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Chayan Das February 6th, 2006 03:41 PM

As living human beings we all have desires, some are achievable and some are not. When a child desires something, which is not obtainable, a common technique is to distract his (/her) attention to some other object of desire, as a result of which the child apparently gives up the previous desire. As the child becomes older it becomes more and more difficult to distract him adequately. The object of desire may be small, for example a candy, yet as the child puts his every possible effort to obtain it and shows extreme frustration when failed and defend himself in several ways to ensure coexistence of his desire and the reality of impracticability, and continue to express his desire in his behavior and dreams, it appears that the small desire may be of much greater significance to him than it seems. I think, it is those desires that not only make the child unhappy within himself, but also make the parents end up hurting their child verbally or physically to make the situation worse. In spite of all these, I believe, it is possible to give up a desire completely and we all have such experiences.

Mr. Lankton, my question is, how do you encourage your clients to give up their unreasonable desires?

Chayan Das.

Stephen Lankton February 6th, 2006 08:35 PM

Re: Desires
Actually, I don't ever do that. I help clients' reach and fulfill their needs and the so called "unrealistic" dreams go away. For instance, let's say we have a female client, 44, [I’m changing a few details throughout for privacy protection] who is wishing and dreaming in hopes of getting a job as a TV anchor host (to replace a retiring anchor). This woman is NOT qualified in my humble opinion as she has no previous job history in TV, public speaking, etc. She is chatty and friendly, to be sure, but that is most likely not going to make her resume rise above all the other great candidates for a nation TV program. We could certainly say it is an unrealistic dream that she gets that specific job. To make it more interesting, she had been to seminars by Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukav, and other 'gurus' and spoken to them personally about the right way to pray, visualize, direct intentions, etc., to make this come true. But, to her surprise, that ‘magic’ was not working! And she is not psychotic or terribly childlike in any other obvious area. But, she came to see me to find out if I could pin point what she was missing or doing wrong in her mental ‘magic.’

The real trick was to discover what sort of "real" needs are being unfulfilled such that those irrational attempts to fill a dream like that existed. Remember, UNCOMMON THERAPY. In that book Haley illustrated how Erickson is prone to select interventions based on the developmental stage the client needs to better handle. So, you need to ask what developmental tasks are being unmet by this client. One was dating and having a meaningful relationship; one was not having any job at all (did I mention that she was unemployed) and especially a job where she was noticed and appreciated; and another was recognizing that she doesn't and never did have to perform and be perfect to get loved. So, the therapy was all about making interventions that would help her bring about those accomplishments while never thinking that I would take her "dream" away. Were she to think that I would take her dream away or challenge it, she would have a HUGE resistance to seeing me and probably would have discontinued therapy right off the bat.

Chayan Das February 21st, 2006 04:22 AM

Re: Desires
You will be happy to know that I made a few very simple applications of the principle above in last few days and got excellent results. And also that yesterday I placed an order for 'Uncommon Therapy' with a few other books. Before I get those books in my hand I am asking here two more questions. :)

1. Parents want their children to be obedient (and may be contradictorily assertive too). Even after reading your reply above, I am not sure that the concept of obedience is not required for parenting and re-parenting. So, what suggestion will you have for parents to have their children habit of obedience?

2. As I orient myself towards this new frame, I feel very curious about what your approach could be for a depressed client who has lost something in contrast to above situation where one is trying to achieve something. The interventions I can take for depression is based on the frame of CBT. But I cannot happily accept the concepts like 'thought catching' 'superiority of thought over feelings' etc. as I put my effort towards orienting me with Ericksonian principles.

Thank you in advance.

Stephen Lankton February 22nd, 2006 05:32 PM

Re: Desires
What about discipline? Well, it is a complicated matter and it is not certain that two people use the word to refer to the same behavior and patterns. It appears often that dicipline is meant to secure compliance. While this is important when a child is too young to understand about sticking a fork in an electric socket, it is of diminishing value as the child ages and in non-critical situations during any age. A nation of compliant children will be a nation of unthinking adults. I want my children to conduct themselves via their internal resources, clean perception, and thinking processes and not via compliance born out of fear of retaliation from a parent.

That is what parents need to learn to develop...but it takes more time, more thought... And remember what Yoda said, "the dark side is quicker, more seductive."

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