a psychotherapy case -Reply

[Hans Blom, 950823]

(David Goldstein, Subject: a psychotherapy case, 08/20/95, 12:23p)

This is a case I am working on now. While some progress is evident
in some ways, the basic problem remains.

David, here are some of my impressions. As you may know, I am a
rather unorthodox PCTer (if I am recognized as such at all), in that
I stress the importance of "internal models" (maps of the territory,
in NLP terminology) that we, through experience, build to "get to
know" the world, in order to be better able to control it/interact
with it.

My basic position is that each of us needs to control the outside
world as best as we can, including the people in it. Now PCT says,
that people are autonomous control systems and that, for that reason,
they cannot be controlled. My position is that, nevertheless, we want
to control them (use them as "tools" -- or get away from them if they
are "hindrances" -- in order to best get what we want).

The control of other people is just more difficult than the control
of inert matter, because the laws according to which people function
are more complex. But once you understand this, including the fact
that others have wants as well, and even including the fact that it
is one of our own wants to see the wants of others realized (human-
kind is a social species, after all), modelling -- and controlling --
others becomes possible. Incidentally, as a side effect, our control
of others most frequently results in better control for those others,
as well...

So, for me, two things are important in this case: how good is the
boy's control and how could it be improved; and how accurate is the
boy's internal model and, if faulty, how can it be repaired.

1) The boy is not in control where it counts for him; he can discover
   no ways in which he can obtain what is important for him; family
   therapy might be indicated in order to find a "best compromise"
   between the goals of the boy and those of his parents.

2) The boy has (I hope!) an erroneous internal model that predicts
   that his parents will leave him if ... (something to discover); he
   must prevent that at all costs; he has a severe distrust of his
   parents in this respect and will not believe their reassurances
   (if such are forthcoming at all).

Both problems are due to a severe lack of true communication in the
family, which results in not understanding (incomplete or uncertain
internal models of all participants, which result in NOT KNOWING what
will happen) and/or incorrect understanding (faulty internal models,
which result in incorrect assumptions about what will happen if ...).

This indicates two approaches. About control: teach the family to
communicate what they really want, and how to reconcile conflicting
wants in such a way that all sides gain. About modelling: teach all
family members to explain to the others what the MEANING is of what
they do/did and what will happen next.

An example: if the mother wants to leave the room to go to the
kitchen to do some work there, let her tell this to the boy in
advance, before she leaves. He will then know what is up and not feel
tricked when he suddenly discovers that she isn't there, while his
expectations still tell him she is with him. A faulty internal model
is, after all, a discrepancy between what you expect is happening
with what really happens.

there are conflicts with his parents--he wants more freedom to do
what he wants, mainly more TV time and more video game time.

Try to set up a bargaining system in the family: the boy gets some of
what he wants in exchange for allowing the parents to have some of
what they want.

He wants to not feel so uncomfortable when his parents leave him.

Feelings are perceptions and should not be suppressed but accepted as
ways in which we interpret the world. You can challenge the CORRECT-
NESS of those perceptions, however: does he NEED to feel uncomfort-
able. Always? If not, when specifically? Exploring this will lead you
to gaps and/or errors in his model.

He thinks that his parents will leave him, get in the car and he
will never see them again.

Explore whether this prediction by his internal model could possibly
be correct (it might be!). Get more details: they will leave him and
not come back if ... Challenging those beliefs might not be easy.
With some luck, you may be able to go back to the occasion, where
this belief arose for the first time and show the boy that his
interpretation of that occasion was incorrect and that a different
explanation must be installed in its place (NLP gives some techniques
on how to do this). But I do not think that being left PHYSICALLY is
the basic problem.

So, what is the reference perception? He want to see his parents
are there all the time, close to him.

This is most probably a need of the MODEL, not a physical need. He
needs a FEELING of ever present closeness -- in the abstract sense.
I.e., the boy does not feel loved. If you FEEL loved, you will still
feel loved when the other person is not there physically.

He doesn't think that he is worthwhile enough so that they would
want to stay around him.

Confirms the above: the boy feels not loved. He may be right, too. If
so, teach the family how to love. The parents may FEEL an abstract
type of love for the boy, but only EXPRESSIONS of love can be per-
ceived by him, of course. And a major part of love is to take the
wants of others as seriously as your own, or more seriously ("Thy
will be done"). The boy sees little or none of those expressions, due
to the power struggle in the family, so he cannot build a secure
model of love actually being there. The parents may love the boy, but
how is he to know?

He doesn't feel well liked at school.

Same thing. He wouldn't be able to build a model of what love/like is
is he cannot perceive how it is expressed. His model shows a large
gap here.

Other kids act as they don't know who he is after he has been in
the same class for a year. He is not sure that his parents love

Confirmation of the above. This is a family problem: in addition to
the parents, the boy cannot express himself either. Others cannot
model him (make only vague models of him); and in such cases the best
control strategy is often to leave the unknown for what it is. This
goes for physical objects as well: the thing might be dangerous if
you handle it the wrong way; you don't know which ways are wrong and
which are right; so don't touch it.

He wants to see that they are there. He will take action if he
sees them leave such as block their pathway, sit in the car. His
fear becomes strong and he will do almost anything to stop them
from leaving. They have not been able to go to a movies or go out
to it because of this.

Reconfirmation of the above. Power struggle rather than love.

As far as I know, there is no history of the parents actually
leaving this child.

Not physically, maybe. Emotionally, all the time, I would say.

Any suggestions, my consultants?

Get the family to TALK to each other, especially about their wants,
feelings, and expectations. It is impossible to build an accurate
model of someone if that person is in hiding all the time.

I wish you success with a tough case.