Destructive Activities - Their Root Causes

by Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

It's an oldie but it's a goodie. Dr. Paul J. Hannig's, Feeling People, was written in 1982. The book is a survey of his Deep Feeling Process form of regressive therapy. I had approached his book a number of times to make a book review for the Primal Psychotherapy Page but felt unable to adequately convey its broad depth and detail even though I have many times recommended it to others. The book contains more transcripts of therapy sessions than any other "primal" book I've read. This small excerpt is from pages 98 to 100 of Feeling People. If it whets your appetite for more, you will find ordering information below his material.
--John A. Speyrer - Webmeister, The Primal Psychotherapy Page

Many destructive acts in everyday life are perpetrated blindly, out of ignorance and just plain stupidity. Their root causes can lie in gestational or violent birth experiences. If a neonate is subjected to cruel birth circumstances, he or she will develop masochistic tendencies later in life. The acting out of early pain will continue throughout life and assure habitual, repetitive characteristics if a feeling connection does not bring closure.

To test this, examine those things that occur in your life that seem to always happen regularly. Perhaps, it is a distasteful event that comes back, time and time again, to haunt you and always causes pain. Maybe you feel that there is nothing you can do about it, and that you are a victim of unforseen forces. Unconsciously, you may set up these instances of misfortune and not even know it. It's like being helpless in the face of adversity.

Yet, these circumstances of malevolent fortune can beset you simply because you were helpless as an infant in the face of excruciating pain. In order to complete an old feeling, an old gestalt, you compulsively put yourself into situations where you have no control. I am not referring to those instances that are purely accidental or due to natural causes. But, if one examines repetitive, painful behavior closely, it becomes evident that some individuals receive an inordinate amount of bad luck. I do not believe that it is unreasonable to assume that people make their own luck and misfortune.

The following is an example of one young woman's relationship with a mother who practically destroyed her in the womb and made her early life miserable with paranoid religious fanaticism.

"My mother was afraid of men and considered sexual intimacv sinful. It was something to bear in guilt and pain to please men who were all evil. She was 'married' to God and made all my natural drives seem dirty and sinful. She made me feel as if I was the most horrible little girl in the world because I had a vagina. Her constant reminder to me was that she prayed every night that God would save my soul."

"In order to survive and get anything from her, I completely rejected myself. This eventually drove me to three nervous breakdowns and the escape route of existence as a drug addict. She made me feel guilty for just being alive."

"My father was unable to offer any support at all. He wanted a boy and treated me as one: throwing me up in the air, boxing me backside my head and using his 270 lb. body to pin me in wrestling matches. After he had inflicted enough torture to induce tears, he would pull me to him and try to be friendly. I never knew when I could trust him. As I delved deeper into myself in therapy, I discovered that my boyfriends, father and brother symbolically became the instrument of my mother's contractions on my frail body (she was in labor over 30 hours.) I would always get into situations where I would arouse physical anger toward myself, just to reenact that early life and death scene.

"All my life I had desperately needed a warm supporting 'mommy' to love me. Since I couldn't trust males due to the sado-masochistic relationship I would set up with them, I would try to get that love in subtle lesbian ways with other women. As my mother has ruined me with men, I had to symbolically turn to 'her' to try to get the love she never let me have. I found my life was a muddled mess and violence and unhappiness stalked me wherever I went .

"Over the past couple of years, I have recovered a lot of the lost me by feeling the old pain and I am now free of drugs, holding a very responsible job and relating well to people. My mother still thinks that I am in the throes of hell and damnation, but in fact, she is the one who is really crazy. I see how she used to make me believe that she was really OK and that I was the nut. I felt crazy and acted it. She is crazy and doesn't even know it. I guess that is what saved me: the fact that I felt and knew my own insanity. My mother has had to build a crazy superior world in her head to flee from her own real painful feelings. I had to feel my insanity first, before I could connect to the horrible truth of what happened to me when I was small. . . .

"Yesterday, a horrible fear began to rise inside me I began trembling in terror and found I couldn't go to group, because I was afraid that people there were going to poke and prod me. There was just no hope that I could ever make it. I; couldn't even go home, I was so scared of someone proddihg me to death. My head knew in reality, there was nothing to fear but the feeling wouldn't leave."

"At two o'clock in the morning, I went to the Center and before I knew it, I was writhing on the floor in extreme agony. It felt as if my chest was being crushed. I couldn't catch mv breath. I kept gasping and choking, fighting for air. It seemed as if my screaming went on forever; I felt I was in the midst of my birth . . . When I came out of it, I felt a lot clearer and I was able to move closer to my boyfriend. But I knew that fear and mistrust were not all over. I would have to deal with that pain, again and again, before I could function as a full female. Even now, I can feel myself withdrawing a little bit again and not trusting those that I depend on for love."

"I was nearly crushed to death at birth and treated harshly as a young girl and I guess it's very hard to let myself ever be that vulnerable and dependent again. It's going to be a long road back to recover the me that was never allowed to be."

Feeling People is a theoretical and example-filled introduction into Dr. Paul Hannig's form of regression therapy -- he calls Total Feeling Process. It is an in-depth and highly evolved psycho-therapy that works on pathology and encompasses a person's total history (past, present and future). It leads a person to explore long forgotten emotions at the depths of core identity as one becomes introduced to his real self and the very origins of his personality structure.

Dr. Hannig's book may be ordered here

Paul J. Hannig's website may be accessed at:

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