Spitting in the Soup/Besmirch a Clean Conscience
Note: Page numbers enclosed in parentheses are citations from The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler: A systematic presentation in selections from his writings. (H. L. and R. R. Ansbacher, Eds.). © 1964, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Used by permission of Perseus Books Group.
According to Dreikurs, Adler used these homely metaphors to characterize the process of exposing to clients what they are actually doing, in order to make these actions distasteful to them. It is a way to spoil the clean conscience of the client, who may, of course, choose to continue in the mistaken movement, but who can no longer do so innocently. [See Paradox/Anti-Suggestion.]
To motivate reorientation, I employ a mirror technique, confronting the patient with his goals and intentions . . . . When the patient begins to recognize his goals, his own conscience becomes a motivating factor. Adler called this process "spitting in the patient's soup" (Dreikurs, 1973, p. 12).
This is a vivid phrase for describing what happens when we expose the hidden agenda or goal for [the client's] self-defeating behavior. When the counselor is accurate with his/her observation . . . and can illustrate this clearly . . . [the client] may continue with this behavior but “it won’t taste so sweet” (Sweeney, 1989, p. 262).
[To "smirch a clean conscience"] I might say, "Write in capital letters over your bed: 'Every morning I must torment my family as much as possible.' Thus in future you have to do consciously, and with a bad conscience, what you formerly did unaware but with a clean conscience.” None of my patients has ever followed advice such as this (p. 398).
© Griffith, J., & Powers, R. L. (2007). The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler (2nd ed.). Port Townsend, WA: Adlerian Psychology Associates (p. 98).
Definitions of concepts are used by permission of Jane Griffith. A comprehensive list of concepts and definitions can be found in The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 Terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler by Jane Griffith and Robert L. Powers, available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Dreikurs, R. (1973, Rev. ed.). Psychodynamics, psychotherapy and counseling: Collected papers of Rudolf Dreikurs, M. D. Chicago: Alfred Adler Institute.
Sweeney, T. J. (1989). Adlerian counseling: A practical approach for a new decade (3rd ed).
Muncie, IN: Accelerated Development.