Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paradoxical Intention

    Two years ago I read this book called "Man's Search for Meaning", a book half about Viktor E. Frankl's struggle in a German concentration camp, and half about the therapeutic technique called, LOGOTHERAPY. This is probably one of the greatest therapeutic ideas since Freud, because Dr. Frankl uses one's sense of humor and logic to fight one's fears and tribulation. There is one process he brings up that has set me spinning on a Lazy Susan.
    Paradoxical Intention.

This process is used for and against the subconscious, because we use it constantly! If you watched the Olympics you would've seen it. It happened in one of the women's marathon races in the Track and Field stadium, one of the runners on the last corner tripped and fell, it was a common problem due to stress and such. But the following day another marathon race was held in which this unfortunate runner was also racing. In an interview she said that she had promised her son that she would finish the race. Sadly though, I predicted because of Paradoxical Intention she would, on the last corner, trip and fall. Surely enough, she did.
    Now for the explanation: as she approached the last corner she was thinking to herself, "Don't trip, don't trip, don't trip...." etc. etc. Because she was thinking that, her subconscious mind then said, "Ok, were gonna trip!" Thus, she tripped. This is called "Hyper-intention," when you fear something so much that you over compensate. Now this is a rough example, now for something in my personal life.
    Earlier this year I was working as a cashier at a grocery store that was just down the street from a high school. A large amount of young women would shop at this grocery store, thus causing me to be more insecure and self-conscious of my appearance and sadly my blushing face. During that time I was reading "Man's Search for Meaning" and taking notes. I read the section about Paradoxical Intention in which a story is told of a man who had the fear of perspiring in public places. Dr. Frankl  suggested to him to take a humorous look at his fears, by changing the "Please don't sweat..." to "You know what? I only sweat about four quarts last time, I think I'll go for ten quarts this time!" This confuses your subconscious mind into eliminating the fear all together. My problem was "Fear of facial reddening in the presence of attractive female."
    Here is what I did: when an attractive female approached, I would think to myself, "I don't think my face is nearly red enough!" Looking at the humorous aspect of the fear, rather, general suffering really change my outlook on life.
    So here is my challenge for you: if you have a fear of snorting when you laugh, of spiders, or even of hitting a cyclist, think of the funny side of things!


  1. I accepted your challenge and hit a cyclist. Thanks for the advice.