Letters To The Primal Page
Anonymous - 06/28/98
Fred Walters - 09/07/98
Dennis - 10/20/98
May 19, 1998
It sure is quiet lately in the letter section. I wonder why, since it's about such a controversial topic. Maybe because people can't see any clarity in your site anymore. It's a tangle of loose ends that claim to have some connection with primals.
You have for example Peter Lavender who's waiting for extra-terrestials and wants to manipulate the people by television programs (join the club!) for his World Peace Project. You have the megalomanial Dr. Vereshack who plugs his book as a 'major turning point for the human race' and wishes to personally come up with the 'ultimate directive of development for humankind.' Though he claims that psychosis is rooted in genetics and/or a brain chemistry disorder, he contradicts it at the same time saying you can treat it with anti-psychotic medication.
He talks about the feeling man but sees people 'without a free will' and 'basically chemistry'. It is sad that his statement: 'If you follow thought and feeling deeply enough you come to brain chemistry and if you follow brain chemistry deeply enough you come to subatomic particles and if you follow subatomic particles deeply enough you come closer to the ground of the creative force of the universe', doesn't make anyone see the absolute nonsense that is described here. Is he actually familiar with the books of Alice Miller? Since he's so enthusiastic about the work of Dr. Aletha J. Solter I wonder what his opinion is about the work of Dr. Miller.
And what about Alex Lessin, Ph.D who preaches continuously forgiveness for the parents in his 'PAST PAIN / TODAY'S GAIN'. His theories are not just different than those of Alice Miller, they are opposite. These theories of therapies should not be like a supermarket where you can choose and pick what is the best for you. It only causes more confusion in a person needing for help. Why not more of the clarity of Alice Miller's work?
It is said that most people have difficulties while dealing with their primals. Is it really them who are having problems or is it the environment who is not designed for such people? Janov claims that society is sick. So, if that is true, and you'll become 'better' afterwards, then there is still that society that has not changed with you. Of course people get problems then. But having problems is not something you need (more) therapy for. If you become more yourself and more natural, society is gonna give you some basic problems. Two and a half billion people have watched the Miss Universe contest on tv. That says something about the mentality of this world. How does someone with primal experiences hold up in an ever increasing competitive society?
One aspect which is hardly mentioned is that we know what effects misuse of the child of whatever age has on its life and that of others. We know that because primals show an immense pain when reliving the experience. Where is the prevention in society then? Where is the education towards children on teaching them how to express themselves? Where is the tenderness in births and the abolition of the cruelty in it? Where is the legislation against childbeating in the US and many other countries? In this world where the technology to communicate with eachother is ever growing but the skill to communicate (to listen and respond) seems to be going down.
There are two ways of having primals: alone or with the help of a therapist. What is the task of a therapist here? Besides the therapist being in a position of power in which he can do whatever he feels he can do, a person reliving his fear and pain in front of the therapist is a doubtful situation. What does the therapist feel when he's observing his patient? Should he comfort a person in pain? If so then the goal of the primal is gone because the person has to feel that there was NO comfort in his childhood. Should the therapist not interfere? He must be pretty insensiti-ve then. But maybe it brings him a sense of power. Are there any therapists who want to respond to this?
In the end what is the use of psychology in our civilization? Especially when you know that only children with a troubled childhood are interested in the matter. Children who are so lucky to have been raised by parents who sincerely cared about THEM, have no or very little interest in studying psychology.
Can you say that the whole practice of clinical psychology is a way to minimize the misuse by the parents? Is psychology a way to divert the truth? Finally, the sociologist Theodore Roszak wrote already in his 1968 book 'The Making of a Counterculture': 'If the resistance of the counter culture fails, I think there will be nothing in store for us but what anti-utopians like Huxley and Orwell have forecast - though I have no doubt that these dismal despotisms will be far more stable and effective than their prophets have foreseen. For they will be equipped with techniques of inner-manipulation as unobtrusively fine as gossamer.
Don't try to please everyone and have some more clarity at your site again. The argument that a wide variety of primal-connected theories and therapies benefits the curious seeker won't help anyone. The Internet itself gives already plenty of opportunities to find whatever one is looking for. Truth and clarity is much harder to find.
Thank you for writing Dennis. However, primal and the other regressive therapies are not religions. I don't assume to speak or represent 'truth.' There is no one way which is right for everyone. I try not to preach any particular gospel, and surfers are on their own to pick and choose whatever may be helpful to them. Some have written that I have too much about birth trauma on the PPP site. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have enough about birth trauma! Everyone in these feeling therapies is in an involving process and perhaps in six months their regressive philosophies may/will change.
I see no contradiction between feeling and the problem of 'free will.' I'm not trying to please everyone Dennis. It's all about options. I want to leave them all open. Because a viewpoint is present on this site does not mean that I agree with it. Thanks for your comments. -- John
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Your letter dated May 19 raises so many issues that it would require many pages to reply to them all in detail.
One thing I'd like to say is: the more one expresses and experiences one's confusion, the clearer one is likely to become. Also, in my opinion, BOTH therapy and social change are required. However, how to achieve social change in a practical sense is a difficult problem. I suspect that the only really effective way of doing this is for like-minded people to live together and hope that their particular solution (eg.primal consciousness) is sufficiently attractive for others in the community to become interested and involved in.
Personally I suspect that it will eventually be shown that, at base, human consciousness will resemble what is known as Quantum Physics. A book called "The Quantum Self" by Danah Zohar (Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1990) gives a model of human consciousness that agrees, to a large extent, with my own ideas. So I feel that Dr.Vereshack is on the right track, at least in part, with his "subatomic particles" etc.
Suppose you "threw" yourself into social action in an effort to change society. Sooner or later you'd probably get pretty frustrated by the slow pace of change etc. That is the point at which (eg) Primal Therapy would come in pretty handy.
I very much agree with your statement that "In this world where the technology to communicate with each other is ever growing but the skill to communicate (to listen and respond) seems to be going down."
The task of a PRIMAL Therapist is to bring the patient into the so-called "Primal Zone" where expression and integration can occur. Comforting a patient can often move him or her into the Primal Zone. Acting "insensitive" can also do it. The type of "technique" used depends on the specific situation. A genuinely healthy (unneurotic) therapist will tend to respond instinctively to a patient without having to use a "technique."
Just because clinical psychology is frequently misused doesn't mean that it can't be used correctly. Of course it helps if the therapist isn't neurotic !.
The Top Of The Page
June 28, 1998
The tone of Dennis' letter is very annoying to me. The idea that society is sick and that even if a person becomes relatively unneurotic he or she will experience as much difficulty in life as before is absurd. What I am about to write may offend many of the people who read this page regularly but the reason that we all read it is that we are not doing as well in this society as we would like and we see primal as a way to potentially do better.
Most people do not seek out sites like this one. They are satisfied with their lives. It is easy for me to look at people who I envy and find flaws with them, but the reality remains that they have never been sufficiently unhappy so as to cause them to seek therapy. Perhaps others do want something different from primal than I do, but I do not believe it. I think that all people want the same things.
What I want is to feel comfortable socially. I want to be able to breath deeply when I compete athletically. I want to be more popular and more well-liked. I want to have sex with beautiful women. I perceive my difficulty in these areas as due to my own fear and discomfort and I see primal therapy as a hopeful solution.
The problem with primal therapy and the probable reason for its demise is that it probably doesn't work all that well. I have primaled and for short periods of time following intense primals, primal therapy has brought me everything that I wanted. It is amazing to feel so good that you can walk right up to a beautiful woman feeling not a drop of fear and comfortably converse. It is addicting really. However, it doesn't last. And no one really knows why.
What I originally thought was that if I primalled over and over again eventually I would feel all the time like I have after primals. I can't say for sure that this will not be the case because I am not able to primal over and over again, but even if I were able, I do not think I would feel post primal all of the time.
When I did feel post primal, however, I had this understanding of why some things in life came so easily to others and not to me. I thought, "now I know why all the popular people were so popular. They didn't have that fear. They were comfortable like I am now."
I wasn't thinking that all these people are so fucked up that they need primal therapy and then we'll get along. I was just enjoying how much fun it was to be like them for a while -- to be without fear. To feel entitled to have others like me. I was glad to get back into society.
Unfortunately it didn't last. I am not giving up on primal therapy, however. It's the only thing that has made me feel the way 'I am supposed to feel.' After feeling that way it is hard to be satisfied with the anxiety-filled existence that I now lead.
Dennis did have one point however. There are conflicting views espoused, and conflicting views cannot both be correct. I would like to see some progress made toward a coherent primal theory. Even if we could just start to agree on some simple truths we could make progress. Perhaps, even just stating some possible truths for debate could lead to a greater understanding.
We all are interested in primal therapy because we believe that there is something about it that is essential for healing that other therapies don't have. Let's try to get to the bottom of it.
Anonymous in New York City
You're right on when you say that the post primal state is only temporary. I believe that the problem is that primal pain has great depths and that even after a deep feeling earlier first line feelings, such as birth, rush in and soon we feel like our old neurotic acting out selves again. It can take a long, long time to resolve neurosis - not months, not years, but unfortunately sometimes, decades. For severe neurosis, I'm sure a lifetime might not be long enough.
I do not feel that regression therapy theorists will ever agree about exactly what is essential for healing to take place. At one time it was believed that just "feeling your pain" was all that was needed. But, others have insisted that a change of behavior is a most necessary part of the therapy. The pace of the therapy is difficult or impossible to accelerate. This can be most frustrating for those of us with severe neurosis. Thanks for writing. - John of the PPP
The Top Of The Page
Here are some comments on your interesting and well-written letter:
In my opinion, the relatively unneurotic (post-primal) person will probably find it easier to cope with the NEGATIVE aspects of life, but may find it harder to satisfy his or her POSITIVE NEEDS (eg. to find a suitable relationship, job, etc). I suspect that a post-primal person is much more discriminating with respect to what he or she needs or wants from life. After all, current society was created by neurotics for neurotics; it wasn't created by a largely healthy population.
Many people convince themselves that they are "satisfied with their lives" because they've never seen or known anything better and because they've managed to suppress the reality of their lives through the use of alcohol, nicotine, illegal drugs, medication, sex, compulsive overwork, religion, etc.
I believe that Primal Therapy CAN work very well and, I suspect, for everyone or nearly everyone. Unfortunately, VERY FEW "primal therapists" (mock "primal therapists") seem to be able to provide the right conditions for this to happen:
(1) A largely healthy (ie.unneurotic) therapist.
(2) A suitable therapeutic environment (including individual therapy, group therapy, opportunities for social contact with other patients, etc).
(3) An accurate theory of therapy and neurosis which has been verified in practice.
The ONLY places that I'm aware of that seem to come anywhere close to the above conditions are Art Janov's Primal Training Center and Vivian Janov's The Primal Institute.
The task of developing an accurate and verified theory of therapy and neurosis is an extremely difficult one (I've been at it for some 24 years !). However, I feel that this "Letters" section of the PPP can be extremely useful in advancing that task through the critical examination of other people's letters.
I suspect that many people interested in Primal Therapy are kind of fixated on what is seen as an IDEAL form of primalling, ie. primalling that occurs (almost) spontaneously and involves a lot of high-intensity crying etc. In my opinion, many people are likely to be able to primal in a much less spectacular, though no less effective, way. However, this often includes making A DELIBERATE EFFORT to induce those "primals", rather than waiting for spontaneous primals to arise.
The Top Of The Page
August 22, 1998
Please consider this letter for possible posting on your site, as I would like to share with your readers my experience with self primaling during the past seventeen years.
I have no background with the literature on the subject, other than what I have read on this site recently, which is where I learned the term "primaling". I present this letter here because the basis of the technique I employed seems similar. I thought of it though as facing my heart.
I am a single male who seventeen years ago at the age of twenty seven discovered that I can no longer pretend that painful and confusing emotions are not a part of me. I discovered that I am responsible for my emotions.
I discovered that I can no longer artificially manufacture emotions of the kind I imagined I would have preferred to feel. I discovered that the only way to resolve these emotions was to face them. My journey began.
My practice consisted, for the first time in my life, of directly looking at my emotions. I did this at all times throughout the day while performing my usual tasks. I also set aside a half hour each evening before retiring so I can sit without distraction. At first, any emotion seemed vague and distant.
Over the course of days, as I kept my attention focused on my emotion it would grow in intensity. Eventually it would fully enter my conscious mind. At this time I would vividly recall the triggering event which occurred in the past and the thoughts I created in response. These thoughts were the cause of the emotion.
When this connection was clearly seen, the response was recognized as inappropriate and useless, i.e., a delusion. When this happened it was simply and naturally let go of. The painful emotion would end. It felt like a layer had been peeled away from the topmost part of my unconscious mind, allowing me to see myself and the world more clearly. This left me feeling better, more like me, more in control of myself.
The practice was without any effort at thought, analysis or verbalization. My effort was solely limited to maintaining my attention on the current emotion. It is as if the mind can make sense of things by itself if it is attentive, aware, patient and uncluttered.
After this, the cycle repeated, with more peeling away of delusions. These delusions however were not only caused by painful events which happened to me. They also consisted of ones which I created myself. These were delusions created by desire, lust, greed, jealousy and any other form of want. I responded to these wants by creating ideas, attitudes and values in an attempt to alter my personality in hopes of becoming able to fulfill them.
The experience had associated sensations of several varieties. Typically the entrance of the current delusion into the conscious would be associated with a tightness in my chest which would move upward through my throat and toward my head as the delusion entered the conscious more fully. Its intensity increased as it rose.
When the delusion was resolved, this sensation would also end, often as if it popped out of the top of my head. It was as if a small bubble from the bottom of the ocean expanded as it rose, finally bursting free at the surface.
On one occasion the sensation was bizarre and almost unbearable. When the delusion was almost fully in my conscious it felt like a hive of bees had taken up residence in my head. I knew that I had to remain patient and diligent in my practice. After about a week the delusion was resolved and the sensation ended.
More recently, the physical sensations have been replaced by emotional ones, sadness, confusion, anger, depression. They occur at the end of the cycle when the delusion is about to be resolved and typically last a few hours. These episodes occasionally were accompanied with brief low intensity crying.
For some months when I began my practice I suffered from depression (self diagnosed). For several years before, I suffered from manic depression (also self diagnosed). From my practice I learned that my depression came from wanting things which were beyond my control and that the manic depression came from wanting to be something which I am not. I no longer suffer from either.
For the past two years my practice has changed somewhat. The half hour of dedicated practice in the evening has subtly changed. I no longer focus internally on my emotion. Instead I just sit. This new practice comes from the Zen tradition and is known as shikan-taza, a Japanese word meaning just sitting. I have been intermittently interested in Zen since high school.
My use of the word "delusion" stems from its influence. In this practice I find that I am still aware of my emotions without having to specially focus on them. Shikan-taza fosters a state of mind which is aware, patient and uncluttered, just the state of mind needed to resolve delusions.
I would like to offer some opinions on some matters related to primaling. On the subject of who should do it, I believe the answer is anyone who is not perfect. Anyone who is completely free of delusion. Anyone who has infinite patience, compassion and wisdom. I don't know how anyone can move toward these goals without such a practice.
This is a slow process. It takes many years. This is a statement less concerning the practice though, but more concerning human nature. It does not lead to the conclusion that the practice should not be undertaken but rather that it should begin at an as early age as possible.
The problem I had, being disconnected from my heart, is one which I suspect many people have. It is a statement on our culture that people can grow up and live out their entire lives without being educated either formally or informally to such a basic human need or the techniques to fulfill it.
The Top Of The Page
September 7, 1998
I was in primal therapy from February, 1973 to May, 1974 at the Social Growth Center in Berkeley, Calif. The center had been founded by former therapists who left the Primal Institute, including two whose case histories had been in "The Primal Scream". I had three real all-out, full-blown primals in 15 months of therapy. A real primal, in my opinion, is when a feeling is accessed and there is considerable emotional freedom in manifesting it. It is a subjective knowing on the part of the person but I will say in therapy I saw a lot of self-delusion, i.e., people stating they "had primals" when to me it seemed they were more reacting to feelings; trying to force feelings.
In the following 20 years from 1974-94 I had about 15 more real primals. But, it was the last one in 1994 which took me totally by surprise because it was triggered by a seemingly innocuous event, yet turned it out to be massive. It seemed peculiar because there had not been a death of a parent, a relationship breakup, an extreme situation at work, or a move to another state, all which in the past had brought on a buildup of pain to finally be released in torrents of tears and wailing. The 1994 primal, which occurred on a September Sunday afternoon, was characterized by rapid waves of feeling washing over me to which I easily opened with each wave bringing on an expansion of consciousness. It was loud but at some point I didn't care if the neighbors heard or not because inhibition had been abandoned.
Two years later, November 15, 1996, I and five co-workers at a metaphysical video tape producer and distributor, attended a weekend personal growth seminar called "Insight I: Opening The Heart", a participatory seminar given at Insight LA (now called Insight Southern California) in Santa Monica . The group consisted of about 35 participants, seven assistants who had already done various Insight seminars, and the facilitator. The six of us left work at Lightworks Audio & Video in west Los Angeles around 4:30, four of us, all men, in one car. Driving to the seminar we laughed, joked about possibly meeting women, etc. In other words, we took it lightly although one of the seminar assistants, the only woman from Lightworks, had got us a group discount because she felt we needed it.
I was pretty smug. I had been in Primal Therapy and knew what real primals were. I had read numerous metaphysical books by several mediums who channeled non-physical entities including Seth, Orin, Lazarus and P'Taah where I got the cosmic information I felt Janov didn't provide. One book, "The Nature of Personal Reality--A Seth Book" by Jane Roberts I read 10 times. Additionally, I had attended channeling sessions every Thursday night in West Los Angeles from 1992-1996, where a talented trance-channel, Stephen Hewitt, channeled an "energy gestalt" which calls itself "Friend". In short I felt I had gained vast knowledge and knowing.
I knew where Janov had been fundamentally off-base. For one, he failed to grasp the concept that we created the conditions of our childhoods as we create all reality always. In other words, all events are feedback. Childhood events--painful, joyful, traumatic--are all perfect reflections of incipient beliefs held by the personality, and are the way the core belief system and idea constructs are inculcated into creaturehood. In other words, the beliefs, in temporal terms, came before the feelings, the opposite of Primal Theory. Janov's myopia also excludes all the evidence we are reincarnational beings with the concomitant inference that we are not victims of childhood and infancy and again that we create the probable experiences of our childhoods for our own learning purposes.
I also felt that Janov has never satisfactorily dealt with the true nature of thought. Thought, with the blinders off, is revealed as an intimate meditation which forms idea complexes containing fear, utter despair, pain, shame and embarrassment. These complexes could be called vortexes of unassimilated thought and fear manifesting like black holes within the psyche. Much of our time and energy is spent pushing down these gestalts of thought- feeling. The result is the constriction of awareness, alienation from our own bodies, an ego-dominated consciousness, i.e., the half-world so eloquently described by Janov.
On the other hand I knew where the metaphysical-New Age community had gone off track. They, for the most part, failed to see the power in feelings. In the channeling groups, for example, I often longed for the primal group setting where there was much more emotional honesty. But I saw channeling as evolving, Seth being the first really important entity with universes of information; Orin with gentle, loving messages, exercises and meditations; and most recently P'Taah who seems to be a bridge between primal and metaphysical with the emphasis on transmutation of feelings. In short, I already had a lot of truth, even if I had admittedly fallen quite short of implementing all this "vast" knowledge. Basically, then, I felt there was little to be learned in a seminar but I said to myself "this might be like a refresher course; it might remind me of some things I have forgot; it might be an enjoyable, interesting diversion".
The seminar began innocently enough, a group of 36 strangers, aged about 20-60, most of whom had come because someone told them they had to do this seminar. A couple of people were re-taking the seminar, "auditing" it. The assistants had all taken the seminar and many had taken the second and third seminars which followed. Within a couple of hours, defenses began breaking down. By the time we got out, midnight Friday, status quo had been altered.
It began again at 9:00 a.m., Saturday and quickly got much more intense. Some people began crying in the one-on-one and group exercises. In the early afternoon a woman broke down and fell to the floor, weeping. That seemed to be a turning point. After that several people, including myself, opened up, wept, became more vulnerable.
By Sunday an atmosphere of nurturing and love had enveloped the group, a group who had been strangers only two days earlier on Friday evening. By noon I began feeling very tired. My breathing became labored and I found myself yawning a great deal. During a 15-minute restroom break I found my body wanting to curl up in a fetal position so I went over to a corner and rested for the entire break.
A guided visualization Sunday morning brought up feelings about my younger nephew. I cried a great deal from remembering something I perceived as very sad from his childhood. A number of people noticed this and during yet another exercise where we mixed in a group, touched people on the shoulder and told them a thing we found loving in them; three people chose me and commented it was wonderful that I could cry so easily. I was very touched by this, by people expressing love, admiration and affection for me which was unprecedented in my adult life.
Around 1:00 we broke for lunch. One of the guidelines is you are supposed to eat with a different group from the previous day. My group walked to a Thai restaurant a few blocks down Wilshire. A lot of feelings were coming up. I felt very open, vulnerable, naked and insecure. At times during lunch I felt left out of the conversation. Simultaneously, judgements and the need to be accepted came up. Finally, we began walking back to building. A guy bought me a pack of gum and refused to let me reimburse him. This simple act of kindness touched me and tears came to my eyes.
With so many people expressing love, the innocent Inner Child within everyone became heartbreakingly clear. But it took a seminar like this to give people permission to express love and to allow them to open up to their vulnerability, their need to be loved. Remarkably, in doing so, they also revealed a glimpse of the loveliness, the sweetness, the realness which were hidden all this time, along with the pain and fear.
Then we had an 20-minute exercise where we paired off in a pretend-game with one partner playing the loving parent, the other the innocent child. When I played "the child", I played catch with my "dad", with the guy I paired off with. When it was my turn I was the permissive "dad" to the guy who's real dad had been cool and aloof. Seventeen other couples were similarly involved, creating a controlled pandemonium with people jumping, yelling, somersaulting, pretending to be at a toy store, on the playground, at an amusement park, etc. This challenged my creativity to be able to get into the play-acting and also represented physical activity, which brought me out of the weariness.
In the-late afternoon there was another group exercise in which the lights were dimmed and we revolved in an inner and outer circle, looking each person in the eye for about 30 seconds, before moving to the next person. You could touch if both agreed to it by a hand signal with no talking during the exercise. A number of people were crying softly. About half way through I began to weep profusely because the exercise had the remarkable effect of just dissolving defenses. Afterwards, there was the last 20-minute restroom break. I went to the side of the room and began going into, what I pretty much knew, would be a primal. A few people came over to comfort me showing a caring, nurturing and loving that they otherwise wouldn't have been expressed in "normal" life. It facilitated my feelings further.
About five minutes into my feelings, my breathing began to get heavier and heavier, becoming very rapid but with little or no hyperventilation as would have been otherwise expected. This continued for 10 minutes while simultaneously, my crying became almost completely uninhibited--I had passed into The Primal Zone where the body begins speaking its reality in the language of feelings, taking over from the more superficial egoistic levels of the psyche.
About this time, they began playing the music which signaled "five more minutes". For a moment, I considered aborting the primal and putting on the face of being "in control" but I realized this was not just deep, heartfelt crying but that this just might really be The Big One, the breakthrough emotional event I had dreamed of since 1979, so I made the conscious decision to go on even as my body was convulsing, infant-like, and as tears streamed down my face. Anyway, by this time, I didn't care how loud I was or if I might be interfering with the seminar agenda. All inhibition had fallen away.
The seminar room is quite large and the chairs were set up pretty much over to one side. I scooted as far away from the group on the other side as possible, until I was lying next to the wall. I was probably now nearly 110 feet away from the group so I definitely was not a "former primal patient having a primal in the middle of a group of people" and I felt sure they could continue on despite my having launched into a major, major primal.
Then, something completely unanticipated occurred. A vibration began to envelop me, growing stronger and stronger with each breath. It seemed to begin in my toes and fingers and traveled up my body like a slow motion wave. My hands curled up almost involuntarily while I emitted scream after grief- filled, crying scream over a lifetime of unrealized love, over the heartbroken state of mankind, over the finally glimpsed profound loving, residing within in the heart of every human being.
About this time, the group had reconvened as I was peripherally aware that the facilitator was speaking into a microphone and I realized they had to be aware of me but I kept going Three or four minutes later, I reached a state where my whole body seemed to be vibrating at a maximum frequency and the vibrating took on a "buzzing" quality. Then something startling occurred. My consciousness seemed to become suddenly far freer and I had a feeling of "ascending into a state of higher consciousness" along a recollection of being a child:
"So this is what it was really like when I was three! Oh, my God, how much I've forgot! It was so profound and so real back then. My parents had no idea of my reality, just no conception at all."
The emotional component of all the core beliefs by which I had lived my life opened up to me like a book. The simplest, most innocent ideas resonated; ideas like: "Nobody loves me", "I can't make it", "I love my mommy", each thought bringing new torrents of grief, sadness and tension, and at the same time a joy for finally having given voice to how I really felt down inside.
Then there was yet another unexpected turn of inner events. A profoundly loving, gentle and subtle awareness began to make itself known to me. I knew immediately it was my own previously unexperienced loving, loving which had always been there, waiting, waiting, waiting. It said: "Where have you been? We've been waiting for you, your entire lonely lifetime".
Who is "we"? I don't know. My complex Higher Self? Again, I don't know for certain but I can say I felt enormous gratitude and relief for having this experience. Associated with it was a "light" and transcendence which seemed connected to a reality very, very very different from every day ego-based awareness. Beyond all capacity of words, there is almost nothing in our mass consciousness that could be used as a reference point. When I've told people of this, all I can say is: "You've heard of people who have had near-death experiences. Possibly there is some similarity. Every single person who's had a near death experience, at some point, does not want to return to physical reality. I did not want to leave this place of healing either."
I began noticing a sense that "It's all happening now". This would seem to be the beginning of what is described as "panoramic life view" by some people who have had near-death experiences. In other words, the past, childhood included, is all still happening in a more spacious present--for lack of a better way to put it--and thus when we access feelings fully enough, there is an expansion into a greater portion of the present moment which includes, among other phenomena, the past. It was a quite different way of experiencing time from the "normal" linear fashion.
The primal of 1994 was huge and I thought about it for days and weeks after, but this one was exponentially larger. I thought: "My God! How high can one, I, you, the human species fly?" I had known previously, intellectually, and to some extent experientially from a dozen trips on LSD and mescaline in 1969 that consciousness is capable of so much, but now, for the first time, I had virtually total access. I was not chemically blundering into other realms of actuality, I was walking in of my own volition, eyes wide open. I looked into dimensions of actuality whose experience utterly defies conveyance by language, realms previously off-limits but now with an "Enter at No Risk" sign. There were feeling tones too which were utterly alien to my previous daily experience yet they were somehow strangely familiar to me, I think from deeper dream states. There was a degree of freedom concomitant within the feeling tones, feeling tones still not tolerated by even the most permissive elements in society because to manifest them means you don't have to struggle anymore; that basically it's all there for the asking; that the rules developed by civilization over the centuries are now obsolete in the face of a far more abundant, helping, loving reality. And, this would is antithetical to the prevailing paradigm. Simply put, total freedom is still not allowed.
In the next stage of the primal, a rage hit me but I experienced it in an altogether different way from painful, forced, sometimes destructive adult anger in that it didn't hurt. It was not unlike an infant in its wisdom, innocence and freedom expressing anger at not being fed, not having its diapers changed, being tired, or not being held. In other words, there was no intent to hurt, control, scare or unload on another.
At this time I will not reveal how I got out of the primal except to say I had reached the point where I needed the support of a more feelings-oriented group. Suffice it to say that, unfortunately, I had to stop the primal prematurely, in part out of the knowledge that in the present situation, I had pushed the facilitator and the seminar to their limits.
I was, however, in complete control at all times. There was never any danger I would attempt anything to hurt anyone. In fact I was more in control than ever in my life. I felt almost godlike in my ability to bodily-emotionally speak virtually any feeling at will.
Since the seminar I've had insights including the simple idea that it no longer makes sense to hold this discomfort in the body. It must be let out. We, as a race, must rachet up experience intensity, if we are to survive the next century. My primal gave me a glimpse of a reality relatively struggle-free, where I'm not always having to "learn another lesson", where there is a bodily feeling of resolution. The only "lesson" is that miracles are nature unimpeded and they can occur, I believe, if feelings are followed beyond previous boundaries of experience. Feelings are sacred and when accessed create an acceleration of sensation which in turn allows for assimilation of fear and painful thoughts. Feelings are the language of the soul. They are the greatest gift.
I think about my primal all the time, in the morning, during the day, at night. It has changed my life forever as much in its own way as reading "The Primal Scream" did in 1971. I never knew anyone in therapy who had a primal like I've described, nor do I recall reading of any in Janov's books.
In the weeks that followed I felt I needed to determine what was the catalyst that brought this all on. What conditions were present that set in motion these experiences? I've thought about it for almost two years and it turns out my list is very simple.
I see that Mr. Anonymous had a few problems with what I wrote. (Editor's Note: See Anonymous in New York City.) First of all I didn't say that society is sick. Arthur Janov claims that. He says, with many examples, that this is the century of the neuroses. But can you disagree with that? If your goal is to feel comfortable in society then so be it. But it will not heal you from your neurosis. I think Janov and Alice Miller give plenty of examples in which people are totally comfortable and accepted in society but abuse their children behind close doors.
People are 'satisfied' with their lives if they have never seen another alternative to living. But that's the dilemma in child abuse. Children depend on their parents and cannot step out of the abusive situation, mostly they don't even recognize it as being abusive because of the same behaviour around them. The only 'choice' he or she can make is to compromise. And by doing so the unique identity that was about to develop will now become another brick on the wall. It will become anonymous.
Maybe the life experience of Mr. Anonymous doesn't reach further than cocktail parties or the local toy factory but maybe you should have a deeper look behind peoples faces. Open their medicine cabinet, for example, or a newspaper (the next time when you're stuck in traffic). A post-primal person DOES have severe difficulties in society in regards to unjust acts.
What if society forces you to join the army? What if society forces you to become religious? What if your employer demands more from you? What if society forces you to put your children in repressive schools? What if society forces you to stand by and watch how children are beaten? Maybe Mr. Anonymous wants to obey society because that makes him feel comfortable. Isn't that actually what most people do?
Nobody has to get along with everybody. People have conflicting interests. It's much more important if you get along with the people who are important to you. If you do, you can always deal with society no matter how bad it is. If someone's goal is to 'have sex with beautiful women', then there is obviously something wrong. The whole concept of seeing women as toys to have sex with says something about the inability of experiencing a full relationship. If a man has sex with a woman there is always a risk. A risk for a pregnancy. Not to mention if the 'need to have sex with beautiful women' will hold in a marriage.
The base of a neurotic relationship lies in the way of how one chooses a partner. Mr. Anonymous claims the failure of primal therapy was due to his own lack of unravelling his childhurt. That's a good defense as well. Because as long as you believe that primal therapy doesn't solve anything, you can stop dealing with feeling real pain (and insanity) and play the safe game (being 'comfortably' in society).
Indoctrinations such as 'shut up', 'don't argue with me' and 'my word is final' in someone's childhood surely will contribute to the inability to freely express himself later in life and lays a foundation for the fear to be outspoken. (Childhood lesson: express yourself and you're out.)
A mistake that many of us make when dealing with primals is that often we think we experienced a primal and we are hopefully looking forward to new experiences. When someone says that feeling good after a certain primal didn't last long, should maybe consider that the alleged primal was not a primal but just another way to protect you from the Pain.
It's the Pain that we don't want to feel at any cost. Of course people look for way outs. It's not a coincidence that people who have nothing to lose anymore make the best progression. Others depend to much on that 'safe' society. Most people cannot afford to slip into 'insanity' since they might lose their job, etc.
No other person besides Alice Miller knows how to describe the 'walls' and the traps that a person comes against while looking for the personal truth in their childhood. Arthur Janov, however, emphasizes in his work on the trauma's themselves -- what happens in our bodies. In other words, the Pain.
Finally a post-primal person does not find difficulties with ordinary people. He can be as popular and well-liked as he wants to be. But society isn't led by ordinary people, is it?
And one more thing. No 'subatomic particles' will ever undo child abuse. Period.
Dennis in Sweden
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