Paradoxical Intention: A universal cure (IM 754)

The term, paradoxical intention was introduced by psychiatrist Dr. Viktor E. Frankl. This works as the reversal of one’s attitude. There has been many medical proofs that this process has worked in changing one’s attitude, removing fear, anxiety, insomnia, stress, self-harm, phobias etc.

The wish is the father of thoughts and the fear is the mother of event. Paradoxical intention is a hyper-intention that makes impossible what one wishes.

When someone has a phobia and he/she tries to fight against it, the phobia triggers the symptoms and the symptoms, in turn, reinforces phobia. This results in increase in phobia because pressure precipitates counterpressure. But when the patient stops fighting against it but instead tries to ridicule them by dealing with them in an ironical way (paradoxical intention/wish), this circle will cease and the phobia will finally atrophies.

Paradoxical intention can also be applied in case of insomnia. The fear of sleeplessness results in hyper-intention to fall asleep which incapacitates the patient to do so. To overcome this, instead of trying to fall sleep one should try the opposite; that is to stay awake as long as possible. The hyper-intention to fall asleep, arising from the anticipatory anxiety of not being able to do so, must be replaced by the paradoxical intention of not to fall asleep, which will soon be followed by sleep.

Well this might be temporary but above all, the cure to everything is self-transcendence.


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