Critique of Re-evaluation Counseling

THE WEAKNESSES OF RE-EVALUATION COUNSELING

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I will now turn to a critical evaluation of some of the weaknesses I perceive in Re-evaluation Counseling. The aspects of RC that I will pick out are not necessarily uniform across all the communities, nor all co-counselors. I shall make out the case that Jackins himself is as central to the weaknesses of RC as he is to its strengths, but sometimes it is Jackins who is most critical of RC. He would readily acknowledge, for example, that there are numerous inefficiencies and misrepresentations of theory and practice perpetrated by co-counselors in what is, after all, a highly dispersed and almost totally voluntary organisation. There are areas of RC theory and practice where he freely admits uncertainty, for example, the crucial question which most therapies come up against: what is the most effective balance between aiming for behavioural change in the present and looking into the past to try to resolve formative traumas? Jackins accepts it as inevitable that an evolving body of knowledge will retain areas of uncertainty.

Other of my criticisms Jackins would be unlikely to accept, as far as I can tell. Some of them have been raised in the past and he has made his position known. Nonetheless, I think there are some tendencies within RC that are problematic, if not harmful, and they have never yet been adequately addressed.

In summary, the weaknesses I see in RC are these:  Although in theory RC purports to emphasise intelligence, in practice the focus of co-counselors tends to be almost exclusively on the emotions. Moreover, the opportunities for discussion are highly restricted and there is no forum for wide-ranging critical debate. For all of Jackins’ claims to scientificity, the practice of RC is tainted by moralising from above and, reciprocally, by timid and deferential attitudes from below. I believe this failure is associated with the lack of opportunity to develop one’s critical skills in RC. There are major weaknesses in the theory itself, including its inability to acknowledge the full range of states of human consciousness and the central role in human affairs of the imagination. One result is a dampening of creativity. Resulting from all the above,  Re-evaluation Counseling is limited, if not on occasion counter-productive, as a tool for realistic strategising, even at the personal level, but even more so at the level of political action.

Jackins’ own biases

It is a truism in RC that any organisation will tend to reflect the attitudes and perceptions of its leadership. In spite of all Jackins’ efforts to the contrary I believe that he has failed to avoid this in his own case. The weaknesses in RC can be traced back to his own history as an American Protestant rationalist turned revolutionary. Thus we find that a typically American pioneer spirit has kept RC operating in isolation. Catharsis is Jackins’ great personal discovery and it becomes both his ‘unique selling point’ and his dream of redemption. He keeps promoting it long after its restrictions have become apparent. In his loyalty to the ideal of rationality he rejects any positive value in emotion, habit or in non-rational states; his protestations notwithstanding, emotion becomes sin to be cast out. His Puritanism gets attached to his Marxism and an anti-creative notion of correctness results. Through it all, in spite of all his good work on community building, runs a thread of individualism and a distrust of collective experience.

I will now discuss these points and the implications for Re-evaluation Counseling as an agent of personal and social change. In several places I use as a touchstone Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which, like RC, claims to be a radical reappraisal of therapy based on a scientific process of observation. Richard Bandler and John Grinder, started their research at the University of California in the mid-Seventies (O’Connor & Seymour,p.22.) Their intention was to reject therapeutic rhetoric and unverifiable belief systems in favour of careful observation of what effective therapists actually do and how clients respond, cognitively, behaviourally and affectively. (My use of NLP for comparison does not constitute an endorsement of its methods.)

Moralising

The role of morality in therapy is not easy to resolve. Szasz sees psychotherapy as “a religion that pretends to be a science” (Szasz, p.28). Bandler and Grinder consider most therapies to be “psychotheologies” – packages of beliefs as well as methods.(Bandler & Grinder, p.6.) Jackins has tried to tease out his own formula. He is sceptical about the concept of god which he sees as a projection of the inherent reality of human beings (BR, p.121) and sees most religious practices as “distressed”. He says, “The whole desire for “absolute truth” … arises only from the insecurity of human distress patterns” (UT p.77) but elsewhere he is tempted to speculate about the postulates of RC offering a model for a rational religion. It has been argued that the need for therapy in our times has to do with the loss of an external framework of meaning. One of the carrots that Jackins holds out to co-counselors is that RC will bring back meaning into their lives. In fact RC does display many of the characteristics of a religion, but within an austere not mystical framework. Its classes and workshops are rituals that go unrecognised as such. Above all, it has a strong morality based on a set of beliefs about the eternal nature of things.

Moralising seems to adhere to Jackins in spite of all his avowed principles: “There are no “shoulds” in the universe”, he intones. (RP, p.108) but he is committed to the notion of “correct” positions to prevent the intrusion of “distressed” ideas into RC. (HS p.181.) He adds that the basic concepts should be applied with complete flexibility (Ibid, p.183) and that any that turn out in practice to be wrong can be changed (BR p.596) But moralising is the flipside of his stand on correctness. It shows through in his moments of intolerance and in the fear that so many co-counselors have of doing something wrong. Jackins genuinely desires to undo the dynamics of oppression/powerlessness, authoritarianism/rebelliousness, but he hasn’t fully grasped the nettle in his own back yard. RC’s programme of empowerment is undermined by elements which demand people’s acquiescence. “Reason is liberated by the absence of threat”, says Smail (p.207). If somebody absorbs the principles of RC through a filter of fear, the fear of doing it wrong, then, in fact they are not being liberated but re-conditioned.

Co-counseling intrudes morality deep into the essence of human beings. Because Jackins sees the conditioning mechanism as “degrading human functioning” rather than being a part of the complex repertoire of human beings, “distress patterns” come to be bad. Co-counselors are repeatedly urged by their leaders to “eliminate” all of their distress patterns (e.g. SO, p,346.) This exerts pressure on clients even when the counselor is encouraging them to “think for themselves” or whatever. It means that RC can be as guilty as any other therapy of trapping clients in a set of contradictory messages: “It is safe for you to show your feelings here” becomes “You must show your feelings here because you must eliminate your patterns.” Even if Jackins is right that the conditioning process is “the source of and explanation for human irrationality” (RP p.48) and therefore of evil,  it is a mistake to spend time trying to root out every trace of distressed or inflexible behaviour, if only in terms of time management. Ventura suggests this is Puritanism at work in therapy and that it kills creativity and eccentricity (Hillman & Ventura, p.201). Certainly the culture would be much depleted of artists if everyone adhered to Jackins’ strictures.

Compare RC with NLP whose only judgement appears to be “Does it work ?” or with the more benevolent forms of Cognitive Therapy which ask “Which choice do you wish to make?” and the morality of RC shines out dazzlingly. The roots lie probably in Jackins’ Protestantism and in his early Marxism. Seidler sees both as being inimical to therapy (p.183). Jackins’ enjoins his own feelings of urgency about the state of the world onto other co-counselors. He suggests that a counselor should hold out to her client “relaxed high expectations” but it frustrates him that relatively few co-counselors share the same level of political determination as himself.(SO, p.289.) The most effective of the world’s activists, he complains, do not come into or stay long in RC, even if they use the practice of co-counseling sometimes. He blames this on the  vacillation and timidity of the middle class people who dominate the communities. But there are other reasons for which he could take more responsibility, including all the “boundaries” RC imposes, as one former co-counselor said to me.

Moralising runs throughout RC practice. In their sessions, co-counselors frequently make statements to their clients which are value-laden: “You didn’t deserve this”, “You are a good person”, etc. even though all they are supposed to do is to help the client to discharge so that she can think better for herself. There is confusion about what is actually happening in a session. The theory is that the process frees up co-counselors’ “real selves”. Certainly, it can be very reassuring to reveal your repressed feelings in public and discover that nobody thinks any the worse of you. But there is an element of the process which is actually teaching by example. In a typical counseling demonstration, the counseling teacher stands up in front of the group or workshop, holding the client’s hand, and looking relaxed and affable. When the client hits on some grief, the counselor will adopt a soft tone of voice and offer a shoulder to cry on. When the client needs to rage, the counselor will offer their back or a cushion to be hammered. All of this can be very appropriate. What is overlooked, however, is that what is being taught is a stock set of attitudes and phrases. I noticed this when an English co-counseling leader finished a demonstration with the question to the client, “Can we put a check on that? – an American expression that is totally meaningless to the English; the teacher was acting out a pattern of behaviour they had learnt from watching an American leader. In other words he had learnt how to counsel by copying, by imagining himself to be somebody else, which according to NLP is one of the best ways to learn, but it casts doubt on the idea that the teacher was actually being some kind of inherent “real self”.

These confusions can pose enormous problems for co-counselors, especially to people like myself brought up in strong religious traditions who find it less easy simply to take Jackins with a pinch of salt. Jackins recognised long ago that requiring a student co-counselor to undergo “set exercises” was a denial of the uniqueness of their needs. He fails to extend this recognition to the whole of RC: any blanket prescription will be wrong for some people. Some of Jackins’ recommendations to co-counselors – like never showing your feelings to somebody unless they have explicitly agreed to listen – are ignored in practice by all co-counselors except the tiny group at Personal Counselors who reputedly dare not reveal a hint of emotion unless it is in a formal “session”.  In the real world, one has to play things flexibly. Martin says he now sees “how useless it is to counsel people outside rare and specific situations”. Just listening to people will not change them: some people will happily be listened to forever and not even notice that they are not reciprocating. Others are disturbed by a person who never talks about their feelings; they don’t feel they are building real connections; at some level they don’t really trust them. The truth is that, if there really are to be no “shoulds”, then there can be no prescriptions either.

If co-counselors are truly to empower themselves they need the space to experiment and  to explore a genuinely creative personal approach – which may mean  doing it wrong sometimes and breaking the “guidelines”. In other words, the need for flexibility in the individual counselor comes into conflict with the demands for conformity imposed by the organisation. When one reads of Jackins’ early explorations, as in Rough Notes From Buck Creek 1, it is clear that he once had this freedom to try things out; new co-counselors don’t.

Confusing presentation of “reality”

Co-counselors make value-laden statements because RC makes them. They are told in their first class that they have an inherent nature which is good, loving, powerful, etc. RC shares these assumptions with most other Humanistic Psychologies but is particularly insistent upon their being true. One of the central difficulties experienced by co-counselors is where to locate reality. Jackins uses “reality” to mean what he calls the “Benign Reality” – an underlying, inherent connectedness between living things. In their sessions, co-counselors are encouraged to take this “reality” as the basis for their decision-making, aiming to think beyond the limitations their upbringing has led them to accept in themselves and others. Exciting new perspectives can result but does this necessarily mean that reality has been revealed? It could simply be that, as George Weinberg says in his book Self Creation (Weinberg 1978, p.5): “Every time you act, you add strength to the motivating idea behind what you’ve done.” It could be that the very process of being with another person who is loving you and encouraging you is creating a new reality.

Co-counselors often confuse a “commitment” or “direction” taken in a session for the purpose of jiggling up thought patterns with a statement of reality. Jackins fails to make the distinction clear. One example is his position on mortality: “The goal of immortality, seriously taken, contradicts and permits the discharge of important distress for every client. It will certainly enhance the possibility of, and may possibly lead to, immortality.”(RP p.100.)

Imagining being immortal may be a useful device for side-stepping fear or despair. There is also a  valid scientific debate about the nature of the ageing process and the possibility of slowing it. But Jackins conflates the two and since he is the ultimate arbiter of “correctness” in RC co-counselors are prone to treat what he says as Truth.

Confusion about the nature of reality impedes effective strategising within RC. It is not that it isn’t done – co-counseling can be useful for setting goals and monitoring them. But the attitude is problematic. I once asked Jackins how one should choose between one goal and another. Jackins replied that: we all have freedom of choice; settling for having to choose only one thing is “internalised oppression”; he himself plans to do everything – it just happens that his novel has been on the back-burner for 30 years while he has been developing RC (Lecture January 1990). These reassurances did not help me to set realistic goals.

The trouble with RC’s Utopian notions is that vision can become fantasy, and inaction results. If Jackins wants to change that – which he says he does – he needs to come down to earth. RC doesn’t allow people to confront the reality of their own limitations; In contrast, Nelson-Jones, using a Cognitive Behavioural approach, suggests people “confront their finiteness” and acknowledge their personal constraints. (Nelson-Jones 1989, pp.35,126.) Similarly, RC has expertise in building empathy and rightly challenges prejudiced attitudes but it does not help people to deal with real differences between them. Of course, in practice, RC leaders make discriminations all the time as they decide who to encourage into leadership first and in what sphere, and in the specific counseling interventions they make with clients. As Smail points out, nothing is gained by pretending that everyone is equal (p.220). Supportive goal setting should be about dealing with the realities of power, difference and choice, not fabulous visions and uncritical encouragement. The orthodoxy of equality in RC leaves co-counselors dislocated from reality not connected to it.

Rationalism

In spite of his Utopian double-take on reality, Jackins fundamentally looks to a rationalist view of life. Rationality is at the heart of his theory. However, he does reinterpret it somewhat. For him, rational premises are those derived from the qualities he sees as inherent in human beings before they were “hurt”. Rationality is equivalent to benignity, for “the more we discharge, the more benign we become” (Lecture, January 1990.) Rationality here is something akin to the Buddhist concept of  “right relationship” for it is in our inherent nature to be loving and co-operative: “Love is the way people naturally feel about each other” (RP p.57.)

Thus rationality in RC has meanings beyond those assumed in the dominant scientific culture. However it does not meet the requirements of Samuels who calls for a redefinition of rationality, factoring subjectivity into it, in opposition to “modernity’s totalisation of reason” (p.42.) RC falls somewhere in between. Jackins allows recognition of the emotions but only so that they can be expunged. He dismisses out of hand any explorations of non-rational states. For instance he rejects meditation because of its association  with “eastern religions” which he sees as “denying reality, preaching acceptance of and resignation to suffering and oppression….. in complete opposition to the RC attitude of freeing the human to lovingly master the environment and improve it” (“RC Teacher” no. 5, p.19.)

Jackins’ tone will not surprise the reader at this point. What is striking is not so much his scepticism about “eastern religions” – for he is sceptical about all religions – but his attitude towards Nature and his total acceptance of the traditional scientific belief in controlling it (Ekins 1992, p.203.) We might note, too, how he rejects everything associated with Eastern mysticism, rather than seeking to discover what RC might learn from it. In The Reclaiming of Power (1983), he reprints a letter from Barbara Miles who has left RC. She talks of the benefits she has since found in meditation : “Old patterns have fallen away as I have spent time sitting quietly in the presence of a loving God, seemingly without any effort. And really fallen away, in ways that have changed my life and relationships radically….From where I am now I see RC as very limited because of the fact that its theory has no metaphysical transcendent basis…I feel, too, that there is a kind of pride in the total newness of RC that is both limiting and dangerous…because of the dogmatic aspect I have seen it take.” (RP p.359-60)

In his reply, Jackins blames Barbara’s teachers – a common tactic of his. Their limited understanding of RC must have led them to present it as a set of “limitations and shoulds and should nots” instead of revealing its “continually open, continually growing content.” He clearly does not see his complicity in creating an isolated culture obsessed by “correctness”. His refusal to consider the possible virtues of meditative states masquerades as an assertion of intellectual rigour, but in fact it is intellectual cowardice.

In disallowing recognition of altered states, Jackins diminishes his theory, restricts the effectiveness of RC practice, and locks the doors of creativity. In contrast, NLP is based on the recognition that human beings move in and out of differing states of consciousness. Its practitioners try to teach people how to recognise and use these states. While there may indeed be a state of maximum rationality which in NLP is called “uptime” and in RC is called “present time”, it is debatable how consistent that state can be. A person who is “lost in thought” cannot be said to be in “present time” – they might be completely unaware of everything going on about them. They are not necessarily reliving old emotions, however. They might be imagining. In Tongues of Fire : An Anthology of Religious and Poetic Experience (1985), Karen Armstrong describes the creative potential of meditative states :

“Rational activity will help the inventive thinker only up to a point. As long as he struggles rationally, he is, necessarily, imprisoned in ideas and forms of thought that have already been established.” She quotes Darwin saying: “Ideas and beliefs are certainly not voluntary acts. They come to us we hardly know how or whence.” Archimedes was relaxing in his bath when he had his flash of inspiration. In such a receptive mood, we are more open to the layers of the subconscious, says Armstrong. (p.338.) Her view is shared by Arthur Koestler who quotes similar examples, including of one of Jackins’ heroes, Albert Einstein, who, though a mild and sober man, displayed “distrust of conscious conceptual thought.” (Koestler 1970, p.171.)

The sober truth is that RC has far too little to say about the role of the imagination in human development and thought. This is a serious limitation because, as Bandler and Grinder point out, the human ability to distort reality is not only the source of our emotional disturbances, but of our great creative powers. (Bandler & Grinder, 1975, p.3.) In fact, according to Hillman, “The primary activity of the psyche is imagining.”(p.62.) There are many therapeutic implications in this omission. Bandler and Grinder go to great lengths to teach therapists how to use language in such a way as to highlight the “deletions, generalisations and distortions” firstly in the client’s apprehension of the world and secondly in the language she uses. Their “Meta-model” for therapeutic questioning far surpasses RC in its precision. Symbolism is completely ignored in RC. All disturbed images are attributed to past situations of confusion or tension or “hurt”. Most co-counselors still tend to treat memories as literal. When I told one leader that my greatest fear was of being chopped up by a man with a knife, she assumed that something must have directly happened to me that I had blocked from memory. In fact, I think the horror came from being told the story of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” when I was a boy.

The lack of recognition of the operations of the imagination accounts for the mixed feelings many artists have about co-counseling. They find it a useful practice for relieving some of the stresses of surviving as an artist and for thinking aloud about ideas for their work, but they are often resistant to the Puritanism of RC. They know that their creativity comes from a mixture of thought, feeling, experience and imagination.

Armstrong and Koestler’s books point out that the same can be said of scientific discovery. The irony of Jackins’ loyalty to a Western modernist scientificity is twofold. Firstly, as Ekins points out, science itself has overtaken him: “Post-Einsteinian thinking… emphasises uncertainty, subjectivity, cognition and the subordination of individuality to relationship” (p.203.) Even more ironically, RC activities such as the work on prejudice have already made a contribution to the above process. Jackins’ long battle against Sixties hedonism and escapism appears to have impaired his ability to review his original assumptions.

Over-emphasis on catharsis

RC has shown that access to emotional release can be highly beneficial. However the fundamental theoretical assumption, that catharsis on its own is transformative, does not hold water. Jackins is right that appropriately distanced catharsis is an important piece in the therapeutic jigsaw but he treats it as if was the only piece. This was especially true in the early  stages of his experimentation. At the outset, he believed that all a client had to do was to discharge all of their distress and they would “re-emerge”. The simplicity of the notion should not deny its merits: Jackins’ friend Merle and many people since have indeed changed enormously. But it became apparent to Jackins that progress for most clients was very slow. The intractable difficulty was what he labelled “chronic distress patterns” – those attitudes and behaviours that did not seem to be easily re-evaluated, which seemed to be integral parts of the client’s  personality. Co-counselors began to experiment with the idea of “cleaning up an incident” – going back repeatedly to a significant trauma and working through every bit of associated feeling until, after a final period of intense boredom, the client arrived at a point where they could remember the incident in full detail if asked but they had no feelings about it, nor any pull to dwell on it whatsoever. Stories began to filter through RC of a few clients who had done this. Jackins said it took about 200 hours and it brought permanent changes. (RP, p.49.)

Until, that is, the next most traumatic incident began to cry out for “cleaning up”. The rhetoric began to shift. Jackins still asserts that distress feelings can be completely discharged, but he began to lay more emphasis on cognition and action: “think, decide and act first – discharge later.” This trend was enhanced by his re-formulation of the concept of “restimulation”. Wishing to emphasise co-counselors’ capacity for control of their lives, he started to say that emotional triggers were not involuntary but “the usually unaware, but nevertheless intentional, bringing up of past distress … in the hope that someone will listen to us and we’ll be able to discharge the distress”. (SO p.59.)

He talked of freedom of decision and our “complete power to have the universe respond to us in the way we want it to.” (SO p.73.) But he balked at saying the previous decades of co-counseling activity had been wrong – for the opportunity for regular discharge of feelings had  made a huge difference to a lot of people. He now advises that: “Thinking and discharge can and should take place simultaneously.” (RP p.85.) Where feelings completely overwhelm thought (as in sexual feelings) he advises discharging the feelings associated with the earliest remembered incident in the “chain of distress”.

He freely admits that he does not have a final answer as to the most effective way to work though he remains committed to the value of catharsis. The most recent developments have been counseling techniques aimed at avoiding all sense of victimhood. He has taken a stand in the False Memory Syndrome debate advising that any memory or impression of past abuse will facilitate useful catharsis but it cannot be relied upon as true. He is aware, as Hillman points out, that “My memory can make me a victim”, that the recent trend in therapy has been for everyone to discover victimhood and then cling to it for comfort and sympathy.(Hillman & Ventura p.26.)

There has therefore been evolution in RC techniques, but most co-counselors still seem to focus excessively on feelings. The writer Guy Dauncey said to me: “The trouble with co-counselors is they can’t make a decision until after their session next Friday.” Anne, a very active co-counseling leader, commented: “I think you should have a section on how we think RC might have been detrimental to our lives! I think I may well have not had five years of illness if I had not done RC…In some deep way RC encourages us to bring up our most chronic material, and this can cause havoc with health, relationships, etc.” Co-counseling can also be detrimental to others who come within its ambit. A woman I know had a relationship with a man who had been in co-counseling for many years. Initially she was drawn to his emotional openness and his ability to provide emotional comfort for her. Then he started to see another (younger) woman because, he said, felt he had a need to do so, but he assured her that he would support her to deal with her grief about the matter. She cried on his shoulder until she realised he was using his counseling skills to manipulate her. Men’s leader Charles Kreiner has fulminated against this kind of “sexist abuse” of RC, and Jackins would be outraged too, but seemingly some co-counselors have not yet learnt to practise emotional discipline, and catharsis on its own promotes neither self-criticism nor ethical action.

Research on the nature and role of the emotions is still inconclusive. They probably need to be approached from a systems perspective. Labott, Elliott and Eason conclude form their study of a “weeping event in therapy” that weeping does produce cognitive shifts but the “hydraulic” model espoused by Jackins “does not come close to accounting for the complexity of the event (e.g. operation of triggers)”. Nor is the Cognitive model adequate to the task: “The cognitive model is too simple and undirectional to explain this process [of intellectual processing interspersed with affective expression] and ignores the involvement of a cluster of related interlocking schemata”. They conclude that “unfinished emotionality, current distress, accessing of original memories and schemata, and a safe atmosphere [all] operate together to explain intense therapeutic weeping.” (1992, p. 49-60.)

Insular mentality

Jackins’ admits that even after four decades of cathartic counseling he himself has found some habits and attitudes very difficult to change. Doggedly he persists in blaming “patterns” and assuming that he just hasn’t found the right way to “discharge” them yet. What could he do instead? He could question some of his practices and learn from others in his field. But he has chosen to proceed in splendid isolation. Discussing Carl Rogers, another American Protestant, Robert Fuller points to Martin Luther as Rogers’ model of personal integrity and quotes Rogers saying: “Man’s ultimate reliance is upon his own experience”. (Fuller 1982, p.25.) In comparable fashion, Jackins made the decision to “restrict the basis…of the theory to our own experiences.” (HS p.18.) Whatever merit this had in terms of maintaining consistency, it has also served to decontextualise RC, to isolate it from the surrounding culture and to cut off many potential avenues of growth. There is more than a touch of arrogance involved. Jackins often assumes – and is then parroted by many supposedly free-thinking co-counselors – that any “good” thinking manifest in the wider society must have been inspired, at least indirectly, by Re-evaluation Counseling.

His professional isolation has practical consequences for co-counselors. For example, I have already commented on the acuity of many of NLP’s observations. At a very practical level, Bandler and Grinder noticed that all human beings have a set pattern of casting their eyes in certain directions when they are thinking about different things. To know this could be an asset to any counselor in any discipline, but co-counselors are still routinely taught to hold the gaze of the client as much as possible, thus preventing this vital exchange of information.

NLP might be able assist co-counselors in their stated aim of taking effective action to change the world. To do this, it would surely be helpful not only to be able to express obstructive emotions such as fear, but to be able to switch them off. Jackins’ best proposal to his Peace Activists is that they do what they believe needs to be done and just let their fears “run off in rivulets” as they do it, i.e. that they “combine heavy discharge with functioning well”. (SO, p.113.) The confidence to do this is indeed valuable, but if RC were to look outward it might find other means of handling fear that would be less daunting and less disturbing to others. NLP practitioners point out that it is possible to be imaginatively “associated” with an emotion or “dissociated” (O’Connor & Seymour, p.57.) They teach people how to disengage from debilitating emotions and deliberately call up empowering ones. Not having Jackins’ belief in an inherent self that must at all costs be revealed, they simply look at what a person can do with themselves to get certain results.

Failure to contextualise RC

It is understandable that Jackins felt he had to protect his enterprise from the intrusion of ideas from the wilder therapies proliferating on the West Coast at the same time, but his own “rich cliquish claims,” as R.D.Rosen calls them, (Rosen p.109) are a mistake. Purely in terms of the  principles of learning that Jackins espouses his isolation is an error: “Context must come first” he states in “The Nature of the Learning Process” (HS p.122). This surely means that in order to absorb new information the learner needs to relate it not only to what she already knows, but also to what she thinks she knows – her existing preconceptions and misinformation.

Occasionally Jackins will spend time explaining the differences between RC theory and others (e.g.. “Letter to a Respected Psychiatrist” – HS p.25 – & SO p.51), but in general he denies any cross-fertilisation of ideas. This is a pity when therapy so clearly needs critical examination and would benefit from being treated as an inter-disciplinary activity (McLeod, Preface.) There is no discussion in RC of postmodernist challenges to concepts like the “true self”, nor of anthropological investigations into the constraints of language (Whorf et al), of the cultural construction of space (Hall’s “proxemics”), nor even of the different functions encompassed by the word “thinking”.

Jackins advises co-counselors to study political theories critically, but he himself quotes mainly poetry and the works of Han Suyin. Every now and again another writers’ name crops up but it is never quite clear why they have been so honoured. Jackins may be wise to be suspicious of much academic activity, too much of which is indeed characterised by status-seeking and redundant research with a false sheen of objectivity. Perhaps the NLP trainer I observed who quoted sources at every possible opportunity was seeking to lend himself just such an air of credibility. On the other hand,  Bateson warns wisely against adding to “the existing jungle of half-baked hypotheses” (Bateson.) Jackins has indeed been more rigorous than most therapists but even though his practice has proven itself to be very workable in many respects, he certainly fails to apply the Popperian criterion of falsifiability to his research.

There is a sizeable constituency of academics within RC. They appear to value it because it corrects the emotional ‘overdistancing’ (to use Scheff’s term) of academia (RC Teacher no.22, p.21.) Those who stay in co-counseling do not do so because of its intellectual attractions. If they have doubts about RC theory they soon learn to keep them quiet for the sake of peace. One such pragmatist told me that RC’s “Faculty” workshops don’t invite participants to apply or sharpen their thinking skills any more than other RC workshops; they focus on providing support for people working within an unenlightened educational system – a real enough need, only if the academics are not going to do much critical thinking within RC, what other co-counselor can be expected to do so?

Lack of critical discussion

There is a serious lack of critical discussion within RC. Some co-counselors would deny this: debate does take place within certain agreed contexts. In the scores of journals co-counselors swap their observations on RC policies and seek to refine their analysis of different oppressions.

Jackins will occasionally initiate discussions at workshops, although tightly chaired according to the RC principle of everyone speaking in turn. Diane Balser is an exception to the rule. She has been promoting Conferences rather than Workshops for women in RC.

But debate in RC is limited in kind, quality and quantity. Far greater priority is given to catharsis. The one discussion group slot at workshops is nine times out of ten given over to more “discharge” work in spite of Jackins’ having instituted it. The causes are several. One is the simple pull of emotional work. Another is the tension co-counselors feel about having to re-emerge as quickly as possible. A third is that catharsis is seen as the only way to achieve re-evaluation. A fourth is the nature of the theory.

One of the central weaknesses of co-counseling theory is that it presents the untraumatised child as the model for human potential. The co-counselor is trying to “re-emerge” from the effects of her traumas to be as curious, joyful, loving, etc., as she was before she was mistreated. The language used – “re-emergence” – proclaims the retrogressive nature of this concept of growth. Hillman reckons most therapy is guilty on this account and he attributes it to America’s culture having historical roots in the separation from parental Europe.(p.69.) “Democracy depends on intensely active citizens, not children”, he says, but therapy encourages people to go back to their “inner child” (p.6.) Ostensibly they do so in order to become better-functioning adults but only too often they become dependent on a never-ending process, as Zoe Heller reports in an article on “12-step programs” in Prescott, Arizona. (The Independent on Sunday, June 14, 1992, p.2.) Co-counselors may not be as bad as the 12-step program addicts – at least they are supposed to aim for rational behaviour – but they are still led to believe that the only way to really grow is to release all repressed emotion. The fact that is constantly overlooked is that to free up one’s potential is not the same thing as to acquire the information or skills to exploit it.

Co-counselors assume that thinking skills are entirely inherent. The only skills RC consistently develops are those of listening to and stimulating emotional release. This could be seen as a legitimate choice of emphasis but it means that an air of unreality pervades proceedings. It means that the theory lacks “richness” (Rosen, p.98.)  And it means that Jackins’ more arrogant statements go unchallenged. To outsiders reading his books, it is not clear how he is different from a score of dubious gurus proclaiming, “We are the only group on Earth that has a workable solution” (L.Ron Hubbard, “The Auditor” no. 257, 1991, p.1.)

Jackins appears to have swung away from an earlier interest in thinking skills. In his second book, The Upward Trend, he gave a long list of “common pitfalls” in thinking including:  generalising from too little information; not being clear about one’s assumptions; thinking that thinking isn’t hard work; treating repeatable experiments as proof of “laws” rather than “useful generalisations” that may not be universally valid; failing to allow for the difference in viewpoint of different people.(p.109.)

His list could be the basis for some valuable work at the cognitive level, not focused on catharsis. It is not hard to find resources to add to it. Bookshops are full of books on critical thinking. There is an excellent programme called “Philosophy for Children” which offers a framework for thinking about values and matters of social concern. Its creator, Matthew Lipman talks of converting the classroom into a “community of inquiry in which students listen to one another with respect, build on one another’s ideas, challenge each other to supply reasons for unsupported opinions, assist each other in drawing inferences from what has been said, and seek to identify one another’s assumptions.” (Lipman 1991, p.15.) In the same humanistic spirit as Jackins, Lipman believes that children are “natural philosophers”. They find the classes enjoyable and empowering. (“The Transformers”, BBC TV programme, September 1990.)But although they don’t need to be told how or what to think, they do need the opportunity to develop their innate potential by using it in practice.

Moreover, the process is not one of individual development only; it is also about community. Lipman says: “[The philosophy class] is not a community of conformity…There’s a division of feeling and thinking, so they rely on each other. It’s very much like a team… and that’s the kind of community you need to create [in a democratic society].” ((Ibid.) This is very different from the tightly structured RC group where turn-taking is emphasised and there is no concept of the free flow of ideas nor any space for the rapid exchange of thoughts, which would be seen as simply bouncing off each other’s “restimulation”.

I believe one consequence is that too many co-counselors, especially in the lower reaches of the organisation, become dependent, just as Ernst and Goodison warned can happen in groups.(p.313.) Another is that the theory lacks subtlety: concepts like “oppression” and “internalised oppression” – vague ‘nominalisations’ according to NLP – are insufficiently differentiated. Allport lists a spectrum of prejudice from ‘antilocution’ to genocide (p.14) but in RC it is all “oppression”, just as fights between ethnic groups are all “internalised oppression”, whatever the differences in history and power between them. The concept of a “distress pattern” needs clarification: a memory of a traumatic event is not the same as the self-protective behaviour adopted in response to it. A cognitive “schema” is not the same as an emotional trigger. All such distinctions are mistakenly levelled out in RC in the name of simplicity and unpretentiousness. What’s more, what would a person be like who had no rigid behaviour patterns? They would be very unpredictable, surely – “dangerously fluid”, as Ventura puts it (Hillman & Ventura, p.10.) How much unpredictability can a society take, even if it does not impose the oppressive conformities of current societies? These realistic questions raise many others about human beings and human societies. Both RC theory and RC counselors would be stimulated by discussing them.

“The Transformers” shows the positive impact of Lipman’s programme on disaffected young black people in New Jersey. The programme appears to get results without focusing on people’s pain and distress, above all, by making space to ask questions, a space that is very minimal in RC, and even actively discouraged by the leaders, who listen out only to correct the ‘distress’ in any challenge, rather than answer the intellectual content, “which is odd for a therapy whose guiding theory exalts the use of rational intelligence” (Rosen, p.104.)  I imagine that RC practices, judiciously applied, could be useful back-up tools when feelings are interfering with rational discussion; but that would seem to be the logical order of priorities if one’s prime concern is to promote good thinking.

Jackins has repeatedly offered RC theory and practice as the key tools for  making a better world but co-counselors do not discuss political and economic details sufficiently. There are indeed short articles and letters that are printed in “Present Time” but rarely do they reach the standards of debate in the quality newspapers. This may be because so many co-counselors come to RC for emotional not political reasons or that they lack the education required. But what is to prevent their learning and studying together? Hard left parties like the Socialist Workers Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party do this all the time. Jackins rightly condemns their rigid assumptions and hectoring tone but RC could surely draw on its experience in creating a positive atmosphere to do the job equally thoroughly but more attractively.

Individualism    

Jackins’ independent spirit is a liability as well as a strength. Because he emphasises individual responsibility and tries to separate out one person’s feeling from another’s, he loses sight of the dynamics of interaction.  RC does not explore group psychology rigorously enough; it does not allow for the messy complexity of real life outside of the carefully structured agreements of the co-counseling guidelines. The weakness is one that Jackins accuses others of – a failure to establish what the situation really is. Coupled with co-counselors’ fear of breaking RC’s rules, this weakness limits the effectiveness of most lower level co-counseling relationships. Strange as it may seem, co-counselors can be familiar with each other’s deepest feelings and feel emotionally close to each other but not really know each other very well, i.e. not know the bald facts about each other’s lives, not be familiar with their normal ways of behaving. Their relationships lack what the educationalist John Holt calls “reality of encounter”. Feelings about each other are often not adequately explored for fear of upsetting the balance of the relationship, which gives ammunition to the criticisms of counseling by analysts like Kovel. Smail reminds us that all relationships involve negotiation of power.(p.32.) At the personal level, ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed’ are not fixed roles but a relationship with a constantly shifting dynamic.

The most experienced RC leaders do tackle these questions but fail to appreciate that they are actually operating as professionals, with a lot of resource to draw on. They fly into workshops and tell less experienced counselors they should behave more normally with each other, ignoring the fact that beginning co-counselors have been inundated with instructions not to act normally or say what they think for fear of “dramatising their distress”. For things to be different, RC would have to be less moralistic. Co-counseling sessions would have to be more like the “processing” of relationships advocated by Jordan and Margaret Paul in their book Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You? (1988.) Following a cathartic model very similar to Jackins’, the Pauls see the key to resolving emotional difficulties in relationships being respectful dialogue leading gradually into the deeper feelings. Some RC leaders have moved in the direction of interaction. Jackins’ own son, Tim, specialises in working with children, who don’t observe rules about how and when they express their emotions. His “Family Workshops” are very fluid in structure and provide a possible model for future developments in co-counseling practice.

If individualism weakens the impact of co-counseling in  general, at its worst it can be totally debilitating. Jackins’ emphasis on personal responsibility is an important corrective to unjustified dependency but he talks rarely of the essential interdependence of human existence. The most extreme example of reality confusion in his writings is the statement: “If any one individual reclaims her or his power and moves, that one individual can guarantee the future of the world” (RP, p.75.) This is not only nonsense, it is dangerous nonsense, and it has nothing to do with the realities of social change. As Smail says, this is “magical psychology” (p.178), a far cry from Jackins’ claims to science.

The inadequacies of RC literature

It is a great pity that RC does not make more of its literature. Jackins is right that, overall, it is a “remarkable compilation” of contributions from around the world (SO, p.340) but it is spoiled by the tendencies I have been discussing. Since people are not supposed to display their “distress patterns” within RC, their written communications get censored before publication, if they do not sanitise them themselves. In the journals, the pain and messiness of people’s real lives is only acknowledged in certain contexts: one is when the writer appears to have acquired a more “rational” perspective on their past behaviour. This kind of writing can be useful and inspiring when it marks a genuine arrival, or a learning process.

At times, though, it seems to degenerate into ritualistic affirmations of intent rather than a record of real change: “One of RC’s gifts I treasure is its restoring to my awareness knowledge that we can thrive co-operatively and lovingly. The shame and terror that kept this knowledge from my awareness for most of my life still sometimes interrupts my acting on it.” (“Present Time” no. 88, p.64.) Authentic self-revelation also seems to be permitted when a writer represents a constituency that is just coming into RC, not yet socialised into its code of conduct, and treated indulgently because they are potentially the keepers of the keys for others. “Dr X” of Warsaw is the most vivid example. He has had unprecedented space in “Present Time” to write of his struggles with his depression and his attempts to co-counsel with his mother. A delightful saga has unfolded, and a very individual voice can be heard: “Often I woke my mother at night, and she listened to me, trying to say something cheerful. She has been very patient listening to my dissatisfaction with the ineffectiveness of her help. (It was out of my despair – I am sorry.) She has been very persistent to start anew as she failed. Then, I counselled her, and she shed a lot of tears. Then, after, I cried out my feeling guilty about hurting and tiring her.” (“Present Time” no. 67, p.63.)

But such a voice is rare in RC publications. Compare this: “The RC video “Discharging the Patterns of White  Racism” has been very helpful to me… The tape gave theory and excellent guidance on how to discharge racism. And it was quite restimulating, which was also useful… Overcoming racism doesn’t feel like a ‘fun’ topic, but I think my persistence in working on it has paid off. Of course, I do not claim to have gotten rid of my racism, but I do feel I have made tremendous progress.” (“Present Time” no.

88, p.65.) This contribution displays typical RC features: the effort to sound cheerful and optimistic; the use of jargon; the obligatory gush of validation for those who made the video – uneasily balanced by the equally obligatory display of self-esteem, on the one hand, and the anxious modesty about her persisting prejudices, on the other. None of this means that the writer has not been doing things that have meant something to her (and quite possibly to others) but I find in the writing the voice of conformity not individuality.

It is a great pity that all of the books published on RC are by Jackins, denying co-counselors the opportunity to hear different voices. Scheff’s book (op.cit.) was a refreshing discovery during this research. His explanation of the theory filled in gaps for me simply because he presents the information differently.

Most of Jackins’ books are actually transcripts of talks he has given. Some freshness is thus conveyed but the true warmth and poetry of the man does not come over. In print one is bored by the remorseless repetition and the limitations of his vocabulary. He appears not to have considered that the nuances one is able to convey in speech are different from those possible in writing. His first large book, “The Human Situation” (1974) was written to lay out the main ideas of RC at that date and it is a better balanced book than the rest. RC still very much lacks a well-written and up-to-date overview of its theory, in spite of discussion of the idea as far back as the early Sixties (BR, p.431.) whereas countless books have been written on NLP in half the time. Jackins should not lament that co-counselors neither read nor recommend his books enough when there are so many of them in such a jumble and so jargonistic that it takes the fastidiousness of an academic to work through them.

Weaknesses of RC as a theory and practice for social change

All of the weaknesses I have listed taint Re-evaluation Counseling not only as a therapy but as a resource for community-building and they limit co-counseling’s usefulness as a tool for realistic strategising. Luckily, individual co-counselors have been able to make the best of RC’s strengths by picking and choosing from among its ideas and applying them judiciously. Their stories emerge in the journals and at co-counseling events fairly regularly. But how many co-counselors are actually active political activists and how much respect they command is impossible to determine.

Jackins himself is disturbed by the failure of RC to turn out as many activists as he dreams of. In Start Over Every Morning (1989), he reprints an exchange of letters he had with Michael Brown, a Peace activist in Massachusetts. These letters are clearly included because of a serious desire to consider issues about political activism. By 1989, Jackins seems less confident about RC’s role in the political arena than formerly. Brown’s letters are well-pitched. He is careful to credit RC with its good points and then appeals to Jackins as a fellow activist. He raises matters of central concern to this essay, such as : “[Does] RC ever impede the development of an objective program because of its emphasis on “friendship networks” rather than winnable objective victories?” (SO p.286.) “Individuals and organisations are different animals…An organisation does not necessarily change because the people within it feel a different way.” (SO p.292.) He refers to Saul Alinsky, whose book “Rules for Radicals : A pragmatic primer for realistic radicals” (1971) proposes a very different approach from RC. Alinsky believed you have to organise people on the basis of self-interest and to force compliance by those in power by analysing their weak and strong points and then wittily threatening to humiliate them. His position is morally relativist: for him any means is justified.

Jackins responds by urging the application of RC ideas where appropriate (SO p.288) and – ironically – the development of discussion groups. He laments “how low a level  of commitment people [in RC] have and how terrified their lives have left them of making a commitment” (SO p.289). He wonders, with what is either a curious affectation of naiveté or alternatively disillusion, how to get commitment on a more positive basis than painful emotion, patriotism, hatred of the class enemy or fear of nuclear arms. But then he returns to familiar themes. He speculates about developing a new three-point programme for RC: “the reclaiming of lost intelligence”, “liberation”, and “taking charge”. The key means of the latter would be use by co-counselors of the “commitment”: “From now on, I will inspire, lead and organise all people to eliminate every form of humans harming humans. ” (SO p.294)

In my view, he will not accomplish this laudable goal by only getting people to release their emotions while saying the above. It is indeed inspiring to have such an uncompromising vision articulated and the commitment may stimulate many useful actions. But it will need to be backed up by hard thinking, realistic strategising, and creative experimentation. If Jackins wants co-counselors to change the world then he will have to submit RC practice, theory and literature to radical reappraisal. I move to a close with a quotation from Alinsky – not because I think he is superior to Jackins (he was clearly less aware of sexism, for example), nor because I think his methods are unassailable, but because he offers a useful corrective. He too wondered about the necessary motivation for an activist :

“There was a time when I believed that the basic quality that a [political] organiser needed was a deep sense of anger against injustice and that this was the prime motivation that kept him going. I now know that it is something else : this abnormal imagination that sweeps him into a close identification with mankind and projects him into its plight…Imagination is the basis for effective tactics and action.” (Alinsky 1971 p.74.)

Written by antonchekhov

June 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. There is another reason RC does not produce activists: it is an inherently authoritarian and therefore oppressive organization. It attracts people who are susceptible to being controlled not liberated.
    Signed,
    former RC’er

    Tina

    February 10, 2015 at 5:23 am

  2. I have never understood the apparent sense of entitlement (or ownership) that some people seem to feel about the RC communities. In my view, the communities are something cultivated by Harvey for the express purpose of disseminating the insights of Personal Counselors. Given that Harvey explicitly permits anyone at all to take these insights and do whatever the heck they want with them (excepting only calling the resulting mess RC), it seems a rather lame cop-out to me when people complain that the communities are not all they want them to be, and that if only their views were given a chance, things could be much improved.

    I don’t understand criticisms in the vein that RC should be more like x therapy. If you prefer x therapy just go do x. If you want a custom blend, go ahead and make one. There is no reason you can’t. If you are “confronted by your limitations” and can have no “realistic expectation” that you could build your own, more perfect project, what right does that give you to opine on the flaws of RC and expostulate on the “mistakes” that Harvey made (calling Harvey “arrogant” in the process, with your own arrogant proclamations on full display)?

    You have indeed written a lot here, some of it very thought-provoking, but there is far too much to analyse point by point. So I will simply highlight some things for you to consider.

    I have never understood RC to be a “therapy” and, in fact, in the early days, Harvey took particular pains to insist that a person’s “need” for therapy was not a good reason to invite them into counseling. So, right off the bat, I think you have mis-conceptualized what RC is. In the interest of having a critical discussion, if you wish to re-conceptualize it as a therapy, it is incumbent on you to give evidence and argument as to why I, or anyone else, should accept such a re-conceptualization. If you want to argue that the functional similarity is sufficient and Harvey’s express opinion (and my and many others’ understanding) is irrelevant, I might accept that for the purpose of passing on to more substantive points. Otherwise, I would insist it is a fundamental distortion of the theory to call it “therapy”.

    I also question your use of the terms ‘dictator’ and ‘democracy’. These are value laden terms. We generally dislike the idea of ‘dictatorship’ because it implies inescapable coercion at the whim of a falible human who may not have our best interest at heart. Is the concept even relavent in a completely voluntary organization? The organizational forms of capitalism are virtually all dictatorial. Yet people don’t gasp in horror because corporations are not run democratically. It seems to me that Harvey bent over backwards to be as little hierarchical and ‘dictatorial’ as possible, but the RC communities are an organization which necessarily implies structure and rules. Harvey could have turned over the rule making and guidance of the organization to some committee, but his choice to retain control is perfectly justifiable; there would doubtless still be criticisms of rules set by committee. Given that and the explicit permission to take whatever one finds useful in counseling and use it in the world in any way one sees fit, it is hard to see that there is any substance in criticisms that Harvey was “dictatorial’. Yes, if you want to be a part of the organization, you are expected to follow the organization’s rules. That applies in virtually every organization there is. If you have specific criticisms of specific rules you can lay them out, but criticizing the structure for not being democratic is absurd.

    “Dependency” is a nominalization and you are logically inconsistent in your view of it: “Lipman says: “[The philosophy class] is not a community of conformity…There’s a division of feeling and thinking, so they rely on each other.” One could just as well say “they depend on each other”. Well here you laud the “correct” form of “dependency” and in the very next paragraph, you blame RC for creating some unspecified but obviously “incorrect” form. And this, in the context of criticizing the whole notion of “correctness”, but clearly you also believe in some “correct” way… you just want to substitute your opinion of correctness for Harvey’s.
    Hmmm.. I seem to have reached some limit on allowed word count in replies…

    Jamie

    May 18, 2015 at 5:41 pm

  3. So I’ll try to wrap it up. You quote the fatuous apophatic philosopher Karen Armstrong: “Archimedes was relaxing in his bath when he had his flash of inspiration. In such a receptive mood, we are more open to the layers of the subconscious, says Armstrong.”

    This is a deliberate obfuscation of a rational process in an attempt to “make room” for “other ways of knowing” than rational scientific enquiry. In fact, Archimedes made an observation in his bath that allowed him to grasp some relationships he had not previously grasped… an entirely rational process involving paying attention while grappling with a problem. The way Armstrong characterizes the event, he could have been struck by a lightening bolt from Zeus to prompt his “flash of inspiration”. There is no justification at all for calling such an event irrational, extra-rational or non-rational (or postulating some divine or extra-rational source for “inspiration”). Similarly, when you postulate “non-rational states”, perhaps due to meditation… what is your conception and justification for identifying a state as “non-rational”? I have done a lot of meditating and as far as I can tell, it is all completely rational, simply adjusting what one puts one’s attention on. If you want to have a serious “critical discussion” of how RC conceptualizes ‘rationality’ you are going to have to do a lot more heavy lifting than just postulating unspecified “non-rational” states and making unsubstantiated claims for the benefit of such states for human functioning. Also, you are flat out wrong that RC has no use for emotion, or that the goal of counseling is to eliminate emotion. Harvey identified zest as a natural, un-distressed feeling state, talked a lot about love and affection, and frequently specified “painful emotion”, which implies positive emotion as well, when admonishing people not to make decisions based on painful emotions. To equate “not make decisions based on painful emotion” with some kind of generalized disdain for emotion is just wrong. Admittedly, there has been a lot of confusion in the communities about this, but I hardly think one can fault Harvey for that, anymore than one can fault him for taking a stand, based on his best thinking at the time, on matters of sexuality.

    I do agree with you that the goal of complete re-emergence is chimeric and rather meaningless. And I think you are very smart to decide there’s no point in trying to root out every last little bit of distress from our lives (regardless of whether this is possible or not). We do live in society, and society and our survival do place demands on our time and attention. But many of your other specific criticisms (of patterned behavior in the communities or what might be interpreted as ‘wooden’ counseling) are too far decontextualized. For instance, you talk about the “therapeutic” limits to “just listening” without conveying that discharge is elicited through contradicting distress… and that sometimes “just listening” is itself a sufficient contradiction to someone’s distress, but sometimes it’s not. A lot of what lumps under “wooden” counseling are phrases that tend to be contradictions to ubiquitous distresses institutionalized in our cultures… phrases that even not very competent counselors can sometimes use to good effect to elicit discharge. Harvey talked incessantly about the “gap between theory and practice”, which is an implicit recognition that a lot of what passes for sessions in the communities is neither powerful nor life changing due to, to put it bluntly, poor counseling. But again, unless you can go out and do it better, what’s the point of leveling blame for these things on Harvey? Hell, even if you can go out and do it better… still, what’s the point?

    Jamie

    May 18, 2015 at 7:16 pm

  4. I am looking for participants – people that grew up in RC house holds e.g. children of RC that are now grown up. Do you know how I would find them? I am one but am looking for others.

    shelly

    July 12, 2016 at 2:38 pm

  5. Hi, If you know of anyone that is EX-RC or that “grew up” in RC please ask them to email me. shellysputty@gmail.com This is for a research project. I was a child of RC and want to talk to others that grew up around it re their experience. Thanks

    shelly

    July 13, 2016 at 2:24 am

    • Thanks for your message. I am now posting all messages so that others can see them. I’m afraid I have nothing more to say, myself, however. Best wishes, Anton.
      Merci de votre message. Je regrette que je n’ai plus rien a ajouter sur ce sujet la. Amicalement, Anton.

      antonchekhov

      March 26, 2017 at 9:26 pm


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