, pamphlets, and journals - embody large amounts of previously re-evaluated material. These publications are intended to be seen as the temporary results of a re-evaluation process that's going on broadly and in detail on everything that concerns humanity and humanity's picture of reality. ("Every policy is a draft policy.")

Each major policy pronouncement - in The Guidelines, The Postulates, the journals, each issue of Present Time, each issue of The RC Teacher, the pamphlets, each published book - is a new contribution to the current state of knowledge as far as it has been re-evaluated by the efforts of the people who awarely engage in this re-evaluation process.

A recent conclusion has been that of all the major points re-emphasized during the World Conference deliberations (honesty, courage, confidence, going public) honesty needs to be emphasized and established first. Otherwise any conclusions reached in the process of discussion will be undependable. Some beginning approaches to achieving practical honesty can flow from group discussions based on answering the question, "How have you tolerated your patterns lying to you?"

The major shift facing RCers appears to be amending the ancient attitude described earlier, which we find in all cultures of the world today, of "looking out for, or being on the watch for, what's wrong in the world, or in our environment, or in our thinking." This attitude could have innocently come about millions of years ago, when we did not have the information available to us to realize that an unsolved problem in objective reality was "something wrong" in a different way than was the (inaccurate) projection onto the objective situation of some distress recording which had been imposed upon us. Our failure to discriminate between the two "something wrongs," which is certainly understandable, left us with the feeling that our survival required us to put a high priority on "what is wrong" at any given time, whether it was something in the environment that needed fixing or a "danger" or "illusion of danger" that we were projecting from the recording of some past hurtful experience. Making the distinction between these two leaves us with a clear goal of placing and keeping our attention on "what is right," on "what is good in the world," on "the positive side of things." This is the correct focus for our attention. This attitude gives promise (still to be fully explored) of a rapid and relatively comfortable re-emergence. By focusing our attention on what is right with the world, it appears that we can discharge our remaining distresses easily, comfortably, and with zest and satisfaction.

Harvey Jackins

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