Europe became a heavy load with a five story building running night and day. Patients came from Europe, by and large, and stayed much longer back then because there were far less Visa restrictions to force patients out. Now in the USA, they are limited, which slows their therapy considerably. We treated a wide range of patients from ambassadors to a sort of terrorists, who were not that at all. They claimed to be revolutionists but they were the kindest and smartest people I met. We did therapy in several languages and it was really a polyglot group. We did research with several universities and it was all exciting stuff.
We had the clinic in a giant building in Paris, with an old fashion bathtub in the basement. France was treating a 65 year old doctor who never left her village. Why? Because she was a bed better and was so ashamed of it. France had a hunch, and took her down below into the bathtub. She gave the doctor orders to totally relax and let herself go in the tub. She did, and what happened? She urinated. Only now she felt what it was all about: it was the only warmth she ever felt. Soon after, we received postcards from her from all over the world. She was free. No more neurosis.
Here is an example to emphasize how we are a therapy of experience and not of ideas. We had a male patient obsessed with women’s feet and shoes. Our male therapist painted his nails, wore shorts and had the patient sit looking at his feet as he dangled them. Every time the patient tried to touch his feet, the therapist abruptly drew his feet away. Soon the patient was crying and screaming, “Mommy, Mommy, let me touch you.” His mother was a seamstress who did her work in front of her child. She never touched him but he watched her, transfixed, aching to touch her. She kicked him away as a pest, over and over again. His need continued to grow until it was acted out in the street or peering through windows, risking arrest. He finally resolved this act-out after much therapy. The need to be hugged and caressed, that was the simple answer. The force of his original need became the force behind his importuning obsession. The failed effort is usually an attempt to stop the symbolic acting-out. It is an effort to change and block a symbol of the need, not the basic biologic need itself. In every act-out, we must go much deeper to find that need and deal with it. That is what is biologic and real.
In a way our therapy is simple: find the basic biologic need and relive how it was not fulfilled. But Oh My! It is so much more than that. Those needs are sequestered by a labyrinth of defenses and are difficult to find. First we need to deal with how the need is ramified as to be unrecognizable. We have to find ways to dig out the essence of the feeling. The complexities became, duh……complex. Neurosis dies hard.
In group, I sometimes had die-hard atheists pray to God for fulfillment: “hold me, cherish me, love me.” Why God? Because I was after the need, and God became the channel for need. I had to find a neutral channel for patients to express need. Once they get to need, even the atheists crumble in tears because that is where the tears lie hidden. Otherwise they would see the faces of the parents whom they were importuning, and grow cold and feelingless. Anent the act out, some patients refuse to do what is necessary to get well: stop medication, start medication, whatever. If we stay hung up on their bad behavior, we will never get to what is real: “I am hopeless and cannot be helped. What’s the use? I am a failure. No one can help me.”
My education began in France with my new French family. We lived high above Aix en Provence, overlooking a beautiful city. They only spoke French to each other, and I decided I would never let it happen again, that I would never be left out of esoteric and fascinating discussions. I learned French and took part in conversations, and it was erudite and informational as I ever knew. I never had a family and this was certainly an example of what was missing. I learned French fast because now I had someone to talk to but it was not in my natal (Maternal) language. A small impediment.
I soon led the French life, reading French magazines and watching French TV, which I do to this day. Nearly all of our friends were French and among them some creative and intelligent people. I do not plan to name drop but our pals were in many of the arts and I was so proud of them, including an actress whom I saw mostly nude in a film when I was in high school. Years later she lived with us and as happens in France there was much nude swimming. Sometimes I thought I was dreaming. But no. I was just living in a sane and non-prudish country, France. Many of the public beaches were nudist. All healthy and non pejorative. Non moralistic. There were many examples of this throughout France.
After years in France, I got permission to practice in the USA so we returned to America. France’s health was breaking from the load of patients in Paris and she needed a long rest, which she got. We opened a small training center in Santa Monica which blossomed again into a major worldwide clinic, the majority of patients from Europe. I am in my nineties now and am cutting back but I still write books and the blog every day.
There are still hundreds of pretenders throughout the world using my name and my therapy to mislead patients, usually with bad results. They have my books on their desks and to all appearances they are associated with me… Without a day’s training. That is why it is always best to check with us as to who is qualified and who is not.