Tadao Ogura, M.D.
Our "mental" functions are mostly the reflections of your brain functions. A brain develops through the interactions between genetic and environmental factors. This page will explain how using the neo-cortex of the brain (your conscious "mind") influences the other parts of the brain such as the limbic system (your emotions and alertness).
However, most people think that a "psychological channel" refer to "psychotherapy". Therefore, I would like to clarify on this issue, first.
Clarification on "Psychotherapy"
There has been much controversy and confusion about "psychotherapy." Some people who have undergone "psychoanalysis" have sworn by it. Others dismissed it as a "rip-off" by analysts. Since "psychotherapy" is a subjective process and is almost an "art," it cannot be studied by "scientific" investigation for its effectiveness. Therefore, the benefits of "psychotherapy" remain anecdotal.
Recently, "Cognitive Therapy" has gained increased acceptance since this technique can be performed fairly uniformly by therapists and, therefore, can be "studied" more objectively. There have been reports supporting the efficacy of this technique for mild to moderate depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and some anxiety disorders.
Researches on "psychotherapy" have come to recognize the importance of the nature of the "relationship" or "rapport" between a patient and his or her therapist. When this "rapport" is "positive," the "therapy" seems to work better regardless which therapeutic modality used!
My mentor, Harold Kelman, M.D., had also discovered a unique, mysterious mode of "communication." In his long years of practicing and teaching psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical psychotherapy, he had come to see that almost a mysterious connection often develops between closely related individuals such as a couple, parents and children, siblings and even close friends, who seem to "communicate" through this mysterious channel that is beyond ordinary, objective means of communication.
Dr. Kelman called this mode of communication the "Communing Process." When a patient gets "connected" with his or her therapist through this "Communing Process," the patient gains extra strength and power from the therapist and suddenly becomes capable of overcoming his or her stalemates.
Dr. Kelman discussed this particular observation in his papers on "Relating, Relatedness, and Communing."
I have seen this phenomenon among many Twelve Step members who were "connected" through "fellowship" and "togetherness" and seemed to have gained extra power and strength to overcome their addictions.
Therefore, in choosing your therapist, you should consider the issues of "relating," "relatedness," and "communing" with the therapist.
Thinking or other intellectual means do not have much impact on the way our brain functions. However, the brain (mind) seems to respond to intensely concentrated "imagery." The activation of a strong imagery seems to force the two hemispheres of the brain work together and, as a result, create powerful influence on the other parts of the brain.
For example, if you are anxious about an exam or an interview, you can concentrate on an imagery in that you are highly tuned in and are performing very well during the exam or the interview. This is "mental rehearsal." Many professionals such as golf pros use this technique.
However, "intense" mental imagery requires controlled breathing. Without it, your concentration cannot be as intense as it could be. Please refer to "The Art of Breathing" in this website.
In dealing with anxiety or fear, you can use "Reverse Psychology" to its maximum. "Paradoxical Intention" (Milton Erickson) is one of the techniques based on this commonly accepted method.
When we feel anxious or fearful, our normal reaction is to counteract it by trying not to feel anxious or fearful. However, the harder we try not to feel anxious or fearful, the more anxious or fearful we become. It is like pouring gasoline onto fire. The more gasoline, the bigger the fire. The more mental energy we pour to counteract the anxiety or the fear, the bigger it grows.
What if we do the opposite to this "normal intention" for anxiety or fear? In the Paradoxical Intention, you will try to intensify or magnify the anxiety or the fear in order to see how much or how far you can "take it." You should not try this technique to minimize the anxiety or the fear. You should really "challenge" your anxiety or fear. Your intention should be to test your strength or to try to push yourself beyond your limits.
This technique works because the worst fear is the fear of fear. Once you decide to challenge it, the fear of fear disappears and your anxiety or fear quickly dissipates.