sympathy). Such a person, looking for the flimflam, will start to
recognize how phony he is being, see the sought-after pay offs
and, hopefully, give up the "act" and try to be honest. In other
cases, where false beliefs cause problems, trying to prove these
beliefs with evidence and logic can often result in clearer
Students who can't study because of all the fun distractions
have been helped by being told that they can't, under any
circumstances, study more than 2 hours per day. This is
reversing roles: you can only do this good thing--study--for a
limited time and you must do other things--socialize or play--all
the rest of the day.
STEP TWO: Put your paradoxical plan into effect--do it with zest.
Paradoxical intention: Do what you fear! (Don't try to increase the
fear reaction.) Worry even more! Try to stay awake! Try to like a
messy house! Like dirty floors and dishes! Avoid trying to have a
Symptom prescription: Increase the unwanted behavior! Increase
the fear! Do the feared action more often! What do you have to lose?
You have been doing the unwanted behavior anyway! If you have no
trouble producing more unwanted behavior, do more! Since that
damn, lousy habit wants to occur so badly, make it occur over and
over! Do it until you are sick and tired of it (like the boy caught
smoking and forced to smoke three strong cigars, one after another).
Changing your outlook and goals: What seems crucial to you at
one time may paradoxically become unimportant in the long run. Small
breast development may humiliate a girl at 16 but please her at 35.
You may long to be the best guitarist, basketball player, or sex object
in school but get very little satisfaction out of that skill when you are
50. It might be nice to have someone's love but it isn't a necessity! It
hurts to be rejected but it isn't the end of life! Challenge your harmful
STEP THREE: Keep following the plan until the desired goal is
In several of the paradoxical methods there is a strange situation,
namely, you are trying to produce acts you really do not want to
continue. Thus, you actually win by failing, i.e. you finally stop
producing the unwanted behavior and it does not occur as often as it
did before. In effect, you will threaten to begin producing the
unwanted behaviors in excess again if the behaviors do not go away
and stay away. At this stage, you will often find your acts or your
worries somewhat silly or humorous and certainly unnecessary. If so,
you are successful.