Cognition & Reality

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Why Intensification Works

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 12:26 pm

It’s a commonplace of psychotherapy that intensifying negative feelings leads to a lessening of those feelings. The technique is used almost across the board in both  CBT and psychodynamic therapy. I’ve often wondered how that is, how making feelings stronger can cause them to attenuate. The simple, direct answer is that it brings the feelings under control, but there’s a circularity there, leaving unanswered the question of just how it happens, where the experience of control comes from. My tentative hypothesis is that intensifying the feelings  indicates someone who has those feelings, a doer of the intensifying act and therefore a doer of the feelings themselves. Self-awareness as that doer brings with it a realization that the feelings themselves are contained within and products of the larger Self who’s making it all happen, and can therefore make it stop. I dunno. Just considering.

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1 Comment »

  1. Thanks again for your blog Dr. Tone: always interesting to read!

    After I read your writing, I thought about the Buddhist practice of “leaning in”. We lean in to pain or negative feelings, and by leaning in, we are NOT fleeing or denying the feelings. Through this leaning in, we can accept emotions, and then move through these emotions. We find the “charge” is much lessened, and often there is some additional insight.

    Comment by Joy — Tuesday, 30 November 2010 @ 12:37 pm | Reply


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