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Secondary Gain And Primary Gain In EFT Treatments

Secondary Gain And Primary Gain In EFT Treatments

When God hands you a lemon, you make lemonade ... In Psychology there exists the concept of secondary gain, meaning that there are some benefits from holding on to a mental, emotional or physical problem. In EFT treatments it is important to address these secondary gains, especially when the EFT treatment doesn't seem to be working; but there is also another form of gain, namely the primary gain: the reason for having the problem in the first place.

Includes three example EFT cases to illustrate the concepts of primary gain and secondary gain: EFT Case 1: Psychosomatic Kidney Pain, EFT Case 2: EFT Not Working On Weightloss Issues, EFT Case 3: Failure To Recover From A Stroke.

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Secondary Gain And Primary Gain In EFT Treatments

Every cloud has a silver lining, and every problem has its upside somewhere, too.  Psychology uses the term "Secondary Gain" for this well known phenomenon. In some cases, the benefits of having the problem are so great, they outweigh the suffering the problem is causing; in some cases, these benefits turn out to be the reason for acquiring the problem in the first place. I call that the Primary Gain.

Let's state something right up front about this phenomenon because it is important to understand that "creating" a problem unconsciously is not a sign of being a hypochondriac, or being weak or feeble in some way. In the contrary, this "problem creation" happens mostly with people who are far too hard on themselves and keep on forcing themselves into certain ways of living or behaviours.

Eventually, their unconscious mind will come up with a way to get them a better deal - even if it means creating an illness or a psychological problem that is not under their control.

Here are three EFT case examples where the "Primary Gain" had to be addressed first for the problem to be allowed to leave.


EFT Case 1: Psychosomatic Kidney Pain

1. A retired lady with kidney pains. She had had the most extensive allopathic testing, treatments and even exploratory surgery but "there was nothing physically wrong with her." In spite of there not being anything wrong with her, the pain she experienced was very real and ever present.

The pain didn't move when we tapped, either, so I asked what the benefits of the pain were and how her life had changed since the pain arrived. She told me that her husband had for the first time since they'd been married in 1942 started to take over some of the housework; that he was much more considerate and would help her with the shopping and do all the heavy cleaning now; and that her two daughters no longer brought all their respective children to be looked after. When we talked and tapped some more, it was that last issue that had "caused" the pain to appear - she did not feel that she could tell her daughters that the children were simply too much for her now, and not to have to look after the babies especially was a total relief.

We tapped on "Even though I should look after the babies" and "I can't tell them I don't want to help them". She reflected for a while afterwards and said that she had done her child rearing and that she would be able to set boundaries with her daughters in future. Then, we tapped on the pain again. It receded noticeably, but there was a remnant of 3 which remained stuck.

We tapped on, "Even though I can't expect my husband to help me out if I'm not in pain" until the lady felt that she could expect this, and could ask for his help, and that he would probably give it gladly. We went back to the remaining pain, and this time it went down to 0 in a single round. In this case, the extra attention from the husband was the secondary gain (icing on the cake), and the babysitting the primary gain (the reason for having manifested the problem).

EFT Case 2: EFT Not Working On Weightloss Issues

This lady had a long standing weight problem and although EFT had helped her with other things, it "did not seem to work for the weight issue". When we talked about the benefits of having the problem, for a while she wouldn't believe that there could possibly be anything good about being seriously fat whatsoever. But after a while, she hesitantly offered the following:

- she didn't have to go to work or go outside much which was stressful and frightening to her; -

she was "out of the competition" with other women, a competition she felt she could never win, even when she was slim, because "she was so ugly".

- her husband had stopped making sexual demands on her;

- she felt more in control of her body and her life than she had ever felt when she was slimmer.

I helped her resolve these issues and their respective aspects and memories; much of the tapping was done by herself at home. After two sessions, she felt ready to begin to address the weight issue itself and found it possible now to deal with the practical aspects (such as hunger pangs, cravings for certain foods, buying too many unsuitable foods when in the supermarket, and fear of exercise) with focus and essentially, all by herself.

3. Remember when you're dealing with primary and secondary gain to ask the question, "What could be the reason for wanting to keep this problem in place?"

In this following example, the answer was surprisingly simple, and it unblocked the route for EFT to work it's magic once again.


EFT Case 3: Failure To Recover From A Stroke

This gentleman had suffered from a stroke which left the right side of his body paralysed. He had had much physiotherapy and could now move his arm a tiny bit, and said he wanted to try EFT to be able to regain more movement. When nothing seemed to happen after a single round, he sighed and said, "Oh well that was that then. At least I've tried it."

I found it a little puzzling that he would "give up" so readily when I had heard how much perseverance he had put into his physiotherapy, so I asked him, "What would happen if it worked like a charm and you could regain full movement of your arm, and your leg as well?"

He looked at me in horror and exclaimed, "Why, then everyone would know I was a fraud and that I'd just put it on all these months!"

It turned out that he had so much in the way of examinations, second opinions, and insurance doctors coming in and, at least in his mind, "suggesting that he was faking it to get early retirement," that he had a terrible fear of waking up and finding the problem gone, and being publicly unmasked as a hypochondriac, a liar and a cheat.

In his case, his unconscious mind needed to be assured of two things: firstly, that he would never have to go back to work again which had been unbearably stressful (and I have the notion, was what caused the stroke in the first place); and secondly, that people CAN get better WITHOUT it meaning that they are hypochondriacs, liars and cheats.

Once these fears had been allayed, the tapping produced a very noticeable increase in his ability to move and control his arm, and he was also able to stand up and take a couple of steps leaning on my arm. He continued to tap, and the physiotherapy progressed very smoothly from that day on, and last I heard, he has recovered 80% of his movements. He is still tapping every day.

To sum up: the gains, the secondary gains and especially the primary gains, which are the reason for having any kind of problem, are extremely important.

At any time you are stuck with a problem you are working on, considering what gains there could be and addressing this first can make all the difference to the outcomes.

From "Adventures In EFT"  Silvia Hartmann 2000/2011

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