In this chapter we will present readers with a general view of the way in which we treat patients. We will try to make our description as concise as possible.
Case histories must be carefully studied, of course, even though this may be time consuming, since it helps physicians determine special areas of treatment, for example by finding various clichés, and by classifying patients into one of the two following categories:
1. Predominantly psychological cases.
2. Predominantly organic cases.
In the first group, symptoms affect only the brain, and re-educa-tion of control can be started immediately.
The second group includes patients who attribute their illness to some organic disorder of the heart, stomach, intestines, and so on. Before beginning the training, a minute examination of the organ in question must be carried out, and if there is any kind of lesion, or even the slightest indication that medication or some special diet is required, it is preferable to postpone the training until these have been taken care of.
Ultimately, we ask patients to rely only on themselves, and not on some medication, so it would be futile to administer two diametrically opposed types of therapy at the same time.
Patients need to understand what is wrongAt the outset of treatment, patients need to know and understand what is wrong with them. They will only have confidence in the treatment if they can be shown why they are sick, what the causes of their symptoms are, and how they can be cured. This is not the usual kind of diagnosis, limited to a vague explanation like “It’s a nervous disorder” which has so often discouraged them in the past. Patients feel very encouraged when they are helped to understand what they could not out for themselves.
We could not carry out a program of re-education if patients were ignorant of the causes of their illness. And it usually isn’t difficult to pinpoint the faults in their cerebral mechanism, and the way insufficient control affects their behavior.
So we begin by explaining passivity in its different forms, and then go on to the treatment - conscious and voluntary actions. These actions must be repeated as frequently as possible during the course of the day. They constitute an effective training program, and are an excellent way to develop discipline.
At the same time, we begin with the first concentration exercises:
1. Concentrating on different parts of the body.
2. Concentrating on an infinity curve.
3. Concentrating on the number 1.
These exercises should be done for an average of ten minutes, every two hours.
As soon as patients are able to do these exercises well enough, we proceed with the re-education of willpower
These stages constitute the first part of the treatment. When they are completed, i.e. when patients are able to modify their cerebral functions through the exercise of willpower, concentration and/or conscious action, the real struggle begins. They must now attempt to modify all passive states using these techniques, in order to reduce or eliminate all their symptoms. All results, whether positive or negative, must be noted and analyzed, since it is this personal experience that will enable their confidence to grow. Patients have to convince themselves that they can get are told.
Despite the best intentions, patients will rarely make regular, steady progress. They should be warned that there will always be periods of relapse which, however, can be very useful, since it is during these periods that they learn to use the tools they have been given, and gain valuable experience. As a follow-up to the initial concentration exercises, we proceed with the various exercises on elimination and de-concentration, and then on concentrating on the concept of thought itself. Lastly, we search for abnormal thoughts, abnormal cerebral functions, and clichés. This gives you a general idea of the treatment procedure, which can be modified according to the specific needs of individual
Length of treatment
The length of treatment varies, of course, but we estimate that two or three months are sufficient to teach patients to carry on by themselves. Less serious cases may require only three to six weeks, while in more serious cases it is preferable to check up on patients after a few months, in order to see how far they have come on their own. This
follow-up treatment is meant to rectify errors which patients can develop during the course of their struggle, and usually lasts for a short time.
Results of treatment
The more progress we make, the more we are convinced that insufficient control can, and must be cured, even in cases which seem hopeless, and even for people who have been sick for years. It would be difficult to come up with valid statistics concerning
the number of cases who are completely cured, since we would have to see all our patients one or two years after their treatment ended, which rarely happens. In any case, the results we do know about have far exceeded our expectations, and are ample reward for our efforts.
left a prodigious quantity of notes on his exercises, which are an inexhaustible source of information about achieving self control and re-educating cerebral control. Here is a summary of those notes, with comments by Christian Godefroy, author and conference leader, and a specialist on the subjects of mental control and personal development.
How to make the Vittoz method a part of your daily life
The exercises that comprise the Vittoz method should be practiced while sitting down on a comfortable chair or couch, with your back towards the light source, and your eyes closed. However, you must not allow yourself to doze off, and good muscle tone must be maintained.
Close your eyes.
Ideally, two sessions of twenty minutes each will enable you to benefit fully from the method. But if you don’t have the time, remember that three minutes of exercise done properly is worth ten minutes of exercise done in haste, and that two or three minutes during the course of a day is better than nothing at all. After a few sessions, the mental attitudes prescribed by the Vittoz method will begin to affect your daily life. You will transform tasks that have become too mechanical into conscious actions. You will become tuned in to your own sensations. You will sincerely want and
attain whatever you decide to undertake. And you will take control of your life, instead of being controlled by it.
How to know if you are making progress he saying “Too much is not enough” applies here -if you use
too much salt when you cook, you ruin the meal. If you do too many exercises, or do them badly, you may not attain your objective, or you may even produce results which are opposite to what your intended. There are two negative signs, and one positive sign, to which you should pay particular attention:
If the exercises make you tired, stop. Read this book again, and resume the exercises at a later date. If necessary, consult your therapist or doctor. You should feel better after a session than you did before. Fatigue can be a sign that you are doing the exercises incorrectly, or that you have some kind of psychological resistance to them.
Even the concentration exercises should not give you a headache. If they do, you are probably taking them too seriously. Treat them like a game - do your best, without putting in too much effort. often used to remind his patients of the three S’s:
Making too much of an effort may generate inner tension. The Vittoz method aims for the opposite effect - suppleness and agility of the brain. By improving perception, your brain can better adapt to new and varied situations. Think of these exercises as a kind of mental yoga or T’ai Chi, and not as strenuous gymnastics. Simple
The main advantage of the Vittoz method -and the main complaint made by intellectuals who seem to enjoy complicating things is that it is so simple.
The exercises are simple. The philosophy is simple. The images and designs it uses are simple. The more you practice this method, the simpler your life will become. You reduce complicated issues to their essential simplicity. Due to your improved perception, you discern the truth behind appearances. You will be able to accept criticism without having to justify yourself, and stop attributing responsibility for what happens to you to exterior events and the people around you.
SincereYou are not doing these exercises to please me or anyone else, but for yourself. No one but you knows what is going on in your brain. Therefore, it is essential that you be sincere with yourself.
Don’t cheat during the exercises. Don’t take short cuts. Do them sincerely, and they will work for you. The more sincere you are with yourself, the more you will be sincere with others. And you’ll soon realize that sincerity makes for much
more solid and true relationships than those based on lies and attempts at pretending to be what you are not.
3. The joy of living
An accurate measure of your progress is simply the way you feel about life. You may suffer setbacks or relapses during your treatment, but on the whole you should feel better and better about yourself and about life in general.
What does “joy of living” mean? A text found in an old Baltimore church in 1692 may shed some light on the question:
“In addition to maintaining a healthy discipline, you have to be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have the right to be here, and whether it is clear to you or not, the universe is no doubt unfolding exactly as it should. “Be at peace with God, whatever your conception of God may be. And whatever your accomplishments or dreams, make sure to maintain peace and tranquility in your soul, amidst the chaos of life. “Develop your ability to feel your oneness (with God), and you will overcome useless fears and fantasies. This will lead you back to
the joy of living.”
Control of actions
Read Chapter 6 over again. These exercises must be “conscious” and not “thought.” Thinking is emissive, while consciousness is receptive.
Your eyes receive waves. Let the waves simply penetrate your consciousness. Instead of focusing your gaze and moving from one point to another, embrace the totality of an object, with all its nuances and colors. Then close your eyes.
Visualize the image in your mind, but without thinking about it. Recall just the image, the visual impression it made on your retina. Then start again.
Look at a detail, a fragment of the object. Then close your eyes and visualize it, this time making it grow larger and larger, as if you were looking at it through a magnifying glass.
Practice developing instantaneous and total perception of images, in all their detail, like a still camera as it snaps a picture instead of like a video camera which pans across the scene, centering on one point
Clink a glass (crystal if possible) or ring a chime or a bell. Instead of listening with your thoughts, let the sound waves pass through your body without stopping them. Vibrate in unison with the sound. Perceive the sound as it continues, until it becomes almost imperceptible. Listen to other sounds, like the ticking of a clock or the regular
purring of a motor. Try to perceive all the nuances of sound, without anticipating them (as if you were hearing them for the first time). Instead of tensing up and feeling your muscles quiver whenever an unpleasant or sudden sound reaches your eardrums, accept it. Welcome it, as you perceive each vibration. Suppress all inner dialogue as you listen to the sounds around you.
Find someone to assist you, and ask them to place an object in your right hand, while you keep your eyes closed. Keep them closed throughout the exercise, in order to concentrate on your sense of touch. Perceive the whole range of sensations you experience through touching: first, hot or cold, hard or soft, moist or dry; then the texture of the material - smooth, rough, soft, etc. Don’t try to attach words to what you feel. Don’t try to determine what the object is. - Next, do the same exercise using your left hand. -Become aware of everything you touch and everything that touches you while sitting on your couch: all the points of contact between your body and the chair, the texture of the materials touching
you, all the objects (jewelry, glasses etc.) or articles of clothing that -Next, become aware of your own body. Concentrate on perceiving your body from head to foot. Feel the vibrations, the pulsing in each part of your body, radiating from the surface of your skin.
You may have heard the story about the two writers who were able to procure a can of sardines for themselves during the second world war, an occurrence which was extremely rare at the time. They opened it, began feasting on the fish, and started talking excitedly. Suddenly, one of them cried, “My God! I swallowed without tasting t!” Caught up in the discussion, he had swallowed his portion without even feeling what he was doing. This is exactly what you should not do.
Take some food that is salty or sweet, bitter or acidic, and savor it without trying to transform your sensations into words.
Do the same thing with various perfumes, or foods that give off a strong odor. Control of movement and perceptions
recommended doing exercises on movement control throughout the course of a normal day. For example:
-Instead of thinking about something else while brushing your teeth, feel the effect of the bristles as they brush over your gums and teeth.