A Dentist, unable to express or assert himself, felt weak inside. The Metaphor of this weakness was soft clay. Questioning the clay, it became hard as steel. By exploring the steel, he could see rivets. When asked what kind of steel that could be, he said battleship steel. From the soft clay, we developed the Metaphor into that of a battleship. Later that same week, he went to a convention of four hundred dentists. One of the speakers said that Dentists had the highest rate of suicide. Within two seconds this battleship automatically fired back, "not the good ones." Prior to this, he couldn't speak up in a group of three people, no less four hundred.
A woman who reported feeling cold towards men and lovemaking found the Metaphor for this coldness as ice. Tracing the ice brought us back to when she was twelve and being molested by a boy her age. Within the memory, the ice melted, became warm in the sun, and poured over the twelve-year-old and comforted her, allowing her to relax. Now seeing twelve, feeling less anxious in that memory, twelve looked into the boy in the eyes, told him to stop and threw him off. Now that the memory was finished and no longer playing in the back of her mind, the ice/coldness was gone, and her reaction to men was transformed.
A woman, a victim of incest by her father and uncle, felt like she was "going crazy" when getting in touch with her real feelings about what happened. The 'crazy' feeling was swirling all around her. When asked what it was like, she said it was like many atoms swirling around her. The atoms had a nucleus, which was like a bomb...an atom bomb. Inviting the atom bomb into her past, it went through an old basement door. Because the bomb was swirling, the father and uncle thought it was her and went in after her/it. As soon as they went through the door, it slammed shut. A few moments later there was a nuclear explosion. When the dust settled, the basement was completely filled up with the fall-out from the explosion. Through the years, the violations that took place in that basement had continued to play in the back of her head. Now that the basement was permanently filled in, the memories could no longer take place in that basement again.
A Chiropractor had difficulty increasing his practice, as he is unable to assert himself with patients as to the need for additional treatments. He was afraid they would think he wasn't concerned about them and would not like him or want to keep him as a treating physician. The fear, upon closer examination, was experienced as squeezing, and was squeezing his abdomen. The squeezing is like two hands grabbing. While he was aware of times he'd felt rejected as a child, when the two grabbing hands were asked where they would like to go, they went to a premature baby in an incubator. Since his parents couldn't get to the child to hold and comfort it, the squeezing hands went to the baby and held and comforted the infant. As he watched the squeezing hands go the baby, his emotional reaction confirmed that it was real. As the hands preferred to stay back there with the baby forever, he no longer experienced the squeezing around his stomach and was able to assert himself with his patients without fear of lose, separation or rejection. This also helped him to assert himself in other situations.
A patient, a compulsive talker, once complained "I can't stop talking when I'm with people...I sure am long-winded." Asking what kind of a wind that long-winded, wind could be, he said 'a very long wind.' Asking where it could blow from, we traced that long wind to a window. It was a child's room window, and inside that room the wind was coming from a screaming child that no one wanted to be bothered with no matter how hard he cried. Attending to that child in the way the child needed quieted the baby. The wind then stopped and his need to talk dissolved.
A man has trouble forgiving his alcoholic, schizophrenic father who urinated in his face when he was six. This led us to anger resident in his head. The heat and shape of this anger was like a hot rock. Inviting the hot rock back to the memory of his father, by time it arrived there, in that scene, it had cooled down and transformed into a mirror. At that point, it went to his father's face. The father, looking into the mirror saw his own shame, stopping the shameless act. In his mind's eye he saw his father zip up his pants, look the boy in the eyes, pat him on the back and say, "please forgive me, I didn't know what I was doing." With the memory concluded (instead of truncated and frozen) and the anger no longer resident in his body, he was able to achieve his desired goal of forgiveness towards his father.
Patient: I've had a problem my entire life with food. No matter what I do, no matter what program I go on, nothing works. And now I've really put on a lot of weight because I've just given up entirely.
Therapist: And what would have to happen to be in control of how you eat?
P: I'd have to stop feeling hungry all the time, which I think is impossible.
T: And so when you feel hungry all the time, where do you feel hungry?
P: In my stomach, right in the middle of my stomach.
T: And when you feel that in the middle of a stomach, what's that like there?
P: Like a huge empty cavern with crying in it.
T: And when in an empty cavern, where in a cavern could that crying be?
P: More towards the back. (Pause) I can see a teeny tiny baby crying and shaking like it's cold. But it's really shaking and crying from hunger.
T: And when it's crying and shaking from hunger, is there anything else?
P: It's more like this baby is in a big room and no one's coming to feed it.
T: And when a baby is in this big room and no one's coming to feed it, what happens next?
P: She crawls up into a ball.
T: And when she crawls up into a ball, what kind of a ball could that be?
P: It's more like a shell, a chambered nautilus with a mother of pearl shell and brown stripes.
T: And what kind of brown stripes could that be like?
P: Like the nipples of a mother's breast.
T: And when a chambered nautilus with a mother of pearl shell has brown stripes like the nipples of a mother's breast, what could happen next?
P: I can see the shell turning around so that the opening is at the top, and milk starts pouring in from somewhere. You'd think it would be mother's milk, but it's not, it's just plain ordinary milk...and it's filling each chamber, one at a time.
T: And after all the chambers are filled, could that chambered nautilus be interested in going to an infant who's crying and shaking from hunger?
P: I can see it going to her and pouring into her mouth every 20 or 30 minutes, whenever she begin to cry.
T: What can happen next?
P: After a while the baby's no longer concerned with eating and can go to sleep or play now. The crying has stopped and the cavern is gone.
(Note: The patient reported that while she has felt like "a big, fat elephant." Immediately following this process, she stated that she now felt like "a gazelle with weights on". After this Process she was able to successfully follow a food regimen.)
© copyright 1999 Richard Siegel
Last amended 12 Jan 2001
Dr. Richard Siegel is based in the USA and has been a therapist for over 25 years. He has studied with David Grove, the
originator of Metaphor Therapy, to whom he gives credit for the
"inner healings" which occur in his practice.
All information on this web site (unless otherwise stated) is Copyright © 1997- Penny Tompkins and James Lawley of The Developing Company. All rights reserved. You may reproduce and disseminate any of our copyrighted information for personal use only providing the original source is clearly identified. If you wish to use the material for any other reason please contact: