The therapeutic strategy of reviving positive memories, interests, and skills serves a variety of purposes. First, the evocation of positive memories, past accomplishments and satisfactions serves to neutralize the negative self-esteem and facilitates the emergence of positive self-esteem. Secondly, the renewal of past interests and competencies helps to formulate aspirations and goals as well as providing the methods for confronting challenges and solving problems along the way to realizing their aspirations.
As has been pointed out previously, these individuals still have their earlier skills and understandings. However, these have been buried but are accessible through the formulation of activities that draw on these strengths. Successful completion of tasks not only provides an access to the previous skills but restore a sense of value to the individual. The trick is to align an activity that is meaningful to the person and the associated skills generally will become revivified.
Imaging plays a key role in both the revival of past positive experiences and skills and also in rehearsals of future events which could instill those same positive attributes. The clinician asks the individual to image the uplifting event, re-experiencing every emotion and sensation. After the individual has recaptured the prior uplifting experience ,it is very important to have the person image an activity that he/she can engage in right now that will include the same attitudinal and affective variables. Otherwise, the individual may feel disappointed that the prior positive experience that they imaged is a thing of the past.
On occasion, the dormant personality becomes activated and for a period of time, the individual may appear as his “old/normal self”. Of course this does not persist the first time that it occurs, but with repetition over time, combined with other therapeutic maneuvers, the individual’s “former self” is restored. It is as though synapses become fired-up or activated but then eventually the charge becomes diminished and the individual returns to the regressive mode. For other individuals the return to normal is a very slow, gradual process with periodic excitations of the normal part of the personality.
Note: We have observed on several occasions that there a rapid “ flip” from the regressive mode to the adaptive mode. This appears to be dichotomous rather than on a continuum and also involves a revival of the premorbid personality.