Filling the Holes-in-Roles of the Past With the Right People at the Right Time

A way to open the door to happiness in the present
By Albert Pesso

Received 19 August 2012, received in revised form June 2013, accepted July 2013


First I will briefly review how we establish the foundation for building a happy life using Pesso-Boyden System Psychomotor (PBSP) procedures that provide a new, symbolic memory/experience of the satisfaction of maturational needs as if they had happened in the actual past. Then I’ll describe how we go about filling in the Holes-in-Roles in the past, using new, powerful, PBSP concepts and procedures that unlock the hidden neurological psychological doors in our minds and bodies that block our receptivity to happiness and the sweet satisfactions of life.

International Body Psychotherapy Journal The Art and Science of Somatic Praxis volume 12, number 2, fall 2013 pp 63-87 ISSN 2169-4745 Printing ISSN 2168-1279 Online © Author and USABP/EABP. Reprints and permissions

Aristotle, among other fundamental thinkers, believed that it is in our nature to seek and enjoy happiness. My own reading and clinical experience has lead me to believe we are hard-wired to anticipate happiness. If the expectation of happiness is so natural, then why does happiness elude so many people so much of the time?

We come into this world as infants, primed to expect and experience a pleasurable, satisfying life, full of meaning and a sense of connectedness to others (Bowlby, 1969). That is why, when life fails to provide that innately anticipated outcome, we are deeply disappointed and feel cheated out of a fundamental right. So do we give up that longing for satisfaction of those deepest desires and hopes? Not very easily. Though we may have endured a lifetime of unhappiness, we are under the never-ending pressure from our remembered, needy, inner-child- self to complete and satisfy our maturational needs, which serve as the necessary foundation for the experience of happiness. Without that foundation in place, we may ceaselessly knock on the metaphorical doors of all with whom we are in contact — friends, mates and teachers — in search of a reassuring, “Yes!” to our unspoken question, “Are you that someone who will finally give me what I desperately needed back then and despairingly feel I still need now?” Too often, we doubt we will get what we long for, no matter how much people genuinely care for us in the present moment.

What can make the present feel that awful?

It is a biological/neurological as well as psychological fact that the memory of frustration of basic needs during our developing years, i.e., the past, fundamentally colors our experience of life now in the present (Edelman, 2000).

Since it is our memories of a deficit-ridden or traumatic past that are running (or ruining) our experience of the present, what if there were a way to create a better past without having to invent and climb into a time machine? We, the founders of Pesso-Boyden System Psychomotor PBSP, Al Pesso and Diane Boyden, found a much simpler solution. We have learned how to access those brain-based memory banks using precise micro-tracking techniques so that the client, assisted by the therapist, can construct positive, maturational need-satisfying virtual memories to offset the negative experiences of the past, endlessly waiting for their completion and consequent relief.

Following the micro-tracking process, we externalize that interior neurological stage in the mind, upon which both memory and imagination play, and have those images of people and events visually represented in the therapy room. This is done in tandem with what is being addressed and thought about, moment-by-moment in the “present”. On the symbolic simulated stage that we have evoked in the therapy room, we carefully and precisely organize— with the full participation and control of the client—new, healing, alternative, need-satisfying events, as if they had happened at earlier times and in other places. We accomplish this with the additional help of role-played, “Ideal” human figures—parents, grandparents, etc. who, had they been in the client’s actual life, would have been capable of providing him or her with those developmentally necessary interactions.

In this ritual arena, clients can emotionally re-live a new past, one now organized to be full of pleasure, satisfaction, meaning and connectedness. Just as real memories influence and effectively run peoples’ experience of the present and future (Damasio, 1999; Edelman, 2003), so do these new symbolic/artificial memories. With these new, positive memories firmly implanted in body and mind and masterfully linked with the real, negative, long-term memories of the past, clients can experience and respond to the present with far more success, hope and happiness than was available before.


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