zombie-rib-cage-l1

This is an excellent example of how IDL can significantly improve chronic insomnia. It was taking five hours for this client to fall asleep. In the week after the interview it was taking him an hour to an hour and a half – something he experienced as a huge improvement.

As you will see in the interview, other issues involved include chronic somatization of fear leading to existential angst, depression, and suicidality. We will observe how effective deep listening is at quickly diagnosing the source of the problem and generating specific, measurable actions that can be taken to test both the method and the accuracy of the diagnosis.

What does a rib cage have to do with insomnia? This seventeen year old – we shall call him “Carl,” is bright and personable, with a long history of rages, mostly at his mother, who is herself a doctor and a therapist. An angry relationship between his parents when he was a child put him in fear of abandonment, and a subsequent divorce and isolative father increased his emotional dependency on his mother. All of this has not only manifested as angry outbursts but as chronic anxiety, insomnia, and both neurotic and existential depression, with avoidance of school, considering dropping out, and suicidal ideation. He has been in therapy for years. In a previous series of sessions about a year ago his rages were largely neutralized, and he stopped coming.

Attempts to resolve the remaining issues with intellectualization led to the writing of a sophisticated philosophical treatise, which did not live up to his expectations that it would resolve his issues.

One session of IDL interviewing, reported below in summary and followed by transcript, resulted in a dramatic improvement in his insomnia.

The issue Carl chose to work on was a “feeling of emptiness: When you know that something bad has happened and you can’t change anything about it; hopelessness.”

It congealed into the colors black and purple, and they took the form of a rib cage.

When asked what it liked most about itself, Rib Cage said, “I am made out of human bones. I am in Carl’s stomach. I am not flexible. I am stable and strong. I am not trying to scare Carl; he’s choosing to be scared of me.”

Already we are observing an important and fundamental reframing of Carl’s perception of his symptoms. The Rib Cage does not see itself as the threat to Carl that Carl is sure that it is. Instead, it frames the issue as a choice, implying that Carl has much more power in this situation than he perceives: “I am not trying to scare Carl; he’s choosing to be scared of me.”

While there are many things that Carl dislikes about his feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, their personification as Rib Cage does not dislike itself, nor does it perceive itself as having any weaknesses. Again, this is a massive shift in perception for Carl.

It identifies itself as the part of Carl that scares Carl. This indicates ownership, again strengthening the concepts of choice, personal responsibility, and ability to change. It also indicates a movement out of the role of victim in the Drama Triangle, but Rib Cage has said nothing to indicate it has shifted into the roles of rescuer or persecutor, which normally occurs in humans. This implies we are dealing with a healthier perspective.

Rib Cage does not want to change. Generally when this occurs in IDL interviews it is taken as an indication that the status quo of the perspective that is being depicted needs to be listened to and respected. It has something to say that it wants heard; it needs to be treated as if it is an important wake-up call instead of attempting to change it in some way, to make it go away, or become something more pleasant to Carl, for example.

This Rib Cage scores itself ten in confidence because “I am the most feared and dangerous thing, so I don’t have to be scared. I am dangerous by being able to make people hopeless by making bad feelings in their stomach. It’s like a nervous, excited, and sick feeling. I do my job especially in the morning and evening, but maybe twelve es a day, when there aren’t a lot of distractions for Carl in his life. When he’s calm there’s nothing to block me out or interfere with me. When he’s distracted he doesn’t think of me.

We are getting a lot of diagnostic information here. Carl is very afraid of this Rib Cage because it creates nervous, excited and sick feelings in the stomach region. We learn later on this is because it squeezes the stomach. Carl now has a vivid visual metaphor for the physical symptoms associated with both his anxiety and the resulting insomnia. We also know that Rib Cage considers creating these symptoms its “job,” and it does so perhaps twelve times a day. We also learn that a major defense that Carl uses to deal with his anxiety is to distract himself, that is, to rescue himself by avoiding thinking about his fears or his symptoms. However, sooner or later he gets calm again, such as before sleep, and that is when he is no longer distracted, and so Rib Cage can make itself felt.

Rib Cage scores itself one in compassion because “I do not care about others. I care about myself a little, by keeping me alive, by making the person I own hopeless.”

It scores itself a seven in wisdom because “I am the best in what I am doing, in scaring people, but other things I can’t do at all. I can only do one thing, but nothing else.”

Perhaps Carl is saying here that he is aware of inadequacy and powerlessness that is associated with only being able to do one thing well. Perhaps he has this opinion about himself. We do not know, but that possibility is raised here.

Rib Cage scores itself a ten in acceptance “because, why shouldn’t I? However, I don’t accept Carl when he isn’t hopeless. If he isn’t hopeless, I can do my job (to make him hopeless), so that’s great! If he is hopeless, I’ve done my job, and THAT’s great!”

Rib Cage is expressing its complete power over Carl. It is effective whether or not Carl feels hopeless.

Rib Cage gives itself a seven in inner peace. “I think I’m pretty stressed because I have to do my job. I want to do it and try to do it. Then, when I have done it I am not stressed. I make Carl stressed by putting some pressure on his stomach. After a while he gets the feeling of nervousness. I pull myself together around his stomach and squeeze it! It’s an easy thing to do. It’s what I’m built for.”

Here we are getting a description by Rib Cage of how it does its job and goes about creating the symptoms that Carl hates and dreads.

Rib Cage scores itself a five in witnessing because “I witness if Carl is hopeless already and a little if he is not because I know I can squeeze him anytime I want to; however I am also lost in drama because I have to be sure he is hopeless.”

So Rib Cage is saying that it cannot completely witness drama because it has to stay engaged in the Drama Triangle, in the role of persecutor, by making sure Carl is hopeless, because that’s its job. Rib Cage is again indicating it is not omnipotent, just as it did when it said it was only good at one thing. Obviously, this Rib Cage is not completely happy with itself, even though it does not want to change. Its scores demonstrate that it knows it does not have compassion, wisdom, inner peace, or witnessing to the extent that it could have.

Rib Cage was next asked, “On a scale of 0-10, how hopeless do you need to keep Carl?”

Rib Cage: “Seven, because he can still distract himself, and I can do my job, and that would be fun. But over seven maybe medical care would kill me or him.”

This is fascinating. There is a sense that a significant degree of hopelessness is important to maintain, but too much either destroys the host, Carl, or the alerting mechanism, the Rib Cage. What would happen if Rib Cage scored tens in all six of these qualities?

Rib Cage: “There should be the possibility that I can do my job forever and at the same time I have the safety that Carl won’t kill himself.”

So Rib Cage wants to keep Carl hopeless, but alive!

Next we asked Carl what he heard Rib Cage say:

“It’s the part that scares me; I build it up; it creates a feeling of hopelessness and nervousness and sickness and excitement in my stomach by squeezing it. It’s a little stressed because it has to do its job and make me feel bad. But that’s all it can do and wants to do. It is optimistic that it can always squeeze me and there is nothing I can do about it. It keeps me on a hopelessness level of seven so I do not die. The best thing that could happen would be if it could live forever and I not kill myself.”

Notice that Carl is taking responsibility for creating and maintaining his hopelessness, and he is expressing an understanding of how he does so. We have here an explanation for Carl’s hopelessness and how it is maintained that makes sense to Carl and that “fits” for him. Whether it agrees with the explanations of the therapist or Carl’s mother is unimportant. Therapists normally spend months or years getting clients to this point; IDL normally does it in one session. Carl has found a way of verbalizing and conceptualizing his predicament that makes sense to him, and that he can verbalize, which is a way that he demonstrates respect to the wake-up call and indicates that it has been heard. This is something that often never happens in therapy.

Carl was then asked to tell Rib Cage what he thought about that predicament. He said to it, “I think you’re useless and I don’t like you at all! I don’t see why you do this to me! You suck!”

Rib Cage: “I disagree, because I don’t think you appreciate me. I’m not useless. I am doing my job very well and you don’t appreciate it!”

Rib Cage is saying that it exists because it has an important adaptive function. This is news to Carl, because all he can see is the torture, agony and destruction created by constant feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

Rib Cage: “I am just a part of Carl that does its job well. My job is to show Carl the truth and to give him the impulse to search after the truth. There is a lifestyle that fits better for him. He’s too easily satisfied in his current lifestyle. He is always satisfied when there is a good friend or a girl but then he doesn’t do anything to get a better life or change things; life is not so bad! My job is to push him to try to search for the truth and a better life.”

Wow. Rib Cage has just told Carl what its function is in his life. It says that it indeed functions as a wake-up call, and that it has an adaptive purpose, and that purpose is pretty sophisticated. It is to push him to search for the truth! It also says that his self-rescuing attempts of seeking out friends or girls is not the solution he needs because it doesn’t push him to search for the truth or a better life. Carl already knows this, because his symptoms have not improved by doing those things; they only decrease temporarily because he is distracted and they then return. Notice also that Carl is describing a profound statement about the human condition: Most people indulge in various forms of self-rescuing rather than seek out the truths they need on which to build a meaningful life. Consequently, they develop both symptoms and interpersonal discord as a symptom of their avoidance of themselves.

Rib Cage then continues, prescribing a solution or “treatment” for Carl’s symptoms and life predicament:

Rib Cage: “When I squeeze Carl he needs to get up in the moment and start building up a better life by going to a girl and talking to her without fear or compulsive thoughts; also, to try harder to search for the truth. He is then no longer sitting in his room alone, thinking about the truth. There is no progress any more (when he does that.) It doesn’t help him to find a better lifestyle.”

Rib Cage is telling Carl to stop avoiding his fears of failure or rejection and to seek out both relationships and the truth, not through abstract thinking, but through active engagement with life. Next, it tells Carl how his life would be different if he naturally scored like it does in all six qualities all the time:
Rib Cage: “Carl would have a ten in acceptance, but that isn’t possible, because I’m here and he can’t accept me. But if he did score like me he would have no power because he would accept me! He wants to push me around; I don’t like that. It’s a potential danger for my existence. Instead, he should find the truth or a lifestyle that is better for him. If he did, then I would have done my job perfectly because if he found the truth then I would be fine with a non-existence.”

Amazing! Rib Cage is volunteering that it is fine with being out of a job, of not existing, if Carl will focus on finding the truth or a lifestyle that is better for him! Is Rib Cage telling the truth or just bullshitting Carl? How can we know? This is an operationally-definable proposal. Carl can define, in terms of everyday life actions, what it means to search for the truth and a better lifestyle. He can then check back with Rib Cage as to whether these daily actions reflect its preferences and intentions. If those remain acceptable to Carl, then the next step is to act on them, checking back with Rib Cage and with successive interviews with other emerging potentials in order to validate that he is on track. Of course, the most important validation is what happens to his symptoms of emptiness, hopelessness, insomnia, and anxiety. If they do not get better, then Carl needs to confront Rib Cage and demand to know why it told him stuff that was untrue or that does not work!

Carl said, “Like his mother, sometimes.”

What does he mean? Rib Cage said, “I don’t like his mother because she had the ability a few years ago to delete my power by him going to her and my feeling of making him hopeless went away. He was then strongly confident, calm, and accepting. He didn’t feel my squeezing because it was covered by a good, great feeling. But now that doesn’t work for Carl any more:”

We are getting more diagnostic information here. Carl used his mother to rescue himself from his symptoms in the past, but that no longer works. It also sounds as if he recognizes and appreciates some very strong positive qualities in his mother, despite the fact that he has had a history of arguing and fighting with her. This is reminiscent of a borderline personality disorder split between good and bad, but clearly it is not, because he can see both in the same person, his mother, and does not deny the reality of one or the other in the same person. However, recognizing, reconciling, and then integrating such strong positives and negatives within perhaps the most important person in one’s life is a difficult task for anyone, and it is not surprising that this has evoked major internal conflicts for Carl.

Rib Cage was next asked if it would live Carl’s life differently if it were in charge.

Rib Cage: “I can’t imagine that I am Carl! I would do a lot of things differently. I wouldn’t be so lazy because I know I have to work hard for a good life; I have to try to find the truth. I wouldn’t spend so much time on bad feelings and thoughts. I wouldn’t be scared or nervous when I talk to people, especially girls.”

Rib Cage is providing specific recommendations to be operationalized by Carl. For example, Carl can now score himself zero to ten on a number of different scales one or more time a day, but definitely before sleep:

Laziness/Productivity: 0-10:

Avoidance and self-rescuing/searching for the truth: 0-10:

Approaching girls/others with confidence: 0-10:

Rib Cage: “That’s curious because he just started being nervous being in front of people and girls when I came up. Before, he was never worried about what other people thought about him.”

“Are you concerned that he will be distracted by others and girls, Rib Cage?”

Rib Cage: “Another part of my job is to be a hint of the truth, that it is probably the case that everything will end in the nothingness and he will die. Because of that truth he is nervous in front of other people, because everything now matters a great deal. What people say could be a danger or a hint of a big problem in the future. So he’s always trying to detect dangers. And he’s always sad because he is aware everything will end up in nothingness.”

More wow. Here Rib Cage is diagnosing Carl’s existential depression and explaining why it has only recently come up. It is because his thoughts about his eventual death and the meaninglessness of life in the face of inevitable death have caused him to see life as short and precious and therefore to be too concerned about what he does and says, because everything counts; everything matters, because it is all going to end. This is a truth that Rib Cage discloses, and it is a dreadful awakening for Carl, because he doesn’t want the depressive weight of having to confront the finality of life and the meaninglessness that evokes within him. These are important and realistic issues. Very smart philosophers, like Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, and Frankl all wrestled with them. And here a young man, only seventeen, is feeling their full weight!

Often in therapy, clinicians feel a responsibility to diagnose, interpret, and treat. After all, this is what they were trained to do, what clients expect, and what validates the profession for therapists. However, this is not the approach taken by IDL. Instead, its approach is phenomenological, which means that the interpretations of the therapist are put aside in respect for, and out of preference to hear and learn, the interpretations of interviewed emerging potentials – dream characters or the personifications of life issues, as was the case with Carl’s Rib Cage. How might Rib Cage handle such weighty and important issues as existential anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and emptiness?

Rib Cage: “I think the feelings of hopelessness are a motivator to search for a better life. I wouldn’t be scared because even though life could be senseless, the only opportunity to get a good life is to risk. You have to risk something to get a better life. That’s the only goal that is left for Carl; he should try to be happy, and he cannot be happy if he’s afraid of dying. So he can only handle the senselessness of life by going out and not being scared. He can only overcome the fear of dying by taking a risk and go out, even though it could crash. If he just stays at home and stays scared, I will punish him to motivate him to find the truth. He can’t live his life fully because he’s trapped in his fear.”

Wow again. Rib Cage is giving Carl more concrete suggestions to test:

Took risks today: 0-10

Fear/Confidence: 0-10

Rib Cage was then asked what life issues it would focus on if it were in charge of Carl’s life.

Rib Cage: “But there is a senseless part of myself as well. I wouldn’t pay so much attention to girls or to school. I need to push Carl back to the things that he really loves. Although he likes girls, there are things he loves more, like books and music. Harry Potter, rock and roll, because these books create strong and good feelings in Carl that are completely different from feelings he had reading other things. (Those feelings are) extremely good and special. That feeling motivates Carl to write his own stories that could create the same feeling in himself. If he could have that feeling all the time like he used to have, he wouldn’t need me any more. I couldn’t imagine him in a better lifestyle because this feeling was so good. For that feeling he still needs the books.”

Is Rib Cage contradicting itself? Before it recommended taking risks about talking to girls. Now it seems to think that they might be mostly a rescuing distraction! Which is it? Or are girls both a healthy risk and a rescuing distraction? Rib Cage apparently does not view Harry Potter and rock and roll as self-rescuing distractions for Carl “because these books create strong and good feelings in Carl, extremely good and special,” and because reading Harry Potter “motivates Carl to write his own stories that could create the same feeling in himself.” Rib Cage is telling Carl how to put itself out of business! Read Harry Potter to evoke feelings that will cause him to write his own stories that will help move him into an ideal lifestyle from the point of view of Rib Cage! So now we have more concrete and specific suggestions for daily accountability:

Read Harry Potter: 0-10

Listened to Rock and Roll: 0-10

Created good and strong feelings: 0-10

Used them to write stories: 0-10

Next, Rib Cage was asked in what life situations it would be most beneficial for Carl to imagine that he is Rib Cage, and act like it would:

Rib Cage: “Be me, the squeezer, in front of other humans. He would be confident. His life would be better because humans seem to like the squeezing.”

Became the squeezer with others today: 0-10

Notice that Rib Cage also provided the justification for doing so. Humans seem to respond well to pressure, expectations, deadlines, structure, and demands!

Rib Cage was asked why it thought it is in Carl’s life:

Rib Cage: “I am like a trap or prison that he can’t escape. He has to learn to listen to me and deal with me and respect me.”

Wow. So the source of Carl’s fear and somatic symptoms, which he attempts to run from, shut out, and avoid, is insisting that it is inescapable and demands that he learn to listen to it, deal with it and even respect it!

This is why IDL emphasizes deep listening in an integral way. It is not an abstract concept, but a direct result of countless interviews in which interviewed dream characters or the personifications of life issues have said the same thing: “I am a wake-up call that needs to be listened to and respected. I have these recommendations. If you follow them, I will go away, because I will have been heard and you won’t need me any longer.” This is why IDL is empirical; it provides a method that is verifiable, in that the recommendations of emerging potentials such as Rib Cage can be quantified and tested. In fact, IDL insists that you not believe its theories or accept anything that it says or that an interviewed character says. Instead, be skeptical! Instead, insist on verification! The only way you can do so is to operationalize the recommendations and see what happens when you test them in your everyday life!

“Rib Cage do you think Carl has listened to you today?”

“Rib Cage: “Maybe he has shown me some respect today because he has listened to what I just said.”

We have just received some verification from Rib Cage that it feels listened to and respected, which are the major goals of IDL interviewing. However, this is not enough, because interviewing only accesses temporary changes in state. For these to become ongoing, normal, habitual aspects of daily development, Carl has to do the hard daily work of making an ally of Rib Cage, of talking to it, of asking for its advice, and of attempting to put its recommendations into practice in his daily life. Of course Carl should only do this with recommendations that make sense and that pass the tests of triangulation: Do they make sense? Are they supported by waking authorities that Carl respects? Are they supported by other interviewed emerging potentials who have given good advice in the past?

“Thank you, Rib Cage. Now here are a couple of questions for Carl: What have you heard yourself say?”

Carl: “I want to try to listen to the rib cage every time it squeezes me. Start to write novels.”

What are Carl’s next steps? Most important, what happens to his insomnia? Does it get worse, better, or stay the same? How about his anxiety, emptiness, and hopelessness? Do they change, and if so, how?

What does he do with those recommendations? Does he put them into practice or does he just go on cruise control?

Normally, just doing such interviews helps, because the increased understanding of what’s going on creates objectivity that distances one’s sense of self from symptoms. By becoming Rib Cage, Carl has expanded his sense of who he is to include a more confident part of himself that is in contact with solutions to his chronic problems. This, by itself, is huge.

But such habitual, deep-seated issues tend to re-assert themselves because they are habits that have adaptational and survival value. This is why daily application of the recommendations of interviewed emerging potentials is important, and such application generally takes the ongoing support of a partner, such as an IDL Practitioner or fellow student of the work, but it can be anyone that Carl could email daily with his scores on what he did regarding the recommendations.

Here is Carl’s feedback about a week after the interview:

“Since we met Monday my sleep has gotten much better. Sometimes I need a half an hour to an hour to fall asleep, but I am alright with that – it’s much better than needing five hours like I used to need before.

 

Interview Transcript:

Life Issue: “Feeling of emptiness: When you know that something bad has happened and you can’t change anything about it; hopelessness.”

Color: Black & purple

Personification: rib cage

Rib Cage, what do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

I am made out of human bones. I am in Carl’s stomach. I am not flexible. I am stable and strong. I am not trying to scare Carl; he’s choosing to be scared of me.

Rib Cage, what do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What are they?

No.

(Character), what aspect of _____ do you represent or most closely personify?

The part that scares Carl.

Rib Cage, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change? If so, how?

No.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

(Character), how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities: confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing? Why?

Confidence, 0-10. Why?   10 I am the most feared and dangerous thing. So I don’t have to be scared. I am dangerous by being able to make people hopeless by making bad feelings in their stomach. It’s like a nervous, excited, and sick feeling. I do my job especially in the morning and evening, but maybe twelve times a day. There aren’t a lot of distractions for Carl, when he’s calm. There’s nothing to block me out or interfere with me. When he’s distracted he doesn’t think of me.

Compassion, 0-10. Why? I do not care about others. I care about myself a little, by keeping me alive, by making the person I own hopeless.

Wisdom, 0-10. Why? 7 I am the best in what I am doing, in scaring people, but other things I can’t do at all. I can only do one thing, but nothing else.

Acceptance, 0-10. Why? 10, because why shouldn’t I? However, I don’t accept Carl when he isn’t hopeless. If he isn’t hopeless I can do my job, so that’s great! If he is hopeless, I’ve done my job, and THAT’s great!

Inner Peace, 0-10. Why? 7 I think I’m pretty stressed because I have to do my job. I want to do it and try to do it. Then, when I have done it I am not stressed. I make him stressed by putting some pressure on his stomach. After a while he gets the feeling of nervousness. I pull myself together around his stomach and squeeze it! It’s an easy thing to do. It’s what I’m built for.

Witnessing, 0-10. Why? 5 I witness if Carl is hopeless already and a little if he is not because I know I can squeeze him anytime I want to; however I am also lost in drama because I have to be sure he is hopeless.

On a scale of 0-10, how hopeless do you need to keep Carl?

Seven, because he can still distract himself, and I can do my job, and that would be fun. But over seven maybe medical care would kill me or him.

Rib Cage, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different? If so, how?

There should be the possibility that I can do my job forever and at the same time I have the safety that Carl won’t kill himself.

Carl, what did you hear the rib cage say?

It’s the part that scares me; I build it up; it creates a feeling of hopelessness and nervousness and sickness and excitement in my stomach by squeezing it. It’s a little stressed because it has to do its job and make me feel bad. But that’s all it can do and wants to do. It is optimistic that it can always squeeze me and there is nothing I can do about it. It keeps me on a hopelessness level of seven so Carl does not die. The best thing that could happen would be if it could live forever and Carl not kill himself.

Tim: I think you’re useless and I don’t like you at all! I don’t see why you do this to me! You suck!

Rib Cage: I disagree because I don’t think Carl appreciates me. I’m not useless. I am doing my job very well and he doesn’t appreciate it. I am just a part of him that does its job well. My job is to show Carl the truth and to give him the impulse to search after the truth. There is a lifestyle that fits better for him. He’s too easily satisfied in his current lifestyle. He is always satisfied when there is a good friend or a girl but then he doesn’t do anything to get a better life or change things; life is not so bad! My job is to push him to try to search for the truth and a better life.

When I squeeze him he needs to get up in the moment and start building up a better life by going to a girl and talking to her without fear or compulsive thoughts; to try harder to search for the truth. He is not sitting in his room alone, thinking about the truth. There is no progress any more. It doesn’t help him to find a better lifestyle.

Rib Cage, how would Carl’s life be different if he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

He would have a ten I acceptance, but that isn’t possible, because I’m here and he can’t accept me. But if he did score like me he would have no power because he would accept me. He wants to push me around. I don’t like that. It’s a potential danger for my existence. Instead, he should find the truth or a lifestyle that is better for him. If he did then I would have done my job perfectly because if he found the truth then I would be fine with a non-existence. Like his mother, sometimes.

I don’t like his mother because she had the ability a few years ago to delete my power by him going to her and my feeling of making him hopeless went away. Strongly he was confident, calm, and accepting. He didn’t feel my squeezing because it was covered by a good, great feeling. But now that doesn’t work for Carl any more –

Rib Cage, if you could live Carl’s life for him, how would you live it differently?

I can’t imagine that I am Carl! I would do a lot of things differently. I wouldn’t be so lazy because I know I have to work hard for a good life; I have to try to find the truth. I wouldn’t spend so much time on bad feelings and thoughts. I wouldn’t be scared or nervous when I talk to people, especially girls. That’s curious because he just started being nervous being in front of people and girls when I came up. Before, he was never worried about what other people thought about him.

Are you concerned that he will be distracted by others and girls, Rib Cage?

Another part of my job is to be a hint of the truth, that it is probably the case that everything will end in the nothingness and he will die. Because of that truth he is nervous in front of other people, because everything now matters a great deal. What people say could be a danger or a hint of a big problem in the future. So he’s always trying to detect dangers. And he’s always sad because he is aware everything will end up in nothingness.

Rib Cage, if you could live Carl’s waking life for him/her today, would you handle Carl’s feelings of hopeless differently? If so, how?

I think the feelings of hopelessness are a motivator to search for a better life. I wouldn’t be scared because even though life could be senseless, the only opportunity to get a good life is to risk. You have to risk something to get a better life. That’s the only goal that is left for Tim; he should try to be happy, and he cannot be happy if he’s afraid of dying. So he can only handle the senselessness of life by going out and not being scared. He can only overcome the fear of dying by taking a risk and go out, even though it could crash. If he just stays at home and stays scared, I will punish him to motivate him to find the truth. He can’t live his life fully because he’s trapped in his fear.

But there is a senseless part of myself as well.

Rib Cage, what other life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of Carl’s life?

I wouldn’t pay so much attention to girls or to school. I need to push Carl back to the things that he really loves. Although he likes girls, there are things he loves more, like books and music. Harry Potter, rock and roll, because these books create strong and good feelings in Carl which is completely different from feelings he had reading other things. Extremely good and special. That feeling motivates Carl to write his own stories that could create the same feeling in himself. If he could have that feeling all the time like he used to have he wouldn’t need me any more. I couldn’t imagine him in a better lifestyle because this feeling was so good. For that feeling he still needs the books.

Rib Cage, in what life situations would it be most beneficial for Carl to imagine that he is you, become you, and act as you would?

Be me, the squeezer in front of other humans. He would be confident. His life would be better because humans seem to like the squeezing.

Rib Cage, why do you think that you are in Carl’s life?

I am like a trap or prison that he can’t escape. He has to learn to listen to me and deal with me and respect me.

Do you think he has listened to you today?

Maybe he has shown me some respect today because he has listened to what I just said.

Thank you, Rib Cage Now here are a couple of questions for Carl:

What have you heard yourself say?

I want to try to listen to the rib cage every time it squeezes me. Start to write novels.