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Manual Magic

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  • Does the patient’s pledge bear any similarity to a poker player’s tell? When Barrett asked “The Pledge also includes the magician showing the audience “something ordinary.” What do you suppose that thing might be in the clinic?” The therapist, as magician, reveals his hand readily whereas most patients may strive to conceal theirs initially. It seems to me most patients probably go home after the first session and think to themselves, gee that therapist did nothing to conceal his hand! Cory, this links in to your second visit discussion as it’s then that I see the patient more comfortably reveal their own.

    Eric Matheson, PT


    • Hi Cory,

      I think the whole process is magical (No one part of it is "the magic") and Barrett is onto a useful metaphor. I'll qualify my comments as novice (if not simply wrong) but it seems the pledge amplifies the magical nature of the whole process.
      Last edited by Jon Newman; 02-03-2007, 03:39 PM.
      "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris


      • There is a process happening, invisibly, as soon as a patient comes in.. just from a primate perspective, they are on your turf so they feel uncomfortable. One has the advantage there. There is a therapeutic relationship that must rapidly form if anything is to be achieved. They need to feel as though they are in control over their own process, even on your turf. The inner tension heightens their senses.

        Showing them your hands (which I literally do, come to think of it) is a good submission gesture if you are the HPSG. The room itself (the "stage", the therapeutic crucible) should be neutral, non personal, well-lit, suggestive of no subterfuge, so they feel they can 'find' their body (themselves, control) easily again should they happen to 'lose' it (themselves,control) for a few seconds.

        The pledge? I'm guessing that it's a promise to explain to them what you're doing, and then stick to it. The edge we play as therapists is the patient's hope that we will change them versus their will not to let us change them without their permission and their fear of letting us. We have to be solid but not willful, perform our tricks as minimally as possible letting their systems do all the work so they can feel themselves changing, then give them all credit due.
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        • Hi Diane,

          I agree that if a good trick is performed, it done so by the patient's nervous system/physiology.
          "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris


          • On to The Turn

            More than I could ask for, but nothing less than I’ve come to expect from the moderators here. Are we the only ones performing magic do you suppose? Is the thing that separates us from the lurkers and non-contributors our willingness to practice in this way? The mysterious silence from our peers with an equal or greater amount of clinical experience and knowledge might become less mysterious in light of this thread.

            On to The Turn. From the movie. “After showing you something ordinary, the magician makes that thing do something extraordinary.”

            Where is this within the context of manual care?

            (Diane's last post is a great place to start considering this)
            Barrett L. Dorko


            • I guess I have trouble putting myself in the shoes of the magician or conceptualizing that way because I always sense the magic coming from the patient and I'm the observer if I'm doing it right so to speak. I figure my part in the magic is similar to the magician who asks an audience participant to come up on stage and help him with the "trick." Thus the audience member (me the therapist) is needed to assist the magician (patient) perform to completion a particular magic trick (therapeutic outcome). Since I talk alot with my hands, I guess I see your point about our hands showing something prior to contact.
              I haven't seen the movie, so I am not referencing to the direct analogy your making Barrett, but I hope this follows the pattern of what you are leading us through


              • The Turn - Emptiness and Ideomotion

                Some of you know that I end my workshops by telling the story of how my brother and I walked through the house we grew up in after it had been emptied in preparation for sale. I say, “We filled the rooms with our imagination. And it was the emptiness that allowed our imaginations to take us where we needed and wanted to go.” (In fact, the first post I ever offered on Soma Simple, found here covers this subject quite well) Then I say, “Put your hand on a patient and empty the room.” At that point the course itself is over.

                It occurs to me that the “empty hand” of The Pledge in Simple Contact says a bit more than might be implied by a manipulator. Not only is my hand empty but its touch creates an “empty room” into which the patient’s imagination can take them. Coercive care, no matter how gentle, fills the space, massively reduces the patient’s tendency and ability to act as they wish and pretty much destroys the magic. Other than that it’s perfectly fine.

                But if The Turn is something that ordinary things do in extraordinary ways, than I must conclude that the nature and usefulness of ideomotion and all that follows from it is what we’re referring to when the phrase “manual magic” is in play.

                In short, the magic won’t appear unless The Pledge includes an “empty hand.” The patient’s body and all it contains is then the ordinary thing performing in an extraordinary way.

                Now the hard part: The Prestige.
                Barrett L. Dorko


                • I’ve finally seen the movie The Prestige now and am left with the impression that this thread could go on for a while yet. My brain is getting a workout keeping up. Barrett forgive me if this is tangential, but it seems to me the hard part about The Prestige, is The Secret. The movie makes it clear that there is nothing more important than The Secret. The characters go to great lengths protect their secrets including living their act throughout their lives. What effect does divulging The Secret have on The Prestige, for that is what the therapist as teacher must do? Is there even a Prestige when therapy is done right? Maybe I’m getting a little lost.

                  Eric Matheson, PT


                  • Intro to The Prestige

                    Eric, glad you asked.

                    As you’ve seen, The Secret is not included in the three parts of any magic act, but that’s okay. In order to sort this out you have to read the book while you watch the movie. It helps to be alone for days at a time as well, which is common for me but you might have trouble achieving this.

                    The Prestige is the final effect; it is the product of magic and it is distinct from the secret. From the book: “The wonder of magic lies not in the technical secret, but in the skill in which it is performed.” And, “Magicians protect their secrets not because the secrets are large and important, but because they are so small and trivial.”

                    Think about that last line in light of our work and your observation regarding the length if not just the intricacy of this thread is understandable.

                    Let’s stay with it anyway.
                    Barrett L. Dorko


                    • I compiled a few reviews of the movie from the Internet and would like to add some of their comments before I go on to The Prestige in manual care.

                      “On one level, it’s disappointing to find out the magician’s secret: That’s all? He palmed the coin? He forced the card? Then again, I never was one to subscribe to Mark Twain’s sad belief that learning to pilot a riverboat robbed the Mississippi of its beauty; to me, learning the trick only enhances the showmanship used to pull it off.”

                      "The secret impresses no one," Michael Caine's character reminds his proteges in The Prestige. In other words, you better have something else up your sleeve besides actual "magic" because magic is lousy entertainment. It's cold and impersonal and usually has no dramatic heft. Most magic tricks are performed at a quick pace because the whole thing depends on a moment's misdirection and because if it didn't go by quickly, no one would ever sit for it. Even when it's successful, a magic trick earns nothing but a polite clap.”

                      “The prestige is the final act: "the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance." It is the piece de resistance, the communal release of breath, when objects or people that disappeared in the first act reappear to general astonishment.”

                      For our purposes i.e. what all of this has to do with magical manual care, I propose the following questions:

                      1) What is the extraordinary thing our ordinary body can do?

                      2) What is the “trivial” secret behind the effect of Simple Contact?

                      3) When is The Prestige evident in the clinic and what makes it so?
                      Barrett L. Dorko


                      • here is a good trick .......


                        • 1) What is the extraordinary thing our ordinary body can do?

                          2) What is the “trivial” secret behind the effect of Simple Contact?

                          3) When is The Prestige evident in the clinic and what makes it so?
                          1) Find its own way out of pain.

                          2) How simple the contact really is!

                          3) Upon the removal of contact when the newly expressed nervous system is able to function in more comfort.
                          Cory Blickenstaff, PT, OCS

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                          • Cory,

                            Well, it only took 162 posts and nearly 3700 views to get here but it appears we’ve finally done it.

                            The way I put it to the classes is this: Human beings are self-corrective, making others aware of that is easy and getting patients to do this on their own is the point of your care.

                            You’ll find all three elements of a magic trick in there.

                            There’s this as well: When is a therapist not magical? I found an answer to this important question in The Prestige’s second magician, Rupert Angier. He’s played by Hugh Jackman in the movie and these details about his thinking appear in the book.

                            He says, “I know that I can reach the top of my profession simply by the excellence of presentation. My weakness is that I never understand the working of an illusion until it is explained to me. I have a poor magical imagination, and find it difficult to apply known general principles to produce a desired effect. I am dazzled by the shown and confounded by the unseen.”

                            This sounds like a lot of therapists to me. Their "presentation" is kind and engaging so they rise in the profession. But their knowledge of the deep model is deficient so they struggle. Their lack of knowledge leads quite naturally to the “advanced technology” of Simple Contact appearing “indistinguishable from magic.” Sound familiar?

                            When asked again and again how my work is different from the “unwinding” seen in the MFR courses, perhaps it would be best to say, “I am a magician, and therefore I understand the deep model and the principle behind this work. Our colleagues who do something similar without that understanding are making a mistake. In an effort to outdo all other therapies (not my intention) they end up doing some awful stuff.”

                            Consider what the Angier character does in the movie because his understanding is lacking but his ambition is enormous.

                            It’s pretty awful.
                            Barrett L. Dorko



                              this is good information .



                              • Ian,

                                Great link. I read this when it first came out in the magazine.

                                Here's a detail about Angier, the magician in The Prestige with no "magical imagination." Unlike Borden, he wasn't a craftsman of any sort. He was a child of privilege, lived in a mansion and bought all the apparatus he needed to perform. Without question he was obsessed with practice and the repetition needed to perfect his presentation.

                                But without any true knowledge of the materials he was working with, the kind of knowledge a carver has of wood for instance, something crucial was lacking.

                                Do you see where I'm going with this?
                                Barrett L. Dorko