was a pioneer in
primal therapy, alternative birthing methods
and infant and foetal psychology, whose non-conformist beliefs and practices
inspired a loyalty in his
clients that was as intense
as the scepticism he
provoked in his peers.
Gregarious, confronting, compassionate with a gentle humor, his personal traits and
unconventional views in part explain why most of his colleagues
found his ideas difficult to accept initially and why some later
started to change their views.
Farrant's innovative approach
was evident from the early
stages of his career. As a medical
officer at Repatriation General
Hospital in Heidelberg, he started
the first halfway house for alcoholics in Victoria.
After training at McGill University in Montreal and later at
Harvard. he was appointed a
child psychiatrist at Melbourne's Prince Henry and
Queen Victoria hospitals. When
a patient told him about primal therapy he saw the potential of
this non-drug, deep regressive, cathartic treatment and began his own therapy and training in the United States with Arthur Janov, the originator of primal therapy.
Certain that patients were remembering birth, which at the time, Janov would not accept, Farrant left and continued at the Denver Primal Centre until he
returned to Melbourne.
In the mid-70s he set up the
first primal therapy centre in
Australia at Erin Street in Richmond. During three-hour
groups, clients would be taken
through various levels of regression - a baby here, a toddler
there, a foetus alongside, a child
experiencing a significant interaction with a parent. At another
group there might be a funeral
service for someone with unresolved grieving, complete with
casket, flowers and attendants.
Believing secrets kept people
sick, Farrant would fix someone
with his penetrating blue eyes,
which left few able to hold on to
their secrets. He was attuned to
every nuance, movement
phrase and expression
during a session of deep
regression he would asise
how the body would tell the
truth and to trust its movements; he could often tell the
type of birth a person had experienced by these body movements
and postures. He also taught the
importance of "family times" -
the repetitive time-patterns in
families. He died at exactly the
same time of day as his father.
Farrant became convinced
that womb life, was accurately
remembered and important psychologically. From this developed his main contribution - his
emphasis on the importance of
parents being emotionally prepared for the act of conception,
pointing out that to conceive out
of joy and love was an incalculable gift to give a child.
He was, subsequently, the driving force behind the first recorded Leboyer delivery in Australia at the Queen Victoria Hospital in 1976. In contrast
the prevailing orthodoxy, Leboyer births (after the French
obstetrician who started them)
were characterised by minimal
intervention, a slower birth
process, the involvement of both
parents, cutting the cord only
after it had stopped pulsating,
and bathing babies after they
had been stabilised. Many of
these practices have since been
incorporated into mainstream delivery techniques.
Later, Farrant was to add a
spiritual dimension when he encouraged the exploration of the use of primal therapy in children and babies to heal birth
and intrauterine traumas. Children wanted to be with him as
he had a way of making them
feel special. Perhaps some of
this understanding came out of
his own pain. Farrant has written that he survived an attempted abortion, which he
confirmed with his mother.
In recent years his experience
with regression led him to focus
more on the psychopathology related to conception and implantation, believing that memories were remembered at the
cellular level - he called it cellular consciousness. He believed
that the time the soul entered
the body was critical - a process
he called ensoulment. He was
sure that any process that did
not have a spiritual dimension
to it was unlikely to be successful.
His own spiritual growth was enhanced when he found his guru in Sai Baba, who taught in southern India.
Farant's work was starting to
be recognised in the US. Besides
his presentation at the 6th International Transpersonal Conference held, with his help, at Phillip Island in 1980, he gave the keynote addresses on cellular consciousness at the 1985 2nd International Congress on Pre-and Perinatal Psychology in San Diego. and to the 1986 Internatonal Primal Association Convention in North America.
His approach to medicine was
holistic, eschewing the classical doctor-patient relationship, and was more that of a friend. He encouraged the use of body work and other modalities for his patients and particularly emphasised the spiritual aspects of personal growths.
His workshops in Australia
and overseas were
powerful and it was not uncommon for clients who had experienced these to come to Melbourne to continue therapy.
He was a dramatist who made
the mundane feel like an adventure; a brilliant teacher and a
man of exquisite humanness.
Even when Farrant was dying
from a protracted illness he still
found time to give of himself. He
will be sorely missed by his many
friends and particularly by his wife and four children.
-- John Spensley
Dr. John Spensley is a consultant
paediatrician to the Queen Elizabeth Centre for Mothers and Babies and honorary paediatrician to the Birth Centre at Monash Medical Centre. He has been involved in research with the Department of Neurosciences at Swinburne University looking at the demonstrable brain tracing differences in Dissociative Identity Disorder. During the mid eighties he established the Jamillon Center in Melbourne where he provides primal therapy services.