Doctor Dohn's Blog

“Sometimes Words Get in the Way”

         A patient of mine is now housebound with a difficult muscle wasting disease. She has trouble walking, seeing and coordinating her movements. Even speaking and eating are compromised. I see her at home and gently work on her back and neck and we talk. During this visit she said that her neighbors had invited her to dinner and she was not looking forward to it.

         “They want to talk and help and I cannot eat and talk at the same time. And there is nothing they can do anyway. Sometimes words get in the way”, She said.

         I said, “Oh yes”, and then I shut up and gently spent 35 minutes massaging her back, feeling for myself what this must be like and simply being with her.

         When I finished she said she felt great and was able to walk a little better.

         I got the gift of “Sometimes words get in the way”.


         Leonardo de Vinci first described how thoughts and emotions get expressed through the muscles and posture of the body. He called it the “outward expression or our inner world”. This is still true today. Some of our best communications are facial or posture expressions that convey that we feel what another feels. The words get in the way of our feelings.


         When a child runs into Mom with a pain or ouch and Mom wrinkles her forehead, raises her eyebrows and frowns then the child knows that Mom knows he or she is hurt. And the child relaxes a bit. When we are in pain, physical or emotional, we feel alone. Seeing another with a facial expression like ours allows for a certain amount of connection and our pain diminishes.

         Sometimes words get in the way for all of us.

         We all do this all the time………our facial expressions, the way the dress, the car we drive, our friends all communicate something about us. In the world of salesmanship and neuro-linguist-programming an effective technique for achieving rapport with someone is by “pacing”. This is taking on the postures and facial expressions of another person. The likelihood of closing a sale is greatly increased with this rapport building technique.

         12 Step Meetings begin for everyone with a recognizing of similarities for the newcomer. The similarities are of feelings, not necessarily of money or relationships or education. The similar feelings, as expressed by the whole body and words first provide the feeling of safety for the newcomer to begin the process of recovery. The only way this is achieved is by seeing, listening to, being with another person who has been there and can express the incomparable demoralization that the addiction process produces with the phenomenon of craving. When one person can see the facial expressions, postures and hear the words that they thought were private and personal to themselves then the possibility occurs to allow a higher power to assist us in growing beyond the locked-in emotional drives of addiction.

         We no longer feel alone and abandoned.

         Sometimes words get in the way.

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