We should not place to much emphasis on visualization of the number 1: some patients never succeed in doing it. The effort to visualize can be useful at first, but it can be dropped later on, and replaced by concentrating on the sensation of writing, mentally speaking and hearing.

Of course, any other number can be used, as well as grammatical symbols like dashes or periods. We chose the number 1 because it gets patients used to the idea of concentrating, which, in fact, means fixing the mind on one single thought or action.

Patients will then make the transition more easily from this form of concentration, which is more or less mechanical, to real psychological concentration. As a means of transition, we suggest that patients try to gather all their thoughts and concentrate on the number 1. In other words, patients are told to mentally repeat the number 1 when they feel they have succeeded in gathering all their thoughts into a single, larger thought (which is really the concept of thought itself).

An image of the above would be a circle whose rays (separate thoughts) all converge on the number 1 at the center.

Every patient has his or her particular concept for achieving this result: some imagine that they are shrinking their head until there only room for one thought or idea; others try to eliminate all thoughts except the thought of 1.

If patients persevere, they will gradually become convinced that they are able to concentrate for a set period of time, no matter how short. Once this conviction is acquired, it becomes a precious aid in their struggle. But it is not enough - patients must eventually learn to concentrate whenever, and on whatever they want.

This is certainly more difficult to achieve; patients should practice ignoring distractions, at first in solitude, and finally when surrounded by people, noise, etc. In this way, they gain confidence in their ability to concentrate at will. This ability becomes complete when they are able, through concentration, to put a stop to anxiety, or overcome a phobia.

Now let's assume that our patients have acquired this ability: the next step is to ask them to concentrate on an idea.

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