Compensation versus Remediation

When something is not working right, three basic approaches are possible: do nothing, remediate (fix things at the source), or compensate (apply a 'fix'). Doing nothing is appropriate for small or transient matters, but not in matters of human unhappiness.

Compensating involves 1) substituting something else for what is missing, 2) blocking some of the undesirable effects of what is not working, or 3) blocking awareness of undesirable effects. Compensating is often much quicker. Compensating however, often leads to more dysregulation and the need for more compensation. Most western medical treatment is compensatory. Even most general psychotherapy is aimed at compensating or restoring a lost state of compensation.

Remediation, however, usually requires that some existing compensations be discarded. This is counter-intuitive if a compensation is viewed as an achievement. Remediation is like admitting to oneself that one took a wrong turn and needs to back-track several miles of road. In matters of human happiness, it also often requires admitting that a dominant value in a society or a family really was not healthy. Unlike compensation, however, remediation leads to greater self-regulation and more solid good feeling. Compensations are often unbalanced-- a person does a lot of what he or she is good at and neglects something that he or she is not good at but which might well bring satisfaction and contact.

Compensations can misuse the resilience of the body. Here is an analogy: if one's car runs out of gas, or a tire is flat, it is necessary to fix the specific problem to get the car going again, even if one just 'wants to get there.' The human body however, is more flexible. It can find many alternate ways of doing something by altering gait, etc.. This is why the human ego doesn't have to stop its march toward its goals if a problem develops somewhere in movement.

Likewise, if something is attempted before a person is developmentally ready, a work-around may be found. These body compensations become automatic. They are not conducive to the flow of feelings or a sense of naturalness. In an emergency, body-based compensation can be an asset or even a life-saver, but if life is lived as one long emergency, joylessness is certain. Remediation through bodywork is not about an immediate gain in wordily effectiveness. rather it is about an eventual acquisition of ease and security.