Connections: August 2004
© 2004 Hermes' Web Marketing Company
All Rights Reserved. Published in the USA.
Ed. Sarah Techau
Connections was originally published electronically
and distributed to members of the Hermes' Web
Community. We have included the majority of this
publication here, for your enjoyment. The Call For
Submissions email, which solicits members' input
on a specific topic for the upcoming issue, is also
Call For Submissions
By allowing clients and students to weave familiar
elements and examples into their own
understanding, you make use of the information and
intelligence already there and increase their sense of
Read the full Call For Submissions for this issue
In This Issue
The Q & A Forum:
Stories, films, and cultural examples enhance
Hermes’ Web use
The Black Box: Dismantling the Defense System
(a testimonial by Jerry Fjerkenstad, MA, LP)
(an article by Geral Blanchard, MA, CAS)
The Q & A Forum
In the Call for Submissions for this month’s issue, we asked you to submit questions about using stories, films, and cultural examples
to enhance Hermes’ Web use. Here’s what one member had to say, followed by a response from our founder.
“What movie do you recommend for helping a client to see what it means to develop emotional intelligence? I’ve used the ‘how to
explain EQ to clients’ suggestions in your new manual, which were very well received by the way. But I would like to bring in some
movie references, or even assign a movie to watch, to really make it hit home.”
Response From Jerry Fjerkenstad, MA, LP
There are lots of films you can reference or better yet, assign, and then illustrate with Hermes’ Web to help explain the struggles,
challenges, and rewards that stem from EQ development. There is one film — The Assignment — that really stands out when talking
about what it means to develop EQ. In this film, two men are look-alikes. One is an international terrorist, and the other is a marine
officer. After a mistaken arrest by Israeli police brings the officer to CIA attention, he is recruited to impersonate the terrorist and set a
trap for him. The officer must learn how to be like the terrorist without becoming him.
The Assignment demonstrates how to integrate the ego and the core, which are typically separated by the barrier. The officer is ego-
bound — disciplined and good. The terrorist lives out of his core and has no conscience. To trap the terrorist, the officer must descend
into his core while retaining his integrity and values — the very definition of EQ development.
Once your client has seen the film, enter into a discussion about it, using Hermes’ Web to illustrate and explain EQ. If possible, you
could even show segments of the movie during your discussion. Have your client use his/her own Web to demonstrate the challenges,
hardships, and day-to-day battles he/she might expect to fight in the process of developing EQ. What lies in the core that must be
uncovered and acknowledged in order to develop EQ? How does he/she deal with core-level needs now? Does he/she use drugs,
sex, or violence? Does he/she make the barrier stronger and stronger to push the needs deeper underground (which inevitably leads
to the flip)? How does developing EQ change that? What choices would result from having EQ when faced with the same day-to-day
battles? What would it feel like to be able to integrate the ego and the core and successfully deal with the inner pain, the anger, the
frustration, and the unmet needs?
Click here to purchase The Assignment and find out what other films our founder recommends.
The Black Box: Dismantling the Defense System
— Jerry Fjerkenstad, MA, LP
A black box is the container that records the last communications, actions, and reactions of a flight crew before an airplane crash.
Humans have a very similar "device" in their psyches that can help or hinder, depending on how it is functioning. In terms of Hermes’
Web, the black box is essentially a function and defense mechanism of the barrier. If we professionals can find this black box and trace
an offense or negative behavior back to it, we can begin to discover and alter the filters that prevent our clients and students from
knowing what the left hand and the right hand are doing. We can find the very spot where information is distorted, where deception
begins, where an offense is born, and what seeds engendered the embryo.
To put it as simply as possible, the black box is a microprocessor. It performs complex functions that would overwhelm
consciousness. The device works when we drive a car, when we sleep at night, and when we perform tasks that are now habits. When
we drive a car, we sometimes listen to the radio, chew gum, watch the scenery, chat with a passenger, and check the gauges — all at
once, with seeming ease. However, if a dog were to suddenly run into our path, we would "drop everything" and respond immediately.
The Dangers of Filtering
As Daniel Goleman wrote in his book Vital Lies, Simple Truths, there is a consciousness in front of consciousness that screens all
incoming data and decides what we need to know and what we don't need to know. This screening comes in handy when driving a car
or when waking because of a crying child. But when the same preconscious mechanisms are working on the incoming data about our
behavior, our personality, and our memories, it is a different matter entirely. The preconscious mechanisms are filters, or what
Goleman calls schemas. These schemas filter out what is not necessary at the moment, or what is not wanted. If it stopped there, it
wouldn't be so bad. However, the information that is filtered out is not "dead matter." Just as laws of physics teach us, energy cannot be
destroyed. It merely changes its form.
Storage and Responses
Many times in MMPI-2 read-outs, we see a passage about a person who makes efforts to look better than they really are, wanting to be
seen in a positive light. All too often we talk to people, and our words seem to go in one ear and out the other— like talking to parents
about sensitive or conflictual matters or talking to a teenager about drugs or sex. Here, the filters are altering, censoring, distorting, and
cleaning up the information coming in and shaping it to fit the preconceptions to which the ego has already committed itself.
The response to incoming data from the ego is actually the response to cleaned-up information. In the psyche, the filtered information
goes into long-term storage. We don't even know it's there because our ego (which thinks it is the front line of awareness) wasn't in on
the decision. Once this information is in storage, it doesn't always just lie there. It eventually becomes a response — albeit, an
unconscious response. This unconscious response can be completely at odds with the ego identity and its values. This is why people
often claim some of their actions have nothing to do with them. "That wasn't me. I don't know what got into me."
What we don't know we know will hurt us eventually, or worse yet, hurt someone else. It can become an offense. It can represent a
complex amalgam of things we don't know that we know about ourselves, including powerful emotions, painful memories, and
vengeful feelings. It is a dangerous brew.
The Black Box and Senility
Evidence of the black box is also seen in people who never act out or offend. These people sometimes become brittle or senile, which
is an outcome of the black box as well. When they hide things, those things grow associatively, like a net that casts a wider and wider
catch area. For example, a man has an affair with a woman who always wears red lingerie. No problem at first. But then, his wife buys
red lingerie. Suddenly, he must be careful what he says and how he responds, so she doesn't notice anything new or detect a comfort
level with the red lingerie that she wouldn't expect. Red then spreads — he has to be careful about this red and that red. Lingerie
spreads to dresses and stockings, to cars, to blushing. The repressed sexual needs and the color red begin to grow associatively until
more and more memory gets attached, even things that are only very peripherally related. Over time, more and more of the psyche is
linked up, like an iceberg growing beneath the surface, out of sight.
Over the years, people start a number of these icebergs, which may eventually link up. Then as they age, some symptoms of senility
set in, like memory loss and the appearance of extraneous, unrelated facts and memories. We think it cute, crazy, and odd. When
actually, big chunks of associative memory become so linked and heavy, they sink out of sight. Odd bits of memory, not connected to
anything by association, remain close to the surface, no longer blocked by main-line thinking and memory. These odd bits float up and
things you'd expect a person to know and always remember are nowhere to be found. This is the consequence of the black box filtering
away, not "burning clean," suppressing and repressing, and promoting a secret life. The black box keeps the ego warm and secure,
but the human personality begins to disappear, leaving only a strange, aging eccentric.
The Black Box, Sexualization, and Sex Offense
There are other kinds of filters as well. Most people "scan" men and women (and children) as potential sexual partners. This scan is
instantaneous and quickly rules people out. It looks for the right breast size, leg shape, and signs of intelligence or lack thereof.
Criminals and con men have a different version of the scanner that they run with just as much efficiency.
Some men and women feel that, because they don't notice their sexual fantasies, they aren't having any. One sex offender client of
mine defended his lack of sexualization by bragging that he wasn't interested in a particular woman he had seen. I reminded him that
in order to know he had rejected her, he had to evaluate her in the first place. His filters were protecting him from noticing the extent of
Finding the black box and identifying its filters is like showing the proof when you do math problems in school. The teacher wants to
know how you got to the answer each step of the way. For example, a man who sexually abuses his daughter can say he's in no
danger of abusing her again, but unless he has tracked the process all the way through, he won't know for sure why he's rejecting her
as a partner. Just because it's wrong? Because he knows he shouldn't? Because it's finally sinking in with him that there are major
consequences for his abuse, even though he can still easily conjure up images of their interaction? Because he's still in treatment and
is violently suppressing any thoughts that could get him in trouble?
Filters prevent honesty. They prevent sex offenders and abusers (and everyone else, for that matter) from seeing the trail clearly and
making informed choices. They provide the illusion of safety and comfort to the ego — “all that ‘bad’ sexualizing is behind me now.” But
in reality, the sex-scanning apparatus doesn't go away just because someone gets caught. It tends to go underground even further
than before. To begin to grow, change, and develop EQ, people must change or eliminate their filters so they remain aware of how and
what their sexuality is. Only then can they take the necessary responsibility for it.
Geral Blanchard, MA, CAS is the author of the book The Difficult Connection. He speaks at conferences and workshops around the
country. In the following submission, Blanchard describes a universal problem that surfaces over and over in psychology, education,
and corrections. When professionals are unaware of the core’s dynamics and the gravitational pull it has on the ego — in their clients
AND in themselves — the end result will often contradict their intentions to help clients grow, change, and heal. This is why the
Hermes’ Web approach and core-level change are so fundamentally important.
Click here to purchase Geral's book and learn what other books our founder recommends as essential to your work with the Web.
— Geral Blanchard, MA, CAS
In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the chemical dependency field provided the counseling profession with a model for addressing client
denial. Central to the approach was an underlying tenet that stressed how an alcoholic’s recovery was contingent upon immediate
disclosure of all drug-addiction patterns and the humiliation and harm that arose from chemical abuse. This required the sudden
dismantling of defenses, often before their purpose was fully understood. It was an aggressive approach designed to “break” denial
and, unfortunately, this method often broke as well. In many cases, the experience was nothing short of emotional battering.
In the same tradition, the sex offender treatment community followed in lockstep. This posture was reflective of society’s disdain for
sexual abusers. Many therapists will admit to bucking under public pressure to take a non-sympathetic approach to treatment — if
treatment was ever considered at all. Some treatment centers and penitentiaries chose to refuse counseling services to “deniers.”
Others set an arbitrary time period by which all abusers had to relinquish this defense or risk eviction from the treatment center and
face possible incarceration. Still others kept “deniers” away from “admitters,” thereby not allowing healthy modeling or mentoring. They
placed denying abusers in homogenous groups where they convinced each other of their victim status. Rather than understand denial,
the goal of “breaking down” the guilty people remained. A punitive tone surrounded intervention with this client group.
Seeing denial as a problem that required immediate eradication filtered into other treatment areas as well. If you were to grow and
become healthy, denial was a menacing obstacle to be overcome. Whether you suffered from an eating disorder, a paraphilia,
hypochondriasis, etc., the front-line intervention strategy remained the same: bust through the defenses.
Today, the counseling profession is beginning to see denial as a normal and transient response to shame and fear. Rather than be
embarrassed by one’s mistakes or perceived inadequacies, most any person should be expected to hold on to their defenses until
they feel their environment is safe, respectful, and perceived as helpful.
Rather than bludgeoning someone into admitting their issues — much like police interrogate criminals — the counseling profession
must move toward an invitational approach with so-called “resistant” clients. We must become more humane and less adversarial,
relying on a compassionate relationship to encourage clients to assume responsibility for their behavior or to examine their
This requires that counselors create a climate that promotes respect, preserves, dignity, and enhances self-worth — even with clients
who are violent, sexually abusive, or follow a lifestyle that we find objectionable. But more than that, we must develop motivational skills
to infuse clients with the energy and hope necessary to approach their darker sides. We must be present with them — lending ego,
offering warmth, carefully revealing our own vulnerabilities, and framing their experience in a realistic perspective of growth.
Connections: August 2004
Browse 2004 issues of
Connections by selecting a link
below or click here to return to the
September — Open forum!
August — Stories, films, and
cultural examples enhance
Hermes' Web use
July — The challenge female
professionals face in
communicating with well-
defended males in treatment
June — Hermes' Web and
compulsive online sexual behavior
May — Hermes' Web and
|Building Community. Changing Lives.