This story was from a lady in the Flying Doctors Service who was flying to Queensland, the planes were still flying but there was an enormous risk of fire. It was the beginning of February and they were flying over 4000 feet and they were banking. As it happened the pilot had concerns about the amount of smoke in the air, and this woman happened to be flying with her eldest daughter. This nurse was doing the antenatal service for health providers and with the Flying Doctors including maternity and early childhood plans. But their doctor was cut short by the fires and no one knew really what to do. Then someone in the plane accused her of clinical incompetence, and she had had so much experience in the flying doctors, she had had 2000 days of service and all children were treated to the childhood services, and she told the story of how terrifying the fires were that day.
This nurse found the moderate distancing extremely difficult “I have few social contacts and since there is no football at the moment that I would usually got to, I have felt an aloneness, and I have struggled with it…less during the week”.
The incident on the airplane brought the nurse to thinking about the theory of Double Binds (Gregory Bateson) Two messages are sent at different levels, and so one contradicts the other.
There are various levels of congruence, like if a person is placating they often hide their wishes; if a person is blaming, they often hide their intimacy wishes; a super reasonable person hides anything that is emotional for them; and the irrelevant person hides everything. Barbara Jo Brothers takes this from the ‘Defence Stances’ from Virginia Satir to look at how these patterns disconnect us from each other.
Then she talks about how tone of voice, and frowns on the face. Then Leveson began to talk about how cancer might be the numbing of feelings and estrangement from others, there might be a way to helping connection by, no longer numbing feelings. There were three anxieties she was referring to, fear of fires, fear of professional misconduct and fear of COVID-19 and its isolation.
I suggested the following process to lessen the anxiety:
1. Clear the mind;
2. Celebrate your own uniqueness;
3. Giving oneself permission to live positive messages (instead of negative messages);
4. Feeling one’s own presence by feeling the first and second skin (which Satir wrote a lot about) The second skin is when you give birth to your sense of responsibility for your own life;
5. Using touch, with the eyes or the voice or through the five senses;
6. Encouraging new awareness;
7. Learning the delicate task of protecting our inner defences and protecting our inner selves which gives us some safety.
Later we talked about when we disconnect our feelings the implications for ourselves and are body are quite bad, because the body is trying to say what the mouth can’t say. For example. In the placating response the digestive track sensations and nausea sensations pervade; in the blaming stance the illness arise such as inflammation of the tissues and linings of the lungs, and the stiffening of the arthritic hands, and the tightness and inflexibility to the body happens. In the super reasonable response dryness and no sexual juices can flow and all the tears dry up. But in the irrelevant stance the central nervous system is out of balance, and dizziness is what people will talk about, if you have no balance the rest of the parts of the body then there is no control over your coordination and diseases act accordingly out of balance.
Virginia Satir’s Stances have the following qualities:
The Placator is afraid to show anger and runs like a rabbit.
The Blamer is afraid to show pain or vulnerability and fights like a tiger.
The Super Reasonable one is afraid that responding to feelings will mean losing control and avoids them like a robot.
The Irrelevant one is afraid of fear. He or she sees any signs of difficulty as danger and deals with it by hiding his or her head in the sand like an ostrich.
There is a theory about how cancer works – that if I have no hope anymore then placators will constantly try to please others; and blamers are very used to projecting onto others; and super reasonable people work only through their mind (without feelings); and people who use the irrelevant stance cannot decide what they want to do in intimacy. They suffer the compulsive avoidance of intimacy and are unable to separate from one person to another.
The incident for the nurse of being questioned about her competency led her to all these doubts and fears and she wished to work through them with me so she could feel whole again and find peace during COVID-19 pandemic.