I had a 5th chat today with a remarkable 14-year-old.
The topic, her fear associated with flying, is something of a personal
issue with me. From a previous chat, I was aware of the potential
danger that this might interfere with my carrying out the MOL.
See what you think. She seemed to experience a shift to a different,
higher perspective but couldn't really hold it. The importance of
helping a person flesh out and make concrete this different, higher
perspective is obvious to me.
The conversation is attached.
From: David Goldstein
Subject: 5th example of MOL
ICQ Chat Save file
Started on Sun Jan 18 20:28:41 1998
<David> Are you really 14 and in college?
<David> Not necessary.
<David> Do you understand the chat topic?
<MoonMaiden> Yes, I am. I know sometimes it's hard to believe things over the internet, but I'm willing to provide the information to verify it...
<MoonMaiden> It's a little hazy. Could you please elaborate?
<David> We can really talk about any subject. I will be on the lookout for thoughts or feelings in the background, at a higher level, and make you aware of it.
<David> Not exactly.
<David> There is no interpretation.
<David> By the way, I notice that you keep on going away. This will take some concentration. Is this a good time.
<MoonMaiden> Ahh... psychoanalysis... Okay... I see...
<MoonMaiden> Going away? No. This is a fine time. Was ICQ reporting me as AFK? Oh... the ICQ gods are ill-tempered beings...
<David> Ready to start?
<David> We can start with any topic or incident about which you have strong feelings or emotions.
<MoonMaiden> Okay... would you prefer strong negative feelings or strong positive feelings?
<David> It does not matter. Your choice.
<MoonMaiden> Okay... I've come to terms with this via some psychotherapy, but I was sexually assaulted by an ex boyfriend? Does that work as a topic?
<David> If you want to choose this.
<MoonMaiden> Okay. well, actually, I suppose I could choose something a bit easier for me to talk about... hm...
<MoonMaiden> ...thinking... I have strong feelings about many things... Gay rights?
<David> Really any topic you want to.
<MoonMaiden> Okay... I suppose I could blabber on about gay rights...
<David> User is away message appeared.
<MoonMaiden> Okay... I think this is better... okay?
<MoonMaiden> I shouldn't get any away notices anymore.
<David> I am here.
<David> So what is the topic or incident. The more specific the better.
<MoonMaiden> Hmm... how about... flying back to school after christmas break... I could talk about that...
<MoonMaiden> It was very emotionally charged for me...
<MoonMaiden> Between leaving my parents, going back to school, and a fear of flying, it was kinda rough
<David> As you talk about this, let yourself be aware of any thoughts or feelings which you are not putting in words.
<MoonMaiden> The scariest thing was the flying, though. I hyperventilated before I got on the plane... almost passed out. I don't know why... I've flown many times before, but each time, the phobia grows progressively worse. I think it's because I feel very trapped on the plane...
<David> The sense of being trapped, describe it so I know what you are experienceing.
<MoonMaiden> Well, as I go down the jetway into the plane, I begin to realize that once the door shuts and the plane starts taking off, then there's no way for me to turn back, nothing for me to do but be shut in the plane and have to surrender my trust to the circumstances around me. I'm trapped in a tiny place with lots of strangers and with no control. And I can't just let that go. It scares me to be out of control.
<MoonMaiden> It's the worst during takeoff, and hearing the door shut...
<David> Is that the moment of stongest feeling in the scene you are describing?
<MoonMaiden> I was very scared at my gate, when I was supposed to get on, I was making a ridiculous scene and couldn't even bring my self to set foot on the jetway thing. And once I got on the plane, it got so bad I had to get off again.
<MoonMaiden> That was probably one of the worst parts.
<MoonMaiden> As well as the takeoff. The other moment of strongest feeling was leaving my parents and then when the landing gear goes up and we go into the air.
<David> The fear that you are describing, have you ever experienced anything like it before?
<MoonMaiden> Not to that intensity... do you mean in a situation outside of an airplane-related situation?
<MoonMaiden> Let me think for a moment...
<MoonMaiden> ... well, I'm uncomfortable in most any case where I have very limited other options...
<David> What does the experience of no options mean to you?
<MoonMaiden> That everything is in someone else's control, and I don't trust outside influences.
<David> What is it like to be in someone else's control?
<MoonMaiden> Terrifying. I expect to get hurt by them in some way. I expect something to go wrong, and that I can't stop it and can't blame it... on them... but I could blame it on myself if I was in control... odd... it seems sort of irrational, now that I think about it...
<David> What is odd about it?
<MoonMaiden> That control is control, regardless of who has it, and the blame will fall on someone, and the only difference with me being in control is that I'm more aware of my feelings...
<MoonMaiden> more direct contact with the situation, I suppose...
<David> What just happened is an example of going up a level. You were talking, then you had a thought about what you were talking about which is from a different, higher perspective. OK?
<MoonMaiden> I see.
<MoonMaiden> I did feel a distinct change...
<MoonMaiden> People tell me that if I'm not in control, I should just go with it... because there are no other options. It's very true, but it's not something I was ever able to come to terms with. But the whole control idea is interesting. This new perspective is rather confusing...
<David> How so? Describe it.
<MoonMaiden> I haven't quite adjusted to the new thoughts that just came in. There's some sort of concept forming in my brain, but it seems sort of colloidal instead of being a good solid thought...
<David> Let yourself become aware of it. Notice it. Fill it out as you become aware of it.
<MoonMaiden> Okay... do you mind me babbling along as I think?
<David> Not at all. That is the idea.
<MoonMaiden> Okay... well, I know this control thing has something to do with my involvement in the situation, how directly I'm involved in it, and whether I have the option of choosing an outcome. It's even odder because I usually have a hard time choosing things. However, it makes me more comfortable to be in control of a situation. But it would scare the heck out of me to be the one responsible for flying a plane. But I would be comfortable if I had a parachute with me, because that opens up a second option. But if I jumped out of the plane with the parachute, I'd only have one option again and I'd be scared again. Control... for me it seems to be a thing of how directly I'm involved, how many options there are, how my emotions connect to it...
<MoonMaiden> It can be sort of scary to be responsible, too. I think there may be a situation by situation basis in this whole control thing. I would have to divide the situations into categories...
<MoonMaiden> I know that diseases that I can't control scare me, airplanes scare me. Being trapped with some people scares me, but not always. There's an element of trust.
<David> Tell me about the trust thing. Suppose that you knew the pilot and trusted him. Would that make a differecne?
<MoonMaiden> I talked to the pilot before I flew. It helped things a bit. However, I wouldn't know who built the plane, who inspected it, and whether something uncontrollable like windshear would happen.
<MoonMaiden> So it makes a little bit of a difference, but not a lot.
<David> You seem to be in conflict. You don't want to be responsible but you want to control.
<MoonMaiden> It depends on what I want to be responsible for. I want things to go right. I want to be in situations that I can control and then take responsibility for things that I can direct to have a positive outcome.
<David> What do you mean by control a situation?
<MoonMaiden> Direct it towards an outcome.
<David> When you step in an elevator are you in control?
<MoonMaiden> Strangely enough, some elevators scare me, others don't. I feel a bit of control in that I can press the buttons and make it stop. In all likelihood, the door will open and I'll be fine. But I can't stand elevators in tall buildings. There isn't enough control, because the extreme height introduces an element of danger that I am definitely not comfortable with.
<David> When you are a passenger in a car, are you in control?
<MoonMaiden> Sometimes. I can ask the driver to stop. And I don't have to wait for a car to descend from the sky like I would with an airplane.
<David> Are you still in the new point of view?
<MoonMaiden> It doesn't really appear so. It was still confusing me a bit, so I lost some of it.
<David> Try to recapture it.
<MoonMaiden> I resolved that thought. I think that the difference between other people being in control and me being in control is in the consciousness, that I would be more consciously aware of the situation, and I would acheive a fuller understanding of it...
<David> Do you ever trust others more than yourself, any situation?
<MoonMaiden> If the trust isn't over a major issue. I think... hold on... I know that experts exist. And I trust people who have more information on a situation than I do, and when there is no other option. The difference between that and an airplane is that there are errors that prove to me that I cannot trust.
<MoonMaiden> I get a random group of strangers and there are places for error. Plus the element of chance (windshear)
<David> Were you in control when you were born? Did you know the doctor well?
<MoonMaiden> Your point?
<David> There are times when it is not possible for you to be in control.
<MoonMaiden> I was in a different state of consciousness at birth, though...
<David> Do you never make any errors and are other poeple making many more erros than you?
<MoonMaiden> Of course I make errors. I don't compare them to the errors of others, because they are often of a different nature.
<David> When you fall asleep at nighttime, are you in control of what is happening in your home?
<David> All the control is in your choice of dentist.
<MoonMaiden> Or dorm room, more specifically. No. That brings up an interesting point. I'm having dental surgery (getting wisdom teeth removed) and they have to make me unconscious to do it. That really scares me, because there's no control there. Well, I don't have any choice because my dentist has to refer me to the only specialist in the area, and anything could happen to me when they put me to sleep. It could kill me. The dentist could rape me...
<David> If you decide to go ahead with the dental surgery, does it help matters to worry about these possibilities?
<David> How, does it prevent them from happening?
<MoonMaiden> It could.
<MoonMaiden> I'm in conflict whether to go on with the surgery or not. And if I decide to, I might end up bringing along someone that I trust.
<David> That is a good way to maintain control even when you are unconscious.
<MoonMaiden> Yes, I suppose. It transfers the control from me to someone that I trust, and nothing is really lost in the transfer.
<David> Listen, I think that we have reached a stopping point. I think I have stepped out of the method of levels exercise and stepped into my therapist mode. You are a very bright 14 year old. I think that the whole issue of control needs more discussing, more than we could do in the exercise.
<MoonMaiden> I could bring it up with my therapist... I go to counseling weekly.
<David> I agree with this. I am glad you have someone to talk to. These fears can get out of hand if you don't work through them.
<MoonMaiden> Yeah... I can see that happening at some points. I think I will talk it through with my Dr...
<MoonMaiden> No problem!
<David> Thanks for doing this exercise with me. What did you think of it.
<MoonMaiden> It was really interesting... it moved me through a few perspectives on the issue.
<David> May I save the file to show other people who are interested in this method?
<MoonMaiden> Perhaps... I am interested in what you're doing with it, though. I know that confidentiality is a big issue in the field of medicine, especially psychology...
<David> You are right.
<MoonMaiden> Who will you be showing? Why?
<MoonMaiden> On the internet?
<David> There is a group of people who are interested in Perceptual Control Theory. They subscibe to a list called Control Systems Group. Yes.
<MoonMaiden> ADumb question...
<MoonMaiden> I suppose I'll consent...
<David> I would only share it with them if you gave permission. Thank you.
<MoonMaiden> Are you presenting a paper on it or anything? My psych as a soc teacher is going to the british isles somewhere for some international conference to present a paper.
<David> I am in the process of evaluating how well it works.
<MoonMaiden> I can tell you that it's very confusiong moving from one level of perception to the next... because although it is a higher stage, it is still in its infancy, and the ideas are yet to fill it out. Thus, it is very easy to slip from that stage unless ideas place a firm hold in it quickly.
<MoonMaiden> I agree.
<David> I think you are right. If we spent more time with this new perspective, that would help to fix it better. I am still developing my skill with the exercise.
<MoonMaiden> That's okay... it seems to have been an enlightening experience for both parties.
<David> Yes. Thanks again. Good luck in school. I think you have a great future ahead of you.
<MoonMaiden> Good luck with your evaluation/research/whatever you choose to call it.