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The Dark Side of Tapping

Picture the scene.  It’s a fictional scene but one that I have witnessed play out in a multitude of ways in different locations and with different players.  The scene is set in a residential psychiatric unit, the day is Wednesday.

Billy, a chronic schizophrenic patient, enters the office and is a little anxious and distressed.  An earlier encounter with a member of staff has left him unsettled.  Most encounters with that member of staff leave Billy unsettled for a really simple reason.  That member of staff who we will call John in grand the tradition of things is a bit of an asshole and it must be said that his colleagues don’t like him much either.

John has a number of key character traits – he isn’t particularly bright, he drinks too much alcohol at weekends, he likes rules, status and power and he feels very comfortable and enjoys himself most when around vulnerable people.

But back to Billy.  Billy enters the office, his distress is clear.

Billy is concerned that John may convey a negative impression of that earlier encounter to the staff, and that what gets recorded in the notes may not be quite accurate about what really went on.  Those notes form a patient’s “permanent record” and never go away.  What gets recorded can massively affect the future of any person in such a situation of “total care.”

But these staff don’t see it from Billy’s point of view.  No.  They see it only from their point of view as psychiatric workers.  Billy’s distress is obvious, and these staff are there to relieve distress, are they not?

“I want to talk to you about this morning,” Billy splutters whilst jigging side to side in his agitation. “I don’t want John to set me up.”  It’s a reasonable concern, really, I wouldn’t trust John to care for a dead cat, let alone vulnerable schizophrenics.  I hated the guy, but then he had no power over me so he wasn’t really that much of a concern to me, but I did use to worry what he got up to at work when no one was watching.  I’ve known bullies before and I know how quick they can be with their little jabs and jibes so that no one else other than the victim actually sees them.  Sometimes you only need turn your eye for a second and the bullying occurs, unwitnessed.

Also, it possibly isn’t the best thing for a known paranoid schizophrenic to express concerns about “being set up.”  It doesn’t look good, not at all, at all.

Now, Billy wants to talk, he wants to explain, possibly he wants the staff to see it from his point of view, but most of all he wants these trained professionals to understand. (As attendees to my IEMT training will be familiar, these are strategies I seriously advise people who lack power to not do.  Ever.)

Of course, Billy lucked out.  As usual.

What he got was, “You looked distressed, Billy, have you taken your medication this morning?”

I learned from improv training that this is known as a “block.”

Billy tries to argue that this isn’t a medication issue, but it is too late.  The frame has been set and the power differential against Billy is simply too great to be beaten.  Billy reluctantly agrees to an extra “PRN” dose of a neuroleptic medication to “calm him down.”

Order is restored and the status quo of power is maintained.

It was for these reasons that I usually refer to medication as madication.  Sometimes I hated psychiatry and sorely wished for an alternative.

Enter “tapping.”

“Tapping” is touted as a “gentle” therapeutic tool that can resolve a huge array of human and non-human maladies, can operate remotely without the patient even being present and works like acupuncture without needles upon the bodies energy system.  It is also total bullshit.

But, whilst not obvious to many, this “therapy” does have a dark side.  If you want to see it for yourself, simply type “tapping” and “children” as a search term into YouTube.

Tapping is the tool of choice for dealing with children’s anger by parents who have the tapping bug.  YouTube is filled with videos of strange men and strange women demonstrating their tapping prowess and how and where to get your children to tap if they get angry.

I’m with the legendary educationalist, John Holt, on this one.  As a child, when someone is hitting you with a stick, at least you know what is being done to you.  But when someone is giving you “therapy” the situation can be very confusing indeed, and possibly quite damaging.

I have seen too many occasions where madication is used oppressively by people with well-meaning intent, who remain ignorant about their actions.  Imagine the same situation where madication is simply replaced by tapping.  The outcome is the same.

Now watch this….


Andrew T. Austin
  • Andrew T. Austin
  • Andrew T. Austin is formerly an NLP master practitioner, clinical hypnotherapist, and a nurse with a background in accident and emergency (A&E) and neurosurgery.

    He is the developer of Metaphors of Movement and Integral Eye Movement Therapy.

    #NLP #neurolinguisticprogramming #hypnotherapy


  • Completely agree Andrew.

  • This blog should be required reading for Mental Health Professionals.

  • I've seen this a lot. I've been trapped on the dark side… that kind of tapping can pathologise our every waking moment.

  • Having worked in Psychiatric Hospitals and Institutions it is often the case that Mental Health Professionals were often Health Professionals that are mental. This may be worse here in Los Angeles, but where I worked, often it was hard to distinguish the patients from the staff. By the way, loved "The Rainbow Machine." Enlightened hilarious pragmatism. Best, Brian.

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