Creating the Patient Wall; More thoughts on the technique and effect of Simple Contact
Barrett L. Dorko, P.T.
I m often asked to provide some kind of detailed manual explaining just exactly what it is I do to my patients. People want a book full of pictures with arrows and captions. They want a protocol or a list of techniques to use in opposition to certain symptoms or diagnoses.
Well, I ve seen many books with pictures over the years and I honestly don t think they re worth the effort it takes to either produce or read them. I m certain that many will disagree, and perhaps my feeling about this has more to do with my personal learning style than anything else, but I m not sure about that. I don t describe protocols and lists of techniques because when dealing with neural tension such things are not very helpful. My opinion is based upon what we know about the behavior and biomechanics of that system, its geometry (fractal), and, not the least important, my twenty years of employing Simple Contact.
So, instead of specific and traditional descriptions of technique, I try to describe what I m thinking when I handle others. What I ll attempt to do here is to describe an important aspect of my attitude while treating and combine that with an analogy I ve recently come up with.
Consider this quote from the poet David Whyte: Patience is the genius that allows us to touch the world in a way that does not turn it into gold, but allows it to reveal itself, as itself, in ways that continue to astonish, frighten and delight.
I try very hard not to manually coerce my patients in any specific direction. I touch them, of course, but it s perfectly possible to simply land on another with your hand and not imply to them that you would prefer they move in one direction or another. Since I have no personal preference for the direction I want them to go, but only the nature of their movement, eliminating my tendency to direct them is pretty easy. It s not there to begin with. As stated many times elsewhere in my writing, I want a movement that is effortless, warming, softening and surprising (see The Characteristics of Correction). When the patient reports that these qualities are present, I figure they re going in the right direction. I never begin knowing what that direction will be. If I knew I d either take them there myself or tell them where to go. I don t, so I can t. Manipulation of the dermal layers in various directions in order to elicit the desired movement and sensation is not the same as telling people manually which way to move actively, and I certainly do that. This nuance of technique is explained and justified in Touch and Sensation: A Deep Model.
I feel that patience is an essential aspect of this technique. This is because the movement the patient needs to do doesn t always show up immediately upon touching them. You simply have to wait. If you don t, you re not going to sense it or see it, so please wait. As Whyte suggests, patience allows the thing you re touching to reveal itself.
Creating a Wall
I m often asked why ideomotor movement isn t within the patient s awareness until I touch them. Typically, they become acutely aware of it very soon afterward, even if it s too subtle to see. This is a perfectly reasonable question.
Here s my latest analogy. Imagine being seated a few feet from another person in a small room. When you speak, they will hear you even if you speak very, very softly. Now imagine being seated the same distance from that person, but this time in the center of a gymnasium. You probably know that you ll have to speak louder in order to be heard clearly. And you probably know that this is because the sound waves are dispersed as soon as they leave you. Without a nearby wall to reflect them back it s simply harder for the other person to catch them with their ears.
Now think of a motion within your body, your cardiac rhythm for example. You wouldn t sense its presence under ordinary circumstances, but if I place my hand on your chest wall it becomes evident to you. It was simply a matter of giving it something to bounce off of. In this instance my hand created a wall for the movement s vibrations and, effectively, made your body s expression easier to sense because the room became smaller. Thousands of patients have told me that a gentle shower has a similar effect, and this makes perfect sense to me. I m talking here about the room your body occupies and sends its messages of movement into. Of course, it s the nonverbal, unconsciously generated ones that interest me. I can feel them easier than see them, and, if I touch you with patience and no intention to coerce, your conscious mind will begin to sense them as well.
Having said all of that, I can now say this; Simple Contact makes the room occupied by the conscious and unconscious smaller, thus making it a lot easier for one to hear the other.