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Author Topic: Geoffrey Setiawan: Online Reputation, Independent Review  (Read 2042 times)
bugwaterguy
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« on: January 21, 2022, 03:07:33 PM »

Hello folks,

Is this a scam? I am struggling on how to improve myself and my relationship with my undiagnosed, potentially BPD wife.

Therapists I have been to in the past have only reinforced what I already thought, and haven't given me new tools to move forward.  They basically tell me I am doing things right - which doesn't help me.  I have tried a Divorce Busting Coach - which is based on Solution-Oriented Therapy.  It hasn't seemed to work.  I think it is because people with BPD have an extreme need for validation, and Solution-Oriented Therapy focuses on outcomes.  My wife has complained of this in the past.

I have been watching this guy called Geoffrey Setiawan (https://www.youtube.com/c/GeoffreySetiawan ) on YouTube, and trying some of his techniques.  It hasn't been very long, but they seem to be working.  My wife has been opening up emotionally and has actually gave me 4 hugs in the past week - more than I have gotten in the prior year.

I know I am in an emotional state - and I strongly want to help myself, my marriage, and my wife.  It might be a confirmation bias.  I am looking for someone to help me out and give me an opinion.

The guy's background seems sketchy, but the content seems legit. 

Here is my pros and cons list

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Cons
  • The website does not have longevity - it has only been around since 2018. How long will they be around in the future?
  • Geoffrey’s educational background is in marketing, not relationships or mental health
  • Geoffrey is relatively young (graduate college in 2013) - I believe in the innovative ideas of young people - age does not grant wisdom
  • Most stuff that comes up around him when I do a google search is related to his business success, not relationship success
  • He doesn’t refer to research much in his videos - is this stuff all just coming from his own head, or is there data to back it up?
  • I can’t find independent reviews of his program - either positive or negative.  The closest I can get is his self-promoted YouTube success stories on his own channel - Very few coaching sites have independent reviews
  • He sometimes seems dismissive of mental illness as a root cause of the problem -He argues that if you create emotional safety, the person with mental illness will feel comfortable sharing their issues - there is truth to that - that is what good counselors do
  • A one-time payment and being supported forever sounds like a pyramid scheme -Although with most folks, they will need huge amounts of support in the beginning, then less as time goes on - it will either work for them, or they will give up
  • I can't tell how long he has been in his long-term relationship - I don't think he is actually married.
  • Money - the program has a 1-time $2,000 cost
     
  • I have under-functioned in the financial areas of my life.  I have let my wife control the finances.  I am very unsure if this is affordable in the short-term.
  • My wife will see my spending money on this as an act of desperation.
  • I don’t have the techniques to explain this to her - I am afraid this will drive her away
  • I am looking into selling my comic collection.  If it would generate enough funds - I would take the risk and move forward

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Pros
  • It is a one-time investment/risk for unlimited access to coaching and support forums -with coaching/therapy sessions running at $110/session - that would be the equivalent of 19 sessions
  • I think the skills learned here will help me in the future, regardless of my marriage success.
  • Some of the techniques around creating emotional safety seem to be already working
  • It discusses hypothesis-antithesis-synthesis thinking - which is the root of Dialectical Behavior Therapy - which is the only proven treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder - which my wife has many of the symptoms of (though not diagnosed)
  • They really encourage participants to look at their own confirmation bias - which I appreciate. Both of us have talked about “walking on eggshells” with the other person.  Neither of us has done a good job of bringing up emotional issues.  She has opened up emotionally with these techniques.  So have I.
  • I have been a “fixer” in the past - and my wife often complains about it - this has some tangible techniques to work through that. I have focused on solutions instead of understanding the emotions behind her thinking
  • I have tried to counteract her emotions with logic, which has always failed - they talk about this as a problem.  This sounds like JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain), which BPD books also tell you to avoid.
  • It has a clear plan to follow - which gives some solid goals to work through
  • It focuses on yourself - and I have a strong internal locus of control
  • It has lots of free videos too - which has led me to some of the conclusions in this list
  • As I look through my notes and journals of our relationship problems - emotional safety and trust issues is what my wife seems to bring up the most. Other programs do not focus on that, which seems to be our biggest issue.
  • It encourage skeptical thinking - which resonates with me
  • It encourages a balanced approach in most things, where other programs seem extreme - Nothing is black-and-white
  • It focuses on counteracting hopelessness in yourself and your partner - which I believe is a key issue - most other programs focus on attraction
  • Many other programs seem to talk about manipulating or tricking your partner.  My wife is way too smart to fall for that.
  • Other programs talk about hiding things from your spouse, which I have never been able to do.  I can’t even pull off a surprise party.  It is in my nature to be open and genuine.
  • It talks a great deal about “untethering”, which I have a problem with.  I am so tied to the outcome of wanting the marriage to succeed, that I am not making the best decisions.
  • Much of what he is saying resonates with Brene Brown’s stuff on vulnerability
  • He talks about efficiency vs effectiveness, which is another complaint from my wife about me.  She says I focus too much on the outcome and not on her feelings.
  • He talks about long-term changes rather than a quick fix.  He uses the analogy of farming vs hunting.
  • It has unlimited access to videos and support group forums

What do folks think?
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2022, 06:06:06 AM »

I looked at the blog and would like to offer my review of this article:

Why Couples Therapy Fails for Most Couples
Written by Geoffrey Setiawan
https://relationshipsmastered.com/blog-1

This blog article raises some questions for me. Setiawan claims that couples therapy mostly fails and his answer to that is to use him rather than hire a therapist and let him (Setiawan) "turn you into your own relationship doctor, so that you don’t need to go to a doctor." "The system is broken."

Is this a sound proposition? Granted, marriage therapy stats aren't very good (neither are the stats of Alcoholics Anonymous) and there are many mediocre therapists, but the statistics he presents are from research studies that reached conclusions completely different from what he has in this article. None suggest anything like "turn yourself into your own relationship doctor, so that you don’t need to go to a doctor."

In an interesting twist,  Setiawan goes on to tell us that the source of his  psychology knowledge is the very thing that he argues to be ineffective ,  "8+ years going to the best couples therapy sessions". He also mentions "buying other programs, and reading books".

It makes me wonder why a mix of resources like those that Setiawan used for himself wouldn't be the best thing for others, too. Setiawan certainly feels he benefited from the mix and it doesn't appear that he bypassed couples therapy to be his own relationship doctor.
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2022, 07:41:49 AM »

It seems to me to land on the "scam" side of the meter, for all the reasons you list. The whole thing seems to be set up like one of those get-rich-quick real estate schemes--start with an ad, get people to your free seminar, then ask for thousands of dollars to get the real info that's going to make you rich. Meanwhile, the yahoo running the "seminar" is the only one getting rich. Except, in this case, it's not money, but the promise of fixing a relationship that gets people hooked. At the end of the day, this is a guy who is (according to one article) making $70,000/month selling a magical "5 keys to relationship success" to vulnerable people on the brink of divorce. I wouldn't give him my money.

If the content is legit (I didn't actually look at the content), then it will be available in places that don't cost $2000. The real value would be in having some personal support and guidance, and if this guy is making $70,000/month off of this (how many "clients" is that?), he's not doing much of that. https://mikedillard.com/episodes/he-makes-70000-mo-with-5000-youtube-subscribers-with-geoffrey-setiawan/

Just my $.02. Apologies for the bluntness. I know this all comes from a place of genuinely trying to improve things in your relationship and just looking for something that works. But glancing at the website and videos, I'd be skeptical that this guy has the answers.
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2022, 09:07:24 AM »

Thanks for the response, and don't apologize for the bluntness - that is what I am looking for.

The techniques he is mentioning on his free YouTube stuff seems to be working.  I can keep doing that without the coaching and courses. 

Did you watch any of the videos?  Although they have clickbait titles - the content seems good, and relatable for someone who has  a partner with BPD.  Particularly the stuff about creating emotional safety, becoming untethered to your partner, and not becoming a victim and blaming everything whatever label you apply to your partner.
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2022, 05:03:44 PM »

Hi bug water guy, I don’t get much opportunity to watch such videos, but I’d be most interested if you could share any of the techniques and circumstances where they’ve worked for you.
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2022, 06:46:33 PM »

His biggest lesson is related to emotional and psychological safety.  You can't deal with any issues unless that exists.

Couples feel hopeless, because they feel they cannot bring up problems in an honest way.
Lack of emotional safety happens over long time, and often subconsciously
Loss of safety and trust is the issue, not conflict
When stonewallling or gaslighting occur - it is usually a defense mechanism to a lack of safety - NOT a character flaw
When someone seemingly gets upset over a small thing - it really isn’t the small thing - but layers of problems that have built up - the small thing is the trigger.

To build emotional safety - you cannot be focused on the outcome of a conversation.  You must be focused on making sure your partner is heard.  Don't use logic - but focus on feelings. 

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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2022, 04:12:07 AM »

While I don’t know the dude or his business model… & feeling as the  YouTube page feels like a money grab…. I will say this.

I unequivocally think exactly what you’ve outlined is why 100% of relationships fail. YEA I even include BPD relationships. and ya, hyperbole alert. I believe 100%

Now - there are a lot of contributing factors as the the WHYs around this topic but not being or feeling safe enough to bring all of you (regardless of why), into the relationship is the death of a relationship. In BPD, I’d go so far to say this even starts in the infatuation phase…. See the love bombing is just the beginning of the dishonesty, “if I brought my whole self, it wouldn’t be acceptable” you have to he perfect because we’re destined.  Bottom line, acceptance and letting go is the root of most all modern therapy (CBT, DBT et Al) and the only place that begins is where all things are known, present, discussed and accepted. 

This isn’t a vote of confidence for or against this guy, but his philosophy seems sound if it’s based on what you outline…. Any practice you do that brings you and your partner into a safe space, to see, be seen, feel and be felt while exposing all of your cares, fears, and concerns…. That intimacy… intimacy = relational health.

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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2022, 07:47:13 AM »

Thanks hands down,

One thing that resonating with me was his video on boundaries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkF8R-2NuT4

I held some firm boundaries around clutter.  The stuff did get cleaned up - but there was tons of resentment around it.  I think it directly led to my wife seeking divorce.  I would rather have my wife with the clutter, than a clean house without my wife.

As I engaged in those discussions - I could tell that it felt like an ultimatum to her, rather than a boundary.  Ultimatums make anyone feel lousy. 

They also set up a dynamic of power & control, rather than partnership.  It automatically brings up defensiveness.

When I have brought up issues in the past around clutter - I have been focused on cleaning it up.  I have also tried to understand her feelings - but my mindset was - "if she won't share her feelings, at least I can get this stuff cleared out"


He doesn't say boundaries are completely bad - he just says they should be set from a place of understanding - not fear.  He says if you have to set boundaries, you probably aren't in a good place of emotional safety.
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2022, 03:33:05 PM »

I reviewed this YouTube video...

Separation From Spouse: Can It Heal Your Marriage?
Video by Geoffrey Setiawan

(excerpt posted below)

In my opinion, this is a simple, impeccably organized video presentation that explores the pros and cons of separation. The speaker is a very compelling presenter and he presents with confidence.

Content-wise, there are parts of his video that make a lot of sense to me. There are parts that reflect a lack of experience and depth.

There are two main points in this video.

 Bullet: completed (click to insert in post) Separation won't be restorative to the relationship if it is just used as a time to cool off, break the cycle of conflict, followed by getting back after you miss the person.
This is a valid point if restoring the relationship is the goal of the separation.

 Bullet: completed (click to insert in post) It is important to use time to tackle or resolve relationship problems.
This is an equally valid point once both parties are open to do this.  Getting to a place of finding and addressing the underlying and entrenched problems is extremely important to restore the relationship.

 Yellow flag/questionable (click to insert in post) The recommended action plan is a process Setiawan says should be managed by the viewer of  the video who:
  • 1. needs to control his emotions,
  • 2. manage the partner emotions,
  • 3. lead conversations in the proper way,
  • 4. create and sustain admiration and spark.

This is where it gets muddy. How often is this realistic?  As the presenter points out earlier in the video, separation is often a time when emotions are high, couples are stuck in a cycle of conflict, they struggle to keep things in perspective, and for at least one of them, the spark and motivation to continue may be dimmed or just plan exhausted. Even if the husband were up to the prescribed action plan, the wife may not be ready or may not be willing to follow the husband's lead. Couples often separate because there significant underlying problems compounded by communication problems, resentments that have grown, and communications that have broken down.

 Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post)  Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post) I am baffled at why the presentation over looks the more conventional "supervised therapeutic separation" where a third party (e.g., mental health professional, clergy) facilitates and mediates the separation using both individual and couples sessions. Professionals can provide perspective, structure, and dictate pace in these difficult times and can also serve as a sounding board so that each party can be "heard" without triggering the other.

 Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post)  Yellow flag/questionable (click to insert in post) What? Setiawan lists questions to ask yourself to determine if a separation is appropriate (you need 4 yes answers).

  • Do you have the motivation to fix it now
  • Do you understand that this is a temporary solution
  • Do you have a gameplan to learn how to mange emotions (hers and yours)
  • Do you have a gameplan to keep the spark alive

These questions seem naive to me. Couple separate because one has been hugely violated (e.g., adultery), or one experienced insurmountable tragedy (e.g. death of a child), or one feels the day to day situation is toxic (e.g. alcoholism) or dangerous (e.g., domestic violence), or one has a new love interest, or one is just exasperated and ready to call it quits. No one is coolly drafting game plans, they are running away from the pain.

Bottom line, I think it would be very hard to make the argument that unsupervised therapeutic separations have better outcomes than supervised therapeutic separations. The idea of "being your own doctor" would seem ill advised in these situations.


Date: 10-2019Minutes: 7:33

Excerpt: Separation From Spouse: Can It Heal Your Marriage?
Fair use: Excerpted for purposes such
as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, or scholarship,
pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107.

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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2022, 04:06:25 PM »

I'm a big fan of whatever works. I haven't listened to the videos (except some of the video linked here on boundaries), but it sounds like advice that is roughly in line with the advice given here. I don't see anything "wrong" with what he is saying. I'd just be skeptical of paying him money.

I think what you say about boundaries here is right. I kind of wish everyone would just throw out the language on boundaries. If you get to the heart of what they are, and how to properly have them, they're fine, but the language around it really sends people in bad directions a lot of times. The language makes it all sound very combative. You have to "enforce" the boundary and be "firm." You build a "wall" and you have to "defend" it. Etc. It's almost militant the way they are sometimes talked about. And then we get all geared up to set a boundary and defend and enforce that boundary. And as this guy says, going in with that approach is bound to fail. IMO, there are only so many times we can say "boundaries are misunderstood" before we should all just accept that there's something wrong with the language surrounding it and not people's ability to understand it.
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2022, 05:44:52 AM »

Hey bug water guy, thanks for clarifying that. Is there any advice (our have you found anything particularly works) for opening a difficult conversation? I talked at length on here last year about my goal for the children to see my parents before we move away… which we finally all did go… but several months have passed and we’re still moving away, and I’d like us to go again. I’m all for listening, hearing and validation… I just haven’t mentioned anything about it yet because it’s easier to keep the peace ya know…


Here is my take on bringing up difficult conversation

-only do it in person
-start with some kind of physical touch, if your relationship is in a place where that is possible
-start with positive intentions on your partner's part - for example:  "I know you want to be fair and reasonable" - if you can highlight any good things they have done in this area - do that
-bring up your concern, with caveats if needed

-wait for their response.
-do not be focused on the outcome of the conversation - your primary concern is trying to understand their feelings about the concern
-do not use logic - if they are in a highly emotional state, it will waste everyone's time.  Do not JADE (justify, argue, defend, or explain)
-any feelings they bring up, validate them.  if they say horrible things about you - agree with those feelings. (don't agree with untrue accusations, but agree with the feelings behind them - for example if they say "You don't love me",  you can respond "I would feel horrible too if I thought you didn't love me")
-rephrase what they say, and ask if you got it right
-ask open ended questions - NOT assumptions designed as questions
-silence is fine, wait longer than you think you need to
-Stay in listener mode - not counter-argument mode
-Effectiveness is more important than Efficiency - if you talk for 4 hours with no resolution, but are creating emotional safety - that is a good thing!
-Don’t move forward to solutions, until you understand their mindset

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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2022, 05:46:43 PM »

Staff only

At the request of Geoffrey Setiawan we are posting the following:

     

As with all reviews, Geoffrey has been offered the opportunity to comment on members content reviews.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 06:40:21 PM by BPDFamily » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2022, 07:38:48 PM »

Hi and thank you for posting the full emails and my communication! That's all I can ask Smiling (click to insert in post)

« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 07:51:43 PM by Geoffrey4 » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2022, 03:22:20 PM »

One thing that resonating with me was his video on boundaries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkF8R-2NuT4

Hey bugwaterguy and stolencrumbs, I looked at the video The Toxic Paradox of Setting Boundaries in Relationships and have some observations.

Geoffrey Setiawan is telling the viewer about bad experiences he had with "boundaries". He tells viewers to abandon the concept - he repeats the point over and over. He says it's best to not have a black and white position on infidelity for example (3:58m-  4:32m). Instead, be open to hear your partners reasoning, they may have a valid reason for the affair.

He then encourages viewers to, instead, adopt what appears to be a logic matrix that philosophers Kant, Hegal, and Karl Marx used to determine philosophical "truths". It's a format for reasoned argumentation by academics with differing points of view (thesis | anti-thesis | synthesis).

Unexpected to say the least.

Are reactionary ultimatums toxic in a relationship?
Absolutely. I agree with him. This is destructive and there many people doing this in the midst of conflict. Reactionary ultimatums just amp up the fight.

But I don't agree that reactionary ultimatums and boundaries are the same thing, regardless of what some Internet pirates say.

Defining values/boundaries is a life skill. Many of us don't think much about what we truly value or when we are betraying our own values (crossing over our boundaries) and that does not serve us well. If we then connect with someone who is not very clear about what their values are, there can be trouble down the road if the growing conflict and resentment in the relationship is driven by a fundamental conflict of core values.

For example, if you have very strong feeling about monogamy and faithfulness and your partner doesn't, this could be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode at some point in a 30 year marriage.

It is better to understand our values, live them faithfully, share them and explain them in positive ways and keep people in our life that will help us achieve them. Marrying a person with different values will always be a struggle. Communication skills can't fix that.

There is a good article about personal values and building shared relationship values and boundaries  here: bpdfamily.com/content/setting-boundaries

Is the hypotheisis thesis | anti-thesis | synthesis model useful?
I was surprised to see this in a video about boundaries. This part of the video is short but generally good. He talks about active listening, empathy, compromise, building consensus -  fundamental building blocks of relationships (my words, not his).

Is an academic logic model a good visual for these soft skills? It's probably okay if you don't take it literally. The thesis | anti-thesis | synthesis model is about presenting different thesis', determining points of agreement, and using deductive logic to resolve or narrow the points of disagreement. Deductive logic is probably not too useful in relationship tensions.

Listening to your partner and being empathic and understanding, and patient is often enough. We don't always have to solve differences, sometimes we just need to accept and respect them or compromise. Sometimes we need to just let go of things in the interest of harmony.


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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2022, 09:29:01 AM »

My take on this is that Geoffrey Setiawan is a guy, like many if us, who struggled in a bad relationship. It sounds like he then got caught up in some bad amateur psychology online, eventually connected with a professional and was directed to more reliable resources. It sounds like he learned that a lot of amateur psychology is not constructive. I think we can all agree.

Now he is the "amateur psychologists" trying to operate at a level above the "bad amateur psychologists" that he previously read. I give him credit for trying to correct some really "bad amateur psychology" and his message is certainly more constructive than most. That is all good.

Should anyone invest $2,000 and use this as their primary source of mental health and relationship guidance?

My answer would be to seriously think twice. One might be better advised to hire a good therapist, as he did, and to read books/articles and work with a support group that is in tune with the concepts being used by the therapist.  There is immense value in this synergy of resources as we learn. And we can better trust the credibility of these things when we see the large body of research that supports them. "Evidence based" is a leading trend in psychology.

What is the downside of of investing $2,000 and using Setiawan as a primary/sole source of mental health and relationship guidance?

       One, Setiawan is unashamedly  directing vulnerable people away from the most reputable and reliable resources and having synergy of resources for his own profit. That is the business model.

Two, Setiawan's work often mixes practical advice with not so good and even naive advice. He doesn't appear know when he is giving bad advice and this is particularly risky because the good advice often creates confidence in the bad advice and this is exactly how the "bad amateur psychology" came to be.

When questioned about this by once removed :

It makes me wonder why a mix of resources like those that Setiawan used for himself wouldn't be the best thing for others, too. Setiawan certainly feels he benefited from the mix and it doesn't appear that he bypassed couples therapy to be his own relationship doctor.

Setiawan said this:

To your point on using my experience from reading books, therapy, etc...This isn't inherently wrong.

All knowledge is iterative. When Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, while the theory itself is revolutionary, the premises and hypotheses by which he bases that revolutionary concept isn't new.

The difference lies in how you synthesize already proven and tested first-principles to:
1) Create the right formation of what the problems and the right causes of the problems actually are.
2) To create the right remedies, action steps, and realistic and effective applications for them.

Again, if you become more familiar with my work, my philosophies, etc... It might provide more context for people to understand the claims.

I surmise from this that Setiawan sees himself as a luminary.

I see him as someone presenting his understanding (and in some cases misunderstanding) of basic physiology principles that can be found in many places on the internet.

     I note that he doesn't cites the sources of his information. He presents the work of others as his own.

He uses data from studies to support his own narrative, which in some cases is the opposite of what the researchers concluded from the data.

And, I find his repurposing of "thesis - anti-thesis - synthesis" as a couples communication tool as pseudo-complex and gimmicky. He's actually talking about "active listening" (Carl Rogers and Richard Farson, circa 1957) and compromising.
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2022, 12:00:50 AM »

Thank you for the comments on my YouTube videos!

Agreed with you that people should never blindly believe whatever they hear, do their full and unbiased research, think in a scientific, objective and evidence-backed way before investing money into anything.

We should go for whatever yields results, and allow us to have the most thriving life and relationship.

We always try to remind people of this as much as we can, so thank you for giving this reminder and encouraging a culture of thoughtfulness and healthy skepticism!
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