Monographs

C-CTherapy®, The Canadian Psychotherapy, is practiced exclusively at the Center For Counter-Conditioning Therapy®.

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AN INTRODUCTION TO C-CTHERAPY®:
— “THE CANADIAN PSYCHOTHERAPY” —
a Unified, Cross-Cultural Psychotherapy

Copyright 1998, Norman A. Gillies

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NOTE: This article is meant for the practicing
psychotherapist who wishes to apply the C-CTherapy® format. Understanding
its contents, however, will not supply the mode of application. Instruction
at the Center is the only means available to practise in C- CTherapy®.

ABSTRACT

Disease-model, cognitive theory is not employed,
or indeed, is it related to a non- counselling C-CTherapy® treatment
design; nor are any of the therapies based upon an “understanding why”
— study, diagnosis, treatment — approach. As a cross-cultural psychotherapy,
C-CTherapy® engages aberrant human behaviour. The treatment goal of
this non-counselling format is to provide the patient with his own way
of neutralizing his production of negative emotional material. This material
originates from the non-volitional
division of the patient’s functioning mentality. It is from this division
of functioning mentality, with its illogical thought material, that mental/emotional
turmoil arises.

INTRODUCTION

The C-CTherapy® approach to functioning mentality
addresses how a patient behaves, not theories on why he is behaving in
this way. It diverges radically from cognitive, counselling therapies for
they rely upon medical-psychological hypotheses. Relying upon these hypotheses
— rather than relying upon each patient’s actual mentation as does C-CTherapy®
— guides the counselling therapist’s diagnosis and treatment. Consequently,
the counselling therapist acts as the “expert” on a patient’s mental turmoil
when in fact he is merely an expert on theories.

Counselling therapies are specific to a patient
population, Western and European, and bound to those particular socio-economic
traditions. In contrast, the patient-population open to the C-CTherapy®
non-counselling format is the universe of human mental functioning. As
a direct result of its unique treatment design, the C-CTherapy® cross-
cultural methodology is available to any human being needing relief from
mental upset.

The methodology presented here has been developed
and perfected in the author’s field of aberrant human behaviour since 1967.
The conclusions result from the universe of practice in the mental health
field.

ROLE OF THE C-CTHERAPY® CLINICIAN

The C-CTherapy® clinician’s reason for intervening
in the patient’s mental turmoil is not to correct the patient’s immoral
behaviour — a counselling objective — instead, the therapist’s purpose
is to move the patient, as expeditiously as possible, from mental pain
to less mental pain.

During the opening session, the C-CTherapy®
clinician asks the patient: “What do you want to talk about?” The patient’s
answer gives the therapist enough material to begin the treatment project.
From the patient’s answer, the clinician introduces the treatment goal,
tying it to the patient’s current mental upset. One patient, for instance,
said: “My boyfriend gets mad at me and I don’t know what to do.” For this
patient, the issue is: “Human beings don’t like other humans being mad
at them”. That sentiment is universal, for we all want people to like us.
In this first session, the therapist begins identifying how the patient’s
thinking creates her mental upset. The therapist views the patient’s problem
as an example of how the patient’s emotional/illogical pattern operates.

For instance, this patient increases her anxiety
level by trying to convince someone (the boy-friend) not to be mad at her.
“If my boyfriend gets mad at me, that means he doesn’t like me. I try to
convince him not to be mad at me, but he doesn’t listen.” When her boyfriend
gets annoyed, she interprets his negative emotion as meaning that he is
leaving the relationship even though she has no real information to support
her suspicion. It is this brand of thinking which produces her anxiety
and to which the therapist must introduce her. To that end during another
session, the therapist points out an illogical demand.

    Patient: I’m critical of him for not fulfilling
    my stupid dream and I feel let down.

    Therapist: What is that stupid dream?

    Patient: That he is tall, dark and handsome and
    never gets mad and always comforts me.

    Therapist: So he’s not measuring up to your illogical
    demand.

    Patient: But he can’t. He can’t be six feet tall
    because he’s five foot four inches and he loses his patience every once
    in a while. So why can’t I just accept this real situation?

Although my patient realizes the absurdity of her
behaviour, she has invested her emotional energy in convincing her boy-friend
to change — a losing project. She is experiencing that illogical patterns
are mentally powerful and drive her behaviour.

The beginning of this process is the patient’s
learning to detect “what your mental activity is doing”. Here is an example:

    Patient: I heard my thoughts say; Oh Oh, he’s
    going to leave me!

    Therapist: That’s a good example of the thought-voices
    that generate emotional behaviour creating your anxiety.

The patient discovers that thought-voices are a feature
of her illogical, non-volitional division. After all, one cannot NOT think!
My patient’s thought-voices uniquely fit her behaviour pattern because
every mental pattern is a unique product of that individual. The C-CTherapy®
clinician emphasizes to the patient the constant need to monitor her thought-voices.
In this way, the team works together — the coach highlights the character
and content of her mental pattern.

Because illogical, non-volitional patterns are
habit-based activity, it is difficult for the patient to detect their operation.
Detection, however, is precisely what the therapist is emphasizing. My
patient notices the rapidity of her mental action this way: “My emotional
pattern is running me before I know what I’m doing”. That emotional action
is reactive and instantaneous and, precisely, what the therapist is acquainting
her with.

The thought-voice activity is habit-based. It
is like a spinning bicycle wheel, the mental spokes invisible until the
wheel slows down. At this point the blurring spokes become apparent. Same
thing with mental action, it must be slowed down. This is the therapist’s
job otherwise the mental action poses a detection problem for the patient.
Unless one can detect one’s mental action, one remains at the mercy of
one’s own illogical pattern. The therapist uses the sessions to advance
the patient’s detection ability.

Therapist Directs the Session

In the C-CTherapy® design, the role of the
clinician changes from that of counselling EXPERT on the patient to that
of COACH . A coach outlines the learning exercises the patient will practise
to attain his new skill of emotional self-management. The duties of coach
diverge from those of a philosopher/counsellor imparting the “right way
to think and behave”. The duties of coach are the same as in any skill-acquisition
program. For instance, in learning how to drive a car — a skill-acquisition
task — the job is to practise braking, steering and parking, not philosophizing
upon the existence of cars or reading stories about chauffeurs and race
car drivers.

The therapist and patient combine their work into
a team effort, but the therapist-coach directs the effort. Attaining emotional
self-management dictates that the C-CTherapy® clinician be actively
involved in the whole of each session. There is no sitting back to listen
while the patient tells “stories”. Thus, the role of the C-CTherapy®
clinician is markedly different.

Another dramatic change occurs. While the therapist
is not the expert on the patient’s mentation, the therapist is the expert
on the building of an alternative procedure. Creation of an alternative
mental pathway enables the patient to counteract chronic emotional pain
production. An acquired skill, therefore, supplies the patient with the
ability needed to neutralize the illogical thought-voices of his operant
mentality. For, it is from this non-volitional mental division that the
patient’s emotional pain originates.

The therapist’s job, therefore, is to direct the
building of an alternative coping mechanism for the patient who must construct
that procedure from scratch. A building process is the only way the patient
can deal with the “logic” of his illogical non-volitional pattern. In
any process of building — a skill, a house, or whatever — one follows
a blueprint or a “building” plan.

The therapist outlines the building plan which
he and the patient will take to neutralize the patient’s state of turmoil.
A mental relief plan is introduced and the practitioner lays out the patient’s
role: the patient will tape-record his session and listen to his tape between
weekly sessions. Listening to his tape serves as the patient’s homework.
The therapist directs the patient as if to memorize his taped session,
for the taped session is the patient’s learning tool. All C-CTherapy®
clinicians follow this basic format.

For the patient, practising exercises assigned
by the therapist is mandatory. By doing what the coach tells you to do,
one eventually accumulates the elements which come together to form a skill.
An emotional self-management skill is not hypothetical or academic, it
is procedural. No disease-model treatment proceeds in this way, and thus,
cannot teach the patient a skill for long-term application.

PARTNERSHIP

The therapist holds and reads the blueprint and
instructs the patient in the building of the patient’s mental health skill.
In this way, the therapist and patient work as a team. The patient becomes
a PARTNER, and as such, is integral to the treatment process and its successful
outcome. The patient’s first duty is to practise detecting the activity
of his mental functioning. Neither he nor the clinician pay attention to
the patient’s emotions, for, emotion is the non-volitional product of the
patient’s mental functioning. The patient’s familiarity with the elements
of his mental functioning, rather than his “feelings” or personal philosophy,
is the team’s focus.

THE RATIONALE FOR THE PARTNERSHIP

In order to acquire a skill, one needs to be taught
by a teacher of that particular skill. The teacher’s job is to combine
the efforts of teacher and pupil into the learning process. Without this
teaching-learning structure, no skill-acquisition is possible. This is
the basis for the team effort.

In C-CTherapy®, the patient meets with the
therapist for one purpose — to build a mental coping skill that allows
the patient to move himself from mental self- victimization towards tranquility.
Only the patient is capable of neutralizing the negative production of
his non-volitional pattern.

Identifying the Negative Thought-Voices Which
Pop into One’s Head

The patient, ignorant of the origin of his mental
pain, lacked the means of coping with it. To cope with his mentally produced
turmoil, the patient must learn how to neutralize his negative thought-voices.

The contents of the patient’s non-volitional pattern
are that which the C-CTherapy® clinician calls `thought-voices‘. These
thought-voices constitute the patient’s preoccupation. By practising at
detecting the thoughts `popping into’ his head, the patient gains familiarity
with the characteristics of these thought-voices. By gaining familiarity,
the patient discovers the disruptive properties of his non-volitional pattern
and gradually acquires the ability to intercede.

Learning to detect thought-voices is the first
step which, eventually, will lead to the patient’s ability to sabotage
his mental self-victimization. Neutralizing the influence of the illogical
mentation is the treatment objective. After all, attack is the best defense
— as the expression goes.

THE THERAPIST’S ROLE IS TO TACKLE THE NON-VOLITIONAL
SYSTEM.

What is the Non-Volitional System?

The non-volitional system is a division of FUNCTIONING
MENTALITY, the one in which illogical and emotional material resides and
where crazy thoughts originate. Characteristically, non-volitional activity
is involuntary, illogical and emotionally reactive.

C-CTherapy® is the only psychotherapy which,
for treatment reasons, differentiates between volitional and non-volitional
sources of mentation. The interplay between these two divisions of the
operant mind constitute functioning mentality. The volitional division
operates from a mental stance of logic and reason. The non-volitional division,
on the other hand, is emotional in function and illogical in content. Thus,
the thought-voices configuring this division assume an obsessive manner.

How Do You Acquire a Non-Volitional Division of
Functioning Mentality? (For a detailed discussion follow this direct link
to the “Child Development” section or visit
the Center’s Website: http://www.c-ctherapy.org)

When you were little, you inadvertently copied
the adults around you. Today, those copied ingredients form your own non-volitional
pattern. They stem from the emotional and attitudinal contents displayed
by the adults surrounding you as a developing child. For example, the therapist
explains that the child’s developing mentality absorbs this parental material
during mental maturation. Simultaneously, the therapist calls on the patient’s
information bank to identify the copied items.

Here is an example:

    Therapist: Who did you mentally absorb this item
    from when you were a kid?

    Patient: I don’t know.

    Therapist: Who talked like that?

    Patient: It sounds like my Mom saying, `Don’t
    get so excited, life isn’t like that’. Therapist: So it was Mom’s kind
    of talk?

    Patient: Yah. She said, `Don’t have such a good
    time because then you won’t have such a bad time’.

    Therapist: There it is, the style and content
    of the thought-voice that you inadvertently copied when you were little.

Later in the session, the patient recalled more of
how her mother behaved. That the patient’s emotional system was absorbed
by her early emotional environment becomes vivid to her.

    Patient: I keep thinking about all the bad things
    that are going to happen. I get frantic and can’t sleep.

    Therapist: Who got frantic when you were little?

    Patient: Mother used to rush and hurry us around.

    Therapist: What kinds of things did she do?

    Patient: I remember that she would get on our
    case about doing things quickly. Also, I remember her getting out of bed
    and cleaning things in the middle of the night.

    Therapist: Great! Now you’ve got a handle on where
    `busy getting frantic’ originated. You see, it’s copied.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE NON-VOLITIONAL DIVISION
IS NOT TACKLED?

If the therapist’s methodology does NOT tackle
the non-volitional pattern where emotional difficulties reside, an unsatisfactory
outcome is inevitable. It is inevitable because the origin of upset —
the non-volitional pattern — is left intact. For example, all therapists
have encountered the patient who begins to feel good and then mysteriously
becomes depressed again. The patient returns to his depressive state again
because the non-volitional pattern holds the emotional power. Thus, it
always has the ability to resurrect its old function and return the patient
to his former state of gloom and doom. When a depressive feels good, for
instance, thought-voices “pop in” with commentary such as: “Don’t count
on it! Feeling good never lasts.” Since feeling BAD is the patient’s daily
experience, the new sense of feeling good is out of synch with the patient’s
thought-voices. If the depressive, therefore, has no way of counteracting
his chronic mental activity, he is stuck, mentally, in “Woe is me”.

Although it is illogical to operate from feeling
good is BAD, all depressives operate from this mental position. Again,
our patient illustrates:

    Patient: When I lived with my ex-husband, I just
    hated the farm. Realistically I know I don’t want to go back to him, but
    when I hear about his new girlfriend I get so mad, it breaks me up. They
    seem so happy together and I want happiness.

    Therapist: Confusing, isn’t it?

    Patient: Here I am better off than when I was
    married yet I’m envious of my Ex and his lady friend.

    Therapist: Does that sound logical?

    Patient: That sounds ridiculous!

    Therapist: Sounds like you can’t stand feeling
    good.

    Patient: It’s like when I’ve cooked a delicious
    dinner and all my guests compliment me, but the voice inside my head says,
    `You could’ve done better’.

    Therapist: And perhaps there is another voice
    which says you’re not supposed to enjoy the compliments?

    Patient: Yah, I hear that voice too. Sometimes
    when I’m feeling good and everything is going smoothly, I hear a doubting
    voice and I get afraid.

    Therapist: That’s the old business of `feeling
    good is bad’. Can you hear the thought-voice messing up your good feeling?

    Patient: Yah.

    Therapist: That’s the habit. The habit is to get
    scared when you don’t hear the usual thought-voice response.

If the therapist doesn’t tackle this non-volitionally
derived commentary — in this case `feeling good is bad’ — the patient
will be governed by these negative sentiments, and be so governed, for
the remainder of her life.

NATURE OF THE THERAPIST-PATIENT INTERACTION

The skill-acquisition project, changes the role
of the therapist; the C-CTherapy® clinician assumes the role of a “traffic
director” or coach. The coach facilitates the patient’s task of steering
himself through his mental “minefield”. The clinician keeps the patient’s
effort focused on the treatment goal of emotional self-management. This
is the clinician’s mandate and its success demands the therapist’s active
involvement.

The patient’s commentary provides the C-CTherapy®
clinician with an insight into those victimizing thought-voices operating
in the patient’s functioning mentality. Next, the therapist highlights
those thought-voices for the patient. Here’s the question the therapist
asks:

    Therapist: “What thoughts or words do you hear
    popping into your head, again and again?”

    Patient: “I keep hearing thoughts like `be nice’
    and thoughts like I `ought to do what they wish’.” Therapist: “That’s good,
    that’s what we call thought-voices.”

The therapist continues to listen for variations
on the theme presented by his patient. Some common ones are: “get rid of
bad things” or “you must behave right” or “this is what you must think”.
These parental declarations originate from early mental development because
they are basic to parent-child interaction and are absorbed by the patient
from the family setting. For instance, here is how the C-CTherapy®
clinician interacts with the patient on the issue of early mental development.

    Patient: I was told not to make negative statements.

    Therapist: Who talked like that when you were
    a kid?

    Patient: Both my parents. They said; `think before
    you speak’. `If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all’.

    Therapist: This tells you who you inadvertently
    copied.

    Patient: Yeah…are these thoughts normal?

    Therapist: Yes, you could not have done differently.
    When you were little — when you were mentally developing — you absorbed
    this commentary. Now, as an adult, it is in your non-volitional pattern.
    You could not have avoided absorbing these kinds of attitudinal items.
    These inadvertently copied items produce the foundation for your original
    pattern of reacting. Our job now is to get a clear picture of who you copied
    and how you put yourself together from the time you were little.

    Patient: You mean it’s OK?

    Therapist: Not only am I saying it’s OK, it is
    humanly impossible to not have mental habits from early times.

    Patient: Good habits, right?

    Therapist: No! Mental habits don’t fit into good
    or bad. C-CTherapy® assumes that habits are habits are habits. We focus
    only on neutralizing the habits which victimize us.

The therapist draws the patient’s attention to the
words in the thought-voices and identifies their themes. Throughout one’s
life the themes remain the same, only the contents change.

    Therapist: “That’s a good sample of `get it right’,
    or, `there is an absolutely right way to behave’.”

    Patient: “Yes, now the voice is saying that `I
    shouldn’t think like that’.”

    Therapist: “That’s good, become familiar with
    that voice. You’ll hear it frequently because we just discovered that it
    is one of your thought-voices.”

The challenge is for the patient to perform this
identification exercise outside the office and without the therapist’s
help. By consistently alerting himself to the repetitive mental rumination,
the patient eventually learns to handle this mental material in a new way.
He begins to appreciate that this mental material is simply habit-based
and only representative of past mental conditioning. In short, repetitive
mental rumination has no occult or mystical or pathological origin. By
its very nature, a mental preoccupation keeps the patient’s thought processes
moving in a repetitive and circular fashion. The patient, therefore, is
victimized by the constant barrage of repetitive mental ponderings, jam-packed
with negative subject material. The patient experiences that these thought-voices
result simply from the workings of the patient’s non-volitional pattern.
This recognition demystifies the patient’s mental turmoil and in itself
gives relief.

The Therapist-Coach Acts as a Mental Traffic Director

The C-CTherapy® clinician, by identifying
each of the patient’s mental items as they emerge, performs the role of
a “mental traffic director”. The therapist-coach assumes the posture of
neutrality, regarding the patient’s thought-voices as merely an example
of mental functioning. It is the therapist-coach’s mandate to have the
patient view thought-voices, also, as only mental functioning. The object
here is to get the patient to view the thought-voice habit in a neutral
fashion. While the therapist-coach identifies, the patient imitates him
so that, eventually, he becomes his own mental traffic director!

C-CTherapy® Treatment Does Not Apply to Groups

By practicing C-CTherapy® exercises supervised
by the clinician, the patient builds his own skill of emotional self-management.
The skill is customized for each person because each person’s reactive
system is unique. For, it is the uniqueness of one’s reaction system that
makes sisters different from sisters and brothers different from brothers.
It is this feature of uniqueness which makes it impossible to customize
a skill in a group setting. The skill is not transferable. For instance,
my tennis playing brother cannot transfer his tennis playing ability to
me without teaching me the game of tennis. A skill is not osmotically absorbed
from the group.

The Patient Discovers the Power of the Non-volitional
Pattern

The patient must discover for himself the weakness
of the volitional division compared with the power of the non-volitional
division. To do so, the C-CTherapy® clinician challenges the patient
during the session: Can you promise me you’ll never get mad again in your
life? The patient, of course, realizes that he cannot comply. It becomes
clear to him that no human being can satisfy the terms of that challenge.
In this stark fashion, the patient learns about his own mental capabilities.
He discovers that he cannot turn off, at will, the workings of his non-volitional
pattern. The patient faces the futility of telling himself: “Stop reacting!”
His participation in such experiments help him detect and activate real
information and provides a taste of how he will mentally apply himself
once he’s built a mental alternative.

Indeed, the patient learns what the Center’s research
has uncovered; the non- volitional division of mental functioning is the
source of illogical and aberrant behaviour. One’s volitional division of
functioning mentality — that is, logic and reason — does not produce
emotional upset.

The patient’s discovery that logic and reason
has no impact on the illogical emotional pattern is a revelation to him.
That there exists such an ability of shifting one’s mental stance so that
one can oppose negative thought-voices is another revelation. This discovery
precedes the patient’s ability to interrupt the obsessive demands of the
repetitive thought-voices. This procedure of shifting away from the thought-voices
inaugurates a countering routine with its accompanying methodology. It
is this process which creates a mental alternative to the negative items
in the patient’s non- volitional pattern.

A Sampling of What the Patient Brings to the Session

(1.) The counselling-voice

The counselling-voice is the thought-voice that
patients confuse with logical reasoning. The counselling-voice is the one
which tells us how to behave. It is the same voice the patient heard as
a child listening to parent instructions saying `Don’t take candy from
strangers’, `Don’t fight amongst yourselves’, and `Don’t burn yourself
on the hot- plate’. In short, these are the parental admonitions which
protect the growing child and ensure his or her survival. (The reader has
his or her own personal examples of these parental directives.)

The therapist orients the patient with regard
to the composition and style of the patient’s counselling-voice. The therapist
points out to the patient that the counselling- voice resembles reasonable
thinking in that it preoccupies the patient’s thoughts with “figuring out
the right way to behave”.

The patient brings to the skill-acquisition process
the mentally conditioned reflex of figuring out human behaviour — his
and others. By consistently identifying the counselling-voice, the patient
begins to associate it with a function. He gains familiarity with what
was, previously, an unknown automatic activity. For example:

    Patient: I don’t understand.

    Therapist: Ah Hah, your counselling voice says
    you don’t understand. What does that conditioned part of you want me to
    do?

    Patient: My counselling voice wants you to explain
    yourself so I can figure out whether or not I agree or disagree with you.

    Therapist: Your counselling voice belongs to your
    mental functioning. You will hear it throughout your life. It is a normal
    activity — not right or wrong. Mental functioning is neutral. Since I
    have more practice than you at detecting thought- voice activity, I will
    alert you to them, so you can begin to detect them for yourself. Patient:
    OK.

    Therapist: Currently, you can’t detect your mental
    functioning all by yourself because you are living the action in your head.
    That’s why it is difficult to get a handle on the functioning which dictates
    your behaviour. When you leave the office and go back into the community
    you are immersed in your old pattern. That’s why we use our sessions to
    practice detection.

    Patient: Yes, my counseling voice tells me to
    catch and remember what you’re saying.

    Therapist: I agree that you’re listening very
    hard for the formula of right behaving.

    Patient: Yah. Give me a gold star.

(2.) External Solutions to Mental Turmoil

Another indicator of the thought-voice habit is
the push to solve one’s upset with an external solution. In the following
illustration, the external solution is the purchase of a house, but it
could easily be the purchase of a new car, a new boat, new clothes. The
Center calls this mental maneuver, buying things for the purpose of lifting
one’s mood, the BURMUDA SYNDROME. Finding a solution, externally, so the
myth goes, will permanently improve one’s mental state.

    Therapist: So you’re looking for something out
    there to do it for you?

    Patient: Yah! Buying a house will make me feel
    better.

    Therapist: Will this solution get rid of your
    upset forever?

    Patient: Well, it will make me feel like I’ve
    got something that’s mine.

    Therapist: We’ve got a myth working — that there
    is a solution to your problems, all you have to do is locate that solution.

    Patient: That doesn’t make sense.

    Therapist: You are right, because it’s a fiction.

    Patient: Here, I was looking for a quick-fix solution!

    Therapist: Good! Now, you can hear the workings
    of the Bermuda syndrome as if your new house will guarantee mental tranquility
    forever.

(3.) Thought-Voices Produce Behaviour

Most patient’s don’t realize that their behaviour
comes from mental functioning. It is an important task in the therapist-patient
treatment process for the patient to learn how thought-voices connect with
behaviour. Here is an example of an angry patient who is out to teach her
boss a lesson.

    Therapist: Your attitude is what I call, `Piss
    on them!’

    Patient: Yah. It makes me feel less bullied by
    them.

    Therapist: Can you hear thought-voices motivating
    you?

    Patient: I don’t know, I guess I want to get back
    at them. In fact I even uncovered a bad mistake my boss made.

    Therapist: Ah hah. You caught him out! Could you
    hear a voice commenting on your boss’ stupidity?

    Patient: Yeah, the voice says my boss is an idiot.

    Therapist: Good, you heard the thought-voice.

    Patient: I got back at him, but my boss wasn’t
    there so he doesn’t know that I made him pay for it. I slowed down and
    didn’t do much work.

    Therapist: You’ve just verbalized the voice telling
    you to teach him a lesson. Patient: Yeah. So what?

    Therapist: Now you know the mechanism that causes
    you to give them “the finger.”

(4.) Repetition of Thought-Voices

Repetition of thought is a characteristic of mental
activity. The patient experiences how his mind repeats a menu of negative
thoughts. This phenomenon of conditioning is further illustrated here.

    Therapist: What thought-voices do you hear?

    Patient: “You’re screwing-up again and they’re
    going to find out”.

    Therapist: This is how you make yourself miserable.

    Patient: Yah. I hear that. I can feel the anger
    inside.

    Therapist: Thinking back, how long have you heard
    this kind of thinking.

    Patient: Now that you mention it, it seems that
    I’ve thought that way as long as I can remember.

What the Patient Discovers: The Outcome of the Therapist-patient
Interaction.

The patient is working on several facets simultaneously.
As the patient begins to recognize that neither his reasoning nor logic
is capable of coping with his illogical non-volitional functioning, he
is also discovering the style and character of his reactive pattern. Next,
by practicing other exercises — taught by the C-CTherapy® clinician
at the Center — the patient gradually dilutes the power of the victimizing
thought-voices. Instead of routinely validating them, the patient now practices
interrupting his old habit each time it is activated. This ability marks
a significant change from his former obliviousness and inability to recognize
mental habit-based activities.

For instance:

    Discovery (1.) I had no idea how my
    reactive system worked or that it runs my behaviour
    .

    “My mental busyness increases my emotional tension.
    I get anxious when I’m preoccupied with safety and survival. I want to
    guarantee that my relationship will last forever”.

    Discovery (2.) I’m getting used to what
    my head is doing
    .

    “This detection exercise helps me to uncover my
    mental mysteries and lets me operate differently.”

    Discovery (3.) I ran around being manic
    because I was depressed

    “I realize how my depression made me feel very
    high or very low.

    Discovery (4.) I heard my thought-voice
    say: you can only count on bad things.

    “So, my good feelings get squashed by my conditioning
    of `life is a disaster- zone’. I’m surprised that feeling good is possible
    and that it’s OK.”

    Discovery (5.) I discovered an old emotion
    which I thought had gone away but is still around
    . “

    My sad, mourning activity still pops-up once in
    a while. I don’t get so upset, but I still have the traumatic memory. At
    least I am identifying the memory as a mental habit.”

Before C-CTherapy®, the patient behaved reflexively
in accordance with the demands of his thought-voices, unaware of their
presence and unaware of their influence. In the past, the absence of a
mental procedure left the patient with no alternative to turmoil. Therefore,
he had no means of operating differently. But now, the patient recognizes
immediately when his thought-voices are running him. At this stage, the
patient has created a foundation and can now acquire a dependable and consistent
coping mechanism.

SUMMARY.

(1.) C-CTherapy® is the first cross-cultural
psychotherapy in that its treatment design incorporates human behaviour
universals.

(2.) C-CTherapy® applies a unified non-cognitive,
non-counselling treatment design to the patient’s problem. The treatment
goal is that of teaching the patient a personal mental health “skill”.
The patient will employ this skill each time he is beset by non- volitionally
created mental turmoil.

(3.) Unlike counselling medical-model therapists,
the C-CTherapy® clinician does not assume the role of EXPERT on the
patient in respect to the workings of his functioning mentality.

(4.) In the C-CTherapy® treatment process,
the therapist accepts the patient’s verbalized commentary as factual. As
well, the patient is an equal PARTNER in the non-counselling treatment
process and so contributes equally. C-CTherapy®, is the first ever
psychotherapy of this kind.

(5.) In each session the therapist introduces
exercises which are tape-recorded by the patient for practise during the
week.

(6.) The impact of the exercises taught by the
C-CTherapy® practitioner accumulate to form a mental health skill which
corresponds with the goal of emotional self- management. Thus, the patient
acquires a dependable means of moving away from being chronically victimized
by his own emotional mentality.

(7.) C-CTherapy® is the only treatment format
to distinguish between behaviour produced by the VOLITIONAL division from
that produced by the NON-VOLITIONAL division. As a result, C-CTherapy®
directs the treatment effort at the division which has the operant capacity
to victimize the patient — the emotional, illogical NON- VOLITIONAL division.


SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION

Breggin, Peter, M.D., Toxic Psychiatry,
St. Martin’s Press, 1991

Friedberg,J. (1976). Shock Treatment is not
Good for Your Brain
. San Francisco: Glide Press.

Kaminer, Wendy, I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional:
The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions
, Addison-Wesley,
1992.

Beavin, Jackson, Watzlawick, Pragmatics of
Human Communication
, W.W. Norton & Company, 1967.

Scull, Andrew, The Most Solitary of Afflictions:
Madness and Society in Britain 1700- 1900
, Yale University, 1993.

C-CTherapy®, The Canadian Psychotherapy, is practiced exclusively at the Center For Counter-Conditioning Therapy®.

©Copyrights to all of these documents are owned by the Center for Counter-Conditioning Therapy®. Non-commercial downloading, re-use, and re-distribution in their entirety with full attribution is permitted.

Combating The Tyranny of Thoughts: A C-CTherapy® Perspective

Copyright 2003, Norman A. Gillies, Clinical Ethnologist

Download a printable pdf version of this monograph


ABSTRACT

This monograph takes as its point of departure the medical treatment of Schizophrenia.  It identifies the common denominator afflicting these patients as insistent, compelling thought-voices.  A non-medical, non-volitional unified treatment design is touched upon regarding the patient’s capacity to combat his self-victimization.

THE JOHN NASH STORY

The John Nash story offers an example of the problems Schizophrenics face.  I will use his story, depicted in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, to focus upon the common features of this disability.

The movie portrays Nash’s struggle with Schizophrenic behaviour. He illustrates the kinds of behaviour that occur in someone with a medical diagnosis of schizophrenia.  Further, the condition illustrates the confusion, doubt, and ambivalence of the sufferer.

John Nash, Nobel Laureate, experienced mental delusions and hallucinations centering on conspiracy and suspicion.  He heard voices commanding and demanding and pushing him around.  His doctors treated him with medication, shock treatments and hospitalization.  John Nash complained about these treatments and concluded:

  • He would not return to the hospital,
  • He would not submit to any more shock therapy,
  • He refused medication because it interfered with his thinking and scrambled his mathematical computations.  Also, he complained about sexual dysfunction and not being available emotionally to his son.

He also made important discoveries.

  • The insistent, compelling voices he heard were not coming from others.
  • He discovered that these voices resulted from his own habits of thought.
  • He came face-to-face with the fact that other people weren’t producing his affliction.
  • He was disappointed with the available medical programs.
  • He needed a way of restraining his mental bombardment, the tyranny of his thoughts.
  • He developed his own treatment approach to replace the medical programs.

First we will look at what approach succeeded and then we will examine what his approach lacked.

WHAT SUCCEEDED

John Nash had to control his sensory input so that human behaviour
impressions from his surroundings didn’t overwhelm him.  Nash used the following strategies.

  • He limited that which was unfamiliar.
  • He restricted himself to known people and places.
  • He maintained a systematic daily routine.
  • He checked out facts with people whom he trusted to deliver bonafide information.
  • He restrained the urgency of the “voices” by applying real information that neutralized their validity.

On one occasion he said to an observer, “If I don’t give them [the voices] anything, they don’t have anything over me.”  In C-CTherapy®, this statement would translate to, “If I don’t validate their commands, they can’t get to me.”

These strategies allowed John Nash to sustain a daily routine which included consistent attendance at the Princeton University Library.He grew to tolerate verbal interchanges with students and, eventually, was even able to teach.  He further relied on his wife, students and colleagues to confirm that what he saw and heard matched with what they saw and heard.

Here we witness an eminently creative human being afflicted by mental interference that would have immobilized him — as it would any person.By devising his own means of coping with the interfering “voices”, JohnNash managed to carry on with his daily tasks.  His achievement was considerable when one takes into account the intense mental activity in his head.  That John Nash did not spend the rest of his life in a mental institution as do most others with this disability attests to his human spirit.

WHAT WAS LACKING

Nash credited as real, his phantom commands, demands, accusations.Like anyone, he listened and unwittingly treated his thoughts as if they reported universal realities.  It was impossible for him to ignore these thoughts as his habit of listening to his thinking predominated.He did not know, however, that he validated these voices.

Crediting the contents of his thinking as true was his habit.It is because of this common human habit to validate the thoughts that pop into one’s head that Nash had trouble dismissing the traffic of his thoughts and their crazy-making behaviour.  By assigning his crazy-making voices to something tangible such as patterns in the text of newspapers and magazines, he complicated his efforts.  Validating these voices kept him hallucinating.  Thus, he was trapped.

Seeking logical answers to an illogical condition initially confounded him.  John Nash did not know the structural workings of his functioning mentality.  That is why he had no way of counteracting his crazy-making habit.  Without the mental means to neutralize the workings of hishabit, he was at its mercy.  This is what John Nash’s plan lacked and what C-CTherapy® fulfills.

HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVEHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Emil Kraepelin ( 1856 — 1928 ) was a pioneer in the field of mental health.  The German psychiatrist was the first in the field to put order into what had been a murky realm of disordered clinical notions. Kraepelin’s take on Schizophrenia was that a patient so afflicted displayed mentally “fragmented” behaviour.

Also, Kraepelin’s contemporary, Kurt Schneider, observed and recorded schizophrenic symptoms.  Schneider’s observations highlighted “thought insertion, thought broadcasting, delusions of control, and voice commenting”.Schneider further observed that this mental activity created a profound state of anxiety in patients.  Clinicians of the time were influenced by Kraepelin’s and Schneider’s findings.

Besides the characteristics that Kraeplin and Schneider noted, I was struck by the mental confusion, doubting, and equivocation affecting my own patients.  I saw my patients as driven by insistent, demanding and commanding voices taking charge of their lives.  Anxiety and mental confusion resulted.

It is because of my clinical concern that I question the clinical practice which places patients in a diagnostic slot based upon subjective assessments.After all, human beings display all levels and degrees of distractability, confusion, doubt and anxiety.  For instance, depressives, paranoids, phobics and bi-polar patients all exhibit these symptoms.   Any patient exhibiting an assortment of schizophrenic-like symptoms ñ and there are many people around the world ñ will become a victim of a mis-diagnosis and be assigned a medical category of Schizophrenic.  That is why a danger exists in employing “fragmented mind” as a diagnostic yard-stick.The point is that mental health treatment is still an art, not a science.

CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVE

While I have found that schizophrenics exhibit the variety of symptoms attributed to them by mental health practitioners, the diagnosis which resulted did not produce a treatment program.  Because a diagnosis does not lead to a way of treating aberrant behaviour, I was confronted with a point of departure, namely that mental health diagnostic efforts are not aimed at psychotherapy treatment.

My patients at Weyburn Hospital in Saskatchewan exhibited all sorts of behaviours.  For instance, some saw visions.  Others heard messages coming through the air, via the television or radio.  Still others held that the text of a book took on a life, dancing around or jumping off of the page.  Or, while walking down the street and stepping on a crack in the sidewalk, they might hear the voice of doom telling them to take two steps backwards, one-half step to the right, or their mother would die.  The Schizophrenic does not question the craziness of these demands, he simply obeys.  John Nash was no different.

I determined that this matter of voices had to be addressed.  I began with the following observation.  All mental activity — thinking– originates from one source.  That source is inside one’s head where functioning mentality resides.  Its key function is thinking.Thinking is that act which  produces thoughts.  Thoughts take on a voice inside a person’s head.  In short, one hears oneself thinking thoughts.   For the schizophrenic, the voices shout while for every one else they are simply murmurings.

When crazy-making thoughts are a part of our thinking activity, they are difficult to regard as unusual.  A schizophrenic is used to their presence and takes them for granted.  They are a given.  They are constant and consume all of one’s attention, as John Nash experienced.In the schizophrenic, some of  those thought-voices are assertive and insistent.

However, the pioneers did not credit thinking as integral to the patient’s mental health.  Nor did they include the matter of voices in their therapy.  Today, drugs and Electro-Convulsive Therapy are used to mute and blunt mental activity.  Hence, the phrase “chemical lobotomy”mentioned by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.  The fact is that thoughts do not disappear even when bombarded by harsh medical measures as John Nash discovered.

Unlike the pioneers who were preoccupied with disease, I regard the many forms of mental functioning — schizophrenia being one form — asa normal function in human beings.  In order to work clinically, I find it more accurate to divide mental functioning into two divisions, namely, the volitional and the non-volitional.  The volitional houses logical, reasoned thinking, whereas, the non-volitional houses emotional, mentally reactive thoughts.  Thinking originating from the volitional area of one’s mental functioning is unemotional, neutral in nature.  On the other hand, the non-volitional system is emotional, illogical, irrational and, dynamically, mentally reactive.  The reflexive nature of this division is why thoughts originating from the non-volitional area are forceful, repetitive, preoccupying and not easily dismissed.I call the repetitive, illogical thinking coming from this division “thought-voices“.John Nash’s thought-voices came from this, the reactive non-volitional area of his mental functioning.

Because medical-model therapies lack a treatment method for dealing with thought-voices, I created my own therapy format to fill this mental health treatment void.  My treatment design aims specifically at the action of thought-voices.  The focus of my clinical innovation isfor the patient to blunt the power of insistent, commanding thought-voices.The patient learns how to neutralize their dictatorial manner.  I call my treatment design Counter-Conditioning Therapy trademarked as C-CTherapy®.

THINKING IS NORMAL

Reflect for a moment upon your own thinking and voices.  Who does the talking to you inside your head?  You do the talking.  You can’t avoid the talking inside your head or the thinking that results from it.  You are the only person hearing that thought activity. Now, extend that ability to other people.

People think all of the time.  Thinking is a personal and private activity.  Thinking is normal.

John Nash was no exception.  He heard the voices inside his head.His problem was that he mistook them for real conversation.  He was not aware that his thoughts were outside the bounds of logic.  His problem was not that he was ill, but that he was bombarded with too many thoughts.  Consequently, Nash was being run by those thoughts, the basis of his hallucinatory activity.John Nash’s intelligence did not protect him from mental turmoil.Nor did his intelligence enable him to understand the cause of that turmoil.His gnawing state of frustration did not abate.  Lack of success led to lashing out at people.  Scientific theories were of no help.

Despite his frustration, he kept looking for answers.  Eventually, he took on the challenge of his own disruptive thoughts.

THINKING AND SCAPEGOATING

Nash grew up with the common myth that solutions to behavioural problems came from outside himself, that people caused his turmoil, thus, they could remove his turmoil.  As he saw it, someone or something was transplanting thoughts into his head.  It may seem far fetched, but where John Nash was coming from at the time, a holy man, a philosopher, his grade school teacher, even the president of the United States could qualify as the culprit.

This myth fueled another mental habit, that of scapegoating.  Scapegoating implies that people possess the power to implant thoughts thus possessing the power to produce behaviour in others.  Swept up by the habit of scapegoating, he validated the fiction that others were responsible for his mental suffering.

Likewise, scapegoating leads the sufferer to search outside himself for solace.  The common denominator is that one’s problems come from the outside, therefore, their solutions come from outside as well.  That is why seekers of solace pursue all sorts of external avenues, such as, Transcendental Meditation, 12 Step, Spirituality and other strains of philosophical and cognitive therapies.  That is why John Nash searched for the fictitious external culprit ñ the person or thing to blame, before he implemented his own treatment plan.

HOW JOHN NASH’S HEAD WORKS

John Nash suffered from the power of his insistent voices.  John Nash’s thought-voices shouted and were inflexible.  They commanded and demanded.  They conveyed rigid, unalterable attitudes and beliefs ñ a black or white framework.  They were beliefs “carved in stone”.  They were not philosophical musings.   In this mental setting, arguments backed by evidence carried no power.  Nash was immersed in an illogical thought-voice dictatorship, but knew nothing about its mental origin or structure.  Consequently, he did not fathom that his mental perambulations were a vital constituent of his bizarre behaviour.  Nor had he heard of the non-volitional system or its role in his mental operation.

The non-volitional system operates in a mentally consistent fashion.  Its composition conforms to the character of any pattern.  All patterns are composites of traits or features exclusive to that individual’s style.  Patterns are predictable and repetitious.  This is why patterns produce a consistent result.

Each person’s mental pattern and its contents are unique to that individual.  There exist no duplicates.  Hearing the mental workings of the non-volitional pattern inside one’s own head makes for a solo experience.

John Nash was up against the fact that no generic solution exists for combating the tyranny of the non-volitional system.  He had to compensate for the absence of a generic solution and his ignorance about mental functioning.

THE PROBLEM WITH “WHY”

One problem John Nash had to overcome was the “why” question.  For eons, human beings have asked the question and depended upon the answers as the foundation of solutions.  That is exactly what the pioneers and contemporary mental health practitioners rely upon, as if the “why” question will answer treatment solutions.  These practitioners pursue the “why quest” out of tradition.

John Nash got stuck on “why”, also.  Why was “why” so important?  He was looking for explanations and answers to cope with his puzzling behaviour.  They were supposed to supply him with a prescription for right behaving.  Nash attempted to comprehend his thought-voice activity in the same intellectual way he approached physics, mathematics and philosophy — the same approach employed by the medical-model.  Following the medical-model assumption that non-volitionally based activity lends itself to reasoning led him astray.

Figuring out “why” the voices were talking, while they talked at him, legitimized and ensnared him in their persecution and conspiracy themes.  Understanding, analyzing and figuring sabotaged his goal of relief from suffering.  In fact, asking himself why he had crazy thoughts reinforced his preoccupation with crazy-making voices.  This route proved to be nothing but a mental trap.  This was his first mistake.

The second mistake was an assumption that his will-power, alone, could overcome the reactive activity of the non-volitional system.

Applying will-power to deal with the mental turmoil collides with the action of the persistent and demanding non-volitional thought material.  The voices inside Nash’s head required obedience.  For anyone with voices screaming inside their head, ignoring these voices will prove futile.  In fact, the opposite happens.  Ignoring or suppressing the thought-voice activity increases their volume and degree of insistence.  This result attests to the power and forcefulness of the non-volitional system.

John Nash’s will-power failed against the dictatorial demands of his thought-voices.

THOUGHT-VOICES PRODUCE BEHAVIOUR

I have noticed that when I accuse myself of being “Stupid!” that I automatically feel bad.  My thoughts focus upon disparaging subjects.  My own mental accusation moves me along a series of unhappy reminiscences.  It is amazing how one accusation burgeons into a series of grievances, criticisms and protests, all of which drive me to feel depressed.  Also, I noted how the flow of negative preoccupations occurs without any deliberation on my part.

My experience and John Nash’s experience with thought-voices have something in common.  For each of us, they catch our attention.  While my thought-voices accused me of stupidity, John Nash’s centered around conspiracy and suspicion.  He responded to his urgent thought-voices with anxiety.  Consequently, his behaviour signaled to others that of an anxious person.

Let me outline the sequence from thought-voice to behaviour.  In the case of John Nash, he watched people.  The act of watching people fired off thought-voice commentary.  His voices shouted that people were investigating him.  This thought-voice commentary produced anxiety.  This anxiety produced agitated behaviour.  All this action took place internally.

Then, his agitation led Nash to physically and verbally confront people.  Others witnessed Nash’s behaviour because behaviour displays itself outwardly.  His thought-voices forced him to respond in this aggressive way because he had no way to counteract their prosecutory messages.   This is how thought-voices can cause one to turn into a social pariah.
The lesson is that thoughts do not stand in isolation.

IGNORING THOUGHT-VOICES CREATES PROBLEMS

Attempting to ignore insistent, demanding thought-voices ignite a battle between the messages in the thought-voices and real information.  Insistent thought-voices such as: “Watch out for them!”; “People don’t like you!”; “Don’t trust people!”; “Don’t believe what people say!”; “People don’t care about you, they only think of themselves!”  These are the kinds of messages which evoke alarm and are frequently at odds with real information.

The real information is that the surrounding people are busy leading their own lives unless there is, in fact, an actual attack.  Surrounding people don’t realize that they have been mentally conscripted by the schizophrenic who expects them to pay attention to his ravings.

The schizophrenic bounces between the fact that people are not paying attention and the constant and repetitious voices maintaining that people are investigating him.  This mentally concocted pseudo-threat catches and holds his attention.  It is impossible for him to ignore or rid himself of his insistent voices.  Yet, working to do so places him in a battle with himself.

John Nash’s off-the-wall thoughts were more important than the real world of bona fide information.  His bizarre thoughts were more significant than the workings of the real world.  Remember, Nash did not intentionally create this scrambled mental state, for no human being deliberately seeks mental turmoil.

John Nash’s early attempt to ignore the thought-voice activity, as I mentioned previously, produced anxiety.  John Nash did not realize that thwarting the dictates of the thought-voices would come at an emotional cost.  If he were to act on this with resolution — challenge the demands and commands — he would need more courage than he possessed.  Challenging the thought-voices is a personally scary act.  Because the schizophrenic hears his dictatorial voices as  absolute truth, challenging them is mental risk-taking of a high order.

Thus, the compulsion to obey is enforced by the fictitious legitimacy of absoluteness.  That is why John Nash — as would any person ñ caves into the forcefulness of his dictatorial voices.

THE COMPLEXITY OF FUNCTIONING MENTALITY

All human beings think whether awake or asleep.  Yet, people take for granted this act of mental sophistication which functions continuously.  They rarely credit the integral role thoughts play in functioning mentality.

Functioning mentality is the interplay between two divisions of mentation.  One division, the volitional division, accommodates the function of logic and reason.  The other division, the non-volitional, holds illogical and reactive thoughts.  Both divisions allow us to think.  The interaction between the two divisions applies to all of our emotional reactions and non-volitionally driven behaviour.  That interaction constitutes functioning mentality.

That thoughts are the product of two areas of functioning mentality is a revolutionary notion.  Neither physicians nor mental health clinicians discern the existence or comprehend the operational differences between the two divisions.  Nor, do these professionals realize the crucial role these mental divisions play in the dynamics of an individual’s mental health.  functioning mentality is not a simple process.

SENSITIVITY AND INTELLIGENCE

Sensitivity and intelligence also play a role in the complexity of functioning mentality.  Sensitivity is defined as, “…our responsiveness to stimuli….  Intelligence is the mental ability to grasp and utilize information, the means by which data is mentally processed and interpreted.  Our intelligence and sensitivity forge into mental acuity.”  These attributes hone our receptors in the sensory and factual world.  [WomenGenesis]

Sensitivity and intelligence [ mental acuity ] intensify one’s receptivity to the stimuli of human behaviour.  Because human behaviour constantly surrounds us, one can not help but notice what people do.  For instance, while walking down the street, one is struck by the sounds and gestures of the people, their style of clothing and the variety of their behaviour.  One registers this carnival of motion, sound and colour.  One cannot help but receive these impressions upon one’s mentality.  People who are highly intelligent and highly sensitive, such as John Nash, readily take in and sustain these impressions.

What a person absorbs in childhood is a function of his mental acuity over which he has no control.  The more sensitive and intelligent the child, the more susceptible he is to the force and influence of these impressions when they activate later in life.  For instance, John Nash’s sensitivity and intelligence guaranteed him a hyper-receptivity to his bizarre thought-voices.

Each individual is born with his or her own degree of mental acuity.  Sensitivity and intelligence remain for life and cannot be discarded.  Dissimilar degrees of sensitivity and intelligence, plus all the human variations in functioning mentality, amount to many billions of differences in human behaviour.  The enormity of this world of variation and complexity must be taken into account in any successful psychotherapy as well as integrated into any mental health treatment program.

GHOST PHRASES

During the child’s early years, he hears grown-ups speaking the words and idioms of their time.  Their tone of voice and verbal inflections emphasize their attitudes and underline their judgements.  The child absorbs this atmosphere.  Later, the young adult mobilizes these phrases, both mentally replaying them and speaking them aloud.  I call these phrases “ghost-phrases”.

Some common ones are: Listen to me! I’m speaking to you!”; “That was stupid, don’t do that again”; “Hurry up, you can read that later”; “Don’t be so smart, who do you think you are”;  These harsh, demanding, accusatory phrases become self-victimizing later in life.  I call these self-accusatory phrases “ghost-phrases” because they re-cycle material collected since infancy into our mental reservoir, as if the past were resurrected in the present.

When Thomas [ one of my early patients ] was a child, he was immersed in the manners and tones of his parents.  Without picking and choosing from his parents’ manner and tones, he mentally absorbed and registered them.  Then as a young adult, he inadvertently replayed these phrases when he spoke to his mother.  He spoke just like his father’s ordering, commanding voice.  As a full-fledged adult, he talks his father’s talk.  This talk was not deliberate talk, it just came about through habit.

The ghost-phrases change from a benign state in the child to an active and demanding one in the young adult.  The young adult speaks the ghost-phrase as if it were his own.  On many occasions, Thomas’s way of talking to his mother duplicated his father’s style that “people aren’t behaving right”.  While Thomas’ style is now set and has become his signature, he was unaware that his ghost-phrases were absorbed during childhood.

The intrusive influence of ghost-phrases occurs frequently in people who are rigid in temperament and hold themselves to a high standard of behaviour.  They tend to relive, evaluate and analyze behaviours for their correctness.  That they are human beings and subject to the same universal traits as the rest of us rarely enters their mind.  These high standard people view their world in black or white terms.  Without “shades of grey”, they rigidly adhere to an inflexible view of the world of human behaviour.  This either-or absolute stance leaves no room for any adaptability in attitude.  Mental inflexibility is not a frivolous matter.  Rigidity leads to  confrontation.  The activity of ghost-phrases can serve as a clinical tool.

ghost-phrases constantly running through a person’s head fully occupy that person’s attention.  This condition heralds the beginnings of schizophrenic activity and can be used by the clinician as an early sign.

THINKING IS A HUMAN BEHAVIOUR UNIVERSAL

John Nash did not only develop physically, he, simultaneously, developed mentally.  This developmental process followed precise maturational lines in which he acquired mental functioning and the ingredients of his thoughts.  In other words, the contents of one’s style of thought evolves over a period of time.  The adult John Nash was the product of this normal evolutionary process.  John Nash’s problem was that he was bombarded by too many thoughts.   He suffered from a highly active non-volitional system rather than a disease.

Thinking and its accompanying activity are universals of human behaviour.  This is another point of departure from the medical-model therapies.  Consider these observations:

  • Human beings think all the time.
  • All human beings react to their thoughts.
  • Reacting to thoughts produces behaviour.  I call this mechanism the “automatic reflex network” because the behaviour follows the thought without any deliberation on one’s part. [Glossary]
  • The behaviour produced by an automatic reflex is not of the intentional variety.

From where does this automatic reflex network originate?  Its origin is part and parcel of mental development and is a factor in the dynamic of the non-volitional system

MENTAL DEVELOPMENT

From birth the baby is surrounded by people.  The infant absorbs the action from this behavioural environment in the form of impressions.  An infant does not mentally register the surrounding action in any intelligible or orderly mental fashion, however.  His or her impressions arrive helter-skelter — unorganized, disjointed, unconnected.  The infant has no contextual frame of reference with which to place these impressions.

Gradually during mental development, the child’s impressions start coming together and display the beginnings of his character.  The child demonstrates preferences.  He favours certain toys, clothing and verbal expressions.  Later, he develops opinions which he considers uniquely his own.  Sentiments and dispositions, the influence of mental conditioning, evolve into a predictable way of behaving.  The child carries his mental style into adulthood and operates from his style for the rest of his life.  The mental signature which emerges from this process defines his uniqueness.

ORIGINS OF MENTAL CONDITIONING

FAMILY ATMOSPHEREI consider the family arena to be the primary reservoir from which the growing child mentally develops.  The family atmosphere is the principal contributor to the child’s mental development and lays down the foundation of the person he is to become.

John Nash, like the rest of us, absorbed mental impressions primarily from his parents.  His parents had parents, and so on through the generations.  The accumulation of generational influences left its unique stamp upon each succeeding generation.  John Nash was a product of this family atmosphere.

This does not mean that John Nash, or anyone, had a hand in the selection process of the impressions they absorbed.  The impressions which became a part of John Nash’s thought-voice repertoire were those that were frequently repeated within the context of the family.  John Nash’s thought-voice content, therefore, represents the emotional, reactive heritage laid down by his family and previous generations.

The atmosphere from which the child absorbs is nourished from many sources.  The infant, born into a nuclear family, absorbs impressions from a limited number of human behaviours.  Whereas, the infant raised in an extended family has a larger number of human behaviours from which to draw impressions, the infant of a tribe still larger. [Child2]

John Nash absorbed impressions from his nuclear family.  These included rules and regulations both spoken and implied.  As is the case for all children, he could verbally parrot the exact often repeated commands and demands.  The thought-voices he acquired became a configuration of his parents’ frequent commands and demands issued during early development. [Child1]

The constant bombardment of mental impressions from his human surroundings implants itself in the child’s mental conditioning.  The parents’ tone of voice implies a certain emotional state; that is, friendly, dictatorial or inconsequential.  This tone of voice orients the child to whether or not he need pay attention.

Succeeding generations exhibit common family characteristics.  For instance, my fifth cousin on my father’s side lives in Scotland.  He shares a common Scottish heritage with me even though I live in Canada.  I play the bagpipes, he plays the bagpipes.   His grand-parents were brought up in the same geographical region as my grand-parents, although my grand-parents later moved to Canada.  In our extended family, we share a heritage which crosses borders and generations.

The family atmosphere is the well-spring, the beginning of one’s mental conditioning.  It is the unit which carries the many centuries of that family’s generational contribution.  The child is the beneficiary of the family’s contribution as well as the culture’s.  The child’s unique mental absorptions are a result of the in-put from these combinations.

Onto all the many developmental factors at work, add the unique sensitivity and intelligence of each individual.  All of these features influence the volume and persistence of the thought-voice activity.  John Nash exhibited their influence.  He was grappling with the impact of the thought-voice impressions upon a sensitive, intelligent self.  Three decades of research at the Center finds that the more sensitive and intelligent a person, the greater the impact of the thought-voice activity.

ATTITUDES AND BIASES ACQUIRED FROM FAMILY ATMOSPHERE

Conventional wisdom holds that attitudes and biases come out of the blue.  They emerge from a non-specific source such as the air we breath.  In fact, attitudes and biases originate from the same source as thought-voices — frequent repetition of commentary and mannerisms within the family.

The infant observes and takes in impressions almost from the moment of birth.  The child observes his parents watching and noticing the behaviour of others.  The child, additionally, hears the tone of parental comments regarding the behaviour of others.   The parents speak in terms of black or white, superior or inferior, good or bad, right or wrong.   The child registers the sound of judgement.  He registers modulation or variation.  The child mentally incorporates these frequently heard tones.  The repetitiousness is the avenue that implants the sounds of black or white, superior or inferior, good or bad, right or wrong.  The sounds of judgement and evaluation.

Allow me to illustrate how the impressions acquired during childhood carry over to adulthood.  One prominent item is that of judging behaviour.  The child watches and hears how his parents interact.  He absorbs the verbal texture of their interplay.  In the child’s head, tones and their context get converted, subsequently, into a measurement.  The measurement and value placed on the tone by the child varies because he has heard and absorbed both positive and negative judgments.  These measurements remain with him for life.

John Nash, for instance, considered himself superior to his contemporaries and held himself to a higher standard.  As he said in the movie, he had no time for “lesser mortals”.  His father had grandiose aspirations for John Nash.  The son had to live up to the father’s expectations.  Achievement and criticism, holding yourself above others, was the atmosphere in his family.

As parents judge and criticize so, eventually, does the child.  Self-criticism, personal morals and manners reveal themselves as the child reaches adulthood.  As an adult, he then voices his attitudes and biases as if they were absolute truths, in the same way as his parents.

Family, individual sensitivity, intelligence and culture are all contributors working in unison.  Where I depart from current mental health theorists is that I consider the family and the culture in which the child is raised as the paramount contributor to the mental health of the child. Genes, the car he drives, the food he eats are not the primary contributors.  These considerations are secondary.

THE SOCIAL TYRANNY OF THOUGHT-VOICES

The child sits in the family.  The family sits in the culture.  The culture, a product of its history, lives in current time.

As Charlie Chaplin wrote in his autobiography: “…like everyone else I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of an ancestral promptings and urgings, a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, of all of which I am the sum total.”

Today, western cultural influences include schooling, church, fraternal associations and marketing slogans.  A child hears:  “Be the best you can be.”; “Be honest and truthful.”; “Thou shall not lie.”; “Be a good neighbour.”; “Be prepared!”

Society demands compliance with these vague standards.  If you are bombarded by slogans such as these you cannot help but respond to the imperatives in them.  If you do not have a foggy idea about how the imperatives translate into action, how do you comply?  Not knowing what to do creates confusion.  Meanwhile, the thought-voices still shout their slogans.  The individual attempts to comply, but the vagueness sabotages him.  That’s the dilemma that confounded  John Nash.

In non-industrial countries, the story teller takes the place of marketing slogans, schools and community associations.  As the cultural historian, he relates and reinforces the myths and parables of the tribal heritage, including rules, regulations and rituals.  Individual members hear the story teller through their own mental filters.  The family, as well, has its own mental filters because the family interpretation is heavily influenced by its specific history.  It is the family atmosphere which activates and implements the interpretation of the rules, regulations and cultural mythologies.  Through his family, the developing child receives a spectrum of the cultural heritage evolved through the generations of the family.  Although the cultural heritage influences the family and the child, the day-to-day family interpretation predominates.

HOW THOUGHT-VOICES SHAPE THE STREETS OF SOCIETY

John Nash said he did not much like people and that they did not like him either.
Look beyond John Nash into the streets of any metropolis.  We see reclusive and uncommunicative outcasts who shout at the air, gesticulate, talk to imaginary beings and ignore their personal hygiene.  We call them crazy and stay out of their way.  We, the ordinary people, do not know how to respond to bizarre behaviour.  That is why we shun and avoid the John Nashs’ of the world.

Schizophrenics are preoccupied with the demands and commands of their dictatorial ghost phrases.  They answer back as if the antagonists were real people.  These bizarre acting, disheveled people are in the throes of dialoguing with the ghost-phrases of their thought-voices.  In short, there is no conformity, and therefore, no social fit.

The difference between the street person and John Nash is that the street person is not as creative as John Nash in dealing with ghost-phrases.  That John Nash did not spend the rest of his life in a mental institution, as do most of these others, attests to his creative ability in dealing with this mental affliction.  This point is overlooked by social commentators who are totally ignorant of the mental life with which this Nobel Laureate had to contend.

THE TYRANNIES

Thought-voices result from conditioning.  Without thought-voices there would be no ghost-phrases.  The ghost-phrases are a sub-set of the thought-voices.  No human being could be victimized by his own mental conditioning without ghost-phrases.  Early conditioning establishes the climate for the mental tyrannies.

Bizarre behaviour is a product of the tyranny of the ghost-phrases.  The mechanics can be broken into parts:

1.) the habit of listening for how to behave right,
2.) the habit of legitimizing the talk of the ghost-phrases,
3.) the habit of figuring out how come the ghost-phrases exist.

Many people go about their business unhampered by voices shouting in their head.  They have only one track of thought-voices.  John Nash, and those like him, have several tracks playing at the same time.  They must contend with rampaging thoughts.  Schizophrenics must carry out their daily responsibilities despite the continuous fight between thoughts inside their head.

Often John Nash’s ghost-phrases overrode factual information.  He responded to the ghost-phrases as if they knew everything, just as he responded to his parents when he was a child.  To him his parents’ opinions and tenets were law.

He could not promptly distinguish between the ghost-phrases and real information.  His ghost-phrases sabotaged the factual material with the equivalent of  “That’s a pile of baloney”.  “That’s a pile of baloney” was treated as fact, fact was treated as a “pile of baloney”.  This is why it was so difficult for John Nash to not listen or to disobey his ghost-phrases.  Consequently, he did not appreciate the fact that he was a victim of his own head.

THE PATIENT WORKS WITH HIMSELF

Nash was well placed to deal with the action inside his head, for he lived there.  In actuality, he was the only one living there.  This is so for each and every human being.  Many people, however, behave as if they do not live inside their own head.  They act as if people other than themselves have power over them.  This is a common state of mind and creates universal problems.

Through trial and error, John Nash took hold of his dealings with his ghost-phrases.  He developed an approach which altered his response to them.  For instance, he resolved to not respect them as a bonafide source of reportage.  At the same time he avoided the adversarial attempt to rid himself of his thinking.  Remember what John Nash said to an observer, “If I don’t give them [the voices] anything, they don’t have anything over me.”  John Nash was successful because he developed ways for getting around the insistent urgings of his ghost-phrases.  His efforts alone gave him some control over the behaviour that the ghost-phrases provoked.

Without knowledge about how his head works, any patient remains at the mercy of his ghost-phrases.  He has no way of intervening with their tyranny.  Short of a personal method for combating the tyranny of the ghost-phrases, the patient is stuck with turmoil and mental pain for the rest of his life.  Because the ghost-phrases produce his mental turmoil, his personal method must supply him with the means of coming to grips with their origin and characteristics.  This strategy is the key to his coping with the power of this mental function.

THE C-CTHERAPY® PERSPECTIVE

I am advancing a mental health treatment design in which the patient is the expert on himself.  The patient is his own change agent.  My design diverges from the medical-model in which the practitioner assumes both of these roles.  C-CTherapy® also differs from the medical-model in that therapies of the genre promote the notion that “thinking differently” will cure the patient of turmoil.  Thinking differently, however, is an intellectual, cognitive project rather than a mental building project.   Cognitive — thinking differently ñ does not convert into operating differently.

In C-CTherapy®, the treatment effort centers around the patient building for himself a mental platform.  This building process enables the patient to work with the non-volitional division of his functioning mentality.  It is the non-volitional division which houses the ghost phrases and their production of mental turmoil.

Here is a summary of the C-CTherapy® points of departure from the medical-model design of mental health treatment programs.

  1. C-CTherapy® views patients as suffering from the bombardment of too many thoughts.
  2. ) In C-CTherapy, working with the “voices” is the treatment approach.
  3. ) Diagnosis is provided by the patient becoming initial focus of the treatment plan.
  4. C-CTherapy® views diagnosis as highlighting the patient’s ghost-phrase activity.
  5. ) Mental health patients suffer from a highly active non-volitional system rather than a disease.
  6. ) Thought-voices and the sub-set of ghost-phrases are key to the production of mental turmoil.
  7. C-CTherapy® teaches the patient to manage the bombardment of too many ghost-phrases.

8.) The family and the culture are paramount contributors to the child’s mental signature.

The Center’s exclusive treatment design is based upon these following points:

1.) Schizophrenia, as well as any other mental affliction, is not a disease.  There exists no pathogen of record.

2.) Thinking, thoughts and functioning mentality constitute normal human processes.

3.) In schizophrenia, the patient is bombarded with crazy-making thoughts.  Medication only reduces the volume of those thoughts.

4.) C-CTherapy® enables the patient to neutralize the intensity of the bombarding thought-voices sans medication.

5.)  C-CTherapy® is a building, self-management process.

All of the above are incorporated in the Center’s unique, unified psychotherapy.  The C-CTherapy® unified, non-volitional treatment design is based upon experiential research.  The goal, emotional self-management, results from a mental building process.  The treatment effort concentrates on the patient’s ability to mentally operate differently.


SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION

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Chaplin, Charles, My Autobiography, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1964.

Dineen, Tana, Manufacturing Victims, R. Davies Multimedia Publishing, Westmount, Quebec, 1998.

Fingarette, Herbert, Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease, University of California, 1988.

Friedberg, John, Shock Treatment is Not Good For Your Brain, Glide Memorial Press, San Francisco, 1976.

Gilkey, Langdon, Shantung Compound, The Story of Men and Women Under Pressure, Harper & Row, New York.1966.

Hayne, H., “Categorization in Infancy”, in Advances in Infancy Research, C. Rovee-Collier & L. Lipsitt (Eds) 10, 1997, pages 79 – 120.

Kaminer, Wendy, I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions, Addison-Wesley, 1992.

Kroeber, A.L., “Totem and Taboo: An Ethnological Psychoanalysis” in American Anthropologist, January – March 1920, Vol. 22, No. 1, published by the American Anthropological Association.

Malinowski, Bronislaw, Sex and Repression in Savage Society, Meridian Books, 1955.

Malinowski, Bronislaw, The Dynamics of Cultural Change, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1945.

Montagu, Ashley, M.F., Man’s Most Dangerous Myth, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1953.

Sapolsky, Robert, M., Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, W.H.Freeman & Company, New York, 1998.

Sargant, William, Battle For the Mind: The Mechanics of Indoctrination, Brainwashing & Thought Control, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1957.

Scull, Andrew, The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain 1700-1900, Yale University, 1993.

Selye, Hans, The Stress of Life [ revised edition], McGraw-Hill, 1976.