Detox and Afternoon Tea


An essential aspect of the functioning of our body’s neural receptors is processes that release or block the flow of neuro-chemicals. We have processes for release and block. We have re-uptake processes to return neuro-chemicals for reuse. We have re-uptake blockers to prevent reuse. We have dispersal processes to discharge neuro-chemicals before reaching receptors. We also have post receptor neuro-chemical disintegrators that break down neuro-chemicals into component parts having them enter the body’s fluid flow processes for recombining for other functions or for discharge through kidneys and bladder. Specific types of behavioural interrupt can interact with each of these release or blocks to neuro-chemical flow. The following story from life illustrates how blocking, re-uptake blocking, dispersal and disintegrating can be used for rapid detox.

This is a story from life called ‘Detox and Afternoon Tea’. Dr Neville Yeomans, a psychiatrist pioneer of non drug approaches to psychiatry raised the idea of having Aboriginal and Islander Elders, from across the Australian Top End who are interested in or experienced in working with at-risk youth, come and stay for a week at Aboriginal-Irish Geoff Guest Petford Therapeutic Community. I created a context that was extremely attractive to National Government funders in the drug and alcohol addictions area of National Health and this Gathering occurred with over 100 hundred Aboriginal social emotional spiritual healers flying in to Petford from remote area communities.

The at risk youth who are sent to Petford by communities, police and magistrates typically have no experience with horses or cattle. Horses are a central aspect of Geoff’s transforming work with the boys.

An at-risk Aboriginal young man with drug addiction who was out on bail on drug related charges came to stay at Petford for the Gathering. A few days before the gathering this young man went with Petford youth to see a rodeo an absconded and was picked up by the police three days later wearing a pale blue Petford T shirt that all the boys wore to compete at the rodeo. He was having severe drug withdrawals from taking more than one type of drug that he had obtained in the town near where the rodeo was being held. The police respect Geoff’s work and returned this young man to Petford.

Some youth worker professionals also attending the Gathering said that their standard practice was to send drug-affected youth to hospital for detox for a number of days before accepting them into their therapeutic community programs. Neville said that this was not an option for this youth as the nearest detox was hours away and everyone wanted to stay and take in the experience of the Gathering.

All the attendees of the Gathering and the youth of Petford were sitting and standing around waiting for tea and coffee and scones to be served at an afternoon tea break.

This drug affected youth was severely disturbed and also creating a lot of disturbance with staggering, incomprehensible shouting and uncontrolled arm waving. Then Neville suddenly says to me very loudly so everyone can hear:

Work with Max (the disturbed youth) and bring him back to serve tea and coffee in ten minutes.

Neville immediately turns and says to Max (the disturbed youth):

Max, go with this man.

Inside now.

Be back in ten minutes.

Be ready to serve everyone tea and coffee.

Max is quivering and shaking, in no fit state to do anything, let alone be handing out tea or coffee to over 120 people. He goes with me while stumbling, randomly gesturing with incoherent shout of incomprehensibly utterances.

Within eight minutes he is walking out calmly to be with the others, and in ten minutes he is calmly serving tea and coffee to everyone without spilling a drop.

So what happened inside?

What follows is a replication of my context guided flow-of-consciousness engaging. This replicating follows my actual fragmented utterances - not use typical punctuation with commas and complete sentences – rather the actual words that went between me and this youth:

When inside I say to Max:

You have ten minutes to.....settle down now…....sit down….and what’s it like inside you……..come on…..what’s it like in there…where is it the strongest….in here…(pointing to his head)….in here..(pointing to his belly)….in here….(pointing to his chest then his throat)….in here…(pointing to his heart)…..come on…you know….it’s your body….what’s happening…you can feel it…..what’s it like in here…(pointing to his head again)....

I’m matching his state and closely monitoring for any state change towards anger and berserk.....and he stays highly charged though very confused and scattered...

I keep up a constant overloading barrage of questions asking him to tell me what is happening inside of him….....and his brain tries to make sense of my words……and like an Aboriginal woman I was with at one new years eve party, I am asking him questions and demanding an answer knowing that at the moment he does not know the answer (to confuse, disintegrate and overload him – interrupting habitual patterns).... .....and then I refer to his breathing:

And how are you breathing now…..what’s that like…….what’s breathing like? He takes a deep breath. changed… ....and you’ve been changing ever since you sat down.... ...your heart rate has slowed....’re shaking’re breathing more slowly now……..and you’re more steady….’re quieter now… ….notice this…… you are changing now… …..slowing down… …..all of that is getting quieter now… ….and what’s happening up here now…(pointing to his head)... ……..different to before…. ……and here…....(pointing to his belly).... ….different to before…

….and here (pointing to his chest, then throat)… .....notice how it’s all changing now… ....and what’s happening…come on…what’s

Finally, he says:

I’m slowing down (very fluently - where just before he was incoherent)....

Yes! And what else?

I am not shaking so much....

Feels better?

Yeh....getting better.....

And what’s ya head like inside?

Head aches...


Everywhere (points to his forehead).

What’s happening in the front of ya head (pointing to his forehead)?

It aches.

What about round the back (pointing to the back of his head).

Na, just the front.

And really notice that now…….what’s happening now....

It was dull ache. Now it’s thumping.

So it is still changing in there..... ....and how fast is it thumping?

He does a fist gesture indicating rhythm. Notice what happens to the speed of the thumping.

It’s getting slower......

And what happens to the sensation in your forehead …….when…….its getting slower now?

It’s not so bad....

And what’s happening in ya belly?

I feel crook.....

What’s that feel like? He does a hand gesture in front of his belly signalling churning in a clockwise direction at a certain speed. I mirror this gesture back to him as I say.... And notice how that goes round and round inside ya belly…what’s happening to that now?

It’s slowing down now.

Feels better as it’s slowing down now?

Yeh. Feeling better.

This last part about the turning sensation in Max’s belly is discussed by Bandler, and by the Andreas’ in their books on sensory submodalities (Bandler 1985; Andreas, S. & Andreas, C., 1987).

Notice that Max is non-consciously giving me signals as to what’s happening inside of him, .and I’m being guided by, and using these signals as clues as to what to say and do from moment-to-moment - examples are underlined in the following:

Head aches


Everywhere (points to his forehead).

What’s happening in the front of ya head (pointing to his forehead)?

It aches.

What about round the back (pointing to the back of his head).

Na, just the front.

And really notice that now…….what’s happening now....

It was dull ache. Now it’s thumping.

So it is still changing in there...and how fast is it thumping...... He does a fist gesture indicating rhythm. ...and notice what happens to the speed of the thumping.

It’s getting slower. ..

and what happens to the sensation in ya forehead when it’s getting slower now...

It’s not so bad. ...

and what’s happening in ya belly....

I feel crook. ...

and what’s that feel like...

He does a hand gesture of his belly churning in a clockwise direction at a certain speed.

And notice how that goes round and round inside ya belly…what’s happening to that now...

I do a gesture that mirrors what he’s doing with his hands. It is highly unlikely that Max is aware that he is giving me these signals with his hands. Max is unconsciously informing me about what to do next. I use these unconscious signals to guide me in guiding him as to what to be aware of in his changing experience. This pattern of drawing Max’s awareness to his inner experience is by definition for him an altered state. Initially my interaction paced his manic quality. I was fast and jerky. I jumped his awareness around very fast. Once he started to change, I paced him in my speech and actions as he changed to becoming more slow and steady. I am drawing his awareness to his changes. I am continually giving him suggestions imbedded in my sentences...and after a time he starts repeating my suggestions to himself.

An example:

Feels better as it’s slowing down now?

Yeh. Feeling better.

Some of the Metacontexts

The context of the Petford context where Max is challenged to serve afternoon tea;  Max knew Neville was a psychiatrist and a key figure at the Gathering. He also knew that I was a key figure in the Gathering; the one who had arranged the funding and who had engaged with his mother to have him fly from NSW up to the top end of Queensland and get a lift out to Petford. He also knew that I was directed by Neville in front of all of the attendees, including over ninety Aboriginal Elders at the Gathering from communities across the Australian Top End, to have him fit to serve the afternoon drinks in ten minutes.

Neville uses Ericksonian language patterns in speaking to me and Max, using two short commands similar to what Jesus was said to have used to the lame man:

Pick up your bed.....and.....walk!

Neville says to me:

Work with Max (the disturbed youth)…. and... .......bring him back to serve tea and coffee in ten minutes.

Max hears this. It is said with absolute authority and carries the implication that this can be done and will happen. This is an example of speech acts, where words have transformative consequences. Neville’s words also potentially have Max’s brain going into a future world to make sense of this strange thing Neville has said – a world where he is normal and able to serve drinks. And at some level, Max’s bodybrain accesses states of ‘being normal’ and ‘being able to serve drinks’ in order to access this future world in making sense of Neville. Max’s nervous system is already in state change from what Neville had said. Neville also links the two parts of the sentence he said to the youth with the conjunction ‘and’.

Pick up your bed.....and.....walk!

This in turn supports my ‘working’ with Max with the time-bound state change:

Bring him back to serve tea and coffee in ten minutes.

Then Neville turns and says to Max:

Max, go with this man (simple command).

Inside now! (simple command).

Be back in ten minutes (time-bound simple command).

Be ready to serve everyone tea and coffee (simple command with implication of change).

Max is a very literal kind of fellow……and he’s drug affected….and knowing this…….Neville keeps his sentences short.......literal......and specific.

My language in talking with Max is of similar form. It also is saturated with Ericksonian patterns using:



   implications, and other patterns.

When I’m inside with Max I too keep my sentences short, literal, and specific. Examples: changed

and you’ve been changing ever since you sat down

your heart rate has slowed

you’re shaking less.

you’re breathing more slowly now

and you’re more steady…. .....

you’re quieter now…

And each of these short specific literal observational speech acts statements draws Max’s attention to changes that are already happening - and in this process, contribute to further system changes.

Max is in drug withdrawal. Awareness of change is further disintegrating and dissolving his state. He is now also overloaded with all of what has been happening. Another prior overloading had came from him suddenly shifting from the monotonous ride in the police car to being the focus of everyone’s attention including over 90 Aboriginal Elders attending the Gathering. This has the potential for cultural laden shame hit him at some level.

I am using sequential stacked interrupt. Once inside I grab his attention and focus his awareness on jumping it quickly round noticing how he feels in differing parts of his body.

As feeling is his most present, I use his sensing feeling to reach his awareness of moving.

Initially he is confused, though I insist on him doing this by constant requests for him to notice.

And as said above, I place an alternate demand on his perception - one that is collapsing his brain-addled state, and has him entering an altered state of being aware of his awareness, and then slowly beginning to notice differences as his body actually changes – as it invariably does when you begin noticing it. I then add suggestions for further change. I sense this activates natural changes in neuro-chemical cycling at Max’s synapses.

When we first went inside, the drug cocktail was looping through Max’s synapses and back into storage to go around again and again - the drug discharge, release, interaction with receptors, and re-storage.

Max’s system had activated habitual responding and was firing off awful feelings associated with disintegrated functioning typical of drug withdrawal.

The awareness-of-awareness processor state that I set up for Max entails shifts in the sense of moving that interrupts and disintegrates the habitual patterns of the drugs he had used while they are in decline in his system. To quote Feldenkrais’ (1972, p. 39):

A fundamental change in the motor (moving) basis within any single integration pattern will break up the cohesion of the whole and thereby leave thought and feeling without anchorage in the patterns of their established routines.

This interrupt increases the action of very natural system properties.

   Drugs in the synaptic cleft are dispersed through the synapse wall before interacting with receptors (dispersal);

   Receptors are blocked (receptor blockers)

   Re-uptake of the drugs into storage is blocked (reuptake blockers)

   Drugs that have been stopped by reuptake blockers are disintegrated and move off in Max’s body fluid transfer system including the blood stream to be filtered out of his body through the kidneys and bladder (Rossi, 1985; Rossi & Cheek, 1986).

To restate the above, neuro-chemical systems at the synapses have a lot of control points:

   Whether or not the neurotransmitters are released from storage

   Whether the neuro-chemicals enter the synaptic cleft

   Whether they interact with receptors

   Whether they are either reabsorbed by the presynaptic cell, and then repackaged and placed into storage for future release, or else broken down metabolically and discharged from the body.

Perhaps the interrupt processes I used quickly cleared out, or simplified the mix of internally and externally produced ‘chemical soup’ within his synapses.

Within five minutes he is almost ready to serve drinks. I get Norma to bring a mug and a jug of cold water and Max has a long drink and then goes and urinates while continuing to drink – getting rid of drugs from his system – natural detoxing!

The remaining few minutes is used in clearing away the ‘cobwebs’. I have Max future-pacing – imagining himself experiencing calm poise when he goes outside and referring to his prior behaviour and drawing attention to his return to confident poise, and imagining serving afternoon tea while being a very good host so he is not only steady in his body and confident he can serve, he is going to be the pleasant sociable character that he is very capable of being.

This imagining of the coming moment has him accessing integrating patterns associated with those behaviours and hence entering into those modes of functioning before he actually goes outside, so that when he does go outside he is accessing those behavioural repertoires. He is the very good host.


Max has no re-occurrence of any drug withdrawal symptoms that afternoon, or during the following week.

I had been simultaneously engaging with Max in many ways simultaneously. While being guided by Max’s non-conscious gestures and behaviour I am triggering changes in his awareness of awareness of moving, sensing and feeling. Simultaneously, my speech act processes blending with Max’s processes are engaging and involving and transforming goings on in Max’s nervous system especially at the synapses. And he is present in noticing the changes as they are happening.. He is staying present aware as his states are changing - and liking the changes

There’s sense and richness of all of this. Max as a young man in his twenties has in his brain has billion neurons (nerve cells) and trillion of synapses! The number of networking combinations in all of this immensity is said to exceed the number of stars in all of the galaxies in all of the known universe! So Max has extraordinary potential. My trillions of networks linked to his trillions. The old saying:

Life is filled with possibilities. Trillions of them.