Lifestyle counselling and coaching

Revised, updated and expanded, July 2020

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Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching For the Whole Person (2):

Or how to incorporate nutritional insights, physical exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy

Updated and expanded edition, 2020

By Dr Jim Byrne

With Renata Taylor-Byrne BSc (Hons) Psychol

Published by: The Institute for Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy: 2020

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Front cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

Unsolicited feedback on this book from counselling psychologists and similar professionals on LinkedIn Groups:

Caroline Corkery: “Just bought it; looking forward to getting it”.

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Patricia Gray: “I ordered and received my copy. I anticipate the excitement shared by colleagues”.

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Bobbie Mohler: “I bought this book and (I) am loving it. It’s the goal for my own life and what I want to develop for (my) clients. We were created to live whole lives not compartments. I have seen the difference nutrition makes in my life and in my clients’ lives. Cut out the stuff that isn’t really good that fills grocery shelves. It’s mostly feeding our addictions for bread and sugar designed by genetically engineering grain products to make them cheap to produce, have long shelf lives, and keep humans clawing for more and more”.

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Nikki Raw BA (Hons) Reg MBACP:  “Have just taken delivery of your book …looking forward to getting into it”. 😊

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Jo Ann Burns: “Dr Byrne, I have ordered your book and I look forward to reading it. What you are stating here makes a lot of sense. Jo Ann”.

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Preface to the 2020 Expanded and Updated Edition

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

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In the 2018 edition of this book, we were striving to keep the length of the book down, to reduce the cost, and the reading load on the reader.  In the process, we omitted previously planned material on:

– How to assess yourself, or your counselling clients, for strengths and weaknesses in lifestyle self-management; and:

– How to change your habits in the areas of diet, exercise, sleep and self-talk (or inner dialogue).

In this expanded and updated edition, we have included two appendices as follows:

– Appendix A: How to assess your clients’ lifestyle patterns and habits

– Appendix B: How to change your habits

Appendix A contains a lengthy assessment instrument which we give to all of our clients who sign up for our full lifestyle change process.

Appendix B contains two sections.  The first teaches a behavioural approach to habit change. The second teaches a habit substitution process.

We have also expanded and updated Chapter 6, (on how to reframe any experience in order to reduce emotional upsets).  This chapter originally taught six different ‘frames’ for re-thinking/re-feeling your experiences. It has now been expanded to include an additional three frames, two of which address perceptions and evaluations of yourself and other people; while the third addresses the quality of persistence in pursuing goals.

Unfortunately, these additions have pushed up the page count of the book, and also the cost; but the resulting product is very much more useful than its predecessor.  We hope you find it extremely helpful in managing your own life, and/or in helping others to manage theirs.

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, July 2020

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Whole cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

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Preface to the 2018 edition

The contents

In this book, you will find a very clear, relatively brief, easy to read introduction to a novel approach to ‘counselling the whole person’. This emotive-cognitive approach does not restrict itself to mental processes.  We go beyond what the client is ‘telling themselves’, or ‘signalling themselves’; or what went wrong in their family of origin.

We also include how well they manage their body-brain-mind in terms of diet, exercise, sleep, and emotional self-management (including self-talk, or inner dialogue). And we propose that it is better for counsellors and therapists to operate in a primarily right-brain modality, and to use the left-brain, cognitive processes, secondarily.

The most important, and novel, chapters in this book are as follows:

Chapter 4, which summarizes our research on the impact of diet/nutrition and physical exercise on mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Chapter 5, which reviews the science of sleep hygiene, plus common sense insights, and presents a range of lifestyle changes to promote healthy sleep, and thus to improve mental and emotional wellbeing.

Chapter 9, which explains how to incorporate the learning from chapters 4 and 5 into any system of talk therapy or counselling.

(And, from July 2020, the Appendices on assessing clients’ lifestyle patterns; and helping them to change their habits).

Deborah Spratling: “Thanks. (I) Share your views on working with people holistically (in my practice). (I) Bought your book this morning”.

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Dr. Ekta Chauhan: “Hi Dr Jim, Today (I) came across this post (feeling lucky), (I) read the excerpt, (I’m) impressed and (so I) ordered the book. Looking forward to read it… thanks”.

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Vilma Kontou (On LinkedIn): “I love your holistic approach, Dr Jim Byrne. I will definitely order it. Thank you for sharing it with us !”

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Front cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

There is also a chapter (8) on counselling individuals using our Emotive-Cognitive approach, in which there is a section (8.3(b)) on using the Holistic SOR[1] model to explore many aspects of the lifestyle of the client.

To be more precise: The holistic SOR model states that a client (a person) feels and reacts, at point ‘R’ (Response), to a (negative or positive) stimulus at point ‘S’ (Stimulus), on the basis of the current state of their social-body-mind (or their whole Organism).  Important variables include the following:

How well rested are they? How high or low is their blood-sugar level (which is related to diet and nutrition)?

How well connected are they to significant others (which is a measure of social support)?

How much conflict do they have at home or at work?  What other pressures are bearing down upon them (for examples: from their socio-economic circumstances; physical health; home/ housing; work/ income; security/ insecurity; etc.)

And how emotionally intelligent are they? (Emotional intelligence is, of course, learned, and can be re-learned!)

Within the Holistic-SOR model (as shown in Figure 8.2 below), in the middle column, what we are aiming to do is to construct a balance sheet (in our heads) of the pressures bearing down on the client (person), and the coping resources that they have for dealing with those pressures.

Feedback from LinkedIn:

Maria Frangia Rayias Ph.D. (On the Psychology Network Group, on LinkedIn): 26th April 2018:  “I integrate a holistic approach into my therapy. I cannot wait until I read this book to help me supplement what I do… Yes I do mean that. For mental and physical health…”

Nerine Strachan (On LinkedIn, on 28th April 2018): “I think good practitioners will always take a holistic approach… after all we are a connected and integrated system not separate parts operating independently. This is part of the trauma informed movement, but yes I agree body and mind need to have a much greater focus in initial training”.

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Eleanor Avinor, PhD (On LinkedIn, 4th May 2018): “I am glad that you are including nutrition in your book. It sounds fascinating and I am looking forward to reading it. I am now studying nutritional medicine and am convinced that nutrition has a place in psychotherapy”.

In addition, there is Chapter 6, which teaches how to help the client to re-frame any negative experience, using six perspectives, or frames, or lenses. These Six Windows (which have increased to Nine in the current edition) mostly conform to some of the best insights among the philosophical propositions shared by moderate Stoicism and moderate Buddhism. But we discard the harsh and unworkable elements of extreme Stoicism and extreme Buddhism.  This ‘Nine Windows’ Model, which was created by Jim Byrne, with a contribution from Renata Taylor-Byrne, is easy to understand and easy to use.

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Whole cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

Chapter 7 deals with how to understand and manage human emotions.  This chapter reviews a wide range of perspectives, including: Darwin and the evolutionary psychology perspective; the Buddhist and Stoic views; and many modern perspectives, including: neuroscience; cognitive science; interpersonal neurobiology; attachment theory; and affect regulation theory.  And that chapter includes a good deal of guidance on how to manage anger, anxiety and depression using a multifactorial approach which straddles diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, emotional self-management, mind-management, and so on.

And the book includes a quick review of a whole range of models and tools which we use in Emotive-Cognitive counselling, and which can be incorporated into the practices of integrative and holistic counsellors, psychologists and psycho-therapists.

The origin of this book

Much of the material in this book was originally published in Byrne (2016) – Holistic Counselling in Practice.  However, that book turned out to be too expensive, partly because of its number of pages; but even more because we included a lot of full-colour illustrations. And we put a lot of supportive material in a set of appendices at the back of the book.

Because that book was so over-full, we decided, in 2016, to omit any material on sleep deprivation and its effects upon mental health; apart from some passing references.  However, we now believe that was a mistake, as it seems likely that seriously disturbed individuals may often have to fix their sleep pattern before they can fully concentrate upon making dietary changes or committing to regular physical exercise.

The title of the original work also was a bit opaque.  It did not clearly indicate the treasures contained within its pages, or how useful they could be to counsellors across the whole spectrum of counselling schools.

Because of the problems outlined above, we have now decided to republish some of the original material under a new, more descriptive title, and omitting the material which had been in the appendices, plus most of the illustrations.  We also deleted a chapter (which was number 9) on holistic self-management strategies for self-help enthusiasts.  That material will be incorporated into a subsequent book on how to manage our emotions.

We have now, in this new edition,

– added a brief chapter (5) on fixing sleep hygiene problems,

– plus a briefer summary of our recommendations regarding diet and exercise than was contained in the original edition.

– And we have added a brief chapter on how to integrate lifestyle coaching into any system of talk therapy.

(And, in July 2020, we have added two new appendices: One on assessing lifestyle self-management patterns and habits; And one on how to change any habit effectively.

Feedback from LinkedIn, on 30th May 2018:

Greta Aronson: “I’ve been looking for a resource like this for weeks! I’ve been exploring the logistics of pursuing some type of certification or specialization in this area to implement in my work. Any leads or information about any programs, online certification classes, etc?” (Jim’s reply: Yes, I offer a CPD Certificate, here:  https://ecent-institute.org/cpd-cert-in-lifestyle-counselling/).

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Olivia Bolton: “This (book information) is great… I will be ordering a copy of your book in the immediate future!”

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Vanessa McHardy: “Looking forward to reading this have just ordered, it is definitely how I would like to work more, is there any trainings available in the UK?”

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Dee Tozer: “What a brilliant holistic approach – I’ll definitely buy it – Well done Jim Byrne”.

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Front cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

Goals for this book

Furthermore, we have come to terms with the fact that most readers want a manageable amount of material which does not overload them in terms of the amount or changing and learning and growing involved.  They do not want a comprehensive book, which covers everything about the holistic approach to counselling the whole person, all in one volume.  They want to get that learning in digestible chunks, spread out over time.  (However, in July 2020, we are backtracking on that approach, and adding two appendices, as described in the new Preface above.)

Therefore, in this volume, we have tried to emphasize our presentation of the following issues:

(1) How to understand some core ideas about the impact of poor quality sleep, inadequate nutrition and lack of physical exercise upon the body-brain-mind of the counselling client.

(2) How holistic or integrative counsellors can integrate elements of sleep, diet and exercise coaching into their talk therapy about broader emotional problems with life difficulties. And:

(3) How to teach the broader picture of the causes and cures of emotional distress, including reframing strategies.

We hope you enjoy working with the material in this book, whether you are a counsellor/ psychotherapist/ psychologist; a student of those disciplines; or a self-help enthusiast who wants to improve your own body-brain-mind functioning for a better life. And regardless the school of counselling, or psychotherapy tradition, to which you belong.

Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Hebden Bridge, March 2018 – Updated in July 2020

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Contents page

Contents page, lifestyle counselliong book

Four samples of Social Media feedback about this book. (More shown further down this page):

Nikki Raw BA (Hons) Reg MBACP(On LinkedIn):  “Have just taken delivery of your book …looking forward to getting into it”. 😊

Margaret Juricek(On LinkedIn):  “I agree with your totally comprehensive approach to counselling”.

Vilma Kontou(On LinkedIn): “I love your holistic approach Dr. Jim Byrne. I will definitely order it. Thank you for sharing it with us !”

Dr Sowmya Suryanarayana(On LinkedIn): “I cannot wait until it arrives Dr Jim Byrne 🙂 Thank you so much for writing it and letting us know of its availability 🙂 :-)”.

Swapna Nadgauda:  “I would love to read this as I have read your previous books – very informative to me as a psychologist”. 

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Whole cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

Prologue

In these pages you will find a detailed introduction to the theory and practice of one of the most recent, and most comprehensive forms of holistic counselling and psychotherapy.

This new system (for helping people to optimize their positive experiences of life, and to process their negative experiences), necessarily deals with emotions, thinking, stories and narratives, plus bodily states; and thus is called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).  But we do not wish to proselytize for this system.  We would be happy to have individual counsellors and therapists, from all the schools of counselling and therapy, experimenting with adding some small elements of our innovations into their own, idiosyncratic systems for helping their own clients.

This book has been designed to be helpful for three audiences:

(1) Counsellors, psychotherapists, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, educators and others;

(2) Students of counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry, social work and related disciplines; and:

(3) Self-help and personal development enthusiasts.

A further five samples of social media feedback:

Teresa Patrício(On LinkedIn):  “It seems very interesting and I will definitely buy it. Thank you!”

Marnie Ellis Fulton (On LinkedIn), 19th April 2018): “I Like this integration of talk therapy, exercise, sleep and nutrition. I utilize this approach in my practice. Look forward to reading this book!”

Michal Baghlani – (the founder of Aware Psychology & Coaching, in Sydney, Australia) – commented upon this book, on LinkedIn, saying she agreed totally with the content of the book.  She then went on to say: “I see much more progress in clients when they address their emotional wellbeing from a holistic perspective.”

Sherri Edelman, PsyD, LPC (On LinkedIn): “As a holistic psychotherapist with a doctorate in behavioral medicine/psychology; and past owner of a wellness center opened in 2002 for body/mind health joining both services together with complementary and alternative treatments and services: this (book) is very encouraging!” (5th April 2018).

Sharon Belhamel (On LinkedIn): “I’m a holistic therapist myself, combining naturopathy with individual and family counselling. I believe integrative health or holistic health is the wave of the future. Mental health issues should be addressed as part of an overall healthcare plan, not put in a separate silo. Your book looks like an interesting read. Thanks”.

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The content of this book has been a long time incubating, at the very least since 2001 when I first tried to defend the ABC model of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) by relating it to the three core components of Freud’s model of the mind (or psyche):

(1) the Id (or It [or baby-at-birth]);

(2) the Ego (or sense of self, or personality); and

(3) the Superego (or ‘internalized other’, including social and moral rules).

The more I tried to defend REBT, the more its core models fell apart in my hands! See Byrne (2017) in the References near the back of this book.

At the same time, I was studying thirteen different systems of counselling and therapy, from Freud and Jung, via Rogers and Perls, and the behaviourists, to the cognitivists and existentialists.

Front cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

Later, I considered Plato’s model of the mind, alongside the Buddhist and Stoic philosophies of mind.

Into this mix, at some point, Attachment theory arrived, and that helped to make more sense of the emerging model of mind: (Gerhardt, 2010).  Attachment theory, and Object relations theory – (Gomez, 1997) – eventually formed the core of my model of the mother-baby dyad, and the way in which the mind of the baby was born out of the interpenetration (or overlapping interactions) of the physical baby and the cultural mother.

And this gave rise to a greater awareness of the individual counselling client as a ‘social individual’, who is ‘wired up’ (neurologically) by social stories (about social experiences) to be a creature of habit, living out of historic scripts; and viewing the world through non-conscious frames (or lenses) which dictate how things ‘show up’ in their automatic (cumulative-interpretive) apprehension of the external world.

As these developments were reaching fruition, I also discovered the insights of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB – Siegel, 2015) and Affect Regulation Theory (Hill, 2015).

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More feedback on Lifestyle Counselling book, from LinkedIn (12th April 2018)

Mandi Rowe: (On the Psychology Network, on LinkedIn): “Sounds like a must read for my masters program! Getting it now. Thx!”

Dee Tozer (On LinkedIn): “What a brilliant holistic approach – I’ll definitely buy it – Well done Jim Byrne”. 

Dr. Dan Dalton (On LinkedIn): “How does one purchase a copy of this very interesting book?”

Terence Ramsay (On LinkedIn): “Thank you for sharing (about this book) Dr Jim Byrne – I am an aspiring Clinical Psychologist and will surely find your new book highly insightful into holistic therapy. I am a huge fan of attachment theory also and from reading your profile, find your work to be insightful. I will buy your book. Thanks for sharing”.

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Front cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

But even beyond those developments, I also became increasingly aware that, because we are body-minds, our experience of sleep, diet, exercise, alcohol, water consumption, and socio-economic circumstances – (in addition to current and historic relationships) – have as much to do with our emotional disturbances (very often) as do our psychological habits of mind. And, in any event, our psychological habits of mind cannot be totally separated from the states of our body-brain-mind.

And in Chapter 4 below, Renata Taylor-Byrne and I present brief but compelling evidence, from reliable sources, that (1) dietary changes and physical exercise can produce dramatic reductions in levels of anger, anxiety and depression; (2) anti-depressants are not nearly as effective as has been claimed (and that physical exercise alone is as effective at curing depression as are antidepressant drugs); (3) that drug companies hide negative trial results; (4) that the real pills often fail to outperform placebo (sugar) pills; (5) that the real pills are often totally ineffective; (6) that they seem to be addictive, and difficult to get off in some cases; and (7) they have serious side effects (in some cases involving suicidal ideation).

And in addition, we agree with those theorists who have argued that physical exercise is at least as effective as anti-depressants; and also that some forms of dietary change can and do reduce and/or eliminate depression, and also reduce anxiety and anger. (See Chapter 4, below).

Counselling and therapy systems have normally ignored the convincing evidence that exercise and diet can change our emotional states.  For example, in Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge’s (2003) book on counselling psychology, there are no references in the index to diet or physical exercise[1].  As in the case of McLeod (2003)[2], there is a ‘virtual postscript’ (in Chapter 29 [of 32] of Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge) on counselling psychology and the body – which is essentially about using bodily experience in counselling and therapy – as in breath work, and body awareness – though the chapter author (Bill Wahl) also includes a consideration of body-work as such.  However, in our emotive-cognitive (E-CENT) counselling approach, we consider that direct physical touch is too problematical (ethically) to include in our system of counselling.  What we do include, because it is now clearly an essential ingredient of the health and well-being of the whole-client (body-brain-mind), is awareness of the role of diet and exercise and sleep patterns in determining or influencing the level of emotional disturbance of the client; and an awareness of the need to teach the client that their diet, sleep and exercise practices have a significant impact upon their emotional and behavioural performances in the world.  (See Chapter 4).

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Felicia Gail Thrasher “Hi Dr. Byrne I am delighted to see that I am in line with your forward thinking. I teach a substance abuse education class on Wednesday nights where I work and the topic for our discussion for the month of April is Life Skills and how effective they are to the transition the residents are making into their various lifestyles. I am in agreement with you style and plan to incorporate your teachings in our next sessions. Thanks for the share!”

Stephanie Troy, LICSW(On LinkedIn): “It is very rare to see people in the mental health field talk about the connection between diet and mood. Despite the research on the gut brain connection, we still predominantly think of disturbance of emotions as related to mental illness. I would love to read your book. I’m in Boston, MA trying to pave the way with combining being a nutrition coach and yoga teacher with being a licensed social worker. Thank you for your share…it’s always nice to know there are like minded folks out there!”

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Whole cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

This then is a story of counselling and therapy revolution: the radical reformulation of most of our major theories of therapy; and their integration into a completely new view of the social individual as a body-brain-mind-environment whole.

Talk therapy has a lot to offer the social individual, but talk therapy alone cannot cure most of the ills of the modern world, many of which are related to the lifestyle of the client. (Interestingly, lifestyle coaching and lifestyle medicine are beginning to emerge in various quarters, including among some psychiatrists, [who are experimenting with diet – ‘Holistic psychiatry’]; some neurologists [‘Holistic neurology’]; and some medical doctors [‘Integrative medicine’, and ‘Nutritional therapy’]. But none of these approaches is nearly as complete or holistic as E-CENT theory and practice).

The world of counselling and therapy is being transformed (once again!).  And in this book, in Chapter 3, we have summarized the core insights arising out of those various revolutions which have already occurred, which have relevance for counselling today.  We have also explored the very latest thinking about how to understand and manage human emotions – especially anger, anxiety and depression, in Chapter 7.

Chapter 4 presents an overview of our research on diet and exercise, and how those two lifestyle factors impact on mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Chapter 5 is a brief review of the impact of sleep on mental health.

Chapter 6 deals with our approach to helping clients to reframe their unavoidable problems – using our Nine Windows Model – which draws on the insights of moderate Buddhism and moderate Stoicism.

Chapter 8 explores some of the most important and helpful models we use in E-CENT, to guide our counselling sessions, and to help the client to perfink (perceive, feel and think) more self-supportingly.

The core beliefs of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) are summarized in twenty principles, in Chapter 3.

Counselling and therapy have been in a constant state of evolution and revolution since the creation of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, in the late nineteenth century. This book represents one of the most recent, and most comprehensive, reformulations; influenced as it is by attachment theory, affect regulation theory, personality adaptation theory, and interpersonal neurobiology.

I hope you enjoy this volume, and that you find some useful theories, techniques, tools and models within: for use in your own way, in your own life, and/or with the people you aim to help.

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling, Hebden Bridge

March 2018 (Updated in 2020)

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Front cover, Lifestyle Counselling, 2020

Footnotes

[1] SOR = Stimulus-Organism-Response, and the Holistic SOR includes everything that could possibly affect the state of the organism (O).

[1] Woolfe, R., Dryden, W., and Strawbridge, S. (eds) (2003) Handbook of Counselling Psychology. Second Edition. London: Sage Publications.

[2] McLeod, J. (2003) An Introduction to Counselling. Third Edition.  Buckingham: Open University Press.  Chapter 21 of 21; section 6 of 9 within that final chapter! No references to diet.  This is the totality of his commentary on physical exercise: “The therapeutic value of physical exercise is well established.  But, for the most part, counselling remains centred on talking rather than doing”. (Page 523 of 527!)

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