Dick: Well, wherever you
need to endure a great deal. Like being a therapist for example.
Or where a great deal of patience is required. But where endurance
is needed. And where it's necessary to work under difficult conditions.
To work very long hours, to work in the face of stress over prolonged
Q: And that stress could be physical or it could be mental.
Dick: It could be physical
or it could be mental, either one. And they are able to endure
both kinds of stress. They simply hang in there. And that can
be a very positive characteristic. The problem is, hanging in
there in a cause that's not worth hanging in, you see, and that's
their problem. And so they say yes when they want to say no, and
then they hang in there and endure that. And they'll do it for
years and years and years sometimes. It's typical of them.
Q: So this gave rise to the phrase you sometimes use of "enduring in a good cause."
Dick: Enduring in a good
cause is what they need to learn. That means unlearning enduring
in a cause that's not good.
Q: Well, let's go on to the fantasies. This was the type, I believe, that first led you to develop the fantasies, wasn't it?
Dick: The first fantasy that I developed was with this structure. It was the fantasy of the bog. Because along with their ability to endure and their patience, is the belief that they can accomplish through effort those things that can only come spontaneously. And so in these areas you see them exhibiting the behavior of repetitive effort and collapse. And through the effort it's as if they're caught in a bog and they're determined to pull themselves out of the bog and the more they make the effort, the more they bog themselves down.
So the fantasy consists of asking them to close their eyes and to imagine that they're walking down a country road and they come to a field which is green, an emerald green such as they've never seen. So they walk out into the middle of the field to explore it and they discover that the reason it's so green is because it's so wet. And they're in up to their ankles. And they try to start back then and are unable to pull a foot clear. And as they try to pull their right foot out of the mud, they drive their left foot down deeper. And then they realize that they have blundered into the local bog that has a history of having people and animals, dogs and cats and horses and cows, wander out into it and be sucked down and disappear.
So they begin to make a real effort to win free. And as they do that they just succeed in driving themselves down deeper and you call it out for them. "You're in up to your knees, you're up to your hips, you're up to your waist, you're up to your armpits, you're up to your chin. Now you're up to your eyes and now you have gone under and you've disappeared." And here, too, you make the rule. The one thing that cannot happen in this fantasy is they cannot win free of the bog and get back up on the road.
You tell them that the only thing they can do is to continue to sink, sink, sink, sink, until they feel their feet on solid ground. You can tell them that there's no bog so deep in the universe that it doesn't have solid ground at the bottom. Which is, you see, the idea of grounding. This important principle of grounding. So when they have their feet on solid ground, and if they say it's spongy, say, "Well then force yourself down, sink through it until you come to solid rock." And when they report having their feet on solid ground, you ask them to begin to wander around and tell you everything they see, everything they experience.
Sometimes they'll start right out as if they're walking down the street in broad daylight. Other times they'll say, "Well I can't see here. It's hard to move." Then you simply say, "Well, do the best you can. You may find that it may clear up after a little bit. Sooner or later they will indeed. They'll come to places where it's light. They'll come into vistas. They may go into places that they recovered from their childhood, or imaginative places they've never been. They may see people, they may encounter people, family, people who are long dead. They may encounter imaginary creatures. There's no end to the imaginations that they can have.
You see, this fantasy is like the one of abandonment.
It involves a journey. They both involve a journey. And there's
no telling where this will lead. I've never had two people come
to the same conclusion. So whatever they do is material, is material.
But it gives them a sense of how useless it is to struggle when
they're bogged down. And what they need to do is stop and get
grounded. Not struggle frantically to get free of the bog, but
to find their grounding. And then to proceed from there.
Q: Now, you have some other fantasies.
Dick: Yes, several other fantasies. There's the one of the bog. I've mentioned that the great fear is the fear (for the endurer) of explosion, the fear of the rage exploding in them. So you ask them to close eyes and say "I'm going to put something that looks like a big vitamin pill in your hand, your open palm. Now as you look at it you'll see that it is actually a very powerful bomb. So you reach over with the other hand and set the bomb at ten. Now if the bomb were to go off it would tear the whole room apart. Now, place it in your mouth. So they'll place it in their mouth. And you say, now hold it there because nothing will happen as long as you're holding it. But as soon as you swallow it, it's set to explode, tear you to pieces with your tenth breath. So now swallow it and start counting.
Occasionally someone will say, "Oh I'm not going to do that." Then you say, "Can't you tell the difference between reality and fantasy? Are you aware of how afraid you are of exploding?" They'll probably swallow it then and count their breaths. You have all kinds of responses to this. I've had people scream, just scream and feel tremendously relieved. I've seen other people just give a little shudder. And I've seen other people do nothing at all, except that their breathing deepens. And when you ask them, "Did you let it explode?" Sometimes they'll say yes, sometimes they'll say no. Either way you say, "What are you feeling now?"
Invariably, they'll tell you that they're feeling
calm and relaxed because even though they don't in their imagination
allow the bomb to explode, they have accepted the explosion.
Q: So you are working on the principle of self acceptance here.
Dick: You have the principle
of self acceptance. You have the principle of self acceptance
if they have accepted the potential explosion they're so afraid
of. And they feel very relaxed.
Q: So you have still another fantasy for this type, don't you?
Dick: Well, there's several. There's another one connected with the rage. And the ability to acknowledge that rage, to experience it. I ask them to imagine that they're in a small room about ten feet square, the ceiling is about five feet, or ten feet high. The ceiling, floor and three walls are concrete. The fourth wall is thick glass, very, very thick glass. Five or six inches thick.
On the other side of that glass is a raging inferno of molten lava. Now, they look through it, they feel the warmth of it. That lava, you see, symbolizes the rage that they have in their guts. They ask them then to simply open a hatch, a door, in the glass wall and allow the lava to pour in and inundate them.
This is a symbolic acceptance of their own rage,
which they feel will destroy them, if they allow it to happen.
Q: Again, it's self acceptance.
Dick: Again, it's self acceptance. It's accepting bad about them. The outcome is invariably a great sense of relief and calm. It makes the point also, where they stand in relation to their repressed rage.
And then there's another fantasy that's rather bizarre. It often causes people to laugh when you give it, particularly into a group. This stems from a conflict that I have mentioned, expressed as, "I aim to please, but I'd like to shit on you." In this fantasy you simply ask them to close their eyes to imagine that they have completely loosened their anal sphincter and that they are simply starting to release a flow of excrement. They're just shitting as if it's running out of a wide open pipe somewhere and that it's filling up the room. It's a foot deep, it's two feet, it's three feet, it's four feet. People are standing on chairs and trying desperately to get away from it. And they can't. And finally the whole room is eight feet deep and no one exists. Everyone is under the surface and they are on top surveying it.
It's very bizarre - it's a very bizarre fantasy, but it's enormously effective. Because it really enables them to carry out symbolically the part of their conflict which is suppressed. Instead of the, "I aim to please," the "I'd like to shit on you," is really symbolically expressed for them.
Q: Let's go on to the fourth type now, Dick. And the name for this type that Dr. Lowen has developed is the psychopath. And here again you've given it the much more benevolent title of challenger.
Dick: Challenger, yes. Because the characteristic of this structure is to turn everything you see into a challenge. We all recognize challenges. But this structure is, the characteristic of this structure is that it sees a challenge everywhere, in anything. And its pathology is to turn everything into a challenge in which it can take control. By means of which it can gain control.
And, of course, its self-fulfillment lies in learning
to not rise to challenges that don't exist or are unimportant.
To respond only to challenges that are worth responding to. To
respond to a challenge is a very positive factor. A very positive
factor. To respond to everything as a challenge is pathological.
Q: Dick, what kind of holding do we have here? We don't have holding on or holding in. what kind of holding do we have?
Dick: Holding here is
a holding up.
Q: And this is what is sometimes called upwardly displaced?
Dick: Yes, it's called upwardly displaced from several points of view. Physically, in appearance, if you were to make a diagrammatic sketch of the structure, you would show a triangle, an elongated triangle standing on its point, its apex. And the structure is one that tapers from the top down. The head will very often be noticeably large. the shoulders broad, tapering to slim hips and then down to slimmer legs which are by comparison even spindly. Even the legs might be muscular, strong legs. They will, when you look at the entire structure, often appear actually spindly.
And you can think of it as an inverted triangle, the broad shoulders, the large head, tapering down to narrow waist, narrow hips, and then down to legs that seem even more insignificant when you look at the whole structure, physical structure. The chest will be expanded and carried very high, and the upwardness physically when the structures, when they're standing at rest they'll stand with their knees locked to achieve maximum upward height.
Now, you can perceive the same thing psychologically because of the tendency to turn all feeling into thinking. They'll do that by almost immediately assigning reasons to all feelings. If you have two people and say, how are you feeling, one might say "I have a stomach ache, I don't feel well." The challenger will say, "I have a stomach ache because I had too much lunch." Now, there's nothing wrong with saying that, it's perfectly logical. But that pattern is characteristic. If that happens once with a person you think nothing of it, but as you interact with them, if you begin to see that pattern repeated again and again, you being to suspect that that's what's going on.
You see, the feeling may be expressed but it's immediately,
the attention is immediately turned to a reason, so the feeling
is upwardly displaced into the thinking about what caused it.
Q: Now, that in a sense relates to the illusion. Isn't it illusion that it's a matter of will power?
Dick: Yes, their illusion is that it's a matter of will power and that simply by willing and insisting that they'll have their way, and that's an important part of the structure. Having their way is very important. That may be important for other structures also. But the characteristic point here is that to have their way is to be in control. When these people come into your office, you'll find that the way they relate to you is to attempt to take control which is their nature. And as you watch that developing, you may note the signs that I mentioned that express everything that's happening with them in terms of why it's happening, of giving you reasons. That's the upward displacement. But they will also, in very, very subtle ways, not let you have your way.
For example, if you ask them to repeat phrases, they will change them. Or object to them. You might ask them to say just to someone they're imagining, "I'm so angry I'd like to kill you. Say that. I'd like to see how you'd feel when you say that." They'll say, "Well, I don't feel that way. You say, "Well, that's fine. You don't have to feel that way, but say it anyway." "Well, I wouldn't mean it." "Well, you don't have to mean it. Just say the words." "Okay. What were the words?" You see, they're blocking, blocking, blocking. So you repeat "I'm so angry I'd like to kill you." So then they'll pause and they'll say, I'm so angry I'd like to strangle you. So they have apparently, finally at your insistence, have given in to what you want them to do, but yet they haven't. They're one up because they changed the wording.
So then you simply observe that and if that happens
three or four times then you call it to their attention and they
work with it and you work with it. A very good way of working
with that is to instruct them that from here, in everything you
say, they are to sabotage in some way or the other.
Q: Which is a form of paradoxical intention?
Dick: That is a form of
paradoxical intention. It's what has been called a therapeutic
paradox. It's very effective with it.
Q: So no matter what they do they'll perform what you asked them to do.
Dick: That's right. It
puts them in a tremendous bind.
Q: And, they have a fear of submission, don't they?
Dick: They have a fear of submission. they have a fear of submission. To submit means to give myself over or to have another person take control of me. So I will never submit. And that applies not only to others, but it applies also to their own feelings. So they treat their own feelings as if their feelings are invasions.
And they're characteristically out of touch with
their feelings. In the pathological aspects they're likely to
feel primarily an exultation when they win. Or rage, and it can
be extreme rage, when they don't win.
Q: This is a kind of bad loser style.
Dick: It's a bad loser
style. They may be too smart to let the bad loser appear overtly,
but that's what will be going on inside. They can be bad losers.
They're hard losers. And they may be in their search for control
when they lose they may go out and come in the other door, as
Q: Now, what kind of experience with the parent will produce this structure?
Dick: When the parent
of the same sex is not very strong, and the parent of the opposite
sex is seductive. Not necessarily seductive in a sexual way, although
that may be there. That may very much be there in unspoken ways.
But to be seductive is to lead people astray. To make promises
that aren't kept. And so you will have a parent of the same sex
who is in some sense absent, in some sense doesn't offer a good
model, a good role model. And the parent of the other sex is very
controlling, the opposite sex is very controlling. And attempts
to either bully or to seduce through promises which are not intended
to be kept. To get the child on that parent's side.
Q: Now, we've talked about doubting your right to exist and doubting your right to be independent. These people doubt the right to be free, don't they?
Dick: They doubt their
right to be free, yes. Which is different from the right to be
Q: Maybe you could make that distinction.
Dick: I can be free and
yet be dependent. I can be either dependent or independent and
be free. But if I submit to another's control, if I become that
person's slave and that person's servant, then I have given up
my freedom. Submission in this sense means the end of freedom.
It means servitude. It means being controlled by another. This
makes it extremely phobic on the whole subject of control from
another. They're extremely sensitive. As I say, they see everything
as a challenge to their control. And they meet everything in terms
of trying to take control of the situation. Trying to take control
of the other person.
Q: In other words, if they're not in control, then by definition the other person must be.
Dick: They see it in that
way. If they're not in control, but definition the other person
must be in control. They're not able to see a world in which people
can co-exist without one controlling the other, but where they
can control by consensus or in any other way by negotiation.
Dick: Cooperation, yes.
They see a world only in which someone is controlled and someone
else is the controller.
Q: I could imagine that this problem of needing to either be in control or being afraid that they would be controlled might lead to difficulties with therapists. And I'm reminded of the statement you often make which is that resistance is actually people's drive to autonomy. I'm wondering if this applies to these people in particular.
Dick: Yes. Well, it applies
to these people not in particular. I think that anyone's resistance
is essentially their drive to autonomy. The point is that with
these people they're phobic on the matter of being controlled
by others. So they see attempts at controlling them where there
is no such attempt. And they see the world as being a world in
which someone is controlled and the other is the controller and
they are determined that they are going to be the controller.
Q: And we talked a little bit about what their personality might be like. We said that they would be would go into their head and give reasons, for example. Would they themselves be seductive?
Dick: Oh yes, because this was part of the training that they received. They learned that the way the parent tried to control them was by either bullying them and ordering them or when that didn't work by seducing them, by making promises. So they will be alternately seductive or bullying. That's a characteristic pattern. And they'll bully up to a certain point until the victim rebels. Then they may suddenly become very seductive.
Now, you see cases where a person who has been bullied again and again and again rebels and breaks off a relationship and then the challenger will return and be very sweet and seductive and promises to turn over a new leaf and apparently has. And taken back and as soon as they feel secure, then the bullying reasserts itself. And that pattern sometimes between two people will be repeated four or five times before there's some kind of final resolution.
But they can be very, very seductive. That appears in their eyes which can be alternately seductive, or very hard and compelling. It's amazing how different the eyes can be, depending upon what phase they're in. Extremely seductive. Inviting and promising eyes. Which can then turn into eyes which are just as hard as nails. And very compelling eyes.
Q: So these people, relative to some of the other types we talked about, are they very much out in the world taking on the challenges and moving in the world?
Dick: Well, you would expect them to be. You would expect them to do very well as lawyers for example. Where it's very important, or to do very well as surgeons.