Kitty Durgin and I have, recently, been discussing specific tools that I keep in my Guerrilla Therapy Toolbox regarding problem solving techniques, prioritizing techniques, creativity, finding pathways to the flow channel (see graph), how, and why, all these things are esemplastic &c.
I realized that it this would make for an excellent post! A descriptive tool box of sorts.
Yes! The Essential Guerrilla Therapist’s Toolbox!
And it’s a large tool box, so we’ll consider this one, Part 1.
Or, “what Jason carries around in his head to make the world more interesting…”
So here is Tool #1: Build Yourself a Fuzzy Rabbit Hole and Dive in without Reserve.
In other words; this is how I found Edward De Bono.
(If you are interested in the background of De Bono you can simply click his picture. However, I am not interested in explaining that here. Rather I am interested in delving into some of his methodologies and how they can be practically applied, therapeutically, artistically, creatively.)
I can’t build the entire network of connections that led me to this man without expounded through, I’m afraid, a torrential hoard of information so I will attempt to make it short.
(And a little preceding bit of informing context–John Lambert, the mentor behind the curtain, always draws his initials, “JL,” as the contradiction sign from symbolic logic. And that symbol is simply ⊥. There is an ironic beauty in this.)
“It is never good to leave yourself ignorant about anything.” – ⊥
I took ⊥’s words very heavily and while spending my time reading, watching a television show, talking with someone, learning anything; I would willingly lead myself down a fuzzy rabbit hole crafted by Daedalus. To put it less metaphorically, I did just what he suggested; if I didn’t know, or didn’t understand, something – I looked it up. With this, I was constantly acquiring new knowledge… Newledge…
The term was the disease known as Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA).
I remember it very clearly. A girl named Hannah Morgenthal played by actress Mika Boorem had experienced a car crash with her mother. Skip ahead and they’re both, obviously, in the ER. When House enters the room one of his employees, Foreman, was dressing the wounds of Hannah.
“What’s your name?” House asks, as Foreman, bewildered, is baffled that House seems to actually care what a patient’s name is.
“Hannah Morgenthal,” she replies.
“You have CIPA, Miss Morgenthal.”
“No I don’t.”
Foreman stops, “Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis? There’s only been, what, 4 documented cases?”
House replies, “I can give you… 7 reasons… why I believe she has CIPA.”
That single line in the episode was the vestige for many of my current tools
If ever I am to watch something that has any educational value to it viz, a medical show, a TED.Com talk, a movie then I will always watch it on my computer for the sole purpose of having Google be a click away and, accordingly, have all the research available for me.
(When I was young I can remember this same concept only we did it with a thing called The Encyclopedia Britannica and since searching the alphabetized pages didn’t come with an autofill option it took a little bit longer to find things in those days. Hence in between reading we went to a place called the outdoors and sometimes we went to a land called the woods.)
I began to read about CIPA and came across a website, that I do not recall, nor can I find again, that discussed this episode and stated that the, “7 reasons,” that House says he is going to give is an important point to recognize. Why? Because he only gives 5 and replies with something to the effect of, “7, 5, what’s the difference?”
The thing is – when it comes to our cognitive abilities, there really isn’t much of a difference.
In 1956 the cognitive psychologist George A. Miller wrote a paper entitled, “The Magical Number 7. Plus, or Minus, 2: Some Limits on Our Abilities for Processing Information.” Essentially the human mind can process via working memory 7 ± 2 stimuli at a time.
From reading this article and navigating my way through other random web pages regarding its content I came across a RadioLab broadcast from November of 2008 titled, not surprisingly, “How Much Is Too Much?”
In this broadcast one of the featured speakers was Dr. Oliver Sacks. And, accordingly, since he was a man that I knew nothing about I proceeding to read about him.
I spent years reading as much of Oliver Sacks’ material, and watching as many lectures, as I could come across from, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” to, “Seeing Voices,” to driving to New York City to visit Emily Kaufman who had had tickets to a lecture that Oliver Sacks was giving.
I even had the opportunity to meet the curmudgeon in person!
I grabbed my copy of, “Seeing Voices,” and ran up to him after his lecture,
“Dr. Sacks! Huge fan. I brought my copy of, ‘Seeing Voices,’ you see, ha, I teach in a school for the Deaf and I was hoping I could get this copy signed so we can have it in our library.”
He looked up at me, put his baseball cap on his head and said, “Deaf schools. Ha. I didn’t even know they still made those.”
And as he turned away from me I couldn’t help but laugh and enjoy the moment…
From my studying I found mention of Dr. Sacks in a book called, “Brain Training: Boost Memory, Maximize Mental Agility & Awaken your Inner Genius,” by Tony Buzan. Buzan, I learned, then was a pioneer of, among other things, Mind Mapping. Mind Mapping! A wonderful tool to have come across! A way for me to formally map out my connectomes and neuronetworks and actually see them in front of me and in our current time period we have mind mapping software and apps that make it even easier to plot out your route.
And in the far back of this book I came across a small section that had something stick out at me…
Hats… That think…
What a strange idea. The six thinking hats? What could this be about?
I turned back to my old friend Google and began to search the tubes for Edward De Bono and his hats that think and I came across a book entitled, “Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas.”
When I first saw the book cover and title I, quite literally, judged it by its cover. I figured that I would be reading just another book telling me to take a long walk through the woods, meditate by a babbling brook, imitate your favorite artist etc. All of tidbits of creative unwisdom that never worked for me.
Instead I learned what Lateral Thinking really was.
De Bono had a huge gripe with creative thinking that, I believe, makes sense. Essentially his gripe is– what the hell happened? We had all these revolutions and developments of man that seemed to have been telescopic! The timescales between them have been becoming brilliantly smaller and smaller.
De Bono came up with a multitude of ways to create new ideas simply by, for lack of better terms, hacking the brain through, what he calls, “Provocative Operations,” and so as to not muddy the brain waters, “Provocative Operation,” is often abbreviated to, and spoken and written as, simply, “PO.” A provocative operation on the brain treats the brain for what it is; a vast myriad little electrical networks that are all connected to each other and in addition uses the brain’s natural framework in order to force new ideas.
One such tool is the tool is the Random Input tool and it works so effectively and is done with such a simple trick on the brain that it is astonishing to me that it produces the ideas that it does.
It works essentially as follows…
Imagine I were to blindfold you and drive you to a random place in your home town. A completely random location in the town that you know so well. Would you, after the blindfold has been removed, be able to find your way back home?
Almost certainly you would.
The thing is, De Bono figured that the brain works in this same exact fashion.
If I were to “blindfold,” let’s say, Focus A and drop it off in a completely random part in the brain, say Synapse B, and have Focus A find its way back “home” by route of the neuronetwork it is in while utilizing not only Synapse B but also each connection along the way in order to define itself then we can create new ideas simply by playing with said focus.
To simplify the explanation further I will just give an example now.
Say I am feverishly amidst the writing of a new poem and need to concoct a metaphor for, say, how beautiful the weather is when I sit in my garden…
We now have Focus A (how beautiful the weather is when I sit in my garden) to arrest and take to Synapse B and have him find his way home again. Accordingly we would be doing a Provocative Operation of Random Input in order to generate a new idea.
And so as to not tarnish the flavor of the thought train the entire sentence is slimmed down, the fat chewed and trimmed off, until we are possessed only by the thought, “Focus A PO Synapse B.”
From where I sit on my porch there are an endless supply of random stimuli that I may place into the footholds of Synapse B. Now, remember, it is this simple – you have your focus and you drop it off in a random place in the brain and have it find its way home.
Focus A PO Coffee Mug – The weather is every cup of coffee that had me sink into winter chairs wrapped in a sigh of solace.
Focus A PO Motorcycle – The weather is shifting to fifth on a 1977 Harley-Davidson XLCR Café racer down Route 66 on a Pirsig pilgrimage.
Focus A PO Cat – The weather is all fur and whiskers and coming home to no conditions, no needs but to love and be held.
Focus A PO Hula Hoop – The weather is childhood toys in June with grass in my toes and hips choreographed by the wind.
Now these are all, of course, just random examples of how this one particular tool works.
But now that the tool is, exhaustingly, explained you can understand that Focus A need not be something that has only to do with art and creativity.
It can be a conundrum at your job and a need for a new idea to deal with it.
It can be the way you are fixing your bicycle.
It can be needing to decorate your living room.
It can be how to store the food in your fridge.
It can be how to approach a friend who is having a difficulty.
It can be how to improve upon a specific ability that you fear you have exhausted options for.
As you can see – you can be your own rabbit chasing your own tail to eventually swallow all the knowledge you have found along the way.
So there are a few Essential Guerrilla Therapy tools from the toolbox, tools that rattle like hail on my bedroom windows in Pittsburgh winters.
One… It is never good to allow yourself to be ignorant about anything; be a consumer of information for you will find fountains and gardens that would make the Hersperides be bathed in awe.
Two… Think laterally my friends, learn De Bono’s methodology and understand the feel of a hyperfocus where ideas pour forth in torrents of creativity.
Three… Mind map your neuronetworks, mind map your thoughts, mind map your ideas. This organization will allow you to have incredible focus and access to what your brain connects to and from.
And lastly… Watch your word count… Because mine has, now, gotten way too high.