Case #70 - The unknown seriousness


I notice Manuel put his hand on his chest. He said he felt nervous. So I left it - people are often nervous for a part of a session. I noticed his pants, the varied grey colours on them, and remarked on this - was he a ‘black and white’ person, or a ‘shades of grey’ person? However, something else was going on for Manuel. He looked sad, and not at all interested in my questions. As we explored his sadness, it became stronger and deeper. He seemed quite silent and withdrawn in that place.

It is important when making an exploration, or moving into a Gestalt experiment, that we pay careful attention to a person’s energy, and if they are not there, then to instantly be willing to shift direction, to where their energy is residing.

Manuel talked about being a naughty and rambunctious child up to High School, and then being a top student after that. He found the spotlight a little difficult, both the expectations, and the jealousy from other kids. So this was still something hard for him, to be seen by others in this way.

I remarked he didn't seem naughty or cheeky now - very serious. It is important to connect up the story that the person is sharing with here and now phenomena - we say, connect the Field with Awareness.

I asked what happened before High School to result in this change, but he couldn't say. However, he looked very pained. So I asked how old he felt right then. He reported 4 years old. I asked what happened at that time. He related that he was sent to a boarding kindergarten, but he had no specific memories.

We sat there for some time. He looked very internal, very serious, very distressed. I asked him his experience. He said he pulled into himself when he felt this kind of deep sadness - it was hard to share.

This indicated exposure, so I told him that I was present, solid, available, supportive, and interested in his feelings. I felt open and warm towards him. We sat there for some time more. Nothing seemed to change. As I looked, he appeared to be in some kind of emotional shock. I mentioned this to him. He could not locate an incident. But it was clear to me that ‘something’ happened, around that age, that had a very damaging effect on him.

It is important not to ‘push the river’. When things don't flow, we just sit with the ‘what is’, knowing that what emerges is enough, and if more needs to emerge, it will. The moments that he livened up was when he spoke of his daughter, and how he would never let her be forced to do something she didn't want to do.

This was clear then - he had been forced to do something: I reflected this back to him. As I sat with him, what I could see most clearly was his seriousness. I said, ‘I take your feeling very seriously right now’. This had a big impact on him. Clearly, his distress had been passed over, and he had learned to manage it internally. He had done this for his whole life, and now he encountered someone who saw him in this place, saw his distress and took it seriously.

This was enough. The issue was not ‘solved’, we didn't locate the incident or incidents. But in Gestalt we are after a quality of contact, with full awareness: that is in itself transformative.


Posted by Steve Vinay Gunther