Every Parent a Psychotherapist

Just a Cigar
Sigmund Freud

Understanding Your Child’s Mental and Emotional Development in Real Time

We want to raise children who grow up to feel confident and free to walk their own paths through life. Unfortunately too many children, youth, and young adults become twisted up and paralysed by the dominant messages of anxiety, fear, hatred, insecurity, and hostility which pervade media, academia, and other cultural institutions.

The best way to prevent your child from being programmed by the destructive emotional ambience of modern societies is to limit his exposure to mainstream nonsense and to follow his emotional development on a regular basis. Then it will be possible to intervene with useful projects and exercises the moment it seems the child is losing his self-direction to an invasive cultural meme attack of mass destruction.

How Many Ways Do Things Go Wrong?

David Burns MD, in the 4 million-copy bestseller “Feeling Good,” lists 10 common cognitive distortions which are often at the heart of modern misery and dysfunction. We are all prone to falling under the spell of one or more of these distortions. The sooner a child comes to recognise these mental parasites and how to deal with them, the better.

  1. All or Nothing Thinking —
    Anything less than perfect is a complete failure
  2. Overgeneralization — a few negative events are seen as a never ending pattern of defeat
  3. Mental Filter — Everything is seen through a filter of negativity
  4. Disqualifying the Positive — Positive attributes are discounted when tallying the personal accounts
  5. Jumping to Conclusions — This can take the form of “mind-reading” and “telling the future,” believing strongly in negative attitudes in the minds of others and bad outcomes in the future, that cannot really be known
  6. Magnification or Minimization — Undesirable qualities are magnified and desirable qualities are minimized
  7. Emotional Reasoning — Allowing our feelings to define our reality
  8. “Should” statements — “should statements” involve many assumptions which are probably either not true or grossly exaggerated
  9. Labeling and Mislabeling — Attaching harsh labels to oneself or others which emotionally loads how one reacts to that person
  10. Personalization — You see yourself as responsible for something you are not responsible for; eg, a child feels responsible for the divorce of his parents.

__ David Burns MD in “Feeling Good”

The alternative to following the emotional and mental development of your children closely — and being ready with playful but effective interventions when needed — is to watch your child slowly become wrapped up in the contradictory and paralysing insecurities and hostilities of parent societies and their institutions.

Best Ways to Intervene?

David Burns has written several books for laymen and therapists alike, describing interventions that he has found helpful over the course of his career for helping clients out of the ditches they dig for themselves. The book “Feeling Good” is the best starting point for most people — including prospective parents of Dangerous Children.

I am not aware of any work by Burns that is applicable solely to children and child-raising. But any parent clever enough to raise a Dangerous Child, will also be clever enough to adapt the ideas in “Feeling Good” to the circumstances of his own family and child.

The David Burns Method Uses 50 Strategies

In order to “untwist” the distortions caused by the above 10 self-made delusions, David Burns utilises 50 methods to untie the knots of misery and dysfunction. Here is a short list of the first 10 out of the 50 strategies:

  • Empathy
  • Agenda Setting
  • Identify the Distortions
  • Straightforward Technique
  • Double Standard Technique
  • Examine the Evidence
  • Experimental Technique
  • Survey Technique
  • Reattribution
  • Socratic Method

The average psychotherapist may use no more than 4 or 5 out of the 50 strategies in an average week of practise. And no one can expect a parent to study all 50 methods on the off chance that his child may require one of the less frequently used techniques. But it is good to be aware of the depth of possibilities when one is thrust into the psychotherapy profession — even as an amateur.

Observe Your Child Closely; Be Prepared to Intervene in a Timely and Responsive Manner

A child of 3 is different from a child at 6. Likewise, children change radically between the ages of 10 and 18. A failure to monitor mental and emotional changes of your children as they happen is like leaving your dream car in a back alley in Harlem unlocked with its keys in the ignition. Too many people are ready and willing to hijack the complex processes of self-development which your Dangerous Child is undergoing, to neglect regular close and thoughtful interaction with your child.

Sometimes an Outsider Can Spot Developments Which a Parent Overlooks

If it can be arranged, it is good to have friends and associates on the Dangerous Child path who are involved in effective methods of psychotherapy as a profession. Informal outings where such people can casually observe your Dangerous Children can yield important insights and avenues of change and self-empowerment which many parents might not see on their own, if an honest interchange of ideas is allowed to be comfortable and non-threatening.

Dangerous Children Are More Effective When Well Balanced

It is crucial that parents allow their children to develop the strength of character and emotional balance which allows them to make their own way through life according to a well informed set of maps, including opportunities and cautions.

More:

U. of Toronto’s Jordan Peterson has a series of class videos titled “Maps of Meaning” which provides an interesting foundation of concepts for helping university students to assemble a functional set of personal beliefs which facilitate meaningful action for their own benefit and enrichment.

Here at the Al Fin Institute for The Dangerous Child, we always say that if you wait to educate the child until he reaches university age, you have waited too late. On the other hand, at university age not all of the windows of development have closed irrevocably. Much can still be salvaged, although much is also lost by that time, if not already somewhat developed.

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The Stable Core at the Heart of Every Effective Risk-Taker

Risk-Taking is at the Core of Any Effective Life

Life is inherently unpredictable. We must constantly act in the face of imperfect information, which means that we are always at risk of betting wrong — and failing. This is simply the nature of the universe, and the human condition. It is a reality that courageous humans learn to face head-on — but which cowardly rent-seekers attempt to evade by using the coercion of governments, gangs, and mobs.

Normal risk-taking ranges from the financial to the existential, and can be quite stressful unless a child is raised to carry a core of stability within himself. The development of such inner competencies are an essential part of Dangerous Child training.

Emotional Balance and the Sentic Cycles

Source
Emotional Spectrum

Source

Normal human emotions range across a broad and deep spectrum, and are experienced automatically in response to both internal and external events. These emotions can be pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. In the Dangerous Child Method for training risk-takers, none of these normal emotions are denied or blocked. Instead, they are recognised and incorporated into everyday experience.

One of the most useful methods for utilising the broad range of emotions is called “Sentic Cycles,” developed by Dr. Manfred Clynes — a musician and neuroscientist. The Sentic Cycles are integrated into emotional exercises which persons regularly perform on their own, in order to better integrate and calibrate their emotions into their daily lives. More:

Sentic Cycles lets you generate and express your emotions in a series, as a spectrum, your emotion ‘symphony’, so you tend to become free from emotional rut – being stuck in one emotion
– and be in touch with your real self – not overwhelmed by single emotion (yet able to savour them all as in music).

It takes only 10 minutes to learn to do it – and then you may benefit from doing it anytime the rest of your life – as long as human nature does not change! Anyone can do it.

… We all tend to be prisoners of emotion more than we may wish to be. Emotions make life enjoyable and meaningful, but not if you are in an emotional rut, where a particular, most often negative, emotion takes over, and makes it hard to get out of, even temporarily. Often such negative emotions are suppressed, but still interfere with function and freedom of experience.

Sentic Cycles allow you to experience and express all such emotions more constructively, without being overwhelmed by them. Like music, like an artistic experience, the emotion becomes an example of your own humanity: it allows you to savour that emotion as one that is shared by humanity. At the end of the Sentic Cycle you may feel a sense of belonging, a sense of being glad to be alive.
__ http://senticcycles.org/faqs.html

It takes about 25 minutes to go through the entire cycle, if done according to the standard procedure developed by Dr. Clynes. As described on the website above, the Sentic Cycles are immensely useful for virtually everyone.

What is not always readily apprehended however, is that the cycles can be adapted for specific uses that are customised for each individual. This adaptibility to the individual is immensely useful for Dangerous Child training, since no two children are exactly alike, and no two trainings are precisely the same.

Here is an intriguing comment from Don O’Brien, a former trainer of Sentic Cycles, referring to the use of Sentic Cycles to treat addictions:

What causes any psychological addiction is unimportant. Perform Sentic Cycles at least five times. During the Hate phase hate every aspect about whatever addiction you want to stop. You will soon no longer have the urges, and will actually notice the absence of urges. As you continue to do cycles regularly, your mixed up emotions, often caused by lying to yourself, will sort themselves out very soon, too.

I worked for Manfred Clynes in Sydney in the eighties, and over the decades have taught dozens how to cure their own addiction quickly…without a relapse. While performing sentic cycles, you become your own best therapist, because you cannot lie to yourself comfortably while doing one.

__ https://alfinnextlevel.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/how-to-be-happy-in-an-unhappy-world/comment-page-1/#comment-5152

Here are the eight basic phases of the Sentic Cycles:

 

  1. No emotion
  2. Anger
  3. Hate
  4. Grief
  5. Love
  6. Sexual Desire
  7. Joy
  8. Reverence

Source

Each phase is experienced on its own, in its own particular way. The phases are placed in their specific order for a purpose, which is better understood after one has practised the cycles over a period of weeks or longer.

By calibrating and integrating these human emotions into a Dangerous Child’s everyday experience, he learns how to utilise them in the course of performing essential tasks — including risk-taking activities which might otherwise prove overwhelming for most untrained children.

The Dangerous Child Method integrates a few more emotions than the basic list above — depending upon the child — but maintains the basic order of experience, which has proven extremely useful. As mentioned in Don O’Brien’s comment, each phase can be modified to achieve specific goals within that particular emotion’s domain.

Entrepreneurs are Universal Risk Takers

All Dangerous Children are trained in the entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurship is best considered as a behaviour: “judgmental decision making under uncertainty.” (Source Peter Klein Chapt 9)

Since virtually all decision-making is necessarily done under conditions of some uncertainty, virtually the whole of meaningful life involves entrepreneurial risk, with some emotional overtones. And thus the importance of training Dangerous Children in the experience of the wide range of emotions at a very young age — to insert a core of emotional stability within the Child’s heart, well before it would generally be considered necessary by conventional child psychologists or early childhood educators.

 

Special Note:

For children before the onset of puberty, the “sexual desire” emotion is replaced by a “physical excitement” emotion such as what is experienced on a roller coaster, a zip line, an elevated rope swing, etc.  This substitution reflects the malleable nature of the sentic cycles, which allows them to be customised to suit particular needs and goals.