HP Ex4 Holistic Counselling book chapters 5-8

Homepage Extension No.4

Chapters 5-8 of Holistic Counselling in Practice: An introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT)

by Dr Jim Byrne (with Renata Taylor-Byrne)

Copyright (c) March 2017

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Preamble

In an effort to communicate to our visitors about the nature of E-CENT counselling, we have been posting extracts from our main book on that subject.

On Homepage Extension No.3, you will find brief extracts from Chapters 1 to 4.

On this page we have posted brief extracts from Chapters 5 to 8:

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Chapter 5. Understanding and managing human emotions 

5.1: Introduction

Because counsellors and psychotherapists deal with their clients’ emotions – (as well as their behaviours, goals, relationships; plus their environmental stressors, and so on) – every system of counselling and therapy has to have a theory of emotion.  This, however, is a significant problem, for three reasons:

  1. Firstly: Human emotionis hugely complex. For example, Stephen Pinker, in his book on how the mind works, draws attention to a quotation from G.K. Chesterton about the unutterable complexity of human emotional tones and moods and shades, which begins like this: “Man knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colours of an autumn forest”. (Page 367)[1]. Therefore, at the very least, we should show some humility in developing our systemic models of such complexity.
  2. Secondly: As one psychotherapist has pointed out: “The terms ‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’, and ‘affect’ are used in many different senses in psychology. A review of more than twenty theories of emotion reveals a plethora of widely diverging technical definitions. These vary with the technique of investigation, the general theoretical framework, and the value-judgements of the psychologist.  Often, they are so diverse as to defy comparison let alone synthesis”.[2]  So we are not going to arrive at a universal definition of emotion in this book; though we have to come to some working hypotheses, in the form of practical conclusions, which allow us to understand and help our clients.
  3. Third: There is a good deal of confusion regarding whether emotions are innate, or socially imposed; and whether they exist ‘inside the client’ or ‘outside’ in social relationships.

With regard to point 3, which is the most fundamental question we face, we should resolve that issue up front:

(a) In E-CENT counselling, we use the insight from Dylan Evans’ (2003) book on emotion, about ‘degrees of innateness or learned emotions’. This means that we accept the conclusion that some basic emotional wiring is innate, at birth.  However, those basic emotions (or feelings) are inevitably shaped by the culture of the mother (and father [normally]) into acceptable and unacceptable expressions of affect – or observable manifestations of feelings – over time. The main concepts we use are:

(1) Innate emotional wiring (Panksepp 1998); which are also seen as basic emotions[3] – (Siegel, 2015);

(2) Higher cognitive emotions (like pride, confidence, guilt and shame, jealous, trust and so on – (Panksepp and Biven, 2012); and:

(3) Culturally specific emotions (as in the ways in which various universal emotions are manifested differently in different cultures; e.g. the more restrained Japanese versus the more expressive Americans – (Evans, 2003).

Somewhere between the universal, higher cognitive emotions and the culturally specific emotions, I would place the “family variations” in the range and mode of expression of the basic and higher cognitive emotions.

So, individuals have some of the ‘universal shape’ implied by Plato, Freud, Albert Ellis, Eric Berne, etc.; but also quite a lot of ‘family shaping’ which is idiosyncratic and unique. Plus national variations in how those emotions are expressed.

In evolving our theory of emotion, we went back as far as it is possible to go in developing knowledge of our ancestors, and what we inherited from them.  For example, we have been influenced by the perspective of Jonathan Turner (2000)[4], which can be summarized like this: “…our ability to use a wide array of emotions evolved long before spoken language and, in fact, constituted a preadaptation for the speech and culture that developed among later hominids.  Long before humans could speak with words, they communicated through body language their emotional dispositions; and it is the neurological wiring of the brain for these emotional languages that represented the key evolutionary breakthrough for our species”.

And according to Panksepp (1998), those emotional systems are located in the most primitive parts of the brain: the limbic system and brainstem.   (These are the neuro-logical substrates (or foundations) underpinning what Freud called the ‘It’ – the physical baby and the primary (emotive) processes of mental life. Those primary, sub-cortical (limbic) processes inform our secondary, more culturally shaped emotions, which modulate our capacities for cognition: which means that our attention, perception, memory, and thinking can never be separated from our feelings.  As Damasio (1994) demonstrated with his patient, Elliot, we cannot make choices and decisions without the emotional capacity to evaluate options!

Finally, in E-CENT, we would never go along with a list of categories of emotional disturbances like that displayed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (or any other DSM), or any other equivalent manual, such as the European’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases.  Humans are too complex to be classified into ‘disease boxes’ or ‘personality disorders’.  And we will argue elsewhere in this book that much of the modern explosion of emotional disorders are a result of lifestyle distortions, especially in the areas of bad diet, lack of physical exercise, and rising levels of externally imposed socioeconomic stress.  (See in particular, Appendices E and F).

~~~

Afterthought: However, despite the fact that we in E-CENT have clarified our own understanding of human emotions, there are lots of disagreements within the field of counselling and psychotherapy on this subject.  Since there is no universal agreement regarding the nature of human emotions in counselling and therapy, we, in E-CENT counselling, have to account for our own theory of emotion: to justify it, as well as defining and elaborating its elements.  So let us begin with some of the older theories of emotion.

5.2: Buddhism and Stoicism on emotion 

E-CENT counselling has been influenced by Buddhist ideas and Stoic ideas, including some of their ideas about human emotions.  This is obvious from a reading of Chapter 4, on the Six Windows Model.

With regard to Buddhism, it seems from The Dhammapada[5], that the Buddha taught that all human disturbance arises out of desire; and this idea is shared with Stoicism.

In E-CENT theory we have taken some of these ideas as points of departure, but we have also found serious flaws in both of those philosophies.

For examples:

…End of extract.

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~~~

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~~~

Chapter 6: Counselling individuals using the E-CENT approach

6.1: Quick introduction

There is no standard or invariable structure that can be applied to all E-CENT counselling and therapy sessions.  There are several core models that we use to guide our counselling process – and they will be reviewed below – but they tend to occur in various, unpredictable patterns, depending upon the client’s narrative, and various automatic counsellor-judgements.

There are at least twenty standard principles that guide the thinking of the therapist, but not all of these are activated by any particular client, or client-problem: (See Chapter 3).  And the E-CENT counsellor is, in any case, guided from non-conscious levels of mind, rather than consciously working out how to respond.  So how can I quickly give you an overview of a ‘fairly typical’ individual E-CENT counselling session, as a map of the territory to be explored?

Here is my ‘quick tutorial’ on how to apply E-CENT counselling in practice, drawn from my impressions of thousands of counselling sessions.  If I have to try to summarize ‘the process’, here is my best approximation to what the counsellor is trying to do:

  1. Build a relationship with the client, while trying to find out what they want and need.
  2. Get an outline of the client’s story – the ‘confession stage’ (in the Jungian tradition) – about the client’s presenting problem.
  3. Help them to explore their story, and to refine it, so it becomes more accurate – more complete; or more digested; more known. For example, help them to check if their story has been subjected to any deletions, distortions or over-generalizations. Help them to explore their story of origins and their story of relationships (to begin with).
  4. Help them to see that their stories (including their emotions about events) could be edited (‘re-framed’)[6] so that they are less disturbing, less painful, and more tolerable than they originally seemed[7].
  5. Teach the client that the quality of the story that they live inside of is strongly and unavoidably affected by their diet[8], physical exercise regime[9], relaxationprocesses, relationship support (adequate or inadequate), physical and socioeconomic environment, and social connections (good and/or bad)[10], etc.; as well as their inner-dialogue (or self-talk; mainly at non-conscious levels of mind).
  6. Teach the client:

(a) To dedicate themselves to reality at all cost![11] (Even though it is hard for a human to know what is ‘real’, because we automatically interpret every event/object on the basis of our prior, cumulative, interpretive, cultural experience.)

(b) To accept the things they cannot change, and only try to change the things they can. (Even though it is actually very difficult to find out what might be controllable!)

(c) To live a moral life (on the basis that “You cannot live The Good Life unless you are willing to live A Good [Moral] Life!”).  This involves growing their Good Wolf side (or virtuous side), and shrinking (starving) their Bad Wolf side (or the vicious, evil side of their character). See Appendix H.

(d) To keep their expectations in line with reality. (Even though it is difficult to identify what is actually ‘real’!)

(e) To understand their emotions, and also how to manage them.  (See Chapter 5, above, on human emotion).

(f) To grow their Adult ego state, and to shrink the inappropriate elements of their Controlling Parent, Critical Parent, and Adapted/Rebellious Child ego states[12].

(g) To restrain their tendencies towards passivity or aggression, and to mainly try to engage in assertive communication with others.

(h) To love some significant individuals in their lives; and to offer love to one of those significant individuals, as a way to get love.

(i) To take responsibility for their life.  Nobody is coming on a white charger (or in shining armour) to rescue them.  If it’s to be, it’s up to them!

(j) To commit themselves to personal and professional development; and, if they are up for it, some form of spiritual development.

~~~

6.2: Validity of our models and processes

Most of the models and processes which went into forming the theoretical foundations of E-CENT counselling come from one or more of the ten systems of therapy which were evaluated by Smith and Glass (1977), and found to be not only effective, but fairly equally effective![13] So I do not feel any need to waste resources funding a Randomized Control Trial to ‘prove’ the efficacy of E-CENT.  (West and Byrne, 2009[14]).

The main types of therapy validated by Smith and Glass (1977, 1982)[15], and also by later studies[16], and used in E-CENT counselling, are: Transactional analysis; Rational emotive therapy; Psychodynamic approaches; Gestalt therapy; Client-centred; and Systematic desensitization.

The main exceptions to this rule – that E-CENT has been constructed from validated systems of counselling and therapy (validated by the Common Factors School of research – Smith and Glass [1980]; Wampold and Messer [2001]; and others) – include the use of:

  1. Elements of Attachment theory(which is perhaps the most researched and validated approach to developmental psychology in use today). See Wallin(2007); and Bowlby (1988)[17].
  2. Aspects of the most popular approaches to Moral philosophy (including The Golden Rule; Rule utilitarianism; Duty ethics; and Virtue ethics.)[18]
  3. Moderate aspects of Buddhist philosophy, including elements of the Zen perspective on language; and some of the insights of the Dhammapada.[19] Plus moderate aspects of Stoic philosophy[20].
  4. The Narrative approach to counselling and therapy, which has become increasingly popular, mainly as a result of the work of White and Epston; and Kenneth Gergen; plus Theodore Sarbin[21]

~~~

6.3: Imaginary ‘typical’ session structure

Most systems of counselling and therapy have a characteristic ‘session structure’ to which trainee counsellors are expected to conform, and this seems to carry on into full professional practice for many systems (including Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy)[22]. The publishing industry has tended to accentuate this requirement: that a system of therapy must have a beginning, a middle and an end phase, which are distinct and clearly specifiable, with common tasks for each phase. (See in particular the Sage Publications’ ‘Counselling in Action’ series).

However, as stated above, E-CENT counselling does not have a predetermined or predictable session structure. On the other hand, it may be necessary to imagine a ‘typical’ (though not invariable) structure, in order to teach some of the standard models and processes that we commonly use.

…End of Extract.

You can buy this book at Amazon, as a paperback, or as an eBook.

You can buy the book here:

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~~~

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~~~

Chapter 7. E-CENT theory and self-management

7.1 Defining self-management

Although each individual is actually a social animal, shaped and conditioned by their family of origin, schools, the mass media, and so on, we nevertheless can decide to take responsibility for managing ourselves and our lives.  That is to say, if somebody, or something, wakes us up to the reality of a crossroads junction we are facing in our lives, we can take conscious responsibility for choosing the road we will follow.  (If nobody or nothing wakes us up, we will continue to follow our non-conscious patterns and habits).

This process of waking up and taking responsibility means giving up operating ‘on automatic’ – giving up being a wholly non-conscious automaton.  It is not perfectly effortless, this process of taking conscious control. Remember how difficult it was to change anything as a result of a New Year’s Resolution. And the changing of habits is not perfectly achievable. Remember how often your New Year’s Resolutions failed!

I have been working on my own self-management for more than thirty-five years, but I have not reached ‘the end of the line’ yet!  Neither am I in line for a medal or cup for my achievements so far!  I have changed some bad habits; formed some new, good habits; but I have to watch my behaviour daily, “as though I were bandit lying in wait”, as Epictetus put it. (Epictetus, 1991).

Self-management means that I set goals for myself; I seek wisdom for myself; I try to guide my life by the best knowledge that I can find and/or generate.  This is not an easy task, and in fact it is a lifelong journey of discovery, trial and error, progress and slipping back, and so on.

E-CENT advocates the use of some of the most helpful aspects of some of the most useful philosophies of life available to us: like moderate Stoicism, moderate Zen Buddhism, and some aspects of moral philosophy.  These philosophies should ideally be combined with the best aspects of modern psychology; and the best of the self-improvement literature available in bookshops and on Amazon and other online book stores.

7.2 Identifying self-management aims and goals

Most people have their self-management aims and goals back to front.  Many people seem to go after wealth before health; and status before happiness; and career ‘successes’ before the sense of making a contribution, or finding their life’s work.

E-CENT theory advocates the following hierarchy of ‘unifying principles’[23] which were developed and followed by Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne over a period of more than twenty years.  This is a full ‘curriculum for life’, and it could take a whole lifetime to implement it.  So do not overload yourself; and do not give up just because it is difficult to change old habits! (“Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up!” Churchill)

Unifying principles from the curriculum for life

  1. To be healthy;
  2. To be happy;
  3. To be a person of integrity, who lives from their ‘Good Wolf’ side (which means from their virtues); and who monitors and shrinks their ‘Bad Wolf’ side (which means their vices). See Appendix H;
  4. To have at least one really powerful relationship;
  5. To have a few successful relationships, with family, friends, associates, colleagues, neighbours, and/or others.
  6. To engage in enjoyable work which is socially valuable or useful;
  7. To take care of your physical and psychological wellbeing;
  8. To take care of your material wellbeing, and the resources required to do so;
  9. To explore the question of what ‘spiritual’ means for you[24]. Do you have a ‘spiritual dimension’ to your life?  Are you taking care of it?

Primary areas for goal setting: To optimize the chances of achieving those unifying principles in practice (within which you may also have more specific, short term and medium term goals), E-CENT advocates paying attention to the following aspects of your life:

  1. Diet (balanced and healthy); Read at least one good book on diet and nutrition. (Appendix E).
  2. Daily meditation; Begin with ten minutes of sitting meditationper day, and build up to 30 minutes eventually.
  3. Daily physical exercise; Begin with at least 30 minutes of brisk walking each day; and add on additional exercises, such as yoga or Pilates, or weight or circuit training at a gymnasium. (Appendix F).
  4. Regular relaxationexercises; Use audio tapes, such as one of those produced by Glenn Harrold or Paul McKenna.
  5. Daily nutritional supplementation of your diet (with professional guidance when necessary) – See Appendix E.
  6. Regular writing therapy (Daily Pages), at least three or four times per week (Julia Cameron, 1992);

(Items 7 to 18 omitted from this extract…)

…End of extract.

You can buy this book at Amazon, as a paperback, or as an eBook.

You can buy the book here:

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~~~

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~~~

Chapter 8. Conclusion

8.1 Overview

Let us begin with a quick overview of the ground we covered in this book so far.

Chapter 1 begins with two sections on the holistic nature of E-CENT counselling, and how we have placed feelings before thinking, and also emphasized the fact that our narratives are embodied.  We then looked at the counselling and therapy theories out of which E-CENT was built, and how most of them are considered by the Common Factors School of research to be effective in about equal measure.

We moved on to describe how we – initially – accidentally created E-CENT theory while trying to defend Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).  Subsequently, we moved on into incorporating elements of Attachment theory, Transactional analysis, and various outgrowths of affective neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology, with moral philosophy and aspects of moderate Buddhism and Stoicism.

We then looked at our approach to science and the use of case studies in defending systems of counselling and therapy, and decided against the use of case studies to ‘prove’ or ‘verify’ any aspect of our theory.

Next came a consideration of the roots of E-CENT in pre-existing forms of narrative therapy, and how we differ from those pre-existing schools of thought. There is then an elaboration of the E-CENT approach. And this is followed by a consideration of the E-CENT approach to Attachment theory.

Chapter 1 ends with a brief introduction to some of the core models used in E-CENT.

 ~~~

8.2 The core theory of E-CENT

E-CENT counselling theory sees humans as essentially emotional beings; or, rather, we seem to be socialized-physical-cultural-emotional-story-tellers. We tend to tell (emotionally significant) stories about our experiences, to ourselves and others, and we live in a world of (emotionally significant) narratives and scripts, (about concrete realities!), which include reasonable and unreasonable elements, as well as logical and illogical elements, and some defensible and some less defensible elements.

We tend to delete elements of our storied experiences; to distort some other elements; and to generalize from particular experiences. And we also have lots of early experiences which are non-narrativized, but which are still active or operational in the non-conscious basement of our emotional lives.

Humans often tend to push away (or repress) unpleasant experiences; to fail to process them; and to then become the (unconscious) victims of those repressed, and/or undigested experiences.  E-CENT theory also sees adult relationships as being the non-conscious acting out of childhood experiences (which occurred with parents and siblings), because some part of those earlier relationships have not been properly digested and completed.

~~~

8.3 Key Learning Points and Applications

This book was designed to be relevant to the learning needs of:

(a) Counsellors, coaches, psychotherapists, psych-ologists, social workers, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, key workers, and others in similar lines of work;

(b) Students of counselling, psychology, psychotherapy, psychiatry, and related disciplines and professions; and:

(c) Self-help enthusiasts, or individuals who want to learn about the human brain-mind-emotions for their own personal development purposes.

Let us now suggest some key learning points for each of those reader-groups, which could be deduced from the reading of this book. And, for those readers who want to apply their learning from this book in their daily lives, so that they can learn about it in practice, we suggest the following activities:

…End of extract.

You can buy this book at Amazon, as a paperback, or as an eBook.

You can buy the book here:

Amazon links to buy this paperback book:

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 Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon in Italy
Amazon in Mexico Amazon in France  Amazon Netherlands
 Amazon in in Brazil Amazon in India Amazon in Japan
Amazon in Australia

~~~

Get your eBook copy now, from any one of the following Amazon outlets:

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~~~

Endnotes

[1] Pinker, S. (2015) How the Mind Works.  London: Penguin Random House.

[2] Hobson, R.F. (1985) Forms of Feeling: The heart of psychotherapy. London: Routledge. Page 88.

[3] Paul Ekman (1993) identified the most universal, basic emotions – from a detailed international study – as: anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and enjoyment. See: Ekman, P. (1993) Facial expression and emotion. American Psychologist 48 (4): Pages 384-392.

[4] Turner, J.H. (2000) On the Origins of Human Emotions. A sociological inquiry into the evolution of human affect.  Stanford University Press.  See the book outline at this website: http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=436

[5] The Dhammapada (1973/2015) Taken from Juan Mascaró’s translation and edition, first published in 1973. London: Penguin Books (Little Black Classics No.80)

[6] See Chapter 3 – ‘Shaping our narratives’ – in Wilson, T.D. (2011) Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. London: Allen Lane/Penguin.

[7] See Appendix G.

[8] See this blog post: Your Emotions Are What You Eat: How Your Diet Can Reduce Anxiety, by Matthew C. Nisbet, Available here: http://bigthink.com/age-of-engagement/your-emotions-are-what-you-eat-how-your-diet-can-reduce-anxiety

[9] See Appendix F.

[10] Siegel, D.J. (2015) The Developing Mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are.  London: The Guilford Press.

[11] Peck, M.S. (1998) The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth.  New York: Touchstone.

[12] See our web page – ‘What is Transactional Analysis (TA)?’ – here: https://abc-counselling.org/transactional-analysis/

[13] See my page on ‘REBT and Research’, Available here: web.archive.org/web/*/http://abc-counselling.com/id113.html

[14] West, W., and Byrne, J., (2009) ‘Some ethical concerns about counselling research’: Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 22(3) 309-318.

[15] Smith, M.L. and Glass, G.V. (1977) Meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcomes studies.  American Psychologists, 32, 752-760.

Smith, M., Glass, G. and Miller, T. (1980) The Benefits of Psychotherapy. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

[16] Wampold, B.E. (2001) The Great Psychotherapy Debate: Model, methods, and findings. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Wampold, B.E., Ahn, H., and Coleman, H.K.L. (2001) Medical model as metaphor: Old habits die hard.  Journal of Counselling Psychology, 48, 268-273.

[17] Bowlby, J. (1988/2005) A Secure Base. London: Routledge Classics.

[18] Beauchamp, T.L. and Childress, J.F. (1994) Principles of Biomedical Ethics.  Fourth edition.  New York.  Oxford University Press.  And:

Bond, T. (2000) Standards and Ethics for Counselling in Action. Second edition. London: Sage.

[19] Watts, A. (1962/1990) The Way of Zen. London: Arkana/Penguin. And:

The Dhammapada (1973/2015) Taken from Juan Mascaró’s translation and edition, first published in 1973. London: Penguin Books (Little Black Classics No.80)

[20] Epictetus (1991) The Enchiridion. New York: Prometheus Books. And:

Aurelius, M. (1946/1992) Meditations. Trans. A.S.L. Farquharson.  London: Everyman’s Library.

~~~

[21] Wilson (2011); and:

Sarbin, T. R. (1989). Emotions as narrative emplotments. In M. J. Packer & R. B. Addison (eds.) Entering the circle: Hermeneutic investigations in psychology (pp. 185-201). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.  And:

Sarbin, T. R. (2001). Embodiment and the narrative structure of emotional life. Narrative Inquiry, 11, 217-225.

Gergen, K. (1985) The social constructionist movement in modern psychology.  American Psychologist, 40: 266-275.  And:

Gergen, K. J. (1994). Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge. London: Sage Publications. And:

Gergen, K. (2004) When relationships generate realities: therapeutic communication reconsidered.  Unpublished manuscripts.  Available online: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Soc.Sci/kgergen1/printer-friendly.phtml?id-manu6.  Downloaded: 8th December 2004. And:

Gergen, K.J. and Gergen, M.M. (1986) Narrative form and the construction of psychological science.  In T.R. Sarbin (ed), Narrative Psychology: the storied nature of human conduct.  New York: Praeger.  And:

Chapter 4 – ‘What’s the story’ – in Philippa Perry (2012) How to Stay Sane. London: Macmillan.

[22] In the Master Therapist Series of video tapes produced by the Albert Ellis Institute, each of the ‘master therapists’ used the A-B-C-D-E model as the invariable structure of their sessions.

[23] ‘Unifying principles’ – as defined by Charles R. Hobbs (1991) ‘Insight on Time Management’, Audio tape program – are statements of principle which hold together your values and your actions.  They help to keep you in integrity: living from your deepest commitments and values.

[24] The spiritual roots of E-CENT:  See our web page outlining the E-CENT position: web.archive.org/web/20150316101014/web.archive.org/web/*/http://abc-counselling.com/id434.html

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