Introduction - The Denver Primal Journal

By Michael Randolph, Editor

This introduction is hard to write: What is printed in this journal reaches so deep into the heart of our contributors' experiences, contains insights and sensitivity so profound, so personal and yet so applicable to the lives of others, that to try to introduce it feels impertinent.
Still we have talked back and forth and feel that it is not entirely enough to let the journal speak for itself. We need to say who we are and let you know why we are doing this, what is special here that is worth writing about: This journal is being put together by people who are involved with primal therapy in Denver as patients or therapists. We want to talk about and share our insights into what this therapy truly is, how it works; and we want to let the insights of individual people about their lives speak for themselves from their hearts to yours.

In the Primal Scream and later books, Arthur Janov gave expression to a remarkable truth, long known, that the unintegrated pain of our lives corrodes our lives from within; and an equally remarkable conclusion, relatively unknown, that this pain can be felt, reexperienced, and reintegrated in our lives in a very successful curative and healing process. This process he called primal therapy. What was truly gratifying and perhaps unique about his work was that he obviously wanted to let the concept grow out of the experience and not vice versa. Unfortunately, concepts have a way of usurping the nest like the cuckoo, and we feel that Janov in some respects has closed himself to new experiences which might broaden and deepen our understanding of this process.

Here we believe that we should all be free to feel whatever pain is driving u, whether that pain be from yesterday or from the very earliest beginnings of our lives. The only concept that really needs to be remembered is that each person's life is unique, and that his body will reexpereince the pain not according to any rule, but as it can, in whatever way it has remained fixed in him.

The process of primal therapy is dealt with in detail in the article following this, and I want to avoid redundant explanations. However, I do want to try to convey some feeling and understanding of our approach to primal at the organization we have here in Denver and to give you a sense of the therapists' part in this process.

There is nothing magical about what a primal therapist can do. With most new patients the therapist is there to teach them how to feel again, to awaken that feeling part of themselves which has become withered from abuse and lack of use. As the patient starts to become aware, not just of the symptoms of his pain, but of its causes and of the devastation that has resulted, he needs someone there who treats what he sees with the seriousness and compassion it deserves. And he needs someone who is uniquely able to see because he himself has wanted and has dared to reach inside and see the reality of his or her own life.

Our bodies are truly so sensitive that we do recognize and respond to the safety provided by another body beside us when that body is connected to the pain of his own life -- not the spurious safety that resides in attempts to recreate what we didn't get, but the safety of someone who lives with the weight of his own experience. The process by which each patient opens up to his own pain is a natural one. it is disrupted and perverted when the therapist brings the turmoil of his own life into the session and acts that out on the patient. Everyone deserves better. it is exciting and gratifying for a therapist to see others start to get their lives back, and it is legitimate for him to want to be paid fairly for his work, but not to seek to fill his emptiness by having his patients "perform" or succeed for him. That way lies so much anguish and craziness.

We have started this journal as a forum for our thoughts and insights into primal therapy; at the same time we really want your reactions to what we are doing and what you read about here. Your comments and input will be a valuable help to us in producing this. We intend to include as a regular feature in the journal a letters' section where we will print letters from you and respond to your questions (if we can).

I hope you enjoy and value reading this as much as we have enjoyed preparing it. We will be publishing this journal four times a year, and we hope you will choose to subscribe for a year. You will find details about subscriptions and buying single issues on the back cover. Please recycle this by sharing it with friends. Thank you. -- Michael Randolph, Editor

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