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A Second Chance at Life: Repair the Damage You Experienced in Your Life to Achieve Health, Happiness and Success

A Second Chance at Life: Repair the Damage You Experienced in Your Life to Achieve Health, Happiness and Success

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A Second Chance at Life: Repair the Damage You Experienced in Your Life to Achieve Health, Happiness and Success

327 Seiten
5 Stunden
Nov 6, 2018


This is Eric Morris’s ninth book. However, unlike the others, this one is not about acting or just for actors. This book is for everyone. Eric’s other books are based on a system that he expanded and modified, as he innovated techniques and approaches to free people from obstacles and emotional blocks that cripple their ability to experience and express their emotions freely. An actor himself and a teacher of acting for almost sixty years, Eric Morris has created hundreds of exercises and techniques that eliminate the years of damage that we in our society have become victims of. Because of his unique approach to the teaching of actors, his process has evolved into an incredible set of tools that miraculously work to free all people from the damaging experiences that have accumulated in their lives. The focus in this book is on finding those damaging experiences and, by using the specific approaches that Eric has created, repairing the damage so as to enjoy a life of happiness and success.
Nov 6, 2018

Über den Autor

Eric Morris is a production designer for stage and teaches at the University of South Carolina. Morris holds an M.F.A. from Western Illinois University and a B.A from Augusta College. His professional work includes productions for dance, theatre, opera, live music stages, and trade shows. Morris writes and records as one half of the musical duo Classes of Dynamo. He lives with his wife and son in Columbia, South Carolina.

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  • I believe that there is no separation between living and act- ing and that actors who are blocked by the damage are only able to impose the emotions that then do not come from a real place.

  • The criticisms can multiply into the hundreds and for the most part go unnoticed, but they create a mountain of damage that permeates our person- ality and forms the character that we become.

  • The damage can come from many places and many people—peer groups, teachers, clergy, boyfriends, girl- friends and people we meet casually.

  • If all the world is a stage, then to be, or not to be, real, should be the question.

  • Because most people have been damaged growing up in our society, eliminating that damage is a journey onto itself.


A Second Chance at Life - Eric Morris



I have been teaching acting for fifty-eight years in Los Angeles, New York and fifteen other American cities, as well as in several other countries. I have developed my own system based on the method created in Russia by Constantine Stanislavski and modified by Lee Strasberg. I studied acting at Northwestern University, graduated in 1954, and then pursued an acting career, before starting to teach at the end of 1960. It has been my journey on this path to work with actors in order to get them to achieve what I refer to as experiential acting, which simply means that the actor must experience in reality what the character he is approaching is experiencing in the play or film, and that he must use the events of his life and his own feelings to create that parallel experience.

In order to be free to act from a real and organic place, the actor must first eliminate all of the obstacles, inhibitions, fears and blocks that he has, so that he can impulsively express his uninhibited emotions. Because most people have been damaged growing up in our society, eliminating that damage is a journey onto itself. I believe that there is no separation between living and acting and that actors who are blocked by the damage are only able to impose the emotions that then do not come from a real place. That issue is what impelled me to create a system of work that addressed the actor’s problems instrumentally. I have spent over half a century creating and working with techniques and exercises that have helped actors to liberate themselves from blocks and obstacles that not only kept them from being able to be affected by external stimuli but also made them unable to express their impulses emotionally.

These techniques also work for people who are not actors. They have helped thousands of them deal with and defeat the obstacles to happiness. The thrust of this book is to help all people repair the damage that they have been victims of, so that they can have a healthier, happier and successful life. Many approaches, techniques and exercises are listed and explained here, and they really work! Really life changing, they allow an otherwise unhappy person to find happiness. I realize that that is a humongous statement, but the proof exists every time I walk into my classes. Almost every week I receive e-mails and telephone calls from people around the world thanking me for the impact of this system and how it has changed their lives. For me, I say that I am so grateful for the work and the results it has produced. It has given real meaning and purpose to my life.

We are all the victims of criticism, of abuse of various kinds, of ridicule, rejection and a large collection of negative comments and judgments. Much of that damage is caused by well-meaning but ignorant people. I have always said that if people had to qualify for parenthood by passing intellectual and psychological tests, we would be living on a dead planet. The damage nonetheless is caused and continues to affect us for almost our entire life. It can be inflicted by a single statement from someone we admire and look up to or by a series of events. It can be caused by the nature of a specific relationship, particularly in our formative years. As we grow older, the actual experience is forgotten but relegated to the unconscious, which liberates itself into our consciousness every day, usually very subliminally or in our dreams. That phenomenon can and usually does either cripple us or inhibit our success and happiness, as well as our ability to create a healthy ego. So many people blame circumstances or bad luck on their lack of success or fulfillment, when in reality they themselves have been the very obstacle that has stopped them from succeeding.

There are many forms of psychotherapy and techniques for dealing with depression, unhappiness, and self-destructive tendencies, some of which do help, but I believe that they allow the person to better understand the problems rather than to eliminate them. A number of books have become best-sellers because they promise pie-in-the-sky results without doing much else than creating a positive outlook on life—visualize what you want and you will get it. The reason those books (e.g. The Secret) have been so successful is that they promise results with little or no effort. The reality is, however, that it takes a lot of work and introspection and techniques that actually eliminate the damage. To achieve success you must be ready to do the work on a daily basis. All of the approaches herein are explained totally, and most of them have specific examples of how they are used. I promise you that if you embark on the journey of repairing the damage you have experienced in your life, commit to this system, and do the work described in this book, it will not only profoundly change your life but will also bring joy, happiness and success to you, but if it seems like too much work, you can pray to God, imagine winning the lottery or hold visual images before you.


Why am I unhappy?

Why can’t I ever have a successful romantic relationship?

Why is it that everything I try to accomplish fails?

Why do I have difficulty making and keeping friends?

Why am I so insecure about almost everything I do?

Why am I so critical about people?

Why do I have so many fears?

Why am I terrified of intimacy?

Why do I have difficulty trusting people?

Why is sex such an overwhelming issue for me?

Why can’t I find some kind of work that I love?

Why do I have such difficulty saying no?

Why have I been unable to find my soulmate?

Why haven’t I ever found my passion for what I want to do in my life?

Why am I in a relationship that is unfulfilling?

Why am I not able to express how I feel?

Why do I spend so much time being depressed?

Why don’t I have any fun?

Why do I have difficulty sleeping?

Why can’t I quiet my mind from constant activity?

Why do I worry about everything?

Why do I feel less than other people?

Why don’t I like the way I look?

Those are just a few of the questions you might ask yourself. Even if only some of them relate to you, they are a strong indication that somewhere in your life you have been affected and you carry that damage into your everyday experience, which accounts for many of the things you feel incomplete about. The damage we suffer from affects every part of our life and behavior. The incidents get buried deep in the unconscious and affect our conscious life without our knowing why we suffer with so much impact from the subliminal events. The journey of repairing the damage will have incredible effects on your life, changing things that you have lived with for decades. It is never too late, no matter what your age is.



It is truly unfortunate to come into the world already damaged. Even before experiencing the outside, the baby suffers birth trauma coming through the birth canal. Many people believe that the impact of being born can affect and damage a person for his or her entire life. That damage may appear in many ways and take years to manifest itself. For example, as a result of the trauma, the person could develop a fear of the dark or of dark places, or become claustrophobic. Sometimes the person develops breathing problems and even asthma, which many believe is psychosomatic. All of those issues and many more might be the result of birth trauma. There are organizations that do rebirthing, a process whereby the adult person is taken through the re-creation of coming through the birth canal. My understanding is that it is done by submerging the person in water to reenact his or her being born.

The question, then, is how does one repair that kind of damage, which occurs before any real consciousness is present? And the answer is that, without attributing a discovered fear or phobia to preconscious awareness, the person just uses the techniques of repairing the damage by addressing its manifestations.

Preverbal damage can begin in the womb. At what point in the development of a fetus is there awareness? When does the impact happen? If the preverbal fetus ingests the external impact of anger, violence and conflict, how does that manifest in the child when he or she matures, becomes conscious and learns language? Does that preverbal exposure manifest in unexplainable fears, phobias and aversions to people, environments and so on? How do we deal with it, since it has been implanted in the unconscious of an unborn child?

One way is through dreams. Learning how to understand and interpret our dreams can yield a cornucopia of information on what has been stored in the unconscious. Once there is an understanding of emotional responses to various people and experiences, one of the techniques used in repairing the damage can be applied. Certain subpersonalities are also formed as a result of preverbal damage, and discovering those subparts can be an enormous help in understanding and addressing undealt with and unexplainable emotional attitudes and responses.

For example, let us suppose that while a fetus is in the womb the mother is in a dysfunctional relationship with her husband or lover and they argue and fight constantly. The fetus is absorbing all of the emotional conflict that is happening. At this point there is no learned language, but as the child matures and learns the language, there must be an unconscious interpretation of what was experienced in the womb. Those unconscious discoveries liberate themselves into subliminal conscious responses and emotional points of view and can create a multitude of insecurities and pain that influence the person throughout his or her entire life.

The dysfunctional couple above may frequently argue about the pregnancy: The mother may not have wanted the baby and may have been manipulated into having it. She may have said something like I hate being pregnant! I wanted to abort this lousy bastard, but you made me wait until it was too late. I hate this thing growing inside of me! I hope it is born dead.

The fetus is absorbing all of that repeatedly, and when it learns language and unconsciously experiences the feelings of never having been wanted, how does it affect its sense of worth and belonging?

That kind of preverbal damage is much harder to locate and address. There are, however, ways to do it and techniques that can be used to repair the damage.


The sources of our damage and the injuries we experience are infinite. The obvious ones are easy to identify, and with repairing techniques we can confront and ultimately eliminate their impact from our lives. It is the less conscious events, relationships and experiences that have dug themselves deep into our unconscious that we must invite into our conscious awareness.

Sometimes the damage is so subtle that it goes unnoticed and often seems benign, but even a look of disapproval begins an avalanche of feelings and insecurities that follow us around for our entire lives. We might ask, Is it necessary to go through all of that to be well, healthy and secure? Yes, it is! Many years ago when I was in group therapy, everyone would have his/her turn sharing personal issues with the therapist and the group. This one guy would get up in front of the group every week and say, All I want is to be happy. Is that asking too much? The therapist would always say the same thing to him: John, in order to achieve happiness you must work on your problems. It is a daily involvement, and it takes concentration and commitment to address your problems! Nothing ever changed, and although I have not seen John for many years, I am certain that happiness is still eluding him.

I am going to start by sharing my own personal damaging experiences—and there are many. My family was responsible for a very large part of the damage that I endured, as is true for most people. I was the last child, born many years after my other four siblings. My oldest brother, Morrey, was almost twenty years older than I; the next in line was my sister Ida, who was seventeen years older; then came Phil, fifteen years my senior and finally Helen, the closest to me, who was eleven years older. I was the baby of the family, loved and often indulged; but from my earliest memories, along with the love, there were criticism and abuse. Morrey called me Moron as far back as I remember; other favorite names were Apple Head, and Slow Mo. I got a lot of love from my father, but very little attention or time spent with me. My sister Ida raised me, because at that time in her life my mother was tired of attending to children, so she had turned me over to Ida, who really became like a mother to me. (When Ida died, I delivered the eulogy and said, She was my sister; she was my mother.) All of this registered in a less-than-conscious way as rejection from my mother. I felt that she never wanted me; and even though that was not a conscious awareness, it implanted itself in my unconscious. The damage of that is monumental.

I was also severely damaged by many of my grade-school and high-school teachers. Miss Lane, my seventh-grade teacher, refused to pass me into the next grade and insisted that I be held back for another year, since I was unable to understand the work that she was teaching us. My brothers went to speak to her about her decision and were told that she felt that I was severely mentally handicapped. She accepted to let me graduate only if I promised to go to a technical high school, so that when I grew up I would be able to do mechanical work and support myself. She also sat me with the students in the back of the class, whom she referred to as the dummy group.

I wasn’t the only one in my family who experienced damage. As a child, my brother Phil was told by my father that he had been dropped off in a basket at our front door by a man with a red beard. It made Phil cry, which for some reason was enjoyed by my father. He would then hug Phil and quiet him down. My father was a good man but totally ignorant of the psychological damage he created for Phil, who suffered from monumental insecurities for his entire life. He fought a weight problem all of his life and made bad choices and decisions, until the day he died of Alzheimer’s in his attempt to escape his life. My sister Helen became an injustice collector and blamed everyone in the world for her unhappy life. Ida was spared the pain, because she was totally able to tune out and be happy as a people feeder. Her way of showing love to her three children was to feed them until they were seriously overweight.

So we might say that I came from a dysfunctional family. Most families are dysfunctional in some ways, and the damage created by that can last a lifetime and usually does. Later in the book I will describe the ways I dealt with the damage I experienced from my family.

In my fifty-eight years of teaching I have been exposed to many of the horrors that people go through. My approach and technique to the training of actors is very personal and requires my students to be honest and to dig deep in order to excavate the impact of the experiences that caused the damage that blocks them from being impressively and expressively free. Since, as I said before, it has always been my contention that there is no separation between acting and living, they need to expose the blocks and obstacles created by experiences and events that have been pushed deep into their unconscious. Once those damaging events are exposed and become fully conscious, the techniques to eliminate the damage can begin.

Many of the experiences and relationships that cause damage come from the people who love us most. Because of a lack of awareness, they think that the things they say to us are for our own good. Mothers who force their children to eat food that they do not like and who berate them for not realizing the value of certain foods can cause a lifetime of eating disorders. Criticisms from parents and siblings worm their way into the unconscious and create a negative image that follows us through life. We have all heard comments such as, You’re selfish, always thinking of yourself; you are the biggest slob I have ever seen; the reason your grades are so low in school is because you don’t listen; you are always daydreaming; your mother and I work very hard to support you and see that all your needs are fulfilled, but you are lazy and don’t contribute to the family; if I had known that my job security would always be so shaky, I might not have had so many children—and so on.

The criticisms can multiply into the hundreds and for the most part go unnoticed, but they create a mountain of damage that permeates our personality and forms the character that we become. The damage can come from many places and many people—peer groups, teachers, clergy, boyfriends, girlfriends and people we meet casually. Quite often, criticism that causes damage comes in the form of love and concern: You know, Johnnie, a parent might say, that you are not well coordinated, so be careful climbing on the monkey bars; you might fall and really hurt yourself. Or, I know that you are troubled by being short, but you know Napoleon was short, and look at what he accomplished. I love you dearly, but you will only be unhappy if you do not accept your limitations.

The impact of being damaged has many consequences that can and do follow us throughout our entire lives. In some cases the consequences can be quite serious and even fatal: Karen Carpenter suffered from anorexia, and when she was finally able to overcome it, her organs were so damaged that she died. People who suffer from bulimia often damage their esophagus so badly from the constant vomiting that they require surgery. Damage that is not dealt with has a very serious impact on our lives and relationships. The first step in confronting the damage and healing it is becoming aware of it and of how it affects our personalities and then working with one of the techniques that will eliminate it.

Damage to us is a result of being criticized, humiliated, embarrassed, bullied, and made fun of. The more important the people who damage us, the greater the impact of the damage. Family, friends, peer groups, work-place critics, bosses, lovers, wives, husbands, teachers and even casual relationships can create a syndrome that follows us everywhere. For instance, a person may suffer from anorexia because she has been told that she is fat or overweight. The antidote to the criticism was to stop eating, which became an extreme phobia related to food.

The sources of damage are endless and can be so subtle that they go unnoticed but become malignant and follow us throughout our lives until we have developed personalities to compensate for our demons.

A great deal of the damage occurs in our early lives at a time when we are vulnerable and have as yet not learned how to protect ourselves. As children we still have that willingness to believe, which seems to vanish as we get older. Children hear and see things that are adult in nature. When a child witnesses his parents having sex, for example, it can be very disturbing and misunderstood. Shouting and acts of violence can be unnerving, even if they are not directed towards anyone in particular. Experiencing someone he loves having an emotional tantrum can be very hurtful to a child too young to understand large emotional outbursts.

Not all damage is negative or critical; one can experience lifelong damage by omission. Parents who do not express love or affection and seldom make loving contact with their children can create a hunger for love, touching, being embraced. Quite often it is a result of inhibition, embarrassment and conditioning. If their parents were not demonstrative, then they probably will not be either. That lack of the demonstration of love may lead to an unconscious feeling that we are not loved. We can carry that feeling to our graves and we don’t even know that it is a result of being damaged by omission.

Damage by omission can take many forms: the lack of verbal acceptance, instead of a compliment for having done well, creates insecurity and a need for being seen. As a result, more demands for excellence are placed on us. I personally have heard many times, So what do you want, a medal? and have responded by saying, Yes, why not?


Probably one of the most damaging areas in our lives is related to sex. Sexual taboos and criticism can cause a lifetime of sexual issues and a lack of healthy sexual fulfillment. Sex plays an enormous part in our lives, and sexual damage can be devastating and cripple a person for life. It often destroys the greatest pleasure that life affords. We live in a Victorian society in America, and the shame attached to healthy and normal sexuality is epidemic. The tragedy is that it is disseminated by people we are taught to respect and admire.

Religion has inflicted more damage on every human level than any other force on the planet. An entire book can be devoted, and probably has been, to the damage caused by religion and its impact on us. Good people often do bad things in the belief that they are doing God’s work. The Catholic Church has harbored

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