We all experience emotions, and the experience is not always pleasant. What to do? This book provides a simple and practical model which can be used to understand, and potentially to relieve, the emotional distresses of everyday life.
We all experience emotions – and the experience is not always pleasant. Being sensitive by nature, we are inevitably vulnerable to these feelings. But must we be helpless? What exactly are emotions, anyway? Where do they come from, how many are there, are they any use to us – and, if we don't like their effects, is there any way to get rid of them?
Drawing on a variety of sources including western psychology and eastern philosophy, as well as the experiences of a long and varied medical career, the author describes a simple and practical model which can be used to understand, and potentially to relieve, the emotional distresses of everyday life.
The book is both a subjective exploration of, and a practical guide to dealing with, the emotional aspects of human experience. However, it is not a form of therapy, and the techniques described in it should not be practised during the course of a mental illness. Mental illness requires medical treatment – whereas this book mainly offers mental exercise.
The elements of the model described have always existed, but they are presented here in a way which the author considers potentially useful to a wide audience. A single underlying cause for our many emotions is suggested. Their complex effects on daily life are then discussed in detail, and simple techniques for their exploration and resolution are described.
This book is written for anyone who would like to understand the human mind better – or who would simply like a happier and calmer life. However, it certainly does not guarantee either result. Nor does it pretend to explain life's underlying mysteries – which words cannot, in any case, effectively address.
On the other hand, a better understanding and fuller resolution of emotions allows a clearer view of the mental landscape. That might well lead to a more peaceful and joyful life. But it would be an optional extra – bought with your own hard work.
This book is about one aspect of the human mind the emotions. But hasn't there already been too much written about the mind? And hasn't it all completely failed to solve the problems we human beings have lived with since the beginning of recorded history and presumably before?
Going by the recent and present state of the world, the innumerable mind experts don't seem to have helped us much. So, in writing this book about emotions, am I not simply adding to the confusion? Perhaps I am. On the other hand, perhaps some things written about the mind have helped some people, sometimes. And perhaps this book can do the same.
For better or worse, this book more or less grew inside me during my rather eccentric medical career. Throughout that career, death was never far away especially during my hospice and geriatric phases, which together accounted for two thirds of my clinical work. Perhaps that is partly why philosophy and psychology became major interests of mine.
Of course, powerful emotions were no stranger to me, my patients or their loved ones. And as the years passed, I became more and more interested in the origins and characteristics of those emotions. But most of all, I wanted to discover whether the pain they so often cause could be relieved and, if so, how.
By the beginning of 2007, after 35 years in practice, I felt sure that my model for the understanding and healing of emotional pain was worth passing on if I could just put it in some sort of order. So I withdrew from clinical work at the age of 60, and settled down to write this book. It had a broader scope in earlier drafts, but I decided to publish much of the content (also via wanterfall.com) under other titles. That left the field clear for the emotions as the exclusive topic of Wanterfall.
WHAT THIS BOOK IS NOT
Perhaps, like me, you approach books about the human mind with some scepticism. I hope so. But you may have various expectations of this book. Well, there are a few possible expectations that I would like to nip in the bud. Here are some things which this book is most definitely NOT.
The "Wanterfall work" described in this book is not a validated therapy for any illness. The book is an entirely subjective work. It is woven around a model of the origin, characteristics and effects of emotions which includes generalisations and approximations derived from many sources. These sources include existing philosophical and psychological writings, personal observations, logical argument and clinical experience. But they do not include the results of any controlled clinical trials.
The philosophical foundations of the book are not really amenable to scientific study. However, because self exploration often causes emotional distress as a side effect, a method for dealing with that distress is described and that certainly could be tested. However, it would be a major undertaking, and at the time of writing it has not been done.
This actually puts it on a similar footing with most psychological therapies, the vast majority of which have not been validated. Indeed, the evidence for those few therapies currently considered as evidence based is itself quite limited. That said, the approach to emotional distress described in this book does not compete with any type of therapy because it is simply not designed to be a form of therapy at all. It is, however, closely aligned with many current concepts in grief counselling. Indeed, its role in "Wanterfall work" is analogous to grief counselling. It could also be applied, on an empirical basis, to emotional distress due to other causes.
I will include some general information about common mental illnesses and their treatment in one forthcoming publication , and I will discuss a few self-help techniques in another . But you will not find anything at all about the treatment of mental illness in this book this book is just about understanding and relieving the emotional distresses of everyday life.
Although relieving emotional distress is one of its aims, the ideas in this book may make you feel worse, at first. If you take them seriously which means practising the technique called "Wanterfall work" it will probably result in a rather rough ride, over successive humps of personal challenge; some of which you may not previously have been aware of at all.
If your mind is healthy, I don't think you will ever regret that ride. But if your mind is temporarily unwell if you are suffering from any mental illness now is not the time to read this book. Put it aside. Later, if your doctor has no objection, you may wish to explore these ideas. But not now.
This book is not all my own work. Considering the subject matter, it hardly could be. Rather, it has resulted from my long-term interest in eastern philosophy and western psychology, coupled with a fairly continuous attempt to understand the everyday experiences of my patients and myself, during a thirty-five year career in clinical medicine.
That medical career, incidentally, has been divided approximately equally between General (Child & Family) Practice, Hospice (Palliative) Medicine and Geriatric Care with a considerable domiciliary component in each case. And if you are beginning to think me a little eccentric, rest assured that my medical colleagues have often thought the same.
Among many influential teachers, I am particularly indebted to three. The first was the 20th Century philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, who had a knack of simplifying things to such an extreme degree that the truth of the simplification often escaped me for years. On one occasion, he listened with apparent interest to my lengthy exposition of the theory and practice of the hospice movement, and then summed it up in three words "Isn't it fear?" (He didn't say whether he was referring to some aspect of hospice care, or to me.)
The other two were the unconventional psychiatrist Elisabeth Kόbler-Ross and her down to earth colleague, clinical psychologist Marti Barham. They introduced me to the principles on which my "Emotional EEEEs" technique is based. Although their interest in reincarnation caused many people to consider them rather eccentric, they taught me more about emotions during a one year sabbatical than I had learned in the previous fifteen years of medical training and practice.
I am not trying to take away anything that you enjoy. In fact, that is the exact opposite of my aim. There is an apparent paradox here, but it is an illusion. If you think carefully as you read, you will certainly learn that wanting anything very much can cause suffering in various ways. But you will not find any advice in these pages to give up the things you like. Instead, you will be offered the opportunity to give up the suffering, if you choose to or to keep it, if you prefer.
I will explain, from various angles, how energy invested in wanting pleasure actually prevents pleasure. Whereas, if you instead apply that energy to making choices, and taking the actions which those choices imply, it is possible to leave most unhappiness behind and discover many previously elusive joys. This may sound trite and obvious, but it does not come automatically to most of us. That is why I wrote this book.
This book is absolutely not a religious statement of any kind. It does not ask you to believe anything. It does not offer you any sort of salvation. And it tries very hard not to be moral, immoral or amoral whether that leaves anything else, or not.
Personally, I do not follow any religion, although I was brought up in one of the many Christian denominations. I have also been influenced considerably by Buddhist philosophy, and to a lesser extent by some Taoist and Hindu concepts. You might notice these influences at times. But if you are asked to adopt any of them, then you are certainly not reading the book I wrote. Please download a genuine copy they are free.
Equally, if you have a religion, I will not try to take it away from you. It is, however, possible that something in the text may accidentally offend one of your religious beliefs. If so, I sincerely regret it. I do not set out to offend you, or anybody else. And I do not ask you to agree with anything I say. In this book, I will simply be trying to explain my Wanterfall concept, to the best of my ability. You may think about it or ignore it.
I am not offering to lead you anywhere. This book does not offer a path to anything or to anywhere. Rather, it maps the route away from the madness generally called "normal". That map is yours to refer to but the leadership must be your own.
In any case, following blindly in the wake of someone else's ideas can never succeed words can never lead you anywhere worth going. To find anything real, you must see every step of the way with your own understanding. That way, you can be your own, careful leader and follow yourself.
This book does not come with any promises. Absolutely none at all. Not even the usual sort. So, bearing in mind that those ones (empty promises) are the most marketable commodity known to man, perhaps it is a good thing that this book is available as a free e-book. After all, who would pay for it?
Throughout the book, of course, there is the implied suggestion that the Wanterfall work described is worth learning how to do and worth doing. But I don't promise any specific result from this and in any case, it is your work that is the essential ingredient, not mine. So, there are plenty of suggestions in this book, but no promises. On the other hand, there is no pessimism, either. If you read this book, and think carefully as you read, I for one am very optimistic about what may follow.