The Voice of Conscience

Some people may regard the word ‘provoke’ to mean ‘incitement to anger’, or even a sexual tease. In Latin, the word ‘provocare’ means to ‘arouse’ or ‘call forth’ and this is the meaning that we ascribe to this approach. In provocative and paradoxical interventions we aim to call forth the ‘voice of conscience’ – that part of you that knows what to do. However this voice of conscience is not always robust or conscious and often needs some assistance to express itself.

Psychoanalysts usually agree that the function of analysis is to facilitate the client/patient to take responsibility for his or her unconscious mind. When we are not aware of how powerful the unconscious processes are, it can cause us to behave in unhelpful and painful ways in what has been called ‘acting out’. Understanding how our unconscious mind works may be able to prevent it from causing us to act out in this way.

However our teacher, doctor, psychiatrist and philosopher, E.K. Ledermann thought this definition to be limiting. His view was that all people (with the possible exception of psychopaths) have a conscience which can guide them to live a better and happier life. The problem is that we may not be conscious of the existence of this guiding conscience. Therefore Lederman believed that the goal of psychotherapy was to help the person make his/her unconscious conscience, conscious. When you are acting according to your conscience. anxiety may be greatly alleviated. We have found that paradoxical intention and other strategies used in neohumour can activate this voice of conscience leading to more resolve to take the best course of action.

“When we are no longer able to change
a situation, we are challenged to
change ourselves.”