The Lizard is, of course, a metaphor, a model. It’s a way of looking at the part of all of us that manages safety and trust. My primary article on the Lizard was written after I detailed all it’s components and had tested teaching the material with perhaps two hundred couples. I think this is a great and useful model. I’ve heard often of people using the Lizard in their teaching and in their lives. I’m very glad this has been useful to so many.
Below is a letter I received recently that touched me deeply. I’ve left the original names in it so please be respectful. Enjoy.
When Laura Lavigne was my life coach several years ago, Laura shared your work on the Lizard. I am writing to thank you, since I’m not able to attend your workshop this Saturday. Your paper on The Lizard is on my desktop for easy access. Knowledge of the Lizard has been meaningful to me in many ways, but I must tell you how it changed nurses, doctors and physical therapists in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2013.
My sister at age 63 had fallen into a coma after a simple facelift procedure. When she eventually returned to consciousness, she was very different. I found her in the hospital failing to thrive. She was difficult to manage. She wouldn’t eat. She screamed in excruciating pain whenever she was touched. She was incredibly paranoid and angry. She had exhausted the doctors’ and nurses’ patience. They tried to reason with her, but she was unresponsive to their requests.
As I studied her behavior, I recognized that her conscious brain had been replaced by the Lizard in full Flight or Fight mode. I began to approach her in child like ways. By simplifying my language, talking softly, feeding her, reassuring her and encouraging her to accept my touch with the application of lotion on her arms and legs she began to respond. I cornered her nurses and doctors as they came into the room and explained what I perceived had happened. They got it! They gave me full rein.
In a matter of twelve hours, she had improved enough to be moved to a rehabilitation facility across the street. Again, I found myself having to educate the doctors and nurses about the Lizard. When I arrived one morning, I heard that she had refused physical therapy. [On Medicare, if one refuses three times, the facility is not obligated to provide it. Sad, but true.] I raced to their office to explain the Lizard story to the PT folks. She desperately needed physical AND occupational therapy. She was in no condition to make any decisions at that time. She couldn’t feed herself much less hold a fork. She couldn’t sit up. She couldn’t walk or toilet herself. She needed to learn how to do everything again.
A speech therapist sitting nearby overheard my story and volunteered to help her learn to eat. This angel of a man encouraged his PT team mates to forgive her first refusal and begin a different protocol….. a protocol based on a much simpler, primary level. Progress ensued. In two months, her conscious brain was back in control. Her sense of humor began to emerge. She began to feed herself, to ask for help and to smile. The Lizard receded. JoJo was with us once again.
I have wanted to sit down and tell you this story face to face, but my care giving duties for my husband once again prevents me from meeting with you this weekend. Laura suggested I write my story and she has agreed to forward it to you.
Thank you for sharing the Lizard with us. Thank you for giving me the language to speak to the medical team in a way they could understand. Thank you for giving my family my sister back for an additional four months before her passing. I am ever grateful. CHEERS! Jan Taylor