Defusion (ACT)

ACT is a mainstream therapy tool, utilized by leading Psychologists and counselors worldwide.
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Defusion (ACT)

Post by DaveA » Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:57 am

"Defusion" is the ACT term for having thoughts WITHOUT "fusing" to them, without locking onto the thought and feeling compelled to act on it...unless it's helpful. Russ Harris refers to this as getting "hooked" by our thoughts, unable to let them go.

An extreme example would be a person with OCD.
They suffer from repetitive thoughts that they've "FUSED" to.
:?: Did I lock the front door? I better walk back and check again. Yup, it's locked.
:?: Maybe I didn't check it carefully enough, I better walk back and check it again. Yup, it's locked all right.
:?: I'm in my car a mile from my house, headed for work and I just realized I didn't rattle the knob to ensure the door is latched and won't blow open in the wind. All I did (both times) was look at the locks visually. I better turn around, drive back home and check it again. Yup, it's locked.
:?: I hope I didn't accidentally shake the door lock out of its hole when I rattled the knob earlier, I better drive home from work to check that. Yup, it's locked.

If you don't have OCD, you might be thinking "damn dude...the fucking door is locked already, just let it go!"

But I hope you aren't thinking that if you're paruretic.
Our issue comes with, maintains itself and becomes worse due to an almost identical flawed mental process.

Defusion exercises like "Leaves In A Stream" by Steven Hayes help us develop the ability to DEFUSE from our thoughts. To HAVE any and all of the scary, distorted, fearful thoughts that pop into our heads constantly...and let them go, if they aren't helpful to us.

For recovery purposes, you develop the ACT skills of ENGAGEMENT to fully experience where you are and everything around you. As you do that, thoughts are constantly DISTRACTING you from the reality you SHOULD be experiencing. When those thoughts drag you into your mind with fearful things like "I hope I can pee before anybody comes in and I lock up", you're no longer fully ENGAGED in being in the restroom. You've just FUSED with your thoughts, and increased the likelihood that you'll lock up NOW...even if nobody enters.

DEFUSING is the ACT skill of OBSERVING your thoughts from the perspective of an IMPARTIAL OBSERVER, thanking or otherwise acknowledging the bullshit thought...then dropping it, because it has no value to you.

A slightly LESS obvious defusion skill is doing the SAME thing with HELPFUL thoughts.
Allow yourself to have them...just like all the fearful shit...acknowledge them, note them and drop them.

Regardless of whether a thought is helpful or not, when you're ENGAGED in something, you AREN'T daydreaming about other things, good or bad.

So in the OCD example, it might be a good idea to check that the door is locked...ONCE.
Thank the thought, check the door and then let it go.

When it pops up again, either the EXACT same worry, or a slightly modified version to help give it importance...acknowledge it, thank it, drop it.

In our paruretic world, inside a restroom and fearful our stream will shut-down involuntarily if somebody enters, or that it won't start at all if it doesn't get going BEFORE somebody enters...DEFUSION is a valuable skill.
You can't successfully tease a person about something they don't feel embarrassed about.
I can pee...because it's okay if I can't.
The problem is embarrassment, paruresis is rooted in your embarrassment.

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