From: Lee Lady
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Leslie E. Packer, PhD <email@example.com> wrote:
>Bill, Lee, and others:
>In watching the videotapes, one of the things the therapists seem to
>be sure to do is to have the client go back through/scan their past
>from their new framework or perspective -- as well as looking ahead to
>'see' how this will work in the future.
>On some level, watching the clients during these parts, I found myself
>wondering as to whether they were having the clients 'rewrite' or
>'alter' their history in some way.
>What experiences do the clients report about their past, having gone
>through such training? Does it alter their memories of their past in
>terms of veridical history, or does it (just) change the way they
>view/experience past events, or does it do neither or something else?
Bill can answer this better than I can, since he has worked with a large number of clients. But I think that either of the two possibilities you mention can occur, depending on the client and also depending on the therapist's intention.
For myself, keeping facts straight is a very important value. Furthermore, my past is very important to me. Therefore I would not be open to a process that would leave me confused about what really happened in the past. And, being human, I've carried that value over into the work I've done with others, so I've been rather cautious about doing things that might change their veridical memories. I consider this "unecological."
However I've done work with people for whom this doesn't seem to have much importance. They don't care that much about their past, they seldom think about it, and having accurate memories doesn't seem very important to them. So in some cases, they seem to take what I do with them a step further and just change the memory. I just accept the fact that it doesn't bother them.
Furthermore, as I've learned more NLP, I've somewhat loosened up my own attitude towards memories. I've become more willing to create memories of imaginary experiences for myself as resources, as long as I know that somewhere in my mind I have a way of knowing which things "really" happened and which did not.
As an example of what I mean, consider what Leslie did in the "Paula tape" (Making Futures Real): using "waking hypnosis" to create for Paula a memory of an imaginary experience of flushing a box of chocolates down the toilet. When I asked Paula whether she ever later actually did that act herself, her answer was: "In my mind, it's as if it had really happened." And yet she's quite aware that it didn't happen, because she has a memory of the session with Leslie and has also watched the videotape herself several times.
And yet the answer to your question is more complicated than this, as John Price indicated. (Forgive me for not quoting his reply to your article.) A memory is a gestalt consisting of a number of different things, including the emotions that one remembers and the emotions one has *about* that memory, and the "perspective" one has on that memory. So if one does some work on a client that changes these, to some extent the memory is no longer the same. (And some clients, who don't place a high value on factual accurary, will in fact unconsciously change the factual aspects of their memory to match their new feelings about it.)
Suppose, for instance, I am doing a "Change History" with a woman who was abused as a child. I might ask her, "What resource (presumably an emotional resource) would you have needed in order for that experience to have been less terrible for you?" She might answer, "Well, the thing that made it really horrible was the feeling that I had no power in the situation, that I was out of control."
So I could then find times in her life (probably more recent ones) where she has indeed had a feeling of personal power and being in control. Using those past experiences, she can now remember what it feels like to have personal power and be in control, and I can help her to create those feelings right now during our session. Then by means of anchoring (although I suspect that often anchoring is not even necessary) I can have her reexperience her memories of abuse, but have those positive feelings present.
Hopefully this will change the way she feels about her old memories. And even if it does not change what you would call her "veridical" memories, to some extent those memories are no longer the same, because part of those old memories was the feeling of being powerless and lacking control, and even though she may now factually remember having had those feelings, they are no longer part of the memory for her.
After a while one gets used to being a frog,
Even though eating flies is rather off-putting at first.
One day a lovely young maiden came along and kissed me.
For a moment, I thought I'd been changed into a handsome prince.
But then she said,
"Can't we be just friends?"