All people whom we treat — why even bother to call them patients? — live in part in the valley of the shadow of death, destruction, constriction and abandonment.

The imprint of the valley is so strong and so early that it is perceived as who they are, as part of their DNA, and often as something unchangeable. I can provide countless examples.

A man who is clearly intelligent believed he was not very bright. His father, a successful South American businessman, always told him, “You’re stupid. You will never be the man I am.” I sent him to a qualified psychologist for intelligence testing. As I expected he tested as highly intelligent. When I presented the results to him, there was no sense of relief. He accused me of falsifying the results.

During my training in psychiatry one of my supervisors told me they were disappointed in my performance. I protested that I was one of the top three in grades in my class. “It doesn’t matter,” he replied. “When we tested you for admission you scored so high, that we’re disappointed.” He was telling me that I was kind of a failure. That night I went home anxious, depressed. I started doing some carpentry with an electric drill. I have a long history of using tools and had never injured myself. I drilled a red-hot drill bit into my right leg and fainted. I had never fainted before. My immediate reaction was they had mixed up my test results with somebody else’s. I knew where the test results were kept, under lock and key. I knew when I could sneak in there and prove my suspicion. Almost no one guesses why I never did that. I basically forgot the whole thing until much later. It took me a long time to realise that I was afraid my supervisor was correct. I was raised by my mother to do well in areas that made her feel like a successful mother, and to hell with everything else.

This is a major problem of humankind. Part of our job as therapists and healers is to lead those who come to us to the other side of the valley of the shadow. How to do that is very difficult and complicated, and different with different individuals. At the moment I am most impressed with a very lovely woman who came to see me announcing, “I will never be happy. I am too damaged.” Finally after many months of work some happiness broke through. I gave her a shamanic remedy that improves the quality of the happiness of every patient I’ve given it to at this point in their treatment. Did she get happier? She got a panic attack. Her connection to the misguided teachings of her upbringing were more at the level of an addiction than an imprint. I am happy to report that treating it as an addiction (I won’t go into details here.) has permitted her to explore living more fully in the optimistic happy side of living.

It is not unusual when a patient moves through to the other side of their negativity and suffering, for them to very briefly feel relieved, and to then have a period of regression. Old negativities are reluctant to die and give up their toxic and false hold on truth. Most people do not change in a straight line. (Occasionally there is a miracle.) Most patients change in an inclined, vertical, saw-toothed manner. They may even react to obvious improvement not with joy but with the anxiety of exploring unfamiliar, seemingly dangerous territory. (The Empire Strikes Back!)

If you are involved in helping people and you would like to learn more then you might be interested in attending one or all of these workshops:

Advanced Psychotherapy Workshop Spring 2016

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