# “Imperative Self Analysis” A Representation Of Your Personality Like No Other

Did you know that you have an emotional palette of 5-7 emotions that you repeat daily unless you are experiencing an unusual event? We are each unique because of our emotional palette. Our emotions drive our behaviors and impact our health in both positive and negative ways. Your emotions are the window into the core of your personality.

Open the PDF below and check the 5-7 emotions that you almost experience daily. Make sure you check the emotions rather than the behaviors. This can really be a real eye opener into your inter world. Some clients like to print the list and make 6-7 copies. Every night they go over their day. They circle the experienced emotions. At the end of the week it is easier to notice their 5-7 most common emotions.Notice that these 5-7 emotions have a pattern. 


Over thirty-five years ago Leslie Cameron – Bandler  (now Lebeau) the co-author of the best selling book “The Emotional Hostage” was curious why different people experiencing the same events experienced completely different emotions. She also was curious as to why therapy didn’t work for some people, no matter how competent the therapist. To find out how this was happening she formed a workgroup that created a new therapy model in 1988 called the “Imperative Self Model”. It is also known as “Imperative Self Analysis” or (ISA).

Imperative Self  Analysis (ISA) is still the only therapy model today that we have that demonstrates our uniqueness in that we are like no other person on the planet.

The ISA eliminates the need of  “piecemeal” long term therapy on the unwanted emotions of your emotional palette.  The ISA actually allows us to find the needle in the haystack in one session to make changes that will most positively affect your emotional life.

Even though I have been working with clients with this particular therapy model since 1989, I still find that is not very complex to comprehend, but it rather challenging to articulate.

Your life is the sum of what you focus on. Your Imperative Self controls what you will focus on. If you want to change your emotional palette read on..

Leslie and her workgroup found that people experience 5-7 of the same emotions almost  everyday, unless something unusual is happening. Through their work on emotions, they eventually discovered that the heart of personality consists of three elements: Primary Obsessions, A Filter, and  a Virtual Question/or Statement.

They found that people usually have 5 to 10 Primary Obsessions. These Primary Obsessions are the highly held driving forces in our lives. We are driven by an almost insatiable hunger for experiences of acceptance, freedom, power, security, peace, etc.We all have obsessions.

Our Primary Obsessions were made before the age of eight years old and in during highly charged emotional moments. We spend most of our lives fixated on our Primary Obsessions!

These Primary Obsessions are what you would expect a 5-7 year old child to have. If you filled out the PDF Emotional Menus and noticed the context in which these emotions come up, you will maybe sense some of these obsessions.

These Primary Obsessions create your emotions and thus drive your behaviors. These emotions are caused by us either fulfilling or failing to fulfill these obsessions. I have found that collapsing the obsessional track (healing the memory or memories that created the IS Map) will cause your habitual unwanted negative emotions to become a thing of the past. Then you can rewrite your mission in life or just enjoy “peace”.

This question you are always asking yourself is called the “Virtual Question”.  This means all other questions or statements are filtered through the Virtual Question first. A more detailed description is this link: Your-most-important-question/. 

The Filter is usually the information we sort for to achieve fulfilling the first Obsession in our hierarchy of  Obsessions. This Filter determines what we respond to and therefore greatly influences what types of experiences we will accumulate over a lifetime.

This is my client, Robin’s ISA May 28, 2021. See her IS Map and her comments below in the Comments Section. Notice her before/after common emotions:


What is a well-formed Imperative Self ?:

1. The Primary Obsessions are worth fulfilling and feasible to fulfill;

2. Self-concept is positive and secure (evidence is initiated maintained by self):

3. The Virtual Question/statement and Filter provide opportunities to fulfill the obsessions;

4. Well-being is sustained and the IS allows one to thrive.

So if the Imperative Self model is the best thing since sliced bread, why is this model after over thirty years not the premier psychotherapy practiced in the world? Why am I the only therapist on the planet doing ISA? I believe there are four (4) reasons:

1. The ISA training was expensive and took over 24 days (Fridays – Mondays 6 times) with additional travel days for those that had to travel from out of town.

2. It is nearly impossible to successfully market to both therapists and clients a therapy model that can change one’s major personality traits in a positive way in less than seven sessions. Most believe therapy is suppose to take a long time. Leslie was way ahead of her time and the world wasn’t ready for such an innovative approach.

3. Therapists develop their clinical practice by creating a style and theoretical orientation that defines their work. However, many therapists are not interested in learning new approaches outside of their current comfort zone.

4.  A successful ISA and the collapsing of the Primary Obsessions with a few follow ups sessions usually means the end of therapy for most of my clients. Their negative habitual emotions are what motivated clients to seek therapy in the first place. Because of this, I do not have long term therapy clients. This means the money stream is short.

Before I will accept you as a client, you need to fill out the Emotional States Menu in this PDF: Phase 1 & 2 . Then we can have a free joint interview over the phone or on Zoom to determine if we are a fit.

Does the IS elicitation always work? No. I have had mixed results with clients taking antipsychotics medications or psychotherapeutic medications (benzodiazepines & selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or drugs like Adderall).Some people try to come across in a more positive light by not listing their true emotions (we are always doing our Imperative Selfs). 

What to expect during and after the session:

I come to your ISA with a clean slate. I will ask you questions about each of your common emotions and look for a pattern that shines the light on your obsessions. If you don’t want to answer a question, just say, “pass” and I will honor your request with a different question.

After we elicit your Imperative Self it will take less than 40 words on one piece of paper for you to understand yourself in ways you have never imagined and it takes less than three hours vs years of “talk therapy”. On one piece of paper you will see a “Map” that represents your map of the world (your IS Map) that you constructed before age eight. Your session will give you the opportunity to update yours.

These 40 words or less are your words. If you want to change your self concept and thrive by changing your Imperative Self Map, much can be accomplished in the same 2-3 hour session. In addition, the changes will allow the negative emotions of your emotional palette to be just a memory (see Comments below).

If you have traumas in your past, I promise not to re-traumatize you. If you have a trauma this is what we do: we will get your resources before the trauma occurred, because if we build a strong foundation before the trauma, the trauma will be transformed (see the post : https://clintmatheny.cdn-pi.com/back-to-the-future-with-clean-language/) .Most of the time clients are not even consciously aware (nor am I ) of the content of the traumatic event we are working on.

I couldn’t do therapy for over thirty-eight years if I had to listen to clients recounting their traumas. That would be unhealthy for me and the client. It is bad enough that people had to experience a traumatic event once. My philosophy has allowed me to have a Kleenex tissue free therapy environment for the past thirty-seven years.

After over thirty- three years of doing ISA with hundreds of individuals, I am still fascinated with the complexity and uniqueness of each human being.

In summation, the purpose of life is to collect as many good experiences as we can in the amount of time we are given on this earth. From my experiences of doing hundreds of ISAs, our Imperative Self Maps usually determines just how happy we will be in our lives. Those that wanted to change their IS Map were able to change it and now live much happier lives.

My email address is: clint77090 at gmail.com

Read the Comments Section below:





  1. Bill (Age 65)

    I realize that my life will not be without ‘glitches’ here and there – whose isn’t? But it is true that when I look through the list of emotions I presented prior to the ISA session, I cannot find them in a chronic way – if at all.

    When people ask me about how I am now after the session with you, I find it extremely hard to articulate exactly in which way(s) I feel different – but there’s no doubt that in some way, it’s if I’ve been ‘born again’.

  2. Robin Updated in 2022

    These were my most common emotions I experienced from childhood until late May 2021. I am 32 years old. I did the ISA
    and 5 sessions with Clint for a total of 6 hours of therapy:


    These are my most common emotions I now experienced daily during the past fifteen months as of September 2022:


    It is pretty crazy to see the difference in now compared to May 2021! I’m so happy I no longer feel those things! Can’t thank you enough for being part of my healing journey!

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