Regain Lost Skills and Qualities © Martyn Carruthers
Transcript recorded and transcribed by Ana Pejcinova, PhD
Martyn Carruthers presented a training in Warsaw, Poland for coaches, therapists and counselors, focusing on identity loss. This included innovative ways to help people regain access to lost resources, or parts of themselves, that had been split off during past trauma, using what Martyn calls Soulwork Systemic Psychology.
Many people seem to lose access to important resources or parts of themselves during their childhood. (Such parts have been called ego-states by Berne and complexes by Freud). This identity loss may result in stress disorders, obsessions, compulsions, bipolar disorder or depression, depending on the diagnostic opinions of doctors and therapists (although laboratory tests cannot confirm or deny their opinions).
During this training Martyn made a number of demonstrations to recognize and resolve the consequences of different types of identity loss. During this demonstration:
- Martyn spoke in English, which was translated into Polish.
- The demonstration subject spoke in Polish, which was translated into English.
- The audience included therapists and counselors from Canada, Poland, Czech Republic and Macedonia.
- Amanda (not her real name) volunteered, and sat in front of the class.
- Martyn and Amanda discussed her privacy, and how Martyn can talk to the class about Amanda’s non-verbal behavior without disturbing her.
- Martyn cautioned the audience that emotions that were hidden or denied for years may appear.
- Martyn cautioned the group about the consequences of some popular New Age dissociation techniques, which he said can cause mentor damage.
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Identity Loss Transcript
Martyn: Amanda, you know that I prefer to talk about theory AFTER demonstrations – it keeps me honest! Let’s start. Do you know what you want?
Amanda: Obviously, I want to lose weight! [laughs] I want to get rid of my desire to eat everything!
Martyn: Get rid of it? Really?
Amanda: [Amanda moves her legs, scratches her left arm with her right hand, gently taps the toes of her right foot on the floor and stares at the ceiling] Of course!
Martyn: [to class] Just asking ‘Really?’ allowed me to check for her non-verbal signals of objections to her goal. Amanda showed a cluster of non-verbal signals – did any of these signals convey unconscious objections to her stated goal? We don’t know yet – but we can remember them.
[to Amanda] Convince us, Amanda, why should we believe you?
Amanda: There are moments in my life when there are two Amandas. One eats all that food [Amanda gestures with her left hand downwards to her forward left] and the other tells the first one that what she does is not right. [She gestures with both hands simultaneously at chest level a little to the right]
Martyn: [to class] Tylko rozumiem mały po polsku [I only understand a little Polish], so I watch carefully how Amanda answers and later I try to make sense of her translated words. Amanda started talking and gestured to her left in front of her with her left hand about the Amanda that “eats all that food”, and then used both hands together when she talked about her inner voice. At that moment you could guess that parts of Amanda communicate her conflict non-verbally. We can explore which parts of herself Amanda may want to control – and whether those parts are mature or age-regressed!
[In Martyn’s model of non-verbal communication, gesturing downwards to the forward left may indicate a young child, an adult who acts like a child, or a dissociated childish part of a person.]
Amanda: The other part of me is a voice.
Martyn: Who does this voice remind you of?
Amanda: It’s my own voice!
Martyn: Good; what does this voice-part of you want?
Amanda: Something like understanding and acceptance.
Martyn: Which one first? Does this part of you want understanding first and then acceptance, or acceptance first and then …
Amanda: [points with her right hand to her left hand] Understanding, and then acceptance.
Martyn: Thank you.
[To class] You may have noticed that Amanda’s right hand seems to signal about what her left hand wants. [He points with his right finger to his left hand, and speaks for the right hand] “This part [the left hand] wants understanding, and then acceptance.” Perhaps Amanda nonverbally indicates that her right-hand-part might may want to help or control her left-hand-part.
Or: “understanding, and then acceptance” may be the opinion of the right-hand-part about what the left-hand-part should do, again indicating that the left-hand-part may be age regressed or resourceless, and the right-hand part may be more mature and resourceful.
[To Amanda] Amanda, take a moment to feel that left side of you, the part of you that wants to eat. How old do you feel when you start eating more than you want to eat?
Martyn: Take a moment and remember teenage Amanda. What was happening in your life? Was life full of happiness?
Amanda: I have a feeling of pressure, lack of space …
Martyn: Can you remember teenage Amanda under pressure? Was this the first time that teenage Amanda felt that type of pressure?
Amanda: [ signs of trance ] Uhmmmm …
Martyn: [To class] This is a simple example of transderivational search, which is useful for finding forgotten trauma, repressed abuse and lost resources. We can explore what is going on now. Amanda said that her pressure originated in her teenage years, although I would be surprised if it appeared so late in life. Amanda also said “I have a lack of space.” Let’s check that feeling.
[To Amanda] “Can you go back before that? Did you feel that pressure; that lack of space, before?”
Amanda: [pause]: Consciously, I think I do not remember. [She slouches slightly]
Martyn: Of course you don’t remember, [slows voice tempo] maybe nothing happened, or maybe something happened that you did not want to remember, or maybe you only saw something … Sometimes, things that we forget control our lives. Sometimes, we even forget that we forgot. Maybe you don’t even need to … remember … consciously … [Amanda straightens her posture and Martyn’s voice returns to his normal tempo] and what age comes to your mind?
Amanda: Six. [gesturing to her left]
Martyn: Thank you. Maybe you will never remember what happened. Maybe it’s not even important. If you imagine you can see this 6-year old Amanda on your left side … what would she look like?
Amanda: It’s quite a sad child.
Martyn: Can you ask this sad child if she wants to talk to you? [Amanda nods] Can you imagine looking into the eyes of sad little Amanda and asking her why she is so sad?
Amanda: She feels that nobody notices her.
Martyn: Maybe she’s right. Maybe her parents are too busy with each other. Or maybe she enjoys hiding. Perhaps she does not want her parents to notice her. What does little Amanda want?
Amanda: She prefers to hide.
Martyn: Can you ask her what she is hiding from? [Amanda’s posture becomes trance-like and Martyn again slows his voice tempo.] Maybe little Amanda is playing a game? Or maybe she thinks somebody will hurt her? Or perhaps there’s something she does not want to see? Is she avoiding something?
Amanda: She’s hiding from her parents’ conflict.
Martyn: [normal voice tempo] It can be sad for a little girl to see her parents’ conflict. How does she not see her parents’ conflict?
Amanda: To turn her face toward the wall.
Martyn: Perhaps little Amanda has been waiting for thirty years with her face toward the wall, waiting for somebody who loves her to tell her, “Hey, it’s safe now! You can come home!” [Amanda’s features slacken and she gazes into space] … and I’ll talk to the class for a moment …
[To class] During the break I was asked how to make friends with parts of a person that a person does not like or does not want. I cannot expect Amanda to like to the part of her that makes her eat, “Oh how I love you, wonderful part of me that makes me fat!” I’d expect the opposite.
Instead, I can find out what’s going on, in a friendly way. Now I can talk to a six-year-old part of Amanda – as if to a young girl who is hiding to avoid her parents’ conflict. This might be called an ego-state in transactional analysis or a complex in Freudian circles or perhaps an inner child. Let’s stay with Amanda’s metaphor – that a child-Amanda was hiding – and can be found.
Martyn: [pretends to talk to class while non-verbally directing his communication to Amanda] Maybe Amanda is ready to love that part of her self. Or maybe Amanda would prefer to continue hiding that part of herself. That part has been hidden for thirty years, so maybe she can let it stay hidden … [Amanda stiffens, then cries while shaking her head]
[To class] I just checked a theory with provocation. With a bit more provocation we may need a bucket and a mop.
[To Amanda] Amanda, look at the little girl who you once were, in your mind. Perhaps she’s been holding your left hand for a very long time, perhaps she has signaled you in different ways and she wants you to feel good. She’s only 6 years old. What did her mother do to help her feel loved?
Amanda: [laughs] My mother cooked for me! [shocked voice] My mother showed her love for me with food!
Martyn: Perhaps little Amanda has been showing her love to YOU the best way she knows. Every time she wants you to eat, maybe she’s communicating, “I love you. Please love me.”
Amanda: [laughs in tears]
Martyn: Imagine you can see little Amanda, can you say to her, “Dear little Amanda, I’ve grown up. I’m a woman now, and I have a child of my own older than you.” What would little Amanda say?
Amanda: She is confused.
Martyn: Yes. Does she accept that you’ve grown up?
Amanda: No! She doesn’t believe me!
Martyn: Can you ask her to sit on your legs, and to lean back against your chest? And remember that this is a horrible part of you that MAKES … YOU … EAT!
Amanda: [laughs and moves her hands as if holding a child on her lap]
Martyn: You are a TV producer, so this may be easy for you: Imagine making a TV show in your mind, so that little Amanda can watch your TV show and understand some of the things that you have done since you were six. Imagine watching the TV show together. Maybe show her your student years … your marriage … the birth of your son …. and some highlights of your career in television.
Amanda: [smiles widely]
Martyn: Can you also show her some of your disappointments and mistakes, so that she can see that you have lived your life the best that you could without her?
Amanda: [frowns – then her eyes moisten again]
Martyn: Can you ask little Amanda, in her opinion, what is missing in your life?
Amanda: She says that full love is missing.
Martyn: Ask little Amanda if she would enjoy helping you find full love?
Martyn: Can she teach you how to love yourself?
Martyn: Would she tell you to love yourself by eating?
Amanda: [opens her eyes wide, and opens her mouth as if to speak – but is silent. She nods.]
Martyn: Or maybe she has other ideas too?
Amanda: [smiles and nods]
Martyn: Ask her for some other ideas how she can teach you to love yourself.
Amanda: [cries] It is too hard for me at this moment …
Martyn: OK … maybe we should stop …
Martyn: You win. What other ideas does she have about helping you love yourself?
Amanda: [taps her right foot and scratches her left arm with her right fingers]
Martyn: [To class] Notice some possible objections here! It looks like her right side is signaling again!
Martyn: [To Amanda] I have an idea that some part of your body may be saying, “No! If you love yourself, maybe something awful might happen.” Maybe you will become an egoist. Maybe nobody will like you, or maybe you’ll have to do something you don’t want to do.
[Martyn to class] When coaching, I often use a lot of “maybe” provocations and … [Amanda suddenly looks shocked] … and I call that the “BOINNNG” effect.
[Martyn to Amanda] What’s going on?
Amanda: Nothing … well … I just thought of something … something private!
Martyn: OK. Can we come back to little Amanda – what are her ideas? [pause] Or maybe she doesn’t want to talk?
Amanda: Another way of sharing love would be to spend time in nature. And to dance.
Martyn: Which one first?
Martyn: Dancing in nature! Wonderful! And feel the love of this part of you who wants to love you; how can you love this young part of you? Maybe she thinks that nobody loves her. And maybe she’s right.
Amanda: [shakes head]
Martyn: How does she want you to love her? Maybe she only wants food. Is that what she wants, more food?
Amanda: No, she doesn’t want any more food.
Martyn: Maybe she has a better idea?
Amanda: Walks. She wants me to express my love for her by taking her for walks in nature.
Martyn: Great, and maybe you can show each other love when walking together. Ask little Amanda, where in the whole world she’s always wanted to take a walk? … Maybe she’s always wanted to walk in the Sahara Desert …
Amanda: To Green Mountain! [A holiday resort in southwest Poland]
Martyn: Beautiful. Can you imagine that she is a real little girl, and that you can walk with her on Green Mountain, and that you share all the beautiful things you discover on this walk? Maybe you can dance together in the green mountain forests …
Let her choose where she would like you to take her next. What would be a great happiness for her? What would she like to do?
Amanda: To go to Aqua Park.
Martyn: Perhaps you can imagine taking her to Aqua Park, and go together on all those wonderful rides, maybe play together … Does she change in this beautiful place? Is she still six years old?
Martyn: Maybe say to her that she can stay six as long as she likes. Perhaps tell her that you can love her now, no matter what age she is.
Amanda: She looks livelier now.
Martyn: Look at this lively little girl. Maybe tell her how lively she is. My question is: “Can you give her all the love that she wants? Maybe all the love that her parents never gave her?”
Amanda: [nods head]
Martyn: OK. Consider what you are learning … you are learning how to love yourself! You are learning how to enjoy a part of yourself that you have rejected! How do you feel?
Amanda: Shocked! I HATED the side of me that always wanted to eat! And now [softens face and posture] … I feel like I’ve ignored a very important part of me for a very long time. It will take time to get to know her again.
Martyn: Good. And perhaps you can continue this later, in the exercise, in your thoughts, in your dreams … or with me. Thanks so much, Amanda.
Amanda: Thank you! [She returns to her chair in the seminar room]
Martyn: [To class] An important piece of our work is finding and befriending parts of a person that the person does not like. I find this to be of great help to people to manage trauma or abuse. This was only one step, however. There are likely other parts involved with compulsions and obsessions such as over-eating or smoking etc. I’d expect a complex conflict with more than two parts. I might repeat this a few times with different parts – and then offer integration coaching.
If a person shows signs of complex conflict, you can help that person make sequential integrations and then resolve the underlying relationship conflicts. We will show you how to change relationship bonds (a relationship bond can be described as a taboo identity belief or a false identity that is needed for a relationship to continue).
Amanda expressed a huge amount of information non-verbally. If you kept your nose in your notebook – you missed half of our demonstration. Verbal exchanges are only part of our systemic coaching. If you wait for your clients to TELL you everything, you may wait for a very long time.
Do you remember how to deal with “Yes – No” objections (someone says YES, or states a goal and simultaneously signals NO)? If you did the homework, you can now resolve most “Yes – No” objections. If you are a helping professional, most of your clients will express many Yes – No objections … it is often called resistance.