Disappointments of Primal Therapy - Part II

by John A. Speyrer

More than a decade ago, I wrote an article about the disappointments of primal therapy. Here I add additional observations.

Some, who have experienced very early pain such as birth and intrauterine trauma may need decades of primalling and perhaps more than a lifetime for complete resolution of what ails them. Naturally, resolution of one's symptoms depends on what age a person began the primal process, the porousness of one's defenses and how efficient he is in self-primalling. Dr. William Emerson, and others believe that, optimally, primalling could/should begin soon after birth. It was encouraging to read that Janov's Primal Training Center has begun to treat children if their parent(s) are in therapy.

After initial therapy, some can continue accessing their traumas without a therapist. Otherwise, continuing therapy with a professional would cost a small fortune! That's when primal buddies can be of assistance. See Buddying and Self-Primalling by R. Beaulieu and Telephone Primalling by P. Törngren.

Even after many years of reliving early pains, the results may not be what one may have expected. One may no longer suffer from the emotional "wound" but the outcome for the client may not be what it would have been had the trauma not occurred.

Another result to consider is that the most severe traumas often do not present themselves for resolution until the very end of the primal process. Without a lot of prodding, our defenses are sometimes too resistant to allow us to feel these very early major hurts. Sometimes they resist being accessed and instead simply lie in wait until emotionally wrenching life circumstances occur.

Resolution of these traumas (which often have the very same emotion as the present day upset), are usually the most difficult to reach. But a divorce, bankruptcy, major accident, death of a loved one, or a severe illness can often prod the blocked material to rise and make its presence known to us by a return of symptoms, or of new or old primal material.

For example, my fear of death phobia had never presented itself for resolution until after about 15 years of primal-oriented therapy. It was not until I received a diagnosis of a possible fatal illness that my "fear of death" feelings were triggered and hopefully resolved after hundreds of primals dealing exclusively with the origins of that feeling. If I had not had that particular medical diagnosis, perhaps I might never have felt the "dying during birth" series of primals. That is one of the big complaints of the therapy. I do not understand how that problem could be remedied. Besides living your life and getting therapy occasionally I know of no easy alternatives.

Perhaps an alternative might be psychedelic use. If the clinical use of LSD was not illegal, its use might be a means of feeling repressed trauma which normally might be resistant to being felt. This is because psychedelics more easily empty out the contents of one's early repressed trauma. Dr. Grof's holotropic breathwork would help, but he admits that LSD would be even more able to successfully root out traumas which have stubbornly resisted being felt. If I had been able to use LSD clinically I'm sure my "dying in the birth canal" material would have been felt and resolved decades earlier.

Needless to say, Dr. Arthur Janov would not agree with the paragraph above, although he does believe that ". . . nothing releases catastrophic birth fears so quickly as LSD." (Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience, p. 154. He believes that pains felt in an out of sequence fashion are not the optimal way to do the therapy. He has also observed that you can't get in therapy what you never got when it was originally needed. Such developmental needs need to be met at a particular time in early life, whether inutero, in infancy or during early childhood. All you can do in therapy is feel/relive the pain of not having had that need met. Having these primal feelings will lessen and sometimes abate the present day suffering, but one usually does not become the person he or she would have become if one's needs had been met at the critical developmental time. Thus, having therapy is a second best solution and "(w)hat we will become is found in the birth matrix" (ibid., p. 249). He emphasizes that during our birth our basic personalities are formed (ibid., p. 249).

Early immunization and vaccinations afford protection, not only to the person being immunized, but to all others who might otherwise have come into contact with the infected person. Having a compulsive form of regressive therapy very early in life should be a birth-right, similar to one's receiving childhood vaccinations. It would help protect society from the predations of those who would act out in criminal ways.

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