I set up shop in Hong Kong as a psycho-therapist. With no licencing
laws, there were no barriers to entry. By the same token, the fact
that I had no degree in psychology, or other paper qualifications,
meant that clients were few and far between.
Nevertheless, I had a handful of clients — and some incredible
results. Here’s one of them.
At the age of 5, Soraya (not
her real name) was circumcised, a common practice for Muslim girls
in the country of her birth.
The circumcision was not an African-style
removal of the clitoris; it was minor cut with no physical impairment
of sexual response. It was, however, performed without anesthetic.
This report focuses on Soraya’s
third appointment with me, so I’ll summarize the information
gathered in the first two sessions which set the stage for the third.
Soraya was in her late 20s, recently
separated. She had gone to university in a western country. She
married a fellow-student (a westerner) upon graduation. Her father
was “westernized;” her mother more traditional (for
example, she insisted Soraya’s husband-to-be convert to the
She came to me [in November 1991]
ostensibly to deal with issues related to her divorce which, being
amicably and mutually agreed, was not (relatively speaking) terribly
traumatic. In our first session, she asked an apparently “innocent”
question — “Can sexual abuse as a child have lasting
consequences?” — and when I replied, “Are you
talking about yourself?” the story of her circumcision was
She had been told by her mother
it wouldn’t hurt — and it did. Her mother was one of
the women who held her down while it was done.
She had come to believe her father
had betrayed her: despite his western values, he had stood aside
and let the circumcision proceed.
Whenever she had sex, her vaginal
muscles froze almost rigidly prior to penetration, and penetration
was invariably painful. With her first boyfriend, sex, despite many
attempts, proved impossible.
She very much wanted to become
a mother — but was literally terrified at the idea of childbirth.
From these two sessions, I had
come to the following conclusions:
She was very willing, if not eager,
to resolve these issues from her past (e.g., immediately after she
told me about the circumcision, I asked her to imagine seeing her
five-year-old self in front of her, and taking her [in the form
of a cuddly teddy bear] into her arms. Within one or two minutes,
she was completely absorbed in this “fantasy” and tears
literally streamed down her face. She exhibited no resistance whatsoever
to facing this pain).
She was an “ideal”
trance subject and appeared to trust me absolutely.
In these two sessions, she had
come to accept the pain; met her child-self and begun to comfort
her; and released some of the anger she felt towards her parents.
But the pain — the memory of which was physical as well as
emotional, compounded of course by all the tension she held in her
vaginal area — had not diminished. If anything, it had become
more present by being brought more clearly into consciousness.
For the third session I developed
a strategy which — in hindsight — was full of risk.
But, as it turned out, my two conclusions above were proven accurate.
The process was based around the
NLP “TimeLine” technique — the process that was
my first introduction to NLP [Neuro Linguistic Programming]. I asked
Soraya to stand on an imaginary line, her future in front of her,
her past behind her.
With her eyes closed, I walked
her slowly backwards along the line to the moment of the circumcision.
Here, I placed a chair and asked her to sit on the left side of
the chair — before the circumcision (the right side of the
chair, by implication, was after the circumcision).
Having established this, I asked
her what it was like to be “4½”-years-old. I
then asked her to step off the line and we discussed what kind of
resources “4½”-year-old Soraya needed to deal
more effectively with the trauma yet-to-come. Soraya decided she
needed to be more inquisitive, more questioning, less accepting
of what adults said, more independent.
I took her back to the “present”
— asking her to step back on the line — and to summon
within her, as a sense or feeling those abilities she had now that
Soraya-then needed. When she indicated she was ready, I asked her
to “hold on” to those resources, and walked her back
along the line to just before the circumcision; “give”
those abilities to 4½-year-old Soraya; and then become 4½-year-old
Soraya receiving those “gifts” from big-Soraya.
That completed, I asked her to
step off the line and she reported that, now, 4½-year-old
Soraya felt far freer, more skeptical and more independent.
I then placed a second chair on
the line in the position of the “present”; and asked
Soraya to sit and go deeply into trance (where she’d been
for some time!). I invited her to think of a movie she’d seen
recently and would like to see again; imagine she was sitting in
a cinema looking slightly upwards towards the screen where she could
watch this movie over again. While she was preoccupied, I then induced
glove-hand anesthesia in her left hand by asking her to let that
hand hang straight down and imagine it was in a bucket of ice-cold
water. I then gave her a series of direct suggestions to the effect
that her hand was becoming number and number. I tested the anesthesia
by pinching her hand quite sharply; there was no perceptible response
of any kind.
I suggested the movie was coming
to an end. When she indicated it was over, I stood her up, and walked
her back along the line getting younger and younger and bringing
with her the anesthetized hand.
I sat her down on the chair (at
the moment of circumcision) making a “fuss” about sitting
her on the left (before) edge of the chair. I then asked her to
place her left hand over her vaginal area and feel the numbness
flowing from her left hand to that part of her body. I did not ask
for confirmation. I then suggested that she could now watch a movie
she’d like to see again [she “saw” Bambi, she
told me later, a movie she had not thought about for a year or so].
Then — and these are two
risks that, in retrospect, were perhaps unnecessary and dangerous,
but by this point I was acting completely intuitively; indeed, I
wasn’t precisely sure how I was going to end this but I could
feel the crescendo building up — I asked her whether she trusted
big-Soraya [she indicated “yes”] and then (after a moment’s
hesitation) whether she trusted me [she indicated “yes”].
I reminded her about the movie
she was watching and then in one swift movement I lifted her [she
was quite light] to the right-hand (“after”) side of
the chair and as I did so I said (following from my comment about
“It’s all over now.”
The pain had gone!
Without giving her time to think
about what had happened, I stood her up and walked her along the
line towards the “present,” asking her to review major
events in her life in light of her new perspective.
I then asked her to step into her
future to a time when she was pregnant. I asked her how she felt
now. She answered with just one word: “Bliss.” I asked
her to bring those feelings back to the “present.”
After a moment or two for contemplation,
I suggested she should step off the line when she was ready.
She indicated that she didn’t
want to talk right then. And after a few minutes, she left —
or should I say, though somewhat fragile and shaken, “floated”
A few days later, she reported
she’d had the first satisfying sexual experience of her life,
one that was completely pain- and tension-free.
Last time I spoke to her —
mid-1995 — she reported no recurrence of the problem. She
also told me she was in a very satisfying relationship, planning
marriage — and pregnancy.
You’ll find another (and very different) case
study at Transforming
the “Monster” Within.
© 1995 by Mark Tier