Awareness is not healing; consciousness is. True conscious- awareness means feelings, and therefore humanity. The conscious person does not have to be told about his secret motivations. He feels them and they are no longer secret. Consciousness means thinking what we feel and feeling what we think; the end of a split, hypocritical existence. Awareness cannot do that because awareness has to change each and every time there is a new situation. That is why conventional cognitive/insight therapy is so complex. It has to follow each turn in the road. It has to battle the need for drugs and then battle the inability to hold down a job and then try to understand why relationships are falling apart. This also explains why conventional therapy takes so long; each avenue must be traversed independently. Consciousness is global; it applies to all situations, encompasses all those problems at once. The true power of consciousness is to lead a conscious life with all that that means: not being subject to uncontrolled behavior, being able to concentrate and learn, able to sit still and relax, being able to make choices that are healthy ones, to choose partners that are the healthy ones, and above all, to be able to love.
A therapy of awareness versus one of consciousness has an important difference in terms of global impact. In science we are after the universal so that we can apply our knowledge to other patients. A therapy of needs can apply to many individuals, since we all have similar needs. A therapy of ideas usually can only apply to a specific patient. When we try to convince the patient of different ideas (e.g., “People actually do like you”), we generate no universal laws. It is all idiosyncratic. But if we address the feelings underneath, we can generate propositions that apply generally: for instance, pain when unleashed can produce paranoid ideas or compulsions. Or, the frontal cortex can change simple needs and feelings into complex unrealities, changing them into their opposites.
One cannot be aware without an intact prefrontal cortex. By contrast, there is no seat of consciousness. As banal as it may seem, consciousness reflects our whole system – the whole brain as it interacts with the body.
When there is awareness without connection during a session, that is what we call abreaction. Again, the vital signs rise and fall in sporadic fashion, rarely below baseline. We cannot make progress on the third-line cognitive level alone. We can become aware of why we act the way we do but nothing changes biologically; it is like being aware of a virus and expecting the awareness alone to kill it. Our biology has been left out of the therapeutic equation. What is missing is that we cannot produce feeling, empathic human beings from the top of the brain. Somehow feelings got the sobriquet of bad, out of control, negative, anti-thinking, unreflective and impulsive. All of which is true for suppressed feelings, which inject themselves without warning into our daily life and make us act irrationally. Not true if they are just part of a feeling person who lives his feelings and does not abreact.