Nestled in a grove of trees, the setting is rural and rustic although the accommodation is elegant and comfortable, providing a safe and pleasing surround for resolving traumatic memories and exploring personal maps.
The aim of the retreat would be to discover where certain things we
say, do or feel, that inhibit our lifestyles, come from. Once this has
been established, the areas of experience that were previously occupied
with negative or old information, can be mapped, cleared and prepared in
order to allow more contemporary data to take its place. The removal of
injurious intropsychic elements subsequently, directly influence our relationships,
work and personal experience. What we place on our children by reenacting
these feelings and behaviours are directly affected by this enlightenment,
and stops the archaic patterns from recapitulating.
The nature of the work people bring to the retreat varies from a definite knowing of the material to be worked on to the client having no knowledge of what it is they will explore only that there are symptoms and feelings that are not wanted or understood. A personal map is developed, announcing the important, unknown aspects of the client's life and evolves as the week progresses until reflections of healing are visible both in the client and on the map. The map essentially becomes the co-therapist, providing a round and place for previously burdensome information that has been carried around, perhaps for generations.
The week long retreats are designed for a maximum of eight people so work is very individuals and intense. Each participant works with David and although sessions can be private, vicarious benefits can be obtained from observing others work.
Here are some definitions and a chance to recover the original definitions and reintroduce the reader to the special variances of figurative language. The aim is to clarify the words clients choose during a therapy session.
As this subject matter is enormous the points that will be addressed here are those considered useful for the therapist to recognize and value when working with a client's metaphors and symbols. The clinical implication notes relate to the work with the four quadrants. All associated concepts have been replaced under a category of figurative speech.
metaphor definition: An implied analogy in which one thing is compared or identified with another dissimilar thing. For example, a feeling that is described in terms of "butterflies in the stomach", a "heart beating like a drum", or "just going blank".
clinical implication: The emotive metaphor is generally an extended one. That is to say when a feeling is transformed into its metaphorical equivalent, it is sustained throughout the work and functions as a controlling image. Metaphors are 'vertical' in nature. They deepen the information. Time is frozen while the information is developed. The questions used to develop a metaphor develop space not time. A metaphor awakens the conceptions with more force and grace than 'everyday' language. An epistemological metaphor is personal and unique, translating a feeling or thought into a form that can travel through time to its original. Quadrant two and three questions develop metaphors.
symbol definition: A symbol signifies or stands for something else. Usually that something is concrete. It is not common for a thought or feeling to develop into a symbol as symbols are universal and represent cultures, traditions and religions of family of origin. Examples of symbols include a crucifix or a menorah, a stop sign or a door knocker. Symbols direct and organize, record and communicate large amounts of information in a quick way. Cultures rely on them to maintain order, discipline and moral ethics.
clinical implication: Symbols will occur more frequently when the client's information is referencing ancestral information. Symbols do not transform as readily as metaphors as they represent generations of use. Unlike the intimacy of metaphors, symbols are universal. They are represented and supported by generations of use. Symbols tend to maintain their form and therefore must be relocated to the time and space of origin. When a symbol is back in its original context, required qualities must be collected and brought forward to the present, where they can then be owned by the client. Symbols, unlike metaphors which usually have a definitive explanation derived from the experience, have so many interpretations and generations of use the it is impossible for them to be understood entirely. This is why it is necessary to place symbols in their effective context. Symbolism can also be found in attitude and posture. For example, the postures of supplication or mudras, the gestures and attitudes incorporated in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. Similar gestures are familiar in Christian traditions. An example of working with this kind of symbolism: the client sits with her hands held together as if in prayer, but rather than a feeling of accord with her hands, the client experiences discomfort or confusion. The clasped hands will have an embedded doctrine the is not conformable with the client. An intervention will involve pulling the hands back in time to the original owner. This will provide the context such as an ancestor who prayed for forgiveness for a misdemeanour and whose guilt continues to be passed down generations until the guilt was felt but the origin of it is long forgotten, and no longer relevant. so in essence it is the guilt that needs to be placed back in its original context, the hands in prayer have been the symbol. The aim becomes; placing the hands back in time to free the hands of the client to either be held in more congruent prayer or to be otherwise occupied.
imagery definition: A representation of the external form of an object. For example, a statue. [OED]
clinical implication: Imagery refers to something that can be perceived through more than one of the senses. It is not exclusively eidectic in nature. This implies that there is a body present to perceive the information. It is possible there is an observing ego which may be a fragment of the body, for example, just eyes that watch and see, a nose that can smell the burning of a cigarette, or a pair of ears that hear footsteps. Although the experience can exist as a landscape within the body's boundary, some experiences are senses located outside the body, where the information is located. Questions that pertain to quadrant three are asked to develop and distance the experience from the client so that more new information can enter the "picture". The use of personal pronouns provides clues for this shift, for example from "I" to "she", "they", or "it". This also announces the shift in juxtaposition of the client to the image. Such a change alters the infrastructure of the image thereby freeing the client from a direct 'cause and affect'.
metonymy definition: A figure of speech that substantiates the name of a related object, person or idea for the subject. For example, crown , for monarchy or Shakespeare for the Works of Shakespeare .
clinical implication: Unlike metaphor, metonymy has a "horizontal" motif of moving across time. [Jakobson[ Metonymy is rather like a hologram, a part of something represents the whole. When working with metonymy, a large expanse of time needs to be considered. For example: a client's experience of depression is experienced in terms of a black cloud .. If there is a predisposing family history of depression, instead of deepening the black cloud , as the therapist would in quadrant two, this black cloud belongs to previous generations of depression and will be addressed by asking quadrant four questions. Quadrant four questions pull the information, the black cloud, back in time to the first owner of the cloud and the original situation that caused it. The original situation is then healed of imposing the cloud on subsequent generations.
icon definition: A sign that has characteristics in common with the thing it signified. [[OED] From the Greek, 'eikon'. Used to create a boundary between the sacred and the profane.
clinical implication: A client experiences a negative reaction
that is triggered by a certain stimulus, for example, any tall man with
a beard becomes the representation for what is "bad" or "frightening" in
men. This type of man will assume greater proportions of power and influence
over the client based on her initial experience of his form. a dramatic
physiological reaction follows every occasion she sees someone who is tall
and bearded. Two main interventions can be brought about. The first is
a quadrant two intervention in which the man is further developed until
the information is differentiated and pertains only to that man
who traumatised the client. The second intervention involves quadrant four
where the information is pulled back to before the man had a beard and
was "bad". Which quadrant to enter may not be clear until the questions
are asked. If the man does not individualize in quadrant two, then the
therapist can proceed to ask quadrant four questions. There may be, in
this instance, deeper roots to the "bad" and the "frightening" carried
in the details about the man.
Paula, the sister who survived my scheme, tells the tale with a different twist: it was a suicide pact: Thelma and Louise in diapers. She laughs, too, but her eyes turn sad as they peer into the dark waters of a past to deep to fathom.
I often resented Paula when she was two. She stole and broke my toys, kicked and screamed when cross, and muscled into the parental limelight that had once been mine alone. Despite all this, she was my companion, my only playmate. I can't remember ever wanting to kill her.
Born during the Depression, my parents craved security like plants crave water and sunlight. Fresh from college, Dad nabbed a job with the federal government and crisscrossed the nation soliciting promotion. His path brought our growing family to a tiny apartment in Maryland. While he entered the brave new world of computer programming at the nearby capital, Mom carried their third child heavy in her body and mind.
Mom slept late most mornings; so we had to be quiet so as not to wake her or, later in the day, not to give her a headache. She cried a lot, too, so I became her little helper, keeping Paula amused with songs and stories, toys and games, watching "Lassie" and "The Lone Ranger" with the sound turned low.
On that summer morning the sunrise poured into our room through its single window. I woke and went to the bathroom, where the medicine cabinet shone suddenly silver beneath the fluorescent light. I remember it held candy, magical orange pills that made me feel better when I was sick.
I can't remember being warned to stay away from the cabinet. Perhaps they thought it safely out of reach, I merely clambered onto the toilet tank, stepped into the sink, and opened the treasure trove of bright bottles.
Arms full, I climbed down and carried all the bottles into our room, where Paula was standing i her crib. "Candy!" I cried. She stuck her cupped palm through the bars.
The orange pills tasted as I remembered, sweet-tart on my tongue. Milky liquid in a heavy blue bottle smelled like the pale mints my mother served at her card parties, the mints that were always off-limits. When I took a swig though, it tasted like bitter chalk. As for the ret, the brown footballs, tiny blue dots, yellow ovals: I'd had better mud pies. I spit them out. Paula, nicknamed "garbage-gut" because she'd eat anything, munched contentedly on all that I gave her.
It was not quite 7:00 on a Saturday morning. Paula and I played patty-cake. Our parents slept on.
I might have become the child who killed her sister but for a neighbor. Propelled by an emergency of her own, she knocked on our door to use the telephone. I ran to wake my parents. They smelled the milk of magnesia on my breath. We rushed to the hospital.
The emergency room felt frigid and smelled of rubbing alcohol. The doctors snaked a tube into my nose that burned down my throat. My tummy cramped as they used the tube to suck out the medicine. Paula twisted on the gurney next to me, screaming and kicking, as they did the same to her.
Afterwards the nurse gave us some real candy - bright cherry suckers with twisted paper handles. I felt better until she took us back to our parents, sitting pale and rumpled in the waiting room. Mom scooped Paula up into her arms while Dad scowled at me. He said the tube up my nose was punishment enough, so he didn't spank me for once. They both scolded me about nearly killing the baby. They said that if she'd died it would have been my fault.
Later that year someone shot the president. Mom made us sit with her before the television when the horses carried his coffin on parade. She cried with the new baby in her lap as the president's little son saluted his father's casket. I wondered if this somehow was my fault, too.
In another family this might have become the story of how they almost lost their children because of an unlocked medicine cabinet, a cautionary tale about childhood safety. In my family the tale was twisted, turning a child into a murderer so she could absorb the blame.
More than 30 years have passed before I learned what the doctors had missed when they snaked out my stomach.
I went to see a psychologist., complaining that my feelings felt bottled up inside. "And what kind of bottle is a bottle that keeps feelings bottled up? he asked in a soothing sing-song. "A blue one."
He asked me to draw the bottle. I drew it with a little girl trapped inside, emotions swirling around her like colored smoke. That's when I discovered the blue bottle lodged just beneath my heart, the blue bottle that saved me, that protected me, and that finally imprisoned me.
If I had not drunk from the blue bottle, my parents would not have detected the medicine on my breath. They might not have found the gaping medicine chest, the scattered pills and bottles, in time for the doctors to save Paula and me.
In the hospital, I held onto the bottle to contain the fear, guilt and shame that threatened to engulf me. Over the years, it became my armor, protecting me from a reality that grew too harsh as my mother sank deeper into depression and my father disappeared into a long-necked brown bottle of oblivion.
Though it started as a repository of negative emotion, over time the bottle snagged and hid both the angry, shameful feelings I feared and the bright, happy emotions I felt I didn't deserve. Seen though the blue bottle, my life became a dull grey landscape. I followed my mother down the sinkhole of depression, cut off from the vital little girl who had crawled into a bottle for protection and forgotten the way out. My quest to escape the grey landscape led to the psychologist, and finally to the blue bottle.
When I was done telling my story that bottle left me. On a hunch, I sought it on the shelves of a Missouri antique shop. The only blue bottle in sight was an old fashioned soda bottle, so I asked the proprietor if he had a blue medicine bottle tucked about somewhere. He paused, thought, rummaged in the back of a crowded cupboard, and finally pulled out a blue milk of magnesia bottle, mine to own gain for a mere $3.50.
When I hold it up to the light I can see the opalescent residue of the emotion it once stored. I can take the cap off, shake it whiff the mingled remnants of misery and medicine. I can stick it in the window with a rose rising from its cobalt mouth. I am free of it.
I am free of the bottle because I understand it, just as I know the truth of the twisted tale: I was three. I wanted some candy. And I wanted to share with my sister.
Cheryl Claypoole Beall is a writer who lives in Columbus, Ohio with her son, Ben. She is completing a master's degree in journalism.
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