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((Editors Comments in double parentheses - Homer))
THE DANGERS OF WHAT AND WHY
RAF - 1
12 August 1988
Copyright (C) 1988 Ron A. Fitch
Redistribution rights granted for non commercial purposes.
TRN - 012
HUMAN INSIGHTS GROUP
THERAPY RESEARCH NOTES
12 August 1988
Revised: 1 November 1989
To be effective in therapy, we need to be very precise with our
languaging. Because case unburdening is at the heart of therapy, we
need to encourage it as much as possible. The way in which we bring
about unburdening is by asking questions, rather than "blowing our EGO"
all over the place.
Asking just any old question of course won't do - we need to choose
our questions carefully. Albert Einstein reminded us that "instead of
seeking better answers, we should be looking for better questions".
When therapists ask me what kinds of questions they should ask their
clients, I usually respond "effective ones!". The questions used in the
various processes of Intro- spection Therapy have been carefully chosen
to yield the maximum therapeutic gain, with the least undesirable
If you have studied your basics, you probably know that WHY-
questions can be quite deadly. What you may not know is that asking
WHAT can sometimes be just as deadly - depending upon the context. WHY
is that, you ask? - Cute! Let us examine these matters thoroughly and
find out. I truly hope that this TRN will help put these questions to
rest for ever. For starters, let's review the theory of Why by back-
tracking to some mind basics.
High-Tone .vs. Low-Tone
Although I may be getting ahead of myself, it is worthwhile to note
there can be a high-tone form of asking why. A high-tone person would
more than likely interpret a carefully worded "Why" question as asking
for the SOURCE of a given situation. This person would probably not
figure-figure on the question but simply obnose the truth and as-is the
A low-tone person asks "Why" for one reason, and one reason only:
to get "answers" (anyone will do) to shutoff their confusion. When you
TRULY understand this, then you also under- stand how deadly asking
"Why" can be. In essence it serves to fuel the individual's sub-
conscious; and that, they don't need!
Truth .vs. Lies .vs. Smoke-screening
Essentially, Introspection Therapy succeeds by helping the client
differentiate between what is true in a given situation versus what has
been dubbed-in (fabricated). You will remember that lies stick an
incident on the time-track. Repetitive incident running is of course
one way to discharge these lies, bringing about a greater reality on the
Properly done, incident running and M/W/H pulling bring about truth
by developing the Time, Place, Form, Event and Consideration (TPFEC).
Semantically, TPFEC equates out as:
Time - When
Place - Where
Form - Who
Event - What
Consideration - How
In case you haven't noticed, these are the same questions that the
police ask during an interrogation. Essentially, they want to know what
happened, when did it happen, where did it happen, who did it, and how
they did it. Notice, that no one really cares WHY it was done; only
that it was done. After hearing the facts, the judge may then be
interested in WHY. If the defend- ant can give a sufficient answer to
his Why-question, the judge may choose to reduce his jail sentence,
recommend therapy/treatment in lieu of jail, or dismiss the case all-
As you can see, we don't IGNORE Why, but it does take a low-
priority. The reason WHY is so deadly, is that ANY ANSWER can satisfy
such a question. The questioner may not think the answer is adequate,
but in the eyes of the person being questioned, the answer is MORE than
People often use Why- questions in response to uncom- fortable
questions. Understand that "why" used in this way is actually a form of
smoke-screen. Let me give you an example by quoting a conversation I
overheard one evening:
Jack: "You look guilty [of something]."
(this sequence repeated three times)
Do you see what this does? It is an attempt to introvert Jack,
taking his attention off of what Jill is afraid he will find out about.
If Jack knows his Life Extension Technology, his response to Jill will
be something on the order of: "I don't know WHY you look guilty, you
just do. Hmmmm... is there something I should know about?"
Why WHY, is so deadly
Who, What, When, Where and How invite what I call "controlled
unburdening". Controlled unburdening guarantees that a minimum of
material in the mind is reactivated in session. What IS reactivated is
along a narrow track of the mind (a chain of SIMILAR incidents, or a
"WHY" is rarely based in fact. The answer to a WHY is almost
always conjecture. Asking WHY invites figure-figure, which in essence
can result in serious dub- in.
Answers to Why-questions serve as stability-factors (designed to
shut-off confusions) but they don't really handle anything because they
are usually too general in nature. To handle difficulties in life, we
need to be specific.
Let's take an allegorical look at the kind of cycle which can
evolve from WHY. The poor sap in this story is a guy name cosmic- Joe.
We shall call him Joe for short.
Once upon a no-time, in a wonderful no-place, Joe was existing in a
pure state of wonder. (Alan Watts called this place "Glory".) Being in
a state of pure-wonder, Joe didn't understand, AND it wasn't necessary
for him to understand - BEing was fulfillment in itself.
As several millennia pass, we find that Joe has dropped down- scale
to existing at the level of GAMES. In Games, understanding begins to
take on some importance. To facilitate Games-playing, Joe attempts to
bring about a higher- level of understanding (ignoring that at Games he
is now down- scale) by asking: Who, What, When, Where & How.
Interesting enough, the real WHY often shows-up of itself. If Joe gets
impatient and [forcefully] asks for the Why, the asking often succeeds
in scaring it away.
As even more millennia pass, we find Joe heading down into a very
bad state, somewhere around Mystery. Being in Mystery, Joe considers
that his survival hinges on understanding Why. So, Joe asks why. Then,
like a black hole, Joe "inhales" ANYTHING that succeeds in shutting-off
the confusion of being in mystery. Recognize at this level eliminating
the confusion is con- sidered the same as having found the correct Why.
Of course, you and I know better.
By the time Joe gets to you, he will be next to death in the area
of the Why. Your attempts to help him will leave you frustrated because
every time you get Joe close to inspecting the Why his confusion
returns. You see sub- consciously, inspecting the Why is tantamount to
it being false. To ward off this new [sic] con- fusion, Joe is forced
either to re-assert the "Why", or devise a new [false] "Why" to shut off
the confusion again.
The core of this mechanism is of course the Survival Comp- utation
(S-Comp). Clean-out a person's Survival-Computations, and you will
clean out, not only their false-why's, but the need to have a Why in the
first place. (Note: The Survival-Computation material is covered
thoroughly elsewhere and will not be repeated here).
Some questions, although lacking the word WHY, can never- theless
be Why-questions in disguise. You need to be alert to these questions
even more than ACTUAL Why-questions because they are so subtle. For
example, here is a Why-question in disguise: "What do you think the
reason for ______ is?"
Why WHAT Questions can also be Deadly
Depending on the context, WHAT questions can be as deadly as asking
Why. The reason WHAT questions can be so deadly is that they can easily
turn into "Listing" questions. If you examine the Listing-Process very
closely, you will discover that in essence, you are asking your client
to find the [reason] why. To understand this, let's examine the
Because Listing is a tricky procedure, it is best run using a
Reaction Response Meter. In Listing, the therapist devises a question
(or uses a "prepared" question) that reacts well on the meter. Once
found, we have an "active" question. We clear the question thoroughly
with the client before running (the needle reaction on the meter could
be due to not understanding the question and therefore protest in
running it for that reason alone).
If an understood still reacts on the meter, the client then begins
to fire back answers in a free-associative manner. In theory, if you
continue the Listing procedure long enough, there will be one REAL
answer; assuming of course an active question. Upon spotting the
"answer" your client will probably "blow-out". When this happens, the
needle on the RRM will blow- down and probably begin to float or wander.
I like to think of listing as "controlled free-association".
However, recognize that listing is definitely figure-figure. The only
reason it is acceptable as a process is that it is being done IN-
session. Ideally, we should complete a list question before ending
session; which is why listing CANNOT be accomplished reliably in
sessions that strictly adhere to the 45-50 minute (or even 60 minute)
Some listing questions are capable of running for 2 hours or more.
To end session before a list question is complete can result in your
client self-listing out session. In addition to the figure-figure
aspects of self- listing, your client may actually skid right on by his
item - deadly! Even worse, he may dramatize his list question to others
in an attempt to get an answer. Why?: Because an unflat listing
question can leave your client with Bypassed-Charge. Heaven help your
client if someone should actually give him an answer.
Listing to shutoff Confusions
It may have occurred to you that bypassed-charge frequently
manifests itself as a confusion. What do we do to shut off a confusion?
The answer is: ANYTHING! With an unflat listing question, people will
often look to ANYONE to get an answer to shutoff that confusion. If the
confusion abates or disappears, then OF COURSE he has found THE answer.
More than likely, what your client will have found is a WRONG ITEM.
Wrong items, are not unlike Survival-Computations in their effects.
If you put your client on a Reaction Response Meter after such a
"listing" process, he will likely manifest a high range-arm, rather than
a wandering needle. A correct item will ALWAYS (always, always) result
in a needle blow- down, followed by a wandering needle on the meter.
And, your client will be in a blown-out state.
After self-listing, your client will probably be withdrawn,
confused, or even antagonistic. As we know, antagonism is often a sign
of an almost-found-out. What is almost-found-out is the fact that he
has been self- listing. Even his "item" can act as an almost-found-out.
In other words, it's ALMOST (but not yet) found out. Things ALMOST
found out are worse much worse than things known.
There is more to say about Listing, but that is a topic unto
itself. I consider Listing an intermediate procedure - entry- level
students should leave listing alone. Listing is an advanced procedure
simply because if screwed up, it will require expert handling. SO,
until the advanced therapy training, I recommend you avoid listing
processes with your clients. Better yet, turn clients over to a Master
therapist for handling in this manner if Listing becomes necessary.
Alternatives to WHY and WHAT- type Questions
Ok, so I have issued prophetic warnings against What and Why.
Next, we need to look at alternatives to these kinds of questions. As a
final aside, you should recognize that WHY can be a legitimate Listing
question; if all the "rules" of listing are strictly followed.
Otherwise, why questions should be actively avoided.
To avoid the temptation to ask why, simply invite controlled
unburdening. During this unburdening, pay close attention to having
your client develop the appropriate Time, Place, Form, Event and
As the client develops TPFEC, he is of course beginning to AS-Is
the incident. If he already has Why's forced on him, get him to talk
about it. Ask questions like: "who told you that?", "when were you
told that?", etc. This will reduce the effects of the forced-Why.
Notice that I kept "What" out of this. Then again, "What", in this
context would probably be rather harmless.
To avoid WHAT questions, you can substitute "Tell me something..",
instead. For example, instead of "What hap- pened?", you can use "Tell
me something about it". Instead of asking "What do you think caused
it", consider something along the line of "Tell me something that might
have caused it". In this case, "that" replaces the What.
Using "might have" reduces the pressure on your client that he MUST
HAVE an answer. It simply becomes unburdening. Although it's just
(sic) unburdening, don't be surprised to find your client come up-tone
as he communicates to you about it.
We have seen that WHY questions are deadly. We have also seen that
other questions can be as bad. The difference is of course, Context.
Asking What as a part of developing the Time, Place, Form, Event and
Consideration in an incident can indeed be an appropriate context.
Asking WHY, is NEVER appropriate and can get you into ALL KINDS of
The bottom-line is: the WHY doesn't really matter; except to the
degree that it promotes legitimate case unburdening. To encourage your
client to look for WHY is to dance with the devil. However, should a
WHY surface of itself, that is quite natural and should therefore ALWAYS
be acknowledged. To have your client suppress unburdening on a
legitimate Why will quite likely lead to a communication break.
Don't go fishing for What's and Why's, but DO acknowledge them when
they come up. Above all, keep a tight communication line with your
clients and they will always win in therapy.
Ron A. Fitch
Human Insights Group
TRN-0014 - The Mind and its Structure
TRN-0028 - Confusions and the Confusion Cycle
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