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Week 6

"A good ticking off ..."

Sixth session. Sam starts where he finished last week: "I saw a window open, the sun shining through. A breath of fresh air. There was a sprig of cherry blossom on the page. Now I see the page has five rows of five boxes."

Sam's Creative Self had been briefed to come up with a control system for new behaviours to replace the compulsive bingeing on chocolate, and it has been doing this in non-cognitive symbolic process over the last two or three sessions. But in everyday terms what is Sam saying?

"I have a sense of doing a job here," he tells me. "I'm paying for your time, so I've instructed my unconscious to go with relevant, not irrelevant images, so I can get the best value for my money." He draws a grid of five columns, marks them Monday to Friday, divides them by five rows for different times of the day, and titles it 'Reward Me' - the name of the part-self he identified several weeks ago as being responsible for the compulsion. "I shall fill each box with rewarding things I can do for myself while working-stretching, juggling, standing at an open window, breathing deeply." The rewards were identified several weeks back, when they seemed less than compelling. Now they have come into their own in this grid, where the notion of ticking them off five times a day, five times a week, is compelling! I wonder if Sam is merely changing one compulsion for another - translating the pattern rather than transforming it, but I reckon that filling a few boxes is a healthier alternative than stuffing himself with chocolate.

"Anything else about fill each box?" I ask. "Actually I don't need to use the grid every day, only when I need it," he replies. He seems to be moving away from the idea of replacing the compulsive eating with compulsive form-filling. "I have an image of a young woman ticking the boxes."

He had identified a young woman in his metaphor landscape last week ("standing by a swimming pool that's like an enormous sheet of A4 paper" ). "She'll tick when she knows it's right. I don't have to have five rewards a day, or a day of rewards a week or even every month." I ask about the boxes again. "Oh, that's interesting they're three-dimensional now, they're not empty boxes waiting to be ticked, they already contain rewards!"

So the metaphor, as often happens, has taken on a life of its own. "These boxes are closed, so I don't know what's in them. I think I have to accept from the boxes, not take!" The metaphor has transformed. All I have to do now is help Sam mature the transformation.

"And when you think you have to accept, what kind of accept?"
"The perfect gift."
"And what kind of gift is the perfect gift?"
"The young woman is the giver."
"And what kind of young woman is the giver of the perfect gift?"
"She's wearing a simple white casual dress. A mature woman. Like a young mother. Attractive, kind, very nice, concerned and graceful."
"Where could a woman like that come from?"
"From my dreams. She is showing me something, but not making a big fuss. The other women were sexier. This woman is more at home. She surrounds herself with light - air - smells - friends - family. She has more to look after than me. Lots of responsibilities."

Now Sam has a wonderful insight. You could call it a defining moment when the two kinds of his knowing - conscious and unconscious - come together. "The family could be all my little parts and personalities. Bits of me that need to be nurtured. This woman is there for every part of me. A family playing and squabbling. She disciplines us and supplies the air and the sunshine, and in turn we have to nurture her. I see her name." He pauses. "It's Asa." He is thrilled. "Asa the woman in my life." I start to ask another question, but suddenly he's tired. "This is important, but it's fragile. I want to find out more about her, but I want to wait."

A gentle reminder to me about timing. I suggest an assignment for homework: to look up the name 'Asa'.

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