Changes in a Life ~ 2


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 Robert M. Roerich, M.D.

Robert M. Roerich, M.D., author of WHY YOU FEEL HOW YOU FEEL, represented by New York literary agent Meredith Bernstein, is known for his research on preventing suicide in SWAT Police and Special Forces Military in Europe. He is the American founder of Roadmind University Online with free online access at
Road Mind. A member of the American Association for the Study of Mental Imagery, he will unveil his groundbreaking research to the American public at the annual conference of the Association of Suicidology in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on April 24, 2003.

Editor's Note: Dr. Roerich's RPI was statistically validated by Romanian Government Psychologists at the Center for Psychosocial Studies in Bucharest, Romania in September, 2002. Psychologist Stefan C. Lita's pilot research study of Dr. Roerich's work will be published in a peer reviewed psychological journal in Romania in 2003.

Why You Feel How You Feel


Among the Blind Pit Vipers of Life the One Eyed Snake is King

My job as a researcher is to help you understand your secret emotions. I do this by analyzing your answers in describing an imaginary journey. This is not a game. My work involves helping governments prevent suicide in their SWAT Police and Special Forces Military. If you want to be amused or read theories about stuff that can't be statistically proven, then go read some other article. If you want to take a look at those secret emotions only you know and learn about them then read on.

Your emotions and important life events are stored in memory as mental imagery. This is what pops in your head when you think about someone or something emotionally important to you. You can't help it. A mental image popped into your head when you read the title of this excerpt from my book WHY YOU FEEL HOW YOU FEEL. What does "Among the Blind Pit Vipers of Life the One Eyed Snake is King" make you think of? If you thought of sex you are normal. If you thought of being hurt, then you need to read my book. This may sound like a snap judgment, but in the world of emotions that is just how it is. You are either happy or sad, proud of yourself of ashamed, feeling loved by others or not. This is called primary process thinking. It is the mind of the child, who is a very emotional kid. We are all kids deep inside. As we grow older we are supposed to control our primal instincts and needs. Some of us do, and some of us don't. Some become upright citizens, some become criminals. Some live a happy life, others commit suicide or become murderers. It is all up to you, your choice.

Your mind only remembers the stuff that means something to you, not what you ate for breakfast last Tuesday. That is just how survivalist we are inside the most important organ of the body: the brain. No, not the other one! Mental imagery is like a movie of your life with all the sights and sounds of the important stuff. Why is this secret? Inside the mind are positive and negative emotions. Which teacher do you remember most from grade school? It is probably the teacher that created strong emotion within you. If this is a positive experience, like being praised or rewarded, your unconscious mind made note of it. But if you remember harsh words or punishment, then this is engraved in your memory. You remember the important events the most and if these are more negative than positive it is emotionally overwhelming. In order to function in everyday life you have to keep the negative emotions secret.

You will be surprised at what you can imagine and understand about your mental imagery hidden in your memory vault of emotions. Your emotions are your most valuable possessions. They are what make you unique. Even identical twins are different depending on what particular emotions each of them experience. This book is about you. It is your life story. You will understand why you feel how you feel just by looking at the mental picture or image you paint. You will discover 15 secrets about you that only you know.

The River

Questions 4-7 of the Roerich Psychodynamic Inventory (RPI)

Imagine that you are walking on a road. You come to a river that must be crossed.

There before you is a river; the size and width are up to you. You cannot go around it but must imagine a way to cross. Whatever you need to cross the river is already in your mind—just imagine seeing yourself do it.

4. How do you cross the river?
5. How clean is the water?
6. How fast is the current?
7. Is there anything in the water? If so, what?

NOTE: Answer these questions before reading ahead to understand what your mental imagery means. No cheating!



The river is a sexual, fluid road of sorts on our journey through life. It can range from a clear stream or pristine beach to a muddy swamp. It may have living inhabitants or not, be narrow or wide, have slow currents or perilous rapids, or no movement at all. It is colored in different hues of light or dark and can be a place of pleasure or pain, depending on our emotional experiences in the sexual sphere of our lives.

What does sex have to do with a river?

The mind expresses sexual content on the RPI through images of water, with more water appearing on the journey among the sexually preoccupied. Some stages of life compel more sexual expression than others. Adolescence, because of the many changes brought about by puberty, focuses on sexual issues, which is normal. As we become adults, our level of sexual activity tends to decline due to physical changes, but the mind replays sexual scenarios if a need has gone unfulfilled or a sexual experience has occurred which is causing unresolved anxiety or stress.

In our subconscious mind, sex equals water, whether it is puddle, river, or ocean. Both have depth, direction, and force. The river may be a once-forded adventure or a frequent watering hole, a foreboding obstacle or a much-anticipated oasis.

Means of Crossing The River

What does the manner of crossing the river tell us?

How a person crosses the river illuminates aspects of trust in our most intimate relationships. If we completely trust, we get our feet wet, take the plunge. If there is concern or caution for some reason, then we distance ourselves from the water; we do not get our feet wet. We may choose to walk safely over a bridge, jump across the river, even fly! One person decided to board an airplane on one side of the river and fly to the other side. This person was feeling extreme aversion to sex, having been violently gang-raped.

The farther from the water, the less trust is present. We therefore show a certain degree of inhibition or not in our sexual relationships. Often times, trust is there initially, but may be lost if we are hurt in that intimate relationship. Letters of the alphabet are used to distinguish the different ways of crossing the river. An "A" crossing shows strong coping skills and minimal stress in this area, with an "F" crossing showing severe mistrust, poor coping skills, and high stress. What is your grade regarding sex or intimacy?

A. Uninhibited ways of crossing the river

  • Swimming
  • Wading

Note that there is contact with the water in both these examples. This person is trusting.

B. Mildly inhibited ways of crossing the river

Walking on rocks – awareness of problems
Walking on a fallen tree – victimization
Walking on a log – focus on men or maleness

C. Moderate inhibition

Boat, canoe, or other floating vessel

D. Marked inhibition


F. Extreme inhibition

Jumping – significant avoidance of intimacy
Flying – greatest avoidance of intimacy or sex

Water Color

The color of the water can describe additional feelings about our intimate relationships, as well as the particular circumstances of the sexual activity.

Black – sadness
Bloody – family problems
Blue, clear – enjoyment
Blue, murky – enjoyment with deception
Fecal – depreciation and contamination
Gray – confusion
Muddy – depreciation and deception

Contents of the River Water

Alligators – victimization
Branches, twigs, leaves – victimization
Goldfish – pleasure and materialism
Piranha – victimization
Trout – pleasure
Snakes – victimization, possibly intimate
Snapping turtles – victimization
Trash, litter – depreciation

River Current Speed

The speed of the current indicates the speed of the intimate relationship. Our involvement may have elements of caution or of spontaneity. Impulse, however, may bring pleasure at an emotional cost, especially when emotion overpowers reason.

Fast, white water – excitement with impulsiveness

Moderate current – excitement with some caution

Slow current – exploration with enjoyment

Stagnant – entrapment without enjoyment

Summary Template:

4. How do you cross the river?

Boat–am moderately inhibited
Bridge–am markedly inhibited
Flying over–am extremely inhibited and afraid of getting close to anyone
Jumping–am extremely inhibited
Riding a horse–am mildly inhibited but tend to trust men
Swimming–am trusting and uninhibited
Wading–am trusting and uninhibited
Walking on a fallen tree–am mildly inhibited and feel hurt by men
Walking on a log–am mildly inhibited and enjoy the company of men
Walking on rocks–am mildly inhibited and am aware of problems here

4. Concerning intimate or sexual matters, I_____________________.

The closer you are to the water the more you trust intimacy or sex. The farther away you are the more you fear or avoid intimacy with people.

5. What does the water look like?

Black – sadness
Bloody – someone's incest
Blue, clear – absolute enjoyment
Blue, murky – feeling deceived
Fecal – feeling depreciated and contaminated by someone
Gray – confusion
Muddy – feeling depreciated and deceived by someone

5. In the intimate or sexual sphere, I am dealing with issues of ________________________________.

6. How fast is the current? ________________________

Fast, white water – am impulsive and excited by it
Moderate – am excited but somewhat cautious
Slow – I enjoy it and take my time
Stagnant – I don't enjoy it because I feel trapped by someone

6. When I think of intimacy or sex, I ___________________________.

7. Is there anything in the water? If so, what? _________________________________________________

Alligator – that I am a victim of someone
Twigs, leaves – that I am a victim and a part of me is missing
Fish, goldfish – that sex is fun but has its price
Fish, piranha – that I am a victim of someone
Snakes – of someone being hurt by men

7. … and there are feelings__________________________.

Pleasant images describe pleasant feelings; the opposite is true, as well.

The following is an example of how a sexual issue in a young man revealed why he was so stressed.

Fear of the Black River: Lex

Lex was a young college student with a violent temper and a history of trouble with the law. He had broken up with yet another girlfriend and considered himself quite a lady's man. Lex liked sex but one thing really bothered him. He had inexplicably lost a lot of weight and was angry and depressed about it. His description of the Road as he imagined it revealed much about his fears.

He described what he walked as a hard, dirt road. Along it were several stop signs. The fact that the road was made of dirt showed that Lex had feelings of worthlessness about his life. Financially struggling and feeling sickly, he felt as if his life was ending. The stop signs along the road kept him from making any significant progress, just as the circumstances of his life seemed to suggest that he was a failure.

When Lex went to the river, he easily swam across it; there were no inhibitions in his relationships. The house he visualized along the road was a trailer in good condition ( The HOUSE is described in more detail in Chapter Four), and he saw himself living in it; this indicated he was very self-reliant.

When he came to the obstacle in the road, he described a black, filthy river contaminated with sewerage (The OBSTACLE is described in Chapter Six).

"Are you afraid of something, Lex, something that might be a threat to your life?"

"Yeah, I'm afraid, Doc. I'm afraid of dying of something."

"Do you think that something could be AIDS?"

Lex looked at me with surprise. "Yes, I'm terrified of getting AIDS! How did you know that?"

"Your obstacle is a river, which symbolizes intimacy or sex. The river is contaminated and black, which could mean that the intimacy is contaminated by something sad or even deadly, like the Black Death or, in our times, AIDS."

When Lex realized the source of his fear, he could face it and move on with his life, dealing with the issues that had given him feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.

A Male Sexual Abuse Profile

Luis was a twenty-seven-year-old Hispanic male who was hospitalized because his parents feared he would try to commit suicide. He had a history of hospitalizations, alcoholism, depression, and suicidal thoughts. He claimed to have heard voices since he was a young boy that told him to hurt himself and others, and to steal. To escape the voices, he began taking drugs and drinking when he was ten years old.

Luis's family life was a prime example of a dysfunctional home. Both his parents were chemically dependent; his mother had a medical problem that gave him access to prescription drugs. All the members of his nuclear family became users and continually had addiction problems. Luis was sexually molested at age 10 by an older brother; the molestation lasted four years. When he was in junior high school, he overdosed on Valium in an attempt to escape his home life. However, his parents denied that this was a suicide attempt and did not seek any sort of treatment for him. As had been done to him, he molested one of his younger siblings.

After Luis graduated from high school, he attended college and at the age of twenty married. At twenty-one he joined the Navy to escape his family and marriage. When first married, he and his wife both drank heavily; but after the birth of their child, his wife became sober. Luis's continued alcoholism and drug use became the problem that resulted in divorce after a year of marriage.

After four years, Luis left the Navy and worked at various odd jobs. His drinking made it impossible for him to hold a steady job. The lack of a career or any focus in life exacerbated his feelings of hopelessness. Yet he failed to make any connection between his chemical dependency and his lack of direction.

"Luis, tell me what you see far off in the distance from where you are on the road."

"A sandy area, like a desert. It is covered with dark gray and blue sand, and there is a palm tree in it. The season is summer."

"What do you see between yourself and the desert?"

"A city, a big city with gray buildings. There are cars passing by me. People and taxi cabs. I see a bum standing on the street nearby."

"You are walking down a road. Describe the road."

"It's a black, asphalt road; it's dry and smooth, straight and flat."

"When you come to a river, what do you see? What's the water like?"

"It's murky. The current isn't too fast or too slow."

"Do you see anything in it?"


"How do you get across?"

"In a boat."

"O.K. Now you come to a house. What does it look like? Is there anyone in it?"

"It's white, in good shape. I'm not sure if anyone lives there."

"Did anyone live there before?"

"My family and I used to live there."

"You walk past the house and come upon a cup. What is the cup like?" (The CUP is described in Chapter Five )

"White, ordinary, in good condition."

"Is there anything in it?"

"Yeah, hot, steaming fresh coffee."

"What was in it before?"

"Just clear water, and only for a little while."

"Now you walk along the road some more and come to an obstacle. Describe it for me."

"It's a big tree knocked over by the wind."

"Was there anything there before the tree?"

"Yes, a red car was stalled in the road before the tree fell over."

"Was there anything else there before the car?"

"Yeah, some light gray snakes."

"What do you see beyond the obstacle, Luis?"

"Nothing. There's no road after the tree. Just thick green bushes and wild animals. Nothing else."

When I studied the descriptions Luis shared with me, I came to understand that he was preoccupied with and confused by an unstable situation. The fact that he saw a desert in the distance with dark-colored sand was a clue that he felt deserted by some authority figure in his life. Luis felt that life was passing him by, like the cars, taxis, and people in his image of the city. He felt sad and unproductive, like the bum he visualized beside him. Yet all this paled in comparison to Luis's pain from the past.

The snakes in Luis's river are phallic symbols, indicative of a preoccupation with male sexuality. The water was murky, concealing what lay beneath the surface. Luis felt deceived in some way by someone close to him. The house he pictured was white, the color of innocence. The fact that it was in good condition but that his obstacle (the fallen tree) indicated victimization, suggested that Luis was in denial about the support he needed from others or himself. That Luis had lived in the house before but now saw no one inside revealed that he felt good about himself earlier, perhaps during his childhood, and had had an intimate relationship that boosted his self-image. The description of a white cup in good shape was another indication of denial that victimization had occurred. The presence of hot, steaming coffee was a clue that Luis had a commitment with someone, but he refused to say who that person might be.

The fallen tree across Luis's road, blown over by the wind, was a symbol of himself as a victim of someone more powerful than he. Wind, as an invisible but potent force, symbolized the passive, invisible anger that Luis felt toward this abusive authority figure. The red car stalled in the road before the tree fell referred to Luis himself; he may have felt stalled in an intimate relationship, not progressing as he believed he should have been. The gray snakes, symbols of male sexuality, may have reflected Luis's concern about his own sexuality and the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his brother.

Luis saw animals, green trees and bushes beyond his obstacle. Animals symbolize instinct, and bushes that are green are signs of adolescence. These symbols were evidence that Luis was in a state of denial about a pleasurable intimate relationship that occurred during his youth, something he needs to resolve. Luis's feelings of support (occupied house in "good" condition) and of not being hurt in relationships (cup in "good" condition) together with the symbol of victimization (the fallen tree) suggest that he was in denial of issues that needed to be resolved (For information about the relationship between a house or cup in good condition and a symbol of victimization, see the Workbook section).

I suspected that Luis's "voices" were not hallucinations at all, but may have been memories of male voices heard at the time of the abuse. He may have been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; the flashbacks and nightmares were probably something he felt embarrassed about and unable to share. Luis would need long-term therapy to help him face the deep and complicated causes of his pain.

A Female Sexual Abuse Profile

Mary, an elderly grandmother, sits in her room in the elegant Golden Memories Nursing Home in rural Ruby, Texas, feeling like a bird in a gilded cage. Doctor Ivers is worried about her escalating nervousness and violence, and he writes an order for a psychological consultation. The young psychologist walks into Mary's room with books and pages full of examinations in hand.

"Now, Mary, I want you to answer these questions True or False. I know there are a lot of them but do the best that you can, and I'll be back later this afternoon." Eric placed the thick booklet of questions and two pencils on the table in front of her.

Later that afternoon Eric returned to the testing room only to find that Mary had not answered a single question but instead had crossed out page after page with large Xes.

"Go away and leave me alone!" yelled Mary as Eric offered to ask the hundreds of questions one by one out loud.

Puzzled about what to do next, Eric decides to use a mental imagery research software program he recently received from the local medical school.

Louise is present as Eric explains to Mary that she must give a detailed description of her walk down an imaginary road. Shaking and tremulous, Mary complains, "These are silly questions, I don't know what to think."

Eric waits patiently and asks the question again: "What color is the road, Mary?"

"It's the color of any road! Are we playing a game? What a ridiculous question." Finally, she says, "Look, I can't see anything. It's very stormy and windy and the road is dark."

"You come to a river and have to cross. How do you cross it?"

"How should I know? I don't know how to swim. Go away!"

"You can cross it any way you want to. How do you cross it, Mary?"

"I don't want to cross it. I would rather ride a bull and jump as high as the moon to get over it."

"You have crossed the river and come to a house. Describe the house for me."

"It's just a deserted shack with spiders and rats in it. Now, leave me alone."

"You come to an open field and come to a cup lying on the ground. What does the cup look like?"

"It's a paper cup, all crumpled up and old looking."

"Okay, Mary, we're almost through with the questions. You now come to something that blocks your path, prevents you from going any further; there's an obstable on the road. Describe the obstacle."

"I don't see anything blocking the road. I see a board with a big nail sticking out of it. Under the board is a big muddy hole in the ground. It looks deep."

Returning from the computer with a two-page printed report, Eric shares what the Road reveals. "Mary, there are indications here that you are actually very depressed to the point of agitation, and that you have a lot of anger about being hurt by a man."

Suddenly, Mary began to cry. The tears just came flooding out, accompanied by long wails of, "Why did it have to happen to me, what did I do to deserve this?"

"It's all my fault, I am being punished by God! I would rather be dead and in my grave than go on."

The daughter and Eric give each other puzzled looks. Mary's daughter puts her arm around her mother, but Mary refuses to be comforted. "Don't touch me, go away and leave me alone!"

"Mary," Eric says softly, "would you mind sharing with us what's wrong?"

Mary looked deep into her daughter's eyes and apologized for her behavior. Then she began her story.

"I was one of ten children living with my family in the Texas valley, and my mom and dad were having a hard time making ends meet. Mom knew of a rich family living across the border in Mexico who wanted a young American girl to live with them and teach the children English. They would pay handsomely, they said, and Mom decided I should work for them and send the money back home.

"The Mexican family was prominent for producing products they exported all over the world. The father was well liked and respected by everyone in the community and was known as a shrewd and clever businessman. Everyone thought it was a great idea to take the job, so I moved in with them, just five miles from my home in Ruby."

Mary stopped her story to relate that for many years she had this recurring nightmare:

"I was in a dark and scary house with many doors and secret passageways. I was running. There was a man coming after me, speaking in Spanish, telling me to come to him. He smelled of tequila and cigars. I was frightened and kept running, looking for hiding places under beds and in closets. All I ever saw of him were the rough cowboy boots he wore.

"In later flashbacks, I could see the blue Levi jeans he had on. I didn't know who it was then, but in later flashbacks I was able to make out more. I noticed he was wearing a thick brown belt with a shiny buckle with a large star on it. He was not wearing a shirt, and he had muscular arms with large tattoos and a very hairy chest.

"Finally, after going through all those flashbacks, I was able to make out his face. It was Don Pedro, the man who had hired me to be a live-in governess. I have kept this secret for years. The questions made me remember."

Mary began to receive psychotherapy from Eric, who had won her confidence, and in the weeks that passed, each day brought a calmer and more peaceful mood. Mary no longer required nerve medication and she walked with a steadier gait. She was on the way to recovery from the sexual abuse she suffered so long ago.

Though years may pass and memories seem too embarrassing to utter, each step we take on the Roerich Psychodynamic Inventory (RPI) is a step towards healing the hurt of the past and the anger and depression of the present.

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Managers' Note: These tests are not professional.
They are meant to have some insight and fun with. Enjoy!

"You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the
means he uses to frighten you."

Eric Hoffer

Are You Emotionally Abused Test

Honesty Test

Are you a doormat?

Are you a Productive Narcissist (Maccoby)

Oprah Winfrey - emotional abuse

The Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale (HSNS)

Domestic Violence


Self Tests from Psychology Today


Emode Inkblot /inkblot/authorize/register.jsp?url=/tests/inkblot/result.jsp

Personality Evaluation


Abnormal Psychology

Personality Disorder Tests

A Briggs/Meyers Type Personality/Marriage Psych Test

Society of High Intelligence IQ Tests

Healthy Places Tests Page

Are you a Psychopath?

Are you married to a psychopath?

Socialized Psychopath Test (Is Yours One?)

Self Esteem Test Self Esteem Self-Evaluation Survey

Quizzes at PsychCentral

What type personality are you?

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter II

Enneagrams Personality Style

Emotional Intelligence and

PTSD Test (scroll down for the link)

Betrayal Bond

Yahoo Test Directory (Everybody loves the Color Test)

Fun Quizzes Directory of tests from Yahoo

Various Personality Disorder

Personality (Build a Self Profilef)

Know your Own Mind

Are You an Upscale Abused Woman?

Self Sabotaging?

Brain Quiz

Tests and Quizzes

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