Paul's Fear


Conducted in a Lecture Demonstration

Comments and transcription by Rob McGavock

The following is a demonstration conducted by David Grove with a volunteer Paul, in front of an audience.  In this unravelling of information and lecture to the audience, David demonstrates the powerful healing capabilities of the redemptive metaphor.  (The article by David Grove: Problem Domains and Non-Traumatic Resolution through Metaphor Therapy explains "The Quadrants" and David's other terminology).

David begins with a single question asking Paul what he wishes to accomplish.  David then notices a hand movement that he includes in the beginning of the process.  As you read through this intervention, notice how information occupies space around Paul.  David's notion that much of our historical information is carried outside of our body in problem domains rather than inside is highly useful.  Questions that pull-back through a person's history are articulated and sometimes adjusted by David.  Being pulled backwards in time is a very unfamiliar direction for the participant.  By sticking with the process David helps Paul to be rewarded with a powerful redemptive metaphor that is equal and opposite in strength to the troubling sensation of fear he begins with.  Read and observe as David leads Paul in this healing process.  (Quotation marks are used to denote David's care in emphasizing Paul's own words.)

David: What would you like to accomplish?
Paul: (Sitting on a chair stool, hands turned out) My fear.
David: "Your fear"?
Paul: My fear.

David to Paul: So, what kind of hands are those hands?
Paul: Hands that are behind me.
David: So, they are "hands that are behind you".  And, when they are "hands that are behind you", anything else about "hands that are behind you"?
Paul: Fear.
David: And, how far are these "hands" when "they're behind you... and there is fear"?
Paul: Any place where I know that they are behind me.
David: So, what kind of "place" is the "any place" that "you know is behind you"?
Paul: Right here in this room a few minutes ago.
David: So, what kind of "fear" is that "fear"?
Paul: An old fear.
David: And, how far behind you is an "old fear", and is it directly "behind you" or off to an angle?
(RM: This type of question clarifies where in space information resides.)
Paul: It's very close to me, but it's far behind me in time.
David: But, it's "very close to you" in space?  So, how "close" is it to you?
Paul: (Quickly) It's smothering.
David: So, does it touch you?
Paul: Yes.
David: Where does it touch you when "it is smothering"?
Paul: All over my back.
David: So, it's "all over your back".  Is there any other part of your body that it touches when it's "all over your back?"
Paul: My body, my whole body.
David: When it touches "your whole body and it's smothering", is it "smothering" soft or hard?
Paul: It's soft.
David: It's a "soft smothering".  Anything else about it when it's a "soft smothering?"
Paul: I feel it in my groin.
David: And, when it's a "soft smothering" and "you feel it in your groin" and it's right "behind you", where did it come from just before it's "smothering you"?
(RM: this question, inconjunction with the next question, achieves the first Pulling Back)
Paul: I don't know.
David: And, when "you don't know" where it came from just before it's "smothering", what happened just before it's "smothering"?
Paul: I felt safe.
David: And, when "you felt safe", what kind of "safe" was it that "you felt" just before "smothering"?
Paul: (Hands come up in front and open wide) Safe comfort.
David: And, anything else about that "safe comfort"?
Paul: That's me.
David: And, what kind of "me" is a "me" that's "safe"?
Paul: A me that's me.
David: How old could a "me that's me" be that's "safe"?
Paul: A-year-and-a-half.
David: And, what could "a-year-and-a-half" be wearing when "a-year-and-a-half" is "safe"?
Paul: Little shorts and a tee shirt.
David: Anything else about "a-year-and-a-half" that is "safe" and "little shorts and a tee shirt"?
Paul: And a wild onion smell.
David: And, when "a-year-and-a-half" is "safe", and "little shorts and a tee shirt", "and a wild onion smell", and how old could "smothered" be when something is "behind"?
Paul: Two.
David: And, "two".  And, when "a year-and-a-half" is "safe" anything else about "a-year-and-a-half" when "a year-and-a-half" is "safe"?
Paul: Joy.
David: And, what kind of "joy"?
Paul: In life.
David: And, there is "joy in life", anything else about "joy in life of a-year-and-a-half"?
Paul: And, there's sunshine.
David: And, what kind of "sunshine"?

David to Paul: So, what kind of "sunshine" is a "sunshine that is a-year-and-a-half"?
Paul: It's bright and warm.
David: Anything else about that "bright and warm sunshine"?
Paul: It's comforting.
David: And, it's a "comforting bright and warm sunshine".  And, where does the "comforting" of that "bright warm sunshine" come from?
Paul: (Looking down in front) The earth, and the sky, and the sun.
David: And, anything else about "the earth, the sky, and the sun" that makes "bright warm sunshine"?
Paul: Smells good.
David: And, it "smells good".  Anything else about that "smell"?
Paul: I like it.
David: And, "you like that smell".  And, what kind of "smell" is a "smell that you like"?
Paul: The smell of wild onions in the spring.
David: Anything else about that "spring" when there is the "smell of wild onions" and "warm sunshine"?
Paul: I wasn't afraid.
David: And, "you weren't afraid" in that spring.

David to Paul: And, where did your "weren't afraid" come from?
Paul: (Looking down) Being safe.
David: Anything else about "being safe" and "you weren't afraid" and "wild onion smell of spring"?
Paul: I don't know.
David: And, you do know that you weren't afraid.  And, where did your "not being afraid" come from?
Paul: Being outside.
David: And, what kind of "outside" was the "outside" you could be.....
Paul: (Interrupting) Safe green grass, wild onions, and I can move.
David: And, "wild onions and you can move..."
Paul: Through the grass.
David: And, "you can move through the grass".
Paul: Smells good.
David: "Smells good... wild spring onions".

Long pause.  (David watching... sees Paul take a deep breath.)

David: And, what kind of "breath" could that "breath" be?
Paul: Slow and easy.
David: That's a "slow and easy breath". (Short pause) Anything else about that "slow and easy breath"?
Paul: It's safe.
David: And, that's "a safe breath". And, anything else about a "safe breath"?
Paul: It comes from my big big heart.
David: And, where did "you" come from, and what happened before "you" had a "big big heart"?
Paul: I was locked inside my mother's body.
David: And, what kind of body is a "mother's body" that you are "locked inside"?
Paul: Scary and frightening.
David: And, where did that "scary and frightening of being locked inside your motheršs body" come from?
Paul: Her mother was dying.
David: And, what kind of a mother was "her mother who was dying"?
Paul: Mean.
David: And, she was a "mean mother" (humorously), and where did her "mean" come from?
Paul: Her father.
David: And, what kind of a "father" was "her father" that gave her her "mean"?
Paul: He was very mean!
David: And, where did he get his "very mean" from?
Paul: He was from Germany.
David: And, what kind of "Germany" was a "Germany" from which he got his "his very mean"?
Paul: Harsh, cold, and dark.
David: And, that's a "harsh, cold, dark Germany".  Anything else about a "harsh, cold, dark Germany" that made a "mother's father very mean"?
Paul: Children were treated mean.
David: And, "children were treated mean".  And, where did the "treating of children mean" come from?
Paul: That's the way they were.
David: And, "that's the way they were", and what happens before "children were treated mean in Germany"?
Paul: I don't know.
David: And, where did their being "treated mean" come from?
Paul: From their past.
David: And, what kind of a "past" was "their past" when "children were being treated mean"?
Paul: Harsh, cold.
David: And, it's a "harsh cold past".
Paul: And dark.
David: And "dark".  And which direction is their past when "it's harsh and cold and dark"?
Paul: North.
David: And, it's "north", and what kind of "north" is "harsh and cold and dark"?
Paul: It's farther north.
David: "Farther north"?
Paul: Yes.
David: And, it's "farther north".  Anything else about "farther north", that's "cold, harsh, and dark"?
Paul: It seems like father north.
(RM: Farther turns into father)
David: And, what kind of "father" is a "cold, harsh, and dark"?
Paul: Mean.
David: And, it's a "mean father".  And, where did that father get his "mean" from?
Paul: In the north.
David: And, what kind of "north"?
Paul: Cold harsh survival.
David: And, its "cold harsh survival".  And, what happens before a "north is cold", and before "it's harsh", and before "survival"?
Paul: I don't know.
David: (Pause, David just waits for an answer)
Paul: Nothing there.
David: And, "nothing there".  What kind of "nothing" is the "nothing" that's "there", before it's "cold and harsh"?
Paul: It's just dark.
David: "It's just dark that's nothing".
Paul: It's so dark I can feel it.
David: And, "you can feel the dark".  Where does that "dark" come from that "you can feel"?
Paul: That's where there is no sun.
David: And, "that's where there is no sun, and dark".  And, before that "dark" got dark and there is "no sun", what happened before that "dark" got dark?
Paul: I don't know.  (Pause)   I don't have words for it.
David: And, when "you don't have words for it", then what do you have for it?

Long Pause (RM: silence often yields useful information when timed right)

Paul: There is a sense of not being here.
David: Anything else about that "sense of not being here"?
Paul: It feels really good.
David: And, "it feels really good".  And, what does that "feels really good" feel like?
Paul: I feel my body... I feel the warmth of me... it's a safe feeling... I feel safe.
David: And, "you feel safe", and when "you feel safe", anything else when "you feel safe"?
Paul: I like it.
David: And, "you like it", and what's it like when "you feel safe"?
Paul: Just an energy that flows... and it's flowing.
David: And, "it's energy that flows".

David to Paul: And, when there's "an energy flow", what kind of  "energy flow" could that be?
Paul: (Immediately) It's powerful.
David: And, when "it's powerful", "it's powerful" like what?
Paul: A rush of wind.

David to Paul: And, it's like "a rush of wind".  Anything else about "a rush of wind" and it's "powerful"?
Paul: It flows just right.
David: And, that "rush of wind flows just right".

David to Paul: And, when that "rush of wind flows just right", anything else about it when it "flows just right"?
Paul: It ebbs and flows and swirls and knocks over trees... and sends oxygen over the earth.
David: And, "it ebbs and flows and swirls and it knocks over trees and it sends oxygen over the earth".

David to Paul: And, would that "rush of wind that ebbs and flows and knocks over trees and there's oxygen", and would "it" be interested in going to "two" when something is "smothering two from behind, and in the groin", and what would that "rush of wind" be able to do?  And, as that "rush of wind swirls..."

David to Paul: What happens next (Paul turns around in his chair)... when a "rush of wind swirls"?
Paul: I'm going outside.
David: And, "you're going outside".
Paul: (Emphatically) Yes, I am!
David "Yes, you am!"  (Humorously)

David to Paul: And, as you go outside and there is "a rushing wind that ebbs and flows and knocks over trees and has oxygen", and what happens next when "yes, I am goes outside"?
Paul: I take my clothes off.
David: "You take your clothes off" and "you go outside".
Paul: And, I feel the wind.
David: And, as "you feel the wind", then what happens?
Paul: I feel it all over my body and it feels really great.
David: And, when "you feel it all over your body", what happens next?
Paul: I pick wild onions.
David: And, when "you pick wild onions", what happens next?
Paul: I smell the wild onions.
David: And, when "you smell the wild onions", what happens next?
Paul: I'm happy.
David: And, then "you're happy", and what happens next when "you're happy"?
Paul: I don't care.
David: And, then "you don't care".  Then what happens when "you don't care"?
Paul: Life goes on.
David: And, what kind of "life..."

David to Paul: And, what kind of a "life" is a "life that goes on"?
Paul: One that flows and flows and stays still, sometimes it rushes, sometimes it's quiet. It's always powerful and it's always safe.
David: And, "it's always safe".  And can you be "safe" when there is a "wind" like that?
Paul: Yes, I can.
David: And, what can that "wind" do to "behind you" so that "you can be safe"?
Paul: Blow the fear from behind me and swirl it out in front of me so I can face it.
David: And, as that "wind blows that fear out from behind you and swirls it in front of you so that you can face it", what happens next?
Paul: I walk through it.
David: And, as "you walk through it", then what happens, and how old could you be as you "walk through that "fear"?
Paul: I'm right here.   (RM: Now, in present time.)
David: So, when "you're right here", can I walk behind you?
Paul: Yes, you may.   (David walks behind Paul)
David: And, can I get close and touch you?
Paul: Yes, you may.
David: How are you doing?
Paul: Good, good.

David to Paul: What would you have done if I'd walked behind you before?
Paul: There's also fear out in front of me.
David: So, what we've dealt with is the "fear" behind him.  So, what difference do you think this has made?
Paul: When you came up behind me just now, the fear trigger didn't go off. Even before this work, I knew you... the fear didn't really have anything to do with you, but you walking behind me triggered it.

David to Paul: Do you recall that experience or incident?
Paul: Sure.
David: And, do you know what it's about?
Paul: Oh, yeah.
David: Have you worked with it before?
Paul: Not that closely, no.
David: So, it's an actual memory you have?
Paul: It's a pattern.
David: So, it's more about a pattern of experiences.

(Paul: Nodding in agreement)

Paul: I need some help ... what did you ask me in order to generate the wind?
David: We went back to the "dark".  You could "feel the dark".  I pulled back by asking, "What happened before the dark?"  You said, "Nothing."  I said, "What kind of nothing?"  You said, "I feel the energy flowing."  I asked, "Flowing like what?"

David to Paul: What do you think would have happened if I asked the "smell of onions, warmth, etc.", to go to "two"?
Paul: Nothing.

David to Paul: were any questions that were discordant to you?
Paul: The ŒI don't know' answers were the difficult spots.

David to Paul: Did you feel a sense of control in this experience?
Paul: I felt guided, but I had a choice of where to go.  I felt safe and in control. Thank you, David.

© copyright David Grove Seminars, 1998

David Grove conducts healing retreats for therapists and for clients that are referred by therapists. David also conducts training seminars for therapists.  These are located in various places around the world, including USA, UK and New Zealand.  For more information visit and see the Calendar of Events.

David's book, entitled RESOLVING TRAUMATIC MEMORIES and co-authored with B.I. Panzer in 1989 is published by Irvington Publishers, Inc. and available through The book focuses primarily on Quadrant II work and David's theories and methods have evolved significantly since this book was published. The book was recently translated into German.

Rob McGavock can be e-mailed at and Brenda McGavock, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who specialises in Grovian Metaphor Therapy with a private practice in Columbia, Missouri. She can be contacted at: 573-446-4039

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