David Grove on Pulling Back and Defining Memory


This section of David’s notes was collated from ‘A Emergent Knowledge Workbook’. This workbook is a collection of David’s ideas and considerations, that he was beginning to bring together, over the last few years of his life. The inclusion of them here and throughout this wiki is my way of expressing my love and thanks to David. I (MJH) am sure he would have approved of the free spirit in which they are now shared.

Pulling Back Time and Space

The idea of pulling back is like the archer. In order for the arrow to hit its target with accuracy, the bow needs to be stretched and the arrow needs to be pulled back to just the right distance. The question is, how far do we pull back, in order to hit just the right spot?

Pulling back will find either the Pristine the place where they felt right, and were scaled correctly to their real world, or the time and space where the client was just before feeling bad. If the Pristine is not found, the client may need to move to six positions to locate ‘from whence they came’.

To arrest time and stop a person from moving forwards or falling into the effect of the problem, they need to find a different space from their problem space. This will place them in a more empowered position.

To move the client out of their problem space they need to find the space that is just before the time when the trauma occurred.

Moving time back will help move the client out of their problem space and will allow them to gather information from another perspective without complicating the issue.

When moving time back there are also elements of space that need to be considered. Time and space are interchangeable. When a person is traumatised in space they feel it in themselves. When they are traumatised in time as well, they may indicate this by reliving their experience at a certain time of the day.

The question that pulls time back is:

  • “What happened just before …?”

The question that pulls space back is:

  • “Where did … come from?”

The memories associated will be fixated so it requires perseverance from the facilitator as it will be very difficult to move time back because it will want to go forward.

When asking the questions to move time back, they may become overwhelmed and say “I don’t know”. This is when the space questions would help the move backwards. They provide more information, and work like another observation point.

For example: If the client is asked “Where did the man come from?” and the client answers “Well, the parking lot”, then there is new information which resulted in the client being pulled back in time within their experience.

Pulling Back the Person

To pull a person back there are two ways that you can go – with the adjective or with the pronoun.

For example, if a client communicates something about themselves, such as “I come from an alcoholic family”, the usual line of enquiry may follow the adjective. In this case we would find out the evidence that they do in fact come from an alcoholic family and all the issues that are raised will be laid at the door of alcoholism and it will uncover a lot of family history.

If the pronoun is detached from the sentence and the line of enquiry follows the I, what will be uncovered is who that person was before they were part of an alcoholic family.

The question that pulls the pronoun back is:

  • “What kind of you were you before …?”

Tracing the adjective back provides information relating to the genealogy, tracing the pronoun back provides the ontology of the client.

By pulling the person back with the use of the pronoun, we are able to find who they were before they were affected by events in their life. This is different from pulling back time or space because finding out ‘who’ they were is not the same as ‘where’ they were or ‘what’ they were doing. They are finding out the very nature of their being, their ontology or their ‘I am-ness’.

To find who they were, they need to be pulled back to a time in their life when they felt right in the world – when they were scaled just right for the world or at one with the world. This time period is the Pristine.

The continued use of the pulling back to the Pristine, provides us with a history of the client, or the clients goals/problems, i.e. we can discover what was the first problem or the first goal the client had.

Defining and Building up the Memory

The pulling back questions have done the work of finding the time before the trauma or finding the Pristine. What needs to occur at this stage is to define and build out that memory so that the person has a complete picture of who they were before the trauma occurred. When working with the client’s problem or goal, there will be no reference from the facilitator to the you or I (pronoun), and when the client is developing that part, they should also be free of their pronouns.

The questions that will do this are called developing questions:

  • “What kind of … is that …?”
  • “Is there anything else about that …?”

What will happen is the person who is about to experience the trauma is put back into a context where they can look forward at the experience through a new set of eyes. These questions can be asked repeatedly until there is nothing left.

To build up the Pristine the questions go specifically to that manifestation of you or the 'figure':

  • “What are you wearing?” establishes the body of the person.
  • “How old are you?” establishes time.

Defining The Moment

If it’s a defining moment, the person will be able to describe their clothes and whatever else is there in intimate detail because these moments will be remembered. If they can’t, then it isn’t the Pristine and you may have to pull back further. Once the figure has been established, questions can be asked of the ground at this point as well.

From The Figure Build up the Ground

While the focus naturally leans towards the figure or the subject dealing with the memory, it is important to also be mindful of the ground or the inanimate objects that the client mentions in their description of the memory. By treating the figure and the ground with equal importance you will not limit the resources available for healing, because the person in the memory may be the least resourced part of the experience.

As well as pulling the figure back in time or space, you can ask questions of the ground and pull back time or space in that way. By asking questions of the ground, it will animate and vivify those elements and provide healing solutions.

For example: If the person says that an experience occurred beside a lamp post, the question could be asked, “Where did the lamp post come from?” or “What kind of lamp post is that?” and it might take the client to a new observation platform and a different perspective on the experience.

The reason the ground is important is because when a person recalls an experience, they can often remember such exquisite detail as the pattern on the carpet or the wallpaper (when they can’t remember most of the other years of their life). This is because parts or fragments of the person became embedded into that ground so that it is as much a part of the experience as the person is in that memory. Asking the questions of the objects will bring them to life and the part of the person that dissociated or fragmented into that image will also come out.

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