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Letters To The Primal Page

- Janneke - 02/16/97
- Bonnie Dodson - 02/25/97
- Bonnie Dodson - 03/04/97
- Bonnie & Rebecca - 03/05/97
- Bonnie & Rebecca - 03/07/97
- Joe - 03/07/97
- Jan Hunt - 03/07/97
- Sam Johnson - 03/08/97

February 9, 1997


I read Bonnie Dodson's letter and I am very much impressed by it. It is like I am reading about my own experiences of the past two months. With me it started with another trigger, but I had similar days and weeks with overwhelming feelings and memories when I started realizing what happened to me when I was a small child.

I, also, started to understand why I had always so strongly identified with people in concentration camps - the same comparison that Bonnie makes.

From the time when I was a child and learned about World War II, I very often have had nightmares about being a Jew in Europe in World War II. I never understood this, because I am not Jewish. Every year I had big trouble when the first week of May was coming with a lot of attention to World War II on television, radio and in papers. I was always so very scared when on May 4, the national day of commemoration of the victims of World War II in The Netherlands, the national two minutes of silence came at 8.00 p.m. and I was supposed to think about what happened then. I was so horribly scared and I never understood why. Now I do.

I started therapy with the idea that I had been "only" emotionally abused. I felt very much confused when I read Alice Miller's For Your Own Good and Thou Shalt Not Be Aware ten years ago, because I identified with these books much more than with The Drama of the Gifted Child. I felt guilty about this, I felt I had no right to identify with these books for I thought I certainly wasn't physically abused nor sexually. I took me many years to find out what had really happened and I feel still bewildered of the horror-story that I found. When I read Bonnie's story I felt relieved, because I am not alone with this story, but I became very scared, too: So these things really happen, this is really true.

Bonnie writes, also, about the possibility that Alice Miller has been confronted with the same thing as she when she learned aboutStettbacher's abuse. That is how I feel, too. I am struggling for several weeks now with the feeling that Alice Miller has a history that resembles mine, a history with sexual abuse or perhaps even physical torture, likeme, and that she doesn't know about it. I felt confused when these thoughts appeared, I thought I could not know such things about some one else, I couldn't be right, I thought these had to be just projections, I was just identifying too much with her. And besides of that, it was none of my business, I had no right to presume such things, such very personal and vulnerable things about someone else. I, also, felt confused because I thought it couldn't be possible that she wouldn't have found out this in her self-help therapy if it really had happened to her. She has been doing Stettbacher's and Jenson's therapy much longer than me, and she has been my guide for a long time, it couldn't be possible that I found my history and she didn't find hers. So I had to be wrong.

But it doesn't feel like I am wrong, it feels like it is the only logical explanation for her behavior at the moment and for some other things in her books. But I do not know this for sure, in the end she is the only one who can be sure about what happened to her.

I admire the natural, respectful, warm and loving way in which Bonnie mentions in her letter the possibility that Alice Miller was confronted with horrible memories when she found out about Stettbacher's abuse and that she perhaps did not have the opportunity to process this before responding. I am glad she wrote about Alice Miller with such appreciation - I wouldn't have succeeded in this. I still feel much more critical towards Alice Miller about this.

I can see her as a human being, like Bonnie writes, a human being in pain and fear, but only to certain limits. I can see her this way when I look at her as a person, but it stops when I read her Communication. Then I see her as a writer who confuses and endangers people who trust her. Then I become angry with her and my sympathy and patience with her probable pain, fear and denial stops.

For me it is comparable to what Alice Miller wrote about Freud: When he changed from believing memories of sexual abuse of his patients to his theory that these patients were having wishful fantasies, this was not only a personal matter. This was not only a man being scared, confused and in pain, since he started a school that caused a lot of damage to other people. I think Alice Miller's confusion at the moment that made her write her Communication, also, can cause damage to people and therefore is not only a personal matter. I do agree with her rejecting Stettbacher's crimes, but the way she reacts on it by rejecting the four steps, too, is not adequate. And then my compassion for her stops.

But probably I am overreacting. I see a lot of resemblance between this situation with Alice Miller at the moment and my childhood situation. I had a father who abused me and a mother who was totally obsessed with her struggle with her husband and her negative feelings towards him. She didn't see that she was not fighting with him but with the ghosts of her past, and as a result of that she totaly misinterpreted the situation and abandoned me instead of giving me adequate and adult help.

I am sick of having sympathy with that. I needed a mother who had the courage to deal with her history and who reacted adequately - the same I want Alice Miller to do. So I am clearly overreacting.

And at the other hand I still think that maybe I am wrong in what I suppose about Alice Miller's childhood and this being the cause of her reaction on the sexual abuse by Stettbacher. But that she didn't deal with or didn't deal enough with the feelings and memories that this matter brought up to her, that I am sure about. What these memories are,she can only tell herself.

When I read Thou Shalt Not Be Aware for the first time, some remarks have stuck into my mind ever since. One of them is a sentence in chapter A3 (Dutch translation): "The question what this grand-father did withhis cute little grand-daughter who grew up with him and who was 'very much attached to him' has not been asked in this treatment." And when I later read Abandoned Knowledge and read how Alice Miller described the contact with her father, I found myself asking a variation on this question: What did this father do with his loving daughter?

This question has been in my mind often the past month. It is at these moments that I feel a lot of compassion for Alice Miller. But at the same time it is writing this question that makes me feel like being an abuser and a rapist myself. Do I have the right to publish such a question? Is this ethical? Is this ethical towards her? And towards her father? I don't know, I feel confused about this. I don't know what happened to her and who abused her if that happened. And even if I would know: Who am I to ask her questions about it?

But Alice Miller tells about her feelings and history in her books, and she publishes her reaction on Stettbacher's abuse in her Communication. By doing this in public herself she makes it almost inevitable that she gets reactions in public, too. She almost provokes that people start counting up one to one and start suspecting things about her history. But still, am I allowed to ask such a question? Bonnie is right, that she is a human being. And I think she deserves protection, although she made a choice for publicity herself. I don't know how to behave in this matter. How do you feel about publishing such suppositions, John?

I think I myself would have felt very much hurt if people had speculated about my history before I knew about it myself. Sometimes people asked me questions about it, and then I answered that nothing like that had happened to me and that nothing like that could have happened because my father was a Christian. I was convinced about that and could not stand people continuing asking questions. And I would have become furious if people had done this in public.

I hope Alice Miller finds the support and sympathy in Bonnie's letter that she deserves and that if she perhaps does not find enough in my letters. And, I still hope, overreacting or not, that she will take her responsibility as a writer.

The Netherlands

Thank you for another interesting letter, Janneke. In regard to the concentration camp survivors identification, it may interest you and Bonnie to know that Dr. Stanislav Grof in Beyond the Brain writes that those who have experienced traumatic births "typically involve identification with the inmates of prisons and concentration camps, including feelings of despair, hopelessness, helplessness, extreme anguish, starvation, physical pain, and suffocation in gas chambers." He goes on to discuss ". . . the identification with the tortured helpless victims, but also with the devious, cruel, and bestial Nazi officers, or red commissars of the Gulag Archipelago." Grof writes that "living conditions in concentration camps reveals that they are a vivid, literal, and realistic enactment of the nightmarish symbolism of negative perinatal matrices in the material world."

This discussion continues for the next five pages. He ends:(p. 420) ". . . the unconscious . . . has functional matrices that can, under certain circumstances, generate the entire gamut of both passive and active experiences related to concentration camps."

It would seem logical that the feelings involved in early sexual abuse could readily tie in with earlier pre and peri-natal feelings. I think both, you, Bonnie and many others would enjoy reading Dr Grof's Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. And Janneke, the book is available in Dutch: Geboorte, dood en transcendentie: Nieuwe dimensies in de psychologie (Lemniscaat, Rotterdam, 1987) -John-

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February 25, 1997

Dear John,

I think Janneke has made a good case for the likelihood that, for whatever reasons, Alice Miller over-reacted when she said there was nothing in Stettbacher's book she could recommend any longer, and a good case for the value of the book in giving people a course of action -- the 4-Steps -- which has led to positive results. I think it would be highly desirable for Miller to reassess the Stettbacher book for her readers as soon as she is able to because the extremity of her position in the first Communication frightens unnecessarily.

To be responsible, it makes sense that Miller would concern herself with self-primalers, however few, who run into trouble and access massive anxiety states or become "addicted to pain"(though I would like to hear more about what that means). Again, I think the solution is to disseminate means for dealing with these states, and that will have the happy side-effect of benefitting many others as well. (Jean Jensen talks about it but, in my opinion, not in enough detail.) I suspect the numbers of people who have benefitted from the book outweigh the numbers who have experienced difficulty, but even if they don't, our experiences should count for something, too. I hope Miller is becoming reassured that the book has benefitted many, just as she thought it would, and that she will factor in our interests when she decides on her next course of action. I am with Janneke on this one, too -- I have dealt with many "nice" therapists, but I have done better on my own.

I am concerned about Miller because she has not responded. She has been through a very traumatic thing; perhaps she is alone, stuck and not able to process. She believes people need a good therapist to access really deep stuff -- she may not be able to find one. What can she do? Send her ideas! She could get a word processor and compose letters on it. She would find, as I have, that it is a GREAT therapist! She could write to the page, under an assumed name even, and attempt to communicate with us! In typing, one can just keep sending edits to the bottom of the page and recomposing "finished" copy above, releasing feelings all the way. It is a wonderful, fluid system, very conducive to thinking and feeling. If I were a physician, I would also prescribe marijuana for her, for it is also a great loosener of feelings (and provides other benefits as well). Does anyone near her grow wheatgrass? She should drink it every morning, well diluted with fresh water, and throughout the day, on an empty stomach. It is a refreshing, healing tonic.

Here is a series of thoughts worth considering. It is a mantra designed by a student of the Kabala to put one in touch with "the underlying reality." It is useful, at the very least, as a source of discharge. I think it can be applied to the present situation: "I am holy. All is clear. You are loved. Everything is perfect." The story is not over yet. Miller may still be suffering, but good things have come out of it, and an even more happy ending is still possible. Stettbacher could be healed (and teach in the Alice Miller School!) Alice could recall something more about her childhood. Because of her connecting with him and endorsing the book, his dangerous activities came to light and must have been curtailed if they had not already stopped; U. Sch. has received a public hearing and, finally, support she must have relished; self-primallers have gained a number of useful tools; and EVERYONE has received the possibility of dealing with more hidden memories. It is all worth facing. Life is good; we are all needed.

I value Janneke's summation of the 4 Steps: perceive, feel, think, articulate. And I am excited about Ruediger Otto's plan to organize Jensen's procedures in another, even simpler form. I would also like to recommend another handbook, a wonderful elucidation of what I think of as Harvey Jackins' ideas called Humanity Unbound, the theory and practice of co-counseling. It is written by, improved upon, and available from: Lundy Bancroft, Integrated Support Network, P.O.Box l367, Arlington, MA 02174-9991 USA. It's 100 pages, 8 1/2 X ll", sliding-scale price $10-25 (be generous if you can, this was a good effort, and the prices are years old). I would like to finish with the elements of effective therapy as elucidated by Miller in Drama of the Gifted Child, 2nd Edition, page l6:

  • Discover your own, specific history
  • Learn to feel a full range of emotions
  • Give up
    - Illusions
    - Self-betrayal
She is great stuff. When and where is school to begin?!

John, I will attempt to find a copy of Grof's book to read. I did indeed have a terrible birth, and I think because of that, my inclination is to hate doctors, fear white and stainless steel rooms, and work to abolish animal experimentation. I think the bad birth also contributed to the damage of the bond that may have been possible between my mother and me, a circumstance which is likely to lead to abuse (so the two will often be together), but if Grof stops at a bad birth with people who have concentration camp dreams, I'm afraid he is missing more damaging developments that occurred later in these peoples' lives.

I cannot imagine that concentration camp dreams could come out of a bad birth alone. Because of the amazing phenomenon of repression, one would have to be careful not to stop before processing the early years as well as the birth. Of course, if one has more to do in this area, one will know it because the symptoms will not have gone away! (What a wonderful system!) Regarding my dream, I suspect, too, that to "see" a parent's expression in a dream, one would have to have seen it in real life also. I would be interested in other peoples' thinking on this, as, aside from symptoms, dreams are my only evidence of serious abuse, and I do wonder how reliable they are.

This line is for Janneke: You were like an echo coming back to me in this world for the very first time. Thank you.

John, please post my e-mail address in the self-primaller's Cafe.


Bonnie Dodson

Bonnie, Dr. Grof does not stop at a bad birth. Nor does he begin at birth. Specific material during therapy arises on its own accord. The material felt is similar to what is felt in self-primaling or in therapist directed primal therapy, except that it also contains bizarre elements of transpersonal happenings (prior lives, etc.) which I believe is an overload of repressed material streaming from consciousness as a result of his specific techniques of breathing and loud feelingful music. Your other book recommendations have been excellent so this morning I plan to order Bancroft's book. Your address will soon be in the Self-Primaler's Cafe. Thanks for writing. -John-

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March 4, 1997

Dear John,

I am interested to know what you mean about your thought that people can be over-whelmed with consciousness. Is it your belief that there is a pool of consciousness which people tap into under conditions of circular breathing, or are you saying you believe in individual on-going souls which span lifetimes? (Or something else?) I have always been skeptical about this previous lives business, but enough intelligent people have believed in it to keep me agnostic.

Somebody wrote me -- which was nice -- but they criticized me for recommending a mantra to Alice Miller and said it was STUPID to suggest she start a school because she always criticizes schools.

It was risky suggesting a mantra -- to anyone. I know Miller is very critical of them, probably on the grounds that they cause people to put off facing their fears, but I think (l) sometimes it may be good to get away from fears for awhile just for the physical relief it provides (something proved by research), especially if it's to something that (2) makes a person discharge and (3) might even be true. I mean, you really don't know. There might be some other, beautiful, reality over-arching this mess down here. I'm in danger of arousing the ire of people with unresolved religious injuries, but I think the Bible (and other spiritual works) may provide important clues about where we've gone wrong.

What I'm REALLY embarrassed about is asking people to send her advice! Now that's something Miller REALLY thinks is worthless. I thought it might result in her being reminded that she is loved though, and that would do her good. I also thought she might find the submissions diverting (possibly another sin!) and possibly of value. (Maybe more healed people can actually make use of advice!) The mantra I hoped she would consider in case she were taking this Stettbacher situation too seriously and therefore couldn't move on it. (It certainly doesn't pay to get lost in the present, right? Jensen writes well about that, and there is a good Jewish joke about our inability to judge ultimately what is good and what is a disaster -- one often enough leads to the other.)

Now the school idea. My critic said that was my worst idea because A.M. has spoken so against them. But because existing schools are deficient doesn't mean they have to be, and there is a great need for AT LEAST ONE that is seriously oriented around protecting children and helping adults recover their souls by accessing their pasts since that has been found to be such an effective means. Naturally, therapy would be offered to (required of!) students first, but there would also be rich possibilities for delivering enlightened childcare, therapy, and parenting programs to the surrounding community which would not only benefit but would also provide a model for other communities. A lot of good research could go on there, too, not to mention the production of excellent PRACTICIONERS! There is enough philosophy and material in Alice Miller's books to be the core of a school, and, of course, there are other thinkers with related ideas. The school must happen in time. The question is where and when.

I am looking for an undergraduate school with a psychology department at least friendly to -- or, more likely maybe, with just a professor or two with an appreciation for -- the ideas expressed by Alice Miller. If anyone knows of such a school or teacher, I would be grateful to hear about it.


Bonnie Dodson

Bonnie: What I meant was that one may become overwhelmed with material streaming "from one's consciousness," But in a sense, one would become overwhelmed by one's consciousness from the material being accessed. In my opinion, breathwork therapies can have this effect. The over-flowing causes bizarre ideation such as out-of-body experiences, plant and mineral identification, encounters with Deities, prior lives, etc. See experiences in the article From Primal To Holotropics and Back -John-

March 5, 1997

Dear John,

We are relieved to see the PPP on the internet, and we are hopeful that we will find people who are thinking the same way we are. We are bitterly disappointed in the level of discussion we have seen so far. You published Alice Miller's communication regarding Stettbacher, we were heartsick to discover Stettbacher's insanity, but grateful for Miller's continued courage in revealing the truth. Thank you for getting the information out there; we appreciate that you are trying also to reveal the truth.

We are surprised to see people focusing on their own therapeutic experiences, to the point of complete self-absorption, instead of using their discovered truths to break the cycle of repetition in the lives of today's children. We who are adults, are damaged, some of the damage can be repaired, or healed to some degree, but the point is not to make myself "all better" but to use what we learn to improve the lives of the next generation. What Miller advocates above everything else, is advocating for children, using what we know about our own tragic, painful stories as material to validate the truth.

Bonnie Dodson's letter is not thoughtful --- it is rambling, fragmented, stream of consciousness, nonsense --- why can't you simply deal with that truth? We accept that Bonnie is a person in tremendous pain, but that does not mean that we should lie to her and tell her she is making sense, when obviously she is not. Janneke's letter is the same. It is depressing to watch these people presume to rescue Alice Miller, and to have that presumption validated as thoughtful.

It saddens us to see people grab on to primal therapy as a way of gaining an identity -- why this need for a label? If they really were growing via their therapeutic techniques then they would become less, not more self-absorbed. What we need to be doing is getting the truth about our common experience out to the world, and we must stop rehashing the fact of this commonality--we must quit being surprised and begin to accept the obvious and declare it as such---our world is damaged because of the universal damage done to children throughout human history, duh.

Those of us who are aware of the truth, need to start affecting change, not simply crying in our beer and continuing to create false goddesses and heroes, it is another crutch, a cop out, and upholds blindness and self-deceit.

Thank you for this opportunity to participate in what we hope will become a higher level of discussion and exploration of the truth, and we would appreciate hearing from you.

Placing this in the public forum is up to your discretion, but in any case we genuinely would like to hear from you.

Bonnie & Rebecca

Bonnie & Rebecca: I disagree. I feel that the levels of discussion of Bonnie and Janneke have been on a very high order. It is very normal for a person to focus on their own therapeutic progress and experiences and perhaps using those to understand others reasons for actions. In fact, I wish there were more articles being submitted which reflect a person's experiences in regression therapy. And it is usually what others in the therapy enjoy reading and learning about.

Of course, one should be an advocate for children, but the purpose of the Primal Psychotherapy Page is above all to be a resource and support for those searching for relief from their sufferings through regressive therapy. There are many children's advocacy websites on the internet and having another is not my main interest. And, in that regard, I believe the contributions of Bonnie and Janneke have been significant.

Both Bonnie Dodson's and Janneke's letters have been well thought out, expressed clearly and have contributed to understanding the reasons for Alice Miller's changed position on J. Konrad Stettbacher. I do not believe they are attempting to rescue Alice Miller, but simply searching for an explanation as to why she rejected Stettbacher. I believe they have both been successful in expressing their feelings in this matter and have developed interesting hypotheses.

I don't think people grab on to primal therapy to gain an identity, but rather as a way to allay suffering. It is normal to go through a period during the therapy when one is self-absorbed. When I received Miller's Communication, I was not thinking about childhood advocacy but rather about possible reasons for her rejection of Stettbacher. Was it only for reasons of sexual abuse? Was it because Stettbacher was not credentialed? Was primal therapy a failure for Alice Miller? What does she propose in its stead? I had to wait for many months before hearing from Janneke and Bonnie Dodson. They both seemed to be interested in the same issues as I and their letters were published with enthusiasm!

Your goals are noble, Bonnie and Rebecca, but each of us focuses on what we are able to do. Both of those writers were well able to do what they did -- express their feelings about the matter in a clear way. - John

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March 7, 1997

Dear John,

We are appalled that the words "only for reasons of sexual abuse" passed your lips. Why the need to "hypothesize" about Miller's reasons for withdrawing her endorsement of Stettbacher, when she tells us in no uncertain terms why she did so? He was molesting his patients and practicing with insufficient credentials, Miller's response seems pretty sound to us. What is amazing is that you and the other authors appearing on this page, claim to have read and understood Alice Miller.

What you are calling hypothesizing appears to us to be an elaborate rationalization and attempt to protect Stettbacher as an authority figure. If you had understood Miller you would know about her many discussions and explorations of the elaborate intellectual defenses we use to protect our parents and other authority figures. We challenge you to examine your reaction to Miller's action and to your reactions to the accusation of sexual abuse put forth in the appendix. Your automatic reaction is to dismiss U.Sch's charges as insignificant or untrue --- isn't this exactly what so many of us have had to endure in regard to our own history with our own abusers? Allegedly this is why you are primaling -- to break the cycle of repetition. If you understood Alice Miller you know that allaying your suffering is not her objective -- it is rather to embrace it and own it as part of who you are, it is through acceptance of our suffering and taking it seriously that we will break the cycle of repetition. Of course one should be an advocate for children, you say, and yet you back away from that responsibility and trust that someone else will fill in the gaps.

The beauty of a web site like this, John, is that it provides an opportunity for those of us who are not afraid of the truth of our stories to stand together and declare the truth of the world, to the world. Alice Miller's committment to her own integrity should serve as a model for those of us who wish to regain our own integrity. She IS NOT a goddess, and it is an insult the work she has done to deify her. She is one of us. If we understand what she says then we can find the strength to stand together to change and heal the world -- isn't that what we all want to do?

Bonnie & Rebecca

Bonnie & Rebecca: My Random House Dictionary defines the word "only" in many ways. When I mulled over in my mind what reasons Alice Miller may have had to disavow Stettbacher, the word "only" was used in the sense of, and I quote, "Chiefly, except; but: Only for him you would not be here". I was not belittling the serious allegations of sexual abuse, but in one of my musings was wondering if that was the chief reason.

Why my need to hypothesize? Why not? Who know? I enjoy the exercise. Obviously, others do also. No, I don't claim to understand Alice Miller, but seemingly, Janneke, Boonie and I enjoy thinking and writing about Miller's rejection of Stettbacher's primal therapy. Nonetheless, I don't mind you hypothesizing about the reasons why I need to hypothesize. Let's have a truce. -John-

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March 7, 1997

Hi John,

I read the recent letters (Bonnie's and Janneke's) to the PPP and like Bonnie & Rebecca found them very annoying. I agree with them in that the level of discussion is very low, I wouldn't consider it a discussion at all. But I don't want to go in details here because it's probably useless as long as some people still have a strong urge to "communicate" like that.

What I'd really like to know is how Bonnie and Janneke and others can be so certain in condemming Mr. Stettbacher for having committed horrible crimes without even the slightest proof.

Remember he wasn't found guilty of the accusation of sexual abuse. Don't you think he would have been strictly prohibited to practice psychotherapy if there was any evidence for his alleged deeds. Especially when one takes into account that primal therapy isn't very popular in society (at least in Switzerland and Germany), to say the least. And what about Mariella Mehr? To me this looks like a modern form of "witch-hunt".

Couldn't it as well be that his former patient U. Sch. just couldn't (didn't want to) cope with some of her memories of her caretakers or somebody else and then blamed him for deeds others did? In my opinion this "has happened" to Alice Miller also. What do you think about this ?

As far as Alice Miller is concerned I'd say that what she has done (is doing) recently is nothing but destructive (read her communication to her readers and you'll know what I mean... and this after she praised Stettbacher's method as being the therapy she had looked for all of her life and wich helped her so much...,which she unconditionally recommended to every suffering person, . . .the natural law he discovered,. . .it's scientific (biological) foundation and checkability. . .).

She has also damaged the merits she has earned with providing information to the public about the reasons of human destructiveness in her books. For me (and I guess many others) she has lost her credibility with her primitive recent comments.

Why doesn't she just say what's wrong with Stettbacher's four-step-method as she did with many other forms of psychotherapy, especially psychoanalysis! How blind must one be not to see how sick she is?

During the last years I more and more got the impression that she uses the public for her private problems. . .certainly a very embarrassing matter! Isn't it about time to stop idealizing Dr. Alice Miller and regarding her as some kind of "Super Mother" for all the unloved children of the world? And please, no more mantras!

Feel free to publish this letter to the PPP. Thanks for the service of providing the information.



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March 7, 1997

Hello John,

I'm writing to invite you to my new web site, the Natural Child Project at

I am the author of Ten Reasons Not to Hit Your Kids which appeared as an appendix in Alice Miller's book Breaking Down the Wall of Silence.

The Natural Child Project covers parenting, education, and child advocacy. We have articles on those subjects, a parenting advice section, and a monthly guest column. Although the site has been online just two months, we're proud to have won many awards. This week the site was featured on the Canada AM television show.

Please take a look!

Jan Hunt, M.Sc.
Natural Child Project
"All children behave as well as they are treated."

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March 8, 1997

Hi John,

Its been awhile since I checked in with you or visited the PPP page, and I've read with great interest the letters that have been posted in the past month or so.

First off, the plans for the Alice Miller mailing list are still moving along. We (a friend and I) have drafted a proposed introductory page (and have been revising it bit by bit), and in doing so, have had to really examine how we want such a list to work, what ground rules should there be, what we'd like the focus to be, etc. It's been a lot more involved and lengthy a process than I had suspected--I guess its been over three months since I first wrote you about the idea of a newsgroup or mail list, and the wheels have turned slowly. But they're still turning, and we are more determined than ever to get it running soon.

I've been a little surprised to read the level of vehemence expressed in some of the letters the past month. I guess its not surprising--since I've had some passionate feelings myself since first learning of Alice Miller's repudiation of Stettbacher and his therapy. I've talked about it at length with some friends over the past few months, so I'm not going to rehash the same territory, but there are a lot of questions about both Stettbacher and Miller that I would love to have answered. Particularly for Stettbacher, I believe he owes it to his patients and readers to address the accusations publicly. His apparent silence on the subject has bothered me for some time now.

Frankly, none of the other reasons Alice Miller listed for turning away from him (the lack of credentials, etc.) mattered as much to me--the abuse was the one that was devastating. I've asked how the Stettbacher described in the DER BUND interview can be reconciled with the one described in Mariella Mehr's book? I have no answer for that. And there is also the question of: can a therapy designed by someone who is inherently unhealthy (and if the accusations are true, I'd describe Stettbacher that way) be trusted? My answer to that used to be a resounding no--I saw what had been created by the likes of the EST training by Werner Erhard, or psychoanalysis itself, to use Alice Miller's favorite example, and would think that the lack of integrity of the founder was good cause to ask very hard questions about the therapy method they created. Since this took place, I've been asking those questions about the four steps, and right now I believe that in this case, the creation is way ahead of the creator. From my own experience, I still believe his therapy has lots of validity and power. Its sort of ironic (and tragic) to me that maybe the people who did the four steps as a self-therapy were ultimately better off than those who were his own patients.

I've been very slowly reading Jean Jenson's Reclaiming Your Life. It has impressed me a great deal, and its added some very important pieces for me in my own healing process. In some ways for me, it has 'humanized' the process of primal therapy for me, and made it more clear about integrating the time spent doing the therapy itself with the rest of my life. I think she adds and emphasizes a key point, about the need to resist and fight against old patterns and destructive habits, not as an end in itself, but because doing so will bring up more feeling and repressed emotion and spur on the therapy process itself. As long as I've been doing Stettbacher's therapy, that was truly important for me to hear and have emphasized--I had come to believe that by simply doing the steps, the old habits would magically fall away. Part of that may have been (it definitely was) some of my own denial, but I think some of it could have been avoided if it had been stressed more strongly from the beginning. Looking back on it, I don't think Stettbacher emphasized that strongly enough, or gave enough time in his book to fleshing out anything except the time spent doing the four steps themselves. I didn't see that back then, but having read Jenson's Reclaiming Your Life, I find that really lacking now in his book.

When I still try to figure it all out, I wonder if his (in my opinion) omissions would have been covered in his often-rumored next book, or if he didn't cover it because he didn't realize or practice it himself. That might be partly reason for why he could continue acting out and acting abusively himself. But enough of that...At any rate, I don't recommend his book anymore without recommending Jenson's book as a companion piece, and I usually talk about her's first. I still love the four steps, but I believe she adds some truly important insights to the mix, that I now feel will make the whole process more clear and effective.

As for Alice Miller--she HAS sounded confused to me, and I do think she's throwing the good out with the bad in rejecting the four steps, but I just haven't had the anger towards her that I felt towards Stettbacher for awhile, and that some of your letter writers have expressed. I guess the whole thing forced me to be aware of any bit of idolizing either of them that I was still unconsciously doing. I'm thankful I had done this therapy for quite awhile before hearing of all this--its ironic, that I think the four steps, or any effective primal therapy, over time, will allow someone to begin to regain their autonomy and be able to rely on their own judgments and their own instincts, rather than depending so heavily on the 'enlightened witness', who is most necessary early on. If I had heard of this earlier, when I was still unsure of myself, it would have been easier to use it as a reason to abandon my own therapy--I hope others at that stage now will find the resources to continue on in their own efforts to heal.

Ok, John, that's it for now. As I seem to keep saying every time I write, I'll let you know when we get this mailing list up and running.

Take care,

Sam Johnson

Sam: I am happy to learn that the plans for the Miller mailing list are still in progress. I have been receiving letters from a mailing list dealing with Stanislav Grof's holotropic breathwork. As soon as I receive more information about joining I'll make a posting about joining that list.

About a month ago I wrote to J. Konrad Stettbacher. Hopefully he will respond with answers to some of our questions.

I can understand a founder of a new school of psychotherapy not emphasizing the weak points of his therapy. That's why it is always helpful when other books are written and these weak areas become more widely known. Thanks for writing. -John-

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