|In Cure By Crying, Thomas A. Stone tells an interesting story of how he was able to eliminate or greatly reduce many of his physical and mental symptoms. He had been bothered by a facial rash, by insomnia, headaches, nightmares, nervousness, depression, lack of energy, procrastination, violent temper, among a number of other health problems. |
The book, though replete with typos, will fascinate those who are presently in a regressive therapy, those who want to be, and those who should be in such a psychotherapy. According to its author, that is about 70% of the population. It gives detailed instructions on how to explore your own subconscious mind with the help of a friend or spouse. The author is convinced that for the first few months, or the first year, you definitely need another person to help you with your therapy. But later on, he writes that if it becomes necessary, you can continue alone.
I am happy the author included an entire chapter about himself and his family. It is one of the last chapters and in it as in other parts of his book, he practices what he preaches and does not censor his thoughts. Stone opens his book with a recounting of his early traumas which were uncovered during his therapy This short section may be read on the internet at this link: Amazon Book Store.Thomas A. Stone's neurosis became overt immediately after his marriage. He and his wife then had counseling. One night at home he watched Arthur Janov on the Johnny Carson TV show and became intrigued with the idea of entering primal therapy. The high cost of therapy at Janov's Institute prevented him for applying for therapy there. He went into psychoanalysis and decided to combine it with the isolation suggested in The Primal Scream. He writes that the results were not good because it was still psychoanalysis.His next stop on the road to wellness was reading H. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. (Stone has studied 250 types of therapy!) Full week-end dianetics' auditing sessions elicited many blocked memories and his many symptoms began to disappear. His auditor, Julie, at first praised the ease in which he re-lived his early hurts, but soon suggested that new procedures be used. This made Stone suspicious. He felt that since uncovering his repressed memories was working, the therapy techniques should not be changed. He thought that maybe his therapist was getting bored with his re-living the large number of blocked memories he had. Julie had told him that it was taking too long to listen to all the details of his life history and that continual re-living of traumas, as he was doing, would make his condition worse. (See Book Review - Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine Ph.D. Dr. Levine believes that continuous re-living of trauma is disintegrative.)
The author discontinued dianetics sessions and he and his wife (the daughter of an alcoholic father) decided to combine the elements of primal therapy, dianetics and psychoanalysis and worked with each other to eventually develop what Stone calls his brand of healing: The Therapy. Their progress was slow and backsliding into symptoms, which had supposedly been cured, was common. They wondered if the process of uncovering blocked memories and having regressions would ever end. This worry was his and his wife's foremost concern. And, in addition, the therapy was taking-up a lot of their time.Sometimes there would be little or no progress even after four or five sessions. It seemed as though the therapy was not working. But they continued helping each other regress and re-live their early hurts. Finally, and very slowly, over time, success seemed to be within their grasp as more and more of their neurotic symptoms seemed to be falling away permanently.
* * * J. Konrad Stettbacher in Making Sense of Suffering was the first to write about the techniques of inducing primal regressions, but Thomas Stone's book is the first to give very detailed directions which before the publication of Cure By Crying, seemingly, were more tightly contained than a magician's secrets!Some hard core self-primalers might not like his specific techniques of beginning The Therapy with someone else since many feel they can do the work alone (This in itself, may be something which diehard self-primalers should work on). Unlike Stettbacher, Stone believes that the second person's presence is necessary. The way the book is written it would be very difficult to begin the therapy alone. Even after one understands and has been using the therapy successfully and no longer continuously needs a friend-therapist to access early repressions, a person who is non-judgmental, loving and supportive can make it possible for one to access feelings easier and more deeply. I have always been a self-primaler, but on those occasions when I did use a therapist, I have always been amazed how much deeper, and more productive my therapy session became because of the help and presence of a therapist. I was at first confounded, then amused but agreed that Stone was correct when he wrote that you really don't need someone with you during the regressions, but that you must believe that the person is there! He gave the example of successfully regressing when once he believed his wife was listening to him, when she was not! Things don't have to be the way you think they are, since oftentimes your belief that they are, will still have the same effect. But every single feeling does not require another's presence, even though it usually makes quite a difference. You can even have a successful session by telephone, as many primal patients can attest. It is not as effective as the physical presence of the person, but it can be better than doing the therapy alone.The author includes a section on "Doing Therapy Alone." But this is not "beginning" the therapy on your own which is definitely not recommended. Perhaps later, you can do the therapy by yourself, the author writes. After the first month or maybe, for some, after a year of working with a therapist you will learn to recognize when the repressed memories are trying to approach consciousness or when you have discovered your own doorways to your pain. After this ability is acquired as a direct result of the therapy itself, you might be ready to try feeling on your own. Stone discusses some methods which can help you connect to your early material. These include:
Unfortunately, the author left out two of the most helpful methods which can and should be used by all those who are fishing the depths of their unconscious mind:
- Renting videotapes of movies and repeatedly viewing certain scenes which trigger your tears.
- Using feelingful music.
- Using dreams and other doorways.
- Telling your therapist about the connections you made using the methods above. This recounting will trigger and intensify the feelings.
Jean Jenson in Reclaiming Your Life writes that,
- Getting into intimate relationships. Usually, it was during that first most intimate relationship, the relationship with our mothers, that our pains were laid down. Present day close personal relationships (especially sexual ones) will help reactivate early painful repressed feelings. (The author should know about this technique as that's the one which led him into his having his feelings. I'm talking about his marriage).
- Intentionally stopping our defenses. You know what you do to keep down tension. Quit doing it! Unrewarding neurotic behavior becomes a habit. For some of us, this may mean acting counter-phobic. It may mean being nice to ourselves, e. g., by spending money on ourselves, and most importantly by not neglecting our present-day needs. For others, it may mean to quit spending excessive money on ourselves, and to begin helping others. But no matter what our defenses are, present-day needs should be met.
"to choose to behave differently from the way you feel compelled to behave is essential for this work to be successful, and it is very difficult. The compulsion to continue to do whatever you usually do is quite powerful -- and the conscious mind will find reasons why it is OK to continue. . . In spite of the difficulty, the ability to detach from emotions and to respond on the basis of conscious choice must be developed in order to do this healing work." It is the most difficult part of the therapy!
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Two interesting regressive therapy concepts discussed by Stone are:
A central thesis of Cure By Crying is that "The Therapy" is different from Primal Therapy. Stone explains the distinction in the section entitled, "Three Kinds of 'Reliving' and Fool's Reliving." All three types, he writes, when accompanied by tears, validly expunge the effects of early trauma. They are called:
- Heavy Sleep: Sometimes you will get the urge to sleep much more than normal. The author believes that during this time of drugged-like sleep is when your brain is getting re-wired as a result of the connections to your early traumas made in the therapy. So give in to these urges to sleep. The deep sleep is a necessary part of the therapy.
- Death Feelings: Obsessions with death sometimes arise in the therapy. The author feels that this preoccupation is accompanied by an unnatural lethargy and mild depression. The period is often followed by a renewed joy of being alive and energetic enthusiasm.
The author does not explain the origin of his death obsessions. Perhaps, he has yet to feel this material. Such thoughts, which sometimes occur in the regressive therapies, usually have their origin in near death experiences in the birth canal or in other very early traumas in which life threatening components were an essential element during the ordeal.
Another type of valid remembering which I do not recall the author discussing is a general reliving in which the remembering includes the feeling component of an amalgam of similar emotional traumas over a period of time. These relivings have been, by far, my most common type.
- Complete Reliving - Reliving in three dimensional stereo. You are present again in the early scene with almost complete sensory inputs. This is represented by Janov's Primal Therapy.
- Fragmented Reliving - This type of regressions happens continuously in The Therapy. Small parts of a trauma are reexperienced at one time. You get to relive only a "spoonsfull" during each return to the scene. The patient might even be uncertain of the truth of the experience. A fragmented reliving comes after a symbolic reliving.
I believe that Stone's recommended "spoonsfull" relivings has the major downside of extending the length of time one will be doing the therapy. The many years of time needed to resolve one's neurosis is already a major complaint of primal and other regression therapies. For that reason I prefer "complete relivings" whenever possible.
- Symbolic Reliving - This would be a deep identification with, e.g, a character in a movie, which triggers a feeling reaction in the patient. It could happen during a lecture, viewing a poignant scene of a father being loving to his child, etc.
The fourth type the author calls Fool's Reliving and is not curative since it is not an actual reliving. The unemotional remembering of an event, the author writes, means that it was not repressed to begin with.
The author does not mention that the memory of a traumatic event may be more or less complete but its' emotional content may remain repressed in various degrees. He believes that if you can remember the trauma, then the trauma is not blocked and pays no role in the formation of neurosis. I do not believe this is correct since it is possible to have a well formed memory of an event but with varying degrees of blockage of its emotional aspects. (See discussion of this point in book review of Reinder Van Til's Lost Daughters). Typical neuroses are not the result of just a one-time trauma he writes. Like others in the field, Stone believes that the cause of neurosis is ". . .a lack of love and attention from mom and dad."
He recognizes both birth trauma and intrauterine trauma as powerful forces molding our psyche, but does not discuss the reliving of these traumas.
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Arthur Janov has removed a lot of the mystique from psychotherapy with his primal therapy discovery. Thomas A. Stone has expanded the removal process by revealing details of how regressive therapy can be practiced between two individuals. He even gives the exact questions the "therapist" should ask! Simply turn to pages 109 to 118 -- the entire script is laid out for you to follow! However, you have to have some intuition to be able to use the questions productively. Nonetheless, having a listing of the questions before you is a good start for the beginning therapist. I wholeheartedly recommend that you read Cure By Crying. Anyone who has been in a deep regressive therapy will find in Thomas Stone's book much to agree with and also some issues with which to disagree. The author recognizes that this will be so.
Those of you who are considering a form of deep regressive therapy as a do-it-yourself project (with a friend) need look no further than Cure By Crying for an excellent guide to exploring one's unconscious. With a spouse? I am not too sure about that. Perhaps, it can save a marriage -- or maybe cause a divorce!