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The Three Stage Abreaction

The Three Stage Abreaction

What we’re doing here is holding a mirror up to show the other person their emotional state. Undoubtedly it will be awkward and tense. People don’t normally behave this way. This is something that goes beyond the cultural norm. Usually we relent and allow the other person to get what they want. We don’t’ want the other person to feel angry, resentful or disappointed.

These are powerful and subtle ways of communication that happen very very quickly.

We all know someone who doesn’t even remember why he’s angry, he just is!

He doesn’t realize it’s about him and now he’s just angry with everybody. He will often use indicators of threat, ”I’m warning you…”, “I expect you to…”, “I’ll be very angry with you if…”

Now to say “that’s right, you…” That’s going to get a reaction for sure.

Now there’s a predictable way people will respond. They will come back with a louder and harder and firmer statement to distract it from being about themselves and to make it about you, because that’s how they manage to maintain their problems.

Andrew Austin calls this: 

The Three Stage Abreaction Process

Stage 1. Signal (Implied Threat)

There is a hint and suggestion that the person is uncomfortable or distressed, and the implication is that you need to change your behaviour in order for them to feel better.

“I’m not very happy with your behavior.”

Stage 2. Increase Amplitude of the Signal (Threat)

More energy is put into the communication and there is an escalation in the kinesthetics. They put more energy, volume and emphasis into the feeling and into the verbalization. Usually the person  doing this isn’t aware they’re doing this to make you change. All they’re aware of is: “because of you, I’m feeling worse. Therefore I need to put more energy into getting you to change your behavior.”

The person will be visibly agitated, visibly emotional.

“Look I’ve already told you that I’m not at all happy with this.”

Stage 3. Abreaction (Punishment)

Now they trip the threshold. They feel they’re no longer in control and freak out.

Choice is removed from the recipient who now has no option but to change their behaviour.

“Ok I’m telling you.” You will be punished.

If you are the person who is being continuously manipulated in this manner, you need to consider this question. “What are you inside this relationship?” How are you regarded?

Some people never have to experience certain emotions because they have people around them who are trained to behave in a certain way. We all have roles in our families. So children may not want father to become angry because they’ve seen what happens when he does get angry. Even if the father has a low tolerance level and anger is always simmering just under the surface.

Other people won’t see this side of father. They might see the charm and sophistication. But in the home the family members have been taught what happens when father doesn’t get his way. So the members

are well trained so that father doesn’t have to feel his anger.

Parental disappointments are also very common scenarios. Chances are they were probably disappointed even before you were born.

What you may want to consider if you have complex relationships and feel you’re being manipulated, is this question: What is the other person trying to convey? What do they want you to hear?

Start paying attention to how you’re being treated by other people. Is there someone in your life who is compelling you to stay in the same place and hindering your weight loss?

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