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The Mace Method for Emotional Healing

by Jane Smith(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 142 - December 2007

When I was first asked to edit Dr John Mace’s fascinating new book Don’t Think of an Elephant!, the author offered to give me a therapy session so I’d have some idea of what the Mace Method actually involved. As John lives in Perth, West Australia, where he is Principal of a training academy for Mace Method practitioners, I wasn’t quite sure how this might be accomplished, but was intrigued to discover that the process can be carried out by telephone. A sceptic by nature, and somewhat wary of a therapeutic modality that I had never heard of before, I managed politely (I hope) to postpone taking him up on his offer until I’d at least read the book and had some understanding of what I’d be letting myself in for.

I have to admit that I was surprised to find that I couldn’t fault John’s science, or the philosophical arguments he explains so clearly in his book. But his therapeutic method sounded almost too simple to be effective: how could one possibly deal with what John calls negative identities in at most a couple of hour-long sessions that require no disclosure of personal details or of the details of the incidents that have given rise to them?

The Mace Method is the practical component of the concept John calls Causism. Put very simply, the basic tenet of Causism is that as we go through life, our experiences result in us unknowingly developing both positive and negative identities. The latter result from upsets, which are emotional disturbances, or anything a person does not experience by choice. Therefore, everyone’s negative identities are different – specific to their own experiences – and cause them to react in particular ways to particular circumstances.

Take, for instance, the situation in which three people are having a conversation. One of them says something that causes feelings of anger and hurt in one of his listeners, while the other listener just laughs and walks away. The first person is reacting to what has been said because, unknown to him, it strikes a chord with one of his negative identities. However, the second person is able merely to respond, as his experiences have been different and his negative identities lie in different areas.

This is where the title of the book – Don’t Think of an Elephant! – comes into play. The Mace Method is based on the concept that the sole function of the mind is to produce an image of whatever your attention is focused on, i.e. all it does is create pictures. Therefore, if someone tells you not to think of something, you cannot help but immediately conjure up a mental image of that something. So it is with negative identities: certain triggers bring past upsets automatically into your mind without you being aware of what is happening or able to control the process. The procedure used in the Mace Method pinpoints the ‘worst moment’ in the upset – i.e. the moment of overwhelm from which the negative identity developed – so that the connection that exists between the two can be broken. You are then able to rid yourself of the negative identity and overcome the emotions that are associated with it and that are triggered by related situations.

Upset Phenomenon
Upset Phenomenon

 

My Experience with Mace Therapy

Eventually, having read the book, I accepted John’s offer to undergo a therapy session myself to find out what it was all about. Having suffered for the last three or four years from chronic backache that had proved resistant to all possible treatments, I decided that this would be the ailment I’d ‘bring to the table’. If John could cure it for me – which I very much doubted, despite how impressed I was by the theory underlying his method – I would certainly have to accept that the Mace Method was a viable therapy that required some serious consideration.

So, alone in my study one Sunday afternoon, and feeling somewhat self-conscious, I waited for John’s call.

When it came, he told me to shut my eyes and think about my aching back, and then asked me where I was. To my surprise, I immediately had a clear visual image of a little girl lying curled up on her side in a hospital bed.

“What year is it? John asked me.

“1962” I replied, without thinking.

“What month?”

“April.”

“What day of the month?”

“The 17th.”

“What time of the day?”

“7.45 in the evening.”

They were all instant and spontaneous answers that simply popped into my head, and at the time meant nothing to me at all.

“What are you feeling?” John continued.

“Frightened, and abandoned,” I responded.

He then led me step by step through the basic Mace Method procedure, concentrating on each emotion in turn and visualizing whatever object came to mind. I can’t remember now what the objects were – although I think one might have been a tree – but I know they seemed bizarrely mundane, and unconnected to anything that I could sensibly relate to the incident. John waited patiently while I allowed the visualized object gradually to dwindle in size, and my own originally tiny form to grow larger and larger.

We then repeated a similar process aimed at increasing my self-confidence, and I do remember that my ex-husband was involved in that one, and that the image that sprang to mind in relation to him was a snarling dog – not too difficult to see the connection there!

But what was particularly fascinating to me when I thought more about my session with John afterwards was that when I was young I returned home to England by ship with my family after spending two years in Australia, and was admitted to hospital with hepatitis within a few hours of setting foot on dry land. I remained in an isolation ward for a couple of weeks, alone and separated from my parents except at very rigid visiting times. It was a frightening and miserable experience for a young child.

Then I suddenly remembered that one of the nurses on duty at night had been dispatched to I know not where when the reason why I was failing to make the progress the doctors expected was eventually discovered. In response to my father’s pleas to tell him what was wrong – apart from the obvious – I finally admitted that this particular nurse was attempting to encourage me to sleep at night by informing me that if I continued to lie awake in bed quietly weeping, she would phone my parents and tell them not to come and see me anymore!

It was obviously a traumatic experience, but one that I had not recalled in many years – and what I certainly would not have remembered without some thought was that I was probably about eight when it occurred. Having checked with my mother, she confirmed that our ship had docked in England a couple of months after my eighth birthday – in mid-April 1962!

Immediately after my session with John, my interest was engaged, but my back felt more or less the same. The constant nagging pain I had grown so used to over the preceding years was still there – until two days later.

When I awoke on the Tuesday morning and eased myself out of bed, I couldn’t at first think what it was that was different – and then I realized that my backache had gone.

For the first few days I tried to convince myself that it was just coincidence, that something so apparently simple as the process I’d been through with John couldn’t possibly have had such a remarkable effect. Indeed, a couple of days later, the pain returned slightly, but this time on the other side of my body. However, it soon became obvious that this new discomfort was due to the fact that for the first time in many months I was standing up straight, and no longer leaning almost imperceptibly to one side to try to take the strain off my affected muscles. Within a few days, once my stance had readjusted itself, I had returned to a barely remembered pain-free normal. I was able to resume the walking I had previously so enjoyed, and to bend and stretch in the course of my daily activities without the sudden agonizing pain that used to
accompany any movement other than the extremely cautious.

As far as the issue of self-confidence was concerned, almost without realizing it, I started charging a less timid price for my editing and writing skills (sorry John!), and then threw myself with enthusiasm – and success – into the ghostwriting I had wanted to do for so long.

Benefits of this Practice

New therapies can take a long time to become generally accepted, but there are already trained practitioners in the UK and all over the world who have been using the Mace Method for many years to great effect in their holistic practices. My own experience, and the experiences of the  grateful clients speak for themselves. People with a wide variety of problems, ranging from the emotional to the physical, have undergone therapy sessions and have found themselves able to take enormous strides forward in their personal and professional lives, and to fulfil dreams they never thought they’d realize.

The Mace Method is already being used successfully to treat a wide range of relationship and emotional problems, including depression and stress, for which it provides clients with instantaneous relief, and it is also proving remarkably effective for a variety of physical and psychosomatic ailments.

John emphasizes the fact that the people he trains are ‘practitioners’ rather than ‘counsellors’, and the non-disclosure aspect of the therapy makes it a particularly popular choice for men, who can be somewhat reticent when it comes to baring their souls. This same aspect is also important to people who have undergone traumatic experiences such as rape. Hearing that they do not have to recount and once again re-live the details of horrific incidents that have caused them considerable distress has reduced many such clients to tears of relief.

If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have said that there is no such thing as a ‘quick fix’. But I know now that I’d have been wrong.

Further Information

More information about the Mace Method can be found on John’s website www.macemethod.com.
His book (Don’t Think of an Elephant! How to take control of your life using the Mace Method) is available from Amazon and all good bookshops, or direct from www.personalheritage.co.uk.

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About Jane Smith

Jane Smith BSc (Hons) was for many years a medical editor and writer, and author of a successful series of books for patients, entitled Your Operation. More recently, she has been concentrating on ghostwriting biographies for commercial publishers, and also runs her own company, Personal Heritage Publications, to give ‘ordinary’ people the chance to have their life stories written and published as books for their families and friends. She may be contacted via jswordsmith@blueyonder.co.uk

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