Thursday, February 10, 2011

"I'm Not Wrong, I'm Average"

Mother received a question one day that she recorded.  I think many of us have wondered at one time or another how the heck is this spot is going to sink in?

Question:  I've repeated "I’m not wrong, I'm average over and over.  Is there anything in Dr. Low's literature that says anything about the idea-- I’m wrong being intuitive?

Treasure:  Dr. Low does talk about "body fear".  Repeating I am not wrong, I'm average" is o.k.-- it is knowledge, but you may not be seeing it at a deeper level. An example may help us to see another side to this.

One time I made a presentation in Detroit with Father Dowling (an old friend of Recovery and Dr. Low) from St. Louis, MO.  The audience was made up of newspaper editors from all over the country.  Driving back to Brighton from Detroit I was working myself up.  "I talked too long.  I should have said this!  They must think I am really dumb."  Of course, I was feeling very wrong... upset stomach, general tenseness, shaky.  I kept saying, "I'm not wrong, I'm average."

All of a sudden I thought, "you think you are RIGHT that you're wrong.  It is natural and average to review a performance, but you have jumped to a conclusion.  That is still the vanity of knowing better.  Real spotting would be to know that you don’t know.

With this I began to relax and each time I would tend to go back to my processing, I spotted again that I had no way of knowing what the audience was thinking.  And, I endorsed myself for even making the presentation.  I had faced my fears of speaking in front of any audience, let alone such an important one as this was.

Before Recovery I would not have had the techniques to really spot... that is, recognize what was happening inside of me.  The processing of anything I did would go on for days.  My symptoms were bizarre thoughts, panic attacks, fears of closed places and open spaces, etc., etc.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dr. Low in Detroit, September 20, 1954, Part 2

Part 2 of this meeting is the "rest of the story".  You may find that it is a little choppy at times.  Apparently the recording was not easy to hear so some words or phrases were missed, but you'll get the gist of it I'm sure.  By the way, Dr. Low talks about this meeting as being the largest he had ever seen.  I can only imagine what the "electricity" must have been like in that place!  You can sense both the frustration and hope about how to get Recovery to those who needed it, who at the time were mostly in State Hospitals.  We now pick up where Rev. Taylor introduced Father Dowling.

Fr. Edward Dowling, S.J.:  I think if I had spoken first I would have said several of the salient things that Dr. Taylor spoke of.  I got a letter the other day, [he reads the letter] this is Havana, Cuba, and I read it to let you know that if you get nothing more out of tonight’s meeting than the privilege of having given encouragement to a movement that is going to reach people, not in as populous as this, but in small places, I think our evening is eminently worth while.  He says, “I am endeavoring to recover from a mental illness which commenced about one and one-half years ago.  I have had electro-shock therapy a few months ago and at present take pills so that I can relax.  I have tinglings in my hands and feet and scalp and have a number of other physical symptoms.  I read an article in which your name was associated with Recovery, Inc., and I thought it might help me.  Would you please send me a copy of the book and put the remainder of this ten dollars in the poor box.  I am Irish, a Catholic, age 52, an accountant, married, and sometimes I have no hope at all.  Once I tried to commit suicide but that phase has passed and now I pray, but I feel very depressed some days.  Other days I feel pretty good, but I dread the next depression.  God bless you and the work.  As I am not in a position to attend the Recovery, Inc., meetings,” …my goodness, what it would do for him to stand where I am standing tonight and see what I am seeing.  Dr. Low tells me this is the largest Recovery meeting in the history of the movement, as far as he has attended, and I think it is important that it happens not at the Center, but showing what a movement can do away off, far from the Central Office of Chicago.  What can happen? Who knows, maybe some day in Havana… “do you think there is any member with more or less similar symptoms who might be interested in writing to me.  Perhaps we could help each other.”… I remember when a member of my family entered a mental hospital.  It was one of those ambivalent places, partly…(pause)…a sanitarium.  I said, “Doctor, could this lead to insanity?”  He said, “This is insanity.”  There are people in this room who know how I felt; frightened, stigmatized, futile, poor.  It was a bachelor uncle’s benefaction which enabled us to pay the hospital bill.  Recovery, if I’d had it then, wouldn’t have made me feel so bad.  The doctor used a big word.  Professional people, the clergy and the doctors tend to do that.  Someone…(Fr. D. chuckled)…in Recovery the other night was explaining the different types of cases that turn up and its simplicity is so typical of Recovery.  Dr. Low, I think, has done something that no other professional man since Aristotle has done that I know of -- I don’t know them all.  He has written a book without a professional word in it.  Someone speaking of Recovery was saying, “There are two classes of problems.  There is the class of problems of people who think that two and two make five, and they’re quite happy about that discovery; or quite belligerent and willing to maintain it.  They don’t appear so often in Recovery.  But there’s the other class who come in, who think that two and two make four, but they’re darned worried about it.” (audience laughed).  You know I think…(pause)… My role here tonight is not to keep you from hearing Dr. Low…(pause)…but (Fr. D. chuckled) I assume my role…(pause)…I think I’m a decoy…(Fr. D. chuckled)…I think the Catholics of Detroit, and I speak with the permission of the Catholic authorities of Detroit, I specify that, they are quite interested, they do not know, they haven’t made a study of this enough to approve.  In St. Louis, where I’m from, it works just the other way.  We have a Catholic publishing house with a hall, not this big, but from that Catholic group, of the seven little groups that have broken off, one is at the Church of the Open Door, a Congregational church, and another is at the Webster Hills Methodist church, using halls.  So that my role here I think is to…(Fr. D. chuckled)…say Recovery is safe.  Well, I’m not going to go that far.  All therapy can cause trouble, see.  I don’t know if you read that story of the veterinarian who was explaining to this man how to give medicine to a horse.  He said, “you take a gas pipe about two feet high and fill it with powder and then place it well down in the throat of the horse and then blow vigorously”…(audience chuckled).  Well, about an hour later the farmer came back.  He had powder all over him…(audience chuckled)… and the veterinarian said, “What’s the matter?” “Oh,” he said, “I’m dying.  The horse blew first.”  (audience roared with laughter).  Now I have a suspicion…(Fr. D. chuckled)…that underneath the benign calm of even Dr. Low, sometime he must think…(Fr. D. chuckled)…that horse is going to blow first…(audience laughed).  So, I do say this, disease is non-sectarian.  In today’s paper, under an AP headline, is an item about a Nun, of the Order of Poor Clares, one of the most austere and saintly orders of women in the Catholic Church.  This woman,  gave her age on an insurance policy as 1894 when it was really 1891.  It tortured her, and here in nineteen hundred and whatever it is, fifty-four, that woman, overwhelmed by the guilt of that lie told in the last century, poured kerosene over herself, soaked her robes in kerosene, and burned herself to death.  Nerves cut across geographic, ethnic, and religious lines.  There’s a two-way cut there, a rip-tide in that thing, the physiological and the sociological and the personal effects of moral deviations, even small, and so, I do feel, if the signposts of alienation from community which Dr. Taylor spoke of, alienation from group-mindedness, if those signposts are correct, we are not going to have less nervousness but more, and, as he himself has seen once before, in another group, the AA group, there is a Gulf Stream of hope that runs and courses down the life of our cities, whose trade winds whisper hope.  I saw Recovery ten, twelve years ago for the first time.  In the last four years I have had two members of my family belong and I have had a very fine opportunity not merely to watch the meetings, they occur in my building two floors below me, but I also have telephone conversations with these people. I have used it in my own life, I’ve used it with others, and I’m speaking especially to people who may be bothered by hardening of the dignity, dignal sclerosis, see…(audience laughed and Fr. D. chuckled).  There are a lot…(Fr. D. Chuckled)…come on in, the water’s fine; menopause, hypertension, a lot of things that we never go to a doctor for.  It can help.  It can help.  If the non-Catholic people won’t listen for a minute, I want to say something to the Catholics…(audience laughed)…I remember a Catholic one time who was an alcoholic.  He was distinguished in a distinguished, alcoholic way…(audience chuckled)…and…(pause)…but he tells the story in Alcoholics Anonymous now.  He said he always wondered if this Alcoholics Anonymous would do anything against his religion, see.  It never occurred to him, he says, to bother whether this drinking and knocking lamp-posts down and ruining his family might hurt his own religion, see.  There is less religion in Recovery than there is in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Now, I suppose the majority in this room are Christians.  Alcoholics Anonymous does not bring Christ in.  You bring Christ in at your own discretion and at your own risk, see.  Now Recovery, a good deal like things like the Red Feather and a number of other processes, does not bring God in, but Recovery is on the side of the angels.  (At this point the end of Fr. Dowling’s talk is missing from the tape recording).

Dr. Taylor:  You know, there is one thing that the Father and I agree on.  We both accept Dr. Low as an authority.  Now that doesn’t interfere at all with his accepting his Bishop and me accepting mine.  Maybe you better not tell them that…(Dr. T. chuckled)…but anyway, it’s true.  We accept Dr. Low as the authority.  Of course, if I break my leg, I want a competent physician to fix it.  I don’t care much whether he is Catholic or a Protestant or a Jew or a gentile or white or black, as long as he can do the job, and Dr. Low can do the job.  Before I introduce him, I want to tell one little true incident.  At one of the meetings up in our church, there was a little white-haired woman who kind of tiptoed in and sat in a back seat.  She kept coming week after week, and after she had been in Recovery for two or three months, I noticed she was in church one Sunday.  The second or third Sunday, she got nerve enough to sign the church register.  I got her address and went down to visit her.  She’d been a nervous patient for over twenty years and she told me that this was the first thing that had interested her during that whole portion and the first thing that she had been able to go to.  I want you to notice, first she went to Recovery, then she went to church, then she went shopping, and then visited her neighbors; she got into one group after another, but the Recovery group was first.  Some months afterwards, she dropped dead of heart failure.  I had the funeral.  I received a most beautiful letter from one of her sons in which he said, “Thank God for Recovery and for what it did for my mother.  I hope you grow and grow and grow.”  I hope she’s looking on tonight, and the man that started it was Dr. Abraham Low of Chicago.  Dr. Low (applause).

Dr. A. A. Low:  I have been privileged to establish and later to lead Recovery for now 17 years and I have held hundreds of meetings in Recovery and with Recovery members.  I have attended parties, anniversaries, all kinds of gatherings in Recovery, and it should be the time now no longer to be overwhelmed by anything that happens in Recovery.  I have about experienced everything that I thought was to be experienced, but tonight I am overwhelmed.  I have attended big meetings, meetings that were crowded, as this meeting is, although, as Father Dowling told you, this is decidedly the biggest that I have attended.  But you see, that means quantity, and quantity is something that Recovery hardly deals with.  It’s welcome, and it is, even in this quantitative aspect, overwhelming to see a meeting of this kind, but the moment I entered this auditorium it was obvious there was not only quantity but also quality.  Many of you came up to me, a good deal of them not knowing me, just having heard about me and perhaps recognizing me from a picture, and there was so much warmth, so much not expression but implication of loyalty.  That, I must say, at home in Chicago, I am naturally not experiencing it in the manner that I can experience it here because in Chicago there grows up a familiarity between my patients and me and they don’t have to express anything.  It is understood that they are, well, something like my children and naturally offer loyalty and devotion that we recognize and know and don’t have to express anymore.   But when I notice the same sentiments here on the part of people that I have presumably never seen, never spoken to, I was touched, and when I entered this hall and noticed various indications of something that we call spirit…(pause)…after talking to a few of the men and women that I know, well, I was overwhelmed with the impression of this Detroit group because I knew a great deal about them without knowing the individual members, at any rate not all of them, and not too many of them, and I felt that I came home to my, well, to my most effective child, the child that is extremely devoted and the child that has displayed this devotion and loyalty, well, all I can say, in a most successful manner.  All of our groups are devoted, all of our groups are loyal to Recovery, but there is something about this Michigan group that is not well expressed by calling them successful.  I mentioned the term and I wouldn’t have mentioned it, but what this term success means here, with this group, is perseverance, undauntedness.  There is a quality of fearlessness about this Detroit group, and there are representatives here of the other groups in Michigan, so I can speak of Michigan and not only of Detroit, and it is on this occasion that I would like to make a simple statement, a statement that in Recovery we have loyalty of those that are taken care of, of those that are given leadership, towards their leader, and now comes the point to which I wanted to work up.  What is truly overwhelming here in Detroit, in this Michigan and Detroit group, is the type of leadership that you have been happy to enjoy in my dear friend, Treasure Rice.  I am very grateful to her for what she has done here in Detroit to further the cause in which we are all interested and of which I have had the great happiness to have been the pioneer.  My speech that I was asked to offer here tonight has been titled “What Recovery Can Offer.”  Well, that’s a large order.  If I want to speak on what Recovery can offer, then I am afraid you will not be able to go home tomorrow morning yet…(audience laughed).  That’s too large an order.  I shall take the liberty of changing this title of the speech and I will want to speak to you about “Some Techniques Which Recovery Has Offered”, and true to the Recovery tradition I will do as my patients do when they meet in Recovery gatherings.  I shall bring you examples; at any rate at first I’ll bring examples.  About several weeks ago I was called over the phone and there was a gentlemen I knew, a distant relative of his had been my patient and I had the opportunity to meet this gentleman and he called me and, well, he spoke to me.  He was literally panting, naturally with anxiety, and he told me that his daughter came home, trembling, shaking, teeth chattering, and deathly pale, and he said he would like to see me immediately with his daughter and he couldn’t tell me over the phone what precisely had happened, but he was greatly worried about the situation and then the father with his daughter arrived at the office but I did not have time to see him.  I had the waiting room full of patients and I told him immediately I don’t know whether I can serve his daughter today satisfactorily but I will try my best and when I had this young lady in my office she presented me with the following story.  She was a college student, and while she was sitting in class that afternoon, all of the sudden she felt a dreadful sensation coming over her and within a second or so she felt that her abdomen was freezing up and the upper part of her body, the chest, head and the extremities were swept by a heat wave and so were the lower extremities.  Picture to yourself this situation.  In the middle of this woman’s body there was a deep-freeze you might say, and above the abdominal region and below it there was a heat wave coursing through the parts of the body.  In other words, that person was split into two portions, the one being hot, the other frozen.  I must tell you I have seldom seen a patient that described her case in this manner or experience in this manner and the few patients that I have seen that presented a similar picture were indeed deathly pale as the father said, convulsed with fear, and I can well understand that this must be the psychological reaction to this splitting up of the body into two portions.  Well, I didn’t have time and what could I have done anyhow?  In former days, this means before I had Recovery, let me say twenty years ago and perhaps even seventeen years ago and fifteen years ago yet, this means at the time when we either did not have Recovery or when the Techniques were not yet fully elaborated, and about twelve years ago, for instance, we did not have the techniques that we dispose of today.  In those days, twelve, fifteen and twenty years ago, when I had reached quite a position in the profession already, in those days I would have immediately insisted that the patient go to a hospital.  I wouldn’t have dared treat such a patient in my office.  I wouldn’t have dared let her go home, and then she might develop a condition that was far more dreadful than it was on the afternoon that I saw her, but when I saw her those several weeks ago I immediately had made up my mind that this girl would not be sent to the hospital.  Instead, I did something that naturally I could never have done twelve, fifteen and twenty years ago.  I sent her over to Recovery just two blocks south of where I have my office, and there she was taken care of and got relief that afternoon; relief, she was not cured yet.  Now look here.  If a girl has such a condition, then it’s inevitable that she becomes fearful in the extreme, she has to develop a panic and once a patient develops a panic then there develops a vicious cycle, and the more the patient becomes aware of his panic the more does he become alarmed about the panic, in fact, a fear of the fear, a vicious cycle that develops from this circular condition in which fearing the fear, or let me say being alarmed at the panic makes the panic worse and if the panic gets worse then the alarm about it gets worse and so there develops a vicious cycle in which the alarm whips up the panic and the panic whips up the alarm and the patient is simply distracted to a degree that she cannot possibly be left at home.  She must be constantly watched and preferably behind locked doors.  She might at any time do something to herself, and this will give you immediately one of the differences between my private practice twenty and fifteen and twelve years ago, and my present practice in which, as you now realize, I am enabled to do things that I could never have done in former days and the thing that enables me to do these things is the fact that I can now send my patients to Recovery.  I will want to explain this situation to you in another fashion.  You see, when I sit in my office and the patient sits opposite me and I try to reassure the patient…(pause)…Now that patient that I saw that afternoon was not in an ordinary fear.  She was in fear of instant death, of instant death, and if I sit down opposite her and try to reassure her, well, I can only use words, nothing but words.  And words are powerless when there is a vicious cycle between panic and alarm, but when she comes to Recovery just two blocks south of my office she arrives there and she does not see a doctor.  Now you will naturally not understand what I mean by that.  She will not be taken care of by somebody who will merely use words, and perhaps gestures, and friendly looks, I grant you all of this, but essentially words, and when the patient sits opposite a doctor who uses words, the words are pale when it is a matter of the fear of instant death.  No words can give reassurance in this situation.  Twenty years ago this patient would have been hospitalized and we would have had one first-admission to the hospital in this case.  Today I avoid, in cases of this kind, the first-admission in an astonishing number of my patients that I would have immediately sent to the hospital in former years.  The patient listens to the doctor if he can, in a panic.  But even if he is not in a panic he listens attentively to the doctor, he still has great difficulty to be reassured by what the doctor tells him.  You see most of the patients, especially if they are in a panic, have of course given up hope, and if the doctor reassures them and tells them, well, that’s not a serious condition and I can take care of it, the patient immediately thinks, “Well, what else can a doctor tell me.  The doctor is of course not going to tell his patient that he is going to die.  If I have a dangerous disease, the doctor will not tell me the truth, it would be against his ethics, “ and most likely it would be and I, for one, if I dealt with a patient in a dangerous sickness, I would not tell him, “Well, you have only so and so long to live.”  I would not do it.  I know that some doctors say that should be done, but I would not, and that’s what the patient thinks, the doctor cannot tell him the truth, otherwise he would run afoul of his Hippocratic oath, if he would.  And so the patients come to us doctors, to us psychiatrists, and they come naturally to us usually as chronic patients, some of them as acute panics as in this case, but most of them come to us after two years of suffering, five years of suffering, ten years of suffering, and at that time they have made up their mind that they cannot be cured any longer, they become hopeless and they are helpless and if the doctor tells them, “Well, I’ll help you.  I’ll get you well again,” the patient thinks, “What else should the doctor tell me.  Naturally he will not tell me I am hopeless and incurable,” but the patient thinks he is hopeless and incurable either in an acute panic or after he has gradually drifted for ten or five years or shorter or longer into a chronic psychoneurosis or a nervous condition.  In Recovery that patient is told nothing.  No words are used in exchange with him.  He is merely asked to sit down and listen.  He is not spoken to when he comes for the first time and that method…(pause)…that was the method that I wished to secure that afternoon for this patient.  She was not to be spoken to during a meeting or during the visit in an office.  Instead she had to listen and what she listened to was a very simple thing, as simple as all the techniques of Recovery, Incorporated, are.  There was a patient at the table sitting together with about fifty or sixty other patients, and one patient gave what is called in Recovery an “example”, that patient gave an example of how he or she had developed a severe fear, or rather severe symptoms and thereupon severe fears, and thereupon the heart began to palpitate (here the tape recording is hard to hear for a few words)…but then he remembered what he had learned in Recovery.  He remembered that he had been trained in Recovery to think of these nervous symptoms and he instantly knew from the training that he had imbibed, that nervous symptoms, no matter how threatening, no matter how distressing they may be are never dangerous, and while my patient of that afternoon was listening to another patient describing her panic that she suffered on the street and while my patient went on to listen to this report, it dawned on my patient that here was a case similar to her own and there this person, this panel member, had demonstrated to my patient that I sent over that afternoon that the most dreadful of fears can be controlled by a certain technique and that that panel member that had given the first example that my patient listened to had precisely produced that control or that remedy of her fear that my patient was just now suffering from and was so deadly afraid of it that she had drifted into an extremely severe panic.  My patient had feared that she was going instantly to die and the panel member reported a very similar story that happened to her on the street and will you understand that this panel member did not talk to my patient; she reported a story to anybody who would want to listen and not to my patient particularly and the patient was not spoken to, she was merely a casual listener to a story coming from somebody who was not at all interested in talking to this patient, she didn’t know her, and you see the difference now between what I do without Recovery when I see a patient in my office and what the Recovery people do without me.  I talk to the patient as an official and the patient feels that I am interested in keeping the truth from him, the patient feels that I want to sell health to him and then the patient develops what psychiatrists have called “resistance”, and they all develop resistance.  Now we can call it, and we do that in Recovery, “sales-resistance”, because the patient feels the doctor wants to sell him health and the patient develops the sales-resistance, but when he comes to Recovery there is no salesman of health, no doctor to try to convince him the patient that she is mistaken in thinking that she is going to die, and I hope you understand now the basic principle of Recovery action.  There are no professionals at the panel meetings, nobody that speaks officially.  There are only people that tell stories, stories about themselves, not about the patient that sits at this corner or that corner, and the patient listens passively without suspicion that somebody wants to sell him a bill of goods, and what goes into your ear passively has a great tendency to sink in.  When it comes passively to your ear then you are not skeptical, unless you are told a tall story, but if you are simply listening to a report of somebody who gives an instance of his own experience without any reference to you, then this…(here the tape recording is hard to hear for a few words)…to the brain and has an excellent opportunity to sink in there, while, when the patient is faced with the physician, he offers resistance, he becomes skeptical, and the story may enter the ear but it has hardly a chance, or hardly a good chance, to be settled in the brain…(pause)…another great difference between what a physician can do in his office and what Recovery can do in meetings.  Reverend Taylor and Father Dowling mentioned one thing that is so remarkable about Recovery; I doubt whether anybody can be in Recovery for some length of time, let me say for a day or two, without forming friendships with somebody.  And if the patients stay on for weeks and weeks, don’t they find a second home in our organization.  That’s not my words.  These are words that I continually hear from patients and I tell you what that means.  You see, if this patient had been treated in my office alone, well, that patient would not have come back to my office unless the father dragged her to my office and she would not have come back to my office because she felt that she was going to die instantly and so she wanted instant relief, but in former days I would have told her, “Well, sit down and I’ll explain the situation to you”, and I would have talked to her for an hour and what much can you tell in an hour if you begin to explain what a fear is, and especially if you go into details as the academic professor does, and I was a professor at that time and I was academic.  You see, it takes months and months in ordinary office practice ‘till one gains an improvement, not a cure, and you know the psychiatrists have to spend endless numbers of hours until they see some initial results, but the patient in panic will not wait endless or dozens of hours ‘till he will get relief.  That patient may do something very desperate and in the days when I did not have Recovery a patient like this had to go to the hospital for shock treatment otherwise I would not take care of him, and be certain that I am not the only one who did that.  Everybody, as far as I know, did that with such a patient.  You see, Recovery prevents first-admissions to the hospital, I don’t say that we do that in every case but in large numbers, by giving instant relief, not a cure, but relief.  The patient is now likely, and in most instances certain, to come again because he got relief, and then to come again then to come again, and so in Recovery we can wait ‘till the patient gets more relief, more improvement and finally is being cured, whatever a cure means.  In private practice we can’t do it because, if the patient comes in a panic or in a marked anxiety, he will have to wait ‘till we are ready to give him substantial relief, he will do something or he might do something, desperate and therefore we don’t dare let the patient go home in a condition of a panic, of a panic of a kind that I have described, and we demand that the patient of this kind should go to the hospital and there is our first-admission and they should be prevented wherever that can be done and Recovery has as its one objective, to prevent first-admission; the second objective is to prevent relapses after the patient has had his first-admission, then improves, goes home, and then is threatened by the relapse.  I will not describe to you how Recovery prevents the relapses, but I hope you will realize there is the distinction between the first-admission to the hospital, and Recovery’s method of prevention of first-admissions, which was explained to you. There is the relapse after the patient has returned from the hospital, and that’s the second objective of Recovery, to prevent relapses. I could explain to you how such relapses come to pass, but time does not permit me to go [into] some techniques employed by Recovery. 
            Now, you would say, well, if that is so, if Recovery can prevent first-admission in large numbers, and relapses, although I have not described it but you, I hope, you will believe me when I tell you that we have prevented relapses, again in astonishing numbers, then you will presumably ask, if that is so, well, the State hospitals are precisely looking for methods of preventing relapses, and, if they could, for preventing first-admissions, and here Recovery has gone on for seventeen years and has not one single workshop in any of the State hospitals, and, you may ask, how is this possible.  Well, I can’t go into details, but I want to tell you that in 1949 the first state in the Union approached me and asked me whether Recovery could be introduced into the hospitals of that state.  It was the state of Iowa, and the Director of the Department of Public Welfare in Iowa was very eager to have Recovery Techniques introduced into his hospitals and he immediately wired me asking whether he could come to Chicago and confer with me and I naturally consented immediately and Dr. Graves, he is still Director of the state hospitals of Iowa, came and he attended one meeting of Recovery and that was convincing.  He saw the method that they needed in the state hospitals of Iowa. The man is a gentleman, who seems to have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, and he left Chicago and within a few days I received a letter from him asking me whether I could help him introduce these techniques in the state hospitals of Iowa.  He had been so inspired by what he had seen and heard that he thought it would be a great neglect of duty not to bring these techniques to the benefit of his patients and the State of Iowa began in the right fashion.  They immediately sent an employee to Chicago for training in our techniques.  That employee, an occupational therapist, went back to the Mt. Pleasant Hospital, the largest hospital in Iowa, and she started groups, Recovery groups, and they worked remarkably well and one day I received a message from Dr. Graves in writing me to come to Mr. Pleasant and a representative of the Governor would be there and Dr. Graves himself, and I came, naturally, and we inspected the work done and we were greatly elated over what this occupational therapist had done for the hospital and for the Recovery patients, and, we drafted plans to get these techniques introduced in all the other hospitals of Iowa and everything was arranged down to minute details and that was the last I heard of it, and it was broken off; there was no more continuation of it.  No explanation was given to me and I wish to tell you Dr. Graves did not do that.  He was for the project, but somebody, I don’t know who, was against it, somebody obviously in power, that’s all I can tell you, and I was discouraged, but after all, I thought, “Well, we’ll try again.”  In 1953 there was an auspicious opportunity in Illinois when a former associate with me gained office, I would say a deciding power, in the Department of Public Health, Public Welfare and I went to the gentleman and told him, “why don’t you introduce Recovery in the state hospitals of Illinois” and he said, “Well, I’ll be glad to do it” and he did and he did it in good faith, there was no question about it, and he acted promptly and there were two psychiatric aids sent to Chicago for training, naturally by the state, and they were inspired by the noblest enthusiasm.  After a week they came back to the Mantego State Hospital, started their groups, and they flourished and then the project was dropped and I was not told about it.  I was not given any explanation.  It was simply dropped.  Some people that had power obviously obstructed that project.  It was not a man in the State Administration.   They went ahead and did what they could to get the project started, they wouldn’t have dropped it.  Some other people dropped it, I can’t even tell you whom I suspect or which kind of people I suspect.  That’s not for me to say.  Then I received a notice from our dear Treasure Rice, that was last year, telling me that she saw the Governor of the State of Michigan and the Director of the State Hospitals and she wanted them to introduce Recovery techniques into the state hospitals of Michigan and the Governor directed the Department of Public Welfare or whatever…(pause)…the Department of Mental Health to send somebody to Chicago to investigate and later I was invited by the Mental Health Commission to meet with them and tell them about Recovery and now I must say, the State of Michigan was quite honest and decent.  They didn’t start the project, therefore they didn’t drop it…(audience laughed)…Well, I like an honest procedure, whether it is against my work or for my work.  I don’t say that the other States were dishonest, I don’t mean that, but somehow or other they acted in a manner that was not just gentlemanly like, it seems to me, and now you may ask, what is to be done about this situation.  We produce a type of work that is so badly needed by the tens of thousands of patients that pine away in the state hospitals, and we have definitely demonstrated to anybody who wants to see that we have the method for preventing relapses and preventing first-admissions, and the state hospitals, whom we have petitioned again and again, and who in two instances proved themselves that the work can be done by them, in Illinois and in Iowa, and the state hospitals just let the patients pine away and die away while so many of them could be saved, not all of them, don’t misunderstand me, but so many of them could be saved with our method.  Well, I have nothing to say in point of answering the question which I asked, but, in 1951 when I noticed that I could not get through the wall that surrounded me, I gave up, although later as I told you in 1953 I took up again.  At that time I was determined that I had failed in my effort to get the state hospitals interested in our work and we called a convention in Chicago and the men and women from the various states came to Chicago and I declared to them that I will now turn over this issue to the organization, that means to the patients, and let us see what the patients can do in the matter of expansion of Recovery into the state hospitals and today three years later I must say the patients have done much more than I could do.  What I did ended in failure, but the patients, especially here in Michigan, have expanded to such an extent and have created a spirit of such magnificence that I count especially on the patients in such centers as Detroit, in Louisville, in St. Louis and wherever we have branches, that they will, indeed, solve this problem of finally freeing and liberating the thousands and ten-thousands and perhaps one-hundred-thousands of patients needlessly sacrificed in hospitals, and I am particularly hopeful now because we have with us now a fairly significant number of churches, at present in two localities only, in and around St. Louis and in and around Detroit, but this has just started, except for St. Louis that has started four years ago, but in Detroit this movement has just started about a year ago or nine months ago.  But it seems to me what you, our patients and guests here, and the public in general will have to do and will have to be aroused to, is the realization that it is a grave injustice. I don’t want to use a stronger term, gravest injustice, to have help for a great portion of suffering humanity and refuse to offer it.  Thank you. (Applause).

Dr. Taylor:  I think we have a couple of minutes that we could allow any questions from the floor, but before that I want to make a couple of announcements.  In the…(pause)…just outside this door there are some books, which were mentioned by the Father, Dr. Low’s book on “Mental Health Through Will-Training”.  They are five dollars each, or you can get some copies of his News that are bound in booklet form for two dollars, you can get those as you go out.  Now, any theological questions you can ask…(audience laughed)…of the Father.  Any psychological questions you can ask of Dr. Low.  If there are any other questions, I’ll dodge them…(audience laughed)…Is there anyone over here would like to ask a question of Dr. Low or the Father before we dismiss.  Anybody in this section over here?  Yes.

Questioner:  Can a schizophrenia case be cured by this?

Dr. Low:  Well, that question cannot possibly be answered.  One would like to know what kind of a case it is, and one would like to know various details and of course this cannot be taken up here.  I’m sorry that this question cannot be answered.

Dr. Taylor:  Question here.  This man is just back from Chicago.

Questioner:  This is sort of new to me.  I guess I’ll probably have some nervous symptoms up here too, because this is the first time I’ve ever really faced a large audience like this, but, to get to my point, I’d like to explain a little what Dr. Low’s Recovery training has done for me.  In the last four years I have been sick, on and off; most of my trouble is deep depression.  I guess I had times where I was in bed two or three months, kept right in bed with my nervous symptoms and I really didn’t know how to handle them at all, that’s what compelled me to stay in bed that long, but through Dr. Low’s methods now I know how to handle myself more and to handle these nervous symptoms when they do arise and I feel very fortunate that I was able to go to Chicago and receive this training.  It has helped me a great deal already.  I haven’t been in Recovery too long, but after I got into Recovery the first day I guess I began to put it to use immediately and, as Dr. Low explained tonight, it can give you some immediate relief, not an immediate cure, but it can relieve you a great deal.  Well, I think I better get back to…(pause)…I was supposed to ask a question, I didn’t want to talk too much, there isn’t much time for questions, so, Dr. Low, I’d like to ask why are the psychiatrists against Recovery…(audience laughed).

Dr. Low:  I would like to remind you, Jerry, that I am a psychiatrist myself…(audience laughed).

Jerry:  Excluding you.

Dr. Low:  Let me tell you I don’t know whether psychiatrists are against Recovery.  I don’t know who obstructs Recovery.  I have my suspicions but I will not speak of suspicions.  If I say I don’t know, this means I have not the kind of knowledge that one can make public.  I have only suspicions.  I will tell you that I have tried to get men that have influence over state hospitals and I know them because I was once one of them who had influence over state hospitals, and I was unsuccessful and if you ask me why then I wouldn’t tell you because I have only suspicions.  I think that my suspicions are well rounded, but who am I to judge.  I am naturally biased in this question and so I will not mention mere suspicion.  That’s all I can tell you…(audience laugh).

Dr. Taylor:  Judge Jeffries used to have a story of a little boy that was fighting out in the alley and his father called out the window and said “Stop fighting”.  He said, “But he called me a name”.  He says, “That’s nothing.”  He looked back a little bit later and they were fighting again.  He says, “I told you to stop fighting”.  “But Dad, I got a nickel under my foot and he’s trying to get it”.  Now whether some people feel that this self-cure might interfere with their fees in the office I don’t know, but I always look for the nickel under the foot…(applause)…Are there any questions down here?

Questioner:  Dr. Low, may I ask is this Recovery a substitute for psychoanalysis or is it a supplement?

Dr. Low:  Well, I am loathe to speak about persons and groups.  I only spoke of hospitals and that’s neither person nor group, that’s an institution.  Well, the answer to this question I have given partly, or in good part, in the preface to my book.  There I mention something.

Dr. Taylor:  One question over here.

Questioner:  Dr. Low, would Recovery help nervous people as well as nervous patients?

Dr. Low:  Now this question I can answer with an unequivocal yes.  No doubt.  I mean there is no doubt in my mind and in my experience that the average adult person who is always nervous in our culture, I have yet to see any of my neighbors, or members of my family, or friends, co-workers, doctors, lawyers, or ministers and priests, that are not nervous.  I don’t mean jittery, I don’t mean shaking, but nervous.  I am nervous, I am not as stolid as I should be, I am not, and whatever people see in me that connotes steadfastness is relative, and very relative, and a good deal of it is mask, successful mask I hope, and the mask helps a lot.  If you wear a good mask this means you control well, and that is a great help in controlling tenseness.  A nervous patient naturally mainly suffers from nervous tenseness, and there are very few people in a metropolitan environment that can avoid tenseness, and these tense people every once in a while produce severe symptoms.  I produce them every once in a while myself, and very frequently mild symptoms.  The difference between us, you and I, and the long term nervous patient, is that with the nervous patient the tenseness and the symptoms are almost continuous, and with us they are intermittent, and another distinction perhaps is that the nervous patient develops frequent, enduring vicious cycles, which the average person does not, and so I think I am entitled to say that both the nervous person, the average person, and the nervous patient suffer practically from the same thing, but in different degrees, and so it should be assumed that this technique would cover both fields.  (At this point the tape recording ends, which was just about the end of the meeting).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dr. Low in Detroit, September 20, 1954

There came a point in Recovery’s history when the strategy changed from getting the psychiatric profession on board with us.  The plan instead was to turn to the clergy for help in getting Recovery to those in need of it.  After Michigan's expansion took off, there was a large gathering in 1954 in Detroit.  Dr. Low was in attendance and of course gave a speech.  So many speeches were made that I have decided to share the transcript in sections, so stay tuned for more very soon.  I'm doing this in "part acts" as we say in Recovery!

September 20, 1954
“Some Techniques Which Recovery, Inc. Has Offered”

This is a transcription of a tape recording of talks which were presented at a meeting at 8 PM, June 4, 1954, in the Central Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams, Detroit, Michigan.  The transcription is almost verbatim, although some parts of the recording were hard to understand clearly.

Mr. Castle Avery:  My name is Cass Avery, and if you don’t think I have nervous symptoms right now, you’re crazy (audience laughed).  A year ago this month I was at home afraid to do anything.  I was afraid to face my job, my social responsibilities, my domestic responsibilities.  I had battled nervous symptoms for many years.  I had made the rounds of doctors and hospitals and clinics.  I had tried all kinds of diets and medications, bland diets and rough diets and pills, and everything that the various doctors could prescribe and nothing helped.  I got worse and worse.  Finally, a year ago, I was at home feeling hopeless and helpless.  Then I started in Recovery.  After a year of practice and study I still have some symptoms, but they are mild, they do not incapacitate me from doing the things that I should do in connection with my various responsibilities.  I am once more handling critical situations in my work that I used to run away from, I think I am nicer to my family than I used to be, I am leading a Recovery group on the West side (of Detroit) and am also serving as Michigan secretary for Recovery.  A year ago that would have been unthinkable.  My experience in Recovery is not unique and just to prove it I would like to ask you Recovery folks who have experienced material improvement or actual cures through Recovery to raise your hands…(pause)…which ought to prove something or other.  Now it is my privilege to present to you the person primarily responsible for the phenomenal growth of Recovery in Michigan during the past year, the lovely lady whom we all respect and admire for her practice of Recovery, and for the help she gives us.  Our Michigan leader, Mrs. Treasure Rice (applause).

Mrs. Treasure Rice:  Boy what a spot to put a nervous patient in (Mrs. R. chuckled).  A little over a year ago one of our Detroit newspapers printed a story about the Michigan branch of Recovery.  At that time there was only one group in Michigan, with a membership of not over 25 active members.  We received about 250 requests for help from this first article.  We mobilized ourselves to try to stretch Recovery’s benefits to these people throughout Michigan.  We drew on older members as leaders.  The mother-group in Chicago rushed to our aid.  Subsequent newspaper publicity in the same paper and another local paper have netted us, to date, around a thousand cries for help in Michigan alone.  After our first year of experiences here in Michigan we are proud to announce that we now have 35 active groups functioning, with a total membership of about 500, and it looks as though, in the near future, we will be able to take in the hundreds who are still on our waiting list.  However, there has been a growing concern among the members and their friends for the hospitalized patient who cannot now reach the benefits of Recovery.  We have offered Recovery’s techniques to the State hospitals, but so far no action has been taken.  Recently we have received quite a few letters from hospitals, Veteran’s organizations, some from psychiatrists, psychiatric social workers, and particularly from the relatives of hospitalized patients.  So we in Recovery felt that it was wise to schedule this meeting so that you folks, who show by your presence here tonight that you are vitally interested in the Nation’s number one problem…excuse me, I should say number two problem; we shouldn’t take precedence over the Army-McCarthy hearings (audience laughed)…The purpose of this meeting is to present a comprehensive picture of what Recovery has accomplished and what it can offer the hospitals.  Among the first batch of letters that we received, one caught my eye from a member of the clergy, and by the way, right here I would like to seize this opportunity to speak for myself and all Recovery members, to express our gratitude to not only this man of the cloth, but to all others of the clergy who have seen our needs and have reached out to help us.  Well, I contacted this minister and before I knew it he and his wonderful wife were off for Chicago where they spent a week at Recovery headquarters learning the ins and outs of Recovery.  I understand that when he returned from Chicago he preached a sermon one Sunday morning on Recovery and had slips of paper at the back of the church so that members in the congregation could sign up if they wanted to.  To make a long story short, his church has become a regular Recovery center in Redford (Michigan).  Now I would like to take my place among the members where I belong and turn this meeting over to him and introduce him to you now.  May I present on of Detroit’s finest ministers, Reverend I. Paul Taylor (applause).

Rev. Taylor:  You know, after that introduction, I can hardly wait to see what I am going to say…(Rev. T. chuckled and the audience laughed)…I got into Recovery and became interested in Recovery because of the impossibility of doing my job.  I needed help.  We had nervous, mentally disturbed, frustrated people in our church and in the community and it was just impossible for one man to try to minister to all of them.  When I found out about this Recovery movement and its employment of the practice of group therapy, I became immediately interested because we already had a group of Alcoholics Anonymous in the church and I knew what they were doing and could do.  Now, before introducing the two speakers on this evening’s program, I want to tell you of just one thing, one way, let us put it that way, one way that Recovery works, of one technique that it uses.  I think all of us, whether we are nervous patients, nervous persons, or consider ourselves normal, or average, will admit that one of the strongest desires in a human person is to be a part of a group, to belong to something, or to somebody.  We are social individuals.  We long for the security,  comfort, and protection that comes from belonging to this group or that group.  It is an old, old thing.  Wasn’t it Kipling who said: “now this is the Law of the Jungle- as old and as true as the sky; and the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.  As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back – for the strength of the pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the pack.”  We feel secure when we are among loved ones and within their protection.  Now a person who does not long to be within the group is sick, he is mentally and emotionally disturbed.  We recognize that first of all among the alcoholics.  One of the first symptoms of an alcoholic is that he goes off and drinks in a corner by himself.  Where I use “him”, I mean “her”, too.  In other words, they retire from the group and isolate themselves.  The person who withdraws, picks up his marbles and goes home and doesn’t want to belong to the lodge anymore, the club, the church, the card-party, whatever group it is that he is associated with, and goes home.  The person is sick, and if he doesn’t stop, pretty soon he doesn’t speak to his neighbors, he retires within his home, he builds a shell of protection around him, isolates himself in his house, and then in a room.  He is afraid to go to the shop, he won’t go to the store, it makes him sick to ride in the bus.  He says it is the movement of the bus.  It isn’t it’s the people.  He’ll tell you “people make me sick.”  That’s not so, they can’t make you sick.  But your attitude towards them can make you sick, and does make you sick, and this isolation away from the group is one of the first symptoms of a nervous person.  They withdraw from the community.  If I can use a theological term, Father, they excommunicate themselves.  They draw themselves out of the community.  Now this is attacked by Recovery by forming these groups and bringing people into the group.  You find your isolation is a vicious circle.  Then you find the weakest place in that circle and then you get the courage to break through that weakest spot and then another spot, and then another spot.  I have attended group meetings in Detroit and in Brighton (Michigan), all over Detroit, and in Chicago, and I want to tell you that one of the characteristic things of every Recovery group that I’ve ever walked into is that there is a certain warmth of fellowship that makes you at home because there you meet people that are fighting the same problems that you meet.  Now this is what Dr. Low calls “being group-minded.”  Now we’re not preaching any unselfishness to you, but if you want to be mentally and emotionally healthy you must be group-minded, you must join a group, you must have fellowship, and not isolation.  I believe they’re fighting that problem out in Washington right now, among some other ones.  In other words, we want to give you personal help.  I’ll never forget when we first started our Alcoholics Anonymous group, I went downstairs one Saturday night and one of the founders of the group came up to me and he collared me and he said, “Now listen, Reverend, I don’t want you to get me wrong.  I’m here for a purely selfish purpose.  I want to stay sober.  That’s all I’m interested in but I can’t stay sober unless I’m a good Samaritan to somebody every day.”  You can’t stay mentally healthy unless you get into a group.  You can’t be a mentally and emotionally well person and isolate yourself in a room by yourself.  Dr. Fosdick in his book “On Being A Real Person” has one chapter on accepting ourselves and the very next chapter is getting ourselves off our hands.  You see, it’s the way you meet your problem; not your problem.  Take a man whose child is taken sick with polio, comes out a cripple.  He can meet the problem in one of two ways.  He can immediately face it in a realistic manner.  He can say, “Well, now this is what I’ve got to do.  This is what we’ve got to do for this boy, this is what we’ve got to give up in our family, this is the way we’ve got to rearrange our family because of this boy’s illness.  This is the way we’ve got to handle it.”  Or he can retire within himself, not be group-minded to even his own child, but be a rugged individualist, except he’s not very rugged, he’s a shrinking one, surround himself with self-pity, and say, “why did it happen to me, why did this happen to me?  Why did God send this affliction upon me?”, and certainly ‘round and around and around he goes.  That’s individualism.  Recovery stands for fellowship, or, if you want it in Biblical terms, you can get it there too, “He that will save his life, individually, shall lose it, but he that loses his life, it’s one group, shall save it.”  So this is only one aspect, and this is the aspect that interested me first in Recovery.  I’m rather proud of the fact that I was the first Protestant minister that went to Chicago and became interested in it, but someone else beat me to the gun and that man we have with us tonight, who has organized a group within his own church down in St. Louis.  He is the real pioneer in the church relationship to Recovery.  I’m very, very happy to have met him tonight and I know that you will listen with great interest to his experience.  Father Dowling (applause).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Suppression Versus Repression

This is an excerpt from Mother's letter in response to an article in the "Recovery Reporter" (Recovery International's in house newsletter) many years ago.  I think it addresses an issue that is sometimes misunderstood in and out of Recovery.  This was from an ongoing correspondence, and though it's just a piece of it I found it interesting.  She added a P. S. saying Dr. Low certainly never expected us to be perfect!

... your correction to the article on leadership that was in the last issue.  In your correction you say that you inadvertently used the word “repression” and then you say it has a slightly different meaning than the word “suppression”.

I guess that is what I’m getting at when I say don’t rely on the dictionary.  The thing is, it makes a whale of a lot of difference in the practice of Dr. Low’s techniques.  If we “repress” temper, which means “stuff it down without resolution” where it will fester and continue until it breaks out on its own…and in any case result in symptoms for the Recoveryite.  Whereas, if we learn to spot and stop the judgment of right and wrong in the same incident and suppress expression of the temper, then we have resolved it and can feel free to express our feelings of antipathy, providing the other person is in a position to understand.  If not then if we can even express the feelings to someone else, it relieves us of the burden of the feelings and also prevents antisocial trends.

I don’t quite know how it should be handled because of room in the Reporter, but I think there are two good reasons to make room for an explanation:  First, Recovery has been accused down through the years of using a technique which represses temper…and indeed it is not a good mental health practice.  Second, it really gives a wonderful opportunity to point out the difference, so members will be able to understand exactly what to do with temper.

Do you think a chapter in Mental Health Through Will Training could be pointed out, or could an example and the correct spotting be put in as explanation?

Anyway I hate to belabor this point, but it is such a central issue to good mental health and this is in our “in house” newsletter, so I think your use of the words “slightly different meaning” do not address the problem.

Can you see what I mean?  And please know that I will be glad to do anything I can to help. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Angry Temper

Once again, I unfortunately do not have a date for this.  My guess is that it was fairly early as it is a transcript from a tape.  Mom used the tape recorder to save her time and traveling in the early days.  I remember that old recorder.  It was a big reel to reel recorder and seemed to weighed a ton.  Sometimes Mom asked groups to record their meetings so she could listen since she could not be everywhere.  Other times, she made a tape and sent it as it was quicker than a letter for her.  Eventually she discovered a member (Emily, a sweet woman) in her group who could type like the wind and so she started to transcribe tapes or type up letters for Mom.

The following seems unorthodox and it is, but I would imagine Mom was feeling her way along in helping others to begin to practice Dr. Low's Method.  It was said, that in Recovery we lead by example.  In this tape she is talking to someone named Bill about angry temper and eventually uses an example of how it was spotted.  I love the end of her tape when she says, "Now - hop to it... ."  She never said anything in a grim way.  There was always compassion in her communication whether in person or otherwise.

On another note, regarding the chapter Mom cites, I was very struck by something a psychologist once said to me.  I was at the V.A. hospital in San Diego where she worked and we were passing each other in the hall.  She stopped me and said, "You know Treasure, I don't think I have ever read a real description of temper the way Dr. Low describes it and breaks it down.  He was such a genius!"

Here is what Mom said to someone named Bill:

I think that all of us are in Recovery for one reason – and that is to get rid of our symptoms.

Dr. Low tells us that nervous symptoms are caused by tenseness.  And the only things that cause tenseness are fear and anger.  If you are neither fearful nor angry – then you will be relaxed, and if you are relaxed you will not be tense, and if you are not tense, then you will not have nervous symptoms.  Rather than try to discuss both fear and anger in one tape, I will follow the suggestion you gave me, Bill and discuss anger only this time.

Dr. Low used the term – angry temper – whenever he spoke of anger.  There was a good reason for this.  Anger is a feeling – but a feeling is always attached to a thought, and the thought that is attached to the feeling of anger is:  “Someone has wronged me – or they are wrong.”

Well, if angry temper is the cause of tenseness and tenseness is the cause of our symptoms – we’d better take steps immediately to get rid of the angry temper.  And Dr. Low never told us to do anything unless we followed this advice with definite instructions in how to accomplish it.  In other words he gave us a method to use.  If you do not know this method – then how can you possibly get rid of your temper?  But if you have a method, … then all you have to do is to follow that method, and you will be certain of success.

Angry temper has what is known as the “temperamental cycle.”  And if temper is left to itself it will consist of three definite stages: 1. The immediate effect. 2. The aftereffect. 3. The anticipation of a renewed outburst.  To explain these three stages,  I would like  you to  read chapter 48, "Intuitive Versus Discursive Thought in Temper" in Mental Health Through Will-Training. 

Dr. Low said he did not expect us to succeed the first time nor even the fourth, fifth and sixth time – but he said that if we were really determined to change our temperamental habits, we would stick with the method, until we had our tempers licked.

I remember well the first time I ever tried to use this method.  I had feebly tried to use it with my husband and children, but found that my temper was very strong, there, so I reasoned that I would attack my temper at its weakest link.  I kept watching myself for temper with outsiders where there was little emotional tie-up.  I didn’t have to wait long.  I happened to be in Detroit one day, and was to take the bus home.  I had a return ticket, and waited in line to get on the bus.  When I finally got to the gate, I handed the bus driver my ticket.  Then I suddenly thought that I didn’t have anything to read on the bus, so I ran over to the newsstand and bought a paper.  Then I went back to the gate and when I attempted to pass through, the bus driver said, “Where’s your ticket, lady?”  Of course I told him that I had already given it to him.  He said, he didn’t remember my giving it to him.  Then I said, “Do I look like the type of person who would try to cheat you?”  He said, “I’m no judge of human nature – all I want is your ticket.  And you’re not getting on this bus until you produce one.”  Well, I was white with rage, but I had to get home on that particular bus for Brighton, or wait two hours – so I stamped over to the ticket window and bought another ticket, and grudgingly gave it to the driver.  After I got on the bus and we started on our way – I began to fume and fuss.  I thought what a horrible person he was. I thought I had good reason to be mad at him, anyone would feel the same way.  I’ll bet even Recovery would say I had a right to be mad over this injustice.  Well, when the word "Recovery" went through my mind, I started to think.  I noticed that my heart was pounding, my face was hot, I was perspiring.  I had head pressure.  Then I thought, “Gee, maybe this is what Dr. Low means when we have to spot and get rid of temper.  I’m getting quite a reaction here.”  So I thought about the temperamental cycle.  I had already gone through the first stage called the immediate effect.  I certainly had been in no condition to reason anything out then or think of control.  I had been fairly out of my senses.  But now this must be the second stage I was in, the cooling off process, or the aftereffect.  So I struggled to become objective with my thinking and not to endorse the outburst.  Mind you, I had had no big outer fight with the bus driver, my remarks to him were guarded and couched in fairly quiet tones befitting a civilized person, but inside I had had the outburst.  I have learned that if this eases, just as much tenseness will too.  So as I rode along, my thoughts went something like this: “Now maybe this bus driver has corns, and feels crabby – maybe he had a fight with his wife.”  “Nevertheless – nobody should treat a paying customer like that”.  Then I would have to make another effort to reject the last thought and I would say, “Well, be fair now – what if all the passengers decided to buy a paper after getting their tickets  - why should you demand special privileges?”  Then another thought damaging the character of the bus driver would sneak in.  And so it went during the hour’s journey out to Brighton.  When I got off the bus I had the impulse to make a nasty remark to him.  I wanted to say very sneeringly – “Thank you so much for your consideration – It cost me two tickets to ride out here and I hope I never get you as a driver again.”  I also wanted to write a letter to the bus company and complain.  Then I recognized this as the anticipation of a renewed fight, where I possibly might be the winner.

So actually, my temperamental cycle in this instance, had run its full course.  I can’t tell what my symptoms were from this particular case of sabotage, because to tell you the truth, at that time, I felt lousy all the time.  I had fatigue so bad, I had to drag myself to walk.  I had confusion, preoccupation, the fear of people, sweats, palpitations, heaviness in my chest and stomach, a humming off and on in my head and ears, sleeplessness at night sleepiness all day, nightmares, etc.  You might wonder how I could take a bus home from Detroit in such a condition.  Well, I could struggle through this after I came into Recovery, as long as I didn’t meet anyone I knew, or as long as a stranger didn’t try to talk with me for any length of time.   I have stepped on the bus to go into Detroit from Brighton, and seen someone I knew on there, and have gotten off and given up the trip pleading a sick headache or some flimsy excuse, because I would be too panicky to go through the experience of visiting with them.

Well, I kept using this method over and over, and I soon found that it worked like magic.  In fact I began to be able to check the outburst before it started, and to consider the event a triviality in comparison with good mental health.  I found that the things I got mad over were so trivial, that usually within a few days I had forgotten what it was I got mad about.  It took me months and maybe longer than that to accomplish this with my husband and children.  They first had to become outer environment for me, but that’s the subject for another tape – inner and outer environment.

To sum up – nervous symptoms are caused from tenseness.  Tenseness is created by fear and anger only.  Anger or angry temper runs in three discrete stages – and the Recovery member uses the method of rational, objective thinking during the second stage.  Further, the Recovery member begins his attack at the weakest link in the chain of his angry temper, not the strongest.  Now – hop to it, and change those temperamental habits if you would like to be rid of your symptoms.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This piece was not dated.  It must have been written some time ago as it is very faded and was somewhat hard to read.  I'm so glad I have it though as it really demonstrates how much effort we have to put into giving up sabotage and substituting Dr. Low's thinking for our own.  

As I read it, I thought of how hard Mom had to work at overcoming her symptoms and suffering.  I have no memory of her displaying any of this around me.  She always said that since she had been so sensitive as a child and could see that I was too, she was careful to protect me.  Well, that said, I'm sure there were some things I was aware of even if on a little conscious level.  I was about one when Mom saw Dr. Low, so I did benefit greatly from her inner work.  In my eyes (and others), she became the personification of serenity.  As I've said before, she shared so much with me and was a tremendous help when I needed it.  If you are having a difficult time pulling out of a setback right now or dealing with some symptoms, I hope her humility and wisdom she shares here will help you too. 

This is what she wrote.

After I had been in Recovery for several years I had a major setback.  I had been enjoying a reasonable amount of relief from my symptoms, although I had had setbacks too, of course.  One of the most encouraging things to me was that I seemed to be losing my panics, and although I had many times of extreme discomfort, I still moved my muscles and didn’t particularly worry about it but looked upon it as average.  I was quite contented with my progress in Recovery.

            One morning, the minute I opened my eyes, I became conscious of a severe feeling of anxiety.  I began to wonder what had brought that on.  Later on in the day I found that I couldn’t shake the feeling no matter how hard I tried to practice Recovery.  I had a feeling of foreboding as though something terrible was about to happen.  This went on for several days.  I developed a sick feeling in my stomach, tightness in the chest and head.  My thinking seemed to be very confused.  I noticed that I was sweating and sometimes felt as though I had a temperature – and then again I would feel very chilly, and my hands would be like ice.  I took my temperature but it was normal.  My throat seemed to lose its rhythm for swallowing, so eating became an ordeal and even swallowing my saliva would sometimes make me choke and cough.  I tried and tried to spot what was causing this, but nothing seemed to help me.  I couldn’t break through the symptoms and my thoughts.  I began to really worry because I realized that I had not been without symptoms now for over a week, and had even awakened in the night with a feeling of terror.  It began to dawn on me that I was in a setback.

            Even this thought that I was in a setback seemed strange to me too.  I thought that I might get a feeling of relief to know that I was in it, but gradually instead of feeling more secure I began to feel utterly lost.  I grasped at the idea of the meetings.  Maybe I would feel better after I had talked with the members and could finally get some Recovery into my head that way.  I did feel a little more secure while I was with them, even though my symptoms were with me all the time, but what a disappointment – that a short time after I left them I would feel hopeless again.  I think this is one of the worst feelings in the world.  Not only do the symptoms cling to you like a cloak surrounding you, but also they are inside of you permeating every fiber of your body and mind.

            I became very self-conscious about my performance.  I seemed to drop things and stumble and bump into things easily.  I dropped a full bottle of milk one morning and I thought for sure that my mind was gone, because I couldn’t direct my hands to hang on to the bottle of milk.  My housework looked like a gigantic task; in fact it seemed impossible for me to do.  It was as though everything I had to do in life was piled in front of me and I couldn’t do it.

            My children began to be a great irritation.  The little average things that children do would either send me into a rage or I would say to myself, “What’s the use?  I haven’t the energy or the brains to raise these children.  I haven’t any experience and just don’t have what it takes to live an ordinary life. Others have, but I haven’t.”

            Then I had a period of seeming to be in a vacuum when I just sat in a chair or lay on the bed, and it was as though my thinking had stopped.  I felt as though I were in a stupor.  I don’t think others even realized it, because I did what I could to look normal.  The feeling of unreality was very strong.  People, even my own family looked strange and unreal to me.

            I felt angry with everyone, but at the same time I had a great feeling of being unworthy.  I kept thinking it was too bad my husband wasn’t married to someone else.  This other person I felt could take my place so much better.  I always pictured her as being pretty and smart.  She would be smiling and serene and her house would be in apple-pie order.  She would play with the kids and have them under perfect control because they would love her so.  She would plan so many things for their fun, and I could just see her fooling around with them and being such a darling with my husband and children.  (I know now this is what I thought I should be – and what high standards, eh?)

            In the face of this type of thinking, my own performance sure looked hopeless to me.  My house was a mess.  I was depressed and moody, and I was in and out of temper all the time.  I had temper tantrums with my son and he and I would go around in a sullen mood for hours and days at a time.  I kept my husband in a constant state of apprehension towards me, for fear he might say or do something that would “hurt” me.  I tried to “freeze” everyone else out of my life, including my husband and children.

            Well, I guess this is enough description.  It is even painful for me to recall that I was ever like that.  I don’t remember how long this went on, but after a good long time I finally began to grasp at straws of Recovery practice.  I think it was the intense suffering that I got sick of and it actually forced me to grab for anything that might help me.  All this time I had been attending my own meetings.  I recited the principles, and even told others how to practice, but none of it had registered with me.  I finally began to realize that no miracle was going to happen and that I would have to start using the method of Recovery to help nature restore me to balance, if I was going to lose the suffering.

            I remember very well what it was I first used to help myself get out of the setback.  I read in the book where Dr. Low said that patients say they will do ANYTHING to get well.  But he said that we don’t want to do the one thing he asks, and that is to exchange our own view of insecurity for his view of security.  So I began to force myself to take a more hopeful attitude.  Then I endorsed myself for doing it.  I reasoned too that anyone who thinks he is hopeless isn’t going to feel very well, in fact is going to feel pretty miserable about it.  By the same token, anyone who thinks he will eventually feel better and get better is going to feel at least more hopeful, so he will have a chance to get over feelings of depression.  At first it seemed to me that I was trying to fool myself, but again I read that Dr. Low says that to cling to the view that our case is hopeless, is a harmful view and that it is our abiding sense of insecurity that makes us choose and cling to this view.

            After a little practice with this one thing, using my Will to Believe what I was trying to think.  I began to notice a little bit of clearness in my thinking.  I was able to begin spotting on the small irritations and frustrations again.  Then I realized again that I had accepted all my “feelings as facts” and had been in a severe “working up” process without realizing it.  It took tremendous effort sometimes to act secure with my muscles, talk secure, and hardest of all to think secure.  I clung with tenacity to the thought that I was average.  Perhaps I was poor average in many respects, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have the intelligence and the ability to improve on my performance in time.  At present, I would have to accept myself as I was, and WAIT until I learned to become the person I would like to be (with average standards of course).  I could learn to put effort into life without becoming discouraged.  Otherwise I would live in constant fear and anger, with symptoms to boot.

            This particular setback sure was a wonderful experience that has helped me so much in maintaining good mental health.  It made me respect my illness.  It made me realize that keeping well is a serious business.  It helped me to develop a wariness in spotting and stopping my temperamental reactions to outer and inner environment.  I must reject with trigger velocity the suggestions of insecurity that come to me, either from without or within.

            I don’t mean that I didn’t have setbacks after that, but I sure did remember the painful experience of being mired and bogged down with helplessness.  And I learned when I started into a set-back I could actually limit it to a few days or perhaps a week or so by being quick to spot and reject beliefs of insecurity, as though they were poison for me.  And I learned to move my muscles and act and talk and think as though I didn’t have the insecurity.  Then by WAITING I found that nature took care of this brief flare-up of my old illness.

            Last of all, I am predisposed to the thought that I may still have to experience the setback although I haven’t had one in years and years.  The last one I had lasted three days and was very mild.  But to me it is realistic to be expecting it, so I will remember and know what to do about it.