"Men Can't Cry" and "The Journey"

by Matt & Pat

Below is a conversation that took place on Yahoo's Primal Support Group (PSG) between Pat Törngren and a group member named Matt. The conversation has been edited and expanded for clarity.

Dear Matt:

You wrote:
The issue of crying is a major problem with men. In the WASP-world, male crying is looked upon as a sign of weakness. However, this is a cultural thing. Mexican men cry, Italian men cry, and Irish men cry. Norwegian, German, English, Australian, Swiss, Japanese, and Chinese men are taught that crying is a sign of weakness and that you loose face if you cry. Norwegian and German men think crying is shameful.

Pat replied:
That's right, and it puts such pressure onto men. At least society allows we women to cry - though, in my family, it was frowned on as weakness. As a small child I got the usual - "If you don't stop that snivelling, I'll GIVE you something to cry about!"

Matt wrote:
I am a 50% Norwegian and 50% English male who was taught that crying is a sign of weakness and people will feel contempt for you if you cry. So at age 57, I have not cried since under age 5 except for two occasions. When my Uncle died I was a pallbearer and I started to cry but did everything in my power to suppress it.

Pat replied:
That is so sad. We all need to grieve when someone we love dies. I have memories of holding back my tears at my grandpa's funeral (I was only 8) but I knew it would be seen as being bad if I cried. My 12 year old cousin was one of the pallbearers, and must have had some tears on his face, as he later apologised to the whole family (I was there and heard it) for having "broken down." He seemed to feel he had disgraced the good name of the family in public.

Matt wrote:
While in a movie theater watching "Shakespeare in Love" I began to cry. . . . it caught me by surprise.

Pat replied:
Movies make great triggers for getting into feelings! (They do for me, anyway). That you cried, suggests that you do have access to your feelings, and given the right support, you would probably do well in a feeling therapy situation.

Matt wrote:
I suppressed it the best I could.

Pat replied:
Hopefully, next time you won't need to :)

Matt wrote:
After the movie was over, I hurried to the men's room and dried my eyes with a paper towel. . . put on a happy face and went back out to leave the theater with the crowd.

Pat replied:
Hopefully, next time you won't need to do that either - you wouldn't be the first man I know who has primalled "quietly" in a cubicle in the men's room! I even have been able to primal while driving my car. It makes a very good "primal box" (soundproofed room), and my car seems to know the way home as I always find myself safely in my driveway at the end of the trip :)

Matt wrote:
I live in Arizona and I have seen Mexican men cry in public. They think it's natural. I have seen Italian men cry in public and they also think it's natural.

Pat replied:
Here in South Africa, the black people (especially the women) cry easily and it is totally accepted. We whites are sadly a bit more screwed up!

Matt wrote:
So, it's all in how you were taught. Crying is a normal emotion and when you feel grief it is appropriate to cry. If you don't cry during times of grief, I believe the suppressed crying builds up in your cells and can be a source of future illness.

Pat replied:
Yes, Janov has written a book on that, which I am sure you are familiar with. It's called, Why we get Sick and How we get Well.

Matt wrote:
The book called The Journey : A Practical Guide to Healing Your Life and Setting Yourself Free, by Brandon Bays, discusses this to some degree.

Pat replied:
That's right, she healed herself of a football-sized uterine tumor in six weeks after "going into her body" and finding that the tumor was holding "unexpressed anger" going back to a childhood scene. She expressed and released the anger, in what we would clearly call a "primal" (if I read her right) and once the anger was out, the tumor simply got smaller and smaller, till she was given a clean bill of health, six weeks later.

If you have been following the posts on this group lately, you will see that I mentioned a "new technique" I am using. It was also The Journey by Brandon Bays. Someone accidentally" left her book and a set of the tapes at my house. I went, "Ho, hum, another New-Ager making 'affirmations' and being in denial about their pain." Then I read the book and found that she wasn't doing that at all. In fact, far from it!

She expresses her reservations when people do shove their feelings under in order to "make positive affirmations." I was glad to read that, as it has been also been a big concern of mine in so much of the popular psychology literature that is doing the rounds.

Right now, I can't remember what made me pick up Brandon's book and start reading it (apart from the fact that several people had told me about it) but I do know it came at a time when I was a little bit "stuck" in my therapy and depressed, and so more open to look at other methods. I also have some very real and serious problems in my life that need sorting out in the present, and hoped there would be some answers in The Journey.

Well! I had only read half the book before I started my first "journey process." After reading the first few chapters of the book, I couldn't wait to get going. This first time, I didn’t bother to read the “Journey notes” at the back of the book, or use the tape. I knew the feelings were right there. So I lay down (like I do for primals) and "said the feeling." Then, I dropped down into the level below as Brandon suggests, and started to primal.

Every time I dropped down a level, I had another "primal" I just couldn't stop crying. Several of them went very deep (sexual molestation, birth trauma and before-birth pain) and so much stuff was coming up, that I never made it as far as "source" in my first session. I was exhausted, though much relieved, as primals alone give good resolution and I just needed to rest and let it all sink in. I had made some good, solid connections too, and was feeling very good about that and wanting to just “be with my insights.”

Anyway, right now I am experimenting with Brandon's techniques - using the tapes, and will share more with the group later when I see how it goes. At the moment I am taking the best from both "Primal work" and "Journey work", using the set of “Journey” tapes (some of which are great). So I am taking the best parts that work well for me in a primal way, and seem to have more primal access than I had before. Also, going down to what Brandon calls “source” has got me in touch with who I was before I was hurt and damaged, and I am getting a lot of strength from that. It was nice to meet the real me – before they crushed the life out of me and I figuratively “died” to who I was.

I have also healed my body of a physical symptom in just one session using Brandon’s "body scanning" method. I had a very bad sore throat, and when I went "into" my throat while listening to her tape, I found the memory of being abused at 3 and needing to scream to get help. But I couldn't, as I was being smothered and couldn't get a breath in. This is a scene I have primalled over and over, but was never aware that there was a part of my body still carrying the source of the pain (in spite of reliving the bruises some years ago – they lasted for about a week and then faded.) What I discovered doing “The Journey” was the unresolved need to scream for help, of which I was previously not aware.

I dealt with a whole lot of issues around that while listening to the tape (and dealing with feelings of helplessness, betrayal, hurt, anger and rage at the two adults who were present when the abuse happened. Within a few hours, my very sore throat (which usually precedes a long drawn out head-cold and bronchitis) cleared up completely over the short period of a few hours. I had never guessed that my repeated sore throats (all my life) were actually due to the fact that I was physically holding a primal memory (the need to scream for help) in my throat.

It was actually my therapist who first suggested Brandon Bays' book to me (before someone "accidentally" left her copy in my house.) My therapist said that when he saw the cover of the book, he went, "Oh no, more 'pop' psychology" :( But something made him read it, and he tried the process. He immediately uncovered some anger he had been holding for most of his life, without knowing it, and instantly healed his back, which had been hurting him for many years. He cleared it in one session! It has given him no pain since.

Matt wrote:
Suppressed crying is physically unhealthy and can lead to physical illness. I actually intend to follow the instructions from The Cure by Crying book by Thomas A. Stone AND the instructions from Brandon Bays' book, The Journey. I have a backlog of unexpressed crying that needs to come out.

Pat replied:
Good luck! I have read Thomas Stone's book and hope you will find it useful. I think can be very useful for people working on their own. Re "The Journey," - I shall be happy to share with you as I go along. I am doing at least one of the taped techniques per day, some days two. I don't always get to feelings, and I don't always cry, but I do make new connections by "dropping down through the levels" as Brandon does it, and that has given me a handle onto some totally new material to primal with later if I get triggered by a similar scene.

I shall be interested to hear how it goes for you.

Till later.
Best wishes,

UPDATE December, 2005

In the above article I described experimenting with the techniques of Brandon Bays as described in her book "The Journey". About three months after starting the experiment, I abandoned it. I know it has helped some people, and it did help me at the beginning. But over time I found it less and less helpful, as it did not give me enough flexibility to follow my feelings and memories where they led me, and had a tendency to "keep me in my head". So I primal in the classical way again now, as that is what helps me the most, personally,

Pat Torngren

Note: Stone's Cure by Crying [See review], is really not a solo self-feeling book as it is about regressing with the help of a second person.
-- Webmeister, John A. Speyrer