Questions to Michel Lamarche regarding the analysis of sensations
Psychologist and former PRH educator, Michel Lamarche is the main writer of the books “Persons and Their Growth” and “A Map for Life in Depth”. He is presently a volunteer collaborator within PRH-International for writing assignments.
The writing of the book “A Map for Life in Depth”
Why the choice of devoting a book to the PRH analysis of sensations?
As a writing committee, we had three main objectives:
1. PRH is a school of human education. It is necessary for this type of school to express, in reference books, its bases, the fruits of its research, and its methods.
2. The analysis of sensations is the key-tool of the PRH psycho-pedagogy. It has been used by tens of thousands of people around the world, and we assessed that it was important to account for a method which enabled so many people to become more lucid about themselves with a depth and efficiency in relation to their growth, which they would not have anticipated at the starting point.
3. Lastly, our desire was to deepen the relevance, the reliability and the warnings related to the use of such a tool for reading inner reality, and to answer questions we were asked, especially concerning the risk of subjectivism or of narcissism… It was important to take stock of the richness and the limits of the method.
What was the essential of what you were seeking to transmit to the readers?
Over and above the description of the method of analysis of sensations itself, I endeavoured to communicate the extraordinary richness contained in the conscious relationship of individuals with their depths. This tool develops a keenness of intelligence, of understanding, of lucidity regarding reality, one’s own reality as well as reality around us, which is capable of broadening and of deeply cleansing our gaze, of fostering the adjustment of our behaviours, and of liberating astonishing creativity. All of us can have access to the richness of our depths, if only we take the means. Becoming aware is an indispensable key for growth.
Writing such a book is a work of research. What did you discover that was new in relation to the theme of the book?
Several reference points took on more weight in me in relation to the analysis of sensations. Thus, the fundamental contribution of subjectivity in self-discovery, the possibility of being objective toward a psychological reality (such as a sensation), but also the necessary and precious contribution of others and of psychological reference points to complete and shed light on the relationship of the individual with him/herself. I grasped more clearly, for myself, the notion of inner reality and its link with actual reality, which is always to be verified. I have better evaluated the importance of “what does this new awareness, which I just gained through analysis, concretely change in my life?” I entered deeper into the notion of intuition. I discovered, thanks to a study made by Canadian educators, the extent to which the way we analyze ourselves is related to the way we function in life; we recognize, in particular, similar defence systems.
Was knowing how to analyze yourself useful for writing this book? How?
Yes, very much so! I did analyses with knowledge content throughout the book. I was always looking for the accurate words for the realities I was trying to describe, and I allowed myself to be led into the depths of my intuitions and sensations, staying as closely as possible to the sensation of my experience of analysis as a user and as a former educator.
Your personal experience of analysis
First of all, in a few words, was your encounter with the PRH analysis tool important for you? In what?
Through my studies, I had acquired knowledge on human psychology. This gave me the beginnings of explanations concerning what I was experiencing on the psychological level, my shyness for example, but this remained very intellectual and kept me at a distance from the truth of my sensations and emotions. Yet, at that time, I had the illusion of knowing myself well! Encountering the PRH psycho-pedagogy was a shock; I saw an immense field opening before me, that of my truth, that of anyone’s truth, accessible… a disillusion regarding what I could tell myself about myself, my past, my evolution, and a passionate openness to psychology approached from one’s experience, beginning with mine…
What benefits did you derive from the analysis of your sensations in your personal life?
The work of analysis I experienced with the PRH method was the beginning of a face to face with myself, in truth with my lived experience, of the discovery and of the gradual acceptance of my areas of shadows and of my areas of light. I discovered a type of humility that was liberating and cleansing regarding my reality, and regarding my relationships. I observed that my fear of others, which was often paralyzing and which expressed itself through my great shyness, diminished considerably. I have the impression of being able to rely upon an internal type of intelligence in order to live my daily life while sticking very closely to my reality. My use of analysis helped me immensely to listen to others’ analyses while I was an educator, and has made it much easier to access more clarity in my writings.
You are trained as a psychologist. You know and have experienced other approaches to get to know oneself. What are the characteristics of PRH analysis? How is it different, specific, in relation to other approaches?
Taking into account the experience by the intellect of the sensibility and of the body as a way to access reality did not originate with PRH. Aristotle had already made such observations on the importance of the felt experience, for knowledge. More recently, with the development of humanistic psychology, many researchers took interest in this path to knowledge and developed specific methods (Rogers’ psychotherapy centred on the person, Gendlin’s Focussing, Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence, etc.).
What is characteristic of PRH analysis is not only to have succeeded in structuring a method for analyzing one’s psychological experience starting from the observation of what people do spontaneously, but also to have made available to all a training that allows for a conscious apprenticing of that method. In terms of other characteristics, there are the role of writing and the autonomy resulting from this method, the sharing of analyses with others, the use of spontaneous associations of sensations among themselves so as to enter deeper toward their point of emission, and the reference to the PRH explanatory system of the human person…
Would you say that the analysis of sensations is today a strong point of the PRH approach? If yes, why and in what?
It is unquestionably a key element of the whole PRH pedagogy. It provides persons with a very keen means for research, with which they have all the chances to meet, discover and understand themselves, and to progress.
The aims of PRH analysis
In the end, why is it useful to analyze oneself? What does this bring? Philosophie Magazine, a few months ago, used the title: “Is it useful to know oneself?” If yes, why?
Analyzing oneself – like listening, speaking, creating, loving, forgiving, questioning oneself, etc. – are for me among the most important acts done by persons in their lives. Analyzing oneself brings lucidity regarding what we are experiencing. We go from an impression, or from vague sensations to precise words which accurately describe what we are experiencing and where it comes from. This lucidity is as useful to persons as the headlights are to drivers at night. Without analysis, we remain in haziness, in the darkness of unawareness, at the surface of ourselves, or in patterns and representations quite far from reality. Analyzing ourselves makes us more knowledgeable and free; it creates in persons a demanding and vitalizing link with their truth. Analyzing ourselves is calming, in the end, since truth, though difficult to accept at the moment, is, with time, a source of liberation and serenity.
There is also an obvious link between self analysis and self confidence. It is because we know our potentialities and our limits that we can make realistic decisions and that we can risk to undertake.
Also, a secondary effect, which is of no lesser importance, is the understanding that our own work of analysis gives us regarding others’ lived experience. There is a type of empathy that makes us sense, often accurately, what the other is experiencing within.
PRH analysis is not the only way to self-knowledge. Why did PRH prioritize this way?
There are many ways to get to know oneself, and this is good. In this way all can find the means that best corresponds to the stage at which they are. Having one’s handwriting studied, undergoing psychological testing, taking stock of one’s competencies, committing to work on oneself through psychotherapy or through professional accompaniment, also taking some distance by speaking with someone close to us, sharing, speaking of one’s aspirations, of one’s difficulties, are all means (not a complete list) to get to know oneself. If the PRH School has prioritized the analysis of one’s lived experience, this is essentially linked to the objective of the person’s growth that PRH pursues. Some individuals can in fact accumulate a lot of knowledge about themselves through a whole series of means, without this having an impact on their growth. In the PRH approach, there is a very existential and experiential dimension. It is persons’ conscious relationship with their inner experience that makes them progress; there is a very specific growth dynamic in this form of analysis.
Can we learn something new through analysis? What type of new knowledge?
Individuals who use analysis are often astonished when they become aware that they gradually become enriched with a body of knowledge which they never thought they would acquire. Knowledge about themselves, their identity, their ways of functioning, their vocation, their defence mechanisms, their relationships, but also knowledge concerning psychology, the mechanisms of growth, the mechanisms that govern human relationships, etc. And we can add to this all the knowledge brought about by the analysis of sensations with knowledge content. For example, in the book, I question myself regarding what an intuition is. Here, the field of knowledge is inexhaustible!
You assert that the capacity to live harmonious relationships is in direct proportion to individuals’ capacity to analyze their sensations. Can you further develop this bold affirmation?
The lack of awareness, the denial, the refusal to face truth, the refusal to listen to oneself or to listen to others, the repression of one’s emotions, the justifications, the judgments, the projections of one’s own internal conflicts on others, all this and many other attitudes or behaviours sour relationships on a daily basis and can often lead to despair where the future of these relationships is concerned. Conversely, the analysis of sensations proves to be a very promising path to situate each individual in a search for truth, for acceptance, for rightful assertion, for wholesome self-questioning. Harmony in relationships is not the result of chance, or only of “chemistry”, but truly from work on oneself, which is the source of adjustments and of peace.
Can we envision that PRH analysis can have some social impact?
Human beings crossed a fundamental threshold in terms of their humanization when they began to develop a vocabulary enabling them to express what they felt interiorly. From that moment, human beings began to be able to participate in their own evolution, as they broke with the “instinct only” law that governed their lives. Developing individuals’ capacity to analyze through effective methods is fostering the awareness of human beings regarding their immense deposit of resources; it is also helping them become aware of their dysfunctions, and of the roots of these, either in themselves or in social structures, so as to rectify these. When I observe, at the level of one person, the transforming power resulting from a little more self-awareness, I tell myself the extent to which this social transformation, with a view to a more human humankind, would have an impact, if more and more individuals develop their capacity for analysis, using a tool of their choice.