Bad Luck, Bad Choices or
Psychological Reversal?

Many good folks subconsciously self-sabotage. Do you?

Yes, we all are sure that we want to be happy.  Yet some very good and well-intended folks seem to have "bad karma," repeatedly finding themselves in negative situations.  They may inadvertently antagonize people. They may feel attracted to partners who treat them poorly or stay in jobs that make them unhappy. They may find themselves self-sabotaging as they stumble in love and marriage (link is external), work or play. If that's possibly you, your problem could be psychological reversal. 

Psychological reversal is a subconscious condition of self-sabotage—that is, of making choices that bring you misery instead of well-being and the happiness you think you want.

Psychological reversal is a likely culprit if, just as you are in a process of attaining something that you want, you somehow manage to end up spoiling it.  Psychological reversal sets your sub-conscious objective on thwarting your successes, making good fortune harder to attain and sustain.

Here are some examples of psychological reversal in action.

Psychological reversal

Polly married someone who was unfaithful and mean.  After leaving him, she fell in love with and married a second and equally hurtful partner.

Pamela easily made good friends, but then would find herself antagonizing them.

Jonathan would work hard to attain financial success, and then lose his fortune with bad investments.

Elizabeth would find herself criticizing and picking fights with her husband, bringing to a halt each period where they were beginning to enjoy each other's company.

Peter gradually built a warm and loving marriage, and then went on a drunken orgy that almost convinced his wife to leave him.  A few years later, about to take over a highly successful business, he totaled his car and almost lost his life when he fell asleep at the wheel driving on a country road at night.

Psychological reversal works subconsciously like an undertow that drags people into the waters of "bad luck."

Psychologically reversed people feel uncomfortable when an important dimension of their life such as work, love or financial situation is going well. They therefore eventually do something that relieves this discomfort with happiness. Self-sabotage enables them to fulfill a subconscious expectation that they will be miserable.  

Even for folks who are mostly happy and successful in life, if they are psychologically reversed a return to an underlying state of unhappiness or bad luck in some uncanny way feels to them more normal.  

By contrast, with psychological reversal no longer present, the person becomes "lucky."  The odds of that person being able to sustain feelings of happiness, lightness of spirit, and successes at home and at work zoom upwards.

Where did the term psychological reversal originate?

Roger Callahan, a psychologist who created a treatment called "thought field therapy" noticed that some patients seemed to be unable to benefit from his treatment techniques.  The same interventions that most people found helpful in reducing their psychological stresses seemed to have little or only short-lasting impacts on reversed individuals.  He began to study this phenomenon, coined the term "psychological reversal," and searched for ways to bypass it so that his treatments could still be effective.

Callahan hypothesized that psychologically reversed individuals have subconscious blocks to feeling happy. They therefore subconsciously resist letting go of their emotional distress symptoms such as fears, depression, addictions or angers.

Is psychological reversal reversible?

Dale Petterson, an energy therapist who is an independent therapy professional in my office suite, has spent over twenty years amassing expertise in a wide variety of energy psychology interventions. Dale has developed a remarkably rapid and long-lasting energy-therapy intervention strategy for treating psychological reversal.  He applies techniques of muscle testing ("muscle kinesiology") combined with the Emotion Code technique of Bradley Nelson to pinpoint the moment when the reversal occurred and remove the negative energy associated with that event.

As with treating any medical or psychological disorder, the first step in removal of psychological reversal is assessment.

Dale's assessment procedure utilizes applied muscle kinesiology, a treatment technique broadly used by chiropractors and by many types of alternative medicine practitioners.  He asks the client to hold out one arm parallel to the floor.   He then presses lightly on the client's wrist while asking the client to hold the arm locked in its outstretched position. 

When the client's subconscious wants to say "Yes" to simple questions like "Is your name George?" this positive response is reflected in strong muscles which easily hold the outstretched arm aloft. 

By contrast, when the subconscious answers Dale's questions with "No," the answer is manifest in momentary muscle weakness which causes the client's outstretched arm to drop or even flop down next to his side.

Muscle kinesiology works a lot like how a lie detector test works. The client's arm serves as a lever that amplifies the slight physical changes that indicate a stress response.

Using muscle testing, Dale tests for psychological reversal with three questions.

The first involves having the client put his non-extended hand on his head with the palm facing downward (toward their head), then upward (toward the ceiling), then downward again. People who are reversed hold strong when their palm is facing upward.  The normal state is for the arm to be strong when the palm is facing downward, like an umbrella over the head. After removal of the reversal, people who were reversed test normally, i.e., with a strong arm when the palm faces downward.

A second test involves showing the person a blank piece of paper with a large X on it; then a paper with two parallel lines. People who are reversed hold strong with the parallel lines, and lose muscle strength when show a paper where the lines cross in an x.  When the reversal has been removed, they will test the opposite.

For the third test, again utilizing muscle testing, Dale asks the client to say the words "I want to be happy," and tests the arm.  He then has them say the words "I want to be miserable" and tests the arm again.  Clients who are reversed say "yes" with their arm holding strong in response to "I want to be miserable," and respond with a weak arm which says "No" to the statement "I want to be happy."

Clients who are in a state of psychological reversal test as reversed on all three of these tests.  Their strong arm muscles in response to the statement "I want to be miserable," and loss of muscle strength when they say "I want to be happy" tends to particularly striking to reversed people. Consciously of course everyone wants to be happy, so their muscle weakness in response to stating "I want to be happy" can be startling and dismaying.  On the other hand, people will often corroborate that they can recall many situations in which they have acted in a manner that was self-defeating. 

Dale Petterson has been innovative with regard to how to eliminate psychological reversal.

Dale's innovation has been to apply Bradley Nelson's Emotion Code treatment strategy to remove the intense negative emotion that launched the reversal.  Nelson's Emotion Code methodology enables clients to access the precise age and incident in their life when they first became psychologically reversed, removes that negative energy, and returns thereby the person to a normal, non-reversed state.

Clients generally are surprised, and at the same time generally find quite credible, the specific pivotal memories that Emotion Code techniques bring forth. The memory is usually one in which there was sudden unexpected event that yielded a surge of negative emotion. The moment however is not necessarily one that the client experienced as dramatic at the time or would have thought was a life-changer.

A frightening anger explosion of a parent, an upsetting rejection from a valued elementary school friend, an accident in which a cherished pet was suddenly killed, an experience of intense emotion at a grandparent's funeral, all are events that clients have uncovered that initiated the flip in orientation toward negative instead of toward positive emotions.  Most often the event is one that the young person did not have an opportunity to discuss and digest with a trusted elder.

Release of the negative energy.

Once that originating moment has been clarified, Dale then releases the negative energy associated with the relevant early memory using Bradley Nelson's technique of running a magnet three times down a person's back along the governing meridian (meridians are familiar to users of acupuncture and other Eastern-based medical systems).  This technique is one of many that can remove negative emotional energy from a memory.  After using the magnet, the recollection remains, but minus the negative feeling. 

Testing again for psychological reversal, the person tests normally, like someone who has never been in a reversed state.   

Now when the client says "I want to be happy," his arm remains strongly outstretched, indicating "Yes!"

The client now is oriented to enjoying happiness and good fortune instead of undermining it.  Often the client feels "lighter" immediately after this treatment.  Some have reported that this "lighter" feeling lasts for some time.  Subsequent retests for psychological reversal show that the condition has been removed. 

What remains unchanged?

Removing psychological reversal is a treatment technique, not a miracle.  With no psychological reversal dragging them down "lucky" people still need to make good choices. 

In addition, people who have been and now are no longer reversed often need to upgrade their cooperative communication skills (link is external) so that they handle sensitive situations more effectively.  Intention plus skills is far more potent combination than intention ("I want to be happy") alone. 

In other words, removing psychological reversal does not complete all the work of therapy.  What it does accomplish is to enable subsequent therapy to be effective rather than undermined by the undertow of subconscious self-sabotage.

I look forward to the time when techniques for neutralizing psychological reversal will be a standard part of the core competencies all therapists are expected to be able to offer for their clients.    

Currently an understanding of psychological reversal and techniques for eliminating it are not yet included either in therapist training or in most therapists' treatment repertoire.  Dale is on the cutting edge, at the front of what I hope will become a new wave of treatment options.

I myself still rely on Dale Petterson to treat psychological reversal for my clients.  I am still in the learning phase with regard to learning muscle testing and energy psychology treatment methods. 

I am hoping however that this posting will begin to open the topic of psychological reversal for therapists' professional discussion and study.  Unless they themselves are psychologically reversed, most therapists would probably love to see all their clients to enjoy the blessings of "good luck.


Susan Heitler, Ph.D., (link is external) a Denver clinical psychologist, is the author of multple publications including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. A graduate of Harvard and NYU, Dr. Heitler's latest project is a fun interactive marriage education website, PowerOfTwoMarriage (link is external).

Post published by Susan Heitler Ph.D. on Feb 16, 2012 in Resolution, Not Conflict
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