Is Your Solution Personal?

Penn Jillette of “Penn and Teller” fame lost 100 pounds of weight during the Spring of 2015. He did it by going on a potato diet, just potatoes and nothing else for 2 weeks. Then he added sweet corn.

Straight away you can see this is pretty extreme.

“I fail at things that are not black and white.” was how Penn put it writing about his experiences in his book Presto!. For those who are thinking of following this diet Penn has this advice “Don’t take medical advice from a juggler”.

Filmmaker and commentator Kevin Smith (who directed Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma amongst others) suffered a massive heart attack and was told to 40 pounds of weight or die. He hopped onto Penn Jilettes potato diet losing 17 pounds in a 9 days.

The extremeness and rigidity of the diet was the key to making it work for Penn, that’s how his mind works. Such an intervention is tricky for a therapist to participate in. Being so extreme, dangerous even, and considering Penn poor health at the time, such an approach would wrong medically, ethically and legally. Penn could afford constant medical supervision and attention and was coached along the way by a NASA biophysicist.

If the highly tuned, bleeding edge, utterly custom, redlining approach is one end of the spectrum then what lies on the other end? The script, the algorithm, the seeing the problem not the person; The one size fits all approach. Having been through the various rapid and alternative therapy trainings of recent popularity it’s our experience that the vast majority of teachers and practitioners operate this way.

They diagnose the superficial presentation of the condition, they run the algorithm and apply the output. The hypnosis script, written by a grey beard from the 50’s, the NLP Fast Phobia cure for any form of adverse reaction, anchoring to change peoples states. And then sending them off to repeat their harmful behaviours.

Actually, all of these are in fact fine tools. But that 2 week “master” practitioner course, or the 1 week practitioner course, or the 1 day training seminar too often produces a person with a superficial “if a then b” mindset. This issue of seeing the problem not the person is not exclusive to the alternative therapies, I’ve seen it too often in conventional settings.

While I could never in good consciousness put someone through something so extreme as Penn Jillette’s regime the work we do will be with the person first, not the symptom.

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