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Implicit Memory

In certain areas, self-perception can be deceptive. When memory contents of the implicit memory are recalled, then brain researchers know that these do not deliver with them a temporal reference, but are simply there. A fear, which has been stored in the implicit memory as a consequence of early experience, therefore, feels one-hundred percent as if it were relevant to the present and not to the past: “I know that it is dangerous to surrender myself to you like this. I am certain of it!” For the counsellor, as the counter-part, it is perfectly clear that there would be no danger to the client, if he showed himself to be vulnerable and needy when in contact with him at this moment. For the client, though, the opposite is absolutely noticeable in his experience. These concentrated and imbedded experiences from the past, which are stored and activated in the memory, cannot be overcome through arguments or persuasion.

However, it is possible to make new and better experiences. These can make available to the client a new, internally experienced alternative as the first step towards change. This is why the client needs support in engaging with the present-day experience, despite the subjectively-experienced certainty of danger. It is important, at the same time, to make an offer of contact which reaches the client (on the level of another self-representation). For this it requires a high level of competence to exude security, trustworthiness, authority, acceptance and openness. Otherwise the client’s change process stagnates and he falls back into his old patterns for dealing with fear.

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